Strange political times in Washington

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, left, Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, left, who tried to filibuster an abortion bill, reacts as time expires. (June 25, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

Could it be the heat? Maybe it's the storms blowing around. Something in the atmosphere is messing with the natural order of things.

Liberals are loving filibusters. Conservatives are shrugging off gay marriage. And a sharply divided U.S. Senate just passed an immigration bill with Democratic and some Republican support.

Someday soon, people in Washington could actually learn to spell "bipartisan" again.

After decades of denouncing conservative filibusters against civil rights legislation and federal judge appointments, progressives across America have found a new hero. And what did Wendy Davis do? She stood on the floor of the Texas State Senate, hogging the microphone long enough to keep a strict anti-abortion bill from getting a timely vote.

Kind of like Strom Thurmond used to do.

Some social conservatives are still wringing their hands at the Supreme Court ruling scuttling the core of federal Defense of Marriage Act and greenlighting gay marriage in California. But the polls have reversed themselves. The passion is gone. No one expects much Adam-and-Steve rhetoric as gay marriage marches on.

And immigration reform is suddenly the law of the Senate, if not quite the land. Republicans in the House of Representatives still don't seem to know what to do next.

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If they appear hostile to immigrants, Latinos will keep voting Democratic. When the path to citizenship becomes law, even more Latinos will get to vote.

Democrats would do well to stand back and watch. When the other side is torturing itself, why not let it continue, painfully?

ATMOSPHERIC INVERSION

@Newsday

1. Trayvon was the aggressor?

2. Snowden's dad wants a deal for Junior?

3. The Dow pooped out before the quarter ended?

4. A top Vatican monsignor is a thief?

5. Alec Baldwin has no Twitter account?

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ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Football players, bike riders -- now helmets for horseback kids ? Who would Sag Harbor Assemb. Fred Thiele like to helmet next? . . . Why aren't people in Brookhaven finishing up their home-repair jobs? Pricier permit-renewal fees may get the local procrastinators back to work . . . Now that Pope Francis has formally accepted Bishop Dunne's retirement at age 75, is there a broader message here for other aging workers? 75 is the new 65? . . . A Grucci-family reality show? Why not, Felix Jr. and other next-generation pyro-technicians are asking now . . . Why couldn't Justin Kaliebe go off to college like other 18-year-olds? The Babylon teen preferred to take a "gap year" at a terror training camp in Yemen under the murderous spell of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki . . . Doesn't Mark Cuthbertson ever run out for a soda and a bag of chips? Where do Huntington council members expect the town's convenience stores to locate if they're zoned out of all neighborhood business districts and other small shopping strips? . . . Remember last month's big Nassau County "Flush the Johns" prostitution sting? Would you be surprised to hear it's already producing a rush of new business for local divorce lawyers? No, all is not forgiven for the 104 men on Katherine Rice's mug-shot poster.

THE NEWS IN SONG: Come gather 'round: Eddie Vedder, "The Times They Are A-Changin'," tinyurl.com/achang

LONG ISLANDERS OF THE WEEK

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THE INCUBATORS

START-UP NY stands for SUNY Tax-free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate NY. But don't let the acronym fool you. The state's new tax-free zones for incubator businesses include Stony Brook University and some private campuses in Nassau and Suffolk. The state will waive 10 years of business, sales and property taxes for the job-creating preemies. Employees will pay no income taxes for five. The deal "will undoubtedly help launch hundreds of new businesses on Long Island," said SBU president Sam Stanley, sounding like a happy, expectant dad.

Email ellis@henican.com

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