The Election’s Over And Now The Real Work Begins.

From the perspective of Gun-control Nation, yesterday’s election results were good but could have been better. Which is another way of saying that the House is now blue, but the Senate is still red. And one of those red seats still belongs to Ted Cruz, who has been a staunch defender of every stupid and pandering gun ‘rights’ law that gets introduced. On the other hand, a Democratic majority in the House means that no matter how many nutty, pro-gun bills come out of the upper chamber, none of them will get to Sleazy Don’s desk.

voted             A really bright spot appeared for the blue team in Colorado, where a veteran of the 82nd Airborne, Jason Crow, got rid of GOP-incumbent and long-time NRA favorite Mike Coffman by making a clear pitch for gun control during the campaign. On the other hand, even with the help of Fred Guttenberg (he is the father of a Parkland victim who confronted Brian Kavanaugh as the latter’s Senate confirmation hearing began) a strong, gun-control Democrat in Pennsylvania – Scott Wallace – was unable to unseat the Republican incumbent – Brian Fitpatrick – in a hotly contested race.

Since I live in Massachusetts, which not only sends an entirely blue Congressional delegation to D.C. but of nine House members, three run unopposed, it’s not like I have to sit up all night to learn the results of every local race.  But if I were living in Virginia, on the other hand, I would have been very pleased with the results in CD 10, where a real NRA favorite, Barbara Comstock, was dumped by Jennifer Wexton, as well as what happened in CD 7, where a former cop named Abigail Spanberger said the right things about gun control and got rid of David Brat. You may recall that Brat was the Tea Party guy who knocked off Eric Cantor in a primary campaign; he got an ‘A’ rating from Gun Owners of America, a bunch of gun-nut loonies that make the NRA sound almost like a Democratic Party front.

For me, the single most important House race, however, was in the Michigan 11th, where a GOP seat flipped blue by seven points.  The determining factor in this race wasn’t guns at all; it was IQ which the Republican candidate, Lena Epstein, doesn’t register a discernible number at all. This idiot let Mike Pence come in for a rally alongside a self-styled phony rabbi named Loren Jacobs, the latter invoked Christ’s blessings for the victims of the mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation several days previous to the Pence event.

It just so happens that Ms. Epstein is also Jewish but couldn’t figure out that maybe, just maybe, an appearance by a Christian minister who pretends to speak for Jews was something her campaign really didn’t need. She’s not just a dope, she’s what my grandmother would have called, a shonda fin dem goyim, which basically means that you’re too dumb to call yourself a Jew. My grandmother was from a shtetl in the Old Country, okay?

Getting back to the big picture, early exit polls appear to support the idea that House Democrats grabbed the brass ring basically over health care and immigrant rights, but the real issue which moved the needle was antipathy towards Trump. Obviously, advocates for ‘sensible’ gun laws are not about to find common cause with Sleazy Don, but these polls (subject to change as more exit polls emerge) point up the fact that even with horrific events like Pittsburgh, Parkland and Sandy Hook, the gun issue just doesn’t resonate as a top-tier problem that will necessarily sway election outcomes this way or that.

That’s fine as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t think a liberal political agenda should ever rest on a single issue campaign. What did Mao say? Let a hundred flowers bloom? That’s okay with me as long as what to do about gun violence is part of the bouquet.

 

 

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If You Smile On Amazon You Can help Reduce Gun Violence.

One of our really good friends in GVP-land sent around a message the other day alerting us to the fact that the Amazon Smile website has become a location for organizations which raise money to help promote guns. And in this case the organization that was using the crowd-sourcing fundraising venue of Amazon was a group called Gun Owners of America (GOA), which is a particularly aggressive outfit that claims to be the strongest supporter of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ anywhere in the land.

NDVH             To understand GOA, you have to know something about its founder and now Chairman Emeritus, Larry Pratt. When all is said and done, GOA is a fundraising organization with an email list which probably includes just about every hard-core, radical-right, militia member in the United States.  You can join the group for $20, which makes their claims of having one million members absurd since their annual revenues on 2014 were less than two million bucks.

smile             What gets Pratt and his group headlines isn’t the so-called lobbying efforts they claim to make, but the fact that they describe themselves as being an anti-establishment organization, in this case the establishment being the NRA. And if we’ve learned anything from Donald Trump, it’s that the moment you say you’re ‘against’ the establishment, even if you’re obsessively trying to become the establishment, you’ll get some support and pick up a few bucks.

But I want to get back to the question of how GVP could use Amazon Smile, because when all is said and done, Larry Pratt and GOA are really small potatoes, in the world of gun politics they just represent the chump change. On the other hand, Amazon isn’t chump change at all. In 2015 they had overall revenues of $100 billion, and revenues for Q4 of 2016 were $47 billion alone.  Revenues for Q1 2017 ‘dipped’ to only $35 billion – my revenues should be so low. The point is that Amazon has become a cash-generating machine (nine years ago their annual revenue was ‘only’ $9 billion bucks) and I don’t see why GVP shouldn’t try to get in on this flood of dollars as best they can.

Take me, for example.  In the past 6 months I have done 36 Amazon orders that total about $670 bucks, I’m a member of Amazon Prime because otherwise the shipping would really add up.  And in addition to the emails which I receive every time I buy a book, a CD, a DVD or a gift card for family and friends, I also get at least one email every day telling me about the latest and greatest that I should immediately buy.

Am I a big Amazon buyer with purchases which average about $100 a month?  I don’t really know, but I do know this: I never heard of Amazon Smile until I received the email last week from a good friend in GVP. And I immediately went to the Smile website and chose her organization as the one I’m going to support. And I did it first of all because she took the trouble to let me know about Smile and it’s a simple, seamless and no-nonsense way to send a few bucks to the right place.

I didn’t do a very exhaustive search but I quickly found a number of GVP organizations who are listed on the Smile site.  But the fact that someone who is as hooked into GVP as I am didn‘t know about Smile until last week makes me believe that I’m hardly the only GVP activist who didn’t know that this GVP crowd-sourcing fundraising vehicle exists.  How many GVP-related emails do I receive from GVP-world each day?

So come on, GVP.  Let’s get with the program.  Every GVP group should be soliciting donations through Amazon, every group should be reminding its friends and members to open a Smile account every time. And now that I’m sending some money to an important GVP group every time I buy a record, a movie or a book, I suspect I’ll probably buy more products from Amazon just because it’s a good thing to do.

[Thanks Rob Valente.]

HEY – June 2 – Wear Orange!