Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Center-Right Myth

We have been hearing pundits saying this is a center-right country on television for the last couple of weeks, despite all available evidence (check out this video for a sample). Newsweek even did a whole cover story on it. CNN even did a poll a week after the election to ask people if they wanted the country to head in a Democratic direction. We already had that poll -- it was called Election Day!

What is it going to take to get through the dunderheads in DC -- this is not a center-right country! In the last two elections the Democrats picked up over fifty seats in the House. They also took commanding control of the Senate and have now taken the White House. How much clearer did the American people have to be?

There is a reason for this talking point that America is center-right -- it is a way for the Republicans to control the agenda even though they have been voted out of power. It is a warning to Democrats by the DC establishment -- you better not actually be Democrats.

They would have to be foolish to fall into this trap. So, it is likely that they will fall into this trap. You know how the Democrats are; they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The right time to buckle is always now. They're already doing it. After huffing and puffing, it looks like they are going to let Joe Lieberman keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Someone needs to send the Democrats a memo that they won the election. But the media is sending them the exact opposite one -- you better behave like Republicans because... this is a center-right country.

By the way, one more thing -- this has never been a center-right country. Of course, there are pendulum swings in the political spectrum and the country is more conservative at times and more progressive at other times. But overall, we built the United Nations, we started the idea of human rights, we expanded voting rights and civil rights for everybody, we spread the idea of individual rights throughout the world, and we even rebuilt our enemies after World War II. It is no exaggeration to say that America is one of the most progressive countries in the history of the world.

Original here

Did the NRA conspire to stimulate gun sales?

by Jim L. Cunningham

Wallet card supplied in NRA mailings and magazines.
No other issue, save for perhaps the abortion issue, is as fraught with propaganda (from both sides) as the gun issue. As a gun-loving Democrat, and perhaps the only informed moderate in the country on the subject, I’ve always been profoundly irritated with the sheer amount of lies, spin, propaganda and grossly misleading information on the topic. While “preaching to the choir”, so to speak, is commonplace among passionate political players, for no other issue is it as common to lie to the choir as it is with the gun issue.

The most macabre of reactions to this cycle’s election results has been the uptick (to say the least) in gun sales that is being widely reported across the country:

While this frenzy is entertaining to watch with eyebrow-raised fascination, I'm sure many people truly wonder how it is that these frantic firearms fanciers became so frightened to begin with.

Please observe the November issue of the NRA magazine, the American Rifleman where the NRA tells its members how to vote, and the handy “wallet card” contained therein:

If you’re like me, you’re surprised to hear about all these plans Obama has. I don’t remember hearing about them during his campaign or reading about them on his website. Clearly, they are what you would imagine: exaggerations, items taken out of context and spin based on the senatorial maneuvering and posturing that always goes on when one party tries to hang things on bills to intentionally kill them. It’s all cut using the same template as the “Obama voted to kill babies!” garbage you heard during the general election. And, obviously, some people believe it.

But didn’t it all end up being conveniently profitable for gun store owners and the gun industry that, along with the NRA, encouraged people to believe this nonsense. It appears some are doing quite well despite an economy where consumer spending is in the toilet. One wonders how many credit cards are, needlessly, being run up and if people are going into debt as a result of all this manufactured fear.
Jack Murray, owner of Alaska Shooters Supply, is quoted: "Obama is the best gun salesman we've had in the last 50 years." Murray added that the day after the election, he sold more guns than in any single day in 21 years. "I was crying all the way to the bank," he said.”

Even the most left-leaning among us would be surprised to see anyone in the Whitehouse or Congress make any attempt to turn this wallet card into a “to do” list. Only time will tell. I’m not blind to the fact that so many people are willing to scapegoat guns – to blame the evils of society on an inanimate object that, in the right hands, can be a tool for good and even save lives. The opposite side of the issue, too, spins, misleads and fear mongers. But even despite this, I’ve sensed a shift in the Democratic Party’s confidence in over-reaching on this issue. It’s true our Democratic leaders are a slow study, but one thing they do learn from is defeat. It’s no secret that the gun issue contributed significantly to Al Gore’s defeat in 2000. The Democrats have shied away from the issue ever since (with no small number of pro-gun Democrats like myself continually reminding them of our presence) and, consequently, have seen much better election returns in very pro-gun states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado.

Once a popular talking point for Democratic officials and candidates, gun control has been shoved to the background over the past six years, as the party -- trying not to alienate gun-owning voters in swing states -- has cooled its rhetoric on the issue and tamped down its action.”

I seldom underestimate the capacity for people to believe propaganda but, at some point, there has to be an awakening. The leadership at the NRA should be wondering what happens if, after an Obama term or two, it all turns out to be a false alarm and people are still in possession of their Second Amendment rights? When comes the boy-who-cried-wolf effect? At what point does the NRA finally provoke the inevitable response from its members:

“The NRA must think I’m stupid!”

Original here