Have they no decency?

If the target of that question is Fox News, the answer is a resounding no.  Obama got choked up talking about the kids who were killed at Newtown.  Obama has been to Newtown.  He’s met with these devastated families.  He’s worked with them and for them to try and make new laws and failed.  There would literally be something wrong with him if he didn’t get choked up talking about it.  For the sub-humans at Fox, alas, this is cause for mockery.  Trevor Noah with a nice take (starting about 6 minutes in in the embedded video).  Shame on them.  Shame.

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Does Rubio know how to win?

Jamelle Bouie had an interesting piece recently arguing that Rubio is not campaigning very smartly.  And if there’s one place campaigns make a difference, it is certainly presidential primaries.  Bouie:

To be sure, Rubio has run ads in early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. He has volunteers, fundraisers, and a campaign apparatus. He gives speeches and attends events. But unlike Bush and Christie—who have focused on New Hampshire—or Ted Cruz—who has camped out in Iowa and South Carolina—Rubio has spread his time and dollars around. “Rubio,” notes the Associated Press, “has tried to avoid prioritizing any one of the early voting states, by running a nationally focused campaign that leans on strong debate performances and television advertising.”

Rubio believes he can energize supporters and win elections on the strength of his televised communication skills. It’s why, for instance, he’s spent little time in either Iowa or New Hampshire, opting instead for national public appearances that reach households in both states. In a real sense, he’s running the same type of campaign as Trump, where you aim for a national profile and not the allegiance of a given state…

If Rubio were close behind Trump, this approach might make sense. But he’s not—hetrails Trump. Which is to say that this isn’t the campaign of someone who wants to be presdient as much as it’s the campaign of someone who likes to run for president.

The simple truth is that you can’t win a nomination with air power. It’s helpful to win debates and blanket the airwaves with ads, but it won’t bring victory. What Rubio needs if he wants to win is a strategy for mobilization that brings his voters to the polls and persuades undecided Republicans. But there’s no sign he has one, or even wants one. [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent makes the case that Rubio is wasting his most valuable assess– the ability to be a “happy warrior” and scare the hell out of Republican primary voters (as they clearly desire) while remaining upbeat and positive:

Is Marco Rubio frittering away the very asset that makes him such a formidable political talent?

That’s the subtext of a good piece out this morning from Bloomberg Politics. It argues that Rubio’s need to chase after Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is leading him to sound a lot more angry and a lot less like the fresh, youthful, forward-looking optimist that he had plainly hoped to run as this cycle:

Rubio has adopted a darker tone in the first week of 2016, deploying increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric and fiercer attacks on Republican rivals that provide a stark contrast with the relatively non-confrontational brand of sunny optimism that had characterized his presidential campaign through 2015….

While Rubio isn’t jettisoning the hopeful message of reviving the American dream that endeared him to many center-right Republicans, he’s now alternating it with a more ominous one. The effect is to make him sound like Ronald Reagan one minute and like a character from the popular TV series 24 the next.

On the other hand, now that Trump and Cruz are winning over large swaths of the GOP electorate with demagoguing about immigration and Muslims, Rubio is now trafficking more and more in conventionally angry appeals to the GOP base. As Paul Waldman recently put it, Rubio seems to be morphing into an “angry young man.” Rubio’s sunny optimism is retreating behind a cloud of angry demagoguery…

But still, as I’ve argued before, one of the things that makes Rubio so dangerous is that he knows how to feed the angry preoccupations of many GOP base voters while simultaneously coming across as hopeful and optimistic, and the question now is whether the former is beginning to overtake the latter. It’s hard not to wonder whether we’re seeing faint echoes of what happened to Scott Walker…Yet Walker frittered that all away in a vain, transparently inauthentic attempt to appeal to more conservative voters.

The parallel is far from perfect on multiple levels, and ultimately Rubio appears far more savvy about managing such a balancing act and far more capable on the national stage than Walker ever did.

I’m still giving Rubio a really good shot to win this.  But I’m really starting to wonder if we don’t have to consider Ted Cruz the favorite now.

Photo of the day

As you know, I’m a sucker for dramatic photos like these from a recent storm in England (via the Telegraph, of course):

POWERFUL waves crash into the coast of Cornwall near the picturesque Parish of Porthleven - as Storm Frank batters parts of the UK with heavy winds.

Storms batter the coast near Porthleven in CornwallPicture: Mike Stacey / Barcroft Media

Republicans irrationality on guns

I don’t usually listen to Obama’s speeches, but his gun speech was on NPR the other day while I was driving.  Good stuff!  I especially liked how he quite deliberately pre-butted many of the standard GOP talking points sure to come, especially on the idea that he was coming to take people’s guns away.  Not that this stopped Rubio (the “moderate” in the lead) from saying Obama was coming to take guns away.  Or Ted Cruz to basically say the same thing– but with fun Nazi imagery to boot (yes, seriously).  Or Paul Ryan railing away about underming liberty.  Ugh!  Of course, what Obama has proposed is exceedingly modest–(nicely explained by Vox— of course:

Obama’s executive actions do not close this [private gun sale] loophole. Instead, the president issued a guidance that attempts to narrow the loophole by limiting who can sell guns without a federal license (which requires background checks on sales), and warns gun sellers of the risks if they try to use the private sales loophole to avoid carrying out a background check. White House officials said their primary interest is to go after for-profit dealers who are posing as hobbyists or one-time sellers when they are in fact “engaged in the business” of selling guns.

The idea is, essentially, to make enforcement of existing federal laws stricter so fewer people — whether gun sellers or buyers — take advantage of the loophole. So a better way to look at the move is that it’s narrowing, rather than closing, the loophole.

Oh, yeah, gun confiscation and a complete elimination of our liberty are right around the corner.  NYT Editorial calls out the Republicans for their deplorable and horribly fallacious rhetoric:

On Tuesday in the East Room of the White House, President Obamaformally announced that he would be taking a series of executive actions — all of them within his powers as president. It was an important step, since he sometimes seems alone in Washington in his willingness to take on the issue of guns. But none of his actions are aimed at taking weapons away from law-abiding citizens, and none will have that effect. In fact, there has been no bill in real contention in Congress for many years that would reduce the number of guns currently in circulation, or disarm any law-abiding Americans.

And yet, as happens every time, the response from the anti-regulation crowd (even before the White House said a word in public about Mr. Obama’s plans) was to deliberately misstate what Mr. Obama was intending. The president said he wanted to increase the number of government agents to process background checks and make the existing system more effective. He also plans to modestly expand the number of dealers who need federal licenses under current law and said he would ask Congress for more money to combat mental illness.

The Republican machine’s reaction took none of that into account.

“From Day 1,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, “the president has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding.” Mr. Ryan said that “rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, he goes after the most law-abiding of citizens. His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.”

Unlike Mr. Ryan, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, arch-right candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, did not even wait for the president to talk before he started spitting out his usual talking points on Monday. “This is a president who for seven years has abused his constitutional authority,” he said, adding: “We don’t beat the bad guys by taking away our guns. We beat the bad guys by using our guns.”

And again, the really depressing point is that Ryan and Rubio are considered (very much relative) voices of sanity within the GOP.

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