mykeystrokes.com

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

“The Day The NRA’s Gun Dam Began To Crack”: The Ongoing Holocaust The NRA And The Republicans Are Abetting

I couldn’t believe Wednesday night that some liberals were expressing indifference or even suspicion toward the House Democrats’ sit-in. I wouldn’t say this was all that widespread, but I did see it, and it was based on the fact that one of the bills they were demanding a vote on, the one banning people on watch lists from buying guns, is problematic from a civil-libertarian point of view.

Oh please. Do these people know history happening when they see it? The sit-in was about the two bills only in the most nominal sense. It was really about dead bodies. It was about the NRA and its stranglehold on their institution. It was about saying “enough.”

I wrote earlier this week that yes, the NRA won again on those four Senate votes, but “someday, this dam will break.” Well, it’s coming a hell of a lot faster than I thought it would. No, the dam isn’t broken—yet. That will still take a fair amount of time. But after Wednesday night, it’s now possible to see a different future, one in which the NRA is not all-powerful. It’s no longer crazy to think that its back can be broken.

Sure, there are serious civil liberties concerns about government lists. Here’s what the ACLU has to say about them. If you are a man with an Arabic name in particular, the risk of being put on one of these lists because of error or confusion is not inconsiderable. That has to be addressed, and a citizen has to be able to go to the government and demonstrate wrongful harm.

But everyone agrees on all this. As I watched the coverage Wednesday, every single Democrat I saw interviewed said as much. I wish I could retrieve for you what Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky told Chris Hayes late last night, but the video wasn’t posted on his site yet as I sat down to write. She said in essence: Of course, we all agree, fix the bill, build in an appeals process for individuals to challenge being put on the list. Given. In the meantime, actual dangerous people who deserve to be on that list can go buy assault weapons and mow down innocent people. Let’s stop that first, then we’ll fine-tune the bill.

What on earth is objectionable about that? Nothing. And anyway, the bill isn’t going to pass even if Paul Ryan does allow a vote. But it would have the effect of calling the Republicans’ bluff. That is, the standard Republican criticism of the bill has been precisely this civil-libertarian critique. So if the Democrats come to them en masse to say fine, we agree with you, let’s find a way to build in a workable appeals process, and the Republicans still vote against the bill, they will stand exposed, and everyone will know that civil liberty concerns aren’t what’s driving GOP opposition. Fear of Wayne LaPierre is. We all know this already anyway, but if there is a vote and they still vote against it, we’ll have proof.

Legislating is ugly business. The choices are usually between okay and not okay, or often between bad and much worse. You take what you can get. This is why the sit-in merits support and admiration (and if you really want to be a liberal who’s on the opposite side of the great John Lewis, be my guest). This is very different from the civil rights actions of the 1950s. Then, activists had a country to persuade; they had to move the mountain of public opinion. And so activists in Birmingham settled on segregated buses as the target that would tangibly and visibly make segregation stark for white Americans outside the South. They bided their time, deliberately chose Rosa Parks as the woman to do it, and slowly won public opinion over to their side.

But here, the public doesn’t have to be persuaded. It’s 80 or 90 percent on the Democrats’ side on guns. Even most NRA members support background checks, the subject of the other bill over which the Democrats staged their action. The boulder that has to be moved—or crushed—is the Republican Congress. So it’s up to congressional Democrats to make that fight, and they have to do it with the imperfect implements at their disposal, which means particular pieces of legislation that are bound to be deficient in one way or another.

And they’re finally making that fight. It was remarkable to see lawmakers holding those pieces of paper with the names of victims from Newtown and Orlando. That wasn’t about watch lists. It was about the ongoing holocaust that the NRA and the Republicans are abetting. It was all the more remarkable for the fact that it was done in an election year, when everyone’s supposed to be double-terrified of the NRA.

So the sit-in is ending as I write, on Thursday afternoon. But one of these days, the NRA will lose a vote. Two or three more Orlandos (which is of course two or three too many) will have the nation tearing its hair out. Democrats will finally stand firm, and enough Republicans from purple districts and states will defect. The stranglehold will end. And maybe in time, after LaPierre has gone off to whatever place eternity has reserved for him, the NRA will again become what it used to be, which is an organization that promotes reasonable Second Amendment rights but stops insisting that these death machines that were never intended to be in civilian hands deserve constitutional protection.

And when that time comes, historians will point to June 22, 2106 as the day the dam started to crack. I’m clear about which side I’m on.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 24, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Gun Deaths, House Democrats Sit-In, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Simply No Equivalence”: Trump’s Poll Numbers Are Historically Awful. And He Doesn’t Even Know It

Donald Trump’s slide in the national polls is becoming so obvious that even he may not be able to deny it for much longer. Or will he?

Politico’s Steven Shepard has a good analysis of all the recent polling that makes two basic points. First, the polls now “unanimously” show that Hillary Clinton is building a real lead over Trump. And second, a look at all the recent polls showing him upside down — which are detailed at length in the piece — reveals that Trump’s personal unfavorable numbers are not just bad. They are actually “setting modern records for political toxicity.”

But there are two additional key points. First, note the intensity of dislike of Trump:

It’s not just the overall unfavorable numbers — it’s the intensity of the antipathy toward Trump, and the lack of enthusiasm for him. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 56 percent of respondents had a “strongly unfavorable” opinion of Trump, compared to just 15 percent who had a “strongly favorable” opinion. In the Bloomberg poll, 51 percent had a “very unfavorable” opinion of Trump, with only 11 percent having a “very favorable” opinion.

And the second key point is that, while Hillary Clinton is also disliked, there is just no comparison to Trump:

Clinton’s image ratings are also “upside-down” — but compared with Trump, she’s more than likable enough. The ABC News/Washington Post poll pegs her favorable rating at 43 percent (25 percent strongly favorable), with 55 percent viewing her unfavorably (39 percent strongly unfavorable).

Crucially, note that in the WaPo and Bloomberg polls, a majority of Americans has a strongly unfavorable view of Trump. But the WaPo poll shows only a minority of 39 percent has a strongly unfavorable view of Clinton. That’s true of the Bloomberg poll, too, in which 40 percent view her very unfavorably.

This is another way in which there is simply no equivalence in how disliked Trump and Clinton are, which cuts against one of the punditry’s cherished narratives, i.e., that gosh, it’s just so awful that the parties are foisting two deeply hated candidates on the poor voters!

One is strongly disliked by a majority of Americans (at least in those two polls), and the other isn’t. That’s a key distinction: It suggests that Trump could be inspiring a level of mainstream antipathy and even revulsion that could prove harder to turn around than the less intense dislike Clinton is eliciting.

Yet all indications are that Trump is still so caught up in the glow of his GOP primary victories that he may not even be capable of acknowledging what’s happening right now. In a key tell, Morning Joe aired some footage of Trump at a rally in Dallas last night, in which he launched a lengthy soliloquy about how the polls had underestimated his strength in the primaries. At one point, he said this about those polls:

“When I run, I do much better. In other words, people say, ‘I’m not gonna say who I’m voting for’ — don’t be embarrassed — ‘I’m not gonna say who I’m voting for,’ and then they get in, and I do much better. It’s like an amazing effect.”

It would not be surprising if Trump is telling himself something similar about the general election polling, if, that is, he even takes it seriously enough to bother thinking about it at all.

 

By: Greg Sargent, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, June 17, 2016

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , | Leave a comment

“He’s Not Paying Close Enough Attention”: McConnell Boasts, ‘There Is No Dysfunction In The Senate Anymore’

Good news, America, the United States Senate, after years of exasperating impairment, is finally a healthy, functioning institution – according to the man whose job it is to lead it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sat down with Charlie Rose this week and made a boast that was literally unbelievable.

MCCONNELL: We have done a lot more than you think we have. And the reason for that is everybody is angry about their own situation in life. They’re blaming the government which is understandable. But there is no dysfunction in the Senate anymore. And I’ve just given you a whole list…

ROSE: Because Harry Reid is now the minority leader and you are the majority leader.

MCCONNELL: That’s right.

No, it’s not.

Look, I can appreciate why McConnell, who’s arguably done more than anyone in modern history to disrupt how the upper chamber functions, wants the public to see the Senate in a positive light. The state of the institution is obviously a reflection on McConnell’s own leadership, and if voters believe the chamber is governing effectively, perhaps the electorate would be more inclined to leave the Senate in the hands of his Republican majority.

But to declare that Senate dysfunction is a thing of the past is pretty silly.

Consider the judicial confirmation process, for example. McConnell and his GOP brethren have imposed the first-ever blockade on any Supreme Court nominee regardless of merit. Pressed for a defense, the Majority Leader and other Senate Republicans have presented a series of weak talking points burdened by varying degrees of incoherence.

And it’s not just the high court, either: district and appellate court vacancies languish as the GOP majority generally refuses to consider one of its most basic governmental responsibilities.

And it’s not just judges. It took the Senate 11 months to confirm an uncontroversial U.S. Ambassador to Mexico nominee. An uncontroversial Army Secretary nominee faced an unnecessary wait that was nearly as long as part of an unrelated partisan tantrum.

In the meantime, the Senate can’t pass its own bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill, hasn’t passed a budget, is taking its sweet time in addressing the Zika virus threat, still requires supermajorities on practically every vote of any consequence, and is on track to give itself more time off this year than any Senate in six decades.

If McConnell is proud of what the chamber has become, perhaps he’s not paying close enough attention.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Republicans, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Toxic Social And Cultural Stew”: Get Ready For A Long, Very Ugly Election Won On The Ground

Yesterday I wrote that the politically obsessed should not pay attention to general election polls right now, because the GOP primary is over while the Democratic one continues. That in turn has given presumptive nominee Trump a consolidating boost, while Sanders supporters still resist supporting Clinton. That phenomenon will dissipate within the month, and Clinton will get her own boost once the last votes are cast.

Still, the latest poll showing Trump leading Clinton by 2 points is instructive not for its toplines, but for the very high negative public perceptions of both candidates. While the topline numbers should change over the next few months in Clinton’s favor, the candidates’ negatives are unlikely to. Compounding this reality is that the public has lower-than-ever perceptions of the news media, which means we’re ripe for a toxic social and cultural stew as we approach the election.

What does this mean going forward? Mostly that the election will be driven in part by core supporters who do like their respective candidates on both sides, but mostly by fear of the other side. Conservative voters who don’t like Trump will have to make a choice whether to trudge to the polls to vote against Clinton, and liberal voters who don’t like Clinton will have to do likewise against Trump. Undecided voters who don’t like either choice will have to decide whether to vote at all.

Pure partisans won’t have any trouble showing up, because that’s what we do. But general elections aren’t won by pure partisans who vote in every election. Nor are they usually won by persuading the very small slice of people who can’t seem to make up their minds between two very different candidates all the way into October.

General elections are won by turning out the people who already agree with you ideologically, but only show up to vote every other election when they really feel inspired to but otherwise feel that politics is a waste of time that doesn’t change anything dramatically affecting their daily lives.

In that sense, the way both sides will try to win is not to convince the disaffected that their candidate will affect dramatic positive changes (though Trump may have some disaffected voters with whom he can make that argument; Clinton’s chance of persuading her own version of the same is somewhat less due to her intentionally incrementalist message), but to scare them into believing that the other candidate will make dramatic negative changes.

In other words, Trump will try to convince apathetic conservatives that Clinton will turn America into a gun-free Venezuelan socialist despotism, while Clinton will try to convince apathetic liberals that Trump will turn America into an unstable, trigger-happy fascist dictatorship. Clinton will use Trump’s lascivious past against him, even as Trump brings up decades of unsavory personal Clinton associations. It’s going to a very nasty affair. The one big advantage Democrats will have is a probable surge in the Latino vote out of genuine self-preservation.

In the meantime, the election will actually be won not in the air, but on the ground. The ugliness on the air will depress turnout even further, which will require campaign organizers to depend on millions of face-to-face conversations with voters on the fence about whether to vote at all.

All of which is to say this: as we approach the general election, those who want to help their candidate win in November should probably spend a lot less time arguing with other people in online forums or obsessing over television ads, and a lot more time making calls and knocking on doors. That’s where this very ugly game is going to be won and lost.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 23, 2016

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A New Election-Year Blueprint”: Lieberman Mistakenly Believes He Has It All Figured Out

Though this may come as a bit of a surprise, the No Labels organization continues to exist, despite the fact that it doesn’t appear to have had any influence on anyone at any time on any level. A couple of years ago, Yahoo News reported that the outfit “spends a disproportionate part of its budget maintaining and promoting its own organization, trying to keep its profile high while ensuring a steady flow of fundraising dollars” from undisclosed donors.

The revelations did not, however, do any real lasting damage to No Labels, and as Slate’s Jim Newell explained the other day, the group and its leader even have a new election-year blueprint it wants the political world to take seriously.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, co-chairman of the nonpartisan “problem-solving” advocacy group No Labels, has a novel theory of what we’re seeing this campaign. “Take a look at the two most interesting, surprising candidacies of the presidential year,” he said Thursday at an event celebrating the release of No Labels’ “policy playbook” for the 2016 election. “They want people to do something different. The best politics may be unconventional politics.”

Lieberman, unconventionally, was explaining why he believes the moment is ripe for entitlement reform.

Ah, yes, there’s the Joe Lieberman we all know. The aggressively centrist former senator sees Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders generating some excitement on the right and left, respectively, and Lieberman naturally assumes their success reflects an opportunity for a policy agenda neither Trump nor Sanders want any part of.

“The best politics may be unconventional politics”? Maybe so. But consider the gap between the message and the messenger: a senator-turned-lobbyist appeared in a D.C. ballroom at a luxury hotel to pitch a centrist platform that no doubt delighted other D.C. centrists. It’s hard to even imagine a more “conventional” scenario. To think this relates in any way to the excitement surrounding Sanders and Trump is to miss the point of recent political developments in a rather spectacular way.

Or as the Slate piece put it, “For today’s discontented voters, the sort of ballroom-luncheon centrism practiced for so long by the likes of Lieberman is more the target than the solution.”

In fairness, on some issues, No Labels probably means well, and on a theoretical level, I can vaguely appreciate the appeal of non-partisan, technocratic policymaking.

But much of the No Labels blueprint for 2016 – called the National Strategic Agenda for reasons I don’t understand – include vague ideas that sound nice if one doesn’t look too closely and some credible ideas that Lieberman falsely assumed could receive Republican support.

Newell’s article noted that No Labels commissions polling that proves how popular its ideas are, and included this gem: “No Labels’ theory is that polling support will make risk-averse politicians feel safe enough to stake out what otherwise might be considered treacherous political territory. ‘I think the public would really honor and reward a leader who took the risks,’ Lieberman said.”

Yes, of course. And this explains why members of Congress took note of public attitudes and raised the minimum wage while approving universal background checks.

Oh wait, that didn’t actually happen.

In 2004, Lieberman launched a humiliating presidential campaign. In 2006, he lost a Senate primary in a state he’d represented for decades. In 2008, he was certain John McCain would be elected president. In 2015, he led an organization created to derail the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

Why anyone would take Lieberman’s political instincts seriously is a bit of a mystery.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 25, 2016

April 26, 2016 Posted by | General Election 2016, Joe Lieberman, No Labels | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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