|

New poll shows that NRA is at odds with most Americans on gun control

The National Rifle Association continues to hold sway in Congress — mainly because it’s ability to marshal its forces against politicians who dare oppose its stances scares the hell out of most lawmakers. The pols know that more than a few gun nuts are single-issue voters. Nothing matters more to these zealots than their firearms. But the fact remains that the NRA’s resistance to even common-sense gun-control measures doesn’t jibe with public opinion. Consider THIS: Two years after the failure of Senate legislation to expand background checks on gun purchases, the public continues to overwhelmingly support making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. Currently, 85% of Americans – including large majorities of Democrats (88%) and Republicans (79%) – favor expanded background checks, little changed from May 2013 (81%). The latest Pew Research Center poll of 2,002 adults, conducted July 14-20, finds that opinions about other gun policy proposals also are largely unchanged from two years ago, shortly after the December 2012 school shootings in Newtown, Conn. Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) favor laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns, 70% back the creation of a federal database to track all gun sales, while a smaller majority (57%) supports a ban on assault-style weapons....

read more

Hillary-bashers conveniently ignore the email problems of other politicians

The stuff spewed by the right-wing noise machine almost always is nonsense, but countless gullible partisans are happy to believe it all and spread it around. This has always been the case with regard to Hillary Clinton. Over the past 25 years, the wingnuts have accused her of everything from treason to murder, but none of it has been even remotely true. Such is the case with the Great Hillary Email Scandal. To hear the Republicans tell it, the situation amounts to the political crime of the century. In reality, it’s much ado about nothing. Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers THIS PERSPECTIVE on the email flap: The hypocrisy in this case is also pretty rich, because the use of outside email accounts is a pretty standard and open secret in government at almost all levels, from local to national.  The former and current Republican governors now attacking Clinton — Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal — have all dealt with similar controversies, as did Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. And during the George W. Bush administration, some 88 senior officials in the Bush White House were discovered to have used non-governmental email accounts to conduct government business and evade transparency requirements; email from more than 50 of those officials — amounting to somewhere between 5 million and 20 million emails — somehow disappeared and most were never recovered. Nobody was prosecuted for it.    ...

read more

Let’s at least give Trump credit for spotlighting the pay-to-play system of politics

In more than a few blog posts of recent weeks, I’ve strenuously argued here that there’s not a lot to admire about Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. I’ve also made clear my sense that The Donald has no real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, let alone the winner of the general election. It’s now time, however, that I give Trump credit where credit is due. He’s done us all a favor by admitting what many of us have known for years: America’s political system has become grossly corrupted by money. It’s called “pay-to-play.” If you grease the right palms, you get the political favors you’re seeking. Trump readily admits to the situation, which is why the Republican establishment hates him. Stanley Aronowitz of Talking Points Memo puts it THIS WAY: So why is Trump the enemy, really? The GOP will say it’s because he’s a clown, he has no experience, he can’t win, he’s more a celebrity than a politician. This might all be true. But there’s another big reason they’d rather not talk about. At the debate and numerous public appearances, Trump has matter-of-factly stated that he is an equal opportunity donor to Republican and Democratic candidates—not for the purpose of civic duty or altruism, but in exchange for influence. He has openly deemed his gifts to politicians a business expense. He went so far as to declare, before 24 million viewers at the debate, that he uses his donations to obtain favors from legislators who are all too eager to bow to his requests. He not-so-subtly implies that politicians are bought and paid for by him and other financial moguls. And he expects a fair return for those dollars, measured in policy rewards like zoning adjustments, subsidies for building projects and long-term tax relief. In short, he lets the cat out of the bag about something the political system has spent more than a century to disguise.  ...

read more

Republicans oppose the Iran nuclear deal, but lots of generals and admirals support it

To hear Republican politicians tell it, only Americans of dubious intelligence or questionable patriotism support the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. Sen. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican, goes so far as to accuse President Obama of actually wanting “to get nukes to Iran.” All of this is utter rubbish. The truth of the matter is that scores of loyal Americans with distinguished credentials fully support the deal. Just this past weekend, 29 of the nation’s leading scientists released a statement that said the Iran deal is “technically sound, stringent and innovative” and said it would “provide the necessary assurance in the coming decade and more that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.” Perhaps even more impressively, three dozen retired generals and admirals released an open letter yesterday supporting the Iran nuclear deal and urging Congress to do the same. Calling the agreement “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” the letter said that gaining international support for military action against Iran, should that ever become necessary, “would only be possible if we have first given the diplomatic path a chance.” The Washington Post has more on this matter HERE: Signers of the military letter include retired general and flag officers from every branch of service. They include four-star Marine Gens. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Joseph P. Hoar, former head of the U.S. Central Command; and Gens. Merrill McPeak and Lloyd W. Newton of the Air Force. “There is no better option to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon,” the letter said. “Military action would be less effective than the deal, assuming it is fully implemented. If the Iranians cheat, our advanced technology, intelligence and the inspections will reveal it, and U.S. military options remain on the table.” “And if the deal is rejected by America,” it said, “the Iranians could have a nuclear weapon within a year. The choice is that stark.” Retired Navy Rear Adm. Harold L. Robinson, a rabbi and former naval chaplain who chairs the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, also signed. “As a lifelong Zionist, devoted to Israel, and a retired general officer and a rabbi for over 40 years, and operating without institutional encumbrances, I have a unique perspective,” Robinson said in an interview.              ...

read more

Polls on the Republican race are mostly misleading and badly misreported

As an inveterate poll-watcher, I find that the surveys at this early stage of the race for the Republican presidential nomination are in a class by themselves — if I might use the word “class” in this context. These polls are useless for the most part. Their only importance is that weak numbers might prompt marginal candidates to withdraw from the race for lack of money. Fat-cat donors aren’t likely to waste too much moohlah on somebody who seems doomed to defeat even before the contest heats up. Another problem with these early polls is that the mainstream media generally don’t know how to interpret the numbers and accurately report their real meaning. For example, we’ve read a lot in recent days and weeks about how Donald Trump is leading the race, but the headlines are highly misleading. How many media have been straightforward in reporting that the vast majority of Republican poll respondents don’t see Trump as their preferred choice for the nomination? How many media have reported the percentages of Republican poll respondents who say they would NEVER vote for Trump? How many media have reported on the margins of error in the polls they cover? There’s a new poll out today from Rasmussen Reports that has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. That’s as much or more as the percentage of respondents favoring Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rand Paul or any of  half a dozen other candidates. In other words, some of these candidates might have nearly zero support among prospective Republican voters. When was the last time a network newscast really delved into poll numbers on the Republican race? The answer is never. All we get are misleading headlines or statements that say Trump is leading by a wide margin. No wonder so many people seem to think that the Trump bandwagon is rolling along at break-neck speed. It’s not, and the polls don’t really say that it is. The problem is that almost nobody in the media will bother to tell the truth about the poll numbers. By the way, HERE are some highlights from the latest Rasmussen poll: Donald Trump remains the leader in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his support has fallen by a third over the past week-and-a-half. Carly Fiorina is now near the front of the pack. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Trump with 17% support among Likely Republican Primary Voters, down from 26% in late July before the first GOP debate.  Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are in second place with 10% support each, in a near tie with Fiorina and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who both earn nine percent (9%) of the likely primary vote. Next with eight percent (8%) come retired neurologist Dr. Ben Carson and Senator Ted Cruz at seven percent...

read more

It’s foolish to say Obama should play patty-cake with GOP opponents of the Iran deal

Some right-wingers are arguing that it was wrong for President Obama to say in a speech last week that congressional Republicans who oppose the nuclear deal with Iran have common cause with the extremist mullahs in that country. I say it wasn’t — especially in light of GOP rhetoric suggesting that the president actually wants Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Besides, Obama is not so naïve as to think that nice talk about Republican politicians might persuade a few of them to support the nuclear deal. That simply isn’t going to happen, no matter how polite the president is. E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post adds THIS: Obama does not need any private briefings on how Republicans are thinking. He realizes, as everyone else should, that there’s only one way to save the Iran accord. Republicans will have the votes to pass a measure disapproving it, and he needs to keep enough Democrats on his side to sustain his veto… In broad terms, this is an argument over whether the foreign policy of George W. Bush, with its proclivity toward unilateral military action, or his own approach, which stresses alliances and diplomacy, is more likely to defend the United States’ long-term interest… The president was not wrong when he said that “many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.” …[I]t was useful that he reminded Americans of the run-up to the Iraq invasion, when “those calling for war labeled themselves strong and decisive, while dismissing those who disagreed as weak — even appeasers of a malevolent adversary.”        ...

read more

The GOP debate seemed to indicate that Fox News has an anti-Trump agenda

In several respects, the latter of Thursday’s two Republican presidential debates was more entertaining than I had anticipated. The questions posed to the candidates generally were sharper than one would expect from Fox News personalities. And, more to the point, the questions seemed to reflect an agenda — the objective being to put the repugnant Donald Trump in his place. This mission somewhat surprises me. I didn’t know that the suits at Fox News don’t much care for Trump. I don’t watch Fox News Channel a lot, but I had noticed that Sean Hannity likes to play patty-cake with Trump. I had assumed that this affection for The Donald pertained among the whole crowd over there. Apparently not. Ed Kilgore’s TAKE ON THE DEBATE is especially insightful: Fox News’ purpose in the main 10-candidate event was made plain with the first question: an in-your-face spotlight on Donald Trump’s refusal to promise not to run as an independent candidate. And the relentless pounding of Trump—on his bankruptcies, his past support for single-payer health care and abortion rights, his “specific evidence” for claiming Mexico has dispatched criminals to the U.S. (slurs about immigrants by other candidates didn’t come up) and even his sexist tweets-—continued right on through to Frank Luntz’s post-debate focus group, designed to show how much damage Trump had sustained. (Snip) From the perspective of Fox News and its GOP allies, you’d guess the ideal denouement would be Trump crashing in the polls, to be replaced in the top ten by Carly Fiorina. We’ll see how avidly and universally the conservative spin machine pursues that outcome in the days just ahead....

read more

Didn’t I tell you there would be a big fuss over claims that Trump is a Democratic mole?

On July 26, just 11 days ago, I wrote a blog post that said this about Donald Trump: I think we will soon hear a major outcry that he’s just a troublemaker planted by the Democrats to make the Republicans look like fools. There has already been talk of this kind in certain quarters, but it hasn’t been very loud and hasn’t attracted much attention from the mainstream media. I think it soon will. The theory goes like this: Trump is a long-time friend and financial benefactor of the Clintons, and he’s supported the political candidacies of various other Democrats over the years. He’s also supported more than a few liberal social causes over the years — gay marriage, for one. Well, guess what. Republican media are in a tizzy today over THIS REPORT from The Washington Post: Former president Bill Clinton had a private telephone conversation in late spring with Donald Trump at the same time that the billionaire investor and reality-television star was nearing a decision to run for the White House, according to associates of both men. Four Trump allies and one Clinton associate familiar with the exchange said that Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape. (Snip) One person with knowledge of Clinton’s end of the call said the former president was upbeat and encouraging during the conversation, which occurred as Trump was speaking out about GOP politics and his prescriptions for the nation. Clinton aides declined to speak on the record about the call, saying the conversation was personal. So far, reaction among conservative media has ranged from outrage to confusion to bemusement. HERE’s a comment from one guy at the right-wing website Hot Air:  I know why Clinton’s aides would be eager to plant this story in the media the day before the GOP debate but I can’t imagine why four(!) Trump allies would be willing to confirm it. Why’d they do that, knowing the suspicions it would arouse among Republicans? Is this all part of some master trolling effort to gaslight conservatives or could Trump aides simply not resist the free publicity involved with a story about him yakking to Bill Clinton about the presidential race?          ...

read more

Stop the presses! For once, John Boehner speaks the truth!

The first thing you need to know here is that right-wing talk radio has a finite audience. There are only so many beady-eyed weirdos available to listen to that crap. Consequently, the competition among wingnut blabbers on radio is intense. Each of them feels pressured to raise the ante almost every day. They know that the most outrageous broadcasters are the ones who will draw the biggest audiences. This inescapable of life has finally occurred to Republican House Speaker John Boehner, as we see HERE: Boehner appeared on The Golf Channel with David Feherty last night and lamented how things are so partisan these days, he can’t even play a game of golf with President Obama without people getting so worked up. “20 years ago, when we won the first Republican majority in 40 years, there was one radio talk show host nobody had ever heard of,” he said. “There was one cable news channel that just did news. And you look at today, you’ve got hundreds of radio talk show hosts all trying to outdo themselves by going further right and further right.” That one unnamed talk show host he mentioned is, of course, Rush Limbaugh, and Limbaugh responded on his radio show today. He mockingly declared, “We have just learned that I, your host, am the reason the Republican House feels trapped and unable to do what they would really like to do.”...

read more

Some people still seem to think that Second Amendment rights are unlimited

I came across an online discussion this morning about whether federal authorities have violated the Second Amendment rights of three men in North Carolina who have been arrested on weapons charges. These guys are paranoid conspiratorialists who feared a government takeover and martial law and had stockpiled weapons, ammunition and tactical gear while attempting to rig home-made explosives. They were arrested this past Saturday after a month-long federal investigation. More than a few of the participants in the discussion I read argued that the government has no business interfering  with the stockpiling of weapons, ammo and explosives.  It was asserted that citizens have their Second Amendment rights to amass any kind of arsenal they might want. Notions like this are not uncommon. But they’re wrong. Antonin Scalia, perhaps the most conservative member of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote this for the court majority seven years ago in a case in which a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., was overturned: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose… “The Court’s opinion [in the Washington case] should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of...

read more

Remember where you heard it: Biden won’t run for president

My political crystal ball hasn’t been working very well this summer, at least not with regard to the clownishness of Donald Trump. Every crazy step The Donald has made in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination has defied my predictions. Ah, but here’s where my skills at political prognostication return to top form: I’m here to tell  you that Vice President Joe Biden is not going to seek the Democratic nomination. No way. Not a chance. Forget about it. There’s been lots of talk of late that Biden is preparing to jump into the race, no matter that Hillary Clinton remains the  odds-on favorite. Some say the veep is especially motivated by a plea made earlier this year by his dying son, Beau. Some argue that Biden is encouraged by a recent dip in Hillary’s poll numbers. Some say this, and some say that. But it ain’t gonna happen. Biden is smart enough to recognize that his chances would be slim at best. He doesn’t want to end his political career with the hapless pursuit of an unreachable goal. Besides, Hillary is way, way ahead in terms of money and organization. And her army of dedicated political operatives include a lot of erstwhile Biden people. Those folks aren’t going to reverse field in pursuit of a hopeless cause. And then there’s the overriding fact that Hillary is a woman. A challenge by Biden would be seen as somehow condescending in a sexist sort of way by the many Democrats who think it’s time for a woman to serve as the nation’s chief executive. Perhaps most importantly, it’s hard to image that Biden could effectively differentiate himself from Hillary on the issues.  They’re both mainstream liberals. Period. It’s not like his views differ sharply from Hillary’s. Nor is Biden any spring chicken. He’ll celebrate his 74th birthday a few weeks after the 2016 election. That would make him the oldest first-term president in American history. Biden knows all of this, and he probably knows of other reasons why he’ll never be president. Ergo, he’s not even going to try.  ...

read more

Right-wing push to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood is a gigantic hoax

So-called pro-lifers and their Republican friends in Congress currently are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, falsely arguing that a so-called investigation demonstrates that Planned Parenthood is selling fetus parts for profit. So far, investigations in two states, including the red state of Indiana, have found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood. And the smart bet is that other investigations will not either. This right-wing conspiracy theory is based principally on heavily-edited secret videos. But the debunking of this so-called evidence means nothing to the zealots. Bob Cesca offers perhaps the best summation of the matter HERE: Objective reality includes the following facts: • Planned Parenthood is not selling fetus parts for profit or otherwise. • Only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities involve abortions. • Per the Hyde Amendment, no federal funds can be used for abortions. And there’s no evidence that Planned Parenthood has done so. • Consequently, de-funding Planned Parenthood would put into jeopardy its ability to save lives and, germane to this issue, prevent abortions. The editorial board of the Washington Post says THIS: No federal money is used by Planned Parenthood to provide abortions except in some rare exceptions. So cutting off government funds, mostly through Medicaid and grants, would only hurt the thousands of people, most of them low-income women, who each day depend upon Planned Parenthood for birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and other health services. Given that many of the clinics are in medically underserved areas, it’s a myth, as Republicans claim, that other providers can fill the gap. Shutting down clinics would make it harder for many women to obtain birth control — and the last thing either side of the abortion debate should want is an increase in unwanted pregnancies that result in more abortions.                ...

read more
Share: