The NRA at the crest of the Trump Revolution

As the NRA has been so successful at getting NRA true believers elected in red states and red districts, arming teachers has been the position of probably most Republicans in Congress for years, certainly in the House anyway.

And Lapierre’s crazed speech today at CPAC was aimed at the NRA membership, to get them fired up and terrifying Republicans into not defying Trump on this, being that Trump is essentially doing exactly what the NRA has long pushed for. They’ll even give up on bump stocks in exchange.

At the same time there will now undoubtedly be armed teacher legislation proposed in states nationwide, and much of it will pass. The most extreme gun rights legislation can always be found at the state level where the influence of the NRA is at its most effective. It might seem counter intuitive, but mass shootings invariably increase NRA membership and fundraising, not to mention cause rushes on ammo and assault weaponry. The NRA is at its peak after mass shootings. They are taking advantage of that power surge now.

So we are now at the very crest of the Trump revolution, before the 2018 deluge come November. His base is frenzied and the NRA are coldly calculating the possibilities. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.

Buying an AR-15 without a driver’s license

I gotta admit that being epileptic I would never have a gun in the house, just as a matter of course. Legally, though, I could buy a gun just like any non-epileptic. It’s not like getting a driver’s license. I was allowed to keep my license but had to go through a year long probationary period to see if I was fit to drive. I was. Most epileptics lose their license. Some temporarily, some permanently. In some states I could not get a driver’s license. In most of those states, however, I could buy an AR-15. I’d just need a ride to the gun store.

The martyrdom of Micah Johnson has begun

From Facebook:

POTUS assured the American public that no drone kills would happen here nor to American citizens. The police have become local Military Centers with some powerful lethal force on hand at a second’s notice. As my wife asked, why was non-lethal force not used with Micah Johnson? He’d kill a robot? Come on, tasers, sedatives, turns out there was no hurry. The NRA is probably happy. 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is the state and feds going WAY over the line. Hellcome To The New World Order.

The martyrdom of Micah Johnson has begun. Constitutional issues. Due process. That weird netherworld where the fringes of the Left and Right meet and intertwine, spouting each other’s rhetoric and worse. I first saw this when Khadafi was killed by Libyan rebels. The anti-Obama right went nuts on due process, blaming Obama for denying Khadafi his right to a fair trial. Now you can hear that from the left. Hillary killed Khadafi.

Today there is talk on the far left about the execution of Micah Johnson. He should have been taken alive, they say. True, but he executed the first cop who came near him. Irrelevant point, I suppose. Depending on one’s point of view, cops are as disposable as black men, and mass murderers are martyrs no different from an innocent man with a burnt out tail light. I suppose if you live your life in the either/or world of the internet, your real world values get pretty warped.

In real life, of course, most of these fearsome Facebook radicals were terrified of 4th of July fireworks just a few days ago. On Wednesday they demanded revolution, while the day before they were livid that the cops wouldn’t arrest the street corner pyrotechnicians scaring their cats.

Ya gotta love the discreet charm of the Facebook bourgeoise.

The National Rifle Association and the Senate it paid for.

The list of ayes and nays from Here Are the Senators Who Just Voted Against Closing Gun-Purchase Loopholes in Slate:

Votes on gun bills

Looking through the names of Republican senators, I can see maybe a half dozen who are from states in which yesterday’s no votes on assault rifle restrictions could theoretically be used in an election to beat them. Only six or seven at the most who might possibly find their no vote yesterday an issue come re-election. But that us all, no more than six or seven. Not even voting no on legislation to prevent known terror suspects from buying an AR-15 will likely prove to be the least bit on an incumbrance to anyone else. Indeed, all the remaining Republican senators in this list who voted no are from states in which their vote yesterday would likely be of no consequence whatsoever.

On the other hand, had any of them voted with the Democrats yesterday it would have had potentially disastrous consequences. Because the National Rifle Association could decide to back a primary challenger to the hilt, beginning with a negative ad campaign years ahead of any election. Indeed, years before there was a primary challenger. The NRA could begin seeding the field with negative advertising, viral messaging, robo calls and social media chatter two, four or even six years ahead of time, preparing the straying senator’s state for his eventual demise at the hands of a bright young NRA loyalist. No matter how popular an incumbent senator might be, he can be beaten in a primary, particularly a midterm primary, and in particular a midterm primary runoff election with a very low turnout. Ted Cruz emerged from one of the lowest turnout run off elections in the entire history of Texas, helped along mightily by the NRA. Nobody else could stand the guy, but they liked him.

The NRA has a high success rate with this sort of thing, with a cold eyed willingness to use their nearly limitless funds and resources to go after any Republican who strays. Not that most Republican senators today would even if they could. It’s not that they are cowed by the NRA (as are many Democrats in states with a large NRA membership, among them Bernie Sanders). Most of those Republican senators became senators by being ideologically in tune with the NRA when they won their first primary. And a lot of them got into office by winning primaries against incumbents judged too weak on gun rights. The National Rifle Association doesn’t like to spend its membership’s hard earned cash on candidates who don’t deep down agree with the NRA on the issues. On every issue in fact. They have been very effective at using the GOP primaries to cull those not 100% enamored of uncompromising second amendment rights. The GOP in congress is, as a result, much more hardline on nearly zero restrictions on assault weapons (and open carry, etc.) than 90% of the American public.

Incredibly, the GOP in congress is even more fanatical on Second Amendment Rights than is the bulk of the NRA membership. The legislation voted down by all but two Republican senators yesterday was actually in line with the wishes of the great majority members of the NRA. But the membership is not the threat in a primary. The NRA leadership is the threat. They dole out the money. They write the attack ads. They get the members worked up. They are the absolute masters of single issue political campaigns today because in any given state on voting day they can deliver their members living in that state, en bloc, to their preferred candidate. No one bucks the NRA if they can possibly avoid it.

The NRA has been equally effective in electing true believers in statehouse races. Thus all those surreal instances of states enacting laws that are
so pro-gun it seems insane, and with very little prodding from the NRA. Very little is needed (in Vermont a sixteen year old can purchase and conceal carry a handgun without parental permission; in Florida and Oklahoma it is illegal to prevent an employee  from bringing a gun to work; in Indiana and North Dakota an employer can be sued if he asks an employee if he owns a gun; in Michigan legislators passed a bill allowing concealed carry in schools, bars, daycare centers and churches, though why I do not know.) The candidates who made it through the Republican primary process in those states and got elected are already 2nd Amendment fanatics with deeply held beliefs about gun rights far beyond the pale of what most Americans consider necessary or safe. Or, sometimes, even sane.

At the same time, I can see several here among the list of Democrats who would find the NRA’s anger over this vote to be potentially very dangerous in a midterm election, when Democratic turnout is low and conservative Republican turn out is high. In every case where a swing state has a senator who is extremely pro-NRA–Joni Ernst of Iowa, for example–that senator was elected during a midterm where hardline conservatives flocked to the polls while everyone else stayed home. Midterms with very few exceptions swing to the party out of power. So when a Democrat is in the White House, a lot of very pro-NRA senators are elected in the midterm elections. Senators elected under those circumstances will give the NRA very little concern. They are one of their own, after all.

And while the specific methods used by the National Rifle Association to maintain this coalition in defense of NRA issues are unique, there is nothing unique about an interest group–which is what the National Rifle Association is, an interest group interested only in guns–maintaining such a fearful grip on legislative loyalties. After all, as Republicans love to point out, the AFL-CIO once maintained power in the Congress in much the same way, and any member of congress who went against them could expect an enormous infusion of money, resources and, on election day, votes going to his opponent. Much as the NRA’s influence is relegated to Republican states and districts, mainly rural, so was organized Labor’s influence limited to Democratic states and districts, mainly urban. But it was just as powerful as the NRA is now, and it wasn’t the US opened up its economy to exporting jobs overseas (I’ll blame Reagan, those there’s more than enough responsibility to go around) that union power was reduced….and with it, the number of elected Democrats in congress. Power shifted. The NRA saw the vacuum and filled it and has since never lost a vote on gun control. Not even after a school massacre with a dozen dead babies or an office Christmas party with dead people under the mistletoe or a nightclub full of so many dead you could dance on their bodies and never touch the ground.

Yet all the public wants, and keeps wanting, in poll after poll, is to make it harder for hate filled lunatics and terrorists to buy assault rifles. The sort of assault rifles designed for the military to kill attacking soldiers as quickly as possible, but in the wrong hands can slaughter a room full of innocent people before the cops can get there. But the NRA is adamantly opposed to any such restrictions, and the NRA knows that their allies in Congress would never betray them, no matter how many people die. And the ones who secretly think about betraying them look at Ted Cruz and remember who it was that help put him there.

Maybe when all those Hispanics in the southwest driven into the Democratic Party by Republican nativists begin voting in large enough numbers we’ll see the GOP grip on the Senate begin to wilt. Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and especially Texas are vital to Republican power. Lose them and the Republicans lose their majority in the Senate. And without a Republican majority in the Senate, the National Rifle Association loses its veto power over gun control legislation. Then, and maybe only then, will the overwhelming majority of the American public finally get legislation to keeps assault weapons out of the hands of terrorists and psychos, even if they have to pry that law from the NRA’s cold dead hands.

Mitch McConnell gun

School shooting

There was a very ugly school shooting today. Four dead, several wounded. I thought it would have been all over Facebook but instead there is this eerie silence. I suppose because it happened in Canada. We can’t scream about the NRA and Republicans and Donald Trump if it happened in Canada, and Republicans can’t yell about liberals and Obama and the 2nd Amendment. Facebook likes to pretend it is so sincere about murdered people, but all it wants to do is score political points. The dead are pawns in the endless political oneupmanship. Every time there is a shooting in the US both sides get to yell at each other. If it happens in Canada, no one down here notices. Nothing on Facebook seems to exist if it can’t be understood in the context of American politics. So Facebook goes on, blissfully depressed about dead rock stars, waiting for a massacre this side of the Canadian border it can get its teeth into.

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Whenever some gun nut massacres a bunch of people the Right tries to downplay it as if it is not evidence of a serious problem. And now that Islamic terrorists have massacred a bunch of people, it is the Left’s turn–the Facebook Left, at least–to say that it is not a sign of a serious problem. The idea that both types of massacres could be a serious problem seems to be an illogical impossibility in the minds of both Left and Right. It is simply not conceivable. If the Left is upset about gun nut massacres, then the Right cannot be upset. And if the Right is upset about Islamic terrorism, then the Left can’t be upset. In fact, the two sides cannot agree in the most histrionic, extreme ways possible. Each goes to absurd degrees to denigrate the concerns of the other aside. The Right calls the Left cowards for being frightened of gun nut massacres. The Left calls the Right stupid for thinking that Islamic terrorism is something to be worried about. The Right says that people concerned about gun nut massacres are dangers to the Republic. The Left says that people concerned about Islamic terrorism are racists. Of course, neither side genuinely gives a flying fuck about the actual murdered people, and both go to extremes to never name the victims’ names or mention the funerals of the other side’s massacres. All either side cares about is scoring debate points on Facebook. That this zero sum political gamesmanship is by definition amoral is beyond their comprehension, so locked are they in this virtual mortal combat. After all, it can’t be amoral since each has morality so completely on their side. Politics has come to this, and the dead are just pawns.

Of course both Left and Right will assume, after reading this, that I support the other side.