mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Positions On Brady Bill And Background Checks”: Can South Carolina Forgive Bernie’s Gun Record?

Hillary Clinton is taking a message to South Carolina: Bernie Sanders is soft on guns.

In a newly released campaign ad, Clinton is hitting the Vermont senator straight in his progressive bona fides. The 30-second spot features Rev. Anthony Thompson, who lost his wife in the Charleston church massacre last year.

In debates and town halls, Clinton has repeatedly pointed out that Sanders—in addition to voting against the Brady Bill—has failed to support the most basic tenet of gun control: background checks. And being in favor of civil immunity for gun manufacturers likely played well in the Green Mountain State, where gun violence is relatively uncommon.

“I come from a state that has virtually no gun control,” Sanders said at a gala dinner hosted by the South Carolina Democratic Party over the King holiday weekend. “We must bring this country together under those provisions that the majority of the country supports.”

However, a public opinion poll conducted by CBS News and The New York Times found that the vast majority of Americans—92 percent— “favor background checks for all gun buyers.”

South Carolinians have been grappling with gun control since the day 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine people—including South Carolina State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney —after a prayer service.  The mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, one of the largest and oldest historically black churches in the south, whipped up the political winds.

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, who endorsed Clinton this week, introduced a comprehensive bill aimed a curtailing the flow of illegally obtained guns and tightening restrictions on buyers. Senator Sanders, who talked to the state lawmaker about his legislation, has said he voted against the Brady Bill because he “opposed a provision in the bill that would have held gun shop owners responsible if a gun they sold was used in a terrible crime.” He favors, according to a statement provided to The Daily Beast, holding “manufacturers and sellers responsible for knowingly or negligently selling a gun to the wrong person.”

None of that has stopped the Clinton campaign from attempting to exploit what they see as a weakness. By targeting Sanders with an ad that features an “Emanuel 9” widow, just 15 days before the Democratic primary contest in South Carolina, Clinton is out to show that Sanders is out of the mainstream and that he doesn’t understand the needs of people who live in the line of fire. That message is being dispatched by surrogates—including state elected officials and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to houses of worship in every corner of the state.

In debates, Sanders has vigorously defended himself on the issue—pointing to his D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association and saying he will continue to fight for “common sense gun safety measures” as president.

The Sanders campaign said the senator does support closing the gun-show loophole, which allows unlicensed dealers to sell weapons without a background check. He also wants to make “straw man” purchases a federal crime, ban semi-automatic assault weapons and launch a renewed focus on mental health.

While gun control is not a featured issued on the Sanders campaign website, FeelTheBern.org says the candidate believes in a “middle ground solution.”

“Bernie believes that gun control is largely a state issue because attitudes and actions with regards to firearms differ greatly between rural and urban communities.”

The website is built and maintained by volunteers who have no official affiliation with Sanders.

By comparison, Clinton’s proposals are much more aggressive and she lays out her public record on the issue—as First Lady when she supported the Brady Bill and background checks, and as a U.S. Senator when she co-sponsored legislation to re-instate the assault weapons ban. Clinton has vowed to close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows a gun sale to proceed without a background check if that check has not been completed within three days.

There are few who believe that Sanders stands a real chance of winning in states like South Carolina— with its markedly more diverse electorate.  Clinton, with the new ad and a throng of issue-driven surrogates, is out to prove that Sanders is disconnected, that he doesn’t know how “real” Americans live and that he doesn’t know how to govern.

Clinton isn’t just saying that Sanders is soft on guns, but that his all-or-nothing positions are dangerous.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, February 12, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Background Checks, Bernie Sanders, Gun Control, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Vote For Survival”: You’re Damn Right Electability Matters To Black Voters

Coming off his near-upset in the Iowa caucus and his massive win in New Hampshire, polls (PDF) are showing that more voters nationally are “feeling the Bern,” with Bernie Sanders now appearing to have the momentum against Hillary Clinton. These polls seem to confirm two theories.

First, the enthusiasm gap that many of us have long written about and that Hillary Clinton struggles with is very real.

Second, not caring about which candidate is actually electable might be one of the greatest forms of privilege there is. This is one reason why despite being more progressive than Clinton in some areas, Sanders has struggled to gain traction with black voters. Because ignoring whether a candidate is actually electable is a luxury most minorities simply can’t afford.

Here’s what I mean.

Every voter I’ve ever met has fallen into three camps: Those who see voting as a civic duty, those who only do it when they’re really inspired, and those who view it as an act of survival. For those who view it as a civic duty, voting is on par with volunteering for charity—something good, responsible people do regularly but not necessarily something they believe will immediately impact their lives. But they may believe that voting for a candidate who cares about climate change today could possibly have some impact on the world one day, like when their grandchildren are here.

We have all met at least one person who falls in the only when they’re really “inspired” camp. They only vote when a candidate makes their heart sing by saying something witty on The Tonight Show or giving one great speech.

Then there are those who vote for survival. That’s the person who votes, and gets family members to vote, to try to overturn a Stand Your Ground Law in her state, because she knows more than one unarmed teen in her community who was killed because of such a law. That kind of voter doesn’t have the luxury of waiting to be “inspired” by a candidate or to think long term about how their vote might make a difference a decade from now.

Which is why the battle between Bernie and Hillary is actually much bigger than the two of them. It’s a larger debate the progressive movement has struggled to settle within its broad coalition for years over whether considering electability is in itself a moral issue on par with the many policy issues voters and parties must consider.

For years there was a saying in Democratic circles: “Democrats want to fall in love with a candidate. Republicans fall in line.” (Obviously Donald Trump’s supporters didn’t get the memo this year.)

Hillary Clinton continues to struggle because she’s not a candidate who inspires love; admiration perhaps, but not love. The crowds at Bernie Sanders rallies could easily be mistaken for those attending a mega-church tent revival—all smiles, music and enthusiasm out the yin-yang. Hillary Clinton’s events by comparison have the more sobering feel of the Sunday School class your mom made you go to. But that doesn’t change the fact that beyond his core loyalists Bernie Sanders is not widely seen as presidential material. Yet watching Bernie Sanders gain momentum and be enthusiastically celebrated by the same people ridiculing Trump’s supporters as delusional has been a combination of ironic and baffling.

For starters, Sanders is a self-described socialist and a recent Gallup poll found that socialists are even less electable than atheists these days, which is saying something.

And in a poll released recently by Monmouth University a plurality of Democrats declared Clinton the Democratic candidate with the best chance of beating the Republican frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

But details like these have not deterred Sanders loyalists. This is not exactly surprising because we have seen this before. I mean that Sanders inspires the same measure of devotion shown to previous progressive icons like Ralph Nader, who played the role of spoiler to Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Nader’s and Sanders’s supporters have a few things in common.

For starters, few of Nader’s supporters actually looked at him and thought, “I genuinely believe this man has a serious shot of making it all the way to the White House.” But it wasn’t actually about winning. Instead Nader supporters had a whole host of reasons why they were willing to cast a vote that would help insure a Bush victory. Reasons like:

“We need his voice!”

“The system is broken and we need to send a message!”

“I’d rather vote my conscience than vote for the winner!”

“All I care about is who is right on the issues!” (i.e. which candidate most aligns with me ideologically)

Of course the message they ended up sending with their vote of conscience was ultimately, “I’m fine helping elect Bush.”

The similarities don’t end there. According to polling research Sanders supporters are primarily white, and they have higher levels of education and income than Clinton supporters. In 2000 The Washington Post described Nader voters as “disproportionately young, white and well-educated.”

Again, this isn’t a surprise. Because if there is anyone who can afford to vote for a candidate and genuinely not care whether he or she wins or loses, it is a young person of privilege who ultimately has very little at stake. For instance, it is doubtful that many of the white, well-educated voters who comprised Nader’s core constituency were among those who ultimately comprised the young men and women who ended up losing their lives in the War in Iraq that began under the president Nader helped elect.

And if we’re being honest, a person of privilege won’t really be that affected by who becomes attorney general or who is nominated to the Supreme Court. What I mean is, a white affluent college student will always be able to secure a safe abortion if she decides she wants one, whether it’s legal or not, just as a white affluent student is far less likely to have his life derailed by an arrest for narcotics possession than a poor black one. In both cases their familial and social networks will provide a safety net for them, which is why what motivates their voting decisions will be different than what motivates others.

The fact that Hillary is trouncing Sanders in the first primary state with a sizable black population, South Carolina, speaks volumes. There she is not only leading substantially among total voters but winning up to 80 percent of the black vote.

The reason is simple. If you are worried about your black son possibly walking out the door tomorrow and being shot in either random community violence, or by another George Zimmerman, then determining whether a candidate inspires you is probably not high on your list of Election Day priorities. You’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Most minorities do.

Recall that even with respect to Barack Obama in 2008, some African-American voters were enthusiastic from the start, but they didn’t really go all in until after he won in Iowa—that is to say, until they saw that he was truly electable. More specifically, that he could win support from diverse constituencies—African Americans as well as voters in white states. This is something Sanders hasn’t proven.

I guess the question becomes whether the needs of less privileged voters will ever become a priority for more privileged progressives who have the luxury of letting inspiration be their guide.

 

By: Keli Goff, The Daily Beast, February 12, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Black Voters, Electability, Hillary Clinton, White Voters | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“On Economic Stupidity”: How Little Many People Who Would Be President Have Learned From The Past

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign famously focused on “the economy, stupid.” But macroeconomic policy — what to do about recessions — has been largely absent from this year’s election discussion.

Yet economic risks have by no means been banished from the world. And you should be frightened by how little many of the people who would be president have learned from the past eight years.

If you’ve been following the financial news, you know that there’s a lot of market turmoil out there. It’s nothing like 2008, at least so far, but it’s worrisome.

Once again we have a substantial amount of troubled debt, this time not home mortgages but loans to energy companies, hit hard by plunging oil prices. Meanwhile, formerly trendy emerging economies like Brazil are suddenly doing very badly, and China is stumbling. And while the U.S. economy is doing better than almost anyone else’s, we’re definitely not immune to contagion.

Nobody really knows how bad it will be, but financial markets are flashing warnings. Bond markets, in particular, are behaving as if investors expect many years of extreme economic weakness. Long-term U.S. rates are near record lows, but that’s nothing compared with what’s happening overseas, where many interest rates have gone negative.

And super-low interest rates, which mainly reflect market forces, not policy, are creating problems for banks, whose profits depend on being able to lend money for substantially more than they pay on deposits. European banks are in the biggest trouble, but U.S. bank stocks have fallen a lot, too.

It looks, in other words, as if we’re still living in the economic era we entered in 2008 — an era of persistent weakness, in which deflation and depression, not inflation and deficits, are the key challenges. So how well do we think the various presidential wannabes would deal with those challenges?

Well, on the Republican side, the answer is basically, God help us. Economic views on that side of the aisle range from fairly crazy to utterly crazy.

Leading the charge of the utterly crazy is, you won’t be surprised to hear, Donald Trump, who has accused the Fed of being in the tank for Democrats. A few months ago he asserted that Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Fed, hadn’t raised rates “because Obama told her not to.” Never mind the fact that inflation remains below the Fed’s target and that in the light of current events even the Fed’s small December rate hike now looks like a mistake, as a number of us warned it was.

Yet the truth is that Mr. Trump’s position isn’t that far from the Republican mainstream. After all, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, not only berated Ben Bernanke, Ms. Yellen’s predecessor, for policies that allegedly risked inflation (which never materialized), but he also dabbled in conspiracy theorizing, accusing Mr. Bernanke of acting to “bail out fiscal policy.”

And even superficially sensible-sounding Republicans go off the deep end on macroeconomic policy. John Kasich’s signature initiative is a balanced-budget amendment that would cripple the economy in a recession, but he’s also a monetary hawk, arguing, bizarrely, that the Fed’s low-interest-rate policy is responsible for wage stagnation.

On the Democratic side, both contenders talk sensibly about macroeconomic policy, with Mr. Sanders rightly declaring that the recent rate hike was a bad move. But Mr. Sanders has also attacked the Federal Reserve in a way Mrs. Clinton has not — and that difference illustrates in miniature both the reasons for his appeal and the reasons to be very worried about his approach.

You see, Mr. Sanders argues that the financial industry has too much influence on the Fed, which is surely true. But his solution is more congressional oversight — and he was one of the few non-Republican senators to vote for a bill, sponsored by Rand Paul, that called for “audits” of Fed monetary policy decisions. (In case you’re wondering, the Fed is already audited regularly in the normal sense of the word.)

Now, the idea of making the Fed accountable sounds good. But Wall Street isn’t the only source of malign pressure on the Fed, and in the actually existing U.S. political situation, such a bill would essentially empower the cranks — the gold-standard-loving, hyperinflation-is-coming types who dominate the modern G.O.P., and have spent the past five or six years trying to bully monetary policy makers into ceasing and desisting from their efforts to prevent economic disaster. Given the economic risks we face, it’s a very good thing that Mr. Sanders’s support wasn’t enough to push the bill over the top.

But even without Mr. Paul’s bill, one shudders to think about how U.S. policy would respond to another downturn if any of the surviving Republican candidates make it to the Oval Office.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, February 12, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Economic Growth, Economic Policy, Federal Reserve, Recession | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“At The Top Of The To-Do List For 2017”: Here’s What Will Happen On Taxes If A Republican Is Elected President

The Tax Policy Center has released an analysis of Marco Rubio’s tax plan, which, like their analyses of Jeb Bush’s plan and Donald Trump’s plan, shows that it would result in a staggering increase in the deficit if it were implemented — $6.8 trillion in Rubio’s case, compared to an identical $6.8 trillion for Bush and $9.5 trillion for Trump.

The problem is that it’s awfully hard to wade through all these details and numbers, grasp the distinctions between them, and determine which one you find preferable.

The good news is, you don’t have to.

That’s in part because the differences between the various Republican candidates’ plans are overwhelmed by what they have in common. But more importantly, it’s because if one of them becomes president, the tax reform that results will reflect not so much his specific ideas as the party’s consensus on what should be done about taxes.

So to simplify things, here’s what you can expect if a Republican is elected president in November:

  1. Income tax rates will be cut
  2. Investment tax rates will be cut
  3. The inheritance tax will be eliminated
  4. Corporate income tax rates will be cut
  5. Corporations will be given some kind of tax holiday to “repatriate” money they’re holding overseas

And that’s basically it. Yes, there will be hundreds of provisions, many of which could be consequential, but those are the important things, and the things almost all Republicans agree on.

Let’s keep in mind that this is the policy area Republicans care more about than any other. There are pockets of conservatives for whom the details of defense policy are important, and others who care a lot about education, and even a few who care a lot about health care. But all of them want to cut taxes. They may get passionate talking about how much they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or how tough they’ll be on border security, or how they’ll totally destroy the Islamic State. But if a Republican is elected in 2016, it is a stone-cold guarantee that changes to the tax code will be at the top of the to-do list for 2017.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the tax reform we get will be exactly what that president promised during the campaign. For instance, Ted Cruz is proposing what’s essentially a Value Added Tax (VAT). But he won’t get that passed even with a Republican Congress, because it’s controversial within the party.

That’s critical to understand. It isn’t as though congressional Republicans, who have been waiting to do this for years, will just take the new president’s plan and hold a vote on it. Instead, they’re going to hammer out a complex bill that reflects their common priorities. It will be a product of the party’s consensus on what should be done about taxes, a consensus that has been forming since the last time they cut taxes, during the George W. Bush administration.

You can make an analogy with the ACA. By the time 2008 came around, Democrats had arrived on a basic agreement on what health care reform would look like. That isn’t to say there was no disagreement within the party. But the outlines had been agreed to by the most powerful people and the wonks within the party: expand Medicaid for those at the bottom, create exchanges for people to buy private insurance, offer subsidies to those in the middle. That’s why the plans offered by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards in that election all followed that outline, and that’s what the Democratic Congress eventually produced.

The things that I listed above are the essential tax consensus of the GOP at the moment. Some people would add or modify some elements — Rubio, for instance, would completely eliminate investment taxes while others would merely reduce them, but he would also expand the child tax credit. But the outline is the same, particularly in its effects. Here’s how we can summarize those:

  1. Poor and middle-class people will pay a little less in taxes
  2. Wealthy people will pay a lot less in taxes
  3. Corporations will pay a lot less in taxes
  4. The deficit will explode

Republicans, who profess to care deeply about deficits, will claim that their tax plan won’t actually cost anything (or will cost very little), because when you cut taxes, you create such a supernova of economic growth that the cost of the cuts is offset by all the new revenue coming in. This is sometimes referred to as a belief in the “Tax Fairy” because it has as much evidence to support it as a belief in the Tooth Fairy. It is a fantasy, but their continued insistence that it’s true requires us to address it.

You don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to remember the history of the last quarter-century. Bill Clinton raised taxes, and Republicans said the country would plunge into recession and the deficit would balloon; instead we had one of the best periods of growth in American history and we actually got to federal budget surplus. Then George W. Bush cut taxes, and Republicans said we’d enter economic nirvana; instead there was incredibly weak job growth culminating in the Great Recession. Barack Obama raised taxes, and Republicans said it would produce economic disaster; instead the deficit was slashed and millions of jobs were created.

So we don’t actually have to argue about whether the Republican tax plan will increase the deficit, because the theory behind it has been tested again and again, and the results are obvious. If they cut taxes as they’d like, maybe the deficit will go up by a trillion dollars, or five trillion, or eight trillion. We don’t know exactly how much it will go up, but we know it will go up.

As far as Republicans are concerned, dramatic increases in the deficit are a reasonable price to pay to obtain the moral good of tax cuts. If you think I’m being unfair, ask them whether they believe Bush’s tax cuts were a mistake. They don’t.

You can agree or disagree. But you don’t have to wonder what will happen if a Republican is elected. There may be other plans that president will be unable or unwilling to follow through on, but I promise you, cutting taxes is one thing he absolutely, positively will do. And we don’t have to wonder what it will look like. We already know.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, February 12, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Tax Cuts, Tax Reform | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Race-Baiting Rants, Xenophobic Fear-Mongering”: Maine’s Racist Gov. Paul LePage Is A Preview Of President Trump

If you want a vision of the Donald Trump presidential future, look no further than Maine’s tantrum-throwing, race-baiting, loves-to-be-hated Gov. Paul LePage.

Since being elected in 2010, LePage has repeatedly made use of rants designed to rally white middle-class resentment and garner media attention for his pet causes. The New York Times calls him “combative,” Politico says he’s “crazy,” and the Huffington Post brands him a “racist.”

For those following the Republican presidential race, this all sounds quite familiar.

In the span of just seven months, frontrunner Trump has dispensed with any sense of decorum or restraint—whether it’s calling John McCain a “loser” who, despite surviving a Vietnamese prisoner camp, is no war hero; branding Mexicans “rapists”; making sexist remarks about rival candidate Carly Fiorina and Fox News host Megyn Kelly; demanding an outright ban on all Muslim immigration; or gleefully repeating a fan calling Ted Cruz a “pussy.”

LePage, too, relishes in “tellin’ it like it is” brutishness.

For instance, the governor has blamed the spread of infectious diseases on undocumented immigrants. “I have been trying to get the president to pay attention to the illegals in our country because there’s been a spike in hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and HIV, but it’s going on deaf ears,” he lamented, while failing to provide evidence for his claims.

While on the campaign trail in 2010, he proclaimed that he’d tell President Obama to “go to hell.” And within weeks of taking office, the businessman-turned-governor declined invitations from the NAACP to attend Martin Luther King Jr. Day events, adding that the civil rights organization—a “special interest” who will not hold him “hostage”—should “kiss my butt” if they feel slighted.

It’s not hard to envision President Trump, leaning back in his solid-gold Oval Office chair, telling a Muslim-American activist group they can “kiss my ass” after he declines to visit a mosque or entertain religious leaders.

As Maine’s executive, LePage frequently makes uncouth remarks to bash his legislative rivals. “Sen. [Troy Dale] Jackson claims to be for the people,” he said during a budget dispute, “but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”

One could easily imagine POTUS Trump making anal sex references to pressure Senate Democrats during tense negotiations.

And just like Trump has lobbed personal insults and veiled threats at media outlets he perceives as unfair, LePage, while at the controls of a flight simulator, publicly joked, “I want to find the Portland Press Herald building and blow it up.” A few months after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the Maine governor said he’d “like to shoot” a Bangor Daily News political cartoonist.

All of this seems to be part of LePage’s plan to thump his chest and offend or embarrass everyone until he gets his way. Just like The Donald.

The uber-conservative governor made national headlines last month when he suggested “we ought to bring the guillotine back” as punishment for drug traffickers. Before that, he went on a screed about “guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” coming from other states to “sell their heroin” and ditch, but not before “they impregnate a young, white girl.”

LePage’s communications director, Peter Steele, denied the governor’s comments had anything to do with race. But then a month later, mini-Trump admitted the racial connotations, and noted it was all part of his tantrum to get the state’s legislature to do as he wanted.

“I had to go scream at the top of my lungs about black dealers coming in and doing the things that they’re doing to our state,” he told a WVOM radio show on Tuesday. “I had to scream about guillotines and those types of things before [state lawmakers] were embarrassed into giving us a handful of DEA agents. That is what it takes with this 127th [Legislature]. It takes outrageous comments and outrageous actions to get them off the dime. They just simply don’t move.”

Interestingly, as the Bangor Daily News noted, lawmakers from both parties agreed to LePage’s drug-fighting plans before he ever threw a hissy fit. And when it came up for a vote, all but one legislator voted yes.

So his racist stand was all for show. Sounds familiar.

Oddly enough, when asked for his thoughts on the likely Republican nominee, LePage, who had endorsed Chris Christie in the primary, said, “I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, although he should give me a stipend… for starting this whole thing about being outspoken.”

 

By: Andrew Kirell, The Daily Beast, February 11, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Maine Legislature, Paul LePage, Racism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: