It’s time for companies to boycott gun-lax states – The Washington Post

Source: It’s time for companies to boycott gun-lax states – The Washington Post

 October 8

Jonathan Alter, an author and MSNBC analyst, is at work on a biography of Jimmy Carter.

Even if Congress takes action on the bump stocks or other modifications used by the mass murderer in Las Vegas, Washington will not be the center of change on gun violence. The president and Congress are owned by the NRA, and public attention will soon shift away from the latest massacre, as it always does.

But there’s reason for hope in states that are hungry to keep and attract business, which means every state in the union. Gun safety advocates should take heart from the backlash against bathroom bills and other anti-gay laws in red states. The institutions that stood up in those fights — from Apple to the NCAA — offer a path forward.

Corporations have a moral and fiduciary duty to enhance the safety of their workplaces and other venues they use. When mass shootings were rare, they weren’t as much of a concern. Now that they’re a common occurrence, the calculus for locating businesses, conventions, sporting events and concerts must change. Companies cannot fully guarantee the safety of their employees and customers anywhere, but risks are clearly greater in “gun lax” states.

Those states should now be faced with a choice: They can have assault weapons and gun show loopholes. Or they can have good jobs and events from responsible corporations. But they can’t have both.

Imagine if chief executives looking out for the safety of their employees and conference attendees announced that they would locate new facilities and hold conventions, concerts and other gatherings only in “gun responsible” states (which different companies could define differently). We might see activity overnight in several state legislatures.

Moving the debate over “gun safety” (a preferable term to “gun control”) to the states is not ideal. Gun violence is a national problem and deserves a national remedy. And the Swiss-cheese map caused by differing state laws undermines efforts to protect the public. For example, the guns used by gangs in Chicago largely come from across the state line with Indiana, which has looser gun laws than Illinois.

But efforts to do something have to begin somewhere, and that means focusing on what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called “the laboratories of democracy.”

State laws can be effective. After the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Congress resisted pressure from President Barack Obama and refused to act. But Connecticut passed the strongest state laws in the country — with expanded background checks and magazine capacity restrictions — and gun crimes there are down.

The lobbying group that emerged from that massacre, Everytown for Gun Safety, and its offshoot, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, are scoring other important victories in state capitals. Twenty-five states have passed laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Voters in three states last year approved referendums containing common-sense gun regulation.

Gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association are loud political lobbyists – until a mass shooting. Here’s a look at their responses to tragedies over the years, and their most recent reaction to the shooting in Las Vegas. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Winning support for other gun safety measures has been tougher. The nine states that require universal background checks are all blue. Same for the seven states that ban the sale of assault weapons. But on other inflammatory social issues, even red-state Republicans will confront the conservative base and bend their personal convictions when jobs are on the line.

Boycotts can carry enormous social power. In 2015, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill allowing businesses and individuals to use religious beliefs to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced that the company was cancelling all programs that would bring employees to Indiana, and Angie’s List aborted an expansion that would have netted 1,000 jobs for the state. Most major employers in Indiana denounced the legislation. Within 10 days, Pence and legislators reversed course with a new bill that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

In 2016, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a “bathroom bill” that required transgender people to use bathrooms based on the sex they were assigned at birth. The NCAA withdrew all tournaments from the state, and PayPal canceled a large new facility. According to an Associated Press analysis, the state stood to lose $3.76 billion from the law. While surveys showed North Carolina voters supported the bill in principle, they turned strongly against it on economic grounds and elected a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, who this year signed a partial repeal. It’s no mere coincidence that “bathroom bills” introduced in 10 other red states are going nowhere.

Will major businesses step up on guns? It depends in part on how hard their employees, customers and shareholders push executives. But with more gun-toting nuts on the way, it’s important that all companies make a hard assessment of what legislation they need to protect their workers and other stakeholders from bodily harm.

Insurance considerations might also be relevant. Premiums for concerts and sports events within rifle range of tall buildings should logically go higher in gun-lax states that allow the sale of easily modified semiautomatic weapons that can spray bullets on crowds. If premiums rose, they would represent another cost that would dampen business and thus help advance common-sense gun safety legislation.

The NRA and its toadies say that no law could have definitively prevented this or any other massacre. This is a dodge: Traffic laws don’t prevent all car crashes or air bags all deaths in those accidents. But they help. If the carnage in Las Vegas prompts even a few more state experiments, something good may yet come from this evil.

How Democrats Can Use Trump’s NFL Fumble to Throw Out the Bums

If the Democrats are smart (a big ‘if’), they will seize this opportunity to partner with America’s sports stars and tip the 2018 elections.

President Trump might be more properly called President Troll. He’s the kind of smirking adolescent whose inane but nasty comments persuade sites to close their comments sections. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for those of us who believe the safety of the world depends on his removal from office.

The challenge is that Trump’s instinctive demagoguery—the product of his reptilian brain and many years of experience manipulating the media—is an effective base strategy. The louder the mainstream media roars in indignation, the more old, white reactionaries love it. And when base voters respond, Trump throws them another heaping portion of rancid red meat. Then the process begins all over again.

The opportunity is that now Trump isn’t just going after elitists, immigrants, judges, and other politicians but trashing the most revered individuals in our popular culture—professional athletes. It’s reminiscent of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s move in 1954 from attacking wimpy-looking college professors to calling the Army a bunch of communists.

The Army had a big weapon against McCarthy—enormous popular backing—and so do the gods of sport. LeBron James has 38.6 million followers, nearly as many as the president, and he’d have more if he tried. His “U bum” description of Trump’s racially tinged divisiveness was retweeted 633,000 times, with 1.5 million likes. If the Democrats are smart (a big “if”), they will seize this opportunity and get King James, Steph Curry, and other ticked-off superstars to lend their names to a huge voter-registration and get-out-the vote drive in 2018.

In the 2014 midterms, turnout was 36.3 percent, the lowest in seven decades. Even a small increase would mean the end of GOP control of the House and the likely beginning of impeachment proceedings. Imagine anti-Trump activists uniting with local athletes across the country under the message: “Throw U Bums Out!”

In the meantime, we need to better understand the patterns of Trump’s tweeting—the way he rips the scabs off our body politic.

These tactical tweets are often described as distractions, but that is incomplete. They do distract from news that hurts his popularity—the demise of the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal; the way his reckless rhetoric about North Korea negates diplomacy and increases the likelihood of war. But their more important function may be to draw attention away from anything that might cause Trump problems with his base. Notice how we’re no longer talking about Trump playing footsie with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on DACA, or backing away from his commitment to build a wall across the southern border, or withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, and the Iran nuclear deal. It’s like covering a military retreat with a withering volley of fire. And it works.

Trump said the football players who protested police brutality were “sons of bitches” only a month (seems like a year) after saying the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville were “fine people.” He got away with the latter by changing the narrative to statues. This re-fashioning of a toxic issue took genuine skill. Trump knew that millions of older white Americans don’t appreciate being called racists just because they don’t want Robert E. Lee and his horse Traveler toppled from the town square. It plays right into their rejection of political correctness, a powerful theme for Trump during the campaign and one he still expertly exploits.

Now he is fuzzing up his racism with patriotism. By next Sunday or the Sunday after that, taking a knee or staying in the clubhouse during the national anthem will get old—for fans (many of whom already object), owners and even some of the dissenting players themselves, who will no longer receive the same support from their teammates that they enjoyed last weekend. After we get over the shock of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones siding with their players over their buddy Trump, the value of standing up to honor the troops will surge back into the public debate.

The challenge for Trump-loathing sports fans who don’t have room to kneel in the stands is to integrate the resistance more seamlessly into “The Star Spangled Banner,” thereby making it harder for Trump to wrap himself in the flag. One way to achieve this would be for the linking of arms during the anthem that began on Sunday to become a widely used symbol of unity over divisiveness. Trump has said linking arms doesn’t concern him, but if it’s done by hundreds of thousands of spectators at a wide variety of sports and entertainment events, it will be viewed as a potent rebuke to his conduct in office. Think of it as “the wave” for our times.

If we’re going to connect with other people—important in the Trump era—we need to be willing to touch them once in a while, too. Linking arms avoids the churchy, sometimes clammy prospect of holding hands with strangers. It expresses solidarity while building the resistance wordlessly.

Trump will be beaten next year not with rage but a quiet King Jamesian determination to rid our politics of anyone in federal, state, or local office who still backs him. These Republicans must go, for they are enabling the endangerment of the world and failing the greatest character test of our generation.

How CPR saved a young woman’s life (it could save yours, too) –

Only 10 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive. Molly Alter became one of them on her last day of high school, thanks to a classmate, and now she’s sharing her story, hoping to inspire more people to learn how to administer CPR. TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager reports.

Source: How CPR saved a young woman’s life (it could save yours, too) –

The John McCain I Know Will Make the Most of This Moment

McCain knows very well what a threat to the Republic Donald Trump is. His final mission is to say it.

Source: The John McCain I Know Will Make the Most of This Moment


John McCain’s diagnosis of incurable brain cancer rightly sends us back in time—back to stories of his heroism, character, and decency that contrast just a teeny bit with the behavior of a lying, draft-dodging president who once described sexually transmitted diseases as “my personal Vietnam.”

A big question right now in American politics is whether McCain will use that contrast—and the enhanced stature that his diagnosis has brought him—to do a couple of big things with the time he has left. The future of the Russia probe, the health care debate, and the soul of the Republican Party may hang in the balance.

Fifty years ago, on July 29, 1967, Navy Lt. Cmdr. McCain was strapped into his single-seat A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft, awaiting launch off the carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin. Suddenly an electrical malfunction caused a rocket to fly across the flight deck and hit a fuel tank a few feet away. McCain escaped the cockpit with only seconds to spare, rolled through the flames and went to help another pilot before the fire detonated a huge bomb, which flung him back 10 feet. The conflagration killed 134 sailors and airmen and injured scores more in the worst blaze aboard a ship since World War II.

This was neither McCain’s first nor his last brush with death. Seven years before, while in training, his AD-6 Skyraider had crashed into Corpus Christi Bay, and he had to squeeze out of the cockpit and swim to the surface. And in 1965, engine failure in his trainer jet forced him to eject over Virginia.

Then, on Oct. 26, 1967, four months after the Forrestal incident, during his 23rd perilous mission over North Vietnam, the wing of his A-4 was blown off by anti-aircraft fire, and he parachuted into a lake in central Hanoi. Badly wounded, he was pulled to shore, where he was kicked and spat on. Thus began a captivity that included repeated torture and long periods of isolation. McCain’s sense of honor led him to refuse a North Vietnamese offer to send him home early and out of turn (for propaganda purposes) because he was the son of an admiral. He remained a POW for five and a half years.

Aggressive brain cancer is a different kind of mortal threat—worse than the serious bout with melanoma McCain survived a few years ago. But he has already given notice that he isn’t going anywhere for now. “Unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I’ll be back soon, so stand-by!” he tweeted on Thursday.

The big question: Stand by for what?

Read more at the link above~~


Jonathan Alter Lets Republican Propagandist Have It

Jonathan Alter Lets Republican Propagandist Have It – July 15, 2017

Please click on this link, or on the image, to watch the clip…

Trump’s Coming Constitutional Crisis

Source: The Comey ‘Cloud’ Will Hang Over Trump Forever

Yes, liberal talk of dumping Trump is premature, but we’re in deep and brackish waters now.

We don’t know yet how Trumpgate will shake out, but one outcome is coming into view: a constitutional crisis. Sooner or later, we’re likely to have one.The contours of constitutional crises vary from country to country, though all feature a breakdown of the normal functioning of government. In the American system, they usually involve circumstances that were not anticipated by the framers or fights over the Constitution’s separation and delegation of powers.The trouble has come over issues like states rights (part of what led to the Civil War), presidential succession (In 1841, John Tyler was the first vice-president to take over after the death of the president and Congress wanted him to be “Acting President”), and disputed presidential elections, especially the one held in 1876between Samuel J. Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes.

The best analogy to today’s madness is also the most recent—Watergate. In 1973, in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” President Nixon fired Attorney General Elliott Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus when they wouldn’t fire Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor.

The questions raised so far by Trumpgate are similar: How much power does the president have over the executive branch? Is it obstruction of justice if the president does it? Can the president be indicted?

As several former federal prosecutors confirmed this week, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on Thursday was a roadmap for special counsel Robert Mueller to follow as he builds an obstruction of justice case against President Trump. The two men, friends and former colleagues, view the law in similar terms. Mueller is unlikely to believe the word of an habitual liar over that of a Boy Scout. It’s unlikely that juries will, either.

One key fact—as Comey stressed— is that Trump told Attorney General Jeff Sessions, senior adviser Jared Kushner and others to leave the Oval Office so that he could be alone with Comey to tell him to stop the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. This intentionality is harmful to “the newbie defense”—that Trump was new to the presidency and didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong—offered by House Speaker Paul Ryan and others. Ignorance of the law is no defense, anyway.

All of the other arguments from Trump apologists have also collapsed. According to former prosecutors, Trump’s use of “I hope” instead of “I order you” to stop the Flynn probe won’t get him off. “If you say, ‘Nice storefront you have here. Pity if something should happen to it,’ that doesn’t help you when you burn down the store,” says Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice. Neither would Comey’s “leaking” (a classic Trump diversion) or the fact that he didn’t immediately report the crime, which ignores an FBI director’s well-established obligation not to do anything to impede his own investigation.

Read more at the link above…

Trumpcare Is Medical Apartheid

Before Obamacare, if you were denied coverage and then got sick, you were thrown to the wolves.

Source: Trumpcare Is Medical Apartheid

Jonathan Alter 05.02.17 10:00 PM ET

Jimmy Kimmel was weeping on his show this week. After describing the heroic efforts of doctors to fix the heart defect of his newborn son, Billy, he said that baby Billy would be dealing with this congenital condition when he was a teenager and beyond. Then his thoughts turned to people who are not the children of late-night talk-show hosts. He told the audience that important meetings are underway in Washington right now. “No parent should have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life,” he said to thunderous applause.

Before 2010, millions of parents were faced with just that decision. As we wait to see if Republicans can ram through their new version of the health care bill—and I give them decent odds in the House—please join me on a quick trip back in time on this most wrenching of issues. It’ll help clarify the breathtaking cynicism of the GOP.

I’m talking here less about President Donald Trump, who wouldn’t know a community rating from a Nielsen rating if his life depended on it, than about other dishonest “public servants” who should know better, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, HHS Secretary Tom Price and Rep. Tom MacArthur, the New Jersey conservative who fashioned the latest compromise with the far-right Freedom Caucus.

Democrats are hardly covering themselves with glory on this one, either. Their efforts to defend Obamacare are often arid, abstract and disconnected from the powerful moral imperative at the heart of this issue.

First, the context. Let’s return for a moment to the Great American Double-Whammy—the way millions of Americans lost their health and their savings at the same time. Before Obamacare, more than half of all personal bankruptcies were caused by onerous health-care costs. Those who didn’t go bankrupt often sold their homes or spent much of their net worth to pay for their care or that of an ailing loved one. It wasn’t just cancer or heart disease that prevented people from getting insurance. High blood pressure, kidney stones, even allergies could be enough to deny you coverage. Then, if you got sick, you were thrown to the wolves. It’s hard to believe we lived so long in that shameful world.
While we did, Democrats advocated some kind of national health insurance—at least catastrophic coverage. Republicans mostly opposed it, but they had to figure out some way to deal with the middle-class Billy Kimmels of the world.

So state policy-makers came up with something called “high-risk pools,” where insurers would all contribute to help cover their outcasts, the ones they didn’t want wrecking their profits because of preexisting conditions. This sounded like a decent stop-gap idea and in the 1990s and 2000s it spread to 35 states.

Sadly, high-risk pools were a colossal flop. In 20 states, legislators provided no money to help with premiums for those in the pools. That meant few could afford the coverage. Only 226,000 out of 40 million uninsured—less than one percent—took part. In California, for instance, fewer than 1,000 people in the entire state were in the high-risk pools.
Now Trump, Ryan and company are pretending that these proven failures—state-run high-risk pools—are the way to keep their promises to anyone who has ever had a chronic or serious health problem. The president says with a straight face that those with preexisting conditions—one quarter of all middle-age and older Americans—will be “taken care of.” The speaker put out a press release Tuesday saying it was a “verified” fact that the new compromise bill would cover them. His proof is the high-risk pool—the Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan (HIRSP)—in his home state of Wisconsin.

Read more at the link above~~