Thursday, January 07, 2016

Scattershooting while playing nurse

... to a recovering knee replacement patient ...

-- Joe Biden has some regrets about not running in 2016.  'Some', as in "every day".

Still, he said he made the right call for his family and for himself. And he pledged to stay "deeply involved" in the race to replace President Barack Obama.

"We've got two good candidates," Biden said, praising Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for engaging in a "robust debate" devoid of personal attacks. He glossed over the third candidate running for the Democratic nomination, Martin O'Malley, whose campaign has struggled to gain traction.

That was kind of uncharacteristically rude of Uncle Joe, wasn't it? 

-- Bernie Sanders does indeed have a credibility problem on guns.  Matt Bai:

President Obama pushed guns to the top of the national agenda this week, announcing a series of modest executive actions to be followed by a televised town hall Thursday. And that’s probably not the best news in the world for Bernie Sanders, who’s making a serious push in Iowa just four weeks before the caucuses, and who would rather be talking about almost anything else.

The problem here for Sanders isn’t just that the renewed conversation on guns takes away from his monastic focus on economic fairness, which he renewed with a combative speech in Manhattan Tuesday. Nor is it simply that gun violence is the one issue where Sanders, who needs to consolidate the populist left of his party, has been decidedly less liberal than either of his rivals.

The real issue is that, if you pay close attention, the logic Sanders deploys to defend his record on guns just happens to undermine the very core of his case for the presidency — and his case against Hillary Clinton, too.

Gun safety finally coming to the forefront of the nation's attention as an actionable item picked a bad time for Bernie Sanders' campaign, and his rural-state gun mentality. 

There have been only a handful of truly pivotal congressional votes to broadly redefine gun rights in modern America. The first was in 1968, in the aftermath of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, when Congress voted to prohibit certain kinds of citizens — convicted felons, fugitives, “mental defectives” — from walking into a store and buying a gun.

That stood as the defining law of the land until 1993, when Bill Clinton led a successful and divisive push to expand those restrictions through what came to be known as the Brady Law. That law instituted a mandatory waiting period (now three days) for all guns bought through licensed gun stores, so that federal background checks could be completed. The following year, Congress added a ban on certain assault-style weapons, which the industry quickly circumvented.

None of this, however, stopped the flow of illegal guns into American cities. So in the late ’90s, a coalition of cities, inspired by the successful litigation against the tobacco industry, started suing the gun industry and some of the less scrupulous dealers, charging that they were negligent in their business practices and asking to be recouped for the costs of gun violence.

In 2006, after years of trying, the gun lobby finally succeeded in getting Congress to grant special legal immunity to gun makers and dealers, effectively shielding them from any liability having to do with basic negligence. This was an extraordinary intervention on behalf of an entire industry, unparalleled in the modern annals of Congress.

So where was Sanders in all this? As a second-term congressman, he steadfastly opposed the Brady Law (although he did bring himself to vote for the largely symbolic assault-weapons ban). In 2006, when he was running for Senate, he voted with pro-gun, pro-corporate Republicans on the odious immunity bill.


On the two most meaningful pieces of gun legislation in American history — one that is the foundation for federal gun restrictions, and the other a clear effort by lobbyists to use their muscle to subvert the legal process — Sanders came out on the side of industry. Whatever other votes he’s taken since becoming a senator (including one to extend Brady to private sellers at gun shows) have to be considered less consequential.

Most of Bernie's supporters tend to studiously ignore this glaringly objectionable policy stance in much the same way that Shrillaries don't talk about her Wall Street largesse or her bellicose foreign policy.

One of these deficiencies in principle will be a fatal flaw in the spring, the other could very well be in the fall.  Especially if Hezbubba, the most scared and unprepared of all Americans, are convinced that their votes for Donald Trump will make the difference.  (Thinking that voting doesn't matter is an ignorance that usually only Democratic-leaners suffer from, as we know.) 

When Sanders and his supporters defend his votes, they like to make the point that Sanders has represented Vermont, where an awful lot of pickup trucks sport NRA stickers, and where an awful lot of gun dealers make a decent living and don’t want to get sued out of business.

“I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states,” Sanders explained during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas in October. In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” last year, he said: “The people of my state understand, I think, pretty clearly, that guns in Vermont are not the same thing as guns in Chicago or guns in Los Angeles. In our state, guns are used for hunting.”

In other words, Sanders was representing the interests of his constituents. And you know what that makes Bernie Sanders?

A politician, that’s what.

And this is the problem the gun issue creates for Sanders. Because a politician is precisely what he purports not to be. His entire rationale as a candidate is that he alone chooses principle over polls, that he votes his convictions and can’t be corrupted by powerful interests or his own ambition.
Conversely, his main indictment of Clinton — which he laid out again this week, as Obama wept publicly over the human wreckage of gun violence — holds that she is a puppet of Wall Street, unwilling to break up the banks or re-institute 20th century regulations because she’s a creature of political calculation rather than conscience.

It turns out, though, that Sanders understands political reality, too. He voted against the Brady Law because it wasn’t popular or especially relevant in Vermont, and you can bet he was already eyeing higher office back then. He voted for immunity at the very moment when he was also running for an open Senate seat, and that’s not a coincidence.

There's more, but the point is made.  As close as Sanders might be to being the progressive populist's best option, he falls short on guns and on boondoggle military spending as long as it's in Vermont.

The sad part is that much of his support after March goes back underground, with only some declaring their bold pledge to write his name in on their ballots in November... a tremendous waste.  Keeping the best parts of of Bernie's political revolution going entails acting more intelligent than this.

In a tactical vein, if Hillary Clinton is on her game, she will strike down this hypocrisy of Sanders' at their next debate, just a few days from now in the South Carolina city where a white supremacist shot nine people in cold blood inside their church.

The next Democratic debate will be held a week from Sunday in Charleston, S.C., a city shattered by a horrific mass shooting last year. And you can be sure that Sanders will reprise the argument he made this week — that Clinton is a subsidiary of the bankers and their narrow agenda.

When he does, Clinton might point out that she’s no more a sellout to Wall Street than Sanders is to the gun lobby. Both candidates have shown themselves to be pragmatists when they need to be.

Only one of them admits it.

Meanwhile, in the other South Carolina shooting, the cop who put eight slugs into Walter Scott's back just walked.  (Some people say that's not a gun problem but a police problem, of course, and some of them might be right, if it weren't for the fact that the reason he's bonded out is because of Dylann Roof.)

-- I don't like to follow the Ken Paxton saga day to day because it is so disgusting.  Just understand that when you elect an admitted felon, you're going to wind up paying his legal bills, and the meter is spinning like a top on that shit.  It's not children and families who came across the border to seek a better life mooch free stuff off the government, it's criminals like Paxton and Rick Perry that are breaking the budget, wasting your tax dollars.

Hope that's clear now.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

A total agreement, señor.

1. Bernie's a panderer on guns. I could maybe halfway overlook the Brady vote if it were in isolation. But the gun lawsuit vote is just fugly. Period.

2. I'm stealing your warhawk link to update my blog post on that.