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Archive for December 4th, 2008

The Death Of The NRA

Untold Story of Election 2008: The Death of the NRA

By Alexander Zaitchik, AlterNet. Posted December 4, 2008

Among the big losers in November were the NRA and the myth of the once-feared “NRA Voter.” Reform of our gun laws is on the way.

Last month, voters across the country took a cue from the late Charlton Heston and pried the assault weapon from the NRA’s cold, dead hands.

Although the gun group unleashed everything in its arsenal to defeat Barack Obama and dozens of down ticket gun-control candidates, it lost by a margin as historic as the war chest it opened in an attempt to convince voters that Democrats were mortal enemies of the Second Amendment. Despite expending nearly $7 million in a national fear campaign, NRA-endorsed candidates lost 80 percent of their races against gun-control candidates. More than 90 percent of candidates endorsed by the NRA’s nemesis, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, won their races. If 2008 was, in the NRA’s own words, “arguably the most important year in its history,” then the election results suggest that the gun group is arguably the most overhyped and impotent special-interest lobby in the country. The NRA even got its chamber cleaned in its home state of Virginia.

The sweeping victory for gun control has been one of the most underreported stories of the election. This is largely because it was immediately overshadowed by the trendy postelection narrative of spiking gun sales and runs on assault weapons. In recent weeks, it seems as if every TV news program and newspaper in the country has featured some variation on the following story: Anxious Americans are cleaning out their local gun stores in anticipation of a.) Barack Obama’s radical anti-gun agenda; b.) social chaos engendered by economic collapse; or c.) both.

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Big Three Automaker Bailout: Hearing, Statements, Video

Huffington Post |  Katharine Zaleski   |   December 4, 2008 09:04 AM

Updated 4:20pm: Scroll down for excerpts from Thursday’s hearing:
AP has a recap on Thursday’s hearing with the Big Three automakers. Read an excerpt below:

U.S. automakers drew fresh skepticism from lawmakers Thursday in a rocky confrontation over their pleas for an expanded $34 billion rescue package they say they need to survive. Congressional analysts said one bailout plan under consideration would fall short of what the carmakers want.

With time on the current Congress running out, opposition to the bailout appeared to be as strong as last week — before Detroit’s Big Three auto chiefs returned to Capitol Hill with more detailed plans on how they would spend the money.

Several lawmakers in both parties are pressing the automakers to consider a so-called “pre-packaged” bankruptcy in which they would negotiate with creditors in advance and downsize, then file for Chapter 11 protection in hopes of emerging quickly as stronger companies. The Big Three have publicly shunned the notion, saying it would kill sales by destroying customers’ confidence — but executives have indicated in recent days that it might ultimately be necessary…

…United Auto Worker union President Ron Gettelfinger, aligned with the industry in pressing for the aid, told senators at a Banking Committee hearing that any kind of bankruptcy, even a pre-packaged one, was not “a viable option.” Gettelfinger said consumers would not buy autos from bankrupt companies, no matter the terms of the arrangement.

He also warned that in the absence of action by Congress: “I believe we could lose General Motors by the end of this month.” He said the situation was dire and time was of the essence.

UPDATED 1:20pm EST – Scroll down for testimony text:

Two weeks after a botched attempt on Capitol Hill, U.S. automakers returned to Congress for high-stakes hearings they hope will persuade skeptical lawmakers to save their troubled industry with $34 billion in emergency aid, but a top Senate Democrat wants to hand their problem to the Federal Reserve.

To make matters worse for the Big Three, Senate Majority Leader Reid told the AP Wednesday “I just don’t think we have the votes to do that now.” Reid was of course referring to passage of the $34 billion bailout package sought by the automakers.

Watch the hearings live HERE

Excerpts From NY Times Liveblog On The Big Three Bailout Hearings:

12:40 p.m.| Is This Enough?: Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moodys.com, is for a bailout. But he warns that recovery will be slow, in part because the carmakers’ increasingly generous financial offers — all those auto loans that are now in danger of going bad and the big price cuts — were used to pump up demand for too long. That drained future demand.
He warns that “$34 billion may not be enough.”

12:16 p.m. Eastern | It’s about the jobs: Robert Nardelli, Chrysler’s chief, says he is speaking on behalf of “one million people who depend on Chrysler for their jobs.” He says the company’s plan will yield a “product renaissance” that includes electric vehicles “similar to the one I drove here today.” He also says what the automakers are asking is “the least costly alternative considering the depth of the economic crisis.”

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