Quick Takes: Is the NRA Becoming Toxic?

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* In an article titled, “Remember This Week: It’s the Beginning of the End of the NRA’s Reign of Terror,” Joy Reid reminds us of the real mission of the NRA. It is not to address the needs of their members, but to promote the product of their clients.

[T]he gun lobby aims to keep the cash registers ringing. With gun sales on the decline, particularly without the black bogie man President Obama to send the “war games in the woods” militia ranks soaring, they are constantly looking for new ways to terrify existing gun owners into hoarding even more.

With each new tragedy the gun lobby pushes for more concealed carry, more open carry, campus carry, guns in bars and churches, preventing bans on guns that are undetectable by metal detectors, legalizing silencers and armor piercing bullets whose purposes is solely human extermination, and arming teachers; all in the name of expanding firearm sales. And they stand firmly in the way of any law that would take weapons of mass death out of the hands of abusers, suspected terrorists, and even the insane…

Well, the children of Parkland, in 2018, have finally said “enough.” As the young people of an earlier time led their parents and grandparents and an unwilling nation to moral improvement during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, these children are leading us. And we are proud to be so honorably led.

These children are united and determined. And they can win. Indeed already, the quarantining of the gun lobby has begun.

* Corporate America is responding so fast to these developments that this information might already be outdated:

* The students who are responsible for this turn of events might be learning something that has been evident for a long time: conservatives don’t like young people…never have. For example, here is Jonah Goldberg back in 2012:

Goldberg: It is a simple fact of science that nothing correlates more with ignorance and stupidity more than youth. We’re all born idiots, and we only get over that condition as we get less young. My view is, they’re going to run the country some day, so we should really explain why they’re so frickin’ stupid about so many things.

Here is NRA spokesmodel Dana Loesch back in 2008:

* What has been rumored for almost a week finally happened today: Rick Gates formally entered into a plea agreement with Mueller. Garrett Graff puts it in perspective.

Indeed, Mueller’s probe is accelerating. Yesterday’s new indictment—together with Tuesday’s guilty plea by Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer associated with Gates, Manafort, and Ukraine; last Friday’s bombshell indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian entities; and now the Gates plea—underscores that Mueller is applying the full strength of the US government’s resources to follow every thread of the investigation. His indictments have astounded Washington with their level of specificity and detail, delivering a litany of facts that he’s confident he can prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt. His hammering of the Dutch lawyer for lying to investigators continues his consistent message that the special counsel’s office will treat seriously anyone who stands in their way…

Mueller clearly knows where this investigation is going and is methodically building it brick by brick: His first wave of charges, against Manafort, Gates, and George Papadopoulos, established that the Trump campaign had been lying about its contacts with Russians; his second wave—the guilty plea by Michael Flynn—established that those lies extended to figures inside the White House; his third wave of charges, against the Internet Research Agency, establishes that there was a criminal conspiracy to help Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton. Any Americans who knowingly participating in that conspiracy will also, presumably, be vulnerable to prosecution.

* Trump has consistently lied about the diversity visa lottery program. He did so again today at CPAC and Eric Levitz called him out.

Trump then turned his fire on the diversity visa lottery, and declared, in no uncertain terms, that he does not believe that all Americans deserve his respect.

“Lottery, think of the lottery. You have a country, they put names in, you think they’re giving us their good people?” Trump asked rhetorically. “So we pick out people, then they turn out to be horrendous and we don’t understand why.”

This is, of course, not how the diversity visa lottery works. Every year, the United States reserves 50,000 visas for prospective immigrants from nations that have not sent many immigrants to America in the past (in many cases, because those nations were barred from sending immigrants to the U.S. for much of the 20th century, due to explicitly racist immigration laws). Millions of people apply for those slots, and the field is winnowed through a lottery. But these immigrants are self-selected (not appointed by their governments as Trump suggests), and must meet America’s stringent education and work experience requirements for all newcomers, and then undergo vetting by the State Department before entering the country (as opposed to being immediately flown to the United States, no questions asked, as Trump implies).

* Trump made what might be his most absurd idea official today.

President Donald Trump’s plans for a White House-backed military parade are beginning to take shape.

The president has directed the Department of Defense to organize a parade that would take place on Nov. 11 – Veterans Day – according to an unclassified Feb. 20 memo written by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

The memo, which was summarized to POLITICO by a senior administration official, was sent from McMaster to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. It says that Trump wants Mattis to brief him on “concepts of operation for this event.”

The memo also said that the parade route should begin at the White House and end at the Capitol.

* Finally, I think a great way to go out today is with the song I quoted from earlier this week.

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.