In the GOP Political Universe, Hypocrisy Has No Meaning or Consequence

Back in the day, Republicans felt at least a twinge of inhibition when thinking of endorsing policy positions that could make them appear hypocritical. Those days, of course, are pretty much gone. GOP elected officials today seem to have no internal guidance mechanism telling them, “Hey, if I spent eight years attacking Barack Obama for increasing the deficit, shouldn’t I think twice about supporting tax and budget policies that do the same?” They’ve learned that the voters they really need to care about, the ones who can unseat them in primaries, simply don’t care whether they’re hypocrites, as long as they endorse the policy positions these voters demand, which are basically whichever ones Donald Trump happens to be supporting at any given moment.

Of course, no politician is less burdened by concerns over hypocrisy than Trump himself. While others might see a flashing red light saying, “Don’t go there, you’re personally vulnerable!” he steamrolls ahead, heedless of the danger. The whole Russia scandal is a daily reminder of this tendency of his. But it now looks like the same lack of inhibition is at play in his legal immigration plan.

When Trump was running for president, he actually didn’t talk all that much about restricting legal immigration. Mainly he lashed out at illegal immigration. And while he did loudly demand a temporary ban on Muslims and his official campaign positions included a “pause” in the granting of green cards, he didn’t endorse any long-term changes to legal immigration. That happened only last year, when Trump began calling for restrictions on family reunification, what he calls “chain migration.”

But when he did this, did it not occur to him that his own in-laws are—or so it seems—taking advantage of precisely the “chain migration” provisions he wants to deny others?

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple gained their green cards.

Immigration experts said Viktor and Amalija Knavs very likely relied on a family reunification process that President Trump has derided as “chain migration” and proposed ending in such case.

The Knavses, formerly of Slovenia, are living in the country on green cards, according to Michael Wildes, a New York-based immigration lawyer who represents the first lady and her family.

“I can confirm that Mrs. Trump’s parents are both lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents,” he said. “The family, as they are not part of the administration, has asked that their privacy be respected, so I will not comment further on this matter.”…

Matthew Kolken, a partner at a New York immigration law firm, said there are only two substantive ways Trump’s in-laws could gain green cards: through sponsorship by their daughter or an employer. The latter is unlikely, he said, as it would require evidence that there were no Americans who could do the job for which they were hired.

The Knavses are reportedly retired. In Slovenia, Viktor Knavs, now 73, worked as a chauffeur and car salesman. Amalija Knavs, now 71, was a pattern maker at a textile factory.

David Leopold, an immigration lawyer and a past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the first lady’s sponsorship of her parents appears to be the only reasonable way they would have obtained green cards because the process currently gives preferential treatment to parents of U.S. citizens.

Will the apparent fact that Trump’s own family is benefiting from a policy he is actively trying to deny other families in any way harm the chances of the proposal becoming law? Or hurt the GOP generally in the polls? In my gut I still think so. But then again, even though I know, on an intellectual level, why it is that hypocrisy seems to have no meaning or consequence in the political universe Republicans today inhabit, some part of me just doesn’t get it. It’s like my grasp of quantum mechanics: yes, I see, particles are sometimes particles and sometimes waves, but…no I really don’t understand that.

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Why I Am Blogging When I Said I Was Taking a Break


I said I was going to post only once a day. I meant it. I am starting a new book.

But the massacre at Majory Stoneman Douglas has enraged me. I am obsessed with defending the children and stopping future slaughters. I am in awe of the energy and passion of the students who survived the shooting rampage. I want to support them in any way I can.

Arming teachers is a terrible idea. This administration will do anything to pander to the NRA, which donated $30 million to the Trump campaign. What a boon for the Pro-Death Lobby to sell millions more guns to arm teachers with handguns, which will be ineffectual against an AR 15 or other assault weapons.

If the Trump administration wants to secure schools in the short run, let him call out the National Guard in every state and let them patrol the entrance to the school to protect against shooters. Let the federal government pick up the tab. Let students learn and teachers teach in peace, with no guns whatever in the school.

The only long-term and realistic solution is to ban weapons of mass killings, like the AR 15. Let the hunters keep single-shot rifles for their hobby. Buy back the AR 15s and similar semi-automatic weapons now in circulation. Make it a crime to own or possess one for anyone but the military. Military weapons should not be bought or sold at gun shows or online or anywhere else.

More guns, more killings. Fewer guns, fewer killings.

Anything less than banning assault weapons is a fraud.

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It’s Not Just the Magazine Capacity That Makes the AR-15 So Deadly

At the CNN forum last night, Dana Loesch, spokeswoman for the NRA, made the ridiculous suggestion that there was some comparison between the rifles that were available when the Second Amendment was written and the AR-15, which has become the weapon of choice in mass shootings. I was reminded of something Christopher Ingraham wrote a while ago titled, “What ‘arms’ looked like when the 2nd Amendment was written.” He included this chart:

By now, even those of us who are not gun enthusiasts have learned about the significance of 30 rounds with an effective rate of fire of 45 rounds per minute. That is what leads to the tragedy of 17 deaths at the Parkland shooting in a matter of minutes.

What I wasn’t aware of is how deadly the muzzle velocity of 3,260 feet per second could be. That is the topic of an article by Heather Sher, a radiologist who was involved in the treatment of some of the victims last week. The story is pretty gruesome, but it is critical that we all be informed about what we’re dealing with.

Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun. An AR-15 rifle outfitted with a magazine cartridge with 50 rounds allows many more lethal bullets to be delivered quickly without reloading.

Sher tells this story about a colleague whose child is a student at Stoneman Douglas High School:

One of my ER colleagues was waiting nervously for his own children outside the school. While the shooting was still in progress, the first responders were gathering up victims whenever they could and carrying them outside the building. Even as a physician trained in trauma situations, though, there was nothing he could do at the scene to help to save the victims who had been shot with an AR-15. Most of them died on the spot, with no fighting chance at life.

None of this is meant to downplay the fact that any gun is a lethal weapon. But it isn’t just the magazine capacity of the AR-15 that is horrific. What you have is a weapon that is specifically designed to be able to fire off more rounds per minute with a velocity that assures that almost every round will be deadly. It is positively insane that these guns are so easily available to almost everyone in this country.

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A Twitter Exchange about the Students

Last night on Twitter.

Parents, what would you do if your child lectured and ridiculed a U.S. Senator on national television?

Replying to @toddstarnes


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Texas Democrats Are Eager to Vote

I’ve often compared the red/blue divide in our politics to two tectonic plates that are locked together. Every so often, there is some slippage along the fault line that causes a minor political earthquake, but things usually settle back into a stable state. No one can quite predict when The Big One will come, but there’s always the potential for a huge shift that will permanently rearrange the divide and leave one party with an insurmountable advantage.

We’ve had two presidential elections, in 2000 and 2016, when the party with fewer voters nonetheless won the election due to an advantage in the Electoral College. In Congress, we’ve seen control switch back and forth during this same period. The one thing that would change everything is if Texas and its 38 Electoral College votes suddenly moved into the blue column. Without Texas, it’s inconceivable that a Republican could win the presidency. The Republicans currently enjoy a 27-11 advantage in their congressional delegation, and they hold both U.S. Senate seats. Both of those majorities are key to the Republicans’ current control of Congress.

Based solely on demographic analyses of Texas, it has looked like the Democrats might be competitive in the presidential election by 2024 and perhaps have an outright advantage by 2028. Those estimates don’t take into account the possibility that racial, ethnic or gender groups might change their voting preferences. If whites vote even more heavily Republican or Latinos become more like swing voters, then Texas may remain reliably red for a longer period of time. But if the reverse happens, or if, say, white women move sharply away from the GOP in reaction to school shootings and the #MeToo movement, then Texas could be competitive in 2020.

Early voting for the midterm election primaries started in Texas on Tuesday, and the Dallas Morning News reports that the Democrats are turning out at close to presidential year numbers.

Of the 51,249 Texans who cast ballots Tuesday on the first day of early voting, more than half voted in the Democratic primary.

The total number of voters from the 15 counties with the most people registered is high for a midterm year. In 2016, a presidential election year, 55,931 Texans voted on the first day of early voting for the primary. But in the last midterm election in 2014, only 38,441 Texans voted on the first day.

Even more surprising is the turnout among Democrats. Since the last midterm election, the party saw a 51 percent increase in first-day early voting turnout, while Republicans saw a 16 percent increase.

Some of the individual county numbers are striking. Democratic turnout surpassed 2016’s numbers in Harris, Dallas, Collin and Denton counties. It basically equaled 2016 in Bexar and Travis counties. The Republicans didn’t even come close to matching presidential year numbers.

It’s been widely noted that Hillary Clinton actually came closer to winning Texas than Iowa, which was surprising because Iowa went for Barack Obama twice. To close the remaining gap, the Democrats need to get out their base and make a lot of converts. Short of that, they need to wait for demographic change to do its work while maintaining their current levels of support. The early voting numbers don’t reliably predict the results in individual races. There are some factors, like a higher than usual number of open seats, that might help explain why turnout is up so much. Without question, though, the numbers indicate an unusual degree of interest in the upcoming elections, and it’s much more pronounced on the left.

Texas could become a case like Virginia, where once the Democrats seize the advantage, they really never give it up. Republicans can still win statewide in Virginia, but it’s not going to happen very often. When it comes to winning states in a presidential election, Virginia is already moving to the bottom of the Republicans’ list of “purple” states. The GOP can survive this by winning in blue states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but they cannot survive losing Texas.

I think the true test of whether Texas might turn blue by 2020 is going to be Senator Ted Cruz’s reelection effort. If he wins comfortably, then it means that nothing much has changed in the Lone Star State. If he loses, however, then I think Texas will be a true battleground state in the next presidential election.

Seismologists will tell you that’s impossible to tell when The Big One is coming. But it could be this November.

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Radiologist Who Treated Victims of Parkland Shooting Explains Why the AR-15 Is More Deadly than a Handgun


This article in The Atlantic was written by a radiologist who treated victims of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?
The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.
What to do about semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, which were designed for the battlefield to kill people? Ban them. Allow only the military to carry them. Keep them away from civilians. Bar their sale at gun shows and online. Arrest anyone who sells them. Confiscate or buy back all those now in existence. Make it a crime for a civilian to own one.Background checks are not enough. A three-day waiting period is meaningless. Nikolas Cruz would have passed the background check and waited three days. Raising the age limit to own a killing machine is not enough. The mass murderer at the Pulse nightclub and the shooter at the Las Vegas festival would have met the age limit and the background check.

Ban them. Limit them for military use only. They are intended for the battlefield, and that is where they belong. Not in schools or nightclubs or churches or anywhere else.

In the future, please refer to the NRA as the Pro-Death Lobby.

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Clint Smith: GOP Tax Plan Hurts Poor Kids, Worsens Unequal School Funding


Clint Smith writes in The Atlantic that the underlying cause of educational inequality is unequal funding of children who are poor. Instead of getting more funding and smaller classes, their schools are  systematically underfunded as compared to the schools attended by the wealthiest children.

The GOP tax plan will worsen this inequality. It creates pathways to enrich rich families and take from the public schools that serve the neediest children.

It is a reverse Robin Hood plan: steal from the poor, give to the rich.

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