Newtown, Lincoln and Froomkin

This weekend was bittersweet.  The news was sobering and sad due to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut; it was hard to take my mind off of it.  On the other hand, my wife’s birthday was yesterday, which is the day our family decorates our tree.  My father in law was visiting, kids were home from college, and so we continued with our traditions.  Life is complex.  I’ve been researching a few new posts, and was going to publish one this weekend, but now I was not in the mood.  I decided instead to write digest.

Today is the day

The conversation about guns has started, as it always does after a tragedy.  This time may be different, as suggested by the emergence of Twitter hash tags like #todayistheday.  If you’re someone who is not sure if gun laws need to be updated, then it is time to do some reading.  First start with Ezra Klein’s Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States.  Second, have a look at Paul Waldman’s Ten Arguments Gun Advocates Make, and Why They’re Wrong.  Third, study the far right and note how people like Eric Erickson from Redstate promote an abstract “good and evil” arguments as a substitute for concrete policy discussions. This is explained by Chris Haire’s The NRA’s Newtown massacre ‘no comment’ and the evil that men do.  Finally, if you agree that some change is needed, consider pushing for more discussion on this topic.

If you know me, you know that I fly a lot.  I’ve come to accept the loss of privacy (and reduction of my rights) as necessary for our times; I’ve re-evaluated the boundaries and the balance.  We need to do the same for guns.  Michael Cooper, in a Boston Globe article, explains why Stricter Gun Regulations may be a Tough Sell.  He quotes David A. Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, saying that “gun owners will not stand idly by as our constitutional rights are stripped from us.”  Well, this is a conversation we’ll have to have.  I think we can make meaningful change while protecting the second amendment.  I accept that there are legitimate reasons, such as sport and safety, for people to want to own a gun.  However, these considerations should not stop us from having common sense gun laws that would even be supported by gun owners and many NRA members as suggested by this poll.  Why would we not want to require background checks to purchase guns?  Why would we not want to forbid felons and the mentally ill from owning guns?  I decided to sign the petition to “Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress” because this is a conversation that needs to happen.  Maybe others that read this post will sign too.

Lincoln (the movie)

If you plan to watch the movie Lincoln, then you should plan to read Doug Muder’s  A Short History of White Racism in the Two-Party System.  This post describes how our two parties have evolved since Lincoln’s time and the significant role of racism.  My only quibble with this article is in the first footnote where Doug talks about a “longstanding argument” about whether secession of the south was about slavery or state’s rights. I would be less diplomatic and say that the “states rights argument” is more an attempt at revisionist history.  States rights and other issues were entangled with the slavery issue, the situation was complex, but history becomes revisionist when so many references try to downplay the role of slavery. This is noted by Katharine Seeeye’s Celebrating Secession Without the Slaves.  Would secession have happened over an an abstract concept like “states rights” alone?  I think not.  Secession happened because the slave issue was a threat to the south’s way of life.  Adam Goodheart says “the only significant state right that people were arguing about in 1860 was the right to own what was known as slave property.” Doug gets it right; I’m just adding some emphasis here because I think it is important to remember the truth, as painful as that may be.

Dan Froomkin’s 2012 Campaign Story

Finally I bookmarked Dan Froomkin’s How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign. People often lament that “both sides lie”, which is a position I would have likely agreed with 20 years ago.  Today the situation is different.  Two congressional scholars, Mann and Ornstein, with a bipartisan reputation, have publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”  The article goes on the explain how the media struggles with this reality, and how this turn of events means that “Mann and Ornstein don’t get invited to talk to the leaders of news organizations anymore.”  Well, one of the reasons I started this blog was because people are having more and more difficulty finding the truth.  So, I will be following this story as well as Dan Froomkin’s efforts to begin a “new accountability journalism project”.  I’ll leave you with this brief excerpt where Ornstein provides guidance to the press:

Ornstein said his message would be this: “I understand your concerns about advertisers. I understand your concerns about being labeled as biased. But what are you there for? What’s the whole notion of a free press for if you’re not going to report without fear or favor and you’re not going to report what your reporters, after doing their due diligence, see as the truth?

I’ll be on the lookout for reporters who take this advice.

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