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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 03, 2015

 

Thoughts and prayers and a latte

by Tom Sullivan

There were not enough little blue pills to treat the electoral dysfunction on display yesterday in the wake of the San Bernardino mass shooting. Another 14 dead and 17 wounded. Details are still trickling in in this morning.

Elected officials speak as if keeping us safe is their highest duty. (Have they reminded you today how strong they are?) It is important enough to Jeb Bush to insist in the face of contravening evidence that his brother W. kept us safe. Keeping America safe is a solemn duty they promise to fulfill by rounding up and deporting millions of undocumented immigrants — men, women, and children — and by bombing the shit out of ISIS in Syria (Trump). Safety-conscious Texan leaders promise to turn away refugee families fleeing this sort of slaughter in Syria and Iraq because it is too easy for might-be terrorist infiltrators to get guns in Texas.

Our leaders pledge to keep us safe, by god, unless it means keeping us safe from armed-to-the-teeth, red-blood-spilling fellow Americans. For that the swaggering geldings have nothing to offer except thoughts and prayers. With those and a couple of bucks you can drown your grief in a Starbucks latte.

Twitter was awash yesterday in the familiar, boilerplate "thoughts and prayers" messages from politicians. Enough so that this time the pap response drew mockery:

Igor Volsky of Think Progress appeared with Chris Hayes last night after an epic Tweetstorm lambasting politicians for their ties to the National Rifle Association and for offering thoughts and prayers in lieu of actions aimed at putting an end to the epidemic of mass murder. Listing their NRA contribution totals, Volsky's clear implication was that the NRA is paying for their inaction. Video here.

It began with this, calling for gun reform:

Later, Volsky began adding NRA contributions to the tweets:

Hayes noted that the ability of the NRA to prevent weapon restrictions comes not only from the money spent on lobbying, but from the committed minority of Americans who hold NRA memberships.

At the Washington Post, Roberto Ferdman summarized the stream and the frustrations behind it:

There are dozens more. The Tweetstorm, which lasted several hours and runs nearly 100 tweets and responses long, can be read in full below. And it spares no one. Volsky calls out virtually every right-leaning senator, topping their messages with the amount of money they have received from the NRA. He also reminds of the vast dollar amount of NRA contributions altogether: "$30,650,008 in independent expenditures during the 2014 election cycle."

[snip]

None of this is to say that there is anything wrong with extending condolences to the victims of tragedies, such as Wednesday's. A lawmaker can sincerely offer sympathy to those affected by the shootings while still believing in very limited restrictions on the ownership of firearms.

But for those who view guns as a significant contributor to mass shootings, it's hard to see politicians offering thoughts and prayers without feeling a little miffed.

Thoughts and prayers are fine, but no substitute for action, as Volsky said. For thoughts and prayers we have ministers. We expect actions from elected leaders. Sen. Bernie Sanders told Hayes he had no "simple answer" to the problem, but offered a list of reforms that so far are dead on arrival in a Republican Congress. Republican Mr. Smiths these days go to Washington to prevent action.

Oh, and there were other shootings yesterday. One dead outside a Houston clinic. And one dead and three wounded in Savannah. Not that anyone will notice.