Most Important Election 2016 Feature: Deep and Growing Ideological Divide

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Conservative and liberal extremes dominate primaries, but then Republicans and Democrats face a shrinking center.

Gerald F. Seib reports: As the nation heads into what figures to be a dramatic election year, its defining political liberal-huhcharacteristic isn’t love or hate for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Instead, the most important feature of America’s political landscape is a deep and growing ideological divide.

This divide will be especially apparent early in the new year, when the most divided groups in America, the Republican and Democratic voters who show up for primary elections and caucuses, hold the keys to the presidential selection process. These folks disagree, deeply, on an array of social issues, on the nation’s top priorities, and on what kind of leader they are seeking in the next president.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Collectively, these voters are driving Republican candidates to the right and Democratic candidates to the left—and ensuring that the challenge of bringing the country together will be tougher after the election, regardless of who wins.

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A clear picture of this divide emerges from the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, taken in mid-December. Consider:

— Almost 7 in 10 Republican primary voters describe themselves as strong supporters of the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Among Democratic primary voters, the figure is just 25%.

— Among Democratic primary voters, 62% say they strongly back immediate action to combat climate change. Just 13% of Republican primary voters share that view.

— A new issue splitting the parties at their bases is the Black Lives Matter Movement. Almost half of Democratic primary voters call themselves strong supporters of the movement. Only 6% of Republican primary voters do so.

— The National Rifle Association drives one of the biggest wedges of all. Among Republican primary voters, 59% strongly support the NRA, while just 11% of Democratic primary voters are strong backers.

Republican primary voters put national security and terrorism at the top of their list of priorities for the government. Democratic primary voters put job creation and economic growth at the top of the priority list. About a third of Democrats say health care is a high priority; among Republicans, a comparable share worry about deficits and government spending.

Republicans are more likely to say they worry that the U.S. isn’t projecting a sufficiently tough image abroad; Democrats are more likely to say they think the U.S. should be focused on concerns at home.

Among Democratic primary voters, 62% say they strongly back immediate action to combat climate change. Just 13% of Republican primary voters share that view. Here, a November rally outside the White House in support of the Paris climate talks.

Among Democratic primary voters, 62% say they strongly back immediate action to combat climate change. Just 13% of Republican primary voters share that view. Here, a November rally outside the White House in support of the Paris climate talks. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

When pollsters asked what voters are looking for in the next president, Republicans used terms like bold and a strong leader who could restore American strength abroad. Democrats were more likely to say they want a leader who is diplomatic and inclusive and who will preserve recent progressive gains. Read the rest of this entry »


REWIND: #Baltimore Police Chief Calls For More Gun Control, NRA Predicts Citizens Will Need Guns In Crisis

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Mike Piccione writes: In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for the merits of additional federal gun control on Jan. 30, 2013.

Three advocates for additional gun control, one being Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson, squared off against three proponents for the Second Amendment, including NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.

When asked by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, “We need the firepower and the ability to protect ourselves from our government” — from our government, from the police — “if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back.”

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Caller]

“Do you agree with that point of view?” Senator Durbin asked NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre.

LaPierre initially responded, “I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.”

Then the NRA VP continued with a statement that has since been proven to be true in both Ferguson, Mo., and now Baltimore, Md. Read the rest of this entry »


Gun Rights and History: A Primer on the ‘Transformation’ of Europe and Australia

Europe and Australia’s gun violence still flourishes in the wake of Government’s forced confiscation of citizen’s firearms, U.S. cities with highest gun-control also have highest gun crime.

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Obama’s Obsession with Our Gun Rights 

Wayne LaPierre: Barack Obama, the candidate who promised Americans in 2008 that “I will not take your guns away,” now, as President of the United States in 2013, has embraced the universal firearm confiscation of Australia and England—schemes that saw the destruction of hundreds of thousands of registered, legal firearms that had been outlawed and taken under threat of force from licensed gun owners by their governments.

Obama revealed his gun control endgame in a Sept. 22, 2013, political speech at a solemn memorial for the 12 Washington Navy Yard victims murdered by a deranged killer on Sept. 16, 2013.

Obama coldly used the madness of a delusional lone mass-murderer to claim that the rampage “ought to lead to some sort of transformation … it ought to obsess us.”

In the same breath, Obama defined his personal “obsession” and his notion of “transformation” for ordinary American gun owners:

“That’s what happened in other countries when they experienced similar tragedies. In the United Kingdom, in Australia … they mobilized and they changed.”

The Washington Post praised Obama’s demand for “transformation” to an Australia-style gun roundup and destruction as “commonsense.”

Read the rest of this entry »


‘There Weren’t Enough Good Guys with Guns’

NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre told Meet the Press this morning that the Navy Yard shooting this week was so deadly because of lack of security at the installation. Asked by David Gregory whether he thought, as the NRA has claimed in the past, that simply more security was needed at the site of the mass shooting, LaPierre said the answer was obvious: “The whole country, David, knows the problem was there weren’t enough good guys with guns. When the good guys got there, it stopped.”

“How can anybody look at what happened this week and say there was enough security there?” LaPierre said. “I mean, there was one guy, [from] a private-security firm . . . there were six guys guarding the gates. The Capital Hill SWAT team was told to stand down.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Why Zombies Are Everywhere

Via WJS – By DANIEL W. DREZNER

By any observable metric, zombies are totally hot right now. Look at movies like “Warm Bodies” and the coming “World War Z,” the ratings for AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” (12.9 million viewers for its recent season finale) and $2.5 billion in annual sales for zombie videogames. Over the past decade, between a third and a half of all zombie movies ever made have been released. A glance at Google Trends reveals that in the past few years, interest in flesh-eating ghouls has far outstripped popular enthusiasm for vampires, wizards and hobbits.

Any species that invented duct tape, Twinkies and smartphones stands a fighting chance against the living dead.

Why are the living dead taking over our lives, and why have so many other domains of American culture, from architects to academics to departments of the federal government, been so eager to jump on this macabre bandwagon? Is it all just good, scary fun—or something we should worry about?

First we have to appreciate why zombies are so terrifying. The classic ghoul of George Romero films seems awfully slow and plodding. But what the living dead lack in speed, they make up for in other qualities. Zombies occupy what roboticists and animators call “the uncanny valley” in human perception—though decidedly not human, they are so close to being human that they prompt instant revulsion. Another common feature of zombie narratives is that 100% of the people bitten by zombies eventually turn into zombies. Even the most virulent pathogens encountered in the real world (say, Ebola or HIV) have infection rates below 50%.

These qualities matter because they map so neatly onto the genuine threats of our day. Zombies thrive in popular culture during times of recession, epidemic and general unhappiness. Traditional threats to U.S. security may have waned, but nontraditional threats assault us constantly. Concerns about terrorism have not abated since 9/11, and cyberattacks have now emerged as a new anxiety. Drug-resistant pandemics have been a staple of local news hysteria since the H1N1 virus swept the globe in 2009. Scientists continue to warn about the dangers that climate change poses to our planet. And if the financial crisis taught us anything, it is that contagion is endemic to the global market system.

Zombies are the perfect metaphor for these threats. As with pandemics and financial crises, they are not open to negotiation. As with terrorism in all its forms, even a small outbreak has the potential to wreak massive carnage.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chicago, Los Angeles, New York Prosecuted Fewest Federal Gun Crimes

The districts that contain Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City ranked last in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal data.

Federal gun crimes include illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone, illegal sale of a firearm to a juvenile, felon, or drug addict, and illegal transport of a firearm across state lines. In Chicago, the majority of gun charges last year were for firearms violations.

The districts of Eastern New York, Central California, and Northern Illinois ranked 88th, 89th and 90th, respectively, out of 90 districts, in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita last year, but it wasn’t always this way. All three districts fell lower on the list than they had been in years past. In 2010, for example, Chicago was 78th in federal weapons prosecutions.

Federal weapons prosecutions per capita in 2012 by state. (TRAC/Syracuse University)

These cities also have some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, as well as the most active mayors in championing gun control. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are all members of the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign.

D.C., which also has tough gun laws, was in the lower half of the list in 2012, coming in at 78th. In 2011, D.C. prosecuted a higher number of gun crimes, coming in at number 49.

National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre first pointed to the report on Meet the Press Sunday, when he demanded to know why the national press corps wasn’t asking the White House or U.S. attorneys general to explain lax federal enforcement of gun laws…

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