Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Last Call For The Kids Are Alright

I still don't believe the survivors of the Parkland shooting will make much difference to our laws themselves, that won't happen until voters finally decide to punish NRA Republicans and throw them out of office at both the federal and state level, and that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

Even as the majority of Americans disapprove of the job the President has done handling gun policy, his approval rating has not fallen in the wake of Parkland shooting. The shooting occurred on February 14. Looking at the average of all polls and adjusting for whether the pollster normally has results that are more or less favorable to the President, Trump's approval rating in the month before the murders at Parkland (i.e. January) was 40%. In the first full calendar month after Parkland (i.e. March), his approval rating is actually a point higher at 41%. That 41% is also a point above the average for his entire presidency of 40%. 
The President's approval rating over February and March of 2018 are the highest they've been in a very long time. In no month in the second half of 2017 did his approval rating ever top 40% for a month. He's now done it for two consecutive months (including February, during which the massacre at Parkland occurred). 
Contrast that to other monumental moments in this administration: Trump saw his ratings dip by three or four points on average after he fired FBI Director James Comey and during the debate over the unpopular Republican health care bill. 
Congressional Republicans too have seen no decline in their ratings. Although they still trail on the generic congressional ballot, an average of all surveys in March puts the Republican deficit at 8 percentage points. That's the same as it was in February and in January. All of which are equal to the long-term average since the beginning of the Trump presidency. All of which are also better than where Republicans were in December when they trailed by 11 percentage points on the generic congressional ballot.

What the Parkland survivors have done however is expose the NRA right-wing for what it truly is: a lobbyist for firearms manufacturers willing to go to any lengths to discredit people who say enough is enough.

Less than a week after 17 people died in Parkland, Fla., right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza began taunting some of the teenage survivors of the massacre. “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” he tweeted on Feb. 20, commenting on a photo showing Parkland survivors crying as state legislators voted down a bill to ban military-style weapons. 
D’Souza wrote another tweet, “Adults, 1, kids 0.” Combined, the two tweets have more than 25,000 likes and 8,000 retweets. 
Now, five weeks after the Parkland school shooting, D’Souza’s tweets seem almost quaint. As Emma Gonz├ílez, David Hogg and the other Parkland teens fighting for gun control have become viral liberal heroes, the teens are villains on the right-wing Internet and fair game for the mockery and attacks that this group usually reserves for its adult enemies.

That infamy reached a wider audience this past weekend around the time of their March for Our Lives protest, when a doctored image that showed Gonz├ílez ripping up a copy of the U.S. Constitution (she actually ripped up a gun target) went mildly viral on the Trump-supporting parts of the Internet, defended as “satire” by those who shared it.

Five weeks after surviving a deadly shooting rampage, these kids are now being targeted again by social media internet bullies, right-wing pundits, the NRA, FOX News, and more.  One side is saying "Maybe your Second Amendment right doesn't mean we have to pay for it in blood" and the other side is saying "These kids are false flag crisis actors paid by a massive Jewish conspiracy to destroy America's precious bodily fluids."

We'll see if enough of seeing these kids attacked will actually motivate people to get off their asses and start tossing NRA-bought legislators.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Jason Leopold at BuzzFeed News has been following the case of the mysterious death of Russia Today founder Mikhail Lesin for a couple of years now. Lesin was found dead in a DC hotel room in 2015, his death was officially ruled an accident due to a drunker bender where he fell down repeatedly and not, as pretty much anyone with a pulse has surmised, beaten to death by Putin's goons on the eve of meeting with Obama DoJ officials to explain how RT was Kremlin propaganda at its finest.

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death. 
Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost yearlong "comprehensive investigation," a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an "accident," and prosecutors closed the case. 
But the two FBI agents — as well as a third agent and a serving US intelligence officer — said Lesin was actually bludgeoned to death. None of these officials were directly involved in the government’s investigation, but they said they learned about it from colleagues who were. 
“Lesin was beaten to death,” one of the FBI agents said. “I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can't get into.”

Now Leopold and his team not only believe the FBI knows that Lesin's death was homicide by Russian diktat, but that at least one report in the FBI's possession on Lesin's Unfortunate Series Of Events™ was written by our good friend, Christopher Steele of Steele dossier fame.

The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident. 
The report, according to four sources who have read all or parts of it, was written by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who also wrote the famous dossier alleging that Russia had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Donald Trump. The bureau received his report while it was helping the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department investigate the Russian media baron’s death, the sources said. 
FBI spokesperson Andrew Ames declined to confirm or deny the existence of the report and would not comment for this story. Steele's business partner, Chris Burrows, declined to comment on behalf of Steele and their company, Orbis Business Intelligence. 
The new revelations come as concerns about Russia’s meddling in the West have intensified to a pitch not seen since the Cold War. Both the UK and the US have blamed the Kremlin for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England this month, using a rare nerve agent that endangered bystanders. (Russia has denied it was behind the poisoning.) In the wake of that attack, the British government has opened a review of all 14 suspicious deaths linked to Russia that a BuzzFeed News investigation exposed last year. 
The BuzzFeed News series also revealed new details about Lesin — including that he died on the eve of a scheduled meeting with US Justice Department officials. They had planned to interview Lesin about the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that he founded. 
Now BuzzFeed News has established:
  • Steele’s report says that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin, the four sources said.
  • The thugs had been instructed to beat Lesin, not kill him, but they went too far, the sources said Steele wrote.
  • Three of the sources said that the report described the killers as Russian state security agents moonlighting for the oligarch.
The Steele report is not the FBI's only source for this account of Lesin's death: Three other people, acting independently from Steele, said they also told the FBI that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for the same oligarch named by Steele. 
Lesin’s corpse was found in a Washington, DC, hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015. The coroner determined that he had died from blunt force injuries to the head and had also sustained blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities. After an 11-month investigation, a federal prosecutor announced in late 2016 that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an “accident,” with the coroner adding acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing cause of death, and prosecutors closed the case.

So yes, the FBI knows damn well that Lesin was murdered but covered it up anyway, they knew in 2015.  Vlad's little team of tyrants can do whatever they want, it seems.  He doesn't care.

And we have a man in the Oval office wholly owned by Putin.  Never forget that.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Democrats are going to gain seats in November, the question is how many.  A big part of it will come down to Pennsylvania's recently cracked gerrymandering wall, but dozens of other states have districts that give the the maximum possible advantage to keeping GOP seats safe and even with the double digit advantage that Democrats have in generic ballots, it may still not be enough for Team Blue to win back the House.

A report released Monday suggests Democrats might have to temper their enthusiasm about climbing back to power during this year’s midterm elections. 
To win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats would need a tremendous electoral wave not seen in more than 40 years to overcome Republican advantages from gerrymandered districts in key states, according to an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice. 
The report projects that Democrats would need to win the national popular vote for congressional districts by a nearly 11 percentage point margin over Republicans to gain more than the roughly two dozen seats they need to flip control of the Republican-led chamber. 
That would take more than the typical Democratic wave that history suggests would occur for the party out of power during a midterm election. 
“It would be the equivalent of a tsunami,” said Michael Li, a senior counsel who heads up redistricting work for the center, which is based at New York University School of Law. “Democrats would have to win larger than any sort of recent midterm wave — almost double what they got in 2006 — in order to win a narrow majority.” 
The Brennan Center opposes what it calls “extreme gerrymandering” in which political parties draw legislative districts that virtually ensure they will hold on to power. 
The center has filed a court brief in a case to be heard Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court supporting a lawsuit by Republicans alleging that Maryland’s former Democratic governor and legislature unconstitutionally gerrymandered a congressional district to their advantage. 
It also has filed court briefs supporting Democratic lawsuits alleging unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering by Republicans in states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 
The center’s analysis notes that Democrats gained 31 seats when they won the national congressional vote by 5.4 percentage points in 2006. Yet under the current districts, which were redrawn after the 2010 Census under GOP control of many state capitols, a similar national victory margin in the November election is projected to net Democrats only about a dozen new seats. 
The report projects that a 10 percentage point national margin would gain 21 seats for Democrats — still shy of the 23 or 24 needed to claim a House majority. An 11-point margin is projected to gain 28 seats for Democrats, but they haven’t achieved such a large midterm victory since a nearly 14 point margin gained them 49 seats in 1974
“Even a strong blue wave would crash against a wall of gerrymandered maps,” the Brennan Center report says.

We'll see where this stands.  Again, the Brennan Center report doesn't take into account the changes in Pennsylvania, which would add three or four seats to this total if everything works out.  But still, even with a double digit win and all 435 House seats up for re-election in November, Dems are still going to have at best a narrow majority, that's how bad Republican gerrymandering is, and never forget America gave them the keys to the kingdom in 2010 to do it when people decided they were disappointed in Obama.

Bet you wish you still had him, huh?

As LOLGOP points out at Eclectablog, the system is rigged...for Republicans and that's why we have to assume we have to fight for every seat, every inch, every race, every time.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a 2.1 percent while losing the Electoral College. That means Democrats would need to improve upon her margin by at least 3 times and as much as 5 times. This, of course, is all an inexact science as many districts won’t be contended at all and it’s almost impossible to properly poll 438 districts. But you get the idea: House Republicans could get millions fewer votes than their opponents and still end up with the majority and possibly even a larger Senate majority. Then, watch out
The goal here isn’t to bum you out, but to be realistic. 
We have to keep in mind all the advantages the GOP has when it comes to the maps, the cash and levers of government it controls. No matter what, Republicans start off with a 6 percent advantage, at least, considering that GOP House candidates took in 1.1 percent more votes than Democrats in 2016. 
Why be realistic? 
Because we learned three things 2016 we cannot ever forget:
1. Never trust good news and positive poll models.
2. Don’t count on Trump to self-destruct.
3. Assume that every mechanism that can be used against us — from hacks to Facebook to voter suppression to the FBI — will. 
Bad news is your friend. Love it. Need it. And every time you see it, do everything you can to swing at least one district.

I know it's hard to stay motivated, to stay in the fight.  Here in KY-4 it's not looking good to unseat national embarrassment Thomas Massie, but KY-6 is definitely in play, and across the river so is OH-1. 

Put resources where they can do the most good.


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