The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Republicans: This Isn’t Working

There is new polling out that suggests the Ron DeSantis presidential bubble really has burst. Considering that Ron’s entire argument for his candidacy was that he is electable and could appeal to both suburban Republicans and the MAGA base, I don’t see him coming back.

From the CNN article linked: “DeSantis, at the moment, is not building a base. He’s dividing Republicans and allowing Trump to claim an electability mantle. The general electorate remains opposed to a six-week abortion ban and his position on Disney.” IMO Ron’s decision to run as an anti-Woke culture warrior was a huge mistake on his part.

At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Paul Campos writes about the coming “event horizon.”

Two things have become extremely clear over the past few weeks:

(1) Donald Trump is facing several forms of serious legal jeopardy, both criminal and civil; and

(2) Short of what is statistically a highly unlikely health-related event of some sort, he is going to be the Republican nominee for president next year.

Indeed, as this analysis makes clear, as his legal woes mount, his grip on the nomination becomes stronger — and not despite the former circumstance, but as a direct consequence of it: …

It’s probable Trump will lose at least some of the cases stacked against him. He may very well be running next year not only under indictment but having been convicted of something. He’s not going to drop out unless he drops dead. Paul Campos continues,

As to how this country is going to negotiate a situation in which a man facing multiple criminal indictments, as well as civil judgments for things like violently raping a woman in a department store dressing room, is also simultaneously the presidential candidate of one of the only two political parties of any consequence in this nation, your guess is very much as good as mine.

This is completely uncharted territory, and nothing illustrates that better than the fact that this utterly bizarre and disturbing situation has for all practical purposes already been essentially normalized by the political media in particular and the broader cultural discourse in general.

This is the way we live today; how we will be living in 2025 and beyond is not something I can see clearly now.

I can’t argue.

This Is Not What Freedom Looks Like

Today’s mass shooting took the lives of five people in Texas, including an eight-year-old boy.

Police said they believe the massacre occurred after neighbors asked the suspect to stop shooting his gun in the front yard because there was a baby trying to sleep.

“My understanding is that the victims, they came over to the fence and said ‘Hey could [you not do your] shooting out in the yard? We have a young baby that’s trying to go to sleep,” and he had been drinking and he says ‘I’ll do what I want to in my front yard,'” San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told KTRK.

Capers told KTRK the case went from harassment to a shooting very quickly. He said the shooter was drinking that night; police dispatchers initially confirmed the shooter was intoxicated.

He said that authorities believed some of the victims were trying to shield their children — with bodies found on top of children who were unharmed.

“In my opinion, they were actually trying to take care of the babies and keep them babies alive,” Capers told KTRK.

The shooter is described as “Mexican,” and on cue the mouth breathers who comment at Gateway Pundit blamed gun violence on illegal immigrants. I’m not linking to it. But you can read here about some of the lawsuits people are finally bringing against the Hoft twins.

Add “asking the neighbor to keep the noise down” to the growing list of “normal activities that will get you killed in the U.S.” Also “leaf blowing.” A man in Illinois who was using a leaf blower to tidy up his own yard was shot and killed recently by a neighbor. Apparently this was an escalation of an ongoing feud.

It appears two women died in Texas yesterday protecting their little children. Here’s a woman in Montana who isn’t going to go that far.

A Montana state representative has gone viral for a series of comments in which she seemed to display a shocking disregard for the wellbeing of her own daughter.

Republican Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, who recently sponsored a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors, suggested in March during a debate on the floor of the Montana statehouse that she had blocked the treatment for her own daughter, even as her daughter was suicidal.

“One of the big issues that we have heard today and we’ve talked about lately is that without surgery the risk of suicide goes way up. Well, I am one of those parents who lived with a daughter who was suicidal for three years,” Seekins-Crowe said, according to a clip shared on Twitter, demonstrating how close to home the issue hit for her family.

But it was what she said next that left observers so stunned.

“Someone once asked me, ‘Wouldn’t I just do anything to help save her?’ And I really had to think and the answer was, ‘No,’” Seekins-Crowe said.

She went on to call her daughter’s suicidal tendencies “emotional manipulation” and claimed that it was her responsibility as a parent to make decisions when her daughter had no “vision” for her life.

“I was not going to let her tear apart my family and I was not going to let her tear apart me because I had to be strong for her, I had to have a vision for her life when she had none,” she said.

Not exactly Mother of the Year material. Frankly, I think child protective services need to get involved here. That woman is a monster.

If a Supreme Court Justice Does It, It’s Ethical?

Well, well. More rot in the Supreme Court. The big, screaming headline at Insider is Jane Roberts, who is married to Chief Justice John Roberts, made $10.3 million in commissions from elite law firms, whistleblower documents show. Do tell. “At least one of those firms argued a case before Chief Justice Roberts after paying his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars,” it also says. Plus there appears to be some fuzziness in the Chief Justice’s financial disclosures about exactly how his wife was being compensated. This is complicated stuff and you should just read the Insider article. I’m just going to quote this bit of recap:

First, ProPublica revealed that Clarence Thomas accepted lavish, undisclosed gifts of travel and had engaged in real estate transactions with Harlan Crow, a Dallas real-estate developer and GOP donor. That news prompted the discovery of errors in Thomas’s financial disclosure forms, which he agreed to revise. This isn’t the first time that Thomas has had difficulty with filing complete and accurate financial disclosure forms. In 2011, Thomas amended 13 years of forms, some of which had wrongly claimed that his wife Ginni had no outside income, when in fact she’d been paid more than half a million dollars by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Then came the news that shortly after his confirmation to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch had sold his share of a vacation property to Big Law CEO. He reported the transaction on his disclosure forms, but left the name of the buyer blank.
These disclosures came on the heels of yet another report in November that an evangelical activist orchestrated an influence campaign targeting Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. by mobilizing a network of well-heeled conservative donors to contribute to the Supreme Court Historical Society. One of those donors, the activist claims, received an early heads up about a coming decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

Insider doesn’t mention Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but there is new reporting out about him, too. This won’t be new to you if you were paying attention at the time, but the Guardian came out with a report that reminds us he was given a great big pass by the Senate in his confirmation hearings. Revealed: Senate investigation into Brett Kavanaugh assault claims contained serious omissions, it says. We knew that, but thanks for reminding us. There are also unanswered questions about who paid off Justice Kavanaugh’s debts. And his work for the George W. Bush administration could have used closer scrutiny, according to some.

Just this week Justice Roberts let us know that his testifying to the Senate about ethics at the Supreme Court was was beneath him. The ethics of members of the Court will be taken care of by the Court. See Steve Benen at MSNBC and also Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern at Slate.

The justices themselves are wholly responsible for this high-octane ethics quagmire, which now drags into its fourth week. Any sane institution that relies wholly on public approval, when faced with multiple irrefutable reports of distortions and deception, would respond with a plan to do better. It speaks volumes that the Imperial Court’s response is a promise to simply continue to do the same. Why? Because it thinks the other branches won’t do anything about it. As Ian Millhiser noted in Vox this week, the Constitution makes it extraordinarily difficult to remove a justice, or diminish the court’s power. The reason it is set up this way, believe it or not, is because the framers thought the judiciary would rise above the partisan fray. In practice, however, the Supreme Court has proven remarkably easy for one political party to capture. Its members are selected through a flagrantly political process. It is formed by political imperatives. And yet the court pretends—and demands we all pretend—that it’s magically purified of politics as soon as its justices are seated.

Justice Roberts is counting on there never being a significant Democratic majority in Congress in his lifetime.

In other news, also at Slate see Trump’s Lawyer Did Him No Favors on Thursday by Robert Katzberg. In brief, Katzberg thinks that Joe Tacopina’s cross-examination of E.. Jean Carroll yesterday helped E. Jean Carroll.



DeSantis v. Mouse and Other Farces

Some of you live in Florida. How is the governor’s war with Mickey Mouse going over with the natives?

I wrote awhile back that I thought the alleged DeSantis presidential bid had already peaked, and it seems the nation’s political analysts are coming around to the same conclusion. And I don’t think getting sued by Disney is going to help him any. I suspect the Disney lawsuit has merits, since from this distance it sure as bleep looks like the governor has been singling Disney out for punishment, presumably for speaking out about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. See, for example, Bess Levin, Disney Sues Ron DeSantis for Being a Colossal Asshole.

Last week, DeSantis threatened to try to change state law in order to subject Disney’s theme park to new inspections. Then he suggested his hand-selected board would look into raising the company’s taxes and that the land next to Disney World might be turned into a rival park or perhaps a state prison.

I’m guessing those public statements will be part of Disney’s evidence. Note that DeSantis is currently on a “trade mission” to Japan, Israel, South Korea and the United Kingdom, wife and kids trailing along. The Miami Herald is questioning who is paying for this trip and why the itinerary isn’t more public.

Liz Granderson at the Los Angeles Times notes that DeSantis didn’t seem especially concerned about “the Gay” early in his administration.

In June 2019, DeSantis and his wife appeared at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando to mark the anniversary of the deadly 2016 shooting rampage there. They were approached by a state representative who expressed disappointment that the DeSantises’ proclamation about “Pulse Remembrance Day” hadn’t specifically mentioned the queer or Hispanic communities. And you know what the governor did? He corrected the omission, later tweeting: “today Casey DeSantis and I joined the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities in Orlando to pay our respects as our state and nation mourn and honor the precious lives that were lost.”

In 2018, during a Republican primary forum as he sought the governorship, DeSantis was asked about transgender people and the restroom debate in many states, and he said: “Getting into the bathroom wars, I don’t think that’s a good use of our time.

All that changed, Granderson says, is that he got bit by the presidential ambition bug.

 In other news: Josh Marshall has a fascinating blog post about Jack Teixeira, the kid who leaked classified information on the web for kicks. The government has filed a motion to keep Teixeira locked up awaiting trial, which seems sensible to me. But this is news:

Teixeira’s record suggests he was carrying most of the red flags we’d expect for a future mass shooter. You can see the filing here.

As the government filing explains, Teixeira was suspended from high school in 2018 when a classmate “overheard him make remarks about weapons, including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school and racial threats.” Later that year he was denied a firearms identification card because of the local police department’s concerns about his threats and suspension at the high school.

In addition to a steady stream of comments about violence and murder, Teixeira also had some fantasy and/or plan to carry out some kind of mass shooting event with an “assassination van.” He sought advice about the best kind of rifle to use from the back of an SUV or what he termed “mobile gun trucks” and “[o]ff-road” and good assassination vehicles.” It was apparently with this kind of hardware in mind when he said that if he had his way he would “kill a [expletive] ton of people” in an effort at “culling the weak minded.”

Finally, he had hardware to back up these fantasies/plans. He had extensive arsenals at both his primary home and that of his father, what the government calls a “virtual arsenal of weapons, including bolt-action rifles, rifles, AR and AK-style style weapons and a bazooka.” At his main home these were contained in a gun locker next to his bed, in addition to stashes of ammunition, “tactical pouches on his dresser” and some kind of silencer type device. Other military style gear in his home he apparently tried to throw away shortly before his arrest.

And, of course, the next question is, how the bleep was this individual assigned to a job that gave him access to classified information? But do read the whole post. See also The Online Racists Stealing Military Secrets at Rolling Stone.

In more other news: My heart goes out to E. Jean Carroll for having to testify yesterday. Today she’s being cross examined by Trump’s attorneys. The attorney who seems to be doing most of the talking for Trump is Joe Tacopina, and from what I’ve seen of him on television that’s going to be a nightmare for Carroll. He’s all aggression and bluster.

And the news won’t stop: Kevin McCarthy’s horrible debt ceiling bill passed by just two votes yesterday, and I note that there were two House Democrats who didn’t vote (Peters, Calif.; Watson Coleman N.J.). I’m wondering what was so almighty important for them not to be in the House yesterday. But McCarthy’s bill won’t ever become law. What’s the next step for the Chaos Caucus? And will the Biden Administration pull some kind of technical maneuver to raise the debt ceiling without help from the House? 

Paul Krugman recently (no paywall):

One possibility is that faced with looming financial chaos, McCarthy will allow a floor vote on the debt ceiling, and that a few sane members of his party will cross the aisle and help Democrats raise the ceiling. As far as I can tell, that’s the Biden administration’s plan A.

What about plan B? There are several options. Moody’s Analytics seems to think that the Biden administration might simply ignore the debt limit, invoking the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that the validity of U.S. public debt “shall not be questioned.”

Another possibility is the famous platinum coin. U.S. law allows the federal government to issue commemorative platinum coins in any denomination it chooses; so it could in principle mint a coin notionally worth, say, $3 trillion, deposit it at the Federal Reserve and pay its bills by drawing down the account thereby created. (The Fed would offset any effect on the money supply by selling off some of its large portfolio of U.S. government bonds, so this would in effect simply be borrowing through the back door.)

Yet another possibility would be to issue “premium bonds.” These are bonds that offer an unusually large “coupon,” i.e., annual interest payment, relative to their principal, the amount they pay when they come due. The Treasury could auction off these bonds for substantially more than their face value, in effect borrowing without increasing the official size of the debt.

All of these plans have drawbacks, and considered in isolation they each sound a bit silly. But they should be graded on a curve — compared not with normal fiscal management, but with the catastrophic consequences if the U.S. government simply stops paying its bills.


Today’s News Bits

I’ve seen no new revelations about the Tucker Carlson firing since yesterday. The only mildly interesting tidbit is that Tucker and Don Lemon both hired the same lawyer yesterday. And Russian state media offered Tucker a job.

In Other News: The E. Jean Carroll lawsuit trial starts today.

In More Other News: Fulton County DA Fani Willis expects to announce whether to bring criminal indictments of election interference some time between July 11 and September 1.

Willis revealed the timetable in a letter to local law enforcement in which she asked them to be ready for “heightened security and preparedness” because she predicted her announcement may provoke a significant public reaction.

Fox Fires Tucker Carlson? (Updates)

This is not fake news. Last Friday was Tucker’s last Fox show. Fox is reporting that Tucker Carlson’s show is being replaced by “Fox News Tonight” which will have rotating hosts until they think of what to put in the spot permanently. We don’t know if Fox fired him (my guess) or if he quit, or what.

Updates: CNN fired Don Lemon today. I know who Don Lemon is but have never watched his CNN show. Well, I hardly ever watch CNN. I have read a lot of criticisms of Lemon lately for being sexist, so I’m not surprised. Luke Winkie writes at Slate:

After a hallucinatory 17-year-long run at CNN—which included heinous interviews with Bill Cosby accusers, intrepid reporting on the density of marijuana smoke at Ferguson protests, and, more recently, a string of sexism allegations broken by Variety that date back at least 15 years—Don Lemon is out at CNN. … You must also consider why it took this long for Lemon to be served his papers, considering he once made national headlines for asking the aforementioned Cosby accuser if she considered “biting” her assailant’s penis after being coerced into oral sex. (This was 2014, by the way, not 1992.)

Regarding Tucker, we still don’t know an official reason for why he and Fox “parted.” But Rolling Stone reports that there is much rejoicing among the worker bees at Fox.

“Pure joy,” one Fox reporter told Rolling Stone of their reaction to the split. “No one is untouchable. It’s a great day for America, and for the real journalists who work hard every day to deliver the news at Fox.”

“It was a good move to part ways with Tucker,” added a producer. “He knowingly spread lies throughout his time at Fox, but I fear management will replace him with someone who is just like him … so there probably won’t be any real change.”

“Good riddance,” said a network correspondent. “For a while there it seemed like he was running the network. This clearly is a message that he’s not. In the interim, it’s a morale boost, that’s for sure.” …

… Semafor reported that Carlson’s executive producer, Justin Wells, is also no longer with the network. Wells was also named in [Amy] Grossberg’s suit.

Update: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Tucker was fired by Rupert Murdoch.

A Fox News representative had no other details on Carlson’s exit. People familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment publicly said the decision to fire Carlson came straight from Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

Carlson’s exit is related to the discrimination lawsuit filed by Abby Grossberg, the producer fired by the network last month, the people said. Carlson’s senior executive producer Justin Wells has also been terminated, according to people familiar with the matter. A Fox News representative would not comment.

Murdoch is also said to be concerned over Carlson’s coverage of the Jan. 6, 202 1, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which the host has promoted the conspiracy theory that it was provoked by government agents.

Carlson has called Ray Epps — a Texas man who participated in the storming of the Capitol but did not enter the building — an FBI plant, without presenting any evidence.

Epps was interviewed Sunday on “60 Minutes” and said he has been subjected to death threats as a result of Carlson’s statements about him. The FBI told “60 Minutes” that Epps has never worked for the agency.

Update: Bloomberg is reporting that losing Tucker caused a drop in Fox Corp. stock value that wiped out $590 million.

Update: New York magazine, citing Semafor and the New York Times, is reporting that Tucker found out he was fired this morning.

Semafor and the New York Times both report that Carlson didn’t find out he was being fired until Monday morning. A “person close to Fox leadership” commented to Semafor that, “This is just classic Murdoch assassination — you’re their closest friend, their favorite child and now you’re dead.”


At War With the Right’s Tribal Totems

This week the Texas Senate passed a bill mandating that the Ten Commandments be posted prominently in all public school classrooms. The bill has yet to be voted on in the House, but I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t pass. This is Texas. A similar Kentucky statute mandating that the Ten Commandments be posted in classrooms was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court 43 years ago. But Texas Republicans are betting the current Supreme Court will come to a different conclusion, and they may be right. I wrote about this at Patheos recently. 

Texas is also playing with a bill that would allow schools to set aside time for prayer and Bible reading in public schools. The old Supreme Court would have nixed that one, too, especially if only the Bible is allowed. Back in 1956, a 16-year-old boy in a public high school near Philadelphia protested his school’s daily Bible readings by thumbing through a borrowed Quran instead of the Bible. He got hauled into the Principal’s office for that. This episode eventually made its way to the SCOTUS as Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963). The justices ruled 8-1 (Justice Potter Stewart dissenting) that the Bible readings and prayers in a public school were unconstitutional. I wrote about this case at Patheos awhile back.

The current SCOTUS might very well allow Bible readings back in school. If they did, nearly every public school in the Bible Belt would in effect become a parochial evangelical Christian school. And a lot of other public schools around the country would follow. There would be quasi-religious wars over control of the local schools so that the “right” school board could mandate that the “right” religion is taught in school. Give the Bible thumpers an inch, and they’ll take the whole country. If they were told that in order to allow Bible readings they’d also have to allow Quran readings or Lotus Sutra readings or Bhagavad Gita readings, they might see things differently, but I doubt the current Court would do that.

It’s been more than 60 years since the first big school prayer decision,  Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), and we’re still dealing with the backlash. The irony is that the two guys most responsible for the separation of church and state, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, were trying to protect religion from itself, not stifle it.

I checked to see if the Texas legislature has made any progress on school safety since the Uvalde massacre of May 2022. This week the Texas Senate also passed a bill that would require schools to have active-shooter protocols in place before the next shooter shows up. However, the Texas legislature refuses to address guns. This also happened this week:

Parents whose children were killed in the Robb Elementary School massacre made sobbing pleads for stricter gun laws before legislators early Wednesday on languishing proposals that appeared headed to stall in the face of a Republican majority.

The emotional late-night hearing — which started Tuesday morning and stretched past midnight — underlined both the sustained anger by some Uvalde families nearly a year after the shooting and the continued GOP opposition in Texas to passing any new restrictions.

The meeting of a state House committee was significant because it marked the first time Texas lawmakers have given any proposed gun restrictions a hearing since the May 2022 shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers. Much of the debate centered on a proposal that would raise the age to purchase semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21 years old, which Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has opposed.

The debate ended without a vote and with no plan to hold a vote. Because the Republican legislators who so want to post Ten Commandments in public schools would rather sell their own mothers than even think about restrictions on guns.

It’s not just Texas, of course. After the recent Nashville school shooting the Tennessee state legislature in Nashville made it a priority to pass a law protecting gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers, and sellers against lawsuits. Protecting schoolchildren, not so much.

At the New York Times, David French writes that Gun Idolatry Is Destroying the Case for Guns. Allowing the likes of Daniel Perry and Kyle Rittenhouse to get away with murder destroys the case for private gun ownership, he says. The recent shootings of innocent people by trigger-happy gun owners destroys the case for private gun ownership. Here in Missouri the legislature has worked overtime writing laws that protect “self-defense” shooters from responsibility for bad decisions. Self-defense is fine, but what if the “threat” is imaginary? And innocent people are shot? There’s little effort to hold people with guns responsible for making reckless decisions about when and whom to shoot. French writes,

Gun rights carry with them grave responsibilities. They do not liberate you to intimidate. They must not empower your hate. They are certainly not objects of love or reverence. Every hair-trigger use, every angry or fearful or foolish decision, likely spills innocent blood.

Moreover, every one of these acts increases public revulsion of gun ownership generally. The cry for legal and moral reform will sweep the land. America will change and gun rights will diminish. And the gun owners and advocates who fail to grasp the moral weight of their responsibility will be to blame.

I’ve been saying for years that if the gun-rights people continue to block all gun restrictions, no matter how minor, sooner or later there will be sufficient public sentiment to amend or rescind the 2nd Amendment. We aren’t there yet, but we’re beginning to head in that direction. French is right that the Right needs to learn to compromise if it wants to protect guns rights.

See also Gun Violence Is Actually Worse in Red States. It’s Not Even Close, by Colin Woodward at Politico. This is more stuff I’ve been documenting here for a long time. Gun violence is far and away worse in the rural South than in the urban northeast. Show me a place that refuses to allow any gun restrictions, and I’ll show you a place with higher rates of gun violence, including gun homicides, and higher rates of crime in general. The data have been clear on this for some time. Of course there are more shootings in big cities with millions of residents. but rates of violent crime are higher elsewhere. And the gap is getting bigger. It’s no coincidence the Deep South has the highest rate of gun homicides of major regions of the country, as Woodward documents.

And let’s not forget the backlash the Right is facing over abortion. And they didn’t see it coming. A lot of them still aren’t ready to admit the Dobbs decision is a disaster for them.

I haven’t found recent polls about prayers and Bible readings in classrooms, but on guns and abortion the Right is a distinct minority. There is huge opposition to Dobbs. There is huge support for restrictions on firearms, such as background checks and registering. It’s not close at all. That the minority is able to impose its will on the majority speaks to how much democracy has been corrupted.

Regarding gun and other “idolatries” — the Bible, school prayer, and other Christian symbols do stand alongside guns and opposition to abortion as absolute positions that have become the tribal totems of the Right. And white supremacy may be the Granddaddy Totem that ties them all together. They cannot back down or compromise in any way without facing an existential crisis. This is who they are. And this really does come closer to the behavior of a cult than normal political advocacy. I wrote back in 2013

What happened, as I see it, is that by 1973 the Right knew it had lost on desegregation and school prayer, but the double whammy of the ERA and Roe gave the same old crew new purpose. And yes, Roe drew in some evangelicals who may have been less active before, but abortion was just a culmination of old grievances — many challenges to white supremacy; the sexual revolution and the Pill; the 1960s counterculture; the “Is God Dead?” cover of Time magazine (1966); the school prayer issue; women’s liberation.

It was basically the same crew fighting all those fights — some additions and subtractions along the way, of course, but the organization supporting each backlash grew from the previous one. You can draw a straight line tracking right-wing backlashes from Brown to Roe to today.

And you can trace a straight line from the antebellum defense of slavery through Plessy v. Ferguson to the backlash to Brown v. Board of Education and then all the rest of it. And none of this is really about saving babies or “protecting” women or teaching children to love Jesus or even defending themselves from criminals. It’s about a fanatical minority maintaining power over the rest of us. And they’re doing a good job of it.

Beware “Law-Abiding Citizens” With Guns

One of the long-standing tactics of unfettered gun rights activists is to turn all debate about guns into a dichotomy between “criminals” and “law-abiding citizens.” It’s only “criminals” who misuse guns, we are told. That shouldn’t stop “law-abiding citizens” from carrying them.

Finally, this nonsense is being called out. About time.

Paul Waldman writes in Our new terror: The ‘law-abiding’ gun owner who is ready to kill that NRA and gun manufacturer marketing has created a nation in which “law-abiding citizens” are stoked with fear and ready to start shooting at the nearest provocation.

That so many gun owners are consumed with fear is not an accident. It is a central part of the ideology propagated by conservative media outlets and gun advocacy groups such as the National Rifle Association.

The message is hammered home again and again: The world is full of homicidal maniacs coming to kill you and your family. In the words of NRA leader Wayne LaPierre, “every day of every year, innocent, good, defenseless people are beaten, bloodied, robbed, raped and murdered.” Criminals, gangs, home invaders, terrorists, antifa — they’re all coming for you. So if your doorbell rings, you’d better have a gun in your hand when you answer.

See Francis Wilkinson at Bloomberg:

Upstate New York resident Kevin Monahan has been charged with murdering 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis. The young woman was in a car whose driver, looking for a friend’s house without the benefit of cellular service to guide the journey, mistakenly pulled into Monahan’s driveway.

The local sheriff said Monahan shot at a distant car filled with young people as it was leaving his property. “There was clearly no threat from anyone,” he said.

part of American society, vigorously contested by another part, has concluded that Monahan possessed the mental and emotional balance and moral discernment to be entrusted with firearms. Why, just last week Monahan was the very definition of a good guy with a gun. No one asked whether Monahan was a moral degenerate, a rage-addled misanthrope, a paranoid fool or all that and more. It wouldn’t have mattered if they did. Because all such people are permitted — indeed encouraged by powerful American institutions — to buy firearms like candy and stockpile them like gold.

But of course, as soon as the “law-abiding citizen” has killed someone, then he becomes a “criminal,” or else he is “mentally ill,” so the arguments don’t change.

At Slate, see American Gun Owners Are Bad at Owning Guns by Tyler Austin Harper.

The trouble is, the good guy with a gun is a myth—not simply because gun owners rarely have the chance to intervene in violent crimes, and those who do can be mistakenly killed by the cops. No, the good guy with a gun is a myth because the average gun owner is not Rambo. They are not James Bond or Joe Cool—they are Joe Schmoe. That is, gun owners are frequently incompetent—bad shots with bad nerves who are more likely to shit their pants and spray bullets than they are to swoop in and save the day. And why would we expect otherwise? The majority of states require no formal safety or marksman training to purchase a gun or even carry it concealed. The average gun owner is scarcely more prepared to engage in an impromptu firefight than any randomly selected dude from the phone book. I say this not as some anti-gun crusader, but as a gun owner.

Nicholas Kristoff has returned to the New York Times:

As I write this, I happen to be in Mississippi, which has a much more rigorous process to adopt a dog than to acquire a gun. Should it really be easier to buy an AR-15-style rifle than to adopt a Chihuahua?

Mark Sumner at Daily Kos describes the origin of the phrase “an armed society is a polite society.”

The origin of the phrase, usually described as “a Robert Heinlein quote,” is actually the dystopian novel “Beyond This Horizon.” The antihero of his novel is a privileged product of eugenics who happily shoots people for the slightest infraction, real or perceived.

The context of the quote—which ends with the character saying, “We do not have enough things to kill off the weak and the stupid these days, but to stay alive as an armed citizen a man has to be either quick with his wits or with his hands, preferably both”—rarely makes a T-shirt or bumper sticker. Neither does the novel’s lavish praise of eugenics, telepathic powers, and general weirdness.

But even if it were a fictional quote taken completely out of context, the saying turns out to be true, in a way. In a sufficiently armed society, any small transgression is met with bullets. America is sufficiently armed.

The shooting of Kinsley White and her family—that’s the 6-year-old who tried to chase down a basketball—illustrates this perfectly.

Andrew Lester, the Kansas City man who shot Ralph Yarl, might very well be acquitted given Missouri’s wackadoo “stand your ground” law.  Opinions I have read say the law won’t necessarily help Lester, but I wouldn’t place any bets either way.

The Tyler Austin Harper article at Slate, linked above, argues that most Americans who buy guns for self-protection get no training or even spend time at shooting ranges learning to use their weapon.

Contrary to media narratives, many gun owners are not gun-obsessed, but gun-casual. As someone who was raised to take guns seriously—deadly seriously, as they should be—I was shocked by how cavalier (and, again, incompetent) a lot of gun owners I encountered were. Some were the kind of guys who concealed-carried every day but only made it to the range once or twice a year. They couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from 10 paces—the idea that they were capable of defending their “castle” from anything was laughable. Others were well-meaning new gun owners who had zero clue how to transport, load, discharge, or unload a firearm. They simply bought a gun and ammunition and showed up at the range or clay pigeon course to figure it out. I watched one of these bumbling neophytes nearly Dick Cheney his buddy one sweaty summer afternoon, sending a spray of birdshot into a birch tree 10 feet above his head. 

So, one might argue, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to require training and licensing for legal purchase of a firearm. But in NRA World that’s too much of an infringement on Muh Rahts, meaning that it would probably depress the sale of firearms and cut into industry profits.

So, whatever you do, don’t make any sudden moves. The way things are going, we’re all going to have to wear body armor whenever we leave home. This is freedom?

Today’s Failure News Roundup

Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket, the most powerful ever built, blew up about four minutes after launch this morning. This event set the tone for the rest of the day.

Mike Lindell is out some money. CNN:

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell has been ordered to shell out $5 million to an expert who debunked his data related to the 2020 election, according to a decision by the arbitration panel obtained by CNN.

Lindell, a purveyor of election conspiracies, vowed to award the multimillion-dollar sum to any cyber security expert who could disprove his data. An arbitration panel awarded Robert Zeidman, who has decades in software development experience, a $5 million payout on Wednesday after he sued Lindell over the sum.

CNN has obtained arbitration documents and video depositions, including a deposition of Lindell, related to the dispute.

I have said already that if Lindell’s adult children had any sense they already would have gone to probate court and relieved Dad of control of the family assets. If Lindell really does have to pay this, they’re probably too late.

E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump is still scheduled to start on April 25. Robert Katzberg at Slate explains all the ways this trial could be a nightmare for Trump.

A Tennessee state legislator who voted to expel the Tennessee Three has been found guilty of sexually harassing interns. When this news became public, he resigned. Other Republicans in the legislature have known about this for some time but didn’t move to expel the guy.

The Forced Birth movement is letting it be known they will not be satisfied with a “let the states decide” policy on abortion. They want a national ban. This is going to massively complicate the 2024 elections for Republicans. Heh.

Interesting read: Michael Tomasky, The (Republican) Party’s Over, at The New Republic.

Kevin McCarthy has produced a debt ceiling proposal.

The legislation, which is expected to receive a vote next week, is a 320-page House Republican wish list that has no chance of becoming law, given that Democrats control the Senate and White House. It would raise the debt ceiling until March 2024 while tying that to a host of conservative priorities, including slashing government spending to 2022 levels, capping further spending, and repealing much of the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden’s landmark social spending bill.

The House GOP bill comes as a potential default could happen sometime over the summer. Democrats have long insisted that they will only support a “clean” debt ceiling increase, without any preconditions or spending cuts, while Republicans have long viewed the debt ceiling as the best leverage to pressure the Biden administration into making broader concessions.

Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, McCarthy insisted that both President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer now need to come to the table: “They need to sit down, negotiate, and address the crisis, now that we’ve introduced a clear plan for debt limit increase.” The Republican proposal targets a number of longtime GOP bugaboos including Biden’s executive action on student loan forgiveness, tax credits for green energy investments, and increased funding for the Internal Revenue Service.

It’s my understanding that this bill is still short on specifics as to exactly how much money will be cut from where, except that it’s not touching defense, Social Security, Medicare, or veterans’ benefits. I haven’t heard that it’s been submitted to the CBO for scoring. President Biden has already dismissed it. ,