Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


Kalamazoo Gun Rampage Completely Ignored

This article originally appeared on Media Matters.

Police say Jason Dalton began his killing spree at 5:42 p.m. when the Uber driver from Kalamazoo, Michigan, shot a woman multiple times as she stood in the parking lot of her apartment complex on Saturday night. More than four hours later, Dalton killed a father and son as they looked at cars at a local dealership. Then just fifteen minutes later, Dalton opened fire on two parked cars at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, killing four women.

When police apprehended Dalton at 12:45 a.m., they found a semi-automatic handgun in the car. According toThe New York Times, a neighbor said Dalton “used guns in a troubling manner,” including occasionally firing off rounds out of the back door of his house.

In all, six people were killed and two were injured in the Kalamazoo County gun rampage. Police are still searching for a motive in what they’re describing as random killings that terrorized the city for seven hours.

Coming in the wake of other recent shooting sprees across America, including deadly attacks in a church in Charleston, SC, a community college in Oregon, and at a government center in San Bernardino, CA, which was later deemed a terrorist attack, the Kalamazoo killings fit into a uniquely American pattern of gun rampages.

In response, President Obama for years has tried to pass new legislation to address the issue of gun safety, but has been blocked at every turn by Republicans and their supporters at the National Rifle Association. So not only is gun violence an issue of health and public safety, it’s also a pressing issue for political debate.

But yesterday, the Sunday morning talk shows all passed on the Kalamazoo story and the topic of gun violence in America. On ABC’s This WeekCBS’s Face The NationCNN’s State of the UnionFox News Sunday, andNBC’s Meet The Press, not a single reference was made to the Michigan shooting spree, according to Nexis.

That’s five hours of programming from shows that ostensibly address the week’s most pressing issues in America, and yet no discussion of the country’s latest killing spree, or what public officials should do to address the problem of gun violence.

If the alleged Kalamazoo shooter had been a Muslim, would the Sunday shows have all ignored the killings?

Note that the programs yesterday were flooded with a combined 19 interviews with presidential candidates, who are precisely the type of people who should be asked about gun violence and what their plans are, if any, to deal with this public health crisis.

Instead, the Sunday shows this week were focused largely on the presidential campaign season and the minutiae surrounding the various strategies for the candidates. For instance, there were dozens of references on theSunday shows to polls and polling yesterday, but not a single reference to the Kalamazoo killing spree or the topic of gun violence.

Time and again we’ve seen how partisan pursuits by the press trump the issue of gun violence. Remember last year when CBS sat down with Obama for a one-on-one 60 Minutes interview and CBS ended up editing out of the telecast questions about gun violence in order to make room for questions about Hillary Clinton’s emails?

And too often during the primary season debates we’ve seen media moderators not press candidates about guns. That, despite the fact that more than 30,000 Americans die each year from guns. (More than 1.5 millionhave died since 1968.) Another 70,000 Americans are wounded by guns annually. And gunshot injuries cripple our health care system under the strain of nearly $2 billion in hospital costs each year. (Overall, aninvestigation by Mother Jones magazine found gun violence has a direct cost of $8.2 billion each year with $229 billion in additional indirect costs annually.)

If ever there were a time the press and the Sunday shows ought to be addressing the deadly topic of guns, it’s now, in the wake of another rampage and during the an election year when candidates are addressing America’s future.

Stop dodging the issue.

What The 2016 Presidential Candidates Must Do To Win

By Sahil Kapur, Michael C. Bender and Arit John, Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Less than four weeks before Iowans kick off the 2016 presidential contest with their Feb. 1 caucuses, the early road to the White House appears to be shaping up as a slippery and uncharted one for the Republican Party.

Since the 1970s, no Republican candidate has won the nomination without winning in either Iowa or New Hampshire, which holds the first primary election of the campaign on Feb. 9. But based on recent polling, which shows U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas with a lead in Iowa and businessman Donald Trump with a substantial lead in New Hampshire, the Republican establishment’s only hope for producing an alternative to those insurgent candidates may require defying history and coalescing around a candidate who loses the traditionally crucial first two contests.

On the Democratic side, the nomination is Hillary Clinton’s to lose.

To help readers track what’s likely to be a chaotic and idiosyncratic start to the nominating season, Bloomberg Politics handicapped the leading candidates.


Donald Trump

HOW TO WIN: Do well in Iowa, win New Hampshire, start racking up delegates and force rivals to drop out.

The New York reality TV star has built a campaign tapping into populist disdain for the political class while fashioning himself as a rebel and a winner. Now, he has to prove himself by winning actual contests. That possibility is not far-fetched. Trump is atop national polls and leading in every early contest except Iowa, where he’s second to Ted Cruz. But if there’s a voting bloc that may buy a forget-Iowa message, it’s New Hampshire.

HOW TO LOSE: Fail to turn out supporters at the polls, lose New Hampshire, and see his support vaporize.

While Trump continues to tower over the field, many of his admirers aren’t typical voters. While one study suggests they might turn out in bigger numbers than polls indicate, it’s impossible to know for sure whether they will, and Trump is sufficiently concerned to have added a new line to his stump speeches, urging audiences to vote.

If New Hampshire voters, who like to joke that they pick presidents while Iowans pick corn, don’t deliver Trump a victory after he’s led the polls there for so long, it would raise doubts about his candidacy ahead of South Carolina. And weak performances from Trump in both New Hampshire and South Carolina would give the rest of a Republican field an opening that would be, to borrow a phrase, huuuge. Could a man who has made success such a crucial part of his story recover from failure?

Ted Cruz

HOW TO WIN: Win Iowa, deliver a strong performance in New Hampshire and consolidate conservatives.

The tea party firebrand from Texas is uniquely well- positioned for the battle ahead, with a lead in Iowa, second place nationally, a variety of endorsements from evangelical and tea party leaders, strong field organizing and fundraising (boosted by a nearly $20 million fourth-quarter haul) and a quartet of well-funded super-PACs. He kicked off 2016 with a six-day tour across more than two-dozen counties in Iowa this week.

HOW TO LOSE: Under-perform in Iowa and South Carolina, cede votes to Trump or Marco Rubio and fail to unify the right

A loss in Iowa, a state that is practically tailor-made for Cruz, could be deeply damaging and threaten to split the conservatives who have been unifying behind his candidacy. From there it’s a slippery slope to oblivion if a viable conservative alternative to Cruz emerges. One way to staunch the bleeding would be to win South Carolina, but it’s hard to recover after two losses when you’re widely expected to win at least one.

Marco Rubio

HOW TO WIN: Exceed expectations in New Hampshire, unify the establishment and siphon conservatives from Cruz and Trump.

Running third nationally and polling behind in early states, Rubio’s path to the nomination is murky. His prospects may be made or broken in New Hampshire — if he wins there, he becomes the establishment favorite; if he places a strong second behind Trump, it could create pressure for competitors for the center-right vote like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich to clear the lane. From there Rubio needs to cut into conservative support for Trump and/or Cruz, which is plausible given his deeply conservative voting record and high favorable ratings with GOP voters.

HOW TO LOSE: Finish behind an establishment candidate in New Hampshire, fail to win South Carolina or Nevada and fade away.

Rubio may be the only Republican candidate who’s well-liked by the establishment and conservative wings. But in a contest with Trump and Cruz, his path requires consolidating the establishment. Finishing behind Christie, Bush or Kasich in New Hampshire would be a potentially decisive blow that could push Rubio into the second-tier, preventing him from gaining any meaningful traction.

Unlike the three establishment-backed governors, Rubio’s national focus and ability to appeal to the establishment and conservative wings of the Republican Party could give him staying power even if he loses New Hampshire, but as the most untested national campaigner in the establishment field, he needs to prove his mettle by notching up strong performances early.

Chris Christie

HOW TO WIN: Win New Hampshire, become the establishment front-runner and carry a burst of support into delegate-rich March states.

Christie is trying to follow in the footsteps of John McCain circa 2008. Both campaigns had tanked the summer before the early voting. As McCain successfully did eight years ago, Christie is betting it all on New Hampshire, hoping that a victory there gives him the boost he needs in news coverage, fundraising and polls across other states. Christie’s challenge is similar to Rubio’s: clear the establishment lane and consolidate center-right votes and money to become the clear alternative to Trump and Cruz.

HOW TO LOSE: Lose New Hampshire to an establishment rival.

Given his limited organizing and lack of innate appeal in more conservative states, it would be difficult for Christie to recover from a loss in New Hampshire. Without Bush’s deep pockets or Rubio’s crossover appeal, it’s hard to see how Christie makes a case that he’s the establishment alternative to Trump if he fails to win the early state that seems particularly well-suited for him.

Jeb Bush

HOW TO WIN: Hope Trump, Cruz and Rubio disappoint, and unify the Republican establishment.

Here’s what Bush is hoping for: Trump loses, or barely wins in the first three states; Ted Cruz disappoints after Iowa; Marco Rubio finishes outside the top two or three in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina; Bush finishes ahead of John Kasich and Chris Christie in the early states.

It’s a complicated must-happen list, but nothing there is completely implausible. The toughest thing to envision for Bush may be the most important all: He needs victories or near- victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina to establish himself as a credible contender.

HOW TO LOSE: Run out of excuses in February.

When Bush dropped the lead to Trump, his super-PAC promised a flurry of ads that would turn around the polls by Thanksgiving. When that didn’t happen, a number of wait-and-see arguments erupted from Bush headquarters in Miami (voters don’t pay attention until after the holiday; the Bush campaign has the strongest operation in March states; early state voters will sign-up once a campaign surrogate speaks with them). But without a strong performance in New Hampshire and South Carolina, it will become increasingly difficult to justify the campaign costs to donors.

John Kasich

HOW TO WIN: New Hampshire, New Hampshire, New Hampshire

Kasich is one of several Republicans in the party’s establishment lane who must exceed expectations in New Hampshire to have a chance to continue. A poll from American Research Group two weeks ago showed Kasich was in the mix for second place in the state with 13 percent support. If the Ohio governor can pull off an upset in New Hampshire, and leverage the moment in South Carolina, he’d be in position to win the delegate-rich primary in his home state on March 15.

HOW TO LOSE: Limp into South Carolina

That ARG poll? It was the first in two months that put Kasich in double-digits.

Ben Carson

HOW TO WIN: Catch lightning in Iowa and South Carolina.

Carson captured the imagination of the party’s evangelical wing with an inspiring story of his rise from childhood poverty to become a renowned neurosurgeon, a climb he attributes to his Christian faith. It struck a chord with plenty of voters; we witnessed one veteran of Republican politics in Florida weep when she touched Carson at a November event in the state. But his climb — he was ahead in a Bloomberg national poll in November and the top choice among evangelical voters in South Carolina — was followed by a quick fall as national security took center stage in the primary battle.

HOW TO LOSE: Continue stumbling on foreign affairs, fail to solve the infighting within the campaign, and keep fading.

Those problems have drastically cut — if not eliminated — his chance to win the nomination, and Carson’s poll numbers have been tumbling since Thanksgiving.

The rest

The campaigns of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania are on the bubble. Chronically lagging in the polls, each requires a surprise breakout performance in one of the early states to prevent a complete collapse of momentum, and the campaign donations that go with it.


Hillary Clinton

HOW TO WIN: Don’t screw up.

For Clinton, the name of the game is to keep it slow and steady and avoid unforced errors. She’s leading by about 20 points nationally. She’s also dominating the race for super delegates, endorsements, fundraising and is the only candidate with crossover appeal to the various factions and interest groups within the Democratic Party. She’s arguably the strongest candidate in the modern primary era, and the overwhelming favorite for the nomination.

HOW TO LOSE: Get crushed in both Iowa and New Hampshire, commit a variety of blunders and hemorrhage support.

Clinton can survive a loss in New Hampshire and perhaps also Iowa as they are both predominantly white and more liberal primary electorates that favor rival Bernie Sanders. The primaries then move to South Carolina and Nevada. Both states have larger and more diverse Democratic electorates (read: blacks and Latinos) which overwhelmingly favor Clinton. But if she’s decisively routed early, the wave of negative coverage and expectations shift could spell danger.

Bernie Sanders

HOW TO WIN: Outperform in Iowa, win decisively in New Hampshire, put Clinton on defense and hope the stars align.

Sanders needs a major boost from the early states — he leads in New Hampshire but trails by 12 points in Iowa — to damage Clinton and establish himself as a viable alternative before the calendar moves into more hostile territory for the Vermont senator. Since launching his campaign in May, he has been focused on boosting his credibility with large rallies, competitive fundraising totals and a record breaking number of small donors for a non-incumbent this early in the race. Despite his early bursts of strength, Sanders has failed to show significant growth in the polls over the last two months.

HOW TO LOSE: Fail to broaden appeal beyond white liberals and watch Clinton dominate after Iowa and New Hampshire

To become a real threat to Clinton, Sanders has to prove he can appeal to other segments of the party, including black voters in South Carolina, Latino voters in Nevada and more moderate Democrats that, together, tend to decide primary contests. Sanders’ current course isn’t likely to achieve that feat, although not for a lack of effort. He has aggressively reached out to black and Latino voters.

Martin O’Malley

HOW TO WIN: Vastly exceed expectations in early states and hope Clinton and Sanders have to unexpectedly drop out.

Unless aliens abduct Clinton and Sanders, or another unforeseen event forces them to quit the race, O’Malley’s prospects are slim. If he doesn’t vastly out-perform expectations in Iowa and New Hampshire — he’s struggling in the low single-digits everywhere — his candidacy is toast. O’Malley’s strong resume, generational appeal and progressive credentials have had little effect with Democratic voters who long ago came to view the primary as a two-person race. Unlike Sanders, O’Malley lacks the charisma and grass-roots appeal to make up for weak name recognition against the towering candidacy of Clinton.

HOW TO LOSE: Fail to enjoy a sudden and massive amount of good luck.

O’Malley’s problem isn’t a lack of hard work. He has held 43 more events in Iowa than Sanders and 80 more events than Clinton, according to The Des Moines Register. He has held 79 events in New Hampshire (15 more than Clinton’s 64 and 12 more than Sanders’ 67), according to the New England Cable News. But the candidate who shakes the most hands isn’t guaranteed to win, or even elevate to double-digit support. The current course won’t do much for him. Unless some unlikely event forces both Clinton and Sanders out of the race, it’s hard to see a path forward for O’Malley.

©2016 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Governor John Kasich, former Governor Mike Huckabee, former Governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, businessman Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Chris Christie and U.S. Rep. Rand Paul participate in the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking


Lawrence Lessig, Scholar And Reformer, Announces Quirky Run For President

A law professor known for his activism in the realms of digital rights and campaign finance reform has announced a run for president — and it’s unusual.

In what he’s calling a “referendum campaign,” he’s running on a single-issue platform with the sole purpose of radically transforming the political process — and with the stated intention of handing over power to others once that’s been accomplished.

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor who has written eight books on topics such as the intersection of digital culture and the law and the influence of money in politics, is aligned with the Democratic Party, although he has said that there’s no way the party will be able to enact reforms without fixing how policies get written in America.

In another atypical move for a candidate, he said that if he didn’t raise enough money and support to continue his campaign, he would return the money to donors and bow out of the race. His target: $1 million by Labor Day, roughly four weeks after his announcement.

After that, Lessig’s team “will crowdsource a process to complete the details of this reform,” according to his website, and shape it into proposed legislation by January 1.

As he told The Washington Post, “Until we find a way to fix the rigged system, none of the other things that people talk about doing are going to be possible. We have this fantasy politics right now where people are talking about all the wonderful things they’re going to do while we know these things can’t happen inside the rigged system.”

As part of his platform, he told the Post that, if he were to win, he’d serve only as long as it took to pass a certain number of government reforms. After that, he says, he would resign to be succeeded by his vice president, selected for having a set of ideals aligned with the Democratic Party. In an interview with Bloomberg Politics, he explained that this “would create a mandate that is more powerful than any mandate possible in our political system.”

Lessig’s campaign issue (singular) is the Citizen Equality Act of 2017, a collection of reforms proposed by other legislators and experts, which would change the role of big money in politics and alter the way Americans vote.

According to his campaign website, the Citizen Equality Act would consist of three parts, each “designed to restore citizen equality” through representation.

The first part would revolve around voting reforms, giving each state the power to create official public websites for online voter registration. Under this proposal, Election Day would become a national holiday.

The second — equal representation — would end gerrymandering, the process of redrawing districts to favor one political party based on past voting behavior, and enact “ranked choice voting,” where voters would be allowed to rank candidates in order of preference.

The last part, what Lessig terms “Citizen Funded Elections,” is the reform that has received the most support and criticism. Donald Trump has been able to run for president because his considerable independent wealth allowed him to buy his way into the race and remain there without backing from the usual interest groups and oligarchs. Most politicians depend on big bankrollers to finance their campaigns, essentially making small donors irrelevant and squeezing them out of the process. Lessig’s proposals would provide tax credits for campaign contributions, and offer matching donations from a nonpartisan fund; this would create greater transparency, he says, and impose strict limits on lobbying and the “revolving door” of jobs between lobbyists and legislative staffers.

In a piece titled “Why I Want to Run” published on The Huffington Post, he wrote that while the type of candidacy he is proposing is “implausible,” his ideas — reforms he calls “the most important moral issue of our time” — aren’t: “The system is rigged. Sensible change cannot happen until it is unrigged. Any campaign that makes un-rigging just one issue among many cannot achieve the mandate fundamental reform will require.”

Image: Lawrence Lessig, constitutional law scholar, is just as unconventional a presidential candidate as Donald Trump. Screenshot via