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“Stuck In A Narrow Minded Past”: Another Setback For The GOP’s Outreach To Women

Say hello to state Rep. Peter Hansen, a Republican from New Hampshire.

In an email sent April 1, Hansen, who once came face-to-face with an intruder in his own home, referenced a speech given by another lawmaker, who described how he had been able to retreat without using deadly force in public.

“There were two critical ingredients missing in the illustrious stories purporting to demonstrate the practical side of retreat. Not that retreat may not be possible mind you. What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina’s of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims,” Hansen wrote, according to messages posted online this week by liberal blogger Susan Bruce.

Well, let’s see, where to start.

First, Hansen now says he’s “embarrassed” by what he wrote, but keep in mind, in the face of criticism, he initially did not back down. He eventually said he was sorry “to those who took offense,” which does not a genuine apology make.

Second, the plural of “vagina” is “vaginas,” not “vagina’s.” If the guy is going to be a misogynist, the least he could do is use appropriate grammar while being crude and disrespectful.

Third, if you think “vagina” is an appropriate synonym for “woman,” perhaps a career in public service isn’t for you.

But let’s also not forget the larger context: the Republican Party is trying to improve its reputation among women and minority voters. Indeed, GOP officials have received lectures from pollsters, explaining, for example, that they should consider rape a “four-letter word.”

Presumably the pollsters didn’t think it was necessary to remind Republican lawmakers not to refer to women as “vaginas.”

Indeed, it seems incidents like these keep happening. On the one hand, Republican Party leaders say they’re serious about growing their ranks and welcoming voters who’ve been eager to keep the GOP at arm’s length. On the other hand, Republican officials at one level or another have recently used racial slurs in reference to Latinos, made inappropriate remarks about Native Americans, compared Middle Eastern men to monkeys, and now this.

I suspect RNC officials would say the entire party can’t be held responsible every time a Republican lawmaker says something offensive about women or minorities, and that’s not an unreasonable argument.

But the point is, the party already has a tarnished reputation, after years in which the GOP deliberately cultivated a small, old, white, Christian, male-dominated base. All of these incidents, in turn, create a pattern that tells a diverse, forward-thinking nation that Republicans are stuck in a narrow-minded past.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 17, 2013

April 18, 2013 Posted by | GOP, War On Women | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Soft On Crime”: The NRA And Republicans Protecting The “Second Amendment Rights” Of Thugs And Terrorists

What can Americans learn from the bitter debate over the gun reform bill? Perhaps the most obvious lesson is that the leadership of the National Rifle Association, the Gun Owners of America, and their tame Republican politicians have all earned an epithet of derision they used to hurl regularly at liberals.

Yes, the gun lobby and its legislative servants are “soft on crime” — although they routinely pretend to be tough on criminals.

During the Clinton presidency, NRA president-for-life Wayne LaPierre raised vast amounts of money with direct-mail campaigns against both Bill and Hillary Clinton for supposedly coddling criminals. Dubbed “Crimestrike,” the NRA crusade pushed prison construction, mandatory minimum sentencing, and sundry other panaceas designed to position the NRA as the bane of muggers, rapists, and murderers. Those themes echoed traditional Republican propaganda messages dating back to the Nixon era, when the presidential crook himself often derided judicial concerns about civil liberties and promised to restore “law and order.” (When Nixon henchmen like the late Chuck Colson went to prison themselves, they often emerged as prison reformers and civil libertarians, of course.)

But in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, with the NRA angrily opposing any measure designed to hinder criminals from acquiring firearms, the public is learning who is really soft on crime.

Police officials across the country want universal background checks, magazine limits, and stronger enforcement against illegal weapons sales, but the NRA and its Republican allies insist that such changes will penalize legitimate gun owners. Or they complain that criminals mainly obtain weapons by stealing them, so restrictions on sales won’t make any difference.

Even a cursory examination of the facts demonstrates those claims are false. Gun trafficking experts at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have long known that less than 15 percent of all crime guns are stolen from their original owners. Much more common sources of guns used by criminals are so-called “straw purchases,” where a person with a clean record buys a gun on behalf of a criminal, and corrupt purchases, where a licensed gun dealer knowingly sells to a criminal. Bipartisan gun legislation now before the Senate would crack down on these sales, by increasing penalties for straw purchasers who willfully help criminals buy guns. The NRA has offered tepid support for that provision — but it is virtually meaningless without universal background checks, which the gun lobby opposes.

As Will Saletan pointed out in Slate last January, the NRA has consistently (and successfully) sought to kill the most basic efforts to keep guns away from convicted criminals and other dangerous characters — including abusive spouses under court protection orders, drug dealers, and even individuals listed on the Justice Department’s terrorist watch list.

In the wake of the Boston bombing, as the nation ponders how to bolster its security, the gun lobby’s tender concern for the Second Amendment “rights” of terrorists and thugs ought to permanently discredit them and their political servants. Instead they have achieved another bloody victory in Washington.

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013 Posted by | National Rifle Association, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Disingenous And Bald Faced”: The NRA Gets Caught Lying Again

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a long-time ally of the National Rifle Association with an “A” rating, appeared on MSNBC this morning and expressed his frustration with the far-right group. The conservative Democrat lamented how “disingenuous” the NRA has become, and criticizing the organization for telling “lies.”

Manchin added, “If you lose credibility — if you don’t have credibility, you have nothing.” If the NRA fails to correct its falsehoods, “they’ve lost everything in Washington.”

Clearly, the NRA will take its chances. Indeed, it’s launching a new ad campaign, claiming that 80% of police officers believe background checks will have no effect on violent crime. Is that true? Actually, no — William Saletan explained today it’s a “bald-faced lie.”

If you read the methodology posted at the bottom, you’ll see that it isn’t really a poll, since it wasn’t conducted by random sampling. It was “promoted” to the site’s members and was easy to flood with advocates of a particular viewpoint. (To give you some idea of how biased the sample is, 62 percent of those who participated in the poll say, in question 15, that if they were a sheriff or a chief of police, they would not enforce more restrictive gun laws.) But set that problem aside. The bigger problem, in terms of the NRA’s ad, is that the poll never asks whether background checks will have an effect on violent crime.

In other words, the NRA isn’t even lying well.

And yet, thanks at least in part to Republican obstructionist tactics, the NRA and their falsehoods are poised to prevail on Capitol Hill anyway.

Saletan added, “The NRA’s ad is a lie. It flunks a simple background check. Senators should ask themselves what else the NRA is lying about.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 17, 2013

April 18, 2013 Posted by | National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Political Price To Pay”: Obstruction Of The Gun Violence Bill Will Further Damage The GOP

On Wednesday, supporters of legislation to limit gun violence failed to muster the sixty votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster of the Toomey-Manchin compromise that would expand background checks to include all commercial gun sales in the United States.

Polls show that universal background checks are supported by 90% of Americans – including a vast majority of gun owners and Republicans. A clear majority of Senators are fully prepared to pass a background check measure. But no matter – the Republican Leadership decided to obstruct the democratic process in the Senate to prevent an up or down vote on the measure.

Conventional wisdom continues to hold that, while the vast majority of Americans support universal background checks, in many areas it is still smart politics not to antagonize the NRA and their relatively small number of very active – very passionate – supporters. Conventional wisdom is wrong. Here’s why:

1). Wednesday’s Washington Post poll shows that 70% of all voters and nearly half of Republicans already think the GOP is out of touch with the needs and interests of the majority of Americans. By opposing a common sense measure like universal background checks, that is supported by nine of out ten Americans, the GOP leadership threatens to further tarnish the GOP brand by appearing to be way out of the mainstream and not on the side of ordinary voters.

2). It is no longer true that large number of voters who favor measures to limit gun violence are less “passionate” about their views. It is also no longer the case that those views will be less likely to affect their voting than opponents of restrictions on guns.

In a poll released Wednesday by Project New America, over 60% of voters in Arkansas, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio said they strongly support background checks for gun purchasers.

And an overwhelming number of voters said they would be more likely to support candidates for Senate that supported background checks – 70% in Maine, 65% in North Carolina, 64% in Illinois, 64% in New Hampshire, 62% in Nevada, and 56% in Arkansas.

3). The GOP lost women 55% to 44% in the last election. Republican obstruction of gun violence legislation will only make their problem with women voters worse, since they are particularly passionate supporters of legislation to stem gun violence. The same goes for Millennial voters who overwhelmingly support gun violence legislation.

4). Some pundits will say that Democratic Senators contributed to the failure to muster 60 votes to end the Republican filibuster by refusing to vote to cut off debate. Forty-one of forty-five Republican Senators voted against background checks. Over 90% of Democratic Senators voted to support the background check legislation and there would have been no need for 60 votes in the first place if the Republican leadership had not decided to filibuster the bill.

The fact is that everyone in America knows that the President and Democratic Leadership strongly favor background checks, and the Republican Leadership – as well as most Republican Senators – opposed them. That is what will create a lasting impression among voters.

5). Many Republicans and some Democratic Senators have made the judgment that the money and energy of the NRA and weapons industry are more potent politically than the forces who promote legislation to curb gun violence. That may have been true in the past — no longer.

The fact is that in the last election the major NRA PAC had a .083% success rate. And now Mayor Bloomberg, the Giffords/Kelly organizations and many others are amassing substantial resources to target against the enemies of legislation to stop gun violence.

Bloomberg already showed the potency of these efforts by investing $2 million in the Illinois 2nd District Congressional District and virtually sinking pro-NRA candidates who had otherwise been strong contenders in this spring’s special election. There will be more of that to come.

6). On a press conference call Wednesday, Democratic pollster Geoff Garin pointed out that Republican opposition to legislation to limit gun violence, further shrinks the playing field where they will be competitive – both in 2014 and the next Presidential race. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a list of 27 Republican incumbents who represent swing districts where voters are supportive of anti-gun violence legislation.

Already Republicans have a very narrow, difficult path to 270 electoral votes in the Presidential map. They need to broaden their electoral playing field. But their opposition to gun violence legislation will make their path to victory in states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon even more difficult.

What does all of this add up to?

The fact is that Democrats and supporters of strong legislation to curb gun violence have the high moral and political ground in this debate — and the issue is not going away. This is, after all, a 90%-10% issue.

The background check bill would have won by five votes. Instead, Republican abuse of arcane Senate rules required that it receive a super majority of sixty votes to pass. This, by the way, is yet another excellent reason to change those Senate rules to end the misuse of the filibuster.

Over the next weeks, it is up to those who support common sense gun violence legislation to come down on those who voted no like an avalanche.

There is simply no excuse for their failure to pass legislation that is supported by 90% of the American people.

Simply put, we cannot let that stand – and those who opposed the measure must be made to pay the political price.

There continues to be a perceived “passion gap” on the gun issue. Members of Congress still believe that while the majority of Americans support legislation to curb gun violence, they lack the passion of opponents. As we have seen, this is no longer true.

Now it is up to us to demonstrate that it is not true to the Senators who are more concerned about contributions and support from the weapons industry than they are about the lives of the 26 people who died at Newtown – and the thousands of others who have died since.

 

By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post, April 17, 2013

April 18, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Shameful Day For Washington”: The NRA Willfully Lied On Guns

Speaking just minutes after a minority in the Senate killed a bipartisan bill to expand background checks on gun sales — something 90 percent of Americans support — President Obama stood in the Rose Garden in front of weeping gun violence victims, including former Rep. Gabby Giffords, to give a searing indictment of the forces that just blocked even this modest reform.

Showing flashes of anger and passion rare for this president, Obama laid into the National Rifle Association and Senate Republicans, saying they “willfully lied on this bill,” especially by erroneously claiming the bipartisan background check legislation known as Manchin-Toomey would create a national gun registry when, in fact, the bill made creating one a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. Even though politicians lie all the time, the word “lie” is almost never uttered in public discourse in Washington, let alone by the president, underscoring his unusual anger.

“Unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose. Those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators,” Obama said. “There were no coherent arguments as to why we shouldn’t do this, it came down to politics.”

He even took a highly unusual shot at four senators in his own party who voted against the amendment to expand background checks out of fears that the gun lobby would come after them, saying, “Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear too. So they caved to the pressure. And they started looking for an excuse — any excuse — to vote no.”

“Too many senators,” Obama said, “failed” their test of leadership. Behind him parents of children killed at Sandy Hook and in other massacres visibly wept.

But he reserved special criticism for Sen. Rand Paul, who said Obama was using gun violence victims as “props.” “Are they serious?” Obama said of Paul’s comments without mentioning him by name. “Do they really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue?”

“So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” Obama concluded, before promising to try again and asking citizens to put pressure on their members of Congress.

Indeed, after Columbine in 1999, when Republicans in the Senate killed a robust bill to expand background checks, the public outcry was so strong that they immediately backtracked and approved a stronger bill (it later died in the House).

 

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, April 17, 2013

April 18, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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