Can You Tell Sports Commentary From Political Punditry? We Couldn’t.

The game was supposed to be simple: I read a quote, you tell me if the quote was from either a sports broadcast or a political discussion about the first two 2020 Democratic debates. Almost every staff member I pitched it to here at FiveThirtyEight was confident they would ace it. “I’m gonna get all […]

NRA responds to El Paso and Dayton shootings: the real problem is the ‘effort to destroy the NRA’

The NRA’s top dog took time out of his busy schedule fending off allegations of financial improprieties to address the recent mass shooting tragedies in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In a video posted to the NRA’s social media pages, LaPierre spoke into a camera, reading from a teleprompter. Using intercut footage from Fox News, Wayne LaPierre explains how of course he’s saddened by the events in Texas and Ohio. Of course, it’s terrible. But hey…what we need are more good guys with guns. Set to images of non-Fox News television coverage, LaPierre launches into an attack of the liberal media conspiracy to take away your guns and turn everyone into snowflakes.

But there’s nothing about an insane criminal committing a horrible act that should lead to the government taking guns away from law-abiding citizens. That will only make us less safe. Yet that’s exactly what we’re seeing right now–a highly orchestrated effort to disarm American citizens unlike anything we’ve ever seen in this country. It’s an effort to destroy the NRA. To defame our millions of members and tens of millions of supporters. An effort that’s fueled by billionaires and a multi-billion-dollar media machine that couldn’t care less about fighting crime. Their fight is against you, your guns, and your freedom. 

You know how Texas takes away all of those good guys guns? No, you don’t because Texas has all kinds of Second Amendment patriots, and guess what? They didn’t stop the bad guy with the gun from murdering 22 people. But you know what might have helped? A red flag law allowing the police to heed the shooter’s mother’s call, when she told them she was worried that her son had purchased an “AK-styled” weapon. LaPierre’s thoughts and prayers wouldn’t have stopped the Dayton, Ohio shooter from murdering nine people, but a more comprehensive background check infrastructure might have. 

The next section is LaPierre telling everyone how the NRA has fought for more strict laws punishing drug dealers and criminals. It’s on brand and as hackneyed as ever. But, remember, the guy accused to frivolously spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on suits, and considering the purchase of a $6 million mansion, wants you to know…it’s the “elites” that are trying to tell you what to do.

Let’s stand together now. Let’s make this country a better, safer place. And let’s fight to make sure no madman, or billionaire, or elitist politician ever takes away our God-given right to protect our lives, our home, and people we love. Wayne LaPierre—corrupt, elitist, and worthless.

If you must, you can watch the video below the fold.

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Texas police apologize for officers on horseback leading black man cuffed to rope through streets

The Galveston, Texas, Police Department is fielding justifiably angry questions after images and video surfaced of two horse-mounted police officers leading a black man in handcuffs by a rope through the streets. The image incensed millions, a reminder of our country’s history of atrocities against African Americans. Donald Neely, 43, was arrested on a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge on Saturday. On Monday, the department released a statement to reporters, saying, “While this technique of using mounted horses to transport a person during an arrest is considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control, the practice was not used correctly in this instance.”

Best practice in certain scenarios … like re-enacting slavery? Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III added that he felt his officers had shown “poor judgement,” and that this technique would be immediately suspended because he understood the “negative perception of this action.”

Hale identified the officers as P. Brosch and A. Smith, and said that their intentions were not “malicious.” The president of the Houston chapter of the NAACP, James Douglas, emailed the Houston Chronicle, saying, “I am happy to know that Chief Vernon [Hale] issued an apology and indicated that the act showed poor judgement, but it also shows poor training. Even though the chief indicated that the technique would be discontinued he failed to address the lack of respect demonstrated by the officers in the episode.”

What kind of discipline the two officers may face has not yet been reported. But if history is any indicator, the two officers will receive no discipline, while the practice will be suspended. Perhaps the next logical step would be to create better training methods? Under this administration, in this political climate, it is unlikely.

Florida Republican is finished with his party, tells voters to ‘Beat every single one of them!’

Former Florida Republican Rep. David Jolly has never had a great relationship with his party. Pointing out how beholden to big donors GOP officials are to 60 Minutes went down like a lead balloon filled with Republican integrity. Jolly was on MSNBC with Nicolle Wallace on Monday to talk about the recent mass shootings, Donald Trump’s continued white supremacist rhetoric, and the GOP’s inaction on gun safety legislation. Asked about Trump’s rhetoric, Jolly agreed with Beto O’Rourke’s sentiments, but added that focusing solely on Donald Trump gave a pass to Republicans who have been complicit in their silence regarding such rhetoric, saying, “It is their silence that has normalized this escalation of this narrative across the country that Trump continues to reinforce.”

But he also pointed out that his former party’s “inaction on reasonable gun control measures” is probably the largest factor here. He told Wallace that he failed to “move the needle” within his party on the subject of gun safety, and that the GOP needs to face a reckoning, saying in no uncertain terms:

Republicans will never do anything on gun control. Nothing. Ever. They won’t. Think about Las Vegas. They did nothing when 500 people were injured. The Pulse nightclub, 50 killed. The question for the nation was, do we allow terrorists, suspected terrorists, to buy firearms, Republicans did nothing. Parkland, they did nothing. Emanuel AME in South Carolina, nothing. Go to Sandy Hook in Connecticut, nothing. The Jewish temple in Pittsburgh, nothing. The Jewish temple in San Diego, nothing. Sutherland Springs Evangelical Church in Texas, nothing. Now we have Texas, now we have Ohio in the same weekend, and all we get is silence. So I say that because if this is the issue that informs your ideology, as a voter, the strength to draw in this moment is to commit to beating Republicans. Beat ‘em. Beat every single one of ‘em. Even the safe ones in the House—beat ‘em.

Jolly went on to sound like a regular Daily Kos diarist, telling presidential candidates who can to drop out of the national race in order to beat Republican senators, and “when the Democratic Party finds their nominee, beat Donald Trump.” I can’t disagree with him here.

Go and donate to the Democratic general election fund as we try and take back the Senate and more House seats in 2020.

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Ben Folds debuts new rousing song, ‘Moscow Mitch’, and it’s a crowd pleaser

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is easily one of the great crooks of the last century. He’s thwarted almost all democratic processes in order to push through a backward, anti-democratic agenda that serves only oligarchical whims. His appeal to Kentucky voters is proof that our education system must be fixed and that racism and bigotry can be more persuasive than good sense and even self-interest. Over the past few days, the hashtag #MoscowMitch has appeared in the national consciousness as a result of McConnell’s unwillingness to do anything about already proven and thoroughly documented Russian meddling in our elections process. That combined with his willingness to try and get sanctions against Russian oligarchs lifted, and the big money he has taken from Russian lobbyists, has led to this most apt moniker.

Singer and songwriter Ben Folds liked the moniker so much he decided to write a tune about it. It’s a work in progress but the whole family can sing it. Debuted on a New York City rooftop on Thursday night, the song is mostly instrumental with a stuttering M-m-m-m-Moscow Mitch! refrain, to be sung-along by the audience. I doubt Sen. McConnell listens to music—I imagine he spends his quiet time in the kind of oxygen chamber Darth Vader rests in in Empire Strikes Back—but hopefully, McConnell will continue to be irked by the fact that his legacy may very well be summed up in one pithy statement synthesizing his all-encompassing corruption.

You can watch Ben Folds debuting the new song below the fold. Enjoy!

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Baltimore church kicks Ben Carson off property as he holds press conference to defend Trump’s racism

Ben Carson, as the sole African American still employed by Donald Trump, was sent down to Baltimore in the hopes of softening the bigot in chief’s recent comments about the city and Rep. Elijah Cummings. The Trump family’s historic racism, connected directly to inner city housing and slumlord antics in places like Baltimore and New York City, is no secret to anyone willing to do the bare minimum of research. And anyone trying to defend Trump’s racist comments about anything is going to go down like a lead balloon—which is exactly what happened to HUD director Carson.

On Wednesday, Ben Carson’s team had set up a place where the embarrassment to neurosurgeons would stand for photos. It was an area in West Baltimore, in front of row houses, many of which had been boarded up. The hope, it seems, was to show how right Trump was, but to not have Trump’s racist face saying it. Unfortunately, as The Atlantic’s Peter Nicholas, who was there, reports, Morning Star Baptist Church of Christ owns the property where Carson and the press were set up, and 71-year-old Gregory Evans—a member of the church—was there to tell Carson et. al that they needed to get to getting.

“Why did someone come onto church property without permission?” Evans asked us, as he shooed us away. “This community needs some support on all kinds of issues—on dilapidated housing and everything else. All of a sudden you’re going to show up on our property and not even ask permission to be here?”

According to Nicholas, Carson was not happy about getting kicked off of church property. This makes sense as Carson considers himself a very religious person. But, Ben Carson’s religiousness is less the love thy neighbor, do unto others as you would have done unto you kind, and more of the I’m so narcissistic and self-serving I need something to pretend shows I’m humble kind.

Carson’s press conference was just as self-serving as one might think, including references to God making Carson the head of housing and urban development so that he can fix the conditions of children he once operated on as a surgeon. Carson also “claimed” that Trump had invested $16 billion into Baltimore—a large number that elicited the question “Do you think that money was stolen?” Carson said that the Trump administration “needed to look into how that investment was utilized.” When asked if Trump’s remarks about Baltimore were racist, Carson finished his press conference.

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Want to see more millennials run for office? Everyone could use state Rep. Summer Lee’s advice

Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee is an attorney, a community organizer, and, as of January 1, 2019, the first black woman to represent Southwestern Pennsylvania in the state legislature. At 30 years old, she’s solidly a millennial, but she isn’t afraid to take charge and run to represent and serve her community.

“The best way to learn how to run, how to serve, how to govern, is to just get in there and go,” Lee told Daily Kos backstage at Netroots Nation, the nation’s largest annual conference for progressives. “We are accustomed to taking down walls, so we’re built for this.”

Taking down walls isn’t a new concept for the crowd at Netroots Nation, but Lee takes the idea a step further when she shares the nitty-gritty details of her ideas. As part of Making Progress, our exclusive interview series, progressive leaders chat with Daily Kos about three questions tailored to them individually, and one bonus question that led Lee to remember that, as a teen, “Everybody told me to shut up!” What she discusses before that funny moment, though, is how to get millennials into office, break barriers, and end the school-to-prison pipeline. 

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Question 1: What advice would you give other millennials thinking of running for office?

SL: Yeah, I would tell millennials to just do it. The best way to learn how to run, how to serve, how to govern, is to just get in there and go. And there are gonna be a lot of things—a lot of boundaries—but we are a feisty group of people. We are accustomed to taking down walls, so we’re built for this. But I would just say: Do it. Lean on the things that you know how to do. If you don’t have the same social capital as an incumbent, as the establishment, that’s fine, because you have other ways around it. You know how to use social media, you know how to leverage your own network. So I think that work what you have, and go, because your perspective is so important.

Question 2:  How do we end the school-to-prison pipeline?

SL: By valuing children and investing in children instead of investing in prisons. That’s a simple one. What we invest in this country—whether it’s education or health care—determines the future of this country. Right now, we are not investing in children. When you look at our educational spending, especially in my state, it’s low. It’s abysmal. But when you look at our prison spending, there are a group of people, the 1%, corporations, who rely on our kids going to prison. So we end the school-to-prison pipeline by ending capitalism. And that’s just the real answer!

Question 3: Who is an activist or organizer that inspires you and why?

SL: I think that my answer’s almost always the same. My favorite activist is the unknown person, usually, who has everything to lose, who is out there because it’s their community, because it’s their issue, because it’s their family, and they’re fighting with everything that they have. They’re not always the one who gets the blue check. They’re not always the one who becomes famous, gets interviews on TV. But there are so many young people, high school students, college students, who I see out fighting every single day. And they won’t get the recognition that they need, but they are absolutely driving our country forward. 

Bonus Question: If you could give advice to your teenage self, what would it be?

SL: I would say … Don’t shut up. Everybody told me to shut up! I got talkative a lot. I would say: Teenage Summer, don’t shut up! You have something to say. Eventually, people will listen to it. That’s my thing. I think that I knew as a teenager that I wanted to do this work. I wasn’t sure that I was good enough to do it. I wasn’t sure that I was smart enough. But I know now that I was, and I was on the right track, so I would just say, keep going, keep talking, keep screaming. Keep defying authority. That’s your thing, you love doing that. Keep defying authority, Summer! 

Want to see more exclusive interviews from Making Progress? Check out our recent interviews with Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza or 2020 presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren. In fact, you can check out interviews with four people running for the Democratic nomination at Daily Kos’ YouTube channel. And we’ll release a fresh interview with a progressive organizer, leader, or politician every Tuesday. 

New Coke Died in the ’80s. We Dug It up and Drank It.

Earlier this month, Mother Jones senior reporter Tim Murphy published an article with a bold claim: New Coke, a short-lived version of Coca-Cola introduced in the ’80s, didn’t fail. It was killed in a culture war. But Murphy had never tried the drink himself. In preparation for this week’s episode of Mother Jones’ Bite podcast, Murphy and […]

Our Favorite Past Debate Moments

Remember what Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle back in 1988? Or what Joe Biden said about Rudy Giuliani in 2007? Oh, and remember that one moment from that one debate in 2016? As we get set for another round of Democratic Primary debates, we look back at some of our favorite moments from past […]