The Calculus of NRA Politics and Gun Laws

The gun laws that are being passed in Red states are absurd: an open carry on campus law in Texas, one in Missouri allowing anyone to carry and use a gun on anyone they think might be an intruder. These aren’t laws meant to protect gun rights, they are the absurd result of a political system that has been thoroughly corrupted by money.

Do you really think the authors of these bills really care about gun rights? I don’t. No, the politicians worry about having a better grade from the NRA than whoever opposes them in primaries. They have made a cynical calculation. They are willing to have innocents die. They justify these insane laws by claiming they are needed to protect your rights, when they are really proposing these laws to protect their own privileged position of power.

This is one of the reasons why having two, or even more, political parties is important. It helps balance the crazy stuff, hopefully allowing some sanity to get through.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If guns were the answer to our problems, our problems would already all be solved. There are plenty of guns in America. But our problems are complicated and deeply rooted and won’t be solved by throwing bullets at them. We actually need to grow up and start to behave responsibly. Bummer, I know, but it’s true.

Cops are frightened by the numbers of guns on the street and they sometimes make bad decisions when frightened. As a result, people die, every day. Mass shootings happen weekly. Enough is enough. It’s time to have some common sense regulations that will protect both gun owners and the public. It’s also long past time we let special interest lobbies like the NRA dictate policy.

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I’m going to miss the Nightly Show and Larry Wilmore

The Nightly Show didn’t appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed it. I learned a lot from Larry Wilmore and the talented people he brought on the show. I got to hear from people who are normally only described as “black activists” in normal media coverage.

I’ve read lots of comments about the cancellation of the show and it seems to me that far too many of the ones that accuse Wilmore of not being funny quickly drift into racist language or simply accuse Wilmore of being a racist.

I’m about the same age as Wilmore and I don’t care who you are, you can’t grow up in this country without some of the inherent racism on either side rubbing off on you. I was raised by liberal parents, but I still find myself falling into patterns of thought that – when considered carefully – are racist. Watching the Nightly Show helped me learn that lesson.

Also, pointing out that our police seem to have a bad habit of killing brown people in situations where a white person wouldn’t even have been confronted, doesn’t make you racist. Race is still a problem in this country and that has become more apparent since we elected Obama. That seemed to bring all the latent racism out into the open. There’s a segment of our population that just can’t stand the idea that there’s an african-american running the country and doing it with grace, intelligence and maturity.

I think expecting anyone to match Colbert’s ratings is wishful thinking. There’s a good reason why Colbert is at the Tonight Show. I doubt Comedy Central will do better with whatever they plan to put in the spot.

As for all the people who believe that ratings should be the only arbiter of what’s on TV, do you really love what that particular metric has gotten us? Should we only have programs that appeal to the lowest common denominator? When you’ve got so many channels, you’d think we’d have some room for programs that might lag a little in ratings but help make us all better people. The Nightly Show was one of those rare gems that succeeded at making us think.

I hope Larry Wilmore is quickly given another show, this time on one of the major broadcast networks. I think he’s still got a lot to teach us, and we certainly have a lot to learn.

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Inciting Violence

Donald Trump is not stupid, he’s ignorant, arrogant, and foolish, but he knows what he’s saying when he’s speaking. He says what he means, and if things go badly, claims he was “joking.” He knew that what he said would be interpreted as a call for the assassination of Hillary Clinton by his supporters. It is easy to see that his remarks will motivate some of his followers to consider such an action and some may try. They might even succeed.

His spokespeople claim, of course, that he was: a) joking, b) so incoherent that we can’t take his remarks seriously, or c) saying something completely other than what he said. None of those work. Can we afford to have someone in the Whitehouse who cannot make himself clearly understood? How about someone who calls for his political opponents to be killed? Someone who is completely incoherent? Someone who’s remarks can’t be understood because he doesn’t have a “PhD in Grammar?”

There are lots of things we need to work on in this country. We face a lot of serious problems. We need a responsible adult in office, not a childish bully who thinks calling for the assassination of his opponent is clever.

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Clinton Can’t Abolish the 2nd Amendment

No president or court can do away with part of the Constitution. Only another constitutional amendment, which has to be ratified by the states, can make that kind of change to the Constitution.

What can Clinton do? She can appoint judges that are more likely to rule against the currently very broad interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. I suspect she’ll do exactly what she has said she’ll do, propose legislation that would close loopholes in the background checks, and impose some common sense regulations on gun ownership. No matter what, she’ll face stiff opposition from the NRA, so it’s likely that nothing much will actually happen. That’s a shame. It’s long past time we had some common sense regulations on gun ownership and sales.

Donald Trump would have you believe that your 2nd Amendment rights are about to be abolished. He’s losing this race, so he’s anxious to get the spotlight back on himself. So now he’s implying that the only way to save your rights is to assassinate Hillary Clinton.

Of course, Trump now claims that we’re all misinterpreting his statement, his joke – as he claims all his misstatements are. But the problem is that he hasn’t exactly come forward and said, “Violence has no place in our political process.” All that needs to happen is for one Trump/NRA fanatic to decide he’s been given a mission by his wannabe-President, and we could have yet another national tragedy. Trump obviously believes that such a scenario would give him the election. I don’t think he understands the American people as well as he believes.

If there’s someone in this race who wants to abolish an amendment, it’s Trump. He is constantly seeking to silence his detractors through threats of lawsuits and he’s pledged to “open up the libel laws” in order to make it easier for the rich and powerful to silence those who annoy them. He’s openly called for limitations of the rights of groups based on their religion – specifically Muslims. We saw where that can lead back in the 20th Century.

Don’t ever forget that Trump is dangerous. I’ve talked to people lately who say they don’t have to worry about voting now, since Clinton is in the lead. The polls don’t determine who our President is, that can only be done by the actual votes cast in the voting booth. Don’t ever let anyone or anything keep you from exercising your right to vote, especially not apathy.

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You Can’t Have It Both Ways, GOP.

For those of you in the GOP who still endorse Trump but keep distancing yourself from his statements: you can’t have it both ways. Either you support Trump and agree with what he says, or you should withdraw your endorsement and vote against Trump in November. This idea that you can support a candidate while picking and choosing what statements he made that you can live with, it’s embarrassing and untenable. It’s behavior unworthy of many of you who have at least tried to put Country first.

It’s time to ask yourself, do you really think Trump will be a competent President, someone who can respond to world events with a cool head and use measured responses? If so, what in the world gives you that impression? When has Trump ever demonstrated any of the qualities we need in a President?

How about uniting behind the most qualified candidate we’ve ever had for President and helping fix problems that we can all agree need fixing? Let’s put aside the partisan bullshit for once and all pull together. Think of the progress we could make if, instead of acting like a bunch of children, our lawmakers debated bills on their merits and refrained from attaching poison pill amendments.

We keep saying we want to spread democracy, but why would anyone want a democracy as screwed up as our system has been? If ever there’s been a moment to fix things, this is it.

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