Interesting Observation

I tend to take anything out of the mouth or pen of Paul Krugman with a grain of salt and then some. In an opinion piece written in the New York Times last night after it became apparent that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency, he made an observation with which I have to agree wholeheartedly .

We still don’t know who will win the electoral college, although as I write this it looks — incredibly, horribly — as if the odds now favor Donald J. Trump. What we do know is that people like me, and probably like most readers of The New York Times, truly didn’t understand the country we live in.

The rest of the piece was how we uneducated boobs didn’t value democratic values or the rule of law and that we voted to make America a failed state. Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada.

Krugman is absolutely correct in that he doesn’t understand America. Living in the rarefied air of Princeton and New York City means that you live in a bubble. The best analogy I can give is that it is a real life Truman Show where the biggest worry of parents is not how they are going to make the mortgage or put food on the table but whether their 2.2 (or less) kids get into an Ivy League college. When you don’t produce a tangible product or when you aren’t compensated by your output, then the lingering downturn in the economy really doesn’t impact you. Those people can then go along in their merry delusions about those of us in the South or in flyover country.
My suggestion to Professor Krugman is to do a Steinbeck-esque road trip across America. Get off the main roads. Stay in small motels. Eat at the diner and the mom & pop restaurants. Visit small businesses. Indeed, go to a gun store and take a shooting class. Go to coal country or places in eastern Kentucky where the best job available is in the local nursing home. If Professor Krugman were to do such a trip and honestly report what he saw and felt, then I would have more respect for him.

Deconstructing An “Appalling” New York Times Editorial

The New York Times ran an editorial yesterday castigating the Republican presidential candidates for not talking about gun control in their recent debate. They titled it “An Appalling Silence on Gun Control”. After reading the editorial, the best thing about it is that they don’t hide their intentions behind the “gun safety” euphemism.

Now to deconstructing the editorial:

It was remarkable that the Republican presidential candidates’ debate this week, supposedly focused on keeping Americans safe, was devoid of questions and comments about the public health issue of gun violence.

First off, gun violence is an inaccuracy. The gun is a tool and an inanimate object. The gun itself cannot jump up and shoot someone. The gun doesn’t pull the trigger; a human finger pulls that trigger. The gun cannot commit violence.

Second, it is not a public health issue. Violence committed by urban gangs in turf battles, violence committed during the commission of a home invasion or burglary, and violence committed by minorities on fellow minorities is not a public health issue. It is a crime issue. No amount of research by pet academics at Harvard or Johns Hopkins can change this fact.

That would have complicated their pitch, and more important, would mean thinking about gun violence in ways that would displease the gun industry and its political lobby. Those forces demand unquestioning allegiance from politicians fearful for their careers — outspoken candidates who retreat into shameful timidity when serious ideas on gun safety are needed. Strangely, the debate moderators didn’t care to touch the gun issue either, thereby burying a public health challenge that is a lethal, daily threat.

It is not the firearms industry nor the NRA that is calling the shots here. It is the voters. Specifically, it is the single issue gun rights voter that is demanding no more gun control. The Times is so used to top-down organizations and astroturfing that they can’t recognize real grassroots movements when they see it at work. The gun industry dances to the tune of the consumer and not the other way around when it comes to gun rights. That is why Ruger is pledging to donate up to $2 million to the NRA-ILA and why Smith & Wesson almost went under as a result of an agreement with the Clinton Administration.

The majority of Americans have said that they don’t want what the Times considers serious ideas. The most recent polls say that people reject assault weapons (sic) bans and actually think carrying a firearm is a better way to fight terrorism than “gun safety”.

As Jeff Knox always points out, we are the gun lobby.

It’s easier for these candidates to engage in eerie discussions of whether the next president should be free to bomb civilians in Syria or shoot down Russian bombers in a no-fly zone. They are experts at stoking fears about terrorism and great at wringing their hands about the unfounded bomb scare that shut down the Los Angeles school district on Tuesday, but actually facing up to gun violence — which kills more than 33,000 Americans a year — is beyond their capacity or courage. Far from offering any ideas, their statements on the campaign trail are a national embarrassment.

According to official CDC mortality statistics for 2013, 11,208 people died as a result of homicides involving firearms. An additional 516 people died as a result of “legal intervention”. This is a far cry from the 33,000 that the Times claims die as a result of “gun violence”.

The larger number comes from aggregating the number of suicides involving the discharge of a firearm with homicides. However, only little more than half of the 41,149 suicides in 2013 involved a firearm. The Times ignores the other 19,974 Americans who died as a result of suicide.

Suicide is a mental health issue. When a person feels so desperate that they feel taking their own life is the only course of action left to them, it is a tragedy as well as a profoundly sad event. However the Times and their allies do not call it razor blade violence when someone slits their wrists nor Tylenol violence when someone swallows a whole bottle of pills and kills their liver. They don’t demand politicians close the “razor blade loophole” or demand “universal background checks” for those purchasing Tylenol.

The Times and their readers would consider the following statistics on homicides either racist or a microaggression. Either way, it needs to be said. 73% of the homicide victims in 2013 were either black or Hispanic. To put this into perspective the combined percentage of the United States population that were either black or Hispanic was 30.6%. Moreover, these homicide victims were overwhelmingly male – 90% male for black victims and 83% male for Hispanic victims.

“I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” Dr. Ben Carson declared in October.

Dr. Carson is right. Taking away the right of self defense is more horrible and devastating.

You get rid of the bad guys by using our guns,” Senator Ted Cruz passionately declared early this month. He likes to make light of the issue, too: “We define gun control real simple — that’s hitting what you aim at.”

Ted is correct. People do protect themselves and often kill the bad guys when they use their own firearms in defensive gun uses. This is a regular feature of The Polite Society Podcast. Clayton Cramer has resumed his postings on Civilian Gun Self-Defense as well.

“Gun laws fail everywhere they’re tried,” Senator Marco Rubio flatly insisted last month. That claim is plain wrong, contradicted by major studies as well as experience in other countries where politicians have enacted sensible controls that helped to reduce rates of gun deaths.

No, the Times is plain wrong. France had all the “sensible controls” you would want.

Donald Trump favored an assault weapons ban in 2000, but this year he pledged to veto gun controls, making the death toll from firearms sound like the inescapable result of fate: “You’re going to have these things happen and it’s a horrible thing to behold.”

The Donald is correct. They are horrible to behold and, yes, they are going to happen. Homicides have trended down as gun sales and possession have increased. If the Times wants to blame anything for mass shootings, I suggest that they look at the increase in radical Muslims and the de-institutionalization of mental patients.

Jeb Bush may be trying to run as a moderate against Mr. Trump, but he concedes nothing when it comes to pure fatalism about guns. “Look, stuff happens,” Mr. Bush said in October, bizarrely trying to make the case that the impulse to do something constructive may not be the right course after mass shootings. He could have been speaking for any of his current rivals when he addressed the National Rifle Association convention in 2003 and exuberantly declared, “The sound of our guns is the sound of freedom!” This week, the sound of the guns from San Bernardino, Colorado Springs and a dozen earlier scenes of American carnage never penetrated the debate.

The impulse is always to “do something”. I don’t support Jeb and wish he’d drop out of the race but in this case he is correct. It isn’t bizarre that Jeb said that following impulses to do something may not be the right course of action. What the Times forgets to add here is that the murderers in Tucson, Aurora, and many other places all did pass a background check. Banning magazines or firearms of “distasteful cosmetics” would not have stopped these killings. What might, and I’ll only say might, have stopped some of these murders would have been for people close to the murderers to have intervened before they went over the deep end. That is hindsight and mental illness is hard for a layperson to recognize.

Really the only thing appalling is not the Republican candidates’ silence but the narrative put out by the Times. They may think they know better than thee and me but they are mistaken.

What Does The NRA Have In Common With Syria, Iran, and North Korea?

Rational, reasonable people know that the National Rifle Association has nothing in common with Syria, Iran, and North Korea. The NRA doesn’t shoot dissident members, it isn’t trying to develop a nuclear capacity, and it isn’t headed by an incompetent leader who got the job because Dad and Granddad had the same job before him.

That said, this hasn’t stopped the Editorial Board of the New York Times from lumping the NRA in with those rogue countries. Their reasoning is that since the NRA and those countries both oppose the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, they are all pariahs.

In April, the 193-member General Assembly adopted it overwhelmingly by a vote of 154 to 3, clearing the way for individual states to sign and then ratify the pact. The states in opposition were familiar outliers in the international system: North Korea, Syria and Iran.

The National Rifle Association, like those nations, rejects this sensible international weapons regulation. It is opposed to the arms treaty even though the treaty has no impact on the American domestic market.

The group falsely claims the treaty will somehow infringe on Americans’ gun rights under the Second Amendment. In fact, as Secretary of State John Kerry stressed when he signed the treaty, the pact not only does not restrict Americans, it specifically “recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes.”

But the N.R.A., with its lucrative campaign coffers and fear-mongering, has long been extremely effective at keeping lawmakers in line with its pernicious agenda. Months before the Obama administration signed the treaty, one-third of the Senate introduced a resolution opposing ratification on Second Amendment grounds. That is a signal of the tough fight ahead whenever the Senate formally takes up the issue.

Lucrative campaign coffers. Fear-mongering. Pernicious agenda. Rejecting sensible regulation.

So much for civil discourse.

One could use all of those perjorative phrases to describe the behavior of the President, Mayor Bloomberg, and others of the so-called progressive bent. Bloomberg certainly has deeper pockets than the NRA. President Obama has repeatedly engaged in fear-mongering to further his agenda. Many of us consider the agenda of Democrats in Congress to be pernicious and they have consistently opposed any regulation of mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. I won’t even touch on their aversion to any regulation of abortion providers.

Say what you will but these rogue regimes and the Editorial Board of the New York Times agree on one thing: controlling their opponents.

Times Editorial Is Laughably Inaccurate

The editorial board of the New York Times wouldn’t know the difference between actual grass roots efforts and astroturfing if it bit them on their privileged asses. They show their ignorance in an unsigned editorial about the Colorado recall elections titled, “The Gun Lobby Takes Vengeful Aim.”

The ink was barely dry, however, before the National Rifle Association was vindictively pressing for recall votes against two supporters of the stronger law, the State Senate president, John Morse, of Colorado Springs, and State Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo.

The recall vote, set for Sept. 10, could hardly be more important as a barometer of whether the public, which repeatedly registers support for tougher gun controls in surveys, will show up at the ballot to defend politicians who bucked the gun lobby.

If by gun lobby the New York Times means gun owning constituents, then they might be correct. However, this is not what they mean and we all know it. Unlike the gun controls measures which were written and lobbied for by Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the threat of money to primary opponents of any Democrat who didn’t support them, the recall efforts have been actual grassroots efforts led by Coloradans.

The Basic Freedom Defense Fund was set up in February of this year to fight the gun control measures being financed by Bloomberg. After those measures were rammed through by Democrats, the Fund decided to start recall efforts against four Democrats. While the Times only mentions Morse and Giron, the recall effort also targeted State Sen. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango) and State Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminister). They were unsuccessful in getting enough signatures in the time allotted to force the recall of McLachlan and Hudak.

These politicians were targeted for two basic reasons. First, they were considered vulnerable due to close past elections. Second, they had ignored their constituents. Chris Wiggins of Shooter Ready Radio who lives in Pueblo told me over 1,000 constituents had turned up for a townhall meeting regarding gun control with State Sen. Angela Giron. Of these, less than two dozen spoke in support of gun control while the rest were adamantly opposed to the proposed measures which Giron ultimately supported.

Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) you may remember famously told his Democrat colleagues in the State Senate to ignore all the phone calls, emails, and letters from constituents and to vote for the gun control measures. This is the same Morse that the Times editorial calls “a respected Second Amendment proponent” and who states “Recalls are for unethical behavior, and not disagreements.” I would agree with Morse but would go on to say that his behavior has been unethical and that a recall for him is right and proper.

The Times editorial concludes by saying this is an opportunity to rebuff the NRA and the gun industry.

For all the message of risk for politicians embodied in the vengeful recall attempt, there is a parallel opportunity for the public to rebuff the gun industry. But enough voters must show up in defense of two lawmakers who conscientiously stood for public safety.

The gun lobby’s defeat in Colorado would send a stirring message to statehouses across the nation that the public must not be denied in demanding better gun safety.

What they really mean is that the gun owning peons in Colorado should sit down, shut up, and kow-tow to their “betters” who know whats best for them. I hate to tell the Times editorial board this but we fought a revolution over 200 years ago over similar attitudes. The rabble won against the world’s greatest army then and the rabble (aka the grassroots) will win again against Mayor Bloomberg and his bought and paid for minions in Colorado.

A Bit Of Honesty From The Times

The New York Times, or as SayUncle appropriately calls it, the paper of making things up, let slip a little bit of honesty today. In the midst of a column opining that if we could just agree on “reasonable gun regulation” the National Rifle Association would cease to exist, Andrew Rosenthal had this to say:

The question of the constitutional right to own guns is irrelevant here—even if you believe that the Constitution gives every last American the right to own a firearm (which The Times editorial board does not, but many other reasonable people do).

The rest of the column was your usual litany of complaints about concealed carry, the Tiahrt Amendment, and the lack of restrictions on the number of firearms we are allowed to purchase. In other words, just a rewritten press release from the likes of MAIG or the Brady Campaign.

Grass Roots North Carolina Refutes The NY Times Hit Piece On NC CHP Holders

Michael Luo of the New York Times wrote an article that claimed more than 2,400 people holding Concealed Handgun Permits from the State of North Carolina had criminal convictions. He says he came up with this number by comparing the names on the state’s database of CHP holders with criminal records.

Sean Sorrentino of An NC Gun Blog started an email dialog with Luo. If you have been reading Sean’s blog for any amount of time, you know he has been tracking the growth of concealed handgun permits in North Carolina and he has been following the background of those arrested for criminal misuse of firearms. As such, he has as good a feel for this as anyone and Luo’s article struck him as wrong. So he contacted Luo and asked for the data.

After much back and forth, Luo told Sean he’d give the data to either a legislator or to NC law enforcement officials. This was the opening Sean was looking for and he contacted Paul Valone of GRNC seeking a friendly legislator to call Luo’s bluff. The bluff was called with the result you’d expect.

So what do you say to an author who refuses a State legislator the data needed to do his job? When that legislator asked for the data, with a mind to crafting new and better legislation along with demanding answers from the State Bureau of Investigation, Luo refused.

Paul Valone, President of GRNC, has now responded to Luo’s accusations with a point by point rebuttal. Somehow I doubt the “paper of making it up” as SayUncle calls it will respond. They are good about making claims about gun owners but not so good about making corrections.

Grass Roots North Carolina Hits Back Hard Against New York Times

The New York Times, or as SayUncle calls it, the paper of making things up, ran a story on Monday asserting that 1% of North Carolina concealed handgun permit holders had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. They didn’t break down the number of felonies versus the number of misdemeanors as that would lessen the impact.

Grass Roots North Carolina head Paul Valone was interviewed for this story and responded late yesterday in a GRNC Alert.

Mike Luo’s crusade

Following an extensive interview between GRNC president Paul Valone and New York Times reporter Mike Luo, the Times is now trying to depict North Carolina’s population of concealed handgun permit-holders as rife with felons. To support his claims, Luo relies on flawed methodology, misuse of anecdotal data, and selectively ignored facts he learned during the interview. The current piece is at least the third time Luo has written biased and misleading articles on gun ownership.

Figures lie…

Although Luo claims to have done data-matching between criminal databases and permit-holders, he admitted confirming only a dozen matches with the NC State Bureau of Investigation.

Data matching between large databases is subject to high rates of “false positives” depending on the number and type of parameters matched. To quote one data mining whiz: “The problem is that if you’re trying to search a couple of large data sets for something that occurs infrequently, the number of true hits (if any) is likely to be far less than the number of false positives.”

…and liars figure

When asked whether Luo would confirm all matches with the SBI, or whether he would do statistical analysis of his data, determining what percentage of North Carolina permit-holders commit crimes, or whether he would simply provide misleading anecdotal examples as he did on a November 13, 2011 piece on restoration of gun rights for felons, Luo refused to answer.

How Luo creates a false impression

The plural of “anecdote” is not “data”: By pulling a small number of anecdotes rather than verifying all of the data, Luo hopes to paint a false portrait of NC concealed handgun permit-holders as criminals.

Selective data: Luo has a reputation among researchers for cherry-picking research to support his assertions, and for failing to disclose the gun-related leanings of researchers he cites.

The Charlotte Observer fell over itself to propagate Luo’s deceptive story

The Charlotte Observer ran this insult to their gun-owning readership as front page news!

GRNC president Paul Valone responds

“What The New York Times recently published is a biased ‘hit piece’ designed to undermine the unerringly successful expansion of concealed carry laws. By cherry-picking anecdotes from error-prone data matching, reporter Michael Luo creates a false impression of widespread abuse by concealed handgun permit-holders. Luo admits not bothering to confirm more than a handful of the matches found, so given the small data set used, the number of “false positives” may well exceed the number of accurate matches.

“Even Luo’s claim of 2,400 crimes by permit-holders – which includes DUI convictions and relatively minor misdemeanors – represents only a tiny fraction (0.6%) of the 395,251 concealed handgun permits approved since 1995. Moreover, data from other states reveals that few permit revocations result from misuse of firearms.

“As Luo was told during the interview (but chose to ignore), when Grass Roots North Carolina helped draft the state’s concealed handgun law in 1995, we gave law enforcement officials the tools for permit revocations by attaching concealed handgun permit information to the state drivers’ license database. Any concealed handgun permit-holder arrested for a crime would be immediately identified as such.

“Furthermore, nothing in the law prevents the North Carolina Department of Justice from doing checks on permit-holders to ensure they remain in compliance with the law, nor would we oppose such an effort. If the state fails to avail themselves of those tools, the problem lies not within the concealed handgun law, but instead within its enforcement.”

Sean at An NC Gun Blog has some further comments on GRNC’s response here and has been running a whole series of stories examining the NYT piece. They make for good reading.

I do find it interesting that this story comes out less than two weeks after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg starts another crusade to close the “private sale loophole”.  I really don’t think it is any coincidence.

UPDATE: More on the NYT’s “story” from Bob Owens here and a roundup from the Instapundit here.

Holder – Those Mean Conservative Bloggers Are Saying Bad Things About Me

In a New York Times political piece that charitably can be described as utter rubbish, Attorney General Eric Holder blames bloggers and conservative commentators for some of his troubles.

But Mr. Holder contended that many of his other critics — not only elected Republicans but also a broader universe of conservative commentators and bloggers — were instead playing “Washington gotcha” games, portraying them as frequently “conflating things, conveniently leaving some stuff out, construing things to make it seem not quite what it was” to paint him and other department figures in the worst possible light.

While it is hard not to portray the most devious and political Justice Department since Nixon in a bad light, I would disagree with Holder’s partial explanation of why bloggers portray him in such a negative way. As might be expected, Holder is playing the race card.

Mr. Holder said he believed that a few — the “more extreme segment” — were motivated by animus against Mr. Obama and that he served as a stand-in for him. “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” he said, “both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

The bigger explanation according to Holder is that we are raving conservative ideologues who oppose him over his stands on the issues. Holder also feels that Republicans are after him as a payback for the way John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales were treated by their Democratic critics.

If it is ideological to want accountability for a program that has led to two dead Federal law enforcement officers and untold numbers of Mexican citizens, then I’m an ideologue as are bloggers like Mike Vanderboegh, David Codrea, Dave Workman, and others who have reported on Project Gunwalker.

Eric Holder needs to go if for no other reason than he is living in a fantasy world. What’s worse is the way Charlie Savage and the rest of the mainstream media excuses this behavior. It is the equivalent of the co-dependency between an alcoholic wife beater and a spouse who refuses to press charges despite repeated beatings. Both are sad, pathetic behaviors.

Deconstructing A New York Times Editiorial

Sebastian at Snow Flakes In Hell does an excellent job in deconstructing an anti-gun editorial that appears in today’s print version of the New York Times.

The editorial deals with the so-called “no-fly” list and gun purchases. This is a secret list of supposed terrorists who are banned from flying. You don’t know how you got on the list, don’t know that you are on the list, and usually have no recourse for getting off the list. As you might expect coming from the New York Times, they want to ban anyone who is on this list from being able to purchase a firearm.

As Sebastian notes, he doubts that they would editorialize against any other part of the Bill of Rights in similar fashion. He then provides some examples.

Rat-A-Tat Annihilators?

Editorials in the New York Times are known for their hyperbole when it comes to firearms. Today’s editorial entitled Cartel Gunmen Buy American goes even further. In an effort to bolster support for ATF’s proposed “emergency” and “temporary” semi-automatic rifle reporting requirement for multiple purchases, they use words like body count, carnage, war weapons, and gun lobby. However, after seeing one too many repeat showings of The Untouchables, they have outdone themselves.

…with use of high- power long guns more than doubling in the past five years as cartel gunmen turn to the rat-a-tat annihilators easily obtainable across the border.

Who writes this stuff? Moreover, who reads it without rolling on the floor laughing?

The rest of the editorial tries to make the case that “AK-47s and other battlefield assault rifles” are being sold by dealers along the Mexican border to the narco-terrorists and that it is only right-wing Republicans, cowed Democrats afraid of the “gun lobby”, and the National Rifle Association itself that stands in the way of “courageous” legislation that would make the proposed requirement law. They even ask Obama to ignore Congress and just issue an Executive Order. This, of course, would modify the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.

We know, of course, that “battlefield assault rifles” are covered under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and require a tax stamp, background investigation, and that no new automatic weapons can be sold to non-LEO, non-military since the Hughes Amendment of 1986.  The bulk of the real automatic weapons in Mexico, if U.S. made, are coming from Mexican Army arsenals sold by corrupt and/or fearful Army officials. As for the full-automatic AKs, the fine hand of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and Eastern Bloc gun merchants can be seen in that.

That’s the reality of the situation which is completely and obviously ignored in this editorial.