U.S. Politics

Why Do Democrats Feel Sorry for Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

TRUTHDIG

Not only are many Democrats worried about Hillary Clinton, they’re still unable to blame her and themselves for the disastrous 2016 election results; a writer argues that rather than a great progressive politician, Bernie Sanders is actually a “Democratic Party company man”; meanwhile, a statue of a small girl facing the famous “Charging Bull” on Wall Street has become a topic of contention. These discoveries and more below.

Why Do Democrats Feel Sorry for Hillary Clinton?
I’d hoped we’d finally seen the last of the Clinton name in public life — it’s been a long quarter of a century — and that we could all move on. Alas, no.

Bernie Sanders, the Company Man
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (“I”-VT)  is not the independent left politician many progressives claim he is. He’s a Democratic Party company man.

Pink and Blue
What happens when very young children begin to identify with a sex/gender other than the one they were born with?

Fearless Girl Face-off Poses a New Question: Does the Law Protect an Artist’s Message?
Artist Arturo Di Modica, who created Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull in 1989, isn’t happy about the recent addition of the widely buzzed-about Fearless Girl to downtown Manhattan park Bowling Green.

Beyond the Origins of Totalitarianism
Although the United States was a beacon of hope for Hannah Arendt, she saw vulnerabilities in American-style democracy.

The Girl and the Bull
Apparently, Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor who created Charging Bull nearly 30 years ago, considers Fearless Girl to be an insult to his work and wants it taken away.

Academic Precariat
As we know, the share of part-time faculty in U.S. higher education has increased dramatically over the past four decades.

This Device Pulls Drinking Water Straight Out of the Air — and It Runs Entirely on the Sun’s Energy
A new kind of water-capturing device could be a game-changer for some of the world’s driest places. It can pull water vapor out of the air at humidity as low as 20 percent — conditions that may be seen in the Sahara desert during its hottest months — and it can operate entirely off-grid, just using the ambient power of the sun.

How United Turned the Friendly Skies Into a Flying Hellscape
The recent United scandal is the predictable byproduct of a relentless obsession with filling planes to absolute maximum capacity coupled with open and invidious discrimination in the treatment of customers.

For First Time in Years, Jerusalem Cracks Down on Sale of Leavened Bread During Passover
Municipality workers are enforcing the law banning the public sale of non-kosher for Passover products in public, confiscating Old City bagel vendor’s wares.

Relying on Women, Not Rewarding Them
New study suggests female professors outperform men in terms of service—to their possible professional detriment.

Urbanist Richard Florida Is Back With Another Theory About How to Fix American Cities
It’s a pipe dream—and even he knows it.

The Five Stages of Coping With Sean Spicer’s Insanely Stupid Hitler-Assad Analogy
Only a Trump White House could ruin its moment of triumph in Syria so quickly and so thoroughly.

Larry’s List

U.S. Politics

Dems have first shot at winning this Atlanta House district in decades

A Special Election will be held in the Georgia Sixth to replace former Rep. Tom Price, who was appointed to Donald Trump’s administration.

VOX

A top political forecaster announced Thursday that Democrats now have an even shot of winning a special election this April in a House district that Republicans normally win by more than 20 points.

The Center for Politics said Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District — held by Republicans since 1979 — should now be considered a “toss-up” race. The election, which will be held to fill the seat vacated by Donald Trump’s new health and human services secretary, Tom Price, represents Democrats’ best chance to preview their chances in 2018.

Democrat Jon Ossoff has taken a narrow lead in polling. The former aide to Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has raised more than $3 million, and more than 7,000 volunteers have worked for his campaign — unprecedented numbers that reflect the grassroots energy coursing through the Democratic base since Trump’s inauguration.

“Democrats don’t have the White House, they’re the ones who are upset about things, and that can be a driver of a vote in these low-turnout special elections. The Democrats may be more excited here to show up,” said Kyle Kondik, an analyst with the Center for Politics.

Though the first round of the election is on April 20, Ossoff would need to win more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a later runoff on June 20. But given how long the seat has been held by Republicans, that’s still no sure bet.

“It’s a district with a distinctly Republican DNA, and Trump still did win it,” Kondik said. “Then again, strange things can happen in these special elections.”

Republicans are suddenly pouring cash into the race

Up until Thursday, the Center for Politics believed the race was Republicans’ to lose, ranking it as a “leans right” race. Part of the reason that changed was Ossoff’s strong polling numbers, as well as the unexpected fundraising advantage he’s had in the race.

But Kondik said “what pushed it over the edge” was a new report this week that the National Republican Campaign Committee is going to be pouring vast resources into fending off the challenge Ossoff poses.

That indicates Republicans may have internal polling that suggests they could lose the race. As CNN reported on Thursday:

National Republicans are racing into the northern Atlanta suburbs amid fears that an energized anti-Donald Trump resistance and a disengaged conservative electorate could allow Democrat Jon Ossoff to pick off a House seat that has been in GOP hands for decades. ….

The National Republican Congressional Committee — the House GOP’s campaign arm — is launching cable television, radio and digital ads and is placing five field staffers into the district next week, according to a GOP operative familiar with the efforts.

Whichever way it goes, the Georgia Sixth race will not radically alter the composition of power in Washington. Right now Republicans control 238 seats to Democrats’ 194; a one-seat switch, obviously, won’t do much to loosen that majority.

But the race could transform politicians’ perception of the political headwinds, which in turn really might have serious consequences for legislating and lawmakers’ willingness to buck Trump. It’s like the long-shot Scott Brown victory in 2010, which signaled coming change to terrified, vulnerable congressional Democrats.

That day may be fast approaching for Trump. “There’s been a small amount of early voting that’s very Democratic-slanted and favorable to Ossoff,” Kondik said. “And you just don’t know what kind of drag Trump will have on the district.”

U.S. Politics

Get ready for Trumpcare 2.0: White House reverses course, looks to renew health care battle

Get ready for Trumpcare 2.0: White House reverses course, looks to renew health care battle

(Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Andrew Harnik)

SALON

House GOP leaders and the White House are already negotiating with conservatives, despite Trump’s vows to move on

Despite his loud proclamations to the contrary, President Donald Trump appears ready to tackle health care reform again.

“I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next,” Trump told reporters in the White House after the GOP failed to rally enough support to pass the American Health Care Act last Friday.

Yet only days after the embarrassing defeat of the House Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which Trump backed and lobbied Republicans on the Hill to support, Trump is still looking to dismantle the signature legislative accomplishment of his predecessor — one way or another. According to the New York Times, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is already meeting with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and the more moderate Tuesday Group, in an effort to hash out a compromise between the bitterly divided factions of the Republican caucus.

White House staff “has met with individuals and listened to them,” press secretary Sean Spicer explained to reporters on Tuesday. “Have we had some discussions and listened to ideas? Yes.”

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, confirmed to the Washington Post that Ryan meet with Trump at the White House on Monday and also met separately with Vice President Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Spicer said lawmakers from both parties have reached out to the White House since the repeal-and-replace measure’s collapse on Friday. “So there has been a discussion and I believe there will be several more,” he said. “I’m not saying we’ve picked a strategy and we’re going to go with this group or that group.”

It was, of course, the Freedom Caucus that Trump publicly blamed for sinking his health care plan:

On Twitter Monday night, Trump hinted that he may be more inclined to negotiate Trumpcare 2.0 with Democrats, many of whom are up for reelection in 2018 in states won by Trump, than with the most recalcitrant conservative members of the Republican Party.

“I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal,” the president told the Washington Post immediately after demanding House Speaker Paul Ryan pull the American Health Care Act from a scheduled floor vote Friday. “And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them.”

But while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently took formal steps to work on improvements to the law that Republicans have derisively called Obamacare for seven years, it is virtually inconceivable that a Democratic Party that is beginning to move toward coalescing around single-payer health care would suddenly go along with any possible bill put forward by Ryan and Trump. After all, the Congressional Budget Office has said that while the market for individual coverage is currently stable in most of the country under Obamacare, the first version of Trumpcare would eventually have left 24 million more Americans uninsured.

Perhaps that’s why Trump was so quick to shift the discussion of his major policy and political failure on Friday to focus on other agenda items. Republicans, on the other hand, appear eager to jump back into negotiations over an issue they have campaigned on for the last three election cycles.

“We saw good overtures from those members from different parts of our conference to get there because we all share these goals, and we’re just going to have to figure out how to get it done,” Ryan said after a meeting of the entire House Republican conference on Tuesday — the first since Trump traveled to Capitol Hill last week to threaten members of the Freedom Caucus to support Trumpcare. “I don’t want us to become a factionalized majority. I want us to become a unified majority, and that means we’re going to sit down and talk things out until we get there, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House Republican whip aligned with conservatives in the conference, made the curious claim, “We are closer to repealing Obamacare than we ever have been before.” He continued, “We’re going to keep working” because “this issue isn’t going away.”

According to the Washington Post, the Ryan told Republican donors during a Monday conference call that a plan is being developed in time to brief them in-person at a GOP retreat in Florida scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

“In a strange way, this really merged our teams — our team in the House with the president’s team — even more closely,” Ryan reportedly told the GOP donors.

U.S. Politics

Yes, Democrats Won a Big Health Care Battle, But the Health Care War Is Far From Over

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH BROCKWAY/THE DAILY BEAST

THE DAILY BEAST

It is obvious that neither President Trump nor House Republicans know yet how to effectively govern. But they’ll learn.

As a Senate leadership aide during the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, I have been asked several times since Friday whether I take any joy in the epic explosion of the Trump-Ryan repeal-and-replace bill.

I love schadenfreude as much as the next person, but what happened on Friday isn’t even worthy of the term—because I don’t think this fight is over by a longshot, and because what Republicans “have gone through” to date isn’t all that noteworthy.

Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration suffered through a year-long draining, legislative and political fight battle royale to—just barely—get the ACA over the finish line.

Looking back, we underestimated how complex the process and policy would be. There were starts and stops, frustrating setbacks, and daily infighting. But despite it all, we believed in what we were doing and after 13 long months we accomplished a monumental goal.

Compare that to what we have just witnessed from the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans. They spent 18 days trying to figure this out. Eighteen frigging days. That was the extent of their resolve. And if you dissect the very short life of the Trump-Ryan plan it is obvious that for as horrible as the policy was, the presentation was that much worse.

Ask yourselves this question: For seven years, you’ve made repeal-and-replace the centerpiece of your political existence. You finally get the opportunity to do so, aided by a Republican president, a Senate majority, and the largest House majority in generations. To accomplish this, would you do all of the requisite work needed to achieve success or would you make a weak attempt destined to fail?

The most laughable moment of this debacle was during Friday’s White House press briefing when it was asserted President Trump had done everything he could to pass the Republican health care bill.

Everything, huh?

In the matter of one week in December 2009, Senator Harry Reid convinced the anti-war Senator Russ Feingold to vote for a war funding bill, broke a sickly Senator Byrd out of the hospital because we needed his vote and kept the Senate in on Christmas Eve—all in an effort to pass the ACA.

That, Mr. President, is doing everything in your power.

So, I can’t empathize with Republicans or respect their efforts, not only because I don’t agree them, but because they didn’t make any effort in the first place. But herein lies the problem for Democrats and supporters of the ACA—this is just the first battle.

It is obvious at this point neither President Trump or House Republicans know yet how to effectively govern.

Rodell Mollineau

U.S. Politics

What the leading Democrats in the Senate and House think about their inquiries into Russia

What the leading Democrats in the Senate and House think about their inquiries into Russia

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Image Credit: Getty Images

POLICY.MIC

With all the talk about health care, the five Congressional investigations into the election and Russia have fallen out of the headlines. The investigations by the Senate and House intelligence committees are considered the most aggressive, with wide-ranging goals to investigate allegations against President Donald Trump and determine the scope of Russian election interference. On Thursday, I spoke with Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrats on the intelligence committees. We talked Trump, Russia and getting to the bottom of explosive allegations against the Kremlin and the White House.

Takeaways from Mark Warner: The moderate Virginia Democrat could not be more passionate in describing what he calls the most important work of his political career: determining how Russians interfered in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign played a role. “If the American people, especially young people, don’t believe that our elections are on the level or you’re getting news that isn’t straight, you’re going to see even a greater falloff of [younger Americans] participating,” Warner, the ranking member on the Senate intelligence committee, told Mic.

The former Virginia governor notably avoided politics during his interview, saying his committee’s level of access to information and bipartisan tone make it unique in Congress. “We’re the only committee … that’s really trying to do this in a bipartisan way,” he said. Read more from Mic‘s interview with Warner here.

Takeaways from Rep. Adam Schiff: In the House, Schiff expressed concern over the politics at play in his committee and a lack of information provided by the FBI. The House intelligence committee has more members than its Senate counterpart and is not necessarily known for bipartisanship. “[Republicans] all want something from this president,” Schiff said. “They want to get whatever they can before they’re forced to confront this president.”

If he feels the committee is unable to do its work effectively, Schiff said he will be the first to say so publicly. He also laid out the stakes the investigation faces in digging into Russian involvement in the election, noting partisanship is a hurdle to concluding with comprehensive findings. “We have to get back to a core understanding that, no matter which way it cuts, none of us will accept foreign intervention in our elections,” Schiff said. Watch Mic‘s interview with Schiff here.

More on Russia: The Jeff Sessions perjury allegations linger on. The ACLU has filed an ethics complaint against Sessions over “false statements” the attorney general gave during his testimony in confirmation hearings.

This is Mic’s daily read on Donald Trump’s America. Welcome to the political newsletter that has given you two interviews about Russia to watch.

Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here.

Russia:

•  Today: Mic spoke with the top Democrats in the Senate and House investigating Russia. We give you the highlights.

•  More: The Republican health care plan continues its march to the House floor. Behind closed doors, Trump is putting his dealmaking skills to work.

•  Even more: The head of the EPA is not sure carbon dioxide plays a role in climate change.

•  Yes, more: The economy grew by 235,000 jobs in February. The president took credit.

•  Trump’s agenda today: Meeting with “key House committee chairmen” to discuss health care. Speaking with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian authority, by phone. Having lunch with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Meeting with newly confirmed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

The health care blitz

The American Health Care Act passed out of two House committees this week, moving through dozens of hours of debate. Read about the AHCA’s impact here, and backlash against it here. The House Budget committee will now consider the final bill, which is expected on the House floor before the end of the month. The nonpartisan analysis of what the AHCA will cost and whether it will cause any Americans to lose insurance is expected Monday — a report Republicans are preemptively dismissing. The right wing of House Republicans are a hurdle to passing the bill, according to Politico interviews with lawmakers, but disorganization and disagreement on what conservatives want in the final bill makes them difficult to please.

The president has turned back to his dealmaker self, going light on the Twitter controversies in recent days to focus on the passage of health care legislation. Trump is holding yet another White House meeting with House leaders Friday to strategize on how to advance the health care bill. But as Mic‘s Emily Singer points out, the president isn’t exactly pushing to give this bill the tag of “Trumpcare.” Democrats learned the hard way that embracing health care reform can be politically destructive. It remains to be seen if Republicans will suffer a similar fate or play a more successful strategy.

A little more: If you didn’t catch Paul Ryan on TV on Thursday waving at charts, here’s our recap.

Trouble at the EPA

Another story overshadowed by health care news: Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday that he is not sure carbon dioxide is a primary driver of global warming. The fact that CO2 fuels warmer global temperatures has been a cornerstone of climate change research for decades, and during the Obama administration the EPA publicly backed that position. Also Thursday, the head of the environmental justice program at the EPA resigned and sent Pruitt a letter asking the administrator to not cut critical EPA functions.

The latest on immigration

Afghanis who have worked for the United States have long been eligible for special visas to come to America, but a New York Times report says those requests are no longer being accepted. The applicants for these visas generally receive special status because their cooperation with U.S. interests puts them at risk in their home country. Though Trump’s newest immigration order does not target Afghanistan, there is concern it’s having a broader effect and indicating even U.S. allies in the Middle East could face heightened suspicion under the new administration.

In New York City on Thursday, immigration activist Ravi Ragbir had to appear for an annual check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and hundreds of people turned out to support him. Mic‘s Andrew Joyce was there.

In a bid to stave off predicted declines in travel to the U.S., hotel chains and tourism organizations are launching campaigns to portray the country as welcoming and friendly. Changing perceptions of America by people abroad could drive 2 million fewer visitors this year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

News and insight you cannot miss:

•  Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange said Thursday that he wants his organization to help technology companies protect themselves from government hacking. (Wired) More from Mic on what the latest leak of CIA documents by Wikileaks means for your personal digital security. (Mic)

•  ISIS is turning Mosul into a Mad Max-style battlefield in its last stand in the Iraqi city. (BuzzFeed)

•  Congress to Trump: Stop deleting your tweets. It could be illegal. (Mic)

•  Refugees can now apply for asylum using Facebook messenger. (Mic)

•  The sharing of nude photos of female colleagues in the Marine Corps is reportedly far more widespread than initially believed. (Mic)

•  The chances the barricade on the border between the U.S. and Mexico could pass the Senate appear slim, as Trump’s budget chief said the White House does not know what material will be used to build the wall. (Politico)

Will Drabold

U.S. Politics

Here’s what Republicans voted for Wednesday night— $7 million for each of the 400 richest tax-payers

HOLLYWOOD, FL - APRIL 15:  Felue Chang who is newly insured under an insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act receives a checkup from Dr. Peria Del Pino-White at the South Broward Community Health Services clinic on April 15, 2014 in Hollywood, Florida. A report released by the Congressional Budget Office indicates that the Affordable Care Act will cost $5 billion less than originally projected for 2014.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

attribution: Getty Images

And so it begins… (ks)

DAILY KOS

Sure, repealing Obamacare is about bringing “choice” back to Americans when it comes to their health insurance. That’s what Republicans say, right? That it’ll cost consumers less and be better and that’s all they want for the nation. How do you know that’s bullshit? Because of what repeal will really mean: massive tax cuts for the wealthiest tax-payers.

Urged on by Trump, the Senate overnight adopted a budget resolution that clears a path for eliminating the tax-and-spending provisions of the Affordable Care Act by simple majority vote — no Democratic cooperation required. That means repeal of two provisions targeted at high-income households: a 0.9 percent hospital insurance tax on earnings above $250,000 for couples and a 3.8 percent tax on capital gains, dividends and other nonlabor income above that same threshold.That would provide a tax cut averaging $7 million for each of the 400 highest-earning taxpayers, according to new calculations by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities using Internal Revenue Service data. That cut, the center estimated, would amount to $2.8 billion annually overall — or approximately the value of Obamacare subsidies for those with modest incomes in the 20 smallest states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, eliminating those two levies would represent a tax cut of roughly $346 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Households with million-dollar-plus incomes — a much larger group than the top 400 — would receive an average tax cut of $49,000 a year, the center says.

The only people Republicans are looking out for are the ones in Trump’s swamp.

Joan McCarter

U.S. Politics

Democrats Need To Rebrand Their Economic Message

Democrats Need To Rebrand Their Economic Message

Chuck Schumer (D)

WASHINGTON — A brawl is about to break out among Democrats on Capitol Hill, and when it’s done, Democrats will say they’re going to be OK. They’re wrong.

They’ll return next year to face one of the biggest Republican majorities in the House of Representatives since the 1920s. They’ll have 48 out of the 100 Senate seats, but they have to defend 25 of those seats in two years. They lost the White House in a year when they were strongly favored to win.

And they still face a daunting challenge crafting, let alone communicating, an economic message. It’s widely agreed that the party was unable to find a vigorous, meaningful way of telling working-class voters it understood their concerns.

Those voters “see the party as wanting to advance everyone but them,” said Will Marshall, the president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist group with Democratic leanings.

“We celebrate every time a barrier falls, but what Trump voters hear is ‘Nobody cares about me.’ You have to talk to these voters in a more emphatic way.”

Part of that strategy means getting away from a big-spending, liberal image. “A more centrist perspective is going to position them better,” said James Pfiffner, Virginia-based author of a dozen books on American government and politics.

That’s not what you’re going to hear starting Tuesday, as Congress returns to write a federal budget and House Democrats vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader or turn to Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Republicans will have at least 238 seats in the House next year, while Democrats should have 194, a net gain of six seats. Three races are undecided, and all lean Republican.

Ryan’s challenge to Pelosi is the first time since she became the top House Democrat 14 years ago that she’s faced opposition.

Ryan reflects concern that the party’s dismal showing in the congressional and presidential elections is a loud, stark reminder it’s not bold or inclusive enough.

Ryan, said Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., “wants more voices in the conversation so that we can work together to craft our message and forge a winning strategy.”

That makes sense to many liberals, who cheered Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and his Democratic presidential campaign pledges to shake up the political system.

“The Democratic Party needs to project that we’ll really challenge power and the system, and not just have good policies within the system,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal activist group that’s not endorsing anyone.

Democrats have to remember, he said, “the main thing people are looking for is backbone in the Democratic Party.”

Pelosi, a wily political survivor, is seen as winning easily with accolades from unions and liberals.

Once that vote, scheduled for Wednesday, is done, Democrats will be talking big.

“Democrats don’t have a debate about seniors, diversity or women’s issues,” said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., who represents a swing district. While Democrats are unified over the role of government, “Republicans are about to go to war over deficits versus tax cuts,” she said.

“We’re not on life support. The party could be stronger, but it’s still strong,” said Dan Glickman, a former Wichita, Kan.-area congressman and secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration.

Democrats offer several ways their congressional positions are solid:

—Popular vote. “We won the most votes,” said Bob Mulholland, a veteran California Democratic strategist. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has 47.9 percent of the vote to President-elect Donald Trump’s 46.7 percent. His popular vote is the lowest for a White House winner since Bill Clinton 24 years ago.

—Demographics. Democrats running in House races won 67 percent of the Latino vote, 89 percent of the African-American vote and 56 percent of voters under 30, according to network exit polls. The Latino and young-voter percentages were up slightly from 2014, while the African-American number was about the same.

—History. Republicans won control of the House two years after Clinton won his first term. Democrats won control six years after George W. Bush won his first term, and Republicans regained control two years after Barack Obama’s 2008 victory. The GOP had a net gain of 64 House seats in 2010.

—Opposition. The party out of power doesn’t get the blame for governing if things go awry. Republicans have prospered from attacking President Obama’s economic and health care agendas. Now Democrats are in a position to be the critics and rail against the new president. They already are.

“He talked about being a populist. He talked about taking on special interests,” said Sanders. “Yet the initial indications that we are seeing is that not much of what he talked about … has much to do with where he is today.”

But the old problem remains: Democrats aren’t convincing enough working-class people that the party’s on their side.

“We needed to let the American people know what we believe,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democrats’ new leader in the Senate.

He cites the example of student debt as a missed opportunity. Sanders got overwhelming support from under-35 Democrats as he argued to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Clinton and most congressional candidates argued for a modified version.

That confused people, perhaps contributing to the poorer Democratic showing among younger voters, he suggested.

The biggest danger for congressional Democrats is that Trump is successful and fashions a new Republican era, much as Ronald Reagan did through most of the 1980s.

“If his policy falters, they may regain seats in the midterms,” Robert Borosage, the president of the liberal Institute for America’s Future, said of the Democrats. “Yet they can win battles and still lose the war.”

U.S. Politics

Why It Will Take A Lot More Than A Protest To Stop Gun Violence

Why It Will Take A Lot More Than A Protest To Stop Gun Violence

This is an unfortunate reality…(ks)

POLITICUS USA

If the slaughter of 20 school children didn’t sway Republicans to support sane gun safety laws, why would a protest by House Democrats?

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

If any American failed to comprehend just how dysfunctional politics are, Democrats in the House decided to just sit down to protest the lack of action on gun safety measures, namely background checks and bans on selling terror suspects assault weapons. The Democrats’ action was to demonstrate to the voters that Republicans are too devoted to, or too terrified of, the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturer lobby to act in the people’s behalf. No matter where one comes down on the issue of gun proliferation, and regardless the majority of Americans’ support for the most basic safety regulations or a Democratic sit down strike, only a fool thinks anything will change.

On Wednesday Think Progress noted that 23 of the Republican senators who voted against background checks for gun purchases could lose their jobs in November when Americans go to the polls. In fact, the progressive site also backed up their assertion by citing that “roughly 90 percent of Americans, including 80 percent of gun owners, supported the [failed] measures.” They also noted that after the Republicans blocked the measures “voters” and gun safety advocates pledged to make the November election “a referendum on Republican politicians who are beholden to the NRA,” even citing the amount of cash the Republicans received from the gun lobby.

Here’s the problem with even insinuating that because the worst gun massacre in modern history is still fresh in people’s minds, and an overwhelming number of Americans “support” basic gun safety regulations, that the 23 Republicans up for re-election are in jeopardy of being voted out of Congress: nothing is going to change. And, the 23 Republican senators are not going to be voted out of office over their no votes on gun regulations. It is also true that House Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan, are not going to be swept out of office because Democrats staged a sit down protest to demand a vote on gun safety, a vote they would certainly lose.

Paul Ryan should have let Democrats have their vote so the House can get back to being a very high-paying job with no responsibility or accountability to the people. Of course Ryan knows Democrats are attempting to prove to the 90 percent of American voters who support gun safety legislation that they are trying to follow the will of the voters, and that when Republicans block any gun regulations they can point fingers and say the Republicans are going against the will of the people. In that sense, Ryan was not completely exaggerating about the Democrats’ sit-down protest is a publicity stunt; Democrats, Republicans, the NRA, the gun manufacturing lobby, and gun safety advocates all know there is no way in the proverbial Hell that the GOP will support gun legislation.

Yes, there is news about a “glimmer of hope” that some kind of Senate compromise to prevent people on the terror watch list from buying assault weapons is being bandied about, but that is a damn far cry from legislation requiring mandatory background checks over 90 percent of the voters support.

The point of this little screed is that American voters have very short memories, are easily terrified, and frankly, are just as stupid as a fence post. The idea, or hope, that Republicans are in danger of being voted out of office because they vote contrary to the will of the people is misplaced at best and more likely the result of severe memory failure. Don’t believe it? Just consider how successful Republicans have been at gaining seats in Congress and state legislatures in spite of legislating in direct opposition to the majority of voters’ wishes.

For example, majorities of Americans support raising the minimum wage, protecting and expanding Social Security, keeping Medicare as it is and expanding Medicaid, and yet Republicans religiously pass legislation contrary to the people’s will and still increase their power in government. Majorities of voters also reject defunding Planned Parenthood, are outraged that women’s access to contraception is limited due to the minority religious right’s demands and yet in the states and Congress Republicans reliably win elections by going against the will of the voters.

Democrats were fairly excited after Republicans went against the people’s will and shut down the government costing the taxpayers billions of dollars in late 2013 going into an important midterm election. And yet Republicans not only suffered no ill-effects from a ridiculously stupid and costly action, they actually increased their numbers in the House and took control of the Senate just nine months later. Now there is talk, and unicorn fantasies, that because Senate Republicans blocked gun safety measures 90 percent of the people support 23 sitting Republican senators “could be voted out of office.”

Look, if American voters had an ounce of intelligence, or regard for their own and the nation’s best interests, maybe Democrats would be justified in believing Republicans are making tragic career-ending moves. But recent history reveals that not only are voters not intelligent, Republicans are not in jeopardy of being swept out of Washington en masse or in significant enough numbers to change Washington’s dysfunction because they went against the will of the people. If anything,  the recent past reveals that Republicans win when they go against the wishes of the people and there are a couple of reasons why, reasons  Democrats seem incapable of grasping.

For one thing, the average voter does not follow politics enough to know it is one party blocking everything the majority of voters support. Paul Ryan didn’t have to declare the House was in recess to force a media blackout of the Democrats’ sit-in: most Americans never watch C-Span or follow the actions in Congress anyway. The other specific reason Republicans continue to succeed is because the average voter only hears what Republicans want and has trained them to hear.

In the case of gun legislation, the average voter only knows that gun safety measures are attempts by Democrats to endanger American lives by confiscating their guns and part of a scheme to violate the Constitution. Oh, it’s true when a telephone pollster asks a voter if they think terrorists should be allowed unlimited access to battlefield weapons they will say “Hell no,” or that if everyone should undergo a simple background check prior to purchasing weapons, 90 percent will definitely say “of course.” But that is not what voters hear from Republicans and why they will not throw them out of Congress for not voting for sane gun safety regulations.

It is frustrating that Republicans continue deliberately going against the voters’ wishes and still win elections, but staging a sit-down protest or flooding social media with outrage is and has not changed anything. If that were the case gun legislation, a minimum wage hike, and expanded Social Security would have passed years ago. The average voter does not have the time or wherewithal to stay glued to social media, or C-Span for that matter and if they do they either gravitate to like-minded opinions or tune out pertinent information that just might inform an intelligent and logical vote in November.

Until the American people are adequately informed, registered to vote and listen critically to what both Democrats and Republicans are saying, the sad fact is that nothing is ever going to change. Oh, people definitely feel emboldened when they see their heroes in Congress make an effort according to the majority’s demands, but that feeling never translates into votes in November. If the slaughter of 20 little children didn’t sway Republicans to support sane gun safety laws, nothing will. That includes protests by Democrats in the House and bereaved Americans sick of mass shootings raging on social media. Because when November rolls around they will have been sufficiently terrified into voting for Republicans again because besides being frightened senseless they are just plain stupid.

U.S. Politics

Va. governor: I’m ‘baffled’ by federal probe

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THE HILL

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) on Tuesday said he is perplexed by the federal probe into campaign donations to his 2013 gubernatorial run.

“I’m really baffled by this story in the first place,” he told reporter Ronica Cleary during an interview with Fox 5 D.C. “I’ll be honest with you — if I was sitting in the private sector, not as governor, I don’t think someone would, this would have risen to the level.

“But listen, it’s OK. You get in this business. You open yourself up and I’m fine doing that when you’re confident you haven’t done anything wrong.”

Reports emerged on Monday that the FBI and the Justice Department’s public integrity unit are looking into campaign contributions to McAuliffe three years ago.

The agencies are investigating, among other things, $120,000 in donations from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang. Foreign nationals are not allowed to donate to any American campaign unless they have a green card, which clears such contributions.

McAuliffe on Tuesday said Wenliang has a well-documented record of donating to individuals and institutions in the U.S.

“Well, as I say, he’s a major contributor to Harvard,” he said. “He sits on the board of New York University. Two of our most prestigious universities. He’s very active. Everybody takes his money.”

McAuliffe added that federal scrutiny into his past campaign contributions would not hinder his current duties as Virginia’s governor.

“Listen, I’m carrying on my schedule as governor,” he said. “No one’s alleged I’ve done anything wrong. And you just got to continue to do.

“I’m governor, I’m out doing what I need to do to help the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” added McAuliffe, who has previously endorsed Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.

McAuliffe tried distancing the probe from his ties with the Clinton family during a press conference earlier Tuesday.

“This has nothing to do with Clinton Foundation,” he said at the State Arboretum of Virginia. “This was an allegation of a gentleman who gave a check to my campaign. I didn’t bring the donor in; I didn’t bring him into the Clinton Foundation. I don’t even know if I’ve ever met the person.”

Officials are also purportedly investigating McAuliffe’s role at the Clinton Global Initiative, former President Bill Clinton’s charitable organization.

A Washington Post report from last year found that 120 donors who gave to Clinton charities gave more than $13 million to McAuliffe’s election efforts in 2013.

McAuliffe is a long-time Clinton ally who spearheaded Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. He also served as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2000.

By Mark Hensch

U.S. Politics

Benjamin Netanyahu Realizes He Needs Obama and Democrats After All

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POLITICUS USA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after doing everything in his power to antagonize Democrats in concert with his Republican pals, seems to have belatedly realized that needs President Obama and Democrats in Congress, and he’s moving to make amends.

Not only is Netanyahu visiting Washington D.C. Monday – not to go behind the President’s back to Congress – but to actually talk to him, but he belatedly and conveniently realized that his nominee for public diplomacy chief, Ran Baratz, had referred to President Obama as an anti-Semite and said Secretary of State John Kerry had the intellect of a pre-teenager.

Now Netanyahu says such thinking is “totally unacceptable and in no way reflect my positions or the policies of the government of Israel,” and he is reconsidering his choice of Baratz, as well he should, since the Likud party is not likely to let anyone forget this and other things Baratz has said, though Netanyahu’s cabinet gets to vote, and the prime minister has not outright rejected Baratz.

Baratz had posted the comments on Facebook and has apologized on Facebook for “the hurtful remarks” and in an email to The New York Times explained that “what I most regret is using the word anti-Semitism in relation to President Obama.” He said, “It’s not true and I deeply regret having done so.”

Aha! Right? A simple oversight? All’s good? Not so fast! As Barak Ravid wrote at Haaretz yesterday, “Israeli journalist Ben Caspit reported in the Maariv daily way back in August that Netanyahu had invited Baratz to a meeting regarding precisely this matter” and that therefore,

Netanyahu has three months to size Baratz up, to go through his past with a fine-toothed comb, and to check every mention of his name on the internet. A pretty natural, basic and necessary procedure in 2015. Netanyahu didn’t do this, and we can see the result.

Ravid is willing to accept Netanyahu at his word that he was unaware of Baratz’s “Facebook meditations” but wonders how the Prime Minister could not have been made aware of how their author felt on these matters when the two met face to face.

As Ravid writes, on the contrary, “If anything – we should assume that Baratz’s views on Rivlin, Obama, the media and others were what brought him this far.”

Timing-wise, the whole thing seems on a par with Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. Fortunately for Netanyahu, he is dealing with a man, Barack Obama, who is far more mature than he is, and who will not let U.S.-Israeli relations be torpedoed by someone Ravid refers to as “an ignoramus in anything relating to U.S.-Israel relations.”

I think that term could be used of Netanyahu as well.

Netanyahu had made his own displeasure felt early on with Democrats who supported the Iran nuclear deal, as though trying to take control of American foreign policy wasn’t enough of a slap in the face.

The New York Times reminds us that Democrats “were left off the guest list of the annual Rosh Hoshana reception at the Israeli Embassy in Washington,” and other Democrats experienced various other forms of displeasure extended by pro-Israel groups.

Now all that seems to be coming to an end and Netanyahu’s appears to see the need for some fence-mending. While still not giving up on Baratz, Netanyahu has sent out Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer – whom you might remember was the guy Netanyahu also employed to throw John Boehner under the bus – to invite “prominent Democrats…to a dinner to commemorate Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister who was assassinated 20 years ago.”

And the Times reports that even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, the pro-Israeli group that spent millions to oppose the Iran deal, “appears to be reaching out tentatively to the Democratic lawmakers it attacked for backing the agreement.” Of course, what Aipac wants is not détente but control.

Remember. These Democrats were attacked for insisting that America had a right to control its own foreign policy. This is a big deal, and Democrats should never forget what this was about. Netanyahu obviously if belatedly has remembered who really needs who in this relationship. It is not Israel that is about to give the U.S. a $40 billion aid package, after all.

Obama has triumphed so far over all his enemies, including Benjamin Netanyahu, and you can imagine he will be more than willing to make the nature of the U.S.-Israeli relationship very clear before he picks up a pen to sign that $40 billion check.

Uri Misgav wrote in an op-ed at Haaretz yesterday that “Anyone who was shocked by the words” of “Israeli Tea Party Type” Ran Baratz, “doesn’t understand where he is living,” and you can be sure Obama was not surprised and knows exactly how Netanyahu still feels about him.

President Obama is being typically gracious in being willing to, at least publicly, overlook some of Netanyahu’s many gaffes and outright attacks, by meeting with him again. For the greater good he may be willing – at least publicly again – let bygones be bygones – but what many of us wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when the president and prime minister talk privately.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson