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March 15, 2013

subtweeting the stings that moved the gun show owners

This is how you tell a story with journalism.

NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman gets the majority of NY State gun show owners to agree to new rules and regulations concerning background checks.  How did he pull it off?  The NYT reports:

The agreement was reached after undercover agents from the state attorney general's office were able to buy weapons, including three AR-15 rifles, without any screening at half a dozen gun shows around the state.

Well that's interesting.  So, I'm wondering if the gun show saw the error of their ways and were mortified, or, maybe...?

[A couple hundred words later.]Mr. Schneiderman had brought criminal charges against the sellers caught by the undercover agents; in guilty pleas and a trial, the defendants were convicted of failure to perform a background check. His office also accused the show operators of failing to comply with a state law that requires them to post signs about the background check rule and to notify exhibitors about it. But in lieu of pursuing civil action against them, he sought to develop the new set of statewide security procedures.

Oh, I guess the error of their ways was demonstrated to them.  Nifty.

But surely at least one of the gun show owners is kicking and screaming about this?

Donald Fiore, a retired Suffolk County detective... said he supported the new procedures, but noted that in almost a decade of hosting gun shows, he had witnessed only a few people fail their background checks.

"Bad guys don't come and buy guns," he said.

Right.  Three paragraphs later.

A person was arrested at one of Mr. Fiore's shows as part of the attorney general's sting operation; Mr. Fiore said the sale was conducted across the street from the show.

Journalism!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM

March 13, 2013

omni, may 1981

I was busy the last couple days writing this thing here, which is weird thing for The Awl in which I read a copy of a magazine from 1981 and then wrote about it.

Which of course means that I try to add a little value to you, the intrepid few whom I adore for clicking over.  In talking about this issue of Omni I deliberately omitted the fact that I was, like many of us, I'm sure, a subscriber in my tweens and teens.  I did so to hopefully prevent the piece from being about another Gen-Xer staring downhill at middle age turning some item of nostalgia into a full-fledged fetish.  In fact, there's a whole lot of useful insight in that thing, and none of it has to do with how neat it was being eleven years old and watching "The Dukes of Hazzard."

(And between you and me, the shocking thing in reading the whole thing was how little of the magazine I actually read.  I read the UFO stuff and CONTINUUM and then let the hard science and the short fiction zoom right over my head, as it was actually pretty far over my head.)

So that's that.  Hope you like it.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:39 PM

March 11, 2013

frank rich and putting lipstick on the elephant

Little of this long Frank Rich thinker on the possible rebranding of the Republican Party will be news to you, but it's useful to have all that research in the same place, and he ties a bunch of thoughts together succinctly:
The Republican Plan A is simplicity itself: steal future elections by disenfranchising those Americans who keep rejecting the party at the polls (blacks, young people, Latinos). This strategy was hatched even before Election Day, with widespread local efforts to reinstate Jim Crow obstacles at the ballot box, from reduced voting hours to new identification requirements.

That is a synthesis I'd like to see in print more often, because it's patently true, and yet does not permeate the TV News Membrane that keeps your Sunday morning talk shows all nice and civil and full of forced equivalence.

Rich also gets off some good ones, as we like to say:

...That's because real Republican leaders don't want any reinvention that ventures much beyond forced smiles; retooled, focus-­group-tested language (in English and Spanish); and blather about "the kids." As another moderate conservative pundit, Kathleen Parker, has conceded since the election, her party now "is the fringe."

Though Rich does not mention the primary force (no, not inertia, or even belief) that has chained the GOP to its Bircher/Tea Party wing: the threat of a primary challenge.  The crazies may only be a minority percentage of the party, but they mobilize.  Moderation, no matter how politically useful it may be, is punished.  And while this can be seen as a boon (for every Ted Cruz we get fifteen Todd Akins), it's also single-handedly preventing anything remotely resembling governance from happening.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:11 AM