Myth & Lesson; Shooting the NRA’s Red Herrings Right Between the Eyes

red herring

I used to publish this essay every time there was a mass shooting in our country.  But there are now too many to do that. This was originally written after the Orlando nightclub shooting.

I grew up in a gun-loving part of the country. I received my first gun as a teen, from my mom as a Christmas present, which is quite typical where I come from. By the time I was 18 I owned 4 guns. Also typical. Coming from the heartland, I fully understand why people like guns. Now that I’ve spent over 30 years in one of the largest and most violent cities in the country (Los Angeles) I also understand why our country needs far more restrictions on who can get a gun. These POV’s seem contradictory at first glance, but both are rational. You can be pro 2nd Amendment, and still think that guns should be carefully regulated like other deadly weapons. Most Americans still don’t understand why the gun situation is so different here than it is in every other country.

The reason it is so much easier to get a gun in the U.S. than in any other developed country, is because of the political pressure the NRA puts on Congress. If any congressman or congresswoman dares to vote on any gun restriction whatsoever, the NRA rallies votes and often gets them kicked out of office. And the NRA has enough red state voter members to have ended many a politician’s career. So the NRA is feared by Congress. The NRA has successfully convinced red state voters, and thus their intimidated elected members of Congress, to fight ANY gun regulations, no matter how sensible they may be. The NRA is not only standing in the way of progress in making our streets safer, but they are aggressively working to loosen gun regulations even further, regardless of the violent impact to our citizens. In February the NRA pushed to reverse the regulation that helped prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. The NRA was pushing a congressional vote scheduled for this very week to make silencers legal (they’ve been illegal since the gangster days of the 1930’s), but the vote was quietly postponed after the Vegas massacre.

The most maddening thing about the NRA’s arguments is that they are all so very paper-thin. The entire NRA argument is built upon the false premise that the 2nd Amendment is about to be overturned and ll guns are about to be outlawed. That is silly to anyone who understands how our system works. It is a merely a fake manufactured lie from the NRA to scare naïve rural voters. Not one single NRA talking point holds up to logic. Not one! I have friends who have repeated these talking points verbatim from the NRA, but they can’t support their arguments with reason, because they are simply not reasonable. Here are some of the myths the NRA has created over the past few decades, all of which are easily rebuked with common sense.

NRA Myth #1- If we make any gun regulations whatsoever, it means the government is going to come to your home and take your guns away. That is crazy. We can’t even take over Puerto Rico. And it’s our island! Our government is not capable of going door to door and confiscating guns, even if they wanted to. The NRA said Obama was going to take your guns even though he said repeatedly that he defended the 2nd Amendment while wanting common sense regulations to make us safer. Obama’s ATF agents never came knocking at your door. Did they? No, they didn’t. And they had 8 full years to do it and some of that time was with a Democratic congress. That was never gong to happen and never will. This is simply the NRA ginning up fear in others.

NRA Myth #2- The 2nd Amendment trumps all other rights and means no limits can be put on gun ownership. Uh, no! The 1st Amendment gives us the right to free speech, but the Supreme Court has put limits on that over the years; you can’t make threats or yell FIRE in a crowded theatre, for instance. Your right to carry a gun into a daycare center should not trump my right to have my kid in a safe place without guns. In most states, gun owners’ rights currently DO trump the rights of those who don’t like guns, but that is only because of the perverse work of the NRA and [mostly] Republicans in congress. It shouldn’t be that way in an open democratic country, and isn’t the case in any other developed nation because most other nations regulate guns as deadly weapons.

NRA Myth #3- The 2nd Amendment guarantees that anyone can get a gun without a waiting period, without a background check, anytime they want. No. The 2nd Amendment says nothing about convenience in buying a gun. Gun laws, background checks, waiting periods, are not in any way in conflict with the 2nd Amendment. Buying a gun should be harder than getting a driver’s license or voting. Guns are deadly weapons and there should be stringent rules about who owns them. It’s just common sense.

NRA Myth #4- I am part of a “well-regulated militia”. No matter how many guns you own or whether you and your friends like to dress up in camouflage and play war games in the woods behind your house on weekends, only the states and military have genuine regulated militias. Private groups are not well regulated militias, no matter how much they hate the government.

NRA Myth #5- Now is not the time to discuss gun laws. Nonsense. It is always the time to make our streets and schools safer. And there’s no more logical time than in the wake of mass shootings, which are now a regular occurrence. This is a nothing more than a diversionary NRA smoke screen, which gives cover to cowardly politicians. Mitch McConnell probably has this line tattooed on his forearm. Don’t be quieted by the feigned outrage of the right.

NRA Myth #6- The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Law Enforcement absolutely hates the idea of citizens carrying guns. It hurts law enforcement. Why would we not listen to the experts? This is not science afterall. Law enforcement really does have expertise in this area. And just imagine how things would have been worse in Vegas had civilians started shooting back. More civilians would have been shot and the shooter wouldn’t have been stopped. Let the cops do the jobs they’re trained for.

NRA Myth #7- Enforce the laws on the books. Congress and state legislatures exist to make new laws. That’s what they’re for. This argument isn’t made for drunk driving, or any other area of public safety. New laws continue to be made about every issue in every state house. The notion that we should stop making laws until every other law about that issue is completely enforced is ludicrous. But still the NRA says that we have made enough gun laws and shouldn’t make any more new ones until all of the existing laws are 100% enforced. Ridiculous. That’s just not how our system works… about anything.

NRA Myth #8- Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. As my friend Spike Dolomite Ward recently pointed out… with that logic, nuclear bombs don’t kill people either. Nor does Anthrax, it’s just powder, it’s people that use anthrax to kill people, but it’s got nothing to do with Anthrax. Silly argument. Guns are weapons, which are made for the purpose of killing. Even is you don’t see your gun as a deadly weapon because you just like to collect them, it is still made for the purpose of killing. Nobody ever got their head blown off by a stamp collection.

NRA Myth #9- There are too many guns in the U.S. to ever be able to reduce those numbers, and criminals aren’t going to give up their guns, so why even try? There are about 300 million guns in the U.S., and about 1/3 of American households own a gun. But a small percentage own most of all guns in America. Australia greatly reduced their gun numbers. It can be done. But don’t be fooled by this one, the fact that criminals aren’t giving up their guns is another red herring because nobody is asking every American to give up all their guns. You will always be able to have a gun to defend yourself against the criminal in your home. But that does not negate the need for reasonable gun control laws, background checks for everybody, banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines, etc.

NRA Myth #10-There’s no correlation between mass shootings in America and our gun laws. This is one of the silliest myths. We are the ONLY developed nation in the world with this level of gun violence. Of course it is because anyone can easily buy as many guns as they desire, without even a background check. That’s just a no-brainer. Our lax gun laws have everything to do with the catastrophic level of gun violence in the U.S. To say these things have nothing to do with each other is simply illogical.

NRA Myth #11- The Government can’t tell me what to do! Yes they can. And they already do. That’s what governments do. They set speed limits, they decide how many people you can marry, and what constitutes thievery and murder. Every government makes laws that tell their people what they are allowed and not allowed to do. That’s government. And our system says that if you don’t follow the laws, you will be prosecuted by our legal system. Pretty straight forward.

NRA Myth #12- Liberals don’t want me to protect my family. NOBODY is going to overturn the 2nd Amendment in this country. Ever. Yes, some liberals would love it if we could wave a magic wand and be a gun-free country. But it’s a silly red herring in the real gun debate. So let this stupid talking point go! It’s part of our Constitution and you will always have the right to have a gun for your family’s safety. But that doesn’t mean you must be able to go buy an assault rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammo without a background check from a stranger in a parking lot at a gun show.

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You Know

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If you don’t know what you need to know by now… then you probably haven’t been paying attention. Yes, the Moron-in-chief, the Russians, and FOX “so-called-news” have worked mightily to confuse us, and they’ve managed to do a great job with about one third or maybe even one half of us Americans. But even with all the smoke, all the lies, all the deception… we all know the truth. Even the stupid people know what they need to know at this point.

There’s a point when you have to just trust what you know. You have crammed for the test and now you’re sitting there with your number two pencil and it’s time. There’s no more studying. It’s time to trust what you know.

And even if you believe the mind-numbing nonsense on FOX, and you don’t really know for yourself if the tax cuts were good for you since you’re not a millionaire, you still know if you thought it was smart. You know what your side wants you to know. And even if you don’t fully understand it yourself, you know if you’re generally happy about tax cuts. Even the most uneducated voters in American know which side they’re on, even if they’re not totally sure what their side stands for specifically.

It’s been two years. That’s why we all know. You know enough. You know enough to know if you like this, if this is all okay with you, or not. You know if you’re generally happy with the direction of our country or if you think we’re in crisis. No matter if you’re liberal or conservative, you know by now. It really is a matter of conscience and values. This time, it’s about who we are. Plain and simple. You may not know about all of the convoluted ballot initiatives, but you know how you feel about where we are. About where America is today. About who America has become. You know. So sharpen your number two. Today is the day to declare what you know.

Midterm Report Card

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We all know what grade the president gives himself…on everything; an A+. He’s told us so. Shocking for the world’s biggest narcissist, eh? An A+ for bringing us the screaming judge Kavanaugh, an A+ for the bang-up job we did in Puerto Rico, an A+ for the tax cut for millionaires that drove our deficit through the roof, an A+ for his speech at the UN where they were laughing with him, not at him. Uh, right. Talk about grading on a crazy curve.

Well it’s midterms, so it’s time for a real report card. The Moron in Chief gets an F, pure and simple. He gets an F for intentionally dividing the country. Quite intentionally. He gets failing grades for the daily lying, for the stupidity, and for the harm he’s brought to our people, to our rule of law, and to our global standing. Let’s make that an F-.

Congress also gets an F overall. They’ve been cowardly and complicit in this madness for 2 years. Especially the Republicans. F-. Shame on them. Seriously. Shame. Jeff Flake gets a D. He almost stood up, for a minute. McCain gets a B, but only because he died. Were he living, he probably would have voted for Kavanaugh too. Collins gets a D because she has taken courageous votes before, even if not this time when women needed her most. Ryan gets an F for his cowardice and for his raising of the deficit. McConnell gets an F from the entire world. There is no bigger hypocrite. He’s hurt us all for decades. What an awful man. Maybe he should even get a G or a G-.

On the left of the aisle, let’s start at the top with Chuck and Nancy; D’s for both of them. Chuck and Nancy have been 90% ineffectual. They’ve been bringing a knife to a gunfight every single day for over 600 days now. And that’s not even counting that they let McConnell get away with not holding hearings for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee during his final year in office. True, the minority has little power, but the Republicans manage to shut down the government when they’re in the minority. They use every lever, and win. If ever there was a time to pull out all the stops, it is now, while we’re watching our rule of law be completely dismantled. But all Chuck and Nancy seem to know is the old way, which has been rendered useless by Trump and his flying monkeys.

Hillary gets a D too. She sticks her head out long enough to rile up the crazies then goes back into hiding. Obama gets a B. He earns an A+ every time he speaks because he is a brilliant and honorable man. But he gets a B overall, because we need him out there more, speaking sense to the world. Come on Barry, get out on the stump more often and get the A you deserve. The only A on the Democratic side of the aisle is Heidi Heitkamp, who voted her conscience on Kavanaugh in a ruby red state, which will likely cost her seat. She’s the only Profile in Courage in the entire Congress.

What grade do we voters deserve? Every single Republican voter in America except for former Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt and former FL Congressman David Jolly gets an F. If you were a Republican in 2016, even if you didn’t vote for Trump, you deserve an F. That’s because if you have stayed in this horrific party, and thus you are complicit. Jolly and Schmidt are the only two Republicans that I know of who have left the Republican party because they just can’t look their kids in the eye and justify that they’re affiliated with these deplorable, yes deplorable, people. Every single Republican is culpable and deserves an F-. If you really disagree with the horrible things this administration stands for, then leave that party. Go Green, Libertarian, Independent, whatever, but to keep that R by your name means that you’re complicit, because you’re letting them do it all in your name.

Democratic voters get only one grade higher, simply for having the ability to understand what’s going on. They haven’t done anything about it, but they at least understand the stakes. But Dems only deserve a D, because mostly liberals have turned away from the horror to whistle past the graveyard while watching cute animal videos on their expensive phones. Liberals are so upset…that they’ve just had to…mostly disengage… except for three big days of marches, which felt really good and we all wore hats. Liberals’ decision to mostly just not talk about it has further emboldened this administration of liars and thieves and the uneducated panting chanting crowds that think they’re making America great.

Our free press gets a C overall. The Washington Post and NY Times have deservingly earned A’s in the form of Pulitzer Prizes for their investigative work in highlighting a few of the outrages of this hideous administration, while FOX, on the other end of the spectrum, has continued to throw gasoline on the fire every day and keep America divided. Our press has persisted, even if the liberals aren’t listening and the conservatives don’t care. They haven’t managed to stop the hemorrhage, as did Woodward and Bernstein with Nixon, but that’s because of the times we live in. Facebook, not exactly news media, has become the news media whether they or we like it or not, and they get a D-. They literally helped the Trump campaign navigate FB in the election. They did nothing about the millions of Russian emails sent to Americans even while they were paid in rubles and then were less than candid about it all. They are complicit too. And Twitter gets only one character for being the platform dictators choose; F.

Finally, let’s grade our education system. We are, after all, one of the richest and most powerful countries on earth, yet 1/3 of Americans are utterly clueless about whether the Russians are our friend or our foe. 1/3 of us can’t even comprehend who the bad guys are. We are a nation of idiots. Texas teaches students that God made them, as it says in the bible, rather than teaching the scientific theory of evolution. Our education system, especially in the south, is terrible. If you’re not sure, just look at where we are today. Just look at our idiotic national discourse. It’s not just mean, it’s stupid. Betsy De Vos is in charge of our schools. Betsy deer-in-headlights De Vos. Enough said.

So let’s study up, America. Time to cram for our midterms. Let’s get these grades up. We can do better. Much better. Our next test is November 6th.

 

Your Crystal Ball

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We Americans have lost our ability to think critically, to assess, to weigh things. At least 1/3 of us have. Over these past 3 years about 70 million of us have lost the ability to discern truth from lies. Even silly lies, when said by Trump, can now fool millions of Americans. Trump said that George Soros paid for “the caravan”, which is silly to anyone with more brains than a scarecrow. But then a crazed Trump voter ran out and tried to kill Soros with a bomb. Some people are not smart enough to reason. We are still debating daily whether Trump is a blatant filthy liar or if he merely said something that was not technically true. Why are we still debating this?

It shouldn’t take a crystal ball to see what’s going on in America. It is pretty simple. And well documented. When Clinton was president, Newt Gingrich convinced Republicans to get nasty, to use war-like terms to dehumanize Democrats, to set civility aside and become brutal. And they did. Bit by bit, over the past 3 decades. FOX News was created to ‘balance’ things out for conservatives. Trent Lott breaking the longstanding “Water’s Edge Rule” was part of that movement. Impeaching Clinton for having an affair was part of that, even while Gingrich was, uh, having an affair. Manipulating the Florida vote count process was part of that movement. Karl Rove using gay rights as a wedge issue to get W. reelected was part of it. McConnell’s vow to make Obama a one-term president, then to ignore our Constitution and deny Obama a Supreme Court nomination process was a big part of this movement. Republicans have become the party that white supremacists support in 2018. Republicans are supporting a president that is authoritarian in desire, who divides us intentionally, who ignores the rule of law, and who is leading a band of liars and thieves like we’ve never seen in any administration. That’s what’s going on. And 1/3 of Americans don’t understand it because they’re undereducated, and because they are being gaslighted daily. By Trump and by FOX. Pretty simple.

Because so many of us are currently challenged in our ability to reason, here’s a look into a Crystal Ball for some much needed clarity. Here are the very simple (and obvious to most of us) answers to many of the political questions people are wondering about:

  • Will Trump fire Mueller? Not exactly, but he’ll interfere with the investigation by firing Rosenstein after the election, just as Republicans were caught on tape acknowledging to donors.
  • Will Mueller find any smoking guns that bring down Trump? No, because whatever Mueller finally concludes, no matter how damning it is, will be ignored by Trump and Republicans. Nothing to see here folks, just like we said all along, no collusion, it was all a hoax. So in the end, nothing will come of the Mueller investigation because Republicans will ignore it and Dems will do nothing but scream. 
  • Will Trump testify before Mueller? No, he will ignore any subpoenas, just like he ignored making his tax returns public. And Republicans will stand by him, as they have for 2 years.
  • Will he fire Sessions? Yes, after the election, just as he’s hinted.
  • Will he tone down his rhetoric after the mail bombs and massacre in Pittsburgh? No, he won’t. He doesn’t care.
  • Will he really get tough with the Saudi’s for killing the Washington Post journalist? He’ll do some small gesture like expelling the Saudi ambassador, but no, he’ll take no serious steps against them because they threw him a nice party.
  • If Dems take the House, will they Impeach Trump? No, Dems don’t have the stomach. They’re too nice. And Dems are divided about whether to be tough or nice. Only half of them had the nerve to walk out of the sham Kavanaugh hearing. Just endless hearings that everyone will tire of. Even C-span will stop watching. But no impeachment.
  • Will Dems at least overturn every single Obama-era Executive Order and regulation that Trump has reversed? No, they won’t even have the nerve to do that. They’ll instead reach out to be conciliatory to the MAGA crowd. That’s what we liberals do.
  • Will more innocent people die as a result of Trump’s rhetoric? Sadly, yes.
  • Even with the benefit of a crystal ball, will a single Trump voter ever be convinced of the truth? Nope. Not a 1. 

Saudi Hit Squad to Protect U.S. from Immigrant Caravan

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WASHINGTON DC – October 24th, 2018, 9:05am EST

President Trump tweeted early Wednesday morning a threat to dispatch Saudi Arabia’s 15-man hit squad to the US/Mexico border to “take care of the caravan once and for all”. Trump was referring to the group of over 7,000 immigrants, now being called a caravan of immigrants, mostly from Honduras and other Central American countries. “This caravan, do you know who created it? Ask the Democrats. Ask the Democrats. And there are terrorist from the middle east hiding among them too. Very bad.”

Trump mentioned the 15-member Saudi team, that according to their own government was merely sent to the Saudi consulate in Turkey to “interrogate” Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Instead, they say they ended up “accidentally” killing him in a “fistfight”. Saudis have now admitted not only to killing the journalist but also to cutting him up with a bone-saw they brought from Saudi Arabia. “Whatever you say about them, you have to admit they certainly know how to take care of things in a serious way.”, tweeted Trump.

When asked later in an Oval Office press avail with the CEO’s of Exxon and Halliburton how 15 men could possibly hold back over 7,000 desperate immigrants, Trump replied, “Well that’s just the 15 we know of. And we know they use disguises, so we don’t know who is who. There may be thousands of them too, for all we know. And don’t forget they have swords.”, added the President.

“We’ve got to do something to stop these very bad people from coming into our country. And the Saudi’s, they don’t mess around.” Trump said. “We got into a little trouble for putting kids in cages, which did work by the way. It really did keep them from coming. Without the cages there’d be many more caravans to dodge. But since the liberals won’t let us do that anymore, Stephen (Miller) really likes bringing those very stealthy Saudi’s here to…let’s just say to discourage immigrants from coming. I’d hate to see them end up like that journalist.”

Trump Predicts Consulate Murder Video will be “Ratings Gold”

Breaking News graphic

WASHINGTON- Oct.18th, 2018, 7:15am, EST       President Trump tweeted early this morning that he predicts “ratings gold… high ratings if the Turks will release that video of the consulate.”, referring to video the Turkish government claims to have of the torture and murder of Saudi-born Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which allegedly took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“If they really have this video,” the president tweeted, “as bad as it is, as grizzly as it is, I think Americans and people around the world for that matter will go crazy for it. Look at how well the slasher movies do, and those haunted houses where they jump out and grab you by the… whatever, and chase you with chainsaws. People, as odd as it seems, people really like that stuff.”

In a series of tweets, Trump mentioned the Access Hollywood audio tape where he originally made the controversial “grab ‘em by the…” comments that nearly wrecked his presidential campaign in 2016. “Let me tell you, I heard at the rallies every day how much people loved that tape, and hearing people just be honest. They said ‘we love you saying that!’”.

“I’m just saying that I think with YouTube and the hit Dexter on HBO or Showtime, all the violent stuff on the internet, I think people would really be interested in seeing that video, if they really even have anything, I mean the serious part of it, you know. That’d go viral, video of that kind of thing, if it were real. But since we haven’t seen it for ourselves, I doubt if that video even exists. Turks, if you’re listening, and you really have this, it’s ratings gold.”

Trump Blames Kathy Griffin for Saudi Murder

Breaking News graphic

WASHINGTON – Oct.17, 2018, 7:43am, EST       In a wide-ranging tweet-storm early Wednesday morning, President Trump attacked Stormy Daniels as a “horseface” and accused comedienne Kathy Griffin of murdering and dismembering a Saudi-born American-based journalist inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Trump tweeted, “I’m just saying, that if you’re talking about cutting people up, nobody knows how to do that better than that loser Kathy Griffin. She did it to me, and I’ve got the photo to prove it. There’s proof of this one.”, referring to the controversial photo of Griffin holding a fake severed head that resembled Trump. The photo outraged Republicans and led to the firing of Griffin by CNN as host of CNN’s annual New Year’s Eve coverage.

Responding to shouted questions by reporters following a morning rose garden reception for OPEC, Trump said, “You’re saying it’s not real… about Griffin, but I don’t know. That head looks a lot like me, except the hair. My hair is much better than that. But you don’t know. I don’t know if it’s real. Looks real. So could be real.”

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the controversial photo of Griffin that enraged Republicans and got her fired from CNN

The president got a laugh from the press pool in an exchange broadcast live on MSNBC, when an AP reporter pointed out that he had clearly not been decapitated by Griffin because he was standing there in front of them, and he replied “How do you know?” After the group of reporters burst into spontaneous laughter, Trump smiled and turned to the FOX camera saying, “Oh look, they’re laughing with me, not at me. Just like the UN. With me.”

When asked if he believed the Saudi Crown Prince in his denial of any involvement, even while men from his personal security detail have been identified among the alleged killers in the consulate, Trump said, “He’s denied it. Strongly. And Griffin has not, and you have to ask yourself why not, if she didn’t do it? Why would she keep quiet if she’s innocent. If she has no blood on her hands? She could be like a real life Dexter. I don’t know. Does she have a basement? Has anybody checked Kathy Griffin’s basement, because I would not be surprised to find the real chop shop down there. Why are we not checking her basement? Maybe your Washington Post journalist is down there in her basement, or whatever’s left of him, after she got her hands on him. CNN was right to fire her.”