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Updated: 12 min 41 sec ago

Sen. Ron Johnson rails against 'nonsense debates' over guns

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 09:37
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Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has already demonstrated his ignorance on guns and gun laws, but he just keeps talking:

"We have to quit distracting the American public with these nonsense debates — and that’s what these are — these nonsense debates about gun control," Johnson said on WISN's "The Vicki McKenna Show."

Johnson, who is engaged in a tough re-election fight with former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), said that gun control measures "will have no effect on these tragedies."

What does Johnson think would not be a “nonsense debate” in response to Orlando? “Islamic terrorism,” of course. That’s “the root cause” of a guy who appears to have been deeply confused about both Islam and his sexuality having the capacity to kill dozens of people and wound dozens more. No word on how Islamic terrorism played into Newtown or Aurora or Oak Creek or Umpqua Community College or Virginia Tech. (That list could go on.) And Johnson doesn’t have much to say about the reality that even if you want to focus exclusively on “Islamic terrorism,” guns have become the weapon of choice for terrorists in the U.S.—because people like Johnson fiercely protect the easy availability of guns.

As for the notion that gun control laws “will have no effect on these tragedies,” isn’t it funny how countries with stricter gun laws mysteriously have many fewer of “these tragedies”?

Please give $3 to help Russ Feingold boot Ron Johnson's nonsense out of the Senate.

Trump tells controversial campaign manager 'you're fired'

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 09:26

Donald Trump stuck with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski through Lewandowski’s alleged assault of a reporter, but now that Trump is struggling with sinking polls and a broke campaign, it’s a different story:

“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” the campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in a statement. “The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.”

Mr. Trump had faced increasing concerns from allies and donors, as well as his children, about the next phase of the campaign as he pivots toward a general election.

Two people briefed on the move said that Mr. Lewandowski was let go.

Obviously. Corey Lewandowski is not the guy who’s going to volunteer to step down from an ego trip like managing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. But whoever’s left on the campaign should maybe have considered that you don’t deliver classic “Friday news dump” material like this on a Monday morning. Unless the level of recrimination surrounding the campaign is such that they think it’s to their advantage to have absolutely everyone possible know that Trump ditched Lewandowski. Given that staff didn't know in advance that Lewandowski was being fired, though, chaos and hamhandedness seems like the most likely reason for the timing or anything else you could mention about the firing.

Cartoon: Gun talk

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 08:51

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Guess which party's voters are happier with their presidential choices

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 08:36

When the media bows before the altar of false equivalence—the holy journalistic principle that one must never say anything bad about a Republican without saying something similar is also bad about a Democrat—please remember this: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not equivalent. Not equivalent in their policies, obviously, given that one of them spews hate, lies, and constant contradictions while the other has offered a series of solid, reasoned policies largely aimed at helping working families. But they’re also not equivalent in politics—and the polls. Take this, from Gallup:

By 71% to 59%, more Democrats than Republicans in the U.S. are satisfied that someone is running this year who will make a good president.

Clinton is viewed favorably by 83 percent of Democrats while Trump is viewed favorably by only 75 percent of Republicans. (And yet: that 75 percent of any group likes Trump is terrifying enough!) 

Right now the media is giving itself permission to hate Trump, so this poll is mostly being reported straight, without efforts to pretend the gap isn’t there. But between now and November we’re likely to see hundreds, if not thousands, of articles and television segments trying to erase differences like this. Don’t let them make you believe the polls are something they aren’t, any more than wanting to ban Muslims from the country is the same as wanting to expand affordable day care.

Can Republicans really dump Trump? Yes, they can.

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 08:19

This past weekend found Donald Trump insisting that there won’t be a revolt among Republican delegates because such move would be “illegal.” He also scoffed at the idea of delegates replacing him on the ticket with someone who collected many fewer delegates. But here’s the problem for trump. It's not—and they might.

Trump has a point that this would be against the current rules, but those rules won’t necessarily govern this year’s Republican National Convention. If the delegates decide to change the rules in July and thwart his nomination, it may seem anti-democratic. But it’s within their authority to do so. …

The committee has the power to make various moves, such as passing a "conscience clause," imposing a supermajority rather than a majority threshold, or releasing all the delegates to support whomever they want rather than the candidate who won their state’s primary or caucus. 

So it could be perfectly within the rules for the delegates to stage a Cleveland Putsch, because the rules themselves are still up for grabs.

But what about Trump’s second point? He did win the primary or caucus in 37 states and dominate the Republican delegate count. Surely, Republicans are aware that any move to bypass their presumed nominee would be seen as disruptive, disrespectful to their own base, and downright undemocratic. Why would they risk that?

There's renewed talk in some Republican circles to find a way out as Trump lags big time behind Hillary Clinton in several new polls, and he has the highest unfavorable rating of any candidate for a major party on record -- 70% in this week's Washington Post-ABC poll.

We’ve already had unequivocal demonstrations that Republicans are willing to accept anything—even to embrace Trump’s open racism, misogyny, and religious restrictions—if they feel it’s the best way to advance the “Republican agenda.” Which means: So long as he cuts taxes.

If they feel that Trump has become a threat to that agenda ... why would they not reject him?

Dear Republicans, no more excuses on this gun vote

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 08:01
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Here's what you're going to be hearing a lot of from Republicans this afternoon, when the Senate debates and votes on several gun measures, including universal background checks and the "no fly-no buy" amendment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would keep people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns: "Of course no one wants terrorists to be able to buy a gun."

That's direct from Mitch McConnell, an approved talking point from the NRA, which is always followed by something like this: "But as we look at how to proceed, we also want to make sure that we’re not infringing upon people’s legitimate constitutional rights. That's important." That comes from House Speaker Paul Ryan, and is also an NRA-approved sentiment. Sen. John Cornyn is going to be offering an NRA-approved bill, and he says "we're not going to presume somebody's guilty and deny them due process of law, we're going to require the government to show some evidence and to provide for a constitutional process, that's where we differ." They'll all point out how flawed the no-fly and terrorist watch lists are. They'll all bemoan the loss of a Second Amendment right under the Feinstein amendment.

So where the hell have they been when innocent people's constitutional right to travel—which has indeed been upheld by federal courts—have been infringed upon? Where's the Republican senate when it comes time to protect other innocents swept up in the war on terrorism dragnet? Nowhere. Sure, you'll hear them talk about how Sen. Ted Kennedy found himself on the no-fly list back in 2004 and how that means the watch-list is deeply flawed and useless.

Then riddle me this—why hasn't this party that's so obsessed with national security (it's "radical Islam" don't you know, not the guns) done anything to fix the damned watch list so it's effective? Because they don't really care if it's effective or not, and they sure as hell don't care if anyone's other constitutional rights might be infringed upon here. The Second Amendment is the only one that counts.

So, Republicans, you don't want terrorists to be able to buy guns, but don't want innocent people losing their rights? Fix the damned watch list, make it constitutional and accurate and appropriate, and don't let people on it buy guns? It's not like you're powerless to do that, you know.

Trump claims he never said club goers in Orlando should have had guns. Yes, he did

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:52
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Late last week, Donald Trump moronically claimed that if people dancing the night away at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, had been packing heat, they could have prevented the massacre that killed 49 and wounded 53 people:

If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right to their waist, or right to their ankle, and this son of a bitch comes out and starts shooting, and one of the people in that room happened to have it, and goes ‘boom,’ you know what, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight.

Well, sure. Dark nightclub, flashing lights, pulsating music and packed with a few hundred people. Let’s have a shoot-out. 

And on Monday morning, Trump tried to walk back—let’s call it a lie—that idiocy:

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When I said that if, within the Orlando club, you had some people with guns, I was obviously talking about additional guards or employees

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2016

Pathetic. Donnie isn’t even a good liar.

Daily Kos Radio HAS ONE MORE RERUN at 9 AM ET!

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:30

A year ago, give or take a day or two, we were reacting to the Charleston shooting. It does seem sometimes like things never change. We were also hearing about the Pope turning Republican minds inside-out, one of the King v. Burwell plaintiffs becoming a socialist, and the (Almost) Last Days of Disco John Boehner.

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

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Was that you?

I thought so!

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David Waldman presents a KITM so relevant and immediate you’ll swear it’s live. Congrats on David’s 20th Anniversary! In lieu of gifts, feel free to donate to PayPal, or Patreon. Donald Trump presents the Von Clownstick Doctrine, in an inspiring cinematic performance. Will Trump run the country like his businesses, like Mitt Romney promised to do? Will Trump make the US in the image of his whipped Casinos, or Trump University? As president, maybe he could charge for his speeches, like the millions he made for hawking Multi-Level Marketing. This businesswoman finally got Trump to pay his bills! Donald Trump can spot any scam if he doesn’t have his little fingers in it: Soldiers skimming reconstruction money. Reporters don’t have to worry, Stubby will let them write down what he says when he is president. He will send refugees back however, because you never know about them.

(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Cheers and Jeers: Monday

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:16

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Good morning.

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Americans Against Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands PAC is a nationwide coalition of patriots dedicated to exposing the truth about Donald Trump's dangerous tiny baby hands.

We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We are right-handers, left-handers, and ambidextrii. We do not agree on everything, but we all come together around the fact that American cannot risk a president with pathetic stubby mouse fingers.

Springs ends and a new season starts today. Happy silly.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Morning Digest: Florida Republicans are just mild about Marco

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 07:00

Leading Off:

FL-Sen: Even though PPP had just conducted a Florida poll less than two weeks earlier, the firm went back into the field in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting to determine how gun issues might affect the race. Unusually for a public poll, PPP asked an informed ballot question after telling respondents that GOP Sen. Marco Rubio has opposed background checks for gun buyers and also opposed barring people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns (both of which are very popular with voters). On the initial ballot test, Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rubio's most likely Democratic opponent, has a 42-41 edge, indistinguishable from his 43-42 lead in PPP's prior survey. But after the gun questions, Murphy's lead balloons to 47-32.

Of course, informed ballot tests like this represent an idealized view of the world, where you get your message out flawlessly to, in this case, millions of voters while your opponent stands there tongue-tied. That's obviously not how things play out in reality, but this sort of information can nevertheless be useful. And we're very likely to hear quite a bit more about gun violence and gun safety laws as the election unfolds—a lot more than Republicans are used to hearing.

And, we should add, we still don't know whether Rubio will in fact seek re-election—or if he does, if he'll even be his party's nominee. A new survey from St. Leo University says that Rubio would lead the way in a hypothetical GOP primary with 52 percent, while all other hopefuls are in the low single digits, but the sample size is very small—under 200. And PPP finds that even among Republican voters, Rubio's job approval rating is just 44-42.

There's another consideration here as well, which is that if Rubio does get back in, the primary field is going to change a great deal. Most of the current contenders will likely bow out—indeed, Rep. David Jolly has already quit to run for re-election (see our FL-13 item below)—but one seems determined to remain, and it's exactly the one Rubio wouldn't want: wealthy businessman Carlos Beruff, who just hired Gov. Rick Scott's former chief of staff and campaign manager as a consultant for his own bid.

Beruff not only has the resources to fight Rubio to the death, he's also the most Trump-esque candidate we've seen anywhere in the nation—an image he just reinforced with a new ad in which he declares, "I don't believe in hyphenated Americans." We already saw what happens when a Beltway insider with a record of supporting immigration reform goes up against an unfiltered nativist who knows how to channel populist anger, and it wasn't pretty for Rubio. A Rubio-Beruff contest would look very much like a rematch of Rubio-Trump. Is that a battle Marco Rubio really wants to risk losing a second time?

Abbreviated pundit round-up: Will Orlando be tipping point on gun laws? Will Greens warm to Clinton?

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 06:31

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes—Is the gun lobby finally cornered?

What makes Orlando different is the clash the attack revealed between two powerful impulses of contemporary conservatism: the reflexive hostility to gun restrictions and the incessant assertion that we must do what it takes to protect the United States from terrorism. If you believe the second, you really can’t believe the first. This has always been true, but the murder of 49 people by a terrorist made the incongruity so stark that Donald Trump was moved to suggest he would talk to the NRA about ways to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.

One can be skeptical about whether Trump will go beyond the NRA’s ineffectual solutions to the problem. But Trump’s verbal shift was a telltale sign of an intellectual system that is crumbling.

And the demoralization of one side in a debate is often accompanied by new energy on the other. This is why the Senate filibuster last week to force votes on gun restrictions led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was so important.

There was power to Murphy’s witness itself, coming as it did from a politician whose constituents include the families who suffered grievously at Sandy Hook. And his rejection of business as usual showed that the long accumulation of massacres has broken the patience of those demanding action. It was a signal that advocates of sane gun laws have moved off the defensive.

Open thread for night owls—Where the wild things aren't: National Parks

Sun, 06/19/2016 - 21:31

Nathan C. Martin at The Baffler writes—Where the Wild Things Aren’t: National Parks:

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial this summer, the compulsory stories and listicles acknowledging the event will lazily trot out the Ken Burns–sanctioned notion that national parks are “America’s Best Idea.” Of course, it was a good idea to protect exceptional places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite against rapacious use of the land. But does the decision to refrain from destroying places that obviously shouldn’t be destroyed really amount to a stroke of national genius? And, given what we know about ecology a century later, should park-making still serve as a model for conservation?

Preserving nature is not the straightforward proposition it seemed to be back in Theodore Roosevelt’s day. Rough-riding politicos can no longer enshrine wilderness by simply removing indigenous people and cordoning off a few rugged sections of landscape. National parks today face conundrums of which Roosevelt could never have dreamed: climate change melting the glaciers in Glacier National Park; the systemic slaughter of nearly a thousand “excess” Yellowstone bison last winter; and across the country, park infrastructures crumbling beneath record-sized crowds and an $11.9 billion maintenance backlog.

Night Owls

Fiscal neglect is nothing new to the National Park Service—its budget has been a favorite target for congressional cuts since World War II. In 1953, Western historian Bernard DeVoto suggested that the NPS protest its miserly appropriations by closing America’s most iconic parks. “Letters from constituents unable to visit Old Faithful, Half Dome, the Great White Throne, and Bright Angel Trail would bring a nationally disgraceful situation to the really serious attention of the Congress which is responsible for it,” he wrote.

Today, DeVoto’s indignant words seem downright quaint. The selective closure of parklands did stir up some important popular resistance to the Gingrich-engineered government shutdown of 1995. But during the sixteen-day budget stalemate in 2013, when Ted Cruz sought to defund the Affordable Care Act, right-wing lawmakers and activists opportunistically used the sorry spectacle of World War II veterans being denied access to the National Mall to deflect blame from the Tea Party caucus onto the Park Service itself and its White House overlords. Thanks, Obama!

Yet even this Congress is able to recognize that its constituents love a big birthday. So this year, legislators cobbled together $15 million (about one tenth of one percent of the maintenance backlog) for Centennial Challenge Projects. The challenge in question, of course, is part of the pet Republican crusade of creeping privatization of public goods; the money allocated to mark the Park Service’s centennial is intended to match philanthropic gifts set aside for certain tasks. Proud Centennial Challenge donors to the nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation, for instance, can watch their contributions at work from the shores of Yellowstone Lake as a cigar-shaped boat gill-nets invasive lake trout and grinds them into chum right there on deck. (The Park Service, for its part, announced in May that it will start to offer naming rights to corporate donors; Bass Pro Shops, we’re looking at you.)

The floating charnel house on Yellowstone Lake is, in its own way, a fitting reminder of how the hundred-year run of the Park Service is also a testament to the particularly American tendency to manufacture and manage nature. “Wilderness,” after all, is a construct borne of European people’s inability to interact symbiotically with the world around them. As author and Lakota chief Luther Standing Bear wrote in Land of the Spotted Eagle, “We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, the winding streams with tangled growth, as ‘wild.’ Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness.’  . . . To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.”

The proliferation of national parks—which took place, not coincidentally, at the same time as the widespread establishment of Indian reservations—punctuated the continent’s transition from a place inhabited by people who lived in concert with the land into one increasingly covered by the detritus of industrial and agricultural civilization, save a handful of pretty preserves set aside to visit.

No doubt, national parks provide important habitat for wildlife and other ecological benefits. But as a serious conservation strategy, let’s face it: aesthetic quarantine is a woefully inadequate response to our present ecological mess. In fact, philosopher Timothy Morton argues that the whole notion of capital-Nature—something pristine and wild that’s “out there,” as opposed to the inescapable ecological medium of our existence—is an anesthetic that allows us to forget about things like global warming, mass extinction, and ocean acidification. Don’t worry about that melting glacier, folks—just concentrate on the picturesque peak beneath it. [...]

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Fatherhood Is Sacred: Heartwarming Pictures of Indigenous Fathers With Their Children https://t.co/qG4UMHozl6 pic.twitter.com/j6bHkyjPlM

— Indigenous (@AmericanIndian8) June 19, 2016

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2002Sludge is now good for fish

Just when I think the Bush Administration can't shock me anymore, they gleefully prove me wrong. You see, according to an internal EPA report, dumping toxic sludge into the Potomac River is good for fish. The sludge is dumped into the river in violation of the Endangered Species Act and Clear Water Act. The Washington Times notes:

The document says it is not a "ridiculous possibility" that a discharge "actually protects the fish in that they are not inclined to bite (and get eaten by humans) but they go ahead with their upstream movement and egg laying."

The Bush administration is a blatant enemy of environmental regulation, but the extremes they will travel to justify their polluting is bizarre. California Rep. George Radanovich, a Republican, was flabbergasted

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”