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“MARS Voters Vs Goldwater Republicans”: The Definitive Description Of Trump Supporters

As I speculated previously, now that the media’s obsession with Trump-mania has been interrupted by actual news, “the Donald” continues to fall in the polls. It’s not that Trump has changed his tune. He continues to say inflammatory and ignorant things. But with the Pope’s visit, Boehner’s resignation (followed by the chaos that’s about to ensue in the House leadership elections), and the shooting in Oregon, we actually have some other things to talk about.

And so it’s interesting to note that, just as all that is happening, John Judis writes what is likely to become the definitive description of Trump supporters. Referring to a 1976 book by Donald Warren, he calls them Middle American Radicals (MARS).

“MARS are dis­tinct in the depth of their feel­ing that the middle class has been ser­iously neg­lected,” Warren wrote. They saw “gov­ern­ment as favor­ing both the rich and the poor sim­ul­tan­eously.”

I would simply note that it would be a more accurate description of MARS if we added one word: “MARS are distinct in the depth of their feeling that the white middle class has been seriously neglected.” Also, since the 1970’s we have increasingly made the distinction between blue collar and white collar middle class – the former being what we refer to as “working class,” who are the heart of the MARS demographic.

Judis suggests that these are the voters who supported candidates in the past like George Wallace, Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan. Where this is especially helpful in understanding the MARS voters of today is that Judis explains the ingredients that contribute to a burst of Middle American Radicalism: (1) “a widespread sense of national decline,” (2) “pronounced distrust of leadership in Washington,” and (3) a leader to play the catalyzing role.

What many have been noting for a while now (including me) is that the conservative sense of national decline is fueled by the fact that the white male patriarchy is dying – both as a domestic force and around the world. The fact that our President is African American and their Republican leaders have failed to stop him has inflamed their sense of distrust in Washington. Along comes Donald Trump to tap into all of that.

But when it comes to the candidacy of Trump, here is where Judis provides some optimism: MARS voters tend to make up 20% of the electorate and 30-35% of Republicans. That reality is demonstrated by this chart from a recent Pew poll (note: they polled registered voters rather than likely voters, which is probably wise this far out of a general election). Trump’s support peaks with non-college educated voters who make less than $40,000.

What’s also interesting to note is that the number of registered voters who are undecided at this point is about 25%. Among those who have decided, support for Rubio and Fiorina peak among college educated voters who make $75,000 or more. That tends to support what I’ve said previously about “Goldwater Republicans.”

The wild card in all this are the Carson supporters – who are pretty evenly dispersed (except for the fact that he gets less support among those who make less than $40,000). If there comes a time that Carson overtakes Trump in the polls (as he did recently in an IDB/TIPP poll), he will likely come under more scrutiny by the media and other Republican candidates. That’s when we’ll learn whether or not he has staying power or is the 2016 version of Herman Cain (my money is on the latter).


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 6, 2015

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republican Voters, White Middle Class | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“We Need Cops With People Skills”: Police Authority Presupposes Legitimacy And Trust

What can I do?

Not quite six months ago, a reader named Tracy posed that question to me and I, in turn, posed it to you. Tracy, a 55-year-old white woman from Austin, said she was sick of hearing about unarmed African-American men being injured or killed by police. “What can be done?” she asked. “What can I do? I’m sincere in this question. I want to DO something. What can that be?”

Well, Bob has some ideas. In an email, he describes himself as a “retired professional firefighter from a metropolitan area” whose 20 years as a paramedic often required him to work closely with police.

“I witnessed many cases of police brutality,” he writes. “A stressed patient or family member would call 911 for medical assistance. We would respond as well as the PD. A situation that required a calm and caring presence and an ambulance ride to a care center or psych ward would end up in a physical altercation with mace and cuffs.”

Bob says he and his partner would talk about what they had seen on the way back to the station, “but knew better than to alert our superiors or file complaints because we did not dare open a rift with the local PD. We (and paramedics on other shifts) needed PD backup on potentially dangerous calls. So we all kept quiet.”

Based on that experience, Bob has two suggestions. One is that we should push for more thorough screening of police applicants. “We need cops to DEFUSE situations,” he writes, “not escalate. We need cops with people skills. No more bullies. Very intense psych examinations should be part of police applicant training.”

Bob’s other suggestion? Require that non-sworn civilians be part of any investigation of police brutality. Just as you would never assign a 7-year-old to solve the mystery of the broken cookie jar, he thinks it makes little sense to ask police to investigate their own.

“Do we really think cops will give an unbiased and honest effort when investigating other cops? NO! It is always the same old game. Make the investigation last for months until it is back-page news. Discount or do not document damaging statements. Intimidate convincing witnesses. Conveniently forget to note damaging facts. When all else fails, lie or plant evidence to close cases.”

From where I sit, both of Bob’s suggestions have merit, but as we approach the first anniversary of the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice with no one yet held accountable, his second carries particular resonance. Even granting the need for thoroughness, it strains credulity to believe it takes the better part of a year — and counting — to decide whether to prosecute Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, especially given the surveillance video that shows Loehmann shooting the boy, who had been holding a realistic-looking toy gun, within two seconds after the patrol car skids to a stop in front of him.

Would the decision on prosecution proceed at such a leisurely pace had it been Loehmann who was shot? Would the prosecutor be agonizing like Hamlet almost a year later?

You know the answer as well as I do.

The impulse to cut cops some slack — “Hey, he was only doing his job” — is understandable. It is also wrong and, more to the point, shortsighted.

One of the most important weapons in a cop’s arsenal is his authority. But authority presupposes legitimacy and trust. How much of either can a police officer — or a police force or the institution of policing itself — command when they operate under such a blatantly different set of rules? A requirement that outside eyes be involved in investigations of serious allegations of police misconduct would go a long way toward rectifying that.

At the very least, it’s a conversation we are long overdue to have.


By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, October 5, 2015

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Law Enforcement, Police Abuse, Police Brutality | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Breaking The Power Of The NRA”: President Obama Just Identified The One Thing That Could Make Real Gun Reform Possible

In the latest iteration of what has become a thoroughly awful and depressing ritual, President Obama came to the White House press room last night to offer his comments on our latest mass shooting. It was an extraordinary statement in many ways, most of all because Obama, ordinarily so emotionally controlled, did little to hide his anger and disgust. When he began to talk about the politics of guns, he put his finger on something that hasn’t gotten too much attention as we’ve debated this issue.

If you listen to liberals talk about guns these days, what you hear more than anything else is a combination of despair and resignation: we get massacre after massacre after massacre, and we never do anything about it. The closest we came to passing some reasonable limits on the ease with which people can obtain deadly weaponry came after the Sandy Hook shooting, when the Manchin-Toomey bill died after failing to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate. And if we can’t pass something like universal background checks when 20 elementary school children are gunned down, when could we?

If the answer is ever going to be something other than “never,” it may require breaking the power — both real and assumed — of the National Rifle Association. And Obama may have identified the only way that could happen. Here’s part of what he said yesterday:

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country – they know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence….

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate, I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up. And that will require a change of politics on this issue. And it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners — who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.

What Obama seems to want to do is drive a wedge between America’s gun owners and the NRA. Is that possible? Maybe, but it would certainly be difficult. What we can say for sure is that nothing would be more terrifying for the NRA.

The NRA’s power is complicated, but it depends on everyone assuming that that power is enormous, which in turn depends on the idea that they represent all of America’s gun owners. That Manchin-Toomey bill in 2013 was a rare case of a gun control bill actually coming up for a vote, but most of the time, what happens in Congress is that such legislation not only doesn’t get debated, it never even gets written in the first place, because everyone assumes it’s futile. The NRA would kill it, so why bother?

Thus it is that the group exercises a kind of passive deterrent power, a power they never actually have to use. When they do try to use their power — in elections — they’re actually not that successful. People believe that having the NRA against you is a guarantee of defeat, but the evidence actually shows that it doesn’t make much of a difference. When Republicans have a good year, like in 2010 or 2014, the NRA rushes out and says, “That was because of us! You’ll lose if you don’t oppose all gun laws!” But when Republicans have a bad year, like in 2008 or 2012, the organization doesn’t say anything, lest anyone realize that most of the candidates they supported in close races lost.

And Obama is absolutely right when he says that the NRA does not represent the views of all American gun owners. The organization is opposed to most regulation of guns and gun purchases, yet gun owners as a whole are supportive of many kinds of limits. For instance, polls have shown support among gun owners for universal background checks to be over 80 percent (see here or here).

It’s in the NRA’s interest to have everyone believe that there are only two kinds of opinion on this issue — that all Americans are either gun-grabbers or NRA supporters who think no limits should ever be placed on gun purchases. It’s one thing to understand that’s false, but it’s something else to convince politicians that they can take the position most of their constituents take without significant political risk. But it hasn’t really been tried on a large scale. While Democrats in the past have certainly made the point that the NRA is much more extreme than the typical American gun owner (and even, in some cases, more extreme than their own membership), there’s never been much in the way of concerted efforts to organize and heighten the visibility of gun owners who reject the NRA.

There’s a related but distinct problem, which is that opposition to any and all gun legislation has now been written into Republican DNA as firmly as support for tax cuts or opposition to abortion rights. Any Republican who gets elected to Congress, or even the state legislature, is almost certain to take the doctrinaire NRA position on gun legislation. The overwhelming majority of the Republicans in Congress who killed Manchin-Toomey didn’t do so grudgingly or out of fear. They did it because they actually believe that enacting such a law would be a terrible infringement on all our freedom.

Nothing is permanent in politics, though. It’s possible that over time there might be more Republicans elected who take the position that you can respect the basic right to own a gun but not sign on to the NRA’s deranged vision of a society where everyone is armed and the answer to the fact that mass shootings occur in America at a rate of about one per day is to put more guns in more people’s hands in more places at more times. It’s possible that everyone could come to see the NRA as a radical group with bizarre and dangerous ideas supported by only a small minority of Americans, and the most politically advantageous position for a Republican to take would be stop well short of where the NRA is on this issue.

It’s possible. But getting there won’t be easy.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, October 2, 2015

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Ownership, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Fiorina’s Deadbeat Campaign”: Never Felt Responsible For Debts Her Campaign Racked Up, Until She Decided To Run For President

Snakes alive, the negative resume of Carly Fiorina gets bigger and badder every day. On the same day that Wall Street veteran (and long-time Democratic operative) Steve Rattner argues in the New York Times that Fiorina’s record as CEO at HP is even worse than previously assumed, WaPo’s Robert Samuels looks at an aspect of her failed 2010 Senate race that hasn’t gotten much scrutiny: it still owes people money.

Fiorina has emerged in recent weeks as a top-tier candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, impressing voters with a pair of crisp debate performances and a promise to put her bottom-line inclination as a Fortune 50 chief executive to fix a broken Washington.

But that fiscal sensibility was largely absent from Fiorina’s other run for office — a quixotic and unsuccessful attempt to unseat longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

In more than two dozen interviews, staff members, friends, contractors and operatives who worked on Fiorina’s 2010 campaign singled out one big problem: how the team managed its cash.

Many said Fiorina spent too much on television ads with narrow appeal, while others said she was an anemic fundraiser who did not keep close enough tabs on her coffers. There also were concerns that some events were too lavish…..

Well, too lavish for the campaign’s accounts payable system, anyway.

Those who waited the longest to be paid were small businesses with a few dozen employees who did the grunt work of the campaign: building stages, sending out mailers, selling polling data. And at least one is still waiting.

Jon Seaton, the managing partner of East Meridian Strategies, confirmed that his group billed Fiorina’s campaign for $18,000 on Oct. 6, 2010, for printing 21,290 mailers.

Six weeks went by and nothing came. So Seaton asked again. Then again. As of last week, he said he was still waiting.

Jan van Lohuizen, whose small firm did surveys for Fiorina, said he wasn’t paid the $7,500 he was owed until this year. Van Lohuizen said he assumed Fiorina was running for Senate again because her campaign reached out to settle up days after Boxer announced she was retiring.

“Turns out my instinct was right, but I got [the] office wrong,” van Lohuizen said.

Fiorina’s campaign did manage to pay her back the $1.3 million she loaned it, presumably derived from the estimated $100 million she earned from HP as CEO or ex-CEO.

Samuels notes that campaigns–especially losing campaigns–often struggle to pay their bills, noting that it took Hillary Clinton years to clear the books for her 2008 campaign. But if I recall correctly, the bulk of HRC’s campaign debt was in payments to her pollster and “chief strategist,” Mark Penn, who by most accounts was probably overcompensated significantly for the value he delivered to that campaign. Plus you get the distinct impression from Samuels that Fiorina never felt responsible for the debts her campaign racked up, at least until she decided to run for president. Seems that irresponsibility was a hallmark of her campaign:

“People are just upset and angry and throwing her under the bus,” said Jon Cross, Fiorina’s operations director for her Senate campaign. “If we didn’t win, why do you deserve to get paid? If you don’t succeed in business, you shouldn’t be the first one to step up and complain about getting paid.”

Don’t think that’s the way debt works, Mr. Cross. You don’t get to write it off without a bankruptcy proceeding just because you fail and blame your creditors for failing as well.

But hey, maybe it doesn’t matter:

Her supporters cautioned that little could be gleaned from her California campaign. They maintain that Fiorina’s corporate experience is more akin to managing a presidential campaign than a bid for office in one of the nation’s most liberal states.

That’s right! Let’s focus on HP! Oh, wait….


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 5, 2015

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, GOP Presidential Candidates, Hewlett Packard | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s Not About The Motive, It’s About The Gun. Again”: Enacting Gun Control Dramatically Reduces The Problem

One of the challenges in writing about gun violence in the United States is the repetitive nature of it. Every time one of these preventable massacres occurs, writers of reasonable political intelligence point out some basic obvious and commonsense truths. Then nothing is done. Then the next entirely predictable massacre takes place, and the Right trots out all the usual inane defenses of American gun culture, and we have the same stupid debates as if it all hadn’t happened the previous time, and the time before that and the time before that.

In that vein, I’ve said this before, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to say it again: we need to stop focusing on the motives of the killers, and start focusing on the gun.

After each of these mass killings–I refuse to call them tragedies because tragedies tend to be inevitable and unstoppable, which these killings are not–Americans always want to know why. What was going through the mind of the killer? Can we learn the signs in advance? Who was to blame? (Besides the gun, since everyone knows we won’t do anything about that.)

So in the wake of the Isla Vista shootings by a sexually frustrated and entitled young man, we had a discussion of misogyny and male entitlement. After the Fort Hood shootings conservatives had a field day attacking Islam. After the Charleston shootings liberals had an effective punching bag to talk about race.

Now we see each side attempting to use the latest shootings for its own political advantage. Those on the left are pointing to the shooter’s self-described conservative Republican views and his misogynist sexual entitlement syndrome. Those on the right are working themselves into a frenzy over his atheism and his alleged targeting of Christians, going so far as to suggest that Christians start arming themselves in response. And so it goes.

But all of this needs to stop, because it’s pointless. Almost by definition, people who intentionally walk into a public space and indiscriminately kill large numbers of people don’t tend to be sane or have clearly thought out motives. More importantly, other industralized democracies also have angry, lonely, crazy people from all over the political spectrum.

Other countries have mental illness, instant celebrity culture, sexually entitled men, radical theocrats, radical atheists and violent movies/video games. But they don’t have this problem.

Further, we know that no matter what cultural elements may be present, enacting gun control dramatically reduces the problem. We already know this to be true from the experience of Australia, which has libertarian frontier culture and demography quite similar to our own.

Trying to focus on the motives of a mass shooter is a fool’s errand that plays into the hands of those who like the status quo. Focus on the gun, because that’s the common denominator and the ultimate cause of the problem.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly , October 4, 2015

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Lobby, Gun Violence | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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