And If You Are Worried About What Trump Would Mean To GVP, Here’s What You Might Do.

Apropos of the previous column I just posted about the election, one of the really energetic GVP activists just sent me a link to the page on Hillary’s website where you can find out, join and otherwise get involved in a grass-roots election event near where you live.  Here’s the link:  https://www.hillaryclinton.com/events/.

hillary            Then I asked myself the following question: Self, what kind of a ground game do you think the two candidates really have?  And I figure that I can get some kind of answer by putting some search zip codes into Hillary’s events list to see what comes out.  So the first state I stuck in was Georgia, which listed a few events in Atlanta and Savannah, but then a whole load of events in Jacksonville which, if you live in Atlanta, is really not that far down the road.

Then I stuck in Florida, and another very impressive-looking list came up, but most of the events are actually invitations to come and work at phone banks that are located in various campaign offices throughout the state.  What surprised me about the listings for Florida was the underrepresentation for Dade and Broward Counties, which happen to cover Miami and the large Hispanic populations whose votes was what made Florida into a blue state in 2012. On the other hand, the neighborhood canvassing operation in Orlando looms pretty deep.

Now let’s take a look at Utah which, according to this morning’s newspaper is another red state that may be ‘in play.’  There are only 3 events listed for that state and they all happen to be taking place in Colorado, one of which happens to be in Vail. I like Vail in the Summer when there’s nobody around and rooms that go for three hundred a night during the Winter months can be had right now for fifty bucks or less.  But if I lived in Utah I wouldn’t be driving right now to Vail.

Finally, another ‘in play’ state is North Carolina which a month ago was solidly in Street Thug’s camp but now but now, like everything else he had going for him appears to be slipping away.  Lots of events in the Tar Heel state too, but almost all of them right now in Durham and Chapel Hill. Gee, what a surprise that Hillary should have strong support in The Triangle, but it’s the rest of the state that really counts.

So the Hillary ground game has some strong spots, some weak patches, but at least there’s a game.  On the other side, the Official Street Thug website lets you register for text messages, donate from ten to one hundred bucks, and request tickets for his upcoming events, all of which over the next 3-4 days are taking place in North Carolina, Florida and PA.

If I were able to be objective and detached from this whole campaign, I could view it not just as a contest between tone and content, but a contest in which one candidate seems intent on grinding it out through a combination of big-crowd events, smaller, community-size activities and the traditional neighborhood canvassing and telephone banks; while the other candidate appears convinced that mega-sized crowd venues and social media posts is all that he needs.

As I said earlier today, I believe that most if not all the folks who usually vote Republican will vote Republican again; even if they hold their nose while they are pulling that red lever their vote for Street Thug will still count.

So GVP, it’s time to get it on.  Time to get to work.  Time to go to an event, help plan an event, help host an event and most of all, talk to as many people as you can.  Here’s the link in case you need it again: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/events/. And again: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/events/.  And again: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/events/.

 

 

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Michael Moore Thinks He Knows About Guns & Trump. He Needs To Think Again.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t write a response to something Michael Moore wrote except that his movie Bowling for Columbine, makes him something of a gun guy, or at least a self-professed observer of Gun-mob Nation, so I’m going to respond to the prediction he has just made that Trump will be elected President come November 8th. And the reason I am going to respond is that much of what he claims to be the harbingers of a Trump victory are based on what he believes are Trump’s appeal to the classic, gun-guy electorate, namely, the pissed-off older White men who think that it’s time to ‘shake things up.’

mooreI probably talk to a lot more guys who are going to vote for Trump than Moore has ever talked to, because I know a lot more guys who own guns. But you know what’s funny about all those older, pissed-off, gun-loving White guys who are going to vote for Trump? None of them ever voted for a Democrat no matter what.  They’ve always voted Republican and they always will.  And the fact that this year’s Republican nominee comes out and says in public what many older, pissed-off White men have been forced, until now, to say in private, doesn’t change the dynamic of this election one bit.

I love how Moore believes that ‘facts and logic’ won’t stop Trump because 16 Republican candidates tried the same thing during the primaries and they all lost.  Tried the same thing?  Rubio and Cruz ran campaigns based on facts and logic?  Was Michael Moore listening to the same speeches that I heard?  Come on, give me a break.

Michael’s absolutely correct when he says that Trump’s advantage lies in the fact that his supporters don’t need to be coaxed or pushed or even reminded to show up on November 8th.  But if he believes that Obama beat Romney in swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio just because minority voters figured out how to get themselves to the polls, then he doesn’t know anything about how a national election campaign organization really works. And if Hillary doesn’t put together a ground game (and God knows she has the money to do it) that will get her voters into the booth, then she doesn’t deserve to win.

Last year a sociologist at the University of Toronto, Jennifer Carlson, discovered a new gun ‘culture’ in the Rust Belt; in fact, she did her fieldwork in Michael Moore’s most favorite city, a.k.a., Flint.  And what she found in Flint by going to a shooting range were some guys who were dispossessed factory workers, rust-belt victims of the post-Industrial, Information Age, who were all into guns.  And the reason they all carried guns was because they didn’t trust the government to protect them, to keep them secure, to do anything for them at all.

Michael Moore made his bones in the movie business by romanticizing and, at the same time, deftly denigrating these dispossessed people in Rodger and Me, which was a movie about the collapse of Flint. So when he talks about the ‘carcass’ of the Middle Class in the Rust Belt coming out to vote for Mister Trump, he’s spent some time editing film that made his movies clever and appealing, regardless of whether they had anything to do with reality or not.

So here’s reality Michael.  With all due respect to the newly-emerging gun culture in the upper Midwest, most of the 100 million new guns that were added to the civilian arsenal during the administration of Barack Obama went to people who live in the Sunbelt. And to the extent that guns go to residents of states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, most of them go to the same smaller towns and rural communities where they always have gone.

I’m not saying that Trump can’t win on November 8th.  I’m saying that he won’t win if he’s hoping a majority of voters are as pissed off as those gun guys up in Flint.

When It Comes To November 8th, The Gun Violence Prevention Community May Need To Explain To Some People How To Vote

Now that it really is going to be Hillary versus Street Thug Donald, it’s time for the Gun Violence Prevention community to sit down and figure out some best practices that can be adopted and followed through the election campaign.  And while Hills appears to have opened up a slight lead in most polls, the numbers still show that more than one out of four voters has yet to make up their minds about how to vote.

Most national elections come down to what is referred to as the ‘undecided’ vote, and while the fact that many voters are currently in that category may not appear to be unusual, four years ago the undecided vote on this same date was less than 10%.

newtown          Speaking of the undecided, David Sedaris had what I consider to be the most brilliant piece of political satire in The New Yorker Magazine during the McCain-Obama contest in 2008: “To put them [undecided voters] in perspective,” he wrote, “I think of being on an airplane.  The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ She asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of dog shit with bits of broken glass in it?’ To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.’”

Given the story that broke in USA Today about the hundreds of contractors, journeymen, employees and vendors that Street Thug has stiffed over the years, I’m beginning to wonder about the viability of a ‘crooked Hillary’ campaign, particularly since the guy who claims to be worth ten billion dollars, or maybe twelve billion, or maybe eight billion, is running a campaign that appears to be broke.  He just had a meeting with what is described as his “national finance team” consisting of two New Yorkers, one of whom owns a supermarket chain and the other who happens to own the hapless New York Jets, and they came out basically saying that Street Thug will continue to rely on all the ‘free’ advertising he gets from Fox and other media channels but, by the way, nobody’s yet kicked in any cash.

But even if Street Thug’s campaign team consists of his Twitter account, and even if choosing between him and Hillary is like waiting to be told how the chicken’s cooked, there’s always the chance that something will happen between now and November 8th that will tilt the election in a crazy and unforeseen way.  And given what a menace Street Thug represents to the future of this country, never mind to those who would like to see some progress made on the issues of violence and guns, here is how I would respond to an ‘undecided’ voter if their ultimate decision about how to vote may bear on the issue of guns.

  1. Stand Your Ground. This election has nothing to do with 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  It has to do with a moral imperative known as ‘thou shall not kill.’
  2. Know Your Ground. Street Thug loves to tell his audiences that guns protect people from harm.  Guns create harm, and organizations like Everytown have plenty of information regarding same.
  3. Share Your Ground. Know what’s the most powerful lobby in DC?  Ain’t the NRA.  It’s the environmental movement.  After all, who’s going to argue with a tree? There’s got to be an Audubon or Sierra Club chapter near you – attend one of their meetings and spread the word.

The Gun Violence Community needs to show the NRA that what they are saying about November 8th being the most important election of all time is really true.  And it’s true for the simple reason that there really isn’t a choice.  You can choose the chicken or you can choose you know what.

Can Trump Use The Gun Issue To Win The Presidential Campaign? I’m Not Sure He Can’t.

Before you begin reading my precious prose, go to 270towin.com and set the electoral map as a toss-up. The bottom line is that 10 states with 130 total electoral votes hold the key to who will sit in the Oval Office next year.  Now there could always be a catastrophe or a calamity – Hillary could fall down a flight of stairs and bash her head in, Trump’s jet could miss the runway and everyone’s wiped out.  And neither candidate is yet an actual candidate.

But this electoral map isn’t cut from whole cloth.  It’s about the best guess at this point that anyone can come up with in terms of where the fight for the White House will really take place.  And guess what?  All of those 10 toss-up states have one thing in common, namely, these are states with lots of people who own guns.

trump2           The problem with the surveys that show only one-third of American households containing legal firearms is that a national survey understates gun ownership on a state-by-state basis because the two most populous states – California and New York – are states where guns are heavily regulated and this regulatory environment is a function of the relative lack of legally-owned guns. Taken together, these two states alone count 60 million, or 19% of the country’s population as a whole.  Add four more states – Illinois, Michigan, Joisey and Massachusetts and you’re adding nearly another 40 million.   In other words, 6 states count for one-third of the entire population and none of these states have a lot of residents owning a lot of guns.

Gun-rich states, on the other hand, particularly in the South and the West, have lots of guns per resident but in many cases have more cows than people, and the cows can’t vote.  But when we get into those swing states, while none of them have the kind of gun numbers that you find in red states like Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas or Nebraska, they certainly have a higher percentage of gun-owning residents than states that normally vote blue.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that Trump has actually thought through a single statement that he has made about anything when it comes to planning or managing a national campaign.  What I am saying is that, like it or not, his pandering and lying about the 2nd Amendment may resonate very well in the toss-up states.

The problem with using the gun issue to motivate voters is that there has never been a survey which shows that the gun issue makes any real difference in terms of how people vote.  At best it usually registers 1% – 2% when people are asked to list the most important issue when they go to the polls.  But let’s remember that Trump ties guns to self-defense, and he ties self-defense to all that street violence being committed by “illegals,” and he ties illegals to his promise to build a wall.

And this is exactly what is so dangerous about Trump’s candidacy, because what he has done with the gun issue is use it to bolster what psychiatrists call an ‘overvalued idea,’ namely, an idea that can be channeled into anti-social, violent behavior because the means justify the ends.  The Ku Klux Klan took the anger of marginal whites who felt threatened by free blacks and channeled their anger into organized acts of violence which were seen as a way to keep blacks ‘in their place.’

When Trump exhorts his followers to ‘knock the crap’ out of protestors he is taking the anger that some feel towards people of color or people who communicate in different languages, and channeling that anger into an organized effort to win a political campaign.  And make no mistake: promoting and approving anger leads to violent behavior which leads to promoting and approving the use of guns. And if you think that believing in the 2nd Amendment hasn’t become a code-word for justifying anger and violence, think again.

Does Orange Make Hunters Safe? It Does If They Also Take A Safety Course.

So it’s halfway through #wearorange day and a quick perusal of the wearorange twitter site finds Hillary, Gloria Steinem, Tommy Chong, Spike Lee, Kim and more than 17,000 ‘likers’ getting behind President Obama to raise awareness about the violence caused by guns.  You can get a quick history of this movement on the #wearorange website, and while the color was chosen because it’s bright and draws attention, as a gun guy I wanted to think some more about how and why more than 40 states mandate the wearing of orange clothing when hunters go out in the field.

orange           Laws requiring hunter or what is often referred to as ‘blaze’ orange clothing to be worn are of fairly recent vintage, although the practice of putting on an orange vest or orange jacket before going into the fields or woods has been around for a long time.  Practically speaking, how much difference has it made in terms of safety since orange clothing was legally put into effect?  The best estimates are that the accident rate has dropped from 4 or 5 per 100,000 hunters to somewhere around .08.  In Texas, for example, there were 116 hunting accidents and 15 hunting-related deaths between 2010 and 2015; back in the 1980’s that was the average number for each year!  In Maine the yearly average of hunting accidents was around 37 per year in the 1970’s, this decade it is running 5 incidents per year.

Part of the reason for the decline in hunting accidents is also the fact that less people are hunting every year, a decline that started in the 1960’s as the country’s population became more concentrated in cities and suburbs and rural areas were left behind.  In 1970 Americans purchased 40 million hunting licenses, and even with a slight uptick the last several years, the annual number of licenses now sold is around 15 million or less. So it’s not the wearing of orange clothing that’s making hunters safer per se; it’s the fact that blaze orange is worn by less hunters which means, by definition, fewer accidents will take place.

But there’s another reason cited by experts as to why hunting has become safe, which happens to be the spread of hunter safety courses that are required before a first hunting license can be purchased and used for game or fowl.  Every single state requires some kind of hunter safety education, and by the way, in order to get a driver’s license you have to pass a brief driving test but you don’t have to present proof that you have taken a driver education course at all. Many states offer online hunter safety courses, others accept proof of a safety course taken in another state. But the bottom line is that if you want to go hunting anywhere in the United States besides your own back yard, you can’t do it unless you first have been educated on the laws and practices of hunter safety which means, by the way, safety laws and practices involving guns.

What’s most interesting about this universal safety education requirement, a requirement incidentally, that is mandated by government in every state, is that the NRA doesn’t seem to have a problem with these educational requirements at all.  Now you would think that the selfsame gun organization that blocks every attempt to mandate required safety courses for gun ownership would be consistent and try to undo safety courses that are imposed on anyone who wants to go out into the fields or woods with a gun.  After all, the whole point  of hunter safety instruction, the whole point of wearing orange, is the recognition that guns are extremely dangerous and nobody should be allowed to use them for hunting until they have been properly trained.

So would someone please explain to me how come it’s not dangerous to put a loaded pistol in your pocket and walk down the street?

 

 

If The GVP Doesn’t Come Up With A Good Campaign Slogan, The NRA Will Come Up With One For Trump.

If you haven’t yet figured it out, let me break it to you gently:  I am going to do whatever I can do – energy-wise, financially-wise, every other way-wise – to keep that creep Trump out of the Oval Office in 2017.  The reason I am doing this is because Trump the Creep is basing his entire campaign on the idea that personal, face-to-face violence is a positive and acceptable way to conduct human affairs.  And I don’t agree.

trump2            What this decision means, practically speaking, is that I am going to appeal to the one constituency that I know best, the GVP community, and I am going to continue to tell this community that Trump is a threat and a menace to the spread of GVP, and that I hope and expect that everyone in GVP-land will walk alongside me for the next five months.

Yesterday I wrote a blog in which I pointed out what would happen if there was a President Trump in 2017. There would be a national CCW, no chance of CDC gun research, relaxation of all gun regulations, we all know the score.  But what I didn’t point out would be the worst result of a Trump victory, namely, that the GVP light which has been shining brighter and brighter since the terrible day at Sandy Hook would probably diminish or flicker out.  Yea, yea, I know – there’s nothing like adversity to spur advocacy demands.  But if you truly believe that GVP would have been just as strong with a Romney in the White House, you are lolling around in a self-made field of dreams.

So here is what I am going to do, in addition to continuing my writing about Trump and his crazy ideas (I have a wonderful, upcoming analysis of what his narcissistic personality means to GVP.)  I am going to first start by challenging the entire GVP movement to come up with a slogan that everyone can use to express the importance of electing someone other than Trump.  And the reason I want to start by building a slogan is that it occurred to me yesterday, Veteran’s Day, that when it comes to slogans, we simply don’t match up to the other side. Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People; The Only Thing That Stops A Bad Guy With A Gun Is A Good Guy With A Gun; The Second Amendment – America’s First Freedom.”  Want a few more?

Now in fact, these slogans happen to be lies.  There’s simply not an ounce of truth to any one of them or, for that matter, any of the other arguments that Gun Nation uses to avoid taking any responsibility for the 30,000+ Americans whose lives are ended each year because of guns.  Guns make you safe? That’s a lie.  Lots of Moms ‘getting into’ guns?  A lie.  Background checks violate gun ‘rights?’ Lie.

Yesterday I happened to pass a billboard which carries the following slogan every Veteran’s Day:  All Gave Some, Some Gave All.  It was used by Billy Ray Cyrus in a hit record back in 1992 although I’m not sure that it can be originally credited to him.  But it’s a wonderful slogan to describe military service because it’s short, it’s nifty, and it’s true.  I was lucky, I only gave up a brief period of time.  Two of my school classmates lost their lives.

We need a slogan to push out to everyone and anyone with whom we have had the slightest bit of contact regarding GVP. And we need to figure out how to make sure that the slogan appears in every possible medium that might be seen by anyone for whom gun violence is a lightning-rod issue in the 2016 campaign.  I’ll figure out the logistics of all this over the next couple of days but RIGHT NOW I will donate $1,000 bucks to the favorite charity of the person whose slogan we choose.  And note – I just said WE, not me.

 

What Do The Gun Violence Numbers Really Tell Us? That Gun Violence Is Much Worse Than We Think.

. Earlier this year our friends at the Violence Policy Center published a report which showed that gun deaths were now outpacing motor vehicle deaths in 14 states, and if the trend continued, gun deaths would soon exceed car deaths throughout the entire United States. I think the comparison of automobile deaths to gun deaths, a basic GVP argument for why we need to curb gun violence, understates the real level of gun violence to a tremendous degree.  And this is because it doesn‘t take into account what Dennis Henigan, in a new book to be published in August, calls “exposure to risk.” Because the truth is that a gun only becomes a risk when it gets into someone’s hands.  And many of the 300 million civilian-owned small arms in America are rarely, if ever picked up at all.

conference-program-pic          Let’s play with some numbers. The average American sits in an automobile roughly 100 minutes every day and will drive 800,000 miles over the course of a life (thanks for the info, JM.)  The “average” American doesn’t actually own a gun, and of those who do, many are used occasionally for hunting or even less occasionally for target and shooting sports.  Gun Nation can jump for joy over the fact that millions of Americans have concealed-carry permits, but I notice that neither the NRA nor the NSSF has ever done a survey to find out how many of those folks with CCW licenses are actually walking around with a gun. For all the talk about how armed citizens are our first line of defense against the ‘bad guys,’ the FBI could find exactly one instance where a civilian armed with a gun actually intervened in an ‘active’ (multiple victims) shooting between 2000 and 2013.

So let’s do the numbers again and put our benchmark for auto deaths and gun deaths at 30,000, even though it’s slightly more for both.  What this turns into when we calculate the rate of motor vehicle fatalities versus gun fatalities is 10 per 100,000 for the cars, 33 per 100,000 for the guns. Of course Gun Nation will immediately scream that the numbers are manipulated (their current favorite ad hominem about Katie Couric’s brilliant documentary) because it’s the ‘bad guys, the ‘street thugs,’ the ‘wackos’ who do all the killing with guns.

But there’s just one little problem with this point of view.  Like just about everything that the pro-gun noise machine says to bolster gun sales, it’s simply not true. Two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, and most, if not nearly all gun homicides involve people who know each other and can’t settle a dispute in more non-violent ways, and this is certainly the case in virtually every instance where a gun is yanked out during a domestic dispute which between 2010 and 2014 killed nearly 23,000 women and teenage girls.

Every single gun that is used to hurt someone, anyone, started out as the property of a legal gun owner.  Maybe they didn’t pull the trigger, but nobody would have been able to pull the trigger if the gun hadn’t gotten into the wrong hands. And that was the fault of the person who initially bought the gun. So I think it’s time for GVP-land to stop being so solicitous of all those legal gun owners who tell you that the problem of gun violence has nothing to do with them.  It has everything to do with them because absent their desire to own guns, the issue of gun violence wouldn’t exist.

And don’t get me wrong.  I went out today and bought a gun and I’m sure that over the next few months I’ll buy a couple more.  But what I won’t do is delude myself into thinking that some 2nd-Amendment, BS ‘right’ is being threatened because Hillary wants me to undergo a background check before I take possession of that little Glock.

Hoping that everyone has a safe and happy holiday.

 

Know What Happens When Gun Companies Cozy Up To The NRA? They Get A Big Bang For Small Bucks.

I used to be an IT executive for a Fortune 100 company that was a leader in life insurance sales.  Every year I received a personal letter from the company CEO thanking me for my $5,000 donation to the insurance PAC that represented the life insurance industry on Capitol Hill.  Donation?  That’s a good one. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to donate the five big ones.  The money was deducted from my paycheck before I got the letter from the CEO.  It was understood that 5% of my net pay went to support the lobbyists in Washington, DC.

I find it almost amusing that anyone feels surprised or bothered by the fact that the gun industry donates heavily to the NRA.  I mean, what’s a girl supposed to do?  Sit home by herself on prom night while everyone else is out on the town?  Let’s get real, folks.  There would be no reason for gun companies to support the NRA if the industry wasn’t regulated by the feds and in the cross-hairs of some folks who would like to regulate it even more.

wayne            Know why gun sales always go up when regulation is in the air?  Because the gun industry knows full well that the end result of more regulation is less guns.  The GVP community can declare from today to next year that they believe in the 2nd Amendment, but the amendment most of them support happens to be the one that, until 2008, conferred gun ownership on members of military units, not folks who just wanted to keep a gun around the house.  And while I doubt very much that a SCOTUS with a liberal majority would overturn Heller, the fact is that just about every post-Heller effort to water down gun regulations even further has failed.  No matter what those crazy militia groups believe, the government isn’t getting out of the gun-control business any time soon, and even Glenn Beck, a guy who’s against gun regulations if I ever saw one, told the ‘open carry’ gang to cease and desist.

If Hillary gets elected and manages to push through a law extending background checks to private transfers, gun ownership will go down. If more states enact laws limiting magazine capacity or waiting periods for handgun purchases, gun ownership will go down.  If the California bill that requires background checks for ammo sales is passed and spreads to other states, gun ownership will go down.  In my state, Massachusetts, there was a brief spike in CCW applications after Sandy Hook but as soon as word got around that the state would not impose new restrictions on gun owners, the demand for licenses dropped off.

In 2014, for the first time in at least 20 years, the yearly dues revenue collected by the NRA went down, and I don’t mean by just a little bit.  The decline was in the neighborhood of 27%, and if this trend continues for another couple of years, Wayne-o can kiss his bottom line goodbye. So the fact that the gun industry chipped in with roughly $100 million in cash gifts and grants doesn’t really fill the gaping hole that now exists because of the drop in dues.

Back in 2013 the Violence Policy Center released a report on money given by the gun industry to the NRA. Glock donated somewhere between $250,000 and half a mil; Smith & Wesson ponied up somewhere between a million and four, Ruger did the same.  For the sake of argument let’s say these three outfits gave the NRA six million bucks. Know what their net income was that year?  Try $300 million.  And that was after they gave the dough to the NRA.

Talk about getting it on the cheap. Hell, I gave a larger percentage of my net income to the insurance lobbyists than Ruger, Smith and Glock give to the NRA. Anti-Hillary rhetoric to the contrary, the NRA better hope her address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come next year.

What Does The NRA Endorsement Of Trump Really Mean? Nothing Is What It Means.

Give Trump some credit.  I don’t remember the last time only one candidate showed up at the NRA meeting during an election year and had the place all to himself.  Usually there are still a few candidates in the Republican Presidential race by the time the NRA hoopla rolls around, but the field was so weak this year that a totally-artificial candidate was able to blow everyone else out of the water before he even knew who was going to be his opponent on the other side.

trump           Why do I call Trump artificial?  Because no matter which audience he stands in front of, he tells them exactly what he thinks they want to hear.  If it’s a rally in the Rust Belt he’ll tell them that he’s bringing back all those jobs from Mexico except for the jobs created by the company that manufactures the clothes he sells; if it’s an auditorium full of Evangelicals he’ll misquote a biblical text; if it’s the disarmed NRA audience he’ll tell them that he loves the fact that they all can carry guns.

Things have really gotten to a sorry state when The New York Times finds a pandering, stump speech by a politician, any politician, newsworthy enough for the front page. It might be worth a mention somewhere in the paper if the person delivering the remarks actually said something important, or controversial, or even new.  But I listened to every word that Trump sputtered over some 34 minutes and what was most interesting to me about his speech was that he really didn’t say anything at all.

He told the audience that ‘crooked Hillary’ was going to abolish the 2nd Amendment and take away all the guns.  That’s new news?  He also mentioned at least ten times that guns make people feel safe.  Gee, that’s an insight I never heard before. And at the tail end of the spiel he started babbling on about how he was going to fix this, fix that, build a wall, make new trade deals, get rid of Obama-care and, of course, no Trump speech would be complete without at least one reference to those ‘terrible people,’ a.k.a. the news media, who really are terrible if they think that this warmed-over mess of stale, rhetorical cuchifritos deserved to be on Page One.

The only difference between the NRA Leadership Forum event and any other Trump rally is that the Grump’s campaign didn’t have to pay for the hall. Just as well, since despite all the polls which show him even or ahead of Hillary, the real news today is the number of major conservative donors who aren’t planning to bankroll the Trumper at all.  Which is why I found it almost comical when Trump, at the beginning of his remarks, said how ‘honored’ he was to be endorsed for President by the NRA. Fat lot of good the NRA endorsement did for McCain in 2008 or for Romney in 2012.

Does anyone out there really believe that Hillary isn’t counting votes that might come her way because of her ‘tough’ stance on guns?  Challenging the Republicans over expanded background checks won’t hurt her with women, with minorities, with new immigrants, with just about any demographic except White men. Which happen to be the only group that is consistently and fervently in lockstep with the NRA when it comes to more regulation of guns.

And this is the real significance of the NRA’s endorsement of Trump because the only people who would have noticed that foul-mouth Ted Nugent’s ‘Do or Die for America’s Freedom’ performance was cancelled in Louisville are the same people who will vote the red ticket no matter whose name is at the top. The NRA’s support for Trump has no more value than Hillary getting the nod from the NAACP.  And being in love with the 2nd Amendment won’t get Trump anything more than the same-old, same-old white man vote that he already owns.

The GOP Response To San Bernardino: Nearer My God To Thee.

Want to know what the pro-gun crowd thinks about gun violence?  Or I should say, what the pro-gun crowd wants everyone else to think about gun violence?  All you gotta do is wait for a mass shooting to occur, then check the Twitter accounts of the so-called GOP Presidential candidates. I say ‘so-called’ because the idea that any of this bunch has demonstrated even a sliver of leadership, never mind the slightest attention to facts, makes me wonder how we could remotely imagine one of these clowns sitting in Oval Office after January 20, 2017. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

san bernardinoI knew we were in for a know-nothing treatment of gun violence when, in putting together a game plan for 2016, the GOP decided that the 2nd Amendment would be the ‘values’ niche issue this time around. They used to have abortion and then gay marriage to gin up the base, but when Donald Trump started boasting about defending himself by carrying a gun, I knew the NRA’s wildest dream about defining the social agenda for America was finally coming true.

Then we had the shooting of two television journalists in Virginia, and while killing only 2 people is hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as dispatching ten victims in Oregon, nine in Charleston, never mind fourteen in San Bernardino, what was impressive in a bizarre way about the Virginia shooting was that the entire thing was caught on tape.  And the very next day, there was Trump telling us that the problem had nothing to do with guns, it was caused by the lack of mental hospital space which was needed to lock all the crazies away.

Once Trump defined the issue in accordance with the standard NRA lexicon that it’s not guns that kill people, etc., everyone else fell into line.  The next opportunity for the GOP pretenders came a month later in Oregon when the killing of ten faculty and students at Umpqua Community College unleashed a torrent of pro-gun commentary from the GOP Presidential field.  Once again Trump knew the nuts were “coming out of the woodwork;” Ben Carson called for better detection of “early warning signs,” and in case there was any doubt about why the shooting occurred, we had self-appointed gun fantasists like John Lott telling us that we couldn’t expect anything else to happen in a gun-free zone.

This time around, however, the Republicans might have overshot their mark. Because when Hillary spoke out about the Umpqua massacre, she made a point of tying it to enacting “sensible gun-control measures,” and promised to lead the effort after she took over the Oval office in 2017.  This was the first time that the Democrats made gun ownership a campaign issue, and it caught the GOP entirely off guard.  Let’s remember it was Hillary’s husband who decided that Democrats lost the White House in 2000 due to the power of the NRA. So I knew that, going forward, the GOP would have to come up with a revised game plan to avoid having to appear condoning gun violence while still keeping the gun-nut vote on their side.

And to the credit of their campaign PR teams, it seems to me that the Republican Presidential wannabes have indeed come up with an approach to gun violence which gets them all off the hook; namely, that gun violence is an act of God, so what can mere mortals do?  Here’s a selection of Twitter feeds from last night: Trump – “Good luck to law enforcement and God bless.” Cruz – “Our prayers are with the victims.” Bush – “Praying for the victims.” Paul – “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”

Any mention of guns?  Here’s Hillary: “We must take action to stop gun violence now.”  And what Hillary knows is what the pro-gun gang and its new crop of Presidential pretenders don’t want to imagine; that maybe most Americans are sick of the shootings, sick of guns, and fed up with the NRA.