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The most valuable function performed by the federal government is entertainment.

– Dave Barry

I know it doesn’t quite work with this, since the NRA isn’t a part of the federal government – yet/officially – but seeing as how it exists as a corollary of and in symbiotic opposition to the federal government, I felt the quote was apropos.

What I’m referring to is this. This, as has been widely reported, is too good to be true. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning. This is a steal at twice the price, and so good, it must be fattening. As reported by MSNBC:

The powerful gun lobby has posted what amounts to an enemies list on its website, and the neverending lineup includes scores upon scores of individual and groups that the NRA sees as hostile to gun rights. The list has more than 500 names, including women’s groups, law enforcement organizations, former presidents and A–list celebs.

As they say ’round the Bluth household, this is ripe for parody – this is ripe! Such entertainment should really cost more money – if you’re good at something, never do it for free. But there it is, right on their website – for free. Here’s what Daily Kos had to say, in one of the best characterizations of this tasty morsel of news:

The actual list is broken into multiple parts: There are political organizations the NRA hates, specific people (mostly celebrities and journalists) the NRA hates, and companies the NRA hates. Continue reading below the fold for a very, very small sampler from among the hundreds of entries.

AARP
American Civil Liberties Union
American Medical Association
American Bar Association
American Jewish Committee
B’nai B’rith
College Democrats of America
League of Women Voters
NAACP
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Education Association
National Organization for Women
National Spinal Cord Injury Association

That’s just the tiniest sampler—by the time you’ve run through the whole thing, I think you’ve probably covered almost everyone in America. All right, what about specific named individuals?

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From the Associated Press, some factual inaccuracies exposed that are both interesting and provide a snapshot of where we are in the gun debate:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The intensifying gun-control debate has given rise to sloppy claims on both sides.

Here’s a sampling, with the first two examples from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on guns Wednesday, and the third from Vice President Joe Biden’s online video chat last week during a Google Plus forum.

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IOWA SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, the top Republican on the committee: “The 1994 assault weapon ban did not stop Columbine. The Justice Department found the ban ineffective.”

THE FACTS: The 2004 study conducted for the Justice Department did not conclude the decade-old ban was a failure or a success. The nuanced report found that the effects of the ban “have yet to be fully realized” and it might take years to see results directly attributable to the prohibition on certain weapons and large capacity magazines. The ban expired later in 2004.

The study’s author, Christopher S. Koper, then of the University of Pennsylvania, considered the restrictions modest and speculated that they would have similarly measured results — perhaps as much as a 5 percent decline in gunshot victimization over time if the ban were kept in effect.

His main finding: There were not enough statistics and time to understand the impact of the ban and “it may take many years for the effects of modest, incremental policy changes to be fully felt, a reality that both researchers and policy makers should heed.”

The study made no recommendation whether the ban should be renewed. But it said that if the ban expired, it was “possible, and perhaps probable” that new assault weapons and large capacity magazines coming into the market “will eventually be used to commit mass murder.”

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WAYNE LaPIERRE, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association: “I think without any doubt, if you look at why our Founding Fathers put it (the Second Amendment) there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny. I also think, though, that what people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs, that they’re gonna be out there alone. And the only way they’re going to protect themselves in the cold and the dark, when they’re vulnerable, is with a firearm. And I think that indicates how relevant and essential the Second Amendment is in today’s society to fundamental human survival.”

SEN. DICK DURBIN, Illinois Democrat: “Well, Chief Johnson, you’ve heard it. The belief of NRA is, the Second Amendment has to give American citizens the firepower to fight back against you, against our government.”

THE FACTS: Durbin mischaracterized LaPierre’s statement in this exchange, which also involved James Johnson, Baltimore (Md.) County police chief.

LaPierre drew a distinction between what he saw as the original purpose of the Second Amendment and a contemporary fear that the government will abandon citizens, so that they must be able to protect themselves against criminals after a disaster. His statement was not a call to arms against the government.

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The pro-gun movement – a movement that I tentatively support, at least in sentiment and principle, though not as enthusiastically as some – doesn’t seem to be able to go a full 24 hours (see previous post) without doing something stupid. This one, I think, speaks for itself. You need no characterization from me. You need only to read this, from Wayne LaPierre’s December 21st statement regarding the Newtown shooting, delivered a week after that tragic event:

And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.

Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

To drive home the point with some helpful stats, he added:

A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.

Okay. Let that sink in for a minute. Mull it over. Then read this, from today at The Daily Beast (emphasis mine):

A shooting-range app for the iPhone and iPad branded as an “Official NRA Licensed Product” was released on Jan. 14—the one-month anniversary of the Newtown massacre that left 20 children and seven adults plus the shooter dead. Created by Medl Mobile, NRA: Practice Range is rated for ages 4 and up, according to Apple’s app store.

The free download is set up as shooting range, with three different backdrops to choose from: indoor, outdoor, and a skeet shoot. In each shooting range, the player can choose a type of target: shakey, hotshot or dead eye (not exactly in keeping with the child-friendly idea). After choosing the type of target, the player then chooses the weapon. The 9mm, one of the shooter’s weapons at Newtown, is the first one that shows up; higher-capacity magazines cost $0.99.

Let that sink. Mull.

For the record, questions have been raised as to whether the game is actually connected to the NRA, or if someone’s trading on their name. However, many have been “puzzled that the NRA hasn’t disowned the app if in fact it is a hoax.”

Though the game itself does seem pretty tame by today’s standards, this has got to be the worst public relations time for the NRA to produce a shooting video game.

Strike 2.

guns_2395289b
Some people are giving Obama too much credit. And they’re not his supporters, or really anyone in the Democratic Party. To find anyone with heartfelt belief in Obama’s second term, who truly believe he will make monumental progress on any of his issues, you have to go to the far right. Yes, the right. It is only they who seem to most strongly believe that Obama will start doing great things now. I’m paraphrasing Thomas Frank, in an article for Harper’s:

To find someone who sincerely believes that Barack Obama is going to preside over his second term as a strong, determined progressive, you must make your way far to the right. There, the panicked consensus holds that he will remake the nation as dramatically as did Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. There, and only there, will you be told that Obama is preparing to tackle the unemployment problem by establishing a new Works Progress Administration of the kind I called for in this magazine’s pages back in December 2011. Of course, for the true believers who make this assertion […] the idea of a resurgent WPA is the ultimate slacker-coddling nightmare.

Granted, the far right’s assertion of Obama’s greatness is couched in hysteria and apprehension, as with the oncoming of a certain doom, but in so believing it they nonetheless hold the most productive vision of a second Obama term.

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