Have yourself a merry, gun-free Christmas

December 25, 2012 

Well, the Mayans were sort of right.

The world didn’t implode when their calendar stopped on Dec. 21. But the National Rifle Association did call for putting guns in every American school in a press conference that had a sort of civilization-hits-a-dead-end feel to it.

And we learned that negotiations on averting a major economic crisis had come to a screeching halt because Speaker John Boehner lost the support of the far-right contingent of his already-pretty-damned-conservative caucus.

We have seen the future, and everything involves negotiating with loony people.

Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, has major sway in Congress when it comes to gun issues. So the press conference, in which he read a rambling, unyielding statement in a quavering voice, while refusing to take any questions, could not have inspired confidence that the national trauma over the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school was going to be resolved anytime soon.

LaPierre immediately identified the problem that led to a deranged young man mowing down children with a semi-automatic rifle: Gun-free school zones.

Then he demanded a police officer in every American school. Or maybe a program to recruit armed volunteers.

An armed security officer at Columbine High School was no help. And history also shows that armed civilians generally freeze up during mass shootings - for good reason, since usually the only way a crazed gunman gets stopped is when he runs out of ammunition.

So what we continue to have is an excellent argument for banning weapons that spray lots of bullets.

We witnessed the magic of the House Republican majority when the tea party forces blocked Boehner’ plan to continue the Bush tax cuts for incomes under $1 million a year.

This was around the time the speaker recited the prayer, much beloved by 12-step programs, about seeking the serenity to accept things you cannot change.

Boehner’s bill was mainly a political ploy, so in a way, its defeat was meaningless. Except that it would be comforting not to believe that one of the critical players in Washington was always at the mercy of the loopy-extremist wing in his caucus.

There are so many ways we’d rather be celebrating the holidays. We would like to be gathering around the tree with loved ones, discussing current events in the form of that story about the theft of 6 million pounds of syrup from the strategic maple syrup reserve in Quebec.

But we are where we are. Obama bid a Merry Christmas to the nation after announcing that he would try to re-avert the feared “fiscal cliff” with a bill that resolves virtually nothing but avoiding tax increases for the middle class. “At the very least, let’s agree right now on what we already agree on,” he said. This is what currently passes for a wildly optimistic statement.

Meanwhile, a congressman from Wisconsin, angry about the failure to pass a farm bill, warned that the nation was about to fall over “the Dairy Cliff.”

At least there’s still eggnog. God bless us every one.

The New York Times

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