John Ensign's Psychic Powers

[This is a cross-post from my column at]

I take it back. Despite my initial impressions, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) has obviously thought long and hard about withholding congressional representation from the District's 600,000 residents. You see, Ensign concocted an amendment that would dismantle the city's gun control laws, and stapled it onto the DC vote bill (using a staple gun I can only assume). The bill, NRA kiss-up amendment included, passed the Senate. Now it and the gunless House version must somehow be reconciled.

Ensign had muttered to Politico that he "hadn't given it much thought," but now we see he was just jerking our chain, because yesterday we found he had written an op-ed for the Washington Post explaining his ironclad reasoning for keeping the District voiceless. The semi-citizens of DC don't want a House representative, Ensign tells us, we want more guns.

In the piece, Ensign really feels DC's pain, lamenting that we have been having our "right to self-defense" violated, that the restrictions on firearms imposed by the city government were "burdensome," and that they "frustrate and discourage DC residents." The raw, sincere empathy is quite moving.

John Ensign sees into our souls so clearly that I wonder if he isn't really TV fake-psychic John Edward. I can just see him now, at a community meeting in the District, wandering the stage and connecting with voters. . .

(Cue wavy lines indicating transition to imaginary scene.)

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Big step to DC statehood today

This is a big step toward the District of Columbia becoming a state:

Today, in a vote of 62-34, the United States Senate voted for cloture on the DC House Voting Rights Act (H.R.157/S.160). After a centuries-long struggle, DC residents have overcome a significant hurdle in their fight for voting representation in Congress.

"Congress truly made history today," said Ilir Zherka, DC Vote Executive Director. "Not since the 1970's has a piece of DC voting rights legislation made it to the floor of the Senate. After years of protests, marches and calls to Congress, District residents are finally on their way to having their voices heard."

..."Victory is so close on this issue but the fight's not over yet," said Zherka. "There has been a lot of discussion about possible amendments to the Senate bill. We are calling upon the Senate to pass this bill without amendments."

DC Vote's mission is full congressional voting representation for District residents. Next on the group's agenda is working towards full democracy for DC.

"We will certainly be celebrating once the DC Voting Rights Act is passed," Zherka emphasized. "It will be a momentous win. But then, it's on to the business of defending any legal challenges to the legislation and looking towards future victories such as Senate representation and broader, local autonomy for the District."

The 'solution' is sorta a cut-the-baby-in-half one. DC gets a single Rep in the House, and one more is added, which goes to Utah and the GOP. But the issue of whether this is constitutional is a pretty big one-- since when do places that are not states have Congressional representation?

It will go to the courts, and I would not be shocked to see it reversed; because its not really that great of a precedent, and it doesn't really entirely solve the problem.  If that happens, then it will go back to Congress, and force the issue of statehood-- which it should.

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How can we royally $%@# 300,000 Blacks? It's easy!

The answer is simple: continue to allow the media and Congress alike to ignore the lack of voting representation of the citizens of Washington, DC.

Amid the much-touted burgeoning democracy in Iraq, the controversial elections in New Orleans, and the excitement of this year's increasingly promising Congressional elections, a centuries-old issue has managed to be kept on the back burner and under wraps, rendering voiceless more than half a million American citizens living in the capital of the greatest democracy in the world.

Matters of constitutional rights that hinder our democratic process impact every national policy decision, from the war in Iraq to immigration reform, from healthcare to education, and from network neutrality to environmental protection. Because of their universal effect on the decisions made through our democratic process, such matters should certainly leave us trying to bring them to the forefront of national media and congressional debate; but the pointed and racially-motivated reasoning behind this particular matter should leave us nothing less than astounded and disgusted.

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