For Your Consideration

Peter CavanaughJanuary 23, 2013 

Theres recklessness in the air. This is a winter of deeply divisive discontent. Even though the American people have spoken.

Barack Obama was elected in November for a second term as our President with a 51% to 48% win over his opponent -- a three and a half million vote victory margin. Democrats in the United States Senate now outnumber Republicans 54 to 45 and picked up eight seats in the House of Representatives, where they now trail the GOP by just 33 votes. A significant shift away from their former 49 member majority. In fact, there were a million more Democratic ballots cast for House members than Republican on a national basis in 2012, but some fancy pre-election hanky-panky (formally known as "Gerrymandering") is keeping John Boehner as Speaker for another two years of crocodile tears.

Elbridge Gerry was Governor of Massachusetts in 1812 and helped engineer the restructuring of several state senate districts to benefit his political party, said organization curiously known at the time as "Democratic Republicans." Their opposition was The Federalists. A local Federalist newspaper in Boston casually noted that one of the new "carved out" sections resembled a grossly contorted -- salamander. Combining this humorous imagery with the good Governor's name, the practice of gaining advantage by such chicanery became known as "Gerrymandering." The name has stuck ever since for over two centuries, therein offering an important cautionary note for writers of all stripes. Words do live on.

Elbridge Gerry continued his political career to become Fifth Vice President of the United States under James Madison -- as everyone knows.

But one clear, undisputed, unqualified fact of the entire matter is that the sole reason the GOP controls the 113th House of Representatives is because they gerrymandered congressional districts through a 30 million dollar investment during the 2010 election cycle in "blue states" such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This campaign was so successfully executed that Republicans went from controlling both legislative chambers in 14 states before Election Day to 25 states afterward, paving the way for new salamander art.

Now they're trying to work that same slithering magic with rules governing the Electoral College, scheming and dreaming that a future Presidency might similarly be sliced out.

All of this was released last Thursday by the Republican State Leadership Committee, along with the specific admission that only through such activity was the House not lost. This was also the same time Lance Armstrong gave it up to Oprah, although not nearly as fully as the RSLC in honestly owning up to cause and effect. Admittedly clever manipulation carried the day. Score a big one in memory of the Gipper.

So here's the deal.

Along with all the aforementioned realities, even Ronald Reagan wanted to ban assault rifles. He remembered being shot. Latest accredited polling shows 56% of American voters believe laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict while 7% say regulations ought to be lessened. 85% of respondents are in favor of background checks for private and gun show sales with only 12% opposed. 63% of the American people support a stringent limitation on high capacity magazines. A total ban on military war weapons, such as used to kill twenty little kids in Connecticut, is favored by an overwhelming majority of fellow citizens 55% to 40%.

So who are these creatures calling our President an "elitist hypocrite" in a misleading radio and television ad referencing his young daughters with a dangerous appeal to the worst instincts of gun-rights subversives?

How can any fair-minded individual consider the National Rifle Association to be anything other than a cowardly cabal of antagonistically angry and horribly frightened old men?

As English Moralist Samuel Johnson reminded us on April 7, 1775, false patriotism is "the last refuge of a scoundrel."

They dare to flamboyantly wrap themselves in our treasured flag with feigned defiance, hiding from their fear as a small child shakes and trembles behind its mother's apron.

Pathetically pitiful.

Outrageously antiquated.

Surely shameless.

The N.R.A.?

Not Really American.

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