Video of the day

Damn, I hate videos that WordPress won’t let you embed.  But this one is too good to pass up– 19 gun fails via HuffPo.  (Fortunately, nobody actually gets shot, but it did make me wonder about all the accidental shootings that must happen if these are just recordings of people acting like morons with guns).

About that mental health

Well, we know Republicans have repeatedly told us that we don’t have a gun problem, but a mental health problem.  So, naturally, they want to do all they can to expand access to mental health services (okay, you can stop laughing now).  Anyway, this Stateline article points out that the best way to do that is the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA.  Of course, many Republican-led states are choosing to forgo that expansion of Medicaid purely out of pique (the federal government is paying for it).  Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party.

The recent mass killings in Tucson, Aurora and Newtown have sparked public conversations about the deficiencies in state-run mental health systems across the United States. But few states are poised to spend their own money to reverse as much as a decade of budget cutbacks in those areas.

Instead, many of them are counting on an infusion of federal mental-health dollars. Because Medicaid includes mental-health benefits, those states that opt into the Medicaid expansion included in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will be able to make mental health coverage available to thousands of their citizens who do not now have it.

For the first three years that additional coverage would cost the states nothing: Under terms of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government  will cover 100 percent of the costs of new Medicaid enrollees for the first three years and 90 percent after 2020.

So far, 20 governors, some of them Republicans who opposed the health care law, have committed their states to the Medicaid expansion. Ten Republican governors have announced they will not participate. If all states opted into the expansion, an estimated 13 million more Americans would receive mental health benefits through Medicaid next year, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. [emphasis mine] The number would rise to 17 million in 2022.

Photo of the day

Fascinating set of In Focus photos of Hurricane Sandy 80 days later.  I’m a sucker for amusement park wreckage:

A demolition crane clears debris caused by Hurricane Sandy, near the Ferris wheel at Fun Town Amusement Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, on January 7, 2013. Most of the town’s boardwalk was destroyed in late October 2012 by the superstorm.(Reuters/Tom Mihalek)


More NRA world

You know what I want?  I want a country wear any decent person is absolutely ashamed to be associated with an organization that is so willfully mendacious and stupid.  Via TPM:

In an email sent to National Rifle Association members on Thursday, the head of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) warned that politicians in Washington D.C. were “closing in fast on your Right to Keep and Bear Arms.”

“President Barack Obama and anti-gun politicians are on an all-out crusade to pass new laws that would: BAN tens of millions of rifles, shotguns and handguns…make it more difficult, expensive, and in some cases, ILLEGAL for you to purchase ammunition…and even FORCE you to register your firearms with the federal government,” NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox wrote in the email. “Some are even talking about [emphasis mine] a mandatory gun confiscation and ‘buyback’ program – where you would be forced to hand over your guns in exchange for a government check!”

“Some are even talking about…”  Please!   I believe those people are called Australians, where this program was quite effective.  And you know what… some people are talking about castrating the leaders of the NRA because they are too stupid to be allowed to reproduce.  You know, some people.

Newtown and public opinion

From today’s Times:

The massacre of children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., appears to be profoundly swaying Americans’ views on guns, galvanizing the broadest support for stricter gun laws in about a decade, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

As President Obama tries to persuade a reluctant Congress to pass new gun laws, the poll found that a majority of Americans — 54 percent — think gun control laws should be tightened, up markedly from a CBS News poll last April that found that only 39 percent backed stricter laws.

The rise in support for stricter gun laws stretched across political lines, including an 18-point increase among Republicans. A majority of independents now back stricter gun laws.

Whether the Newtown shooting — in which 20 first graders and 6 adults were killed — will have a long-term effect on public opinion of gun laws is hard to assess just a month after the rampage. But unlike the smaller increases in support for gun control immediately after other mass shootings, including after the 2011 shooting in Tucson that severely wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the latest polling results suggest a deeper, and possibly more resonating, shift.

It’s sort of like when you get to the point of slaughtering first-graders, the question of, “at last, have you no sense of decency American society?” is finally answered– I guess we do.  Good to know at least something can shock the public (if not the NRA) into more sense regarding guns.

And, as to whether this shift should be more lasting?  Absolutely.  Democrats have basically been timid and running for the hills on guns for the last dozen years.  That appears to be over.  What journalists often overlook is the degree to which political elites drive public opinion.  There’s been no high-profile political elites meaningfully advocating for smarter gun policies for some time.  That’s changed.

The macho BS of gun ownership

One thought I’ve heard expressed time and time again in the past couple days is some variation of “I’d just like to see the government try to come and take my gun away!”  Give me a break.  What complete macho BS bluster.  99% of the morons who say this would peacefully surrender their guns if the legal enforcement power of their state or the federal government decided that they needed to give up their gun(s).  Please, are you really going to take on a fully-armored SWAT team all by yourself with your AR-15?!  And you know what will happen to the fools who try?  Their gun will end up being picked up off the floor next to their exsanguinated body, not pried out of their hands.

As Mike from Canada (and if Mike from Chapel Hill doesn’t chime in again soon, “Mike”) so nicely put it in a recent comment:

And when that government finally goes too far, teaching evolution and for daring to inoculate children against infectious diseases or dare to give them healthcare, these deep thinking, intrepid well armed individuals will rise up out of their heavily fortified basements and take back their nation.

They will be all that stands between the evil governments largest, best equipped armed forces in the world and our last fleeting glimpse at freedom. These brave rugged individuals will throw themselves into the fray, their Bushmasters and hundred round clips in their trusty 1974 Ford Bronco, at the ready standing against armored run silent attack helicopters and night and heat vision. Our brave heroes will stand against M1 Abrams tanks, and super sonic jets with bunker buster bombs. They will stand against flying killer robots and satellites that watch and listen to their every move. They will stand against sensor fused smart carpet bombs. They will stand against the greatest single army in the history of the world on it’s home turf, the very place where it is strongest and most effective and closest to supplies and ammunition.

And they will die.

Now, just to be clear, I don’t for a second think that this perspective belongs to the majority of gun owners.  But it clearly is an intense and very influential minority (sentiments echoed from NRA leadership).  And it’s just pathetic.  I completely understand why many people want to own guns– self defense, target shooting, hunting.  Fine.  All well and good.  But it seems to me transparently obvious that the need to own something like an AR-15 is macho over-compensation in many cases.  To wit:

Assault rifle company issues

Again, surely not everybody who owns an assault weapon is a pathetic man transparently over-compensating for deficient masculinity, but the success of this advertising campaign strongly suggests that it accounts for a good number of them.  And these are people who’s concerns of “freedom” and “liberty” we should take so seriously as we try to make more sensible policy?

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