I don’t know if Stoneman Douglas will be what finally breaks the NRA’s stranglehold on the Republican Party. History suggests not. If not Newtown, then what?
But I have slowly come around to the idea that when the stranglehold does finally break it will likely be fast and dramatic and far reaching.
Watching the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre hold forth at CPAC–carried live on the news nets–is a good reminder that while it carefully crafts an image as a membership association of gun owners, the NRA is really a house organ of the Republican Party. What I’m saying isn’t new. The reporting documenting the NRA’s shift under LaPierre has been out there for years. But listen to his rhetoric. This isn’t about guns or gun rights.The Second Amendment argument, as anathema as it is to many people, is window dressing. It’s about using “guns” as a political cudgel, using “guns” to catalyze the resentments and grievances of conservatives, using “guns” as a bulwark against political threats to the Republican Party. Plain and simple.
Good morning. Here’s what our team has its eyes on today.
No, it’s not about Prime. Tomorrow is the official launch of my new podcast, The Josh Marshall Podcast. But it’s live now on iTunes. So if you listen to podcasts, please give it a listen. And even more important – here’s the favor – subscribe. Please subscribe. And if you want to be truly awesome, rate us 5 stars. This isn’t just about my ego. Hitting the ground running with a lot of subscribers and good ratings helps us a lot and it will allow us to put lots of resources into this new effort. The new show has a different format; it’s free to all and it’s now weekly. Take a listen and let me know what you think. Reading listener emails is going to be a big part of it. Find it here on iTunes.
We’ll also have the show on Stitcher, Google Play and Spotify, in addition to the actual RSS feeds.
Over the weekend, several prominent news media figures announced themselves as Trump/Russia skeptics. Politico’s Blake Hounshell seemed to kick off the discussion with this essay. This isn’t “fake news” type skepticism. It’s much more focused and I think reasonable. These folks fully grant the extensive and multi-pronged Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 election. That involved fake news, email hacking, and multiple approaches to Trump associates to gauge interest in working together. The skepticism is whether we’ll ever find a proven and explicit agreement between President Trump and Vladimir Putin or some other similarly high-level Russian official to collaborate in subverting the 2016 election. If not documented proof of such an agreement then at least well-attested evidence of the same.
Vox today announced a round of layoffs, joining a seemingly endless list of digital media companies that have laid off staff in recent months. First, this is not “Vox”, the political news / explainer site, which you may be most familiar with. It’s the parent company, Vox Media – which owned Curbed, Racked SB Nation, Polygon, The Verge, etc. The latter owns Vox and maybe ten other sites, many of which are big or dominant players in their respective spaces. Vox Media is laying off 50 employees.
I’ve written about this meta-topic a lot in recent months – what amounts to a crash in digital media. Vox is laying off 50 employees, what they say is roughly 5% of their staff, a comparatively small number in percentage terms relative to other recent blood letting. What I wanted to flag your attention to is what seems to be getting cut.
Good morning. Here’s what our writers and editors have their eyes on today.
There are some vague signs, inklings really, that today’s guilty plea by former Skadden Arps lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, the London-based Dutch son-in-law of Ukrainian-Russian billionaire German Khan, could be more significant than first appears. Emphasis on “could.”
Here’s your weekly – every Tuesday – Sum Up of all significant developments on Obamacare and health care policy over the past week. Read these 500 words and we’ll make sure you’re totally up to date and haven’t missed anything. Voting rights and Democracy on Monday; Health care policy and Obamacare on Tuesday; Russia on Friday.
I want to share with you some notes I’ve been keeping about Tom Barrack, the man who is supposedly one of the President’s closest friends and confidantes as well as a friend of Paul Manafort. He had a big speaking role for Trump at the convention. He organized the inauguration. He’s a big person in Trump World. But the first thing to know about Barrack (pronounced ‘bare-rick’) is that he is the guy Donald Trump pretends to be: he is a fabulously successful and fabulously wealthy investor, developer and manager of real estate properties on a global basis. He operates what is essentially a private equity firm called Colony Northstar (formerly Colony Capital). This is what supposedly makes Barrack such a valuable sounding board for Trump: he doesn’t need Trump or his money. Trump is surrounded by clowns, frauds and phonies. But Barrack is, when it comes to global real estate/investor titans, the real deal.
For these reasons, it’s always seemed to me that Barrack doesn’t need in on any of Trump’s rackets. But he’s also been just in the background of a number of the big developments in the Russia story. This occurred to me again when I first learned about his ties to Rick Gates, which I’ll describe below.
The Parkland shooting has spurred an inspiring surge in activism among the teen survivors, as well as other high school students around the country, demanding efforts to reduce gun violence. The movement gains much of its power from the fact that these activists, like those with Black Lives Matter, are literally fighting to save their own lives.