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The NRA isn’t always right, but it isn’t to blame for mass shootings

May 25th, 2022|Human Nature, Politics|

The first to mention it was the Associated Press, in its breaking news report on the Uvalde school shooting: 

“The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston. Abbott and both of Texas’ U.S. senators were among elected Republican officials who were the scheduled speakers at a Friday leadership forum sponsored by the NRA’s lobbying arm.”

Then Texas gubernatorial hopeful Beto O’Rourke piled on by way of Twitter:

“Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas.”

Not to be outdone, the Houston Chronicle filed an earth-shattering update: “Trump, Cruz, Abbott still set to speak at NRA meeting in Houston.”

Efforts to demonize the NRA as part of America’s greater gun debate aren’t new, of course. Every cause needs a boogyman, and the NRA is the nation’s largest pro-gun advocacy group, making it the perfect poster-child for gun control proponents to rally support. 

But that doesn’t make the effort to pin every mass shooting on the NRA any less weird. If anything, the mainstream media’s shrinking divide between straight news coverage and advocacy that would’ve once been relegated to the op-ed section makes it even weirder. 

Think about it like this: Before the bodies have been removed from the school building in Uvalde, before some parents have even learned whether their children are safe, the AP is crowing about the NRA’s upcoming convention and which “Republican officials” are going to speak there. And it’s supposedly straight-laced news coverage of a major national tragedy. 

Several thoughts came to mind as I read the AP’s report: 1.) It’s little wonder that a diminishing number of Americans trust this nation’s “free press.” 2.) How can any news writer or editor with half a conscience use dead elementary school students in an effort to undermine a political party while those students are still bleeding on the floor of their classroom? 3.) If the first call to arms is not against the shooter (in fairness, he was dead) but against Republicans and the NRA, are the ones issuing the call to arms even interested in solving the problem?

I wondered the same thing when President Joe Biden spoke and failed to condemn the shooter or whomever might have enabled him while attempting to frame the 2nd Amendment as being only about hunting and throwing the same old predictable shade at the NRA.

It seems really silly to even have to point this out, but stories like the AP’s seem to leave doubt: The NRA has never killed anyone. The NRA has never encouraged or enabled a mass murderer. The NRA is merely a political organization that lobbies for the interests of the millions of Americans it represents. A Republican politician is no less human for speaking at a convention of an organization that lobbies for gun rights than a Democratic politician is for speaking at any convention of any organization that lobbies for any right that is at the heart of the Democratic Party.

Attempting to fan flames of resentment against the NRA and its members cheapens the gun control debate — though perhaps not as much as the tired old tactic of framing the 2nd Amendment as being about hunting. Biden’s comment about deer running through the forest in kevlar vests was as shallow and silly as any comment he’s made since becoming president. 

The truth is that all gunmen in America’s mass shootings have had one thing in common. Some would say “Yes, guns!” And that’s not inaccurate, but it’s also not that simple. 

Some mass murderers purchased their guns legally. Some purchased them illegally. Some carried semi-automatic rifles. Some carried handguns. Some attacked in so-called “gun free zones,” like the shooter in Uvalde. Some did not, like the shooter in a Buffalo supermarket.

New gun laws should not be off the table when it comes to discussing how to fix America’s problem with gun violence. But here’s the problem with framing the issue as being solely about guns: Unless you believe that gun laws could totally eliminate guns (an obvious pipe dream, since there are hundreds of millions of guns in circulation in this country), gun laws alone aren’t going to stop mass shootings since a not-insignificant percentage of the gunmen purchased their guns illegally, in violation of laws already in place that were designated to prevent the very thing they failed to prevent. And because a not-insignificant percentage of the gunmen used handguns, which gun control proponents — at least, those in the mainstream — are not calling to outlaw, a so-called “assault weapons ban” isn’t going to stop mass shootings, either. (Besides, need we be reminded that this nation already attempted an assault weapons ban with no measurable decrease in gun violence as a result?)

There’s something else, besides guns, that the gunmen had in common: Red flags. Many of them — not all, but almost all — also had documentable mental illness. 

America needs to have a long, serious conversation about how to reduce our gun violence. It is going to have to involve uncomfortable examinations of things that fly in the face of the individual liberties that this nation has always stood for. How do we identify, trace and deal with individuals who throw up those red flags, since most of them are never going to actually shoot someone? How do we deal with individuals suffering from mental illness, since most of them are never going to actually shoot someone? And, yes, how do we deal with America’s saturation of guns, since most of them are never going to be used to actually shoot someone? 

Obviously it has to be a multi-faceted approach that transcends ideologies and causes. But when someone is attacking Republicans and NRA before the last echoes of the gun blasts have even died away, it’s fair to question whether they’re at all interested in a solution or whether they’re simply using tragedy to promote political ideology.

The melodramatic Juan Williams

May 23rd, 2022|Politics|

Democrats, who favor keeping abortion legal, have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections.

But Republicans won the presidency in three of those eight elections, thanks to the vagaries of the Electoral College. And the Republican presidents elected by the minority still got the right to nominate Supreme Court justices.

Similarly, Republicans in the Senate represent far less than half of the nation’s population.

The Republican indifference to majority rule in undoing Roe threatens to tear this already fractured country apart. The only comparable ruling would be the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, which precipitated the Civil War.

— Juan Williams for The Hill

Does anyone remember when Juan Williams used to be one of the most level-headed and reasonable voices of the left?

Yeah. Me too.

Not so shocking

May 23rd, 2022|Politics|

Almost 70 percent of Republican voters say the House of Representatives should impeach President Joe Biden if their party takes over the chamber in the 2022 midterms — doubling the number of all other Americans who say the same.

— Mediaite 

“Shock poll,” the headline screeches. But how is it shocking at all? This is where we’re at in American politics, and it isn’t going to end until we manage to find some level-headed adults in the room.

It started when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton — a needless congressional political stunt that put the nation through unnecessary turmoil. Democrats were anxious to get even, and some tried more than once to impeach George W. Bush but the efforts didn’t gain momentum. So when “Russian collusion” became all the buzz after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the same Democrats were up to their own tricks, with new ammo.

Don’t forget that Democrats needlessly impeached Trump not once, but twice. Even if you could make the case that the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol was a crime that Trump was complicit in, he was an outgoing president — and the Senate was not going to convict, so the House impeachment was completely unnecessary. And the first impeachment was even more unnecessary, based on completely trumped-up charges (no pun intended). It was nothing more than a political stunt fueled by the left’s disdain for Trump in particular and conservative ideology in general.

So are we surprised that Republicans are now calling for Biden’s head on the silver platter of impeachment? It was completely predictable — even if inflation and gas prices hadn’t gone through the roof. If Republicans try it (I’d like to say they won’t, but nothing surprises me in Congress any more), it will be just as unnecessary as the Democrats’ impeachment of Trump. But being the “bigger man” has ceased to matter in American politics. And when there’s a Republican in the White House again, Democrats will be calling for his impeachment, too. Around and around we go.

Here we go again

May 23rd, 2022|News|

From the World Health Organization’s top European official:

“As we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate.”

And, in Belgium, 21-day quarantines.

Also, a push for new vaccinations.

Just when you thought covid was going away and the pandemic was ending.

Except this isn’t covid. This is monkeypox. Welcome to the next chapter.

Nick Saban is a whiner

May 19th, 2022|Football|

Nick Saban wasn’t asked about Texas A&M football recruiting on Wednesday. But he sure was happy to talk about it.

In what can be aptly described as a shot fired across the bow of his SEC rival, Saban accused Texas A&M of manipulating name image and likeness rules to pay players and land the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class under head coach Jimbo Fisher. He also managed to rile up Deion Sanders.

— Yahoo Sports

The Alabama head coach is becoming more and more vocal in his opposition to schools that take advantage of the new NIL rules to land prized recruits. And make no mistake: I hate the NIL. I’m on record as saying, repeatedly, that the NIL and the transfer portal are going to kill college sports. But isn’t it interesting that the most vocal criticism of the NIL is coming from Saban and Georgia’s Kirby Smart? Let’s not miss what’s happening here: Saban and Smart are so opposed to the NIL because they realize that it will make it harder to build a monopoly in college football.

Supreme Court justices massacre Buffalo civilians

May 17th, 2022|Politics|

Buffalo is heartbreaking precisely because this did not have to happen. An America true to its ideals would not be engaged in a Cold Civil War marked by a Supreme Court hostile to the rights of women and an influential right-wing hostile to people of color and underdogs of all stripes. Voter suppression would be impossible if we cared as much about the rights of citizenship as we did guns. Gun control, in a healthy democracy, should be a bipartisan issue, not one used to partisan political advantage. Right-wing extremism in our politics, media, and religious and democratic institutions provides oxygen for online hate communities that have now turned one time rhetorical fantasies into blood-soaked nightmares that harm us all.

Peniel E. Joseph for CNN

Only in American academia is a potential Supreme Court ruling striking down federal mandates on abortion the cause for a racist nut job gunning down a bunch of people in a supermarket.

The great big double standard

May 6th, 2022|Politics|

The veteran White House communications adviser, who just hours earlier announced that Karine Jean-Pierre would replace her in a matter of days, provided an important lesson to her successor. She made sure the press corps knew that Biden understands and shares the anger that abortion advocates are feeling this week.

“For all those women, men, others who feel outraged, who feel scared, who feel concerned, he hears them, he shares that concern and that horror of what he saw in that draft opinion,” she said.

Only after establishing that Biden feels their pain did Psaki call for the protests to remain peaceful. “We should not be resorting to violence in any way, shape or form,” she said.

— RealClearPolitics

I’m waiting for someone to explain to me how this is drastically different from Donald Trump’s “very fine people” remark after Charleston.

I’ll probably wait about as long for that explanation as I wait for the Washington Post and other media outlets who are attempting to paint conservatives as domestic terrorists to explain how left-wing groups doxxing the Supreme Court justices and calling for protestors to visit their homes is remarkably different from anything we’ve seen out of right-wing nut-jobs.

Didn’t you just answer your own question?

May 6th, 2022|Politics|

From MSNBC: “Why Republicans are hysterical about the Supreme Court leak.”

And then: “The leak of the draft opinion, which was published by Politico and is not final, appears to be without precedent in modern American history.” And: “The leaker seemingly intended to influence the justices’ final vote on whether to overturn Roe v. Wade by sparking public debate and outrage…”

Exactly, MSNBC. Exactly. That’s why Republicans are hysterical about the Supreme Court leak.

Go woke? Go broke

April 25th, 2022|Politics|

Opinion: Democrats should embrace being woke and make 2022 about GOP’s extremism

— Dean Obeidallah, for CNN

Yes, by all means, Democrats. Make the 2022 election about being woke. It’s worked so well for you so far. 🙄

Let’s call a spade a spade

April 24th, 2022|Politics|

At a news conference Thursday for what was supposed to be a fishing event, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took the opportunity to sneak in some fear-mongering about civil liberties and quarantines alongside the pressing issue of red snapper season: “You know with me in this chair, your freedoms are protected.”

That’s exactly what I am afraid of: the assertion of civil liberties at any cost.

USA Today

At least they’re no longer attempting to disguise their disdain (“fear,” in their words) of Americans’ civil liberties. Look, we all know there are limits to everything — including civil liberties. I talked about it last week with regard to social media and free speech. But imagine coming right out and saying you’re afraid of freedom. That’s what today’s far-left movement wants: freedoms curtailed so that Americans are forced to march lock-step to their agenda. Any effort to combat it is labeled by the mainstream media as “fear-mongering” or “extremism,” and usually “racism” or “bigotry” as well.

The USA Today writer goes on to talk about the “toxicity” of individualism, calling it “fundamentally unAmerican.” I mean, seriously? Individualism is the very heart and soul of America, and always has been.

She concludes her diatribe by accusing DeSantis of anarchy, and saying: “It will take reasonable-minded people across the political spectrum to fight him.”

Let’s not mistake what’s happening here. It isn’t about “anarchy” or “toxic individualism.” It’s about the far left and their allies in the press recognizing DeSantis as the GOP’s 2024 front-runner and a man who could very well be our next president. They made the mistake of being entertained by Donald Trump, treating him as a spectacle rather than a legitimate presidential contender, until it was too late and he was in the White House. They aren’t going to make that mistake twice. The attacks on everything DeSantis says or does will only intensify over the next 12 months. And, meanwhile, most of what DeSantis says or does is going to be red meat for voters, an attempt to heighten his profile among conservatives. The battle lines are drawn, and it’s going to be great political entertainment.

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