“No Long Lines”?

The New York Times is either trying to out-Pravda Pravda or is living in an alternate universe.

No long lines? No major price hikes since malware shut down Colonial Pipeline’s operations?

Are you freaking kidding me!

Courtesy of the Citizen-Times

This is what you are more likely to see in North Carolina.

Courtesy of Winston-Salem Journal

We canceled a trip to see the granddaughters this weekend because we weren’t sure we would be able to get gas to get home. Fortunately, I have 3/4 of a tank and the Complementary Spouse filled up on Saturday when we first heard of the malware attack. I won’t be complaining about having to work from home any time soon.

This Was Supposed To Be The Big Day for Josh Powell

If you had been paying any sort of attention to the mainstream media, you might know that today was the day that Josh Powell’s tell-all book was to be released. The book entitled, Inside the NRA: A Tell-All Account of Corruption, Greed, and Paranoia within the Most Powerful Political Group in America, is supposed to tell us the inside scoop about Wayne and company.

Amazon is running this as the blurb for the book:

A shocking exposé of rampant, decades-long incompetence at the National Rifle Association, as told by a former member of its senior leadership.

Joshua L. Powell is the NRA–a lifelong gun advocate, in 2016, he began his new role as a senior strategist and chief of staff to NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.

What Powell uncovered was horrifying: “the waste and dysfunction at the NRA was staggering.”

INSIDE THE NRA reveals for the first time the rise and fall of the most powerful political organization in America–how the NRA became feared as the Death Star of Washington lobbies and so militant and extreme as “to create and fuel the toxicity of the gun debate until it became outright explosive.”

INSIDE THE NRA explains this intentional toxic messaging was wholly the product of LaPierre’s leadership and the extremist branding by his longtime PR puppet master Angus McQueen. In damning detail, Powell exposes the NRA’s plan to “pour gasoline” on the fire in the fight against gun control, to sow discord to fill its coffers, and to secure the presidency for Donald J. Trump.

ABC News’ Pierre Thomas had an exclusive interview with him. It was so earth-shattering that they ran it on Friday on World News Tonight, on Sunday with George Stephanopolous, and again on Monday on GMA.

Powell described himself as a “huge Second Amendment supporter” with a sizable gun collection and a lifelong passion for hunting and shooting. As the NRA’s “No. 2 guy,” he said he “worked side by side” with LaPierre over several years. An NRA spokesperson, in a statement, said that Powell “had zero input or influence on the NRA’s political or legislative strategy,” but Powell says he was involved in “every single important conversation that went on in the NRA.”

But he became disillusioned with the organization and LaPierre’s leadership, he said, as LaPierre’s alleged misuse of members’ money came into focus. Powell says his work became “soul-sucking,” and he now considers it a “low point in [his] life.”

Danny Hakim of the New York Times reported that Powell is now calling for red flag laws and universal background checks.

A hunter since childhood and former Chicago options and derivatives trader, Mr. Powell says that the N.R.A. has fundamentally lost its way, abandoning “its roots as an organization focused on gun safety and education.” That has led it to limit its own long-term membership growth, he argues, by turning its back on the majority of gun owners who support background checks.

With this kind of build up plus dishing all the dirt on Wayne LaPierre and the NRA, you would think the New York Times Review of Books would give it a glowing review just to get Powell’s narrative out there.

And…you would be mistaken.

The review of the book was brutal. It starts off with this:

This is a sad book, and a bad one, and you shouldn’t buy it. The thinking in it is poor; the writing is worse. The author “exposes” evils that, if you’ve been paying even scant attention, you already know. Expect it soon in a Walmart remainder bin near you.

I had always assumed that Powell had a ghostwriter. Given the review of the writing style, I might be mistaken on that. Either that or he had the worst ghostwriter that money could buy.

It gets worse.

The unrelenting barrage of clichés is worse. The N.R.A. has debased the American language, and Powell adds to the sludge. If you only skimmed this book, you would think it was about a fox in a henhouse who caught flak and was thrown under a bus for playing laser-focused hardball like gangbusters and getting the short end of the stick while sensing blood in the water.

It concludes:

Powell’s book is a mea culpa. About the N.R.A.’s Kool-Aid, he writes, “I sold it, stirred it, drank it every day.” He lost his soul, he writes, and became part of the swamp. He’d like, he claims, again unconvincingly, to see the N.R.A. largely return to its roots as an organization dedicated to gun safety.

The N.R.A., in this telling as in others, is an organization in free fall. About New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, who has taken existential aim at the N.R.A., he writes, “I’m not betting against her.”

Bearing in mind that Powell is one of the four named defendants in the suit brought by Letitia James and because he appears to be a sociopath willing to do anything to save his own skin, I’m guessing he has already rolled over and is providing James all the gossip.

You might remember I noted that Powell’s attorney is a partner at Akin Gump. I had wondered how a guy without a job could afford such an expensive attorney. Five years ago the reported partner billing rate for the firm was over $1,200 per hour and undoubtedly is higher now. I might have an explanation for that. A friend who is a DC attorney said that lots of the big DC firms will take cases like this pro bono in exchange for the publicity.

It is either that or perhaps a former big city mayor who hates the NRA enough has decided to foot the bill so that even more dirt about the NRA is released just prior to the election. Nah, that would make me look like a conspiracy theorist or something.

Finally, if you are wondering how such an incompetent grifter ever got hired to a high position at the NRA, my sources say that the blame falls on Pete Brownell and Wayne’s former BFF Tony Makris. Sometime after Powell was elected to the NRA Board of Directors, they pitched him to Wayne as someone for his executive team. The rest is history as the saying goes.

Neal Knox – “April 28, 1997”

Preface by Chris Knox

This piece and the preceding one were written during the run-up to the 1997 NRA Board meeting that would replace Neal Knox with Charlton Heston as NRA First Vice-President. In order to assure Heston’s election, which was not a sure thing (Heston won by a mere four votes), his backers had “gone negative.” The details of the 1997 fight appear later in this section, but in this piece and its preceding companion, Knox looks back needing to protect his name, he ran these two pieces in back-to-back issues of Shotgun News.

April 28, 1997


When the New York Times devotes an editorial to trashing me, I’m honored.

On February 3, 1997 they huffed that “Mr. Knox has been a dark force in the N.R.A. since his days as the group’s chief lobbyist. He was kicked out of that job in 1982 and expelled from the board in 1984 for ‘extremism.’”

As reported in my last column,“extremism” had nothing to do with my firing—not unless it is “extremist” to insist that Sen. Bob Dole and the other 54 co-sponsors of the McClure-Volkmer “Gun Decontrol Act” bring it to a vote and pass it, as they had promised to do.

Similarly my removal from the Board in 1984 had nothing to do with “extremism.”

But it was again tied to my all-out effort to pass the McClure-Volkmer bill, which would have cut the heart out of the Gun Control Act of 1968. I helped write the McClure bill in 1979, and began the ground-work—by declaring war on BATF’s GCA ’68 enforcement tactics—the week after I became ILA Executive Director in January 1978.

The week after I was fired, the Senate Judiciary finally approved the long-stalled McClure-Volkmer bill—but only after adding the Kennedy-Dole amendment calling for a 7-day waiting period on handgun purchases (a concept Dole had been quietly pushing for a couple of years).

Instead of working to remove the Dole-Kennedy amendment, my successor at ILA, J. Warren Cassidy, happily quit supporting McClure-Volkmer. The Senators who didn’t want to vote on it—led by Dole—were relieved.

But NRA members wouldn’t back off. They demanded that NRA and Congress move the bill.

In early 1983 Cassidy took two copies of the bill to Sen. Jim McClure, showing the amendments wanted by the “Reagan Administration” (BATF and the Justice Department). Sen. McClure gave me one of his copies and asked me to give him a report of their effect.

To my astonishment, the modifications weren’t to the original version, but to the committee-passed version—which had the Dole-Kennedy waiting period. 

The Administration/BATF amendments gutted the bill. For instance, the heart of GCA ’68 was its prohibition of virtually all interstate transfers. The original M-V eliminated those prohibitions unless the laws of either state restricted such transfers. 

I was reared on both sides of the Red River dividing Texas and Oklahoma, and had family in each; neither state restricted my purchase of any type gun.  But under GCA ’68 my uncle couldn’t give me a gun without both of us committing a Federal felony.

One of the dozen BATF amendments to M-V would have retained the total prohibition on interstate handgun transfers and allowed long gun purchases only from dealers. At the 1983 members’ meeting in Phoenix, Cassidy claimed he hadn’t asked Sen. McClure to support those amendments—but that’s not what Sen. McClure told me.

Harlon did his best to get the Board not to seat me, saying, “We must excise this cancer.” But he couldn’t get the board to agree. That fall, Cassidy got Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to support the BATF amendments. Sen. McClure was furious. I prepared written testimony—as a private citizen—opposing the amendments and presented it to the Senate Judiciary, which wouldn’t let me testify. And I lobbied friends on the Hill, some of whom I had known for 15 years, and probably none of whom knew I was on the NRA Board.

When I blasted Cassidy in Gun Week for supporting the amendments, he denied it, citing weasel-worded committee testimony. Only long after, when the hearing report came out, did I learn that Sen. Thurmond had demanded—and got—a clear written statement in support of the amendments. Late on the night before the January 1984 Board Meeting, I was informally told that there would be an effort to expel me for opposing the position taken by ILA. I received no official notice. The Board voted 45-24 (just short of two-thirds; not the three-quarter vote claimed in a recently distributed letter from four past presidents, all of whom voted against me).

In opposing any amendments to McClure-Volkmer, I was lobbying in support of long-established Board policy. 

Board members asked me if I would promise not to do it again; I replied that I could not make such a promise because I couldn’t know if NRA were going to at some future time act against the best interests of the members.

If that be “extremism,” make the most of it.

Used with permission.

Knox, Neal. Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War: Dispatches from the Front Lines 1966 through 2000 . MacFarlane Press. Kindle Edition. Location 5398 – 5432.

The New York Times editorial that is referenced in this excerpt can be found here. It referred to Neal Knox as a “dark force” who wanted to repeal the Brady Law as well as the Clinton assault weapons ban. It said he even wanted to legalize “fully automatic weapons.” The horror!

That editorial noted that Wayne LaPierre was facing a challenge from within due to “declining membership, financial problems and an abysmal public image”. Other than a declining membership, this could have almost been written in 2020. If they had said declining contributions, it would have been spot on.

Useful Pawns Of Bloomberg, Inc.

I address this to all the women (and men) who wear their red Moms Demand Action t-shirts. I realize that you think, though misguidedly, that you are doing something to promote gun control so as to stop the criminal misuse of firearms.

How does it feel to learn that you are nothing but a useful pawn in Mike Bloomberg’s quest for more and more political power?

From the (progressive) paper of record aka the New York Times who just did a long story on the interrelationship between Mike Bloomberg’s charitable giving and his political ambition.

Everytown is managed directly by one of Mr. Bloomberg’s close lieutenants, John Feinblatt, a former New York deputy mayor whose wedding Mr. Bloomberg officiated in 2011. Numerous people connected to the group said it channeled Mr. Bloomberg’s priorities, including his strong preference for working with both parties.

The organization came into existence through an almost corporate-style merger: Mr. Bloomberg already had a gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but he needed a grass-roots army to compete with the National Rifle Association. So it joined forces with an existing activist group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to form Everytown.

People involved in the group described being forced to communicate exclusively in canned talking points. Kate Ranta, shot twice by her ex-husband in front of her young son, was a member of Everytown’s network of survivors. She was asked to address a rally on the steps of the Capitol, along with her son. Standing beside Nancy Pelosi, then the House minority leader, and Representative John Lewis, she found herself stumbling over the text she had been given.

“Someone from Everytown wrote my speech. It was pushing their legislative agenda versus my authentic voice,” Ms. Ranta said. “I couldn’t say ‘gun control.’ It was moderate messaging — ‘gun safety’ and ‘gun violence prevention.’”

Other members greatly appreciated the new direction from Everytown. “A structure began to be put into place, and we could avail ourselves of the data that was offered so we could speak more intelligently,” said June Rubin, a Moms Demand Action volunteer in New York. “So we’re focused and single-issue and highly recognizable and speaking with one voice, and it’s powerful.”

The policy agenda was to be focused on tightening background checks; more radical ideas like banning assault weapons were off the table. “There were people who were very, very troubled by that,” Ms. Rubin said. “I became very pragmatic.”

More confrontational tactics were also rejected. After the mass shooting last year at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., other groups organized protests to pressure the retailer to change its policies. But Moms members were discouraged from attending and told not to show any affiliation if they did. One Moms official told volunteers in a closed Facebook group that doing otherwise could “undercut our relations with responsible gun owners whose support we need.”

“Our goal is always to get results, and sometimes that means playing the outside game and sometimes it requires playing the inside game and working with partners who have shown themselves to be amenable to change,” said Maxwell Young, chief of public affairs for Everytown. “We’ve found Walmart to be an ally on gun safety and an example of a leader always willing to engage in productive conversations.”

You thought you could leave. You thought you could go your own way. You thought you and Everytown/Moms Demand were done with one another.

Not so fast.

Former members of Moms Demand Action, who had been cut off from private Facebook groups and blocked by leadership on Twitter, were surprised when they received emails from Mike Bloomberg 2020. Then they learned his campaign had rented the group’s email list, for $3.2 million, two days before he announced his candidacy in November.

It is like one of those messianic-led, off in the ozone cults. You try to leave but they will always come looking for you…because no one is allowed to leave.

But don’t feel too bad as you debate should you burn that red Moms Demand t-shirt. You aren’t alone. There aren’t many progressive or liberal constituencies that Mike Bloomberg hasn’t tried to buy on his way to grab for political power.

Climate change activists? Ask the Sierra Club.

Women’s rights? Ask Emily’s List.

Education policy? Ask NC’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.

Abortion? Ask Planned Parenthood.

And the list goes on. Mike Bloomberg may engage in sexist and racist behavior and fly in a fleet of private jets but his money buys willful ignorance and useful pawns.

More NY Subpoenas For The NRA

Danny Hakim of The New York Times is reporting that NY Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY) issued new subpoenas to the National Rifle Association last week. While I have been keeping up with issues related to the NRA, I missed this.

The subpoena, which was described to The New York Times, was issued last week and covers at least four areas, including campaign finance, payments made to board members and tax compliance. Because the N.R.A. is chartered in New York and the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, has a range of enforcement options, the investigation has alarmed N.R.A. officials already grappling with infighting and litigation. The same office brought a case last year that led to the shuttering of President Trump’s foundation.

Among the documents sought by the subpoena are records related to transfers among N.R.A.-controlled entities, including the N.R.A. Foundation, an affiliated charity. Recent tax filings show that the N.R.A. diverted $36 million last year from the foundation in various ways, far more than ever before, raising concerns among tax experts. The transfers came as the N.R.A. experienced financial strains and challenges from gun-control groups, which outspent the organization in the 2018 midterm elections. An earlier analysis by The Times found that the foundation had transferred more than $200 million to the N.R.A. between 2010 and 2017.

The NRA Foundation, you may remember, is now under an investigation by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine (D-DC). The NRA Foundation is chartered in the District of Columbia.

The New York investigation also is seeking internal documents related to the NRA’s filings with the Federal Election Commission as well as to communication with two political consulting firms. Those firms, Starboard Strategic and OnMessage, are somewhat intertwined. The Cult of Personality known as Giffords has sued the FEC alleging that the NRA paid money to Starboard Strategic as a means to funnel money to Republicans using OnMessage.

The New York Attorney General’s Office had no comments on the subpoenas.

However, NBC reports this response from the NRA outside counsel William Brewer III.

“Of course, the financial records of the NRA and affiliates were audited and reported in tax filings, in accordance with state and federal regulations — a fact that underscores the Association’s commitment to good governance,” Brewer said. “It is easy to understand why the NRA believes that the NYAG’s zeal with respect to this inquiry reflects the investigation’s partisan purpose — not an actual concern that the NRA is not effectively using its assets to pursue its members interests.”

“Regrettably, the NYAG seems to credit hollow rants by a handful of actors who are no longer associated with the NRA,” Brewer continued.

While Brewer seems to dismiss the actions of the NY Attorney General and her office saying it has “a partisan purpose”, she does have extraordinary powers when it comes to non-profit organizations chartered in the state. This includes substantial fines and even the possible dissolution of the NRA. If any of the current or former member of the Board are just sloughing this off as a partisan witch hunt, they are doing so at their peril.

This is serious business. I can’t say that it would not have come up if the Board had been doing their due diligence and taking their fiduciary responsibilities seriously. However, it would have been easier to dismiss as having a “partisan purpose.”

Someone Is Going Under The Bus

The New York Times ran a story by Danny Hakim regarding the financing of the “Russia trip”. It appeared in Thursday’s paper. The “Russia trip” was a visit to Moscow organized by Maria Butina. It was attended by former NRA President David Keene, then-1st VP Pete Brownell, Sheriff David Clarke, and some other board members. The trip was for the purpose of building stronger ties between the NRA and gun-rights supporters in Russia.

The financing of the trip has been of interest to both Congressional investigators and to NY Attorney General Letitia James. There have been a complicated series of personal checks and reimbursements which has attracted their attention. According to the article, the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III has asserted in internal presentations that “those involved had exposed themselves to wire fraud charges.” Other attorneys disagreed with this assertion.

Brewer is also asserting that Wayne LaPierre was opposed to the trip. This, however, is contradicted by emails from the time which marked trip-related invoices as “Wayne approved”.

While the whole financing issue is of interest to investigators, it is what is buried in this story that caught my attention. In other words, the story within the story. It concerns the bureaucratic infighting between some of LaPierre’s closest associates.

The invoices for the trip were overseen by LaPierre’s closest aide Millie Hallow.

The 2016 transactions were overseen by Millie Hallow, an aide to Mr. LaPierre, according to emails. In one February 2016 email, Ms. Butina sent an invoice directly to Ms. Hallow for “Hosting of NRA leadership group for six days in Moscow,” according to the document, and thanked her “for your invaluable advice these past few months.”

In a May 26 email that year, Ms. Hallow told other N.R.A. officials that an invoice related to the trip submitted by Mr. Brownell’s company, the firearms retailer Brownells, had been authorized: “Wayne approved these special projects involving Outreach that Brownell has done,” she wrote.

Now it appears that Josh Powell, Chief of Staff to LaPierre, is trying to throw Millie under the bus.

On Thursday, Josh Powell, the N.R.A.’s chief of staff, said in a statement that “in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Brownell, Millie falsely stated that Wayne approved of certain expenses when he had not. In fact, Millie apologized to me (and others) later for the misrepresentation.”

You may remember that in late July I did a blog post regarding Millie Hallow. It detailed how she had been convicted of felony embezzlement while directing the DC Commission on Arts and the Humanities. My impression was that had been kept a closely guarded secret. I had NRA board members tell me they didn’t know Ms. Hallow was a convicted felon until that post was published.

It now appears that someone wants that information in the public domain.

But Ms. Hallow is one of Ms. LaPierre’s closest aides, and raising questions about her credibility comes at an inopportune time. The N.R.A. is relying on her word in its battle with Oliver North, the organization’s former president, who stepped down this year shortly after making a call to Ms. Hallow that N.R.A. officials described as threatening toward Mr. LaPierre. Ms. Hallow also once pleaded guilty to a felony related to the theft of money from an arts agency she ran in Washington. (emphasis mine)

It would be interesting to know which one of Hakim’s sources pointed that out to him. It does serve the purposes of Josh Powell but the question remains whether he is smart enough to made use of it. I don’t see it serving the purpose of Brewer as he needs her to be a credible witness against Ollie North. That is, unless it is more important to protect LaPierre in the Russia investigation than it is to continue the fight against Ollie North. If that is the case then there is a lot more substance to this whole Russia fiasco than we previously thought and it is a lot more dangerous to the personal fortune of LaPierre. Time will tell.

The Purge Continues At The NRA

The ascendancy of William Brewer and his law firm at the NRA is almost complete. Danny Hakim of the New York Times reported that Charles Cooper of Cooper and Kirk had been dismissed as an outside counsel to the NRA. Cooper and his firm had handled much of the NRA’s lawsuits in the past number of years.

Now Mr. LaPierre is continuing to purge opponents. On Thursday, the N.R.A. dismissed its longtime outside counsel, Charles J. Cooper, the chairman of the Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk, people with knowledge of the decision said. A second outside counsel and a top in-house counsel resigned. The departures come after an internal inquiry showed that the lawyers were involved in an effort to undermine Mr. LaPierre.

From what I have gathered from multiple sources, the “internal inquiry” consists of Josh Powell and William Brewer dragging people into a room and interrogating them for hours on end. If your inquiry team consists of a business failure and an attorney under an ethical cloud the results will be whatever is most likely to feed Wayne LaPierre’s paranoid fantasy of the day.

But as the informercial says, wait! It gets better.

The N.R.A. is also considering halting payments to its former second in command, Christopher Cox, who left in June but is still on the payroll, said the people, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The article continues with the assertion that Cooper, Cox, and others were secretly working with AckMac as part of the supposed coup to depose Wayne. Hakim in his story says he is working with documents that have come to light as a result of the NRA’s lawsuit against Oliver North. If I had to hazzard a guess, I’d say the documents came from Brewer and his firm as they seem to have Hakim on speed dial.

Hakim concludes his story by writing (and including a link to my blog’s namesake):

The unraveling of lawyers, guns and money coincides with the departures of half a dozen board members in recent weeks. But Mr. LaPierre remains center stage, as polarizing as ever.

“Donald Trump and Wayne LaPierre are made for each other,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, the gun control group started by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. He called them “mirror images” engulfed in “allegations of corruption and mismanagement.”

But Todd Rathner, a member of the N.R.A.’s board, said, “Wayne is leading and proving that he has the political juice to get the job done.”

 Given the White House’s backtracking from what Wayne reported of his conversation with President Trump, I’d question Rathner’s last statement. He might have the juice to purge his supposed enemies within the NRA but I sincerely doubt his political effectiveness on the national scene anymore.

More Subpoenas Served On The NRA

Danny Hakim in the New York Times is reporting that New York Attorney General Letitia James and her office have served a subpoena on the NRA seeking financial records from over 90 current and former members of the Board of Directors. The subpoena was served yesterday evening.

The subpoena is an escalation of a continuing investigation into the tax-exempt status of the N.R.A., which is chartered in New York, and engulfs the organization’s board of directors in the inquiry. The subpoena seeks financial records and other documents that would shed light on spending decisions made by the board.

While James’ office is not commenting on the subpoena, the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III had this to say.

William A. Brewer III, the N.R.A.’s outside counsel, said in a statement: “As we understand it, counsel to the N.R.A. board accepted service of a subpoena to the board that relates to the production of documents and information.”

He added: “Such a request was expected and, as we have said many times, the N.R.A. will cooperate with any reasonable, good faith request for information given the organization’s commitment to good governance.”

This is making the decision by Tim Knight, Sean Maloney, and Esther Schneider to resign from the board and the decision by Adam Kraut to turn down an appointment to the board seem all that much more wiser.

I’ve heard numerous reports that the NRA’s Directors and Officers liability insurance was either dropped by their current carrier due to its issues or that the premium was so high that it was decided it wasn’t economically feasible. This has been denied. I tend to agree with what Dan Zimmerman of TTAG had to say about it.

The Times report says the NRA denied that their D&O coverage has been cancelled. That’s what the NRA’s Andrew Arulanandam told TTAG over the weekend, too. With the latest news of the NY AG’s widening fishing expedition, that coverage is more important than ever.

I would not be surprised to see a number of resignations by the celebrities – singers, actors, former athletes – from the board on the advice of their personal attorneys. They have deep pockets and if there is any suggestion of the absence of D&O liability insurance it would be risk management 101 to head for the doors.

If You Are Conservative At The NY Times, Do You Get A Brain Transplant?

When Bret Stephens was a columnist and deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, he was fairly reasonable in a country club Republican sort of fashion. He became a “NeverTrumper” in 2016 and then departed for the New York Times in 2017 to be one of their pet conservatives. Somewhere along the way, I swear his brain was sucked out and he was transformed into a Stepford conservative. That is, servile, compliant, and submissive to the progressive orthodoxy at the Times while maintaining his bland Republican ostensibly conservative face.

Yesterday, he did a joint “conversational” column with Gail Collins, a reliable lefty gun hater, on Donald Trump. In it, Stephens was asked if he still wanted to repeal the Second Amendment.

Bret: Yes, and you ought to join me in it.

Gail: Repealing the Second Amendment is totally impossible and talking about it just gives the N.R.A. another paranoia point to exploit. I say focus on the reforms that could actually happen. Like banning assault rifles. Tightening background checks.

Bret: I’m a believer in advocating supposedly impossible ideas, at least editorially. If not us, with the fantastic freedom and reach that The Times gives us as columnists, then who? Anyway, it’s not as if the N.R.A. will ever lack for paranoid fantasies about the deep state coming for their guns. So, if nothing else, starting a serious movement to repeal the Second Amendment might scare them into accepting the kind of sensible restrictions you advocate.

Gail: Instead of giving the N.R.A., um, ammunition to claim we’re out to take away every hunting rifle, I’d rather demand they defend teenage gun purchases and their “open carry” Eden in which every Applebee’s patron is packing heat.

They then return to their conversation regarding the firing of the House Chaplain by Speaker Paul Ryan.

It is kind of amazing when the 72 year old die hard lefty makes more sense that the younger pet conservative. Like I said, I swear his brains were sucked out when he joined the Times.

Re-Writing A New York Times Editorial From 2013

The New York Times ran an unsigned editorial on Nov. 21, 2013 entitled “Democracy Returns to the Senate.” In light of the events of yesterday in the Senate where the Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” and just this morning confirmed Neil Gorsuch as the newest Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, I thought a little re-writing was in order. My changes are in bold.

It starts:

For five years This year, Senate Republicans Democrats have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama Trump for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

It goes on:

In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial Supreme Court appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority.


The only exceptions are were nominations to the Supreme Court, for which a filibuster would still be allowed. But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to end ended those filibusters, too.


This vote was long overdue. “I have waited 18 years for this moment,” said Senator Tom Harkin Charles Grassley, Democrat Republican of Iowa.

Furthermore:

Republicans Democrats warned that the rule change could haunt the Democrats Republicans if they lost the White House and the Senate. But the Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and it says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them. (The practice barely existed before the 1970s.) From now on, voters will have to understand that presidents are likely to get their way on nominations if their party controls the Senate.

The editorial concludes:

Democrats Republicans made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which Republicans Democrats insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.

Not surprisingly, the New York Times has no unsigned editorial praising the Republicans for getting rid of cloture votes on Supreme Court nominees. The filibuster isn’t gone – you just have to do it the old fashioned way which involves a beach ball sized bladder and a lot of stamina.

What has surprised me the most in this whole episode was that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) actually had the cojones to go nuclear. For a Republican whose spine seems to be made of Jello, that was remarkable.