Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday in the American shooting gallery

President Obama, who bragged on Friday that he does not react "as a President" when he hears about each succeeding mass gun massacre, used his weekly Saturday address to reprise his National Pastor presentation of Friday, Nation Grieves for Those Killed in Tragic Shooting in Newtown, CT 12/15/2012:

Dave Neiwert in Now Watch: Gun Nuts Will Claim Their Obama Paranoia is Coming True C&L 12/15/2012 optimistically concludes, "It's clear, both from his remarks yesterday and his radio address today, that President Obama has now screwed up the political courage to try to tackle the matter of the mass proliferation of guns in American society."

I really hope he's right. But I didn't see Obama's to statements in such a hopeful light. Here's how Obama framed this on Saturday:

As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years. An elementary school in Newtown. A shopping mall in Oregon. A house of worship in Wisconsin. A movie theater in Colorado. Countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia.

Any of these neighborhoods could be our own. So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics.

This weekend, Michelle and I are doing what I know every parent is doing – holding our children as close as we can and reminding them how much we love them.
The only action he mentioned he planned to take was to pray and hug his children. And by putting the mass gun massacres in the same context as the individual killings that happen on "countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia," he sadly emphasizes how much he sees mass gun murders as a normal part of the daily crime scene in America.

And his flack Jay Carney on Friday stuck to the same do-nothing, pro domestic arms proliferation position that Obama has taken throughout his Presidency. Joan Walsh criticizes him for it in Now’s the time to talk guns Salon 12/14.

Dave Neiwert's piece is mainly about the reactions of the far-right gun lobbies. They have been incessantly pushing the fear that Obama is going to start rounding up guns any day now. It produced booms in gun and ammo sales after his elections in 2008 and 2012. And it stokes gun sales after these nationally-publicized shooting incidents. In terms of the gun-selling business, endless rounds of fear are a good thing.

Dave writes:

And so with the President actually picking up the issue of gun violence now, these people will believe their worst fears are in the process of being realized.

Many of the "Patriot Porn" books I've been reading -- you know, apocalyptic "novels" for "preppers" about hardy bands of survivors making America safe for Patriots again after the depredations of Obama and the liberals who destroy America -- feature scenarios along these lines. Most of them depict Obama or his stand-in using various "crises", including school massacres secretly conducted by nefarious government agents out to create popular support while blaming fabricated scapegoats and ultimately gun owners themselves for the problem, to provide the pretext for destroying the Constitution and instituting the "Islamic Republic of America" or some similar "liberal" entity.
Billmon is also optimistic. In Guns of December: Have the Apologists For Slaughter Finally Gone Too Far? Daily Kos 12/15/2012, he writes:

I'm not here to discuss the pros and cons of arming kindergarten teachers with semi-automatic weapons. Not gonna go there. I think we as a nation already spend far too much time humoring the mad delusions of modern conservatives, which is a completely inadequate substitute for professional psychiatric therapy.

But it does occur to me that even the "respectable" gun nuts are slipping into the same spiral of extremism that has just about destroyed the anti-abortion movement (not to mention the political career of Todd Akin)—and for much the same reason. ...

I think the gun nuts are in somewhat the same bind now: Their movement rests on an absolute, or near-absolute reading of the Second Amendment as an individual right to bear firearms. What that means—practically as well as theoretically—is that events like the Sandy Hook massacre can't be stopped, or even slowed, by the tools presently available to law enforcement.

Even a greater focus on identifying and treating the mentally ill (currently the other fashionable alternative to gun control) is suspect, since it might enable some kind of state-sanctioned process that results in loss of gun rights. (Otherwise, does it make any difference if the mass killers of the future are certified, officially diagnosed lunatics?)

But the honest argument: mass slaughter is just the price — the butchers bill, so to speak — we must pay for having a Second Amendment ("The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of teachers and kindergarteners") isn't exactly a viable political position, at least not in the swing states.

And so a logical deux ex machina: The solution to gun violence is to arm everybody! No need for tampering with the Second Amendment, or waiting around for tiny corpses to cool so that we can begin talking about whether we should be talking about eventually having a national conversation about guns.
Billmon hopes that the advocates for mass gun massacres will wreck their credibility with this approach.

I hope he's right. I hope Dave's optimism about Obama's intentions is justified.

But if the Democratic President brags about not reacting to these horrific mass gun murders "as a President," it will take a lot of pressure from the public and the Democratic base to make him change his position. So far, he's done more during his Presidency to defend benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid than he has to oppose domestic gun proliferation. And this is the guy who in 2011 proposed to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and just this past week was forced to back off another trial balloon proposal to cut benefits on Medicare.

On the other hand, if President Grand Bargain can be forced to back off his proposal to cut Medicare benefits by grassroots pressure, maybe he can also be forced to take action on domestic arms proliferation.

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