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“Bobby Jindal Enabled Louisiana’s Gun Violence Problem”: Worked To Weaken The State’s Already Lax Gun Control

Governor Bobby Jindal suspended his sputtering presidential campaign on Friday, a day after 59-year-old gunman John Houser killed two people and wounded nine others in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. “We’re going to do whatever we can to support our community here,” he said on Fox News. “This is a time for us to come together.”

He should do a lot more than that. Louisiana has some of the weakest gun laws and worst gun violence in the nation.

The state doesn’t require background checks on private sales, even for assault weapons; doesn’t require gun owners to register their firearms; and doesn’t have a limit on the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. As for gun violence, the state has the second-highest gun death rate in the nation, according to an analysis of the latest National Vital Statistics report. Louisiana’s lax oversight also enables firearms trafficking to other states, in which it ranks fifteenth in the nation, and 28 percent of guns wind up in criminals’ hands within two years of sale—almost six points above the national average.

Jindal has worked to weaken the state’s already lax gun control by signing a wave of bills in 2013 and 2014. He broadened the “Stand Your Ground” law to protect shooters who hurt, but don’t kill, someone they feel is threatening. He allowed concealed weapons in places that serve alcohol. He banned public access to the personal information of concealed handgun permit owners. He approved guns in churches. And he allowed Louisianans to apply for lifetime concealed-carry permits.

So don’t expect from Jindal the type of comments that Barack Obama delivered after last month’s massacre in a Charleston, in which the president said, “Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

Jindal called Obama’s remarks “completely shameful”—words that more appropriately describe the governor’s own gun policies.

 

By: Rebecca Leber, The New Republic, July 24, 2015

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Gun Control, Gun Deaths | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Donald’s Trump Card”: His Candidacy Is A Headache For The GOP, But A Third Party Run Would Be A Catastrophe

Donald Trump. For Democrats who care about this presidential election cycle, the infamous Republican candidate has been the gift that keeps on giving. And now, he’s threatening to give Democrats more than they could have possibly hoped for in the form of a third party run.

According to an interview with The Hill, Trump may consider a third party bid if he doesn’t feel the Republican Party has been fair to him during the primary process. When asked about the possibility of the independent run, Trump said, “I’ll have to see how I’m being treated by the Republicans. Absolutely, if they’re not fair, that would be a factor.”

Understandably, Trump’s run for the nomination has been a thorn in the side of the national GOP. He’s monopolizing the press coverage, leading the polls, and has been a menace on the campaign trail. His inflammatory comments – most recently disparaging Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., status as a war hero – are garnering the wrong kind of attention for his party. He’s also really starting to annoy the other candidates – just ask Sen. Lindsey Graham.

However, as tough as his candidacy has been for the Republican party thus far, a third party run would make things 10 times worse.

Third party candidates are usually a spoiler in presidential contests. They rarely have the resources to win, but if they run well, they can draw enough support to thwart one of the major party candidates. Trump has been fashioning himself as a mostly conservative candidate who has appeal among conservative voters. According to the New York Times, he has “become the new starring attraction for the restless, conservative-minded voters who think the political process is in need of disruption.”

Due to this appeal, it’s fair to say that, in a three way race, the candidate most likely to be thwarted by Trump’s run would be the Republican nominee. An independent Trump candidacy would mean the Republican nominee would be battling on two fronts. He would be fighting the Democratic nominee for the all-important swing voters, and he would also be fighting Trump for votes among his conservative base. In a close race, the support lost to Trump could be enough to cost Republicans the entire race and put a Democrat in the White House.

However, Trump’s ability to be such a spoiler depends entirely on whether he makes it out of his primary run with any political juice left. Some of the other 15 candidates vying for the Republican nomination are starting to realize they can break through Trump’s hold on the press by attacking him. Rick Perry, in particular, has been taking this approach. Earlier this week, the former Texas governor called Trump’s candidacy a “cancer on conservatism,” and said that the billionaire presidential candidate could lead to the demise of the Republican Party. How long before the other candidates start following suit?

Harsh and persistent criticism from his own party could damage Trump’s credibility as a candidate and start to limit his appeal. Trump may also yet prove to be his own worst enemy. He appears to have faced few consequences for his recent attacks on McCain, but he’s proven to be a candidate with a penchant for speaking without thinking. Eventually, that could prove to be his undoing. The less popular Trump is when the primaries end, the less impact he will be able to have as a third party candidate.

And yet, even with limited potential for effectiveness, a third party run for Donald Trump would not be a good scenario for the national GOP. Trump would continue to dominate press coverage and would undoubtedly still be able to compete at some level with the Republican nominee for support and resources. It’s also likely that if he runs because he feels the national party has treated him unfairly, he would direct most of his ire at the Republican candidate. All of that adds up to a huge headache that will divert party attention away from the quest to win the election. For Democrats, it all adds up to a huge advantage.

 

By: Cary Gibson, Government Relations Consultant with Prime Policy Group; Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, July 24, 2015

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Republicans | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Obama Has A Response For The ‘Not Tough Enough’ Crowd”: The Greatest Terrorist Hunter In The History Of The Presidency

The latest report from the Pew Research Center offered generally good news for President Obama – Democrats’ favorability is improving, while Republicans’ favorability is sinking – but there was one trouble area for the White House that stood out.

Just over half of Americans (53%) continue to say that Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy and national security is “not tough enough”; 37% say he handles these matters about right, while just 4% say he is too tough. These attitudes are virtually unchanged since November 2013.

Republicans are far more critical of Obama’s approach to foreign policy than Democrats or independents.

Indeed, the partisan split matters. A 53% majority believes the president’s approach to national security isn’t “tough enough,” but that’s exaggerated a bit because a whopping 80% of Republicans have convinced themselves this is true. The numbers of Democrats and Independents who agree is significantly smaller.

Still, it’s a deeply odd thing for a majority of Americans to believe.  Consider something Obama said this week during his address to the VFW National Convention:

“I’ve shown I will not hesitate to use force to protect our nation, including from the threat of terrorism. Thanks to the skill of our military and counterintelligence professionals, we’ve struck major blows against those who threaten us. Osama bin Laden is gone. Anwar Awlaki, a leader of the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen – gone.  Many of al Qaeda’s deputies and their replacements – gone. Ahmed Abdi Godane – the leader of the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia – gone. Abu Anas al-Libi, accused of bombing our embassies in Africa – captured. Ahmed Abu Khattalah, accused in the attack in Benghazi – captured. The list goes on. If you target Americans, you will have no safe haven.  We will defend our nation.”

As of yesterday, Abu Khalil al-Sudani, the al Qaeda operative “in charge of suicide bombings and operations involving explosives” was killed by U.S. forces, which means he can be added to Obama’s “gone” list.

I’m reminded of Jeffrey Goldberg’s point from last year: “Obama has become the greatest terrorist hunter in the history of the presidency.”

So, what’s with the “not tough enough” concerns?

As we talked about a while ago, I suspect Republican rhetoric is a key factor in Republican perceptions. The more Obama orders strikes on terrorists, the more GOP officials feel the need to pretend the president is indifferent to matters of national security, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Note, for example, just how many Republican leaders, candidates, and officials have said the president is doing “nothing” about ISIS, even as the president orders literally thousands of airstrikes on ISIS targets in the Middle East.

What’s more, Republicans have gone to extraordinary lengths to move the goal-posts – what really matters, the GOP argues, isn’t whether the Obama administration kills terrorists, but rather, whether the Obama administration uses words and phrases Republicans find ideologically satisfying.

Sure, killing bin Laden is nice, but for many on the right, if the president doesn’t explicitly use the phrase “Islamic terrorism,” preferably every day, a successful counter-terrorism strategy doesn’t really count.

There is, of course, an entirely different side of the debate, including questions from the White House’s progressive critics. Do U.S. strikes deter or prevent future terrorist threats? Is the U.S. policy entirely consistent with the law? What are the implications of a policy reliant on drones? Should Americans expect the current national-security policy to remain in place indefinitely? What happens when one terrorist leader is killed, but he’s replaced by someone worse?

The answers to these questions matter, and shouldn’t be overlooked by chest-thumping.

But there’s still the matter of mistaken public perceptions, which appear increasingly divorced from reality. If a president with Obama’s record isn’t “tough enough,” who is?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 24, 2015

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Foreign Policy, National Security, Terrorism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“An Analogy Offered With A Nudge And A Wink”: Is Bernie Sanders A Nazi? On Our Epidemic Of Bad Analogies

The internet rewards hyperbole. Maybe that’s why bad — incendiary, wildly inaccurate — analogies seem to be spreading throughout the media landscape, and especially on the right.

Analogies are an indispensable tool of reasoning and rhetoric, highlighting similarities between two or more things, people, or events. But deploying analogies can be complicated, since the things, people, or events being compared are invariably dissimilar in a multitude of ways. The trick in deploying an analogy effectively is to highlight a similarity that reveals something important and underappreciated about the main thing, person, or event. The key to making a mess of an analogy is drawing a comparison in which the dissimilarities are so vast that they overshadow and even undermine the comparison altogether.

Consider Kevin Williamson’s much-discussed article from National Review calling Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders a Nazi. Now, Williamson doesn’t actually use the term Nazi. But he does say that Sanders “is, in fact, leading a national-socialist movement.” Just in case readers failed to make the link to the National Socialist movement led by Adolf Hitler, Williamson immediately concedes that it’s “uncomfortable” to draw such a comparison about “a man who is the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and whose family was murdered in the Holocaust.” Still, Williamson insists, “there is no other way to describe his view and his politics.”

It turns out, though, that what Williamson really means is not that Sanders dreams of world military conquest and the extermination of Jews and other inferior races in the name of Aryan purity — you know, like an actual National Socialist. What Williamson really means is that Sanders is both a socialist and a nationalist. Which makes him “a national socialist in the mode of Hugo Chávez.”

Oh, that kind of national socialist.

By the time we come to this big reveal toward the end of Williamson’s article, it’s impossible not to feel manipulated, even duped, by the “national socialist” analogy that forms the backbone of the story — because the author utterly failed, and never even really intended, to demonstrate a relevant similarity between Sanders’ campaign and the fascist political movement that swept Germany in the 1930s and went by the name of National Socialism.

The Williamson article is somewhat unusual in that its core analogy is offered with a nudge and a wink. Other conservatives draw their inflammatory comparisons with complete sincerity.

Perhaps no recent event has inspired more spurious analogies than the Supreme Court’s defense of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision has inspired some defenders of traditional marriage to call Obergefell the Dred Scott decision of our time (because, like Dred Scott, Obergefell was supposedly an act of lawless judicial usurpation that subverted the democratic will of the people).

Others have likened Obergefell to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that declared a constitutional right to abortion and ended up conjuring the national pro-life movement into existence. Still others have described a future in which the “Gestapo” will begin knocking on the doors of those who oppose same-sex marriage, or compared life for conservative Christians post-Obergefell to life under “the lie” of communist totalitarianism.

Let’s take these one at a time:

Unlike Dred Scott, Obergefell and same-sex marriage enslave no one. Moreover, whereas upholding the rights of slave owners led to immediate and total loss of liberty for large numbers of human beings, opponents of same-sex marriage have had a difficult time demonstrating to courts that granting the right to marry to the nation’s tiny population of homosexuals, in itself, does any measurable harm at all to those who define a marriage in traditional terms. (As for the harms to the exercise of religious freedom that may well follow from Obergefell, they are not a direct consequence of same-sex marriage itself but are rather a product of an anticipated expansion of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws to cover gay marriage. This complication is obviously something obscured by the Dred Scott analogy, as is the likely prospect of legislating carve-outs from anti-discrimination laws for religious organizations.)

Unlike with the consequences of Roe, no one can plausibly claim that a person is killed as a result of exercising the right proclaimed by Obergefell. That would seem to render the comparison somewhat lacking in cogency. (It also points to why the constitutional triumph of same-sex marriage is exceedingly unlikely to spark powerful, enduring grassroots opposition like the pro-life movement.)

The Gestapo? You’ve got to be kidding. Let me know when the secret police begins pounding on your door, and I will pledge my life, fortune, and sacred honor to prevent you from being sent to a concentration camp for your traditionalist Christian beliefs. But until that time, please get a grip. Outbursts like that only make you look paranoid, self-pitying, and bizarrely out of touch with both present American reality and the bloody history of real political oppression.

As for the analogy to communism, the same admonition applies. Even in the realistically worst-case scenario predicted by opponents of same-sex marriage — the forced compliance of religious schools and other church-affiliated institutions with anti-discrimination laws protecting gay marriage; the loss of tax-exempt status for churches — the United States would resemble contemporary France far more than the Soviet Union. The advent of French-style ideological secularism (laïcité) in the U.S. would mark a significant (and in my view unwelcome) change, including a significant constriction of religious freedom from historic American norms. But that’s a far cry from totalitarianism. (Last time I checked, France was a liberal democracy, albeit one with a somewhat different understanding of the proper relation between church and state.)

I could go on, pointing to other false comparisons deployed by the right. (Keeping up with neoconservative invocations of Munich, 1938 could be a full-time job all on its own.) But it would be a mistake to think that liberals never make unconvincing analogies. As far as many conservative Christians are concerned, the entire effort to portray opposition to same-sex marriage as equivalent to opposing interracial marriage is profoundly misleading. And they have a point. (Allowing people of the same sex to marry is a much more radical change to the institution than opening marriage to men and women of different races — and the sexual morality wrapped up with male-female marriage is far more deeply intertwined with the theological traditions of Western Christianity than racialized theories of matrimony ever were.)

The point is that politicians and commentators on both sides of the aisle do themselves no favors by drawing false analogies. It’s a form of hype — sloganeering used in place of reason. Sometimes, as with the purported parallel between interracial and same-sex marriage, a weak analogy succeeds as propaganda. But more often, the analogy persuades no one who wasn’t already convinced.

In such cases, argument and evidence will always have a greater likelihood of prevailing. Accept no substitutes.

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, July 23, 2015

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, July 23, 2015

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Media, Nazis, Socialism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Being A Jerk Is A Feature Of His Candidacy”: The Media Created Donald Trump — And Now He Can’t Be Stopped

Time for some straight talk: We in the media love Donald Trump.

Even when we’re criticizing him — and boy, has he gotten plenty of criticism from people in the media over the last few days — we still love him. There’s just something magical about the guy. I think it resides in the contrast between his transcendent boorishness and his unflagging insistence that everything about him is the height of class and sophistication. And the details — the spectacular comb-over, the downscale New York accent, the wife regularly turned in for a younger model — all combine to make him a truly glorious character, so easy to mock and yet so unfazed by the mockery of millions.

It’s hard to think of too many people who have sustained the kind of celebrity Trump has for as long as he has. After all, he first started appearing in newspapers and magazines in the 1980s. Nothing takes him down, not bankrupcy, not the failure of his political endeavors (remember how he was going to prove that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States?), nothing. He just keeps coming.

So while the Republican Party is hoping desperately that somehow Trump will just go away, he’s not going anywhere until he’s good and ready. And as long as he can turn on the news and see his face, he’s a happy man.

After he seemed to belittle John McCain’s status as a war hero over the weekend (“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, I hate to tell you”), you could almost hear the collective whoops from GOP headquarters, not to mention from Trump’s primary opponents.

“There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,” said an RNC spokesman, which might be news to John Kerry, since disparaging his service was pretty much the centerpiece of the campaign against him in 2004. After weeks of trying not to say anything impolite about Trump lest they offend his supporters, the candidates finally mustered themselves to a round of condemnation.

It provided a perfect moment for the media, which is why this episode has gotten such enormous coverage. On one hand, it’s Trump, who’s always good for a story. And on the other hand, Trump could have been discovered to have a lab in his penthouse where puppies and kittens are tortured to make cologne from their tears, and it wouldn’t have offended journalists as much as an insult to John McCain.

There isn’t time to go into the details now, but suffice it to say that no politician in at least half a century has benefited from the kind of media adulation that John McCain has enjoyed, and his suffering as a POW is always presented as the justification for that worship. In striking contrast to the way they treat every other politician, McCain’s motives are assumed to be pure, his sins are excused, and his coverage focuses on his best moments rather than his flaws and mistakes. (Even his 2008 presidential campaign was reported with more gentle affection than most losing candidates get.) So even if the presidential candidates were not saying a word, McCain’s admirers in the media would be covering this story with all their might.

Which doesn’t make it much different from what’s been happening with Trump’s candidacy from the outset. As John Sides notes, Trump got much more coverage from his entry into the race than any other candidate, and the coverage sustained its high level even after that initial period. It’s interesting to contemplate whether Trump will still be news if and when he’s falling in the polls instead of rising, but chances are that before long he’ll say something else outrageous, which will lead to a new round of breathless coverage.

I suspect that Trump’s supporters aren’t going to desert him because he insulted John McCain — after all, McCain isn’t much liked among the Republican base, and this actually fits in with Trump’s political brand as the guy who tells it like it is. The fact that he’s getting universal condemnation could even convince the base that he’s exactly the kind of no-nonsense, shake-up-the-system candidate they’ve been hoping for. When he said Mexican immigrants were rapists and drug dealers, his support leaped among Republican primary voters, and they love the fact that he tosses around insults at anyone and everyone. And we in the media love it too.

Trump being a jerk is a feature of his candidacy, not a bug — and we just can’t get enough.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributing Writer, The Week, July 21, 2015

July 27, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Media | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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