Rachel Maddow broke the news on her show last night. (Happy belated birthday, too, Rachel!) Connecticut legislators have agreed on a framework for a comprehensive gun safety package. In this interview with Connecticut Senator Williams, he reveals that the agreement is bipartisan, even though Democrats had the votes to pass legislation without Republicans.
Not mentioned anywhere? The National Rifle Association. They were irrelevant in this process. Got that, Congress? Irrelevant.
The bill includes a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines like those Adam Lanza used to fire 154 shots in four 4 minutes Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a new registry for existing high-capacity magazines and background checks for private gun sales, NBC Connecticut reported.
While the measure would ban the sale of ammunition magazines able to handle more than 10 bullets, Gov. Dannell Malloy and parents of the Sandy Hook victims objected to a "grandfather clause" that will allow current owners of such magazines to keep them.
In what was being described as a first in the U.S., gun owners would have to register current magazines accommodating more than 10 rounds with the state by January, The New Haven Register reported.
The measure would also require universal background checks for all firearm sales — many states don't require them for private sales, such as those between family members or collectors — and would add 34 more weapons to the state's list of banned semi-automatic assault-style weapons.
The Register reported that the bill would also strengthen penalties for gun trafficking and would expand the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners to include a mental health professional and a retired judge.
It certainly doesn't appear that the NRA intimidated Connecticut lawmakers on either side of the aisle, nor should it intimidate Congress members. Are they paying attention?
Last night, MSNBC presented the documentary "Hubris: Selling The Iraq War" (watch the rest here), a compelling and infuriating look back at how the case for war was fabricated. The sheer audacity of the lies and distortions used to justify the invasion (and the cheerleading done by the media elite) was what drove me and many others into blogging. Shock and awe? Bombing civilians as a strategy is a war crime. So we started writing about it, because it was either that, or throw a brick through the television.
As the Obama White House vigorously defends its policy of using drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists—including in some cases American citizens—it invokes the findings of secret intelligence showing that the targets pose an “imminent” threat to the U.S.
But there’s a powerful reason to be perennially skeptical of such claims–and perhaps never more so than now, as the country approaches a sobering historic moment: the tenth anniversary of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
The war that began March 19, 2003, was justified to the country by alarming claims that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and connections to al-Qaida terrorists—almost all of which turned out to be false. Some of the most senior officials in the U.S. government, including President Bush himself, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, asserted these claims in public with absolute confidence, even while privately, ranking U.S. military officers and intelligence professionals were voicing their doubts. Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War, a documentary special hosted by Rachel Maddow that will air Monday night on MSNBC at 9 p.m. (and based on a book I co-authored with David Corn), provides new evidence that the dissent within the administration and military was even more profound and widespread than anybody has known until now.
“It was a shock, it was a total shock–I couldn’t believe the vice president was saying this,” Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, told me in an interview for the documentary. Zinni, who had access to the most sensitive U.S. intelligence on Iraq, was on a stage in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving an award from the Veteran of Foreign Wars on August 26, 2002, when he heard the vice president launch the opening salvo in the Bush administration’s campaign to generate public support for an invasion. “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”
Monday night Rachel Maddow expanded on her Friday report about the weird ad running in opposition to Chuck Hagel's nomination. The group running the ad calls themselves "Use Your Mandate" and claims to be a group of liberals -- gay liberals, even -- who are afraid to come out into the light for fear of White House retribution.
Because this White House has been so bitterly retributive, don't you know? When I first heard about it I thought it was bull too, because liberals tend to oppose nominations loudly and without any guise of secrecy. In fact, I can't think of a time where any liberal group I've had contact with has been secretive about who they are and why they're running an ad. That seems to be the province of the US Chamber of Commerce and Koch-funded front groups..
Rachel's instinct seems to be right on the money. As she reports, "Use Your Mandate" used a media buyer in San Diego to place the ad by the name of Del Cielo Media, LLC*. Del Cielo Media is the company name for Sarah Linden, who is the west coast media director for Smart Media Group.
DelCielo Media's website is a splash page and a link to a map now, but as Rachel reports, one of Linden's clients is the Emergency Committee for Israel, a relatively new neocon group whose directors include Bill Kristol, Gary Bauer, and Michael Goldfarb. Michael Goldfarb is an advisor to Liz Cheney's neocon message machine, Keep America Safe, where Kristol also serves as a director.
The other firm Rachel mentions is Tusk Strategies. Michael Tusk was Michael Bloomberg's campaign director in 2009 and now has his own New York PR firm. Tusk's client list boasts of relationships with Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst and Education Reform Now, two groups which call themselves liberal but which are not, by any stretch of the imagination, liberal.
Will he really do it? He's threatened to do it so many times before, and then he pulled back at the last minute. Stay tuned, because this will really turn up the heat on the Hill if he does use the constitutional option:
In a turnaround, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening Senate Republicans with an obscure (and unprecedented) method of enacting filibuster reform. In a statement to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, the Nevada Democrat said that if he does not secure enough Republican votes within the next 36 hours, he will trigger what is known as the "nuclear option" (alternatively, the "constitutional option"), which would override the established precedent of requiring a supermajority of Senators to change the rules of filibuster, which is the especially annoying tactic used by both sides to delay (and often kill) undesirable legislation. The "nuclear option" requires 51 votes instead of 67, and Reid said Tuesday that he has the votes.
This means two things. One, that Reid is making good on his word from November that he would seek, in whatever way possible, to reform the filibuster maneuver.r. And two, that his prior stance on the filibuster is no impediment to him seeking reform now. In severalstatements collected by BuzzFeed in November, Reid inveighed heavily against the "nuclear option" when it was being considered by Senate Republicans in 2005, calling it "un-American." What changed? As far back as May 2012, Reid signaled that, between then and the middle of President Bush's tenure, the filibuster rule had been significantly "abused" and needed to be reformed:
"I have been here in Congress 30 years, but this is a new one. Even bills that [Republicans] agree on, they want to mess around with. In years past, this would have gone through here just like this," Reid said, snapping his fingers.
Still, the "nuclear option" is risky: It's never been tried before, and would establish a new precedent for how the Senate majority controls the tactical strategy of the Senate minority.
At last, someone calls the NRA what they are: trolls. Rachel Maddow is absolutely right. They're just playing the "how can I get a reaction" game while the rest of us are actually trying to have an adult discussion. This is characteristic of trolls: They intend to disrupt and disturb rational conversations in order to put the attention on themselves. In the case of the NRA, they're hoping their disruption will not only slow momentum building for reasonable gun safety laws, but also focus attention on them and their stupid fearmongering about losing their guns.
We all know how to treat trolls, right? Repeat after me: We don't feed the trolls. We don't pay attention to the trolls, we don't give them any attention whatsoever. We keep having our adult conversation, which even Joe Scarborough and Michael Steele are involved in, while ignoring the lunatics over there on the sidelines trolling for attention.
Rachel Maddow's long report on conservative scams could not have come at a better time. As I've followed the money throughout the years, I've noticed a pattern to the money trail that almost always includes scammy fundraising techniques at the heart of things.
As Rachel points out in this piece, Karl Rove uses his Wall Street Journal column and Fox News commentator position as a way to raise even more money for Crossroads GPS, his right-wing money machine.
Mike Huckabee has lots of different ways to raise a few bucks. Using his Fox News show and his gig as a paid commentator there, he's launched various fundraising efforts such as this one, asking for donations to help keep the movement alive to repeal Obamacare.
It's a business model, intended to lift a few bucks from conservatives to pay not only for a few campaign efforts, but also nice fat salaries and perks that most of the donors only imagine actually having.
Here's the framework:
Get connected with a high-profile media outlet. Maybe even two or three.
Make outrageous statements, raise your visibility.
Point viewers and readers to your fundraising page.
It's not limited to the likes of Rove, Morris and Huckabee, either. Ali Akbar's National Bloggers' Club is one of the best representations of the model. The Breitbart empire serves as one of the media outlets to conservative bloggers. For the past six months, any conservative blogger who writes about their current invented stable of villains finds a place to shine with the Breitbots. They throw up the inevitable donation page and ask readers to help them fight that villain and his dastardly, fiendish friends. It's usually not a general request, but instead is framed similar to Huckabee's: Help us fight for YOU so the bad man doesn't hurt US anymore.
Same scam; different players.
The most pathetic part? There is no shortage of people willing to be separated from their money. I suppose it's a free country, but at some point you'd think they'd figure out the scam. If not, Rachel will explain it to them.
John McCain's attacks on Susan Rice have been utterly bizarre. They go beyond all rational thought, and now Senators Collins and Corker have joined the parade.
The thing is, they're a lot of nothing about nothing. All noise, no signal. These senators are behaving like idiots over the possible nomination of Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton, without any rational basis. Rice used talking points on Sunday shows that didn't line up with what Senator McGrumpy's gut told him? Maybe someone should have told him not to eat spicy food before meeting with her!
As Rachel notes, it gets stupider and stupider by the day, but it is confirming her conspiracy theory. And mine.
I've long believed this was really to try and force President Obama into abandoning her nomination and nominating John Kerry instead, so that Scott Brown could run for Kerry's seat and come back to the Senate. Rachel thinks so, too.
People who know me best know I have a VERY low threshold for tolerating B.S.. So when the boss (and several others) here at C&L started complaining two days after the election that "President Obama needs to change if Democrats are going to win again in 2016", even though it is probably never a good idea to argue with the boss, I took umbrage.
After being told for six months how close the race was, turns out, No. No it wasn't. How big of a win was it? In the end, it wasn't even close. President Obama won BOTH the Electoral College AND the Popular Vote... and not just by a little, but by A LOT... 126 Electoral votes and nearly 3 Million in the Popular Vote (though I'm of the opinion that "just because we won doesn't mean millions weren't disenfranchised." Expect to hear more from me on that in the coming days.)
Republicans think if they keep telling us "this is a Center-Right nation", eventually it'll be true. But 2006, 2008 & 2012 clearly show just the opposite. America is FAR more Progressive than you'd ever know watching the MSM.
Here is just a partial rundown of Progressive victories Tuesday night:
Obama re-elected, winning every swing state(Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Virgina.)
Democrats gain seats in both the House (preliminary: +6) & Senate (+2 from 51+2 to 53+2 Inde.), retaining control of the Senate. We had 23 incumbent Senate seats to defend while Republicans only had to defend 10. Not only did we (nearly) SWEEP all but one of 23 Democratic races (Bob Kerrey did not hold Bill Nelson's NE seat), but we picked up two more(UPDATE: The AZ race is back in play).
Maryland, Maine, and Washington all voted FOR Marriage Equality. Minnesota upheld their existing law.
Iowa judge David Wiggins who upheld Marriage Equality in his state won reelection despite a concentrated effort to unseat him.
Sherrod Brown retained his Senate seat despite being the most heavily targeted Democratic Senator in the country by the Right Wing SuperPAC's.
Wisconsin elected the nations' first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin.
Tammy Duckworth took out "deadbeat dad" and all-around super-douchbag Joe Walsh.
Washington State & Colorado decriminalized recreational Marijuana. Massachusetts passes a law allowing medical Marijuana.
Democrats win Senate seats in deep red North Dakota & West Virginia (Heidi Heitkamp & Joe Manchin.)
Swing state New Hampshire elects women to EVERY seat (Both Senate and both House seats).
Democrats have won the popular vote in 5 of the past 6 presidential elections (2004 being the outlier.)
(Arguably, I think Michele Bachmann's reelection helps too, if for no other reason but to keep an active reminder of just how Looney Tunes the Far Right is. Basically, a backup wingnut. Had they of ALL lost, it would be much easier for voters to forget by 2016 just how crazy they are.)
Republicans just didn't see it coming. Never straying outside the comfortable confines of their Bubble, when the final result in Ohio came down, Republicans were quite literally in total disbelief. "How could it be? How could this country re-elect a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Atheist that goes around apologizing for America to a second term?" Fox News questioned the Ohio result when first announced and refused to concede the race, which is the likely reason behind Governor Romney's own delay before finally conceding two hours later. Let us all hope that a significant number of Republicans will question everything the Right Wing Media tells them next time around.
Things we WON'T have to worry about now? Rachel had an excellent rundown the next night (more video below the fold):
Man, the traditional media really wants their consumers to believe that this horse race is neck and neck and the just overwhelming misogyny in the words and actions of the Republican Party isn't hurting them with women.
Because, it's all about jobs and the economy to the Republican Party, completely eliding the fact to these 'small government' fetishists who actively want the government getting into women's uteri, that this is absolutely an economic and jobs-related issue for women. Being unable to control when a woman has a child will play a major role in her economic future: what education she can complete, what jobs she can apply for, how much she will get paid, whether she and her child can break through multi-generational poverty cycles.
But that doesn't help the narrative that the tradmed wants to perpetuate that this is a close race and that the gender gap has closed for Mitt Romney, at best, an arguable position, though you wouldn't know that from the confident assertions made by David Gregory and Chuck Todd.
MS. MADDOW: Right. But then, he picked Paul Ryan. They have the fight over forced ultrasounds, the government telling you that you need to have a medically unnecessary procedure at the order of the state regardless of what you want and regardless of what your doctor says. And then he picked a guy, who picked a forced ultrasound bill for the country, Paul Ryan was onboard with that. Paul Ryan was a cosponsor with Todd Akin with bill to redefine rape. Paul Ryan was a cosponsor with bill to have personhood federally, which would not only ban all abortion it would ban in vitro fertilization. It would ban most hormonal forms of birth control. If you wanted to avoid this fight, don’t put Paul Ryan on the ticket. There’s a reason that Paul Ryan has been in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina…
GREGORY: And the Republican platform talked about you should be able to do in vitro fertilization. That was in the Republican platform…
Oops...Rachel Maddow has hit on an uncomfortable spot for Romney's campaign. For all his alleged moderation, he chose one of the most extreme pro-life members in Congress for his running mate. Time for David Gregory to throw this conversation to Chuck Todd to direct back to the economy, a much safer discussion.
All I can say is that at this point, if women are voting for Romney, they ought to be willing to let their GOP flag fly free. I'm thinking this one is appropriate:
In the comments on my Romney/Bain/Big Tobacco post, I heard a lot of people saying "Enough about Romney, we believe! Why is the race so close?"
Is the race really as close as we think it is? Or is that a perception driven by the Romney campaign working the refs every time things turn away from him?
If you follow the polling over the past week since the debate, it seems that we live in a really weird, fast-paced culture where themes and memes aren't always driven by fact-based assumptions. See, for example, John Amato's post on the Beltway groupthink developed via Twitter.
Tuesday's Pew poll, cited in Rachel Maddow's report Tuesday night, for example, was adjusted from the week before, causing a full 11 point swing in results. Via The People's View:
Pew polled fewer voters altogether, and, they acquiesced to the wingnut browbeating and entirely took away the Democratic registration advantage documented in actual voting in 2008,registration data, and well, their own previous polling.
Please do not assume I am a poll truther. I confess to falling into that trap back in 2010, when I challenged the belief that Democrats were unenthusiastic and wouldn't come out to vote. That was a mistake I will not make twice. I take polls seriously, but also think it's worth looking at them more holistically in terms of trends. My error in 2010 was not considering the trend, which clearly did indicate that Democrats and progressives were not inclined to come out and vote, for whatever reason.
The very best poll for watching trends is the Rand tracking poll, which polls the same sample on a weekly basis. That poll has some interesting results, particularly if you have a look at the "Intention to Vote" tab, which shows a trend upward for Republican voters and a fairly flat line for Democrats. The more disturbing trend to me is that women are starting to trend upwards for Romney. Is that because he seems to be pivoting toward the center on his positions regarding abortion and birth control?
In 2012, the "registered voter" numbers are relevant, where they were not in the midterm elections. For example, Democrats hold the edge in voter registrations -- legitimate ones at that -- in Florida, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina.
And then there is the Gallup tracking poll which came out Wednesday morning showing that among registered voters Obama leads 50-45 percent while the race is a dead heat among likely voters, 48-48. This puts it back to pre-debate levels in the likely voter column, at least.
In the end, the road to the White House is a two-lane highway straight through Ohio. And in Ohio, the Secretary of State has made one final effort to block early voting on the weekend before Election Day by filing an appeal with the US Supreme Court. Ari Berman writes in The Nation:
Remember what happened that year? George W. Bush won the state by a narrow 118,000 votes in an election marred by widespread electoral dysfunction. “The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters,” found a post-election report by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee. According to one survey, 174,000 Ohioans, 3 percent of the electorate, left their polling place without voting because of massive lines in urban precincts and on college campuses. Ohio’s Secretary of State that year was Ken Blackwell, co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.
The election is twenty-eight days away and Ohio voters still can’t vote during the most convenient times before Election Day—on nights, weekends or the weekend before the election. The prospect of the Supreme Court’s getting involved will add further confusion. Rick Hasen, an elections expert at the UC-Irvine School of Law and the author ofThe Voting Wars, says the Court may be reluctant to intervene so close to the election, but “if they do take it, I think they would reverse [the lower court].” The Supreme Court intervening on behalf of Republicans to decide a presidential election in a critical battleground state? Sadly it’s happened before.
Back to the original question. Why is the race so close? Because we are not simply weighing two candidates against each other. We are also battling voter suppression efforts in the battleground states, a barrage of advertising, mailers and dishonest behavior, and a candidate who lies every time he opens his mouth and speaks to voters.
Everyone who is engaged in this race on any level should not only be planning to vote, but also getting out the vote. Canvassing neighborhoods, phonebanking, and even just talking to neighbors is the best way to make sure the result isn't close at all.