Why Republicans Get Away With It

Oddly, I will start this rather long and depressing critique of Sunday’s Meet the Press, hosted by Washington establishment journalist David Gregory, with something from another Sunday program, ABC’s This Week, which was hosted this morning by reporter Jonathan Karl.

At the every end of the program, Karl introduced the viewer-participation segment:

KARL: And finally, your voice this week. Today’s question comes from Christy Miller Johnson on Facebook, who says, “My 16-year-old has a Twitter account with 34,000-plus followers. Where do you see journalism heading in 15 years? What advice to the next generation of journalists would you give?”

Well, thank you for that question, Christy. I would say that regardless of what form Americans will get their news in 15 years or 20 years, my advice to the next generation of journalists is to remember the basics: Know your history, try to get your facts straight, always strive to be fair, and don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve made a mistake.

That’s pretty good advice for anyone, especially journalists. But let’s look a little closer at that “always strive to be fair” admonition, as it applies to reporters reporting the news.

Is it fair to report “both sides” of the flat-earth controversy? Of the moon-landing controversy? Of the age-of-the-earth controversy? Of the Barack Obama birth-certificate controversy?

How about of the fiscal-cliff controversy? Or the upcoming Round Two of the debt-ceiling controversy?

Keep that in mind as we plod through a few excerpts from Meet the Press. First up was an interview with President Obama, who, naturally, was asked about the fiscal cliff. Part of the President’s response included this:

OBAMA: …so far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this stuff done. Not because Democrats in Congress don’t want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it’s been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit, as part of an overall deficit reduction package.

Now, by all objective accounts, that is a fair assessment of the situation. The Democrats, much to the chagrin of folks like me, have been willing to give far too much at this stage just to get a “deal.” But David Gregory, because he subscribes to an embarrassingly false form of fairness, followed up with this unbelievably dumb question:

DAVID GREGORY: Well, you talk about dysfunction in Washington. You signed this legislation setting up the fiscal cliff 17 months ago. How accountable are you for the fact that Washington can’t get anything done and that we are at this deadline again?

That question is the equivalent of asking Mr. Obama how “accountable” he is for Donald Trump’s refusal to believe the President was born in Hawaii. It is an infuriating question because it ignores the reality that it was Republicans who held the country hostage in 2011, threatening to bring the whole economic house down over a phony debt ceiling “crisis,” if President Obama didn’t give them entitlement cuts.

At this point, because I’m afraid I’ll start using profane words, I’ll let the conversation continue with the President’s response:

OBAMA: Well, I have to tell you, David, if you look at my track record over the last two years, I cut spending by over a trillion dollars in 2011. I campaigned on the promise of being willing to reduce the deficit in a serious way, in a balanced approach of spending cuts and tax increases on the wealthy while keeping middle class taxes low.

I put forward a very specific proposal to do that. I negotiated with Speaker Boehner in good faith and moved more than halfway in order to achieve a grand bargain. I offered over a trillion dollars in additional spending cuts so that we would have $2 of spending cuts for every $1 of increased revenue. I think anybody objectively who’s looked at this would say that we have put forward not only a sensible deal but one that has the support of the majority of the American people, including close to half of Republicans.

GREGORY: But when they say–

OBAMA: And it’s–

GREGORY: –leadership falls on you, Mr. President, you don’t have a role here in–

OBAMA: Well–

GREGORY: –breaking this impasse? You’ve had a tough go with Congress.

OBAMA: David, at a certain point if folks can’t say yes to good offers, then I also have an obligation to the American people to make sure that the entire burden of deficit reduction doesn’t fall on seniors who are relying on Medicare. I also have an obligation to make sure that families who rely on Medicaid to take care of a disabled child aren’t carrying this burden entirely. I also have an obligation to middle class families to make sure that they’re not paying higher taxes when millionaires and billionaires are not having to pay higher taxes.

There is a basic fairness that is at stake in this whole thing that the American people understand and they listened to an entire year’s debate about it. They made a clear decision about the approach they prefer, which is a balanced, responsible package.

They rejected the notion that the economy grows best from the top down. They believe that the economy grows best from the middle class out. And at a certain point it is very important for Republicans in Congress to be willing to say, “We understand we’re not going to get 100%. We are willing to compromise in a serious way in order to solve problems,” as opposed to be worrying about the next election.

GREGORY: You said that Republicans have a hard time saying yes. Particularly to you.

OBAMA: Yeah.

GREGORY: What is it about you, Mr. President, that you think is so hard to say yes to?

I will interject here and point out how such a question muddles reality—not to mention demeans Mr. Obama—by placing the blame for reckless Republican rigidity on the President and not on recklessly rigid Republicans, which is how the recklessly rigid Republicans are able to get away with their recklessness.

It’s as if, in the birther context, Gregory had asked, “What is it about you, Mr. President, that you think makes some of your critics believe you’re not an American?”  It’s the kind of question that helps us understand what is wrong with high-profile journalists like David Gregory.

Here’s how the President responded:

OBAMA: That’s something you’re probably going to have to ask them, because David, you follow this stuff pretty carefully. The offers that I’ve made to them have been so fair that a lot of Democrats get mad at me. I mean I offered to make some significant changes to our entitlement programs in order to reduce the deficit.

I offered not only a trillion dollars in — over a trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next 10 years, but these changes would result in even more savings in the next 10 years. And would solve our deficit problem for a decade. They say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way, but the way they’re behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme.

And at some point I think what’s going to be important is that they listen to the American people.

Next, Gregory moved on to cover for Republicans in Congress on the issue of entitlements. As we all know, the GOP is hell-bent on cutting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid benefits, but they want Democrats to do it for them, in some kind of “deal” that will shield the Republican Party from the electoral fallout.  Our Meet the Press host bravely ran offense for Republicans:

GREGORY: If this fight comes back– and I want to ask you specifically about entitlements. Medicare and Social Security. Are you prepared in the first year of your second term to significantly reform those two programs? To go beyond the cuts you’ve suggested to benefits in Medicare, which your own debt commission suggested you’d have to do if you were really going to shore up Medicare at least. Are you prepared to do that in your first year of the second term?

OBAMA: What I’ve said is I am prepared to do everything I can to make sure that Medicare and Social Security are there, not just for this generation but for future generations.

DAVID GREGORY: You’ve got to talk tough to seniors–

OBAMA: But–

GREGORY: –don’t you about this? And say, something’s got to give?

OBAMA: –but I already have, David, as you know, one of the proposals we made was something called chained CPI, which sounds real technical but basically makes an adjustment in terms of how inflation is calculated on Social Security. Highly unpopular among Democrats. Not something supported by AARP. But in pursuit of strengthening Social Security for the long-term I’m willing to make those decisions.

What I’m not willing to do is to have the entire burden of deficit reduction rest on the shoulders of seniors, making students pay higher student loan rates, ruining our capacity to invest in things like basic research that help our economy grow. Those are the things that I’m not willing to do. And so–

GREGORY: Would you commit to that first year of your second term getting significant reform done? Telling Congress, “We’ve got to do it in–“

OBAMA: No, no, no–

GREGORY: –“the first year?”

OBAMA: –but, David, I want to be very clear. You are not only going to cut your way to prosperity. One of the fallacies I think that has been promoted is this notion that deficit reduction is only a matter of cutting programs that are really important to seniors, students and so forth.

That has to be part of the mix, but what I ran on and what the American people elected me to do was to put forward a balanced approach. To make sure that there’s shared sacrifice. That everybody is doing a little bit more. And it is very difficult for me to say to a senior citizen or a student or a mom with a disabled kid, “You are going to have to do with less but we’re not going to ask millionaires and billionaires to do more.” That’s not something that we’re–

GREGORY: Can I ask you about–

OBAMA: That’s not an approach that the American people think is right. And, by the way, historically that’s not how we grow an economy. We grow an economy when folks in the middle, folks who are striving to get in the middle class, when they do well.

Forget for a moment all that disappointing stuff the President said, like the reference to a chain-weighted CPI, a concession that sounds completely unwarranted to my ears, and notice Gregory’s aggressive questioning based on Republican talking points, especially this:

GREGORY: You’ve got to talk tough to seniors, don’t you, about this? And say, something’s got to give?

What? It should be the President who has to “talk tough to seniors“? The President should tell seniors that “something’s got to give“? It seems to be that since a majority of seniors voted for Republican candidates in the last election (Romney won those over 65 by a 56-44 margin), it ought to fall upon the Republicans to talk tough to them and tell them something’s got to give.

But, no. In the mind of a wealthy, corporate-sponsored journalist like David Gregory, it should be the President and the Democrats who have to tell seniors, and other folks benefiting from social insurance and government programs, that they will have to cough up more so that Republicans can keep tax rates low on the wealthy.

Before I end this depressing critique, I want to note that the panelists on Meet the Press charged with talking head duties on this Sunday included no outspoken liberals. None. No one on the show was there to speak on behalf of progressive solutions to these problems. Not a single one.

Thus, I will end with a few excerpts from the roundtable discussion among the panelists, which included conservative columnist David Brooks, NBC News’ Chuck Todd and Tom Brokaw, and presidential historians Jon Meacham and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

David Gregory, unbelievably, made yet another ridiculous suggestion to the panel, based on his Obama interview:

GREGORY: My big take away, the president is setting a tone here with Republicans, putting them on notice that yes, taxes are going to go up, and that he’s going to drive a pretty hard bargain on a lot of different issues rather than try to bring them into the fold. He doesn’t feel like compromise is going to work at this point.

The President is “going to drive a pretty hard bargain“? Huh? Did Gregory even listen to Mr. Obama’s answers? Did he hear the words, “chained CP” ? Or, “I offered to make some significant changes to our entitlement programs in order to reduce the deficit” ?

And Gregory said Obama “doesn’t feel like compromise is going to work at this point.” Can you see how the context of Gregory’s suggestion places Obama in the position of the obstinate one? Wow.

To his credit, and only to his partial credit because he went on to say something equally as ridiculous as Gregory’s suggestion, David Brooks included in his response the following:

BROOKS: Now I think most of the blame still has to go to the Republicans. They’ve had a brain freeze since the election. They have no strategy. They don’t know what they want. And they haven’t decided what they want.

We can applaud Brooks for at least speaking a partial truth here. But then he goes on to utter the following nonsense that plays off Gregory’s blame-Obama theme:

BROOKS: But if I had to fault President Obama, I would say that sometimes he’s– governs like a– a visitor from a morally superior civilization. He comes in here and he will not– he– he’ll talk with Boehner, he won’t talk with the other Republicans. He hasn’t built the trust. Boehner actually made a pretty serious concession, 800 billion dollars in tax revenues, probably willing to go up on rates. But the trust wasn’t there to get that done. And if the president wants to get stuff done over the next four years, it’s got to be a lot more than making the intellectual concessions. It’s got– got to get to the place where Republicans say, okay, we’ll take a risk. This guy won’t screw us.

GREGORY: Mm-Hm.

Mm-Hm. Mm-bleeping-Hm. You get it? It’s not enough for this president to make “intellectual concessions.” Oh, no. That’s not enough. He’s got to somehow get this extremist group of Republicans to trust him! He’s got to have them over for lunch or, well, I’ll just let the wealthy journalist Tom Brokaw tell you:

BROKAW: To David’s point, I do really believe that the president doesn’t work hard enough at bringing everybody into the White House and rolling up his sleeves, having them in the living quarters, getting them around the table and saying how do we get this deal done. He didn’t talk downstream about tax reform, for example.

And I think it would have been helpful to him this morning to have said, look, we get this tax deal done, I’m here to help on Medicare and Social Security reforms. We’ve got to address those, instead of just saying I’m going to protect the seniors who are there and the Medicare and Medicaid recipients. Give a little something. Show good faith about what needs to be done on deficit reduction and the entitlement programs.

Can you believe this stuff? Tom Brokaw actually said that President Obama should tell Republicans he is “here to help” them cut Social Security and Medicare. “Give a little something,” the renowned establishment journalist insisted. “Show good faith about what needs to be done on deficit reduction and entitlement programs.” Are you kidding me? This is so outrageous it’s hard to write about it.

Again, the theme is that Obama is at fault. If he would only coddle this group of Republicans, give them the warm-and-fuzzy treatment, somehow a little Socratic deficit-reduction baby would be born, with most of the labor pains assigned to those who have born so much Bush-recession pain already.

This is what passes for “fairness” in much of the mainstream press. As I said, not an outspoken liberal in the bunch on Meet the Press this day. No one took the other side. The entire program, except for President Obama’s answers to Gregory’s questions, was designed around Republican themes and presented in Republican language.

It was an infuriating, and depressing, hour. Because on the horizon, as Senator Lindsey Graham said this morning on Fox, looms another fight over the debt ceiling, a fight Graham said will be where Republicans will have real leverage—meaning they will threaten the country again with default and economic ruin—and I fear that unless President Obama and the Democrats get extremely aggressive very soon, we will see the David Gregorys frame the issue as a failure of the President to stop them from wrecking the country.

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Meet The De-Press

Today’s Meet The Press, which featured President Obama as a guest, demonstrated exactly what is wrong with mainstream journalism today. As soon as NBC releases the transcript of this morning’s revealing episode, I will show you why President Obama will have to do all the work himself, if the American people are ever to know what is going on in Washington.

Pitiful. Plain pitiful.

And depressing, too.

President Obama Has To Tell Americans The Truth

Even HuffPo is guilty of the “both sides are guilty” plague infecting the news bidness.  Anyone paying attention the last couple of years knows that it is Republicans, particularly Tea Party Republicans in Congress, who have caused the legislative gridlock and dysfunction in our national government. Yet, we have this from a left-leaning news outlet:

dysfunctionalThe message here and throughout the journalistic world—from which most Americans get their news—is that Republicans and Democrats have essentially an equal share of the blame for the inability to govern the country, which, of course, gives Republicans some (limited) cover to continue to do their dirty work.

Personally, having given up on mainstream journalists to tell Americans what is really going on in Washington, I am beginning to blame President Obama, who alone can command the focused attention of the media, for not making it clear each and every day what it is that Republicans are willing to risk and the reason they are willing to risk it.

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell routinely blast the President and Democrats, and rarely does the President respond in kind. Being Lincolnesque has its place, but now it is time to become the Lincoln who would not tolerate rebellion, even if in this case it is only the Republicans’ refusal to responsibly govern.

If necessary, he should execute a plan to visit John Boehner’s Ohio and Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky and all the congressional districts of the zany Republicans in the House who are most to blame for the dysfunction we see. Since reasoning doesn’t seem to have an effect on these Republicans, perhaps national embarrassment will.

Whatever the case, an aggressive Obama, who is willing to forcefully explain to the country the real dynamics behind that word “dysfunction,” and willing to defend popular entitlement programs against a Republican minority who feverishly want to cut the hell out of them, should tell Republicans today that he has offered his last “deal,” that he will stop giving in to their unreasonable demands and, in a word, tell them to take it or leave it.

And remind them that he will tell anyone who will listen just whose fault it is that the country will face yet another recession.

Americans Endorse Socialism, Again

A new ABC/Washington Post poll conducted recently has caused some pundits to focus on the reality that Republicans are having a terrible time convincing most non-Republicans (that’s about 75% of the country, according to this poll) that the GOP is looking out for middle-class interests.

Most folks know where the loyalties of the current  Republican Party lie, and it is not with most folks but mostly with folks with the most.

But as we start thinking about the year to come, and to put the ridiculousness that is the fiscal cliff in perspective, I want to focus on one part of the poll that I am sure will get overlooked by most popular media types: America, as I have argued many times before, has a jones for socialism.

The pollsters asked this question:

17. In order to strike a budget deal that avoids the so-called “fiscal cliff”, would you accept “cutting spending on Medicaid, which is the government health insurance program for the poor,” or is this something you would find unacceptable? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Now, it might surprise some of you, I know it did me, that only 28% of the respondents said it would be “acceptable” to cut spending on health insurance for the poor. And only 13% felt “strongly” that such cuts were acceptable. A whopping  68% (53% “strongly”) found such cuts “unacceptable.”

Wow.  Think about that.  With all the doom-talk, with all the talk about falling off cliffs, there is still an overwhelming majority of folks in America who refuse to solve our fiscal problems on the backs of poor people.

This holiday season I find that inspiring.

And lest you think I am drawing an untenable conclusion from that datum, a conclusion that concludes America has embraced a rather robust form of socialism, I submit to you another question asked by the pollsters:

17. In order to strike a budget deal that avoids the so-called “fiscal cliff”, would you accept “raising taxes on Americans with incomes over 250-thousand dollars per year,” or is this something you would find unacceptable? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

A staggering 74% of respondents said it was acceptable—54% felt”strongly”about it—to raise taxes on affluent Americans while also saying that any fiscal cliff deal-making should not include the poor.

That, my friends, is an endorsement of income redistribution, of socialism, right here in what right-wingers think is a center-right America.

Remarks And Asides

All you need to know about the NRA:

The National Rifle Association exists to assist the manufacturers of guns and gun-related accoutrements in selling guns and gun-related accoutrements to people. That is their job, summed up, in its entirety.

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Via HuffPo:

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.

Would to God he would tell the public that Republicans are at fault, and not just for not reaching an agreement on the fiscal cliff. They are threatening the country with yet another fight over the debt ceiling. When will Mr. Obama realize that he has to thoroughly decimate the current Republican Party in hopes that a new one will put the country’s interests before the interests of the moneyed class?

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Speaking of John Boehner, the Republican-friendly pollster Rasmussen has found that Boehner is “the least-liked major congressional leader.”  That same Republican-friendly pollster found “that 57% of likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat approve of President Obama’s job performance.,” and that “most Americans (55%) favor a ban on assault weapons.”

To note even more good polling news, CNN found that,

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed they view the policies of the GOP as too extreme, up 17 points from two years ago. Only 37% say they view the polices of the Democratic Party as too extreme.

The bad news, of course, is that it is only 53%.  And that is where President Obama has a lot of work to do.

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In the who-could-have-seen-this-coming department:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A federal judge on Friday blocked a new Missouri law that requires insurers to exclude birth control coverage for moral objectors, ruling that it conflicts with an insurance mandate under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The temporary restraining order halts the Missouri law just three months after the Republican-led Legislature enacted it by overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.

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In the I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-in-the-21st-century department:

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant that he found attractive simply because he and his wife viewed the woman as a threat to their marriage, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court ruled 7-0 that bosses can fire employees they see as an “irresistible attraction,” even if the employees have not engaged in flirtatious behavior or otherwise done anything wrong…An attorney for Fort Dodge dentist James Knight said the decision, the first of its kind in Iowa, is a victory for family values because Knight fired Melissa Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not because she was a woman.

It seems the dentist was getting turned on by the attractive assistant, who worked for him for ten years as a “stellar” employee, and after consulting with a Man of God—who agreed the woman should be fired—gave her the left foot of fellowship. Thus, to paraphrase the dentist’s attorney, a victory for family values is when a male boss can legally can a female employee for being a temptation he might not be able to resist, even with God’s help. No word in yet on why a family values deity would create a woman so tempting that even a God-fearing man could not resist her, but there is certainly bibllical precedent for it.

Next up: the Iowa Supreme Court will decide if God can create a rock too big for Him to move.

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From the shoe’s-on-the-other-foot file:don lemon

CNN’s Don Lemon discusses the possibility of profiling white men in an attempt to prevent gun violence and decrease the amount of mass shootings. Lemon argues that white males between the ages of 18 and 25 were behind nearly all recent mass killings.

Guest David Sirota (who wrote a provocative piece for Salon) was really the one making the point that if 70% of mass murderers weren’t white men, but say, African-Americans or Arabs, then we would be having a much “uglier” conversation.

Who can argue with that?

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Finally, the right-wing’s cleverest intellectual has managed to blame the disintegration of the Republican Party on, who else, Barack Obama:

He had one objective. He came off a winning election, but he still had a recalcitrant House. He wants four years where he can have his own agenda that he can enact. He would be stopped by the House the same way the House stopped it in the last two years. What to do? To destroy the Republicans, to fracture them and to create a civil war in the House, which he has done. And how do you do it? By insisting, as he did, this is extremely clever, tactically on his part. Insisting that the one thing that they had to agree to was an increase on tax rates. 

So, there you have it. It’s not the embarrassingly reactionary extremists controlling the GOP. It’s not the wacko teapartiers who refuse to play nice with contemporary American civilization. It’s the fault of the black man in the White’s House, once again.

What a  Scary clever Negro is the President.

Delusional

Just a few minutes ago, I saw Steve Siebold on MSNBC.

Siebold is billed by HuffPo as “one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of critical thinking and mental toughness training.” He has also authored a book subtitled, “How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America.”  He was asked about what we should do to prevent future Sandy Hooks, and the “expert” on critical and delusional thinking said that part of the answer was, you guessed it, arming teachers.

When he was pressed on the matter, when he was asked what to do if a teacher didn’t want to go to work with a gun in tow, Siebold said that he would not want his kid in that teacher’s class. Obviously this critical thinking expert believes that a teacher’s primary classroom credential should be marksmanship not pedagogical prowess.

Siebold also indicated that college kids ought to go to school armed to protect themselves, and he didn’t seem to be sure whether 18-year-old high school kids should do the same.

Steve Siebold, by that one appearance on MSNBC, has truly demonstrated How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America.

How You Deal With The NRA

nuts

Have Gun, Will Teach

Wouldn’t you know that the state of Missouri, with extremist Republicans wielding real power in the legislature, is on the cutting edge of 18th-century progress:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – More than two dozen Missouri lawmakers are backing legislation that would allow teachers and administrators with concealed gun permits to carry weapons in schools…

Missouri law currently prohibits concealed guns at schools unless approved by the local school board or a school official.

Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Stanley Cox, of Sedalia, suggested that people might think twice about attacking schools if they knew that teachers or administrators could be carrying guns.

Yes, people might think twice about slaughtering school kids if there were a danger of getting shot in the head. Oh, but the latest killer shot himself in the head. So, maybe Rep. Stanley Cox and like-minded gun zealots in Missouri should themselves think twice about the effectiveness of arming educators.

And while they are thinking twice about that, perhaps they can think once about what the call for arming educators says about our gun-crazed culture, not to mention what it says about our unwillingness to address, as a social problem, people with serious mental health issues.

On the local front, just a stone’s toss from Joplin, we have this response to weaponizing teachers, from an, uh, “educator”: 

“We need to evaluate, not react,” states Dr. Phillip Cook, Carl Junction School Superintendent. 

Cook says his school has already made safety improvements which includes making sure all doors into the school and classrooms are locked. He says, every option should be considered when it comes to student safety.  

“If someone can convince me that that’s the appropriate thing to do to keep our kids safe, then I’ll be in favor of it,” states Dr. Cook.  

Who would have thought, here in the 21st century, that an educator, especially one with a “Dr.” in front of his name, could be persuaded that school teachers ought also to be gunfighters.

What a state some of us find ourselves in. 

Oh, But We Do Understand—Now, It’s Your Turn

Because I’ve been on the move, I have been unable to get involved in the ongoing debate in this blog’s comment section, even though I have enjoyed reading it.

I do, though, want to point out that one commenter, Rawhead, has been trying to defend what I consider to be an indefensible position on guns. One of his latest comments included the following, which I will use to respond to the debate that has been going on:

You guys are full of “what if’s” which could be continued ad infinitum. The fact is that the vast majority of gun owners never do anything even remotely malicious with their firearms and just because YOU don’t see use or value in something doesn’t mean that plenty of others don’t.

 Why is it that you people laugh at the paranoia of survivalists but fail to recognize your own paranoia about firearms owners misusing their weapons when, in fact, it just doesn’t happen that often?

The argument here is as follows:

1. Most gun owners don’t misuse their guns.

2. Gun owners value their guns in ways some of us don’t understand or appreciate.

It is undeniable that most people who own guns “never do anything even remotely malicious” with them. I have yet to come across anyone advancing an argument that says they do. So, we can all agree that, as the unfettered gun rights propaganda points out endlessly, most folks who possess firearms do so responsibly.

Now on to that second proposition. I fully understand why most people value guns. It’s just not that hard to figure out. Some people value them for protection and some value them for hunting and some value them for just the pleasure of target shooting.  Oh, yeah. There are those who value them for committing all sorts of crimes.

Thus, it is pretty easy to understand why people like guns, why they defend so vigorously their right to own and shoot them, if not the right to own and shoot them while holding up a liquor store or, well, shooting up a classroom full of children.

But here’s what people like Rawhead don’t understand. They don’t understand why some of us think that while it is okay for folks to have handguns in their homes to protect themselves, or guns to go hunting, or even guns to go target shooting, we don’t think it is worth the risk to allow them to own guns that have the capability of doing what that sick killer in Connecticut did, in a short time, to those children.

You see, we don’t think it’s okay to risk such things just so law-abiding folks can enjoy a day at the range unloading a high-capacity magazine into something not alive. We think there is too much at stake just so people can get their jollies firing weapons that only cops or soldiers should possess.

And the Rawheads of this world don’t understand why some of us think Louis Gohmert, that loony Texas Republican congressman, is out of his mind by suggesting that the principal of Sandy Hook, if she had an M4 in her office, could have got into a gunfight with the killer and saved the day. You see, we think educators ought to be in the business of educating, not in the business of law enforcement.

But most of all, the Rawheads don’t understand why some of us, hopefully most of us, find what Gohmert said on Fox “News” last Sunday absolutely insane, as reported by Think Progress:

Pressed by host Chris Wallace on why ordinary citizens need semi automatic weapons that shoot 5 bullets per second, Gohmert said that any restrictions on fire arms could lead to the slippery slope of full prohibition and said that American amass weapons to protect themselves from the government.

“For the reason George Washington said a free people should be an armed people,” Gohmert explained. “It ensures against the tyranny of the government, if they know the biggest army is the American people, then you don’t have the tyranny that came from King George. That is why it was put in there and that’s why once you start drawing the line, where do you stop?”

I am prepared to admit that I don’t fully understand or appreciate the mind from which that stupidity, that utterly anachronistic paranoia, flowed. But I am prepared to say that I don’t give a damn whether Louis Gohmert thinks the government may one day come after him, the rest of us no longer want to indulge his dark fantasies by watching more children, more innocents, die.

And that, Rawhead, is something you need to understand.

“What A Ridiculous Argument”

I rarely use the word “stupid” to characterize people. The word should be used sparingly, where appropriate and mostly to express for effect how absurd or obviously foolish someone is being. It’s a word usually directed at someone’s idea or argument, when that idea or argument is completely ridiculous.

Like saying the world is flat or that the Earth is merely a few thousand years old. At this point in our history, after all we have learned, we don’t need to waste time taking people seriously who hold such ideas.  As I have said often, these ideas and the people who argue for them need to be ridiculed, not treated as if they are legitimate.

In that context, I saw something on CNN last night that made me better appreciate one of its hosts, Piers Morgan. I’m not a fan, to say the least, but he did something last night that tells me that the gun lobby in this country can be overcome, partly by ridiculing its ridiculous calls for more guns in the culture.

Since the mass slaughter of women and children at Sandy Hook, many of the reactionary laissez-faire gun advocates have been in hiding. But some have had the nerve to show up and defend the indefensible, that we need more guns in our lives. One of those was Larry Pratt, the head of Gun Owners of America.

On Piers Morgan’s show Tuesday night, Pratt offered us that peculiar we-need-more-guns argument, one that seems to be a mainstream argument among gun zealots. It goes like this: if only people in that elementary school were armed, things would have turned out much  better. I am going to give Pratt the benefit of the doubt that he’s not talking about arming the children, even though yesterday a sixth grader in Utah brought a gun and ammo to school to, he said, protect himself.

And since most of us, at least right now, believe kids shouldn’t be hauling guns in their backpacks, Pratt was talking about the adults at Sandy Hook. Okay. The adults at Sandy Hook are mostly teachers. Are we now going to require teachers, in addition to their other responsibilities, to strap on pistols in the morning, as they prepare for a day at school? At least a couple of Republican governors, so far, have suggested that might be okay with them.

Now, most people fully embracing the 21st century know that idea is preposterous and should be the object of much derision. And last night, during Morgan’s interview with Larry Pratt, it was:

PRATT: …America is not the Wild West that you are depicting. We only have the problems in our cities, and unhappily, in our schools where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves.

I honestly don’t understand why you would rather have people be victims of a crime than be able to defend themselves. It’s incomprehensible.

MORGAN: You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?

PRATT: It seems to me that you’re morally obtuse. You seem to prefer being a victim to being able to prevail over the criminal element. And I don’t know why you want to be the criminal’s friend.

MORGAN: What a ridiculous argument. You have absolutely no coherent argument whatsoever. You don’t — you don’t actually give —

PRATT: You have no —

MORGAN: You don’t give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America? You don’t actually care…

I submit to you that it is time that gun zealots like Larry Pratt be subjected to such ridicule, just like those who believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old because an ancient book tells them it is.

And speaking of such people, by now we have all heard former governor and current Fox man Mike Huckabee say this:

We’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools have become a place for carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, responsibility, accountability?

In a better world, Huckabee, who is suggesting here that secularization is responsible for the slaughter at Sandy Hook, would be laughed off the public stage. He would be the butt of a thousand jokes. Any appearance on television would invoke a Piers Morgan response:

You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?  What a ridiculous argument. You have absolutely no coherent argument whatsoever.

Instead, Huckabee enjoys much respect for his Iron Age religious views, as do most of the extremists who argue and lobby for fewer restrictions on guns, all in accordance with an 18th-century frontier philosophy of self-defense, a philosophy born in a time when there were no weapons that could slaughter women and children in a few insanely violent minutes.

And perhaps that tells us more than anything else what is wrong with our country. And perhaps, just perhaps, Piers Morgan’s handling of Larry Pratt on Tuesday night might be a signal that we will no longer treat with undue respect such nonsense.

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