Friday, March 2, 2018

No 'Glimmer' for Gun Control, Just The Mendacity of Hope

One of my favorite authors, John Cassidy of The New Yorker, has hope for Something New on Gun Control: A Glimmer of Hope. In addition to recent corporate actions against the sale of assault weapons:

… President Donald Trump told a bipartisan group of lawmakers he had invited to the White House that he favored a “comprehensive” gun-control bill, including stronger background checks, raising the buying age, and measures to keep firearms out of the hands of people who are mentally ill. Trump stopped short of endorsing a ban on assault weapons, which many Democrats are calling for. But he vowed to stand up to the National Rifle Association, saying, “They have great power over you people, but they have less power over me.”

The problem is twofold. One is that Trump regularly says one thing today and something exactly opposite tomorrow. Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) explains: Trump shows why there’s no point in talking to him about policy. Basically Trump knows little and cares less. Negotiating policy with a know-nothing is impossible.

The second is that the NRA has a vice-like grip on the Republican party and thus Trump’s base will fry him if he follows through. So, Cassidy relates:

… For years, the N.R.A.’s grip on the Republican Party, which controls both legislative chambers, has been virtually absolute. Faced with a fresh challenge to its dominion, the gun lobby and its political representatives will do what they always do after gun massacres: delay and obfuscate in public while quietly wielding the threat of primary challenges to potential defectors. As recently as Tuesday, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, downplayed the possibility of meaningful action, saying, “we shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens.”

Nevertheless, Cassidy holds out a glimmer of hope based on arithmetic:

… The N.R.A.’s legislative veto is self-reinforcing—it depends on the carefully tended myth that it is all-powerful. In reality, however, the group’s five million members make up only about 1.5 per cent of the population, and represent only about six or seven per cent of gun owners. If the seventy per cent of Americans who support banning assault weapons, or the ninety per cent who support universal background checks, could be mobilized, they could certainly overcome the N.R.A. and its lackeys in Congress.

Such an outcome is still far, far from guaranteed. But, with the public engaged, the Parkland students planning a protest march in Washington later this month, and businesses already distancing themselves from the N.R.A., there is, for once, a glimmer of light.

Sorry, John, it looks to me like Trump is already backing off. After a meeting with Trump the N.R.A. Suggests Trump May Retreat From Gun Control.

Again, none of this should be surprising. Consider the most recent casualty of the Trump administration, Hope Hicks. She thinks telling “white lies” is OK but in reality that just abets the creation of a completely unreal White House, one without any morals or controls. David Remnick explains in the New Yorker: Hope Against Hope Hope Hicks is kidding herself if she thinks that her tenure in the Trump White House will be judged only for harmless, situational untruths. Remnick provides support for that claim.

… in terms of frequency and of the almost joyful abandonment of integrity as a demand of the office, Donald Trump is singular. He starts lying in the morning, tweeting while watching Fox News, and he keeps at it until his head hits the pillow at night. He lies to slander and seduce, he lies to profit, and he sometimes lies, it seems, just because. His capacity for falsehood is so heroic that we struggle to keep count of the daily instances. (After one year of the Trump Presidency, the Washington Post put the average at 5.9 falsehoods per day, a total of 2,140.) One consequence of this aspect of Trump’s character—oftentimes, it seems to be the very core of his character—is that lying defines the culture of his Administration just as it did his family business.

And Hope Hicks was part of that constant telling of untruths and the assault on American institutions devoted to truth-telling.

I’ll let New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz wind this up with his story on Sarah Huckabee Sanders Organizing “Million Liars March” to Support Hope Hicks.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Wednesday that she was organizing a “Million Liars March” to support her co-worker Hope Hicks.

Calling on “American liars from every walk of life” to march, Sanders said that she had already received commitments from hundreds of liars in the White House, the Cabinet, and Congress.

“These people realize what’s at stake,” she said. “It’s not just Hope Hicks’s career—it’s the lying life style itself.” “White lies like Hope’s were the lies of a promising beginner,” she said. “If Hope had been allowed to grow as liar, I have no doubt that someday she could have been as consistent a dispenser of ginormous whoppers as I am.”

She said that, if Hope Hicks is villainized, “where will the next generation of liars come from?”

Sanders said that the Million Liars March would address other issues of importance to the nation’s liars, such as a ban on lie detectors and a mandatory waiting period before statements can be fact-checked.

At the end of her announcement, Sanders appeared to choke back tears as she swore loyalty to her embattled colleague. “I believe in the mendacity of Hope,” she said.

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