Friday, September 6, 2019

Last Call For Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

Just to show you how badly Texas Republicans are about 2020, the state's GOP Lt. Governor, Dan Patrick, is actually calling for new firearm background check legislation and the NRA is furious.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says he's "willing to take an arrow" and defy the National Rifle Association by pressing Texas to close one loophole in gun-purchaser background checks.

On Friday, Patrick said it's "common sense" to tighten background-check laws because in many instances, stranger-to-stranger sales now are exempt from the requirement that buyers be vetted through a federal database of people not eligible to purchase firearms.

Patrick wants to protect transfers among family members from triggering a check. He'd also continue to exempt friends, though he acknowledged that could be abused. Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, said he's willing to accede to the preferences of senators on whether to maintain that loophole — and if so, exactly how.

But he said Texas must strongly discourage selling guns to strangers without a background check.

"That gap of stranger to stranger we have to close, in my view," Patrick, a staunchly conservative Republican and avid gun-rights advocate, said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.

"When I talk to gun owners, NRA members and voters, people don't understand why we allow strangers to sell guns to total strangers when they have no idea if the person they're selling the gun to could be a felon, could be someone who's getting a gun to go commit a crime or could be a potential mass shooter or someone who has serious mental issues."

"Look, I'm a solid NRA guy," he said, "but not expanding the background check to eliminate the stranger to stranger sale makes no sense to me and ... most folks."

The NRA responded soon after, calling Patrick's proposals "political gambits" that would "resurrect the same broken, Bloomberg-funded failures that were attempted under the Obama administration."

"Criminalizing private firearm transfers would require a massive, governmental gun registration scheme. Instead of trampling the freedom of law-abiding Americans, the government should focus upon actual solutions: fixing our broken mental health system, prosecuting known criminals and enforcing the existing gun laws that require follow-up whenever a prohibited person tries to buy a firearm," the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, its lobbying arm, said in a statement.

Since mass shootings in El Paso and Midland-Odessa, Patrick has talked of wanting to require background checks of private purchasers who are strangers. In multiple interviews with Fox News and in-state conservative talk radio hosts, he has said they account for as much of 10% of all gun sales — and are the likeliest method for criminals to obtain guns.
On Friday, he issued an emphatic warning to fellow Republicans: To survive and avert Democratic takeovers in Austin and Washington, they must act expeditiously on measures to reduce gun violence.
"Someone in the Republican Party has to take the lead on this," he said.

So, three observations:

One, again, Texas Republicans are shitting themselves over 2020.  I've said this multiple times, but anybody not named Donald Trump is going to have a really dismal time explaining to voters how they are defending Donald Trump.  Texas is one giant suburb at this point and the numbers are getting increasingly bad for the GOP there.

Two, closing the stranger-to-stranger background check loophole is literally the least Patrick and the GOP could do in the state.  If even he's admitting that criminals get guns this way and that Texas isn't doing anything about it, it's going to be a bloodbath next year and they know it.

Three, Patrick wants something to show off to try to block the blue wave.  I'm not sure how "Look, we have to give the soccer moms something or they'll revolt" is going to play out, but that's the route Patrick wants to go.

We'll see what happens.  But the fact this is even being mentioned is...something...outside of the status quo.

Automatic Against The People

The Trump regime has crossed a huge line in their war on California's environmental standards, declaring that automakers meeting the state's increased fuel efficiency standards are committing illegal collusion, and that the Justice Department is targeting Ford, Volkswagen, BWM and Honda over what it calls "antitrust violations."

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the decision of four automakers in July to reach a voluntary agreement with California to adopt state emissions standards violated antitrust law, people briefed on the matter said on Friday.

The antitrust division has sent a letter to the automakers indicating the Justice Department had opened a preliminary inquiry, the people said, and comes as the Trump administration has ramped up its opposition to automakers seeking to sidestep it on rolling back Obama-era fuel efficiency rules.

In July, Ford Motor Co (F.N), BMW AG (BMWG.DE), Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) and Honda Motor Co (7267.T) said they had reached a deal to adopt standards that were lower than Obama-era rules but higher than the Trump administration’s 2018 proposal.

In doing so, the automakers are defying the Trump administration’s effort to strip the state of the right to fight climate change by setting its own standards. Automakers fear years of legal battles and want to ensure certainty over the requirements they will face nationwide.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Ford said on Friday it had “received a letter from the Department of Justice and will cooperate with respect to any inquiry.” Honda said it was cooperating with the Justice Department. The probe is in its early stages, the people said.

On Friday, general counsels at the Environmental Protection Agency told California Air Resource Board Chair Mary Nichols in a letter that its actions in connection with the voluntary agreement “appear to be unlawful and invalid.”

The letter, copies of which were also sent to the automakers’ chief executives, warned that commitments made by the automakers “may result in legal consequences given the limits placed in federal law on California’s authority.”

Nichols did not immediately respond to a request for comment. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state “will continue its advance toward a cleaner future. We’re prepared to defend the standards that make that promise a reality.”

Public Citizen, an advocacy group, called the investigation “blatantly retaliatory” and suggested the Trump administration is “hell-bent on repealing the clean car standards.

Of course it's retaliatory.  The entire Trump regime is built around being retaliatory. Nobody defies the Orange Emperor without paying the price, you see.

And let's not forget the Trump regime is slaughtering California's ability to enforce the Clear Air Act, too.

On Thursday, Reuters reported the administration was moving forward with plans to strip California of its waiver under the Clean Air Act to set its own vehicle emissions rules and requiring a rising number of zero emission vehicles.

Acting Office and Management Budget Director Russ Vought said in a statement “a handful of irresponsible auto makers are aiding California’s radical agenda that will hurt every one of us.”

The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles (75.2 km) per gallon (mpg) by 2026, compared with 37 mpg (60 kpg) under the Trump administration’s preferred option. The final regulation will modestly boost fuel efficiency over the preferred option’s freeze of 2020 requirements but be far less than the Obama rules, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Trump wants it all gone.  He's probably going to get his way, too. I expect automakers will want to dissolve the agreement rather than face years of guaranteed DoJ harassment wrecking their stock prices.  You can already see the line of attack from the Trumpies, that automakers are "colluding" with "California's radical agenda" to hurt consumers.  That may not play well in the Rust Belt where the automakers are, but it will in the plains and the South.

Yet another reason we have to take the White House back in 2020.

The Never Trump Trap

The media is starting to smell blood around the Never Trump primary challengers, or at least an exploitable story to annoy Trump with.

The Republicans mounting primary challenges to Donald Trump are not exactly the Never Trump movement’s top draft picks. With little hope of defeating an incumbent president dependably popular inside his party, country-club Republicans of the more-in-sorrow-than-anger variety—Jeff Flake, Larry Hogan, Ben Sasse—politely declined recruiting pleas from anti-Trump intellectuals, operatives, and donors. Hogan, the governor of Maryland, called it a “kamikaze mission.” 
What remains is a trio of gadflies. Bill Weld, a patrician former Massachusetts governor and perma-candidate who was a running mate on the Libertarian ticket in 2016, was the first in the primary pool. He was followed last month by Joe Walsh, a loudmouth ex-radio host who briefly served in Congress and is best known for his racist tweets about Barack Obama. Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford is also looking at the race, promising to focus his campaign on fiscal responsibility, a plank of pre-Trump Republican orthodoxy that’s been left by the wayside in the era of big tax cuts and trade wars. 
They’ve each been dismissed by the pundit class and, predictably, the Republican establishment, which is doing everything in its power to box out even a whiff of a sedition. These Never Trumpers are scoffed at for two main reasons. First, it’s impossible to win the primary. And second, none of these Trump challengers have the kind of star power or message that might result in a serious weakening of Trump’s standing among Republicans. The first point is not in question: Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is anywhere from 79 to 88%, depending on the poll, and the last Republican president to lose a primary was Chester Arthur in 1884. 
But the second assumption deserves more scrutiny. Weld has been in the race since April, to little effect in the media. But according to an Emerson poll from August, Weld is still somehow pulling 16% of the Republican vote against a sitting Republican president, a number that would give any White House political director pause. (Imagine how much media attention would be given to an Obama primary challenger running in double digits at this point in 2011.) The Republican and independent voters who will have a say in the primary, especially in a mercurial state like New Hampshire, are still only dimly aware of these upstart campaigns. Press attention is largely focused on the Democrats. Walsh and Sanford have not yet prosecuted their cases. 
Despite our compulsive need to handicap every political twist and tweet—to write obituaries before any ballots are cast—presidential campaigns remain impossible to evaluate ahead of time. The addition of Weld, Walsh, and Sanford simply adds a quirky layer of unpredictability to an already-uncertain political moment. With the economic outlook looking bumpy and Trump, who can possibly say that these guys will just fade into the background without laying a finger on the president? Polls show only about half of Republicans and Democrats are paying “close attention” to the presidential campaign. 
“The whole race is just completely unformed,” said Stuart Stevens, the longtime Republican strategist who is backing Weld’s bid. “There is only one constant out there, and that is Trump’s favorables, which are below 50%. Having been through this before with George W. Bush in New Hampshire in 2000, the only thing I can tell you is that when things happen, they happen late.” In that primary, over the course of just four months, John McCain vaulted from a long-shot curiosity to thumping Bush by almost 20 points. 
But even if beating Trump is just a pipe dream for frustrated Weekly Standard fanboys, the Republican primary might be about more than just softening up Trump, or dealing him some kind of mortal blow in New Hampshire. If Trump’s fitness for office becomes a viable conversation piece among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, for even just a few weeks next January or during the primaries in February, they will have accomplished something that nobody in politics has even bothered to attempt this campaign year: talking to center-right swing voters who are uncomfortable with the man in the White House.

I suppose, but it won't last.  Weld, Sanford, Walsh and anyone else will be crucified by Trump personally, and it'll be game over the second one of them drops out of the race after the pressure kicks in.

The press badly wants some sort of primary drama heading into next summer, but the reality is both nominees will be completely decided by Super Tuesday next March 3rd.  It's six months away, anything else between now and then is noise.


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