Commentary

Experts skewer Tillis, NRA excuses for blocking Merrick Garland

Tillis

Sen. Thom Tillis

With Governor McCrory’s discrimination bill (and his laugh-out-loud excuses) dominating the news in North Carolina, it’s easy to lose sight that there’s another major debate going on right now (this one at the national level) in which conservatives are having a lot of trouble explaining themselves. I refer, of course, to the ongoing blockade of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Fortunately, a couple of new and powerful articles are there to remind us of just how absurd the blockade has become.

#1 is Gene Nichol’s excellent piece in Sunday’s McClatchy papers (“Through the looking glass with Thom Tillis”) in which Nichol provides a scathing, point-by-point take-down of North Carolina’s junior senator and his recent speech on the matter. Here’s the conclusion:

“I must admit I don’t know whether the senator read this speech before he delivered it. I guess we can hope he didn’t. I’d be slow to conclude he’s not a smart fellow. Bless his heart. But I’m inclined to think that, like Gov. Pat McCrory, he has become so accustomed to mushing through the talking points – no matter how distant they are from reality – that his words don’t register, even on the home front. One need neither understand nor believe what one utters. After all, it’s only politics.

I wouldn’t quickly compare Thom Tillis to the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary. But the cynical repetition of demonstrably, and even hideously false, pufferies – which has now become habitual for Tillis – is no marked improvement over Trumpism. Deploying venom and dispensing bile are not the only ways to demean American political discourse – or to embarrass the people of North Carolina.”

#2 is a new report by Ian Millhiser at Think Progress — “The NRA’s case against Merrick Garland just got super awkward.” In it, Millhiser points out that even failed George W. Bush Court of Appeals nominee and darling of the far right, Miguel Estrada rejects the NRA’s attacks on Garland:

“‘The NRA claims that Garland’s decision to [review a decision striking down the District of Columbia’s tough gun control law] helps mark the Supreme Court nominee as someone who ‘does not support the Second Amendment.’ That’s pure applesauce, according to Estrada:

Estrada explains that ‘the rules say that the full court may wish to rehear the case itself when the case raises a question, and I quote, of “exceptional importance.”‘

The gun rights case certainly was of exceptional importance, he said, since no court of appeals had ever before ruled that there was an individual right to own a gun. Ultimately, Estrada notes, the Supreme Court, too, thought the case was of exceptional importance, since it agreed to review the lower court decision and, in a landmark opinion, sustained it.

In a previous interview with CBS’ Face The Nation, Estrada also described Garland as “astronomically qualified” and said that he ‘should be confirmed.’”

In other words, try as they might to manufacture excuses to oppose Garland, it is increasingly clear that the real and only reason for the conservatives’ blockade is that they can do it. What’s more, as with the discrimination law, it feels more and more as if the far right is really just delaying the inevitable.

Commentary

Stop the suicidal gun madness

The lead editorials in this morning’s New York Times and Los Angeles Times are absolutely correct in their assessments of the insane gun carnage that grips our nation. This is the excellent conclusion of the NYT piece:

“Those who reject sensible gun controls will say anything to avoid implicating the growth in the civilian arsenal. The House speaker, Paul Ryan, for one, responded to the killings at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs with a call for better mental health care, and is supporting a new bill that sponsors said would expand services to provide earlier treatment so violent people might theoretically be intercepted. “For those with mental illness, what we ought to be doing is treating the mental illness instead of responding to the crime,” Representative Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican and a chief sponsor of the bill, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview on Tuesday.

This is the familiar line trotted out by Republican politicians after every massacre, as if unfettered access to high-powered weaponry — which they and the gun lobby have made possible — is not a factor in this national catastrophe. Congress’s Republican leaders are betting they can brazenly go through another election cycle without enacting gun safety laws.

Congress has allowed the domestic gun industry to use assorted loopholes to sell arsenals that are used against innocent Americans who cannot hide. Without firm action, violent criminals will keep terrorizing communities and the nation, inflicting mass death and damage across the land.”

The LAT puts it this way:

“Enough. This nation’s infatuation with guns — inflamed by the ludicrous stances of the NRA, and abetted by Congress’ fear of that powerful but irresponsible group — is suicidal. There are too many guns, too easily obtained. Often they are in the hands of those who should not have them at all, such as the mentally ill.

It’s absurd that one of the richest, freest, and most advanced societies in world history endures such a scourge with such equanimity. But there is hope. A Gallup poll in October found that 55% of Americans support stronger gun control measures, and other surveys have found that even a majority of NRA members support mandatory background checks — something the NRA itself has assiduously opposed. There is broad political support for stronger laws to address the nation’s gun addiction, but gun control advocates have so far been unable to counter the money and organizational heft of the NRA. It’s obscene that a single interest group is able to endanger an entire nation’s safety….

This crisis in American society must be combated through the ballot box, and through lobbying to loosen the iron grip the NRA holds on Congress and many state legislatures. That is where the pushback against this culture of death needs to occur. And it needs to occur now.”

Amen.

Commentary

The terrorism that actually threatens America

[This post has been updated to correct a duplicate link.] The gun insanity continues. Another average morning, another whirlwind of horrific stories about innocent people in and around us dying (or having their lives endangered) senselessly because criminals and crazy people have easy access to killing machines:

Meanwhile,  the chief defender and enabler of the terrorists around us — the gun lobby — goes merrily about its business, buying our politicians and undermining our democracy.

Commentary

The least the NRA could do

Target assault weaponsAs yesterday’s panic at a shopping mall in Fayetteville makes clear, average Americans are rightfully terrified at the idea of people openly walking around carrying guns in public venues of this kind. They do no want it and it clearly needs to be unlawful throughout the United States. Moreover, a completely clear and permanent ban on such behavior would have no effect on “concealed carry” holders or hunters or the right of people generally to own guns.

Given this plain and simple reality, the least the NRA and other Second Amendment enthusiasts could do is to loudly and publicly support efforts to prohibit such behavior and the terror it understandably causes in the general public.

Come on, NRA. what do you say? How about helping to find one small island of common ground?

Uncategorized

Reporter explores the NRA’s “War on America”

GunsReporter Ana Marie Cox attended this past weekend’s National Rifle Association annual meeting and came away with some interesting insights — most notably that the organization’s noxious overall objectives often differ from those of the rank and file. As she notes:

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre exhorted the crowd to a morally obligated vigilantism. He drew a vivid picture of a United States in utter decay and fragmented beyond repair, Mad Max-meets-Hunger Games, divided by Soylent Green:

‘We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and knock-out gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping-mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all.’

LaPierre’s bleak vision is exaggerated dystopianism in service of sedition, a wide-ranging survey of targets that put justice against the intrusions of the IRS on a continuum with (as an advertisement he ran during his speech put it) workplace ‘bullies and liars.’

Talk about mission creep. Read more