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“The Party’s Silence Magnifies Its Hypocrisy”: GOP Eerily Silent On Guns At Republican National Convention

So do you think guns should be allowed at the Republican National Convention?

Granted, the question is moot. On Monday, the Secret Service announced that only its agents and Cleveland police will be allowed to bring firearms into Quicken Loans Arena when the GOP assembles there this summer. But “moot” is not the same as irrelevant.

As you may know, the Secret Service put its foot down because of a petition at Change.org demanding that convention goers be allowed to bring weapons to the Grand Old Party. The fact that the arena does not allow weapons, says the petition, is “a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk.”

It goes on to say: “As the National Rifle Associationhas made clear, ‘gun-free zones’ … are ‘the worst and most dangerous of all lies.’ The NRA, our leading defender of gun rights, has also correctly pointed out that ‘gun-free zones … tell every insane killer in America … (the) safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

The petition adds that because “Cleveland … is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in America” and because of “the possibility of an ISIS terror attack on the arena,” convention goers must be allowed to bear arms.

As of Tuesday, over 50,000 people had signed.

Presumably, at least some of them recognized the petition as a pitch-perfect satire, albeit from a man whose sense of humor is drier than saltines in the Sahara. CBS News has identified the author, who styles himself “the hyperationalist,” as a fellow named Jim — he would give no last name or city of origin — who told the network he’s a liberal Democrat. But, he said, “I’m 100 percent sincere in my conviction that guns should be allowed at the GOP convention. (It would be a reflection of) the policies they sought to impose around the nation.”

He’s right, of course. The Republican Party has marched in lockstep with the NRA for many years, pushing an agenda of guns everywhere for all people at all times.

So why not guns inside the Republican Convention? If it’s OK to have guns in schools, bars and churches, then why not there? If Republicans in Iowa think blind people should have guns and Republicans in Alabama want little kids to have guns, then why not sighted adults? If, as Republicans routinely argue, more guns equal greater safety, why shouldn’t convention goers be armed? Wouldn’t this provide better protection for their candidates?

So far, the party has declined to answer. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in whose open-carry state the convention will be held, told reporters he would defer to the Secret Service. Ditto Ted Cruz, who once gleefully ate bacon cooked on the barrel of an AR-15 rifle. Donald Trump said that before he comments, he will need to read “the fine print;” the petition is 799 words long.

The party’s silence magnifies its hypocrisy. If Republicans believe what they say, they should demand the right to cram as many firearms into that 20,000-seat arena as it will hold. This is shaping up as the tensest, angriest, most contentious convention of modern times. By GOP reasoning, it would be safer if handguns, machine guns and the odd bazooka were added to the mix. It should tell you something that no Republican will say that now.

For years, they have promoted their cynical, dangerous policy of pushing guns into every cranny of American life. The rest of us have argued against it with limited success. But now, along comes Jim, eviscerating both party and policy in a single brilliant stroke and reminding us that when people make foolish arguments, sometimes it’s better not to fight them.

Sometimes, it’s more damning if you just take them at their word.

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, March 30, 2016

March 30, 2016 Posted by | Guns, National Rifle Association, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Dissent And Violence”: Where Terrorists And Assassins Don’t Hide

At the end of last week, I wrote about a report showing how law enforcement authorities reacted to Occupy protests as if they were the advance guard for an al Qaeda invasion of America, on the apparent assumption that unlike non-violent right-wing dissent, non-violent left-wing dissent is likely a prelude to violence and thus must be met with surveillance, infiltration, and ultimately force. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a decision on a case involving the Secret Service that seems to grow from a similar assumption about the connection between dissent and violence.

The case was about an incident in 2004 when President George W. Bush stopped at an outdoor restaurant in Oregon. A crowd quickly formed, with some people cheering Bush and some jeering him. The Secret Service forced both groups away from the location, but let the pro-Bush citizens stay closer than the anti-Bush citizens; the plaintiffs charged that this was impermissible viewpoint discrimination. The Court ruled 9-0 that the Secret Service acted reasonably to protect the president. Having read the decision, I don’t necessarily disagree with their reasoning—a lot of it turned on things like lines of sight to where the president was sitting from different corners in the area. But I’d be shocked if the agents involved weren’t particularly on their guard when the anti-Bush protesters showed up.

What we ought to question is the assumption that there’s any connection at all between the content of a non-violent protest and the potential for premeditated violence, particularly of the really dangerous kind, like terrorist attacks and attempts to assassinate the president. If you have two groups of people yelling at the president, and one group is saying “You’re great!” while the other group says “You suck!”, is there any higher probability that a threat to the president’s life will come from the second group than the first? The answer is, of course not. If someone wanted to assassinate the president, they would have no reason to seek out a bunch of protesters opposing that president to use as a cover. They’d want to get close enough to fire a shot, and it wouldn’t matter what the people among whom they hid would be saying.

That’s true despite whatever intuitive sense one might have that people who are opposed to the president might want to assassinate him. There’s a belief not just that anti-government violence exists on the same spectrum as peaceful protest, but that at any given moment, such violence is a potential outgrowth of such protest. And more: that people planning violence will incorporate peaceful protest into their plans.

That assumption leads to things like the Department of Defense spying on Quaker anti-war protesters during the Iraq war. Think about how nuts that is. The anti-terrorism officials whom we charge with our safety actually seemed to believe that al Qaeda would send a cell to America with plans to launch a major attack, and instruct them: “The week before zero hour, make sure you go to an anti-war rally. Make a sign that says ‘Bush Is the Real Terrorist.’ That will lay the groundwork for the explosion.”

Again, this case about the Secret Service was probably rightly decided, but the belief that terrorism, bombings, assassinations, and/or general violent mayhem are the potential result of every left-wing protest is absolutely common among law enforcement authorities at every level of government. It isn’t just factually wrong, it’s actually dangerous—to the people who end up having their rights violated, and to the country’s safety.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, May 29, 2014

June 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Public Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“How Not To Seem Like A Racist”: If You Throw A Rock Into A Bunch Of Dogs, The One It Hits Is Gonna Holler

Writing my piece on Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson, I missed a huge example of overlap between their two sham-empires: the reporter who broke the Caller’s now-disgraced “scoop” about Sen. Robert Menendez patronizing prostitutes, Matthew Boyle, now works for Breitbart.com. And on Monday he penned the ridiculous story revealing the location of Malia and Sasha’s spring break vacation (which is now at the top of the Drudge Report).

On Twitter Monday and Tuesday, Breitbart fans attacked my focus on their hero’s bizarre racially driven crusades. They continue to insist that they’re being unfairly tarred with the charge of racism, when they’re the real “post-racialists” who just don’t like Barack Obama because he’s a liberal. I have some advice for right-wingers who don’t want it to seem like their anti-Obama animus is racial: Try treating his daughters with respect.

You’ll remember back in December, the NRA went after Sasha and Malia with an ad insisting that the fact that they have armed protection, when the administration was supposedly blocking armed security at America’s schools (actually, it wasn’t), was the height of hypocrisy – ignoring the many threats to their safety faced by the children of presidents and the tradition of Secret Service protection, for all of them.

The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper went even crazier, with a piece alleging that the girls’ school, Sidwell Friends, a Quaker school, had armed guards, too. Anyone familiar with the Quaker tradition of nonviolence found that claim strange, and of course, like most claims about the Obama family that come from the right, it turned out not to be true.

Unfortunately for the untalented Mr. Boyle, journalists have a consensus about not revealing the location of the presidents’ children’s vacations. Reporters don’t write about minor first children except when they’re attending “official or semi-official events.” It’s considered a security risk. As the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi reported last year:

The ban on such coverage has existed through many administrations by informal agreement with the White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the interests of journalists who cover the president.

“There’s a general feeling among the press corps that it wants to be respectful” of the president’s children, said Caren Bohan, the White House reporter for Reuters who is president of the WHCA.

When Agence-France Presse wrote about Malia’s trip to Mexico last year, a few U.S. outlets picked it up, and the administration tried to get the details removed. Then an earthquake in Mexico made the first daughter’s vacation newsworthy, and other sites, justifiably, reported it.

A year later, along comes the brave Matthew Boyle, fresh off his Menendez humiliation, to tell Breitbart readers about the Obama girls’ vacation. The news hook seems to be that it’s a waste of money.

“It is unclear how long the first daughters will be staying in the Bahamas, or what the cost will be to taxpayers,” Boyle harrumphs. “Earlier this month, the White House canceled public tours as a result of the recent budget sequester, citing Secret Service staffing costs.”

Esquire’s Charlie Pierce put it better than I can:

What possible interest does this serve, except to titillate the dark and envious nether parts of Boyle’s 22 readers? (No link, because fk that pudgy little monster.) There is no possible news value to this. Sooner or later, the frolicks of what my pal [Eric] Boehlert calls the “rightwing entertainment complex” are going to get someone killed.

The theme of most right-wing stories on Sasha, Malia and Michelle Obama’s vacations and leisure-time activities seems to be that they’re entitled princesses, when they do exactly the same kinds of things other presidents’ families have done throughout history. There’s only one difference I can see.

Drudge is also hyping the president’s vacation with the blaring headline “A vacation a month.” That’s another racially tinged trope on the right, that our first black president seems to be a little, well, lazy, because he can’t stop taking vacations. Of course, Obama is on track to take about a fifth of the vacation days George W. Bush did over his two terms. Obama took 131 vacation days in his first term – which would amount to 262 if he kept that pace in his second term. Bush took a staggering 1,060 vacation days over eight years, by far the most vacation in history (he also took the longest single presidential vacation in the modern era, a full five weeks.) Can someone explain why Obama is supposedly the vacation-hog?

Oh, and the comments on Boyle’s Breitbart.com story are pretty awesome, too. Here’s a good one:

They will indeed grow up to be monsters. Very, very, angry and vengeful monsters. Just like momma…
Especially after they are forced to visit their obamination of a father in a federal penitentiary following his impeachment and conviction for Treason…
Although I’d far prefer they visit his plot occasionally following his hanging for treason.

Boyle is perfect for his new employer (although he was a pretty good fit for the Daily Caller, too). In a post explaining why he jumped ship (which didn’t mention the higher salary he got), he bragged about “enlisting in Andrew Breitbart’s army … I’m shipping out today. It’s time to go to war.”

A war on the president’s daughters? Boyle ought to talk to some veterans of actual war. What a putz.

Paul Farhi’s story on the media’s traditional treatment of first children quoted Democratic pollster Celinda Lake on the political appeal of Obama’s family: “The value of the family is enormous. The more you know this family and the more you think of Barack Obama in these terms, the harder it is to vilify him.”

That’s true for the vast majority of Americans. But not the haters and racists who belong to Breitbart’s “army.”

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, March 26, 2013

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Genuinely Crazy Or Brain Dead”: Republican Congressman Steve Stockman Invites Ted Nugent To State Of The Union

Ted Nugent, the unhinged former rock star who’s now best known for his repeated threats against President Obama, will be in attendance at the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Nugent’s invitation comes from genuinely crazy congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX), whom Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy has aptly described as “the closest his state ever came to electing a gun.” Stockman — who is supported by every major “gun rights” organization, has sponsored legislation banning all background checks, waiting periods, and registration of firearms, and threatened to impeach the president over his gun safety executive orders — presumably invited Nugent as a counterweight to the more than 20 gun violence survivors who will be in attendance.

“I am excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber to hear from President Obama,” Representative Stockman said in a statement Monday. “After the address, I’m sure Ted will have plenty to say.”

Nugent has had plenty to say leading up to the address. An NRA board member, Nugent has repeatedly threatened Obama over the president’s support for gun safety measures. In January Nugent referred to Obama as “an evil, dangerous man who hates America and hates freedom” and warned “if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies.” In April, 2012, Nugent’s claim that he “will either be dead or in jail by this time next year” if Obama won re-election drew Secret Service attention.

Stockman’s decision to invite Nugent is almost certain to backfire on the Republican Party politically, given the contrast it creates with Republican leaders such as Eric Cantor’s attempts to moderate the GOP’s tone. If Republicans really want to stop being the “stupid party,” then step one should be staying far, far away from the likes of Nugent.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, February 11, 2013

February 12, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Shameless, Repulsive And Dangerous”: Leave The President’s Kids Out Of It

Abusing a president is fair game. It is practically an American pastime.

Abusing his spouse is usually tasteless, but spouses have become political surrogates, and they have to expect a little rough-and-tumble now and again.

But abusing a president’s children? Practically daring the harmful, the hateful and the hideous in our society to make them targets? How shameless do you have to be to do that?

Ask the National Rifle Association.

That organization has been running a Web video verbally targeting the president’s two daughters. I do not suggest the NRA actually desires them to come to harm. I am (reasonably) sure nobody in the upper reaches of the NRA is that morally depraved.

But the NRA is using its members’ dues not to protect the rights of hunters, which is what the group used to do, but to run a video twisting the Secret Service protection of the president’s children to aid those who make a fortune by manufacturing and selling guns.

The ad says that armed guards protect the president’s children but that because the president thinks armed guards in every school might not be a sensible idea, he is an “elitist hypocrite.”

In point of fact, the president has never said he absolutely opposes armed guards in every school.

What he said on “Meet the Press” recently was: “I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools.”

He is skeptical. I am skeptical. Columbine High had an armed guard, and 12 students and one teacher were still murdered.

What I am not skeptical about is that the family of our president needs Secret Service protection.

What I am not skeptical about is that raising the question of the safety of the president’s daughters was not just repulsive, but dangerous. Yes, the president’s daughters live in a mansion called the White House, and they have servants and their own bowling alley and get to go around in (armored) limousines.

But come on. They are kids. They are 14 and 11. Do you think they really like the protective bubble they have to live in?

And do you think they are not at special risk requiring special protection?

“To go so far as to make the safety of the president’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

I would call Carney’s statement downright restrained.

A few hours later, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced their own ambitious gun control plans. Some parts of it can be accomplished immediately by the president through executive action (though keep in mind, what one president does, a later president can undo).

And some can be accomplished only by Congress, a body so dysfunctional that it has become an elephants’ graveyard of hope.

But the president made one thing clear: What he wants to do about guns, he wants to do for America’s children.

“This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe,” he said. “This is how we will be judged.”

He said he believes the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. “I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen,” he said. “I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.”

There is nothing in the president’s proposals that would keep a hunter from hunting or a target shooter from shooting. Changing a gun magazine every 10 rounds is not a burdensome task.

Having a background check for people who buy guns at gun shows is not a unique abridgement of personal freedom. Their personal “freedom” is already abridged. And by gun shows, I know this because I have been checking the websites of gun shows, and a lot seem to have the same rule: no loaded guns allowed.

“No loaded firearms and no loaded magazines are permitted in any Crossroads gun show,” one site said. “Your personal safety is our No. 1 priority while you are at the show.”

Personal safety? I thought loaded guns created personal safety.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Wayne LaPierre, the CEO and executive vice president of the NRA, said a week after the massacre at Newtown Elementary School in Connecticut.

So I don’t get it. What if a “bad guy” with a loaded gun, who had become deranged by playing a video game (which is one of the NRA’s greatest fears), barged into a gun show? Wouldn’t we want a whole bunch of “good guys” with loaded guns to stop him?

So why disarm people at gun shows?

Because “personal safety” is the No. 1 priority, that’s why.

And that’s why we have to reduce the easy availability of guns in our society and ban military-style assault weapons and large-capacity gun magazines.

As Obama said Wednesday: “If parents and teachers, police officers and pastors; if hunters and sportsmen; if responsible gun owners; if Americans of every background stand up and say, ‘Enough. We’ve suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue,’ then change will come.”

For some, it will come too late. For some, it has already come too late.

But enough is enough.

 

By: Roger Simon, Politico, January 16, 2013

 

 

 

 

January 17, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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