Why does the NRA want to help violent Mexican drug cartels?

Because their more guns for everybody with no regulations absolutism drives them to these positions.  To wit:

The National Rifle Association is expected to file a lawsuit on Wednesday challenging a new federal regulation requiring gun merchants along the border with Mexico to report bulk sales of certain semiautomatic rifles, contending that the Obama administration exceeded its powers by imposing the rules last monthwithout Congressional permission.

And, why is the Obama administration doing this?

The rule is meant to make it harder for Mexican drug cartels to obtain military-style weapons from American dealerships and smuggle them to Mexico, where they are illegal to sell to consumers. American weapons — often bought by “straw buyers” who have a right to buy them for themselves — have been flooding across the Southwest border for years, fueling drug violence in Mexico.

Read through for more on the legal argument.  My take home point– NRA: fighting for the rights of straw purchasers to re-sell to Mexican drug gangs.

The political argument for higher taxes

Ezra’s got a really nice piece that convincingly makes the case for why we need more government revenue.  What interested me the most, though, was his argument for how Democrats need to bargain on this, and most notably, politically frame it:

To govern responsibly, Democrats cannot simply raise taxes on the rich and call it a day. That’s a world in which Republicans continuously force crises, refuse taxes, and extract deeper and deeper cuts. Already, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has called the GOP’s debt-ceiling brinksmanship “a new template” and promised that “in the future, any president, this one or another one, when they request us to raise the debt ceiling, it will not be clean anymore.”

But Democrats have another option. Just as Republicans planted a trigger for 2011 that ensures spending cuts, Democrats should use the Bush tax cuts as a trigger in 2012 to force revenue. Which is not to say they should campaign for raising taxes. They should campaign against an outdated, inefficient, unfair tax code as well as the Washington way of leaving hard problems for somebody else to handle.  [emphasis mine]

The White House should announce that it won’t extend any of the Bush tax cuts and will instead insist on a Gang-of-Six-esque plan that cleans the code, lowers rates for everyone, and raises $2 trillion or more in revenue. If the GOP refuses, the tax cuts will expire, our revenue problems will be solved, and Republicans will suddenly find themselves much more interested in tax reform. Sometimes, to govern like a Democrat — or even just to govern responsibly — you need to negotiate like a Republican.

Indeed.  Simply arguing for higher taxes is a no-win proposition.  Arguing for a more efficient, more fair tax code at least has a chance against the Republican no more taxes ever onslaught.  Tactically speaking, the Democrats would be fools not to use the leverage provided by the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.  That said, I’ve never put much faith in Democrats’ tactical abilities.

Obama and Independents



Nice piece in TNR by Ruy Teixeira (the only political scientist I’ve ever seen wearing a purple suit– at a conference many years ago), about Obama’s mis-guided attempts to win over Independent voters:

we have a deal that severely undercuts Democratic policy priorities and cuts government spending just as the economic recovery is showing signs of tanking. Just how, exactly, did it come to this? The most plausible explanation is that Obama and his political advisors are convinced that striking a bipartisan compromise on debt reduction is the way to the hearts of America’s political independents, who famously abandoned the Democrats in 2010.

Following this logic, Obama’s actions—treating the Republicans’ extraordinary threat not as an illegitimate bargaining tactic but as an opportunity—begin to make a measure of sense. Since independents are supposedly fixated on a bipartisan compromise to reduce spending and cut the debt, Obama would use the leverage provided by the Republicans’ threat, in a judo-like fashion, to enlist both parties in a grand bargain to restore long-run fiscal health. As a result, independents would reward Obama for being, in that tired phrase, “the adult in the room” who stood up for their fiscal priorities.

Teixeira proceeds to bring the Political Science (in an area near and dear to my heart– and dissertation) pointing out that there’s not some mass of unaligned independent voters.  The vast majority have strong Democratic or Republican preferences.  They think and vote like partisans the vast majority of t the time.  In conclusion:

These are the facts, but politicians, and Obama especially, seem to have a hard time grasping them. Perhaps that’s because independents are the Rorschach test of U.S. politics—you see in them what your beliefs and preferences incline you to see. Obama and his team want to see teeming hordes of voters who are above the partisan allure of party, untroubled by the bad economy (or, at least, not planning to vote on that basis), and pining for a Washington where the parties, darn it, just work together. So that’s what they see.

The administration’s chimerical search for the independents of their dreams has not served the country, nor the president, well.

Meanwhile, I think John Sides’ comments on Obama’s misread of things over at the Monkey Cage are also quite relevant:

Second, and more importantly, public opinion about political processes doesn’t have big consequences.  It didn’t matter much during the health care debate, for example.  And there isn’t much evidence that it cost Obama a lot of support during the debt ceiling fight, even if the publicfound that fight to be “ridiculous,” “stupid,” or “disgusting.”

But note the corollary: Obama allegedly wants to seek bipartisan solutions that allow him to be seen, particularly by independents, as “making Washington work.”  This just doesn’t work.  Not only because such solutions are hard to come by, but because the public cares more about fixing stuff than about how that stuff gets fixed.  For this reason, a robust economy is a thousand times more helpful to Obama than are his bipartisan credentials.

Indeed.  Obama is a really smart guy, but he’s not perfect.  And it seems to be a case where he and his adviser would genuinely benefit from actual political science as he appears to be operating from a worldview at odds with what Political Scientists recognize as political reality.

Republicans for Voldemort

In comments to my last post, my wife reminded me of my favorite political bumper sticker I possess, sitting on the bulletin board next to me, as I type:

Meanwhile, Mike Barr rightly points out that, indeed many Republicans from the far-right Christian end of things actually thing HP encourages witchcraft, paganism, etc.  Of course, what it really encourages is courage to do what’ s right and loyalty to one’s friends.


Sorry, no fascinating early morning political post today.  Instead of writing a post last night I was out seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.  Not the best of the films, but very emotionally rewarding to see this incredible story play out on screen.  I also finished reading Goblet of Fire to David tonight immediately prior to seeing the film.  These books are truly awesome and will stand the test of time.  Only a Republican could disagree :-).

%d bloggers like this: