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“Down In The NRA Bunker”: NRA TV; A Day In The Life Of An American Gun Nut

Wayne LaPierre stood in front of an artificial backdrop the color of a cartoon midnight sky. He was dressed like a funeral conductor, in a black suit, white shirt and dark purple tie, but he looked like the corpse. Beneath his rimless glasses and permanently-furrowed brow, his face was hollow and his skin was gray, perhaps an effect of the grim topic he was preparing to broach.

“You and I didn’t choose to be targets in the age of terror,” he said.

“But innocents like us will continue to be slaughtered in concert halls, sports stadiums, restaurants and airplanes. No amount of bloodshed will ever satisfy the demons among us.”

As he spoke, an aria fit for a horror movie played in the background, making his message feel all the more dire, like an end-of-days commercial you might see on some far-flung channel in the middle of the night in between ads for Snuggies and home gyms.

“When evil knocks on our doors, Americans have a power no other people on the planet share: the full-throated right to defend our families and ourselves with our Second Amendment,” he said. “Let fate decide if mercy is offered to the demons at our door.”

LaPierre is the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, and this one-minute ad, released on November 30, after the Paris terror attacks, is part of the NRA’s effort to attract more members with commonsense fear-mongering as mass shootings—two in the last few weeks alone, in Colorado and California—and one-off, viral gun deaths—like the case of a 9 year old girl who accidentally shot her instructor in the head with an Uzi—threaten to tar the group’s reputation in the eyes of a incessantly-shaken public.

In 2014, the NRA unveiled plans to launch its own television network of sorts—a series of programs available “anytime and anywhere on your computer, tablet or mobile phone, or web-connected TV via browser, YouTube or Roku streaming player” that would allow people to see how empowering, fun and not-murderous gun culture can be.

NRA News, as it’s called, bills itself as “the most comprehensive video coverage of Second Amendment issues, events and culture anywhere in the world,” but it doesn’t feel of this world at all. It feels like how TV might be in a dystopian future where citizens hoard weapons inside their chrome hover-trailers, which they leave only to restock on Soylent and return to with a sunburn.

The network is broken up into different categories:

Commentary, from a varied cast including LaPierre, right-wing radio host Dana Loesch and Colion Noir (not his real name), a young black man who wears baseball hats, hates “political correctness and dishonesty” and, before being discovered by NRA News, had achieved minor YouTube fame with his pro-gun rants.

Investigative, which has a familiar-sounding show called “Frontlines” that covers things like how America’s energy infrastructure is vulnerable to terror attacks or, in the frantic words of NRA News, “The Fight For Light: The Coming Catastrophe.”

Lifestyle, which houses a vaguely-porny series called “Love At First Shot” that follows youngish women as they learn to shoot firearms for the first time with the instruction of other youngish women (sample description: “Julie Golob is about to show 21-year-old Kaytlin that with the proper instruction and safety in place, she can shoot large calibers with ease).

Profiles, home of “Armed & Fabulous” which, in episode 4, documented the life of Sandra Sadler, who looks like your average grandma except when she’s holding a dead animal by the antlers. She has, the narrator said, “a deep appreciation for the outdoors.”

Campaigns, another channel for the ads like LaPierre’s.

And History, which airs “The Treasure Collection,” the “Antiques Roadshow” of NRA News.

The videos are beautiful and slick, in the style of modern presidential campaign commercials or global warming documentaries. On YouTube, where over 200 of them are posted, they accumulate thousands of views. The clip of LaPierre has over 100,000. (The number of viewers for the shows on the NRA News website is not available, and the NRA did not immediately reply to a request for that information).

Aesthetics aside, the videos are attractive because in life inside NRA News, there are Good Guys and Bad Guys, Cops and Robbers, Freedom-Lovers Like Us and the godforsaken Them. Things are, apparently, simple when you are packing heat.

To the NRA, everything is black and white—but mostly white. Almost everyone featured on NRA News is white, except for Noir, David A. Clarke, a sheriff in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin who became a minor right-wing celebrity by attacking President Obama and Al Sharpton after the Ferguson protests and was featured in a video the NRA posted on 9/11 called “My Honor” (oddly, the NRA didn’t include Clarke’s name in the video, leaving it up to YouTube commenters to identify him), and an elderly woman whose name the NRA also did not include who, in a video titled “My Rights,” said she needed a gun because she lived in government housing where “gang-bangers walk down our halls every day.”

But it’s up against the NRA’s alternative universe of gun-slinging girls and mostly-white patriots in suits who want to preserve your rights that a different narrative is fighting competitively.

On Sunday night, from the Oval Office, Obama used an address about terrorism to condemn gun culture. “We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino,” he said. “I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies—no matter how effective they are—cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do—and must do—is make it harder for them to kill.”

Obama’s speech came a day after The New York Times ran an editorial on its front page, titled “End the Gun Epidemic in America,” which called for the “outlawing” of “certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition.”

Conservatives reacted in fury. Erick Erickson, the right-wing radio host, sprayed his copy of The Times with 7 bullets and posted a photo of the remains on Twitter, where it currently has over 1,000 retweets.

The Times editorial came a day after The New York Daily News ran a cover with a photo of Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters, above a row of white men: 4 of them mass shooters, one of them LaPierre. Farook was a terrorist, the News conceded, “(But so are these guys…AND this guy).”

On NRA TV on Monday, Cam Edwards, the burly red-headed, bearded host of Cam & Co (sponsored by Nosler, the ammunition manufacturer) nearly filled 3 hours of airtime with talk of the anti-gun elites in the media.

With the Times op-Ed, Edwards said, “they’ve let the mask slip. They’ve let their intentions be known.”

Behind Edwards, there was a sign which read, “KEEP CALM AND EAT BACON.”

Only in the universe of NRA TV does such serenity—punctuated by bouts of paranoia—seem possible.

 

By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, December 8, 2015

December 9, 2015 Posted by | 2nd Amendment, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association, NRA News, Wayne LaPierre | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sure, Why Not?”: Is Donald Trump Serious About His Independent Threat?

Might Donald Trump run for president as an independent next year as he is threatening? Sure, why not.

My first reaction to the report in The Hill that former reality TV star Donald Trump is threatening to run for president as an independent if the GOP is too mean to him was a derisive chuckle – of course he’s not going to run as an independent, I thought. But hey, I also doubted that he’d ever actually declare for the presidency in the first place and even after he did that I wouldn’t have guessed that he’d file a real financial disclosure but he has. (And it’s the classiest, most unprecedented financial disclosure God ever created – I mean, Trump Drinks Israel?)

But having given it a little more thought … sure why not?

The fundamental question one must ask when pondering Trump’s “candidacy” is how seriously to take him as a politician seeking office. Does he really believe that he can be elected president and does he actually want to be? Does he, in other words, believe the nonsense that pours forth from his perpetual-motion-machine mouth? Or is this just a publicity stunt, a more elaborate version of his near-quadrennial attention grab?

If you’re not sure of the answer, consider this from The Hill’s story: “Real estate mogul Donald Trump said … he could run for president as an independent if he’s unable to win the Republican nomination in 2012.” Oops, sorry – that was The Hill’s story from April, 2011. So yeah, we’ve seen this show before.

In any case, regardless of whether you buy Trump as a serious candidate or not, an independent bid is sure-why-not plausible.

Suppose for a moment that he’s serious. If he’s really vainglorious enough to think he can win the GOP nomination barring establishment dirty tricks – and if he really thinks what the country needs is a Trump White House (and of course I mean that literally, with his name in huge gold letters on the roof) then why not run as an independent? Is he worried that he’s going to lose his credibility with Republicans? That he’s going to burn his political bridges? Like he cares? Trump’s political convictions are hardly set in stone. (For example: Per Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, the day before he told The Hill he might run as an independent he told conservative radio host Dana Loesch that “I will only ever run as a Republican.”)

The case for an unserious run is even more compelling: What better way to keep himself in the spotlight without having any chance of actually having to take on any responsibility or govern? What’s the downside? He has already demonstrated an unparalleled ability to get the media’s attention (and so, thus far, keep his poll numbers rising) so all he’d have to do is make some nutty pronouncement every few days and he could continue to soak up the limelight.

Does it ultimately matter if he decides to run? Less than you might think. Running as an independent requires the kind of 50-state political infrastructure for which Trump has demonstrated neither an interest nor any ability. There are 50 different sets of rules for getting your name on the ballot – sorry, Donald, you can’t simply license your name onto it – with 50 different deadlines. If he isn’t on a significant number of ballots is he likely to get onto a debate stage? Or siphon a determinative number of votes from, presumably, the GOP nominee?

It takes more than a sure-why-not campaign to make that sort of difference.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, July 23, 2015

 

 

July 29, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Independent Presidential Candidates | , , , | 1 Comment

“Clinton Cash”: Yet Another Charles And David Koch Production

Endorsements from mainstream media figures have provided a scrim of credibility for Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, the Hillary-and-Bill-bashing book just published by Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins. Without the explicit support of respectable institutions such as the New York Times and Washington Post, Schweizer’s lengthy record of inaccuracy and extremism – not to mention the dozens of errors in the book itself – would have doomed his project to the same irrelevance as so many others of its all-too-familiar type.

More than once in recent days, for example, Joshua Green of Bloomberg News has spoken out to defend the far-right author. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, during the pre-release publicity push for Clinton Cash last week, Green said of Schweizer: “He tends to kind of get smeared, but it’s worth remembering this is a serious guy who has done serious work that led to a serious article,” said Green, who went on to complain that Schweizer – whose previous works and connections with far-right dark-money sources were scrutinized by Media Matters, among others – is a victim of “character assassination.”

Character assassination is apparently the least of Schweizer’s worries, if the guy was being serious during his May 4 appearance on former Breitbart blogger Dana Loesch’s radio show. Her very first question recalled a loony wingnut legend concerning the tragic 1993 suicide of Vince Foster, deputy counsel in the Clinton White House:

“I know you don’t want to talk too much about it, but there is that, there is always that concern for anyone who goes up against the Clinton machine that they could be Vince Fostered,” she ventured, “and I’m sure that that was something that you took into consideration.”

In reply, Schweizer swiftly abandoned any semblance of seriousness:

“Yeah, I mean look — there are security concerns that arise in these kinds of situations. You know, you don’t like to go into too much detail, there were some things that were going on that we felt needed to be addressed. The decision on security wasn’t actually made by me, it was made by board members of Government Accountability Institute, and you know, it’s I think showing an abundance of caution. The reality is we’ve touched on a major nerve within the Clinton camp. They are very, very upset, and they are pulling out all the stops to attack me in an effort to kill this book off.”

Kill? Oh dear.

Keep this bizarre exchange in mind when journalists like Green insist that everyone must take Schweizer seriously. By contrast, Green tried to undermine me as an “inveterate Clinton defender” when we appeared together briefly on NPR’s On Point. As I pointed out later, he obviously hadn’t read any of my critical columns on Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary campaign. (Incidentally, Schweizer declined to appear with me on that broadcast, with his Murdoch publicist offering one feeble excuse after another — but I would be happy to debate him about his outlandish charges against the Clintons any time.)

The Vince Foster reference reflects on the mental state of Tea Party cartoon characters like Loesch, who remain obsessed with the most deranged legends about the Clintons. But it is also a timely reminder that the Vince Foster nonsense, like other “Clinton scandals,” was promoted by the late Republican billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who spent millions on the clandestine  “Arkansas Project” in pursuit of the Clintons’ political destruction.

The true story of those covert activities — or as a famous woman once put it, the “vast right-wing conspiracy” — is told again in our new (and free!) e-book, The Hunting of Hillary, excerpted from The Hunting of the President.

Today, Scaife’s role is played by the secretive financiers of Schweizer’s “institute”  — namely, the Koch brothers and their network of Republican billionaires, whose plotting and financing of this attempted “character assassination” of Hillary Clinton is the best endorsement of her that I can imagine.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, The National Memo, May 5, 2015

May 7, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Koch Brothers, Peter Schweizer | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Property Of The State”: For Women In Virginia, It’s All About Your Vagina

The Right’s War on Women really has become focused. It’s not just a general war on the gender, with trivial things like equal pay for equal work. No, it’s now reduced down the core. It’s all about your vagina.

For example, see CNN’s latest monster, Breitbart protege Dana Loesch. Commenting on the proposed Virginia law that would require women seeking abortions be forced to undergo vaginal penetration by an ultrasound-wand wielding health care professional, Loesch says that once a woman has had sex, consensual or not, she’s given up all say on what happens down there.

LOESCH: That’s the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it’s rape and so on and so forth. […] There were individuals saying, “Oh what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that, the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What? Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a trans-vaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.

Sorry non-virgins, all your vaginas belong to the state now. Hell, with this reasoning, if you’ve used a tampon you’ve pretty much given up control. It’s not just soulless, attention seeking gasbags saying so, it’s the state. Here’s what one Virginia lawmakersaid about the bill, as reported by Dahlia Lithwick.

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that “in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” […]

There you go, women of America. If you’ve ever had sex, your vagina is fair game. You don’t get to say what happens to it now.

Can’t imagine why that’s such an unpopular idea in Virginia. It’s so unpopular, in fact, that the House has decided to put off consideration of it, at least for today.

 

By: Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, February 20, 2012

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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