The New Terrapin Gazette

Number 277
4 November, 2012

(Pacifism) is almost never branded as flagrantly immoral, which I believe it is. While it can seem noble enough when the stakes are low, pacifism is ultimately nothing more than a willingness to die, and to let others die, at the pleasure of the world’s thugs.

The Election

This intransigent silence seems to set Obama up for a loss. Who knew this would boil over? Mixed in with the Libyan fiasco, it could be the motive for some undecided voters to prefer Romney.

These questions, and many others, need answers. The administration has managed to avoid providing them for nearly eight weeks, with a much needed assist from a suddenly lack of curiosity among the truth-seeking journalists at many of America’s most influential news outlets. Perhaps after the election that curiosity will return. (Source).

Under such circumstances, Obama supporters can be expected to take whatever measures necessary; in fact, that has already begun.

What is this?

Firearms Control: The Obamoid Vision, An Embarrassing Quote, And Journalistic Ethics

The firearms business is booming, and almost everyone agrees that has a simple cause: a significant segment of the US population believes that if Obama serves a second term, there will be a serious attempt to disarm the populace and render the second amendment to the US constitution moot.

This newsletter does not believe Obama could possibly do either of those things. What seems more likely is the creation of a bureaucratic maze that makes firearms ownership more difficult and increases penalties for firearms crimes, as well as tries to accustom the public to mandatory registration, much greater difficulty in obtaining concealed carry permits, as well as an end to “stand your ground” laws. A number of other measures designed to make firearms difficult to purchase, own and use in self-defense could be enacted.

So: yes, it makes sense to buy now. But the real battle over firearms will go on for decades, and Obama and his allies know it. The anti-gun forces cannot strike once and hard enough to achieve their goals.

Ultimately, in a Utopia imagined by Obama and those who share his vision, no one except the military and law enforcement will have firearms, but that is a dream that collectivist planners surely consider many years away from realization. For now, the steady drip-drip-drip of legislative harassment of firearms owners serves to prepare the polity for future confiscation.

Why must it be that way? What predisposes the Obamites and their cohorts to hate public ownership of weapons? The answer is that collectivism seeks, requires, demands control. An armed society is the ultimate threat to its own government, and that obvious fact is well appreciated by Utopian dreamers. Only when the legislators and executives running the country feel utterly free to act as they will can Utopia be imposed. Recall the quote in the masthead of Number 275 of NTG: “We need the government to be afraid of its citizens.”

The issue of firearms control deserves a close examination, but it is impossible to discern the real motives and dreams of politicians, activists, and the public. It would be nice if Obama had provided both critics and allies with a definitive, truthful account of his intentions and values. He has not. There is, however, one quote that the National Rifle Association of America has used in its propaganda; that quote demands forensic study.

Accordingly, NTG now undertakes to determine whether Obama actually said the words attributed to him by the NRA.

That begins with commentary from the “wingnut” viewpoint. For a complete understanding of this issue, you really should click on the next three hyperlinks and read the entire posts, but the crux of the tale is reprinted here.

“People are definitely scared of a president who has voted when he was a senator against guns,” Anthony Bouchard, director of the Wyoming Gun Owners Association in Cheyenne told the Wyoming Star Tribune. [If Obama gets re-elected] he’s in a lame-duck session and he can do the things he wants to do. That’s what we’re afraid of.

Although neither candidate has made gun control an issue on the campaign trail, second amendment activists have every right to be concerned about the potential for a lame duck Obama administration to eviscerate gun rights.

Many commentators assert that the supposedly “botched” Fast and Furious scandal, wherein guns purchased in the United States were sent to Mexican drug lords, was a deliberate conspiracy to undermine the second amendment.

Just a month before the scandal broke last year, President Obama told gun control advocate Sarah Brady that his administration was working “under the radar” to sneak attack the second amendment rights of American citizens. (Emphasis added.)

During a March 30, 2011 meeting between Jim and Sarah Brady and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, at which Obama “dropped in,” the president reportedly told Brady, “I just want you to know that we are working on it (gun control). We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.” (Source)

The National Rifle Association jumped on this and distributed it as widely as it could. That upset a number of “progressives”, of course, so the accuracy of the Obama quote came under fire. Everyone assumed that if Obama were delivering a speech, he would never make a statement this candid and inflammatory. The power of the quote was derived from the fact that it was reported in, of all places, The Washington Post in a story written by a respected journalist. So the controversy was from the first heated and central to the presidential election.

Next comes the fact-checking done by Politifact, an outfit that purports to set the record straight. Here is the core of Politifact’s reasoning:

… we found the genesis of the Obama quote easy (sic) enough.

It comes from a 2011 Washington Post profile of White House gun policy adviser Steve Croley. It’s not a direct quote from Obama, rather it’s Brady recalling to Post reporter Jason Horowitz her meeting with Obama on March 30, 2011, the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Here’s what Horowitz wrote:

During the meeting, President Obama dropped in and, according to Sarah Brady, brought up the issue of gun control, “to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda,” she said.

“I just want you to know that we are working on it,” Brady recalled the president telling them. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

In the meeting, she said, Obama discussed how records get into the system and what can be done about firearms retailers. Her husband specifically brought up the proposed ban on large magazine clips, and she noted that even former Vice President Dick Cheney had suggested that some restrictions on the clips might make sense.

“He just laughed,” Sarah Brady said approvingly of the president. Both she and her husband, she emphasized, had absolute confidence that the president was committed to regulation.

The rest of the Post article focuses on how Democrats and the Obama administration have largely ignored gun control issues, how Obama has failed to deliver on a promise to eliminate an amendment requiring the FBI to destroy records of gun buyers’ background checks, and how Obama chose to avoid a debate over gun issues in the weeks and months after the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

….

In a mailer, the National Rifle Association says that “Obama admits he’s coming for our guns, telling Sarah Brady, ‘We are working on (gun control), but under the radar.'”

We found no evidence of an Obama admission anything like the NRA suggests.

What happened is Brady gave an interview to the Washington Post, where she recalled what the president said to her during a private meeting.

But the NRA makes a tremendous leap by concluding that the quote shows that “Obama admits he’s coming for our guns.” A person at the meeting said Obama was likely referring to an in-the-works program to get gun dealers in border states to forward some gun purchases to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Brady says she never talked to Obama about gun policy.

The NRA has taken a fragment of an unclear quote and prescribed the most far-reaching, conspiratorial conclusion. There simply isn’t enough evidence for such a sweeping claim. We rate it Pants on Fire.

Again, this newsletter cautions you to read the full original posts that are linked just above.

A good analysis of this controversy must include a careful look at the reporter in question, Jason Horowitz. Note again that when he was asked about his report on what Brady said, he declined to say anything.

Horowitz has not endeared himself to the “wingnut” community. He dug up some dirt on Romney and reported that when the candidate was in high school, he bullied and brutalized a fellow student, ostensibly because the boy appeared to be homosexual. A full report appeared in the WaPo, delighting Obamites and infuriating the Romney camp. Horowitz’s research stood up to criticism, and the facts of his story were never disproved. Horowitz was quoted as saying, “I needed for myself to be obviously 100 percent sure….” (See this).

Since he’s a journalist, Horowitz has a number of mentions on the internet; here are what appeared to this newsletter as the most significant and representative. Inspect them if you wish to know more about the man’s character, political orientation, and professional ethics.

Newsbusters, a “wingnut” outfit, hammers Horowitz.

Horowitz quoted favorably on HuffPost (“moonbat” publication) for piece on Romney.

More “wingnut” rage directed at Horowitz.

Still more of the same. And more. Yet more.

In this post, you will see Horowitz portrayed as extremely careful, judicious, precise and unbiased.

Here, note the careful analysis and presentation of facts.

The Atlantic, a hard-core spear-carrier in the journalistic phalanx of The Bicoastal Elite, likes Horowitz and notes this commendation of his writing: “Horowitz is assigned to tell the story of this person, and he simply did a better job on this particular chapter than anyone else.”

Well. To put it crudely, the political Left loves this guy. He’s Mr. Accurate.

What to make of this? Little, actually, except that the ruling elite has no problem with Horowitz, and the man is on the way up in journalism. He’s neither devil nor angel, but he is a hardworking reporter who is intent on his career.

Certainly his accuracy and truthfulness have never been impeached. The only brickbats that have been tossed at him have all come from the “wingnut” element, where suspicion and even hatred of the major media is pandemic. Even the most accurate reporting can draw fire from the Tea Party and its allies. There is nothing wrong with that; as this newsletter has repeatedly insisted, the overwhelming majority of journalists share something like the lunatic Eason Jordan mindset, and are certainly guilty of under-reporting facts that are inimical to the collectivist thrust in US politics. There is a lot wrong with journalism, in other words.

The question for today, however, is not whether Horowitz is just another mindless drone in a corrupt system, but whether the man can be believed. Opinions are one thing — and facts are another.

Then consider this long rumination on Horowitz, written by a fellow who says, “We liberals say that the corporate press corps lies in the grip of Big Money and Power. If we really believe that, we ought to be working to build a press culture which operates on solid restrictions and rules.” It tries to answer the question of whether Horowitz is biased, and you should read it. The non-conclusion: “is it possible that Horowitz (or his editor) has a bit of a bug up his ass about Romney? Is it possible that he’s gripped by a bit of “bias” without even being aware? Of course it’s possible, though we certainly wouldn’t assert that it’s true.”

Evidently Horowitz was considered reliable and scholarly enough to participate in this project. That speaks well for the man’s integrity and intelligence.

Note that Politifact presented none of the above information on Horowitz, though his credibility is the critical element in this controversy.

Now for a summation of the observed facts: based on a look at Horowitz’s career so far, this newsletter trusts him to tell the truth. So should his political kin. His account is credible, almost certainly totally accurate, and whatever political bias he has certainly appears to be something he can and does easily set aside. Surely he knew the Brady quote would damage the cause of firearms restriction/confiscation, and harm the Obama campaign. But it was genuine news, and that’s how he treated it.

It is important to note that the “progressive” camp is tacitly questioning the perspicacity and ethics of one of their own — because he reported the truth. This is a depressing incident, and it sheds light on the cynical vacuity of the collectivist movement.

Now a moment’s speculation on motives may be in order. First, note that Brady may have wanted to shock Horowitz, giving him something that would make her seem particularly important. Feed a hungry reporter something dramatic, and you become Somebody, in other words. This seems a bit unlikely in Brady’s case, as she already is Somebody, but you never know what sudden impulse might prompt a luminary to wax foolish.

Second, Horowitz may not want to comment on his story because to do so would require him to lie in order to protect a collectivist icon, Brady. If he hangs her out to dry, how will he be regarded by the political class he covers, and of which he is almost certainly a part? He must think of his career, a large part of which is determined by his access to the wielders of power and the crafters of opinion.

Third, perhaps if Obama did tell Brady that he intended to sneak restrictive measures past the watchful Gun Lobby, he was lying to her. He might recognize the incredible difficulty he will have in doing anything regarding firearms “below the radar”. Yet he might fully expect Brady to be satisfied with his silly assurances, temporarily at least. The desire to placate her and cement his already strong relationship with the anti-firearms lobby would give him a reason to lie to her.

What, then, happened? Can one possibly know?

Nothing can be proved, but some things appear infinitely more likely than others. Here are this newsletter’s conclusions:

1. Obama did say “below the radar” to Brady, and he was in fact talking about firearms control/legislation.

2. Brady, flattered to receive inside information from The One, did repeat the president’s words, in substance, to Horowitz. She could not restrain herself from telling somebody how important she is.

3. Horowitz, though appalled, reported accurately.

4. Brady, asked to confirm the quote, realized that something terribly inimical to her obsessive campaign against firearms had occurred, and quickly decided to lie.

5. Horowitz could say nothing substantive without harming himself or the collectivist push to disarm the public. He refused to comment. His choice was the only rational solution to the immediate problem, and he cannot be faulted for having made it as he did.

6. Presented with devastating information, Politifact pushed hard to damn the NRA rather than deal with the facts. Its conclusions are irrational, and betray profound bias (read them again, and ask yourself whether they make sense). This newsletter insists that Politifact does not deserve your trust.

7. The NRA is correct to call attention to the quote. Firearms owners are justified in being concerned about the future legality of their activities.

8. Attempts to render Heller irrelevant will continue, whether Obama serves a second term or not.

If there is an Arch Villain here, it must be Obama. Brady contends with Politifact for the position of Villain Second Class. Horowitz gets a coupon good for dinner for two at an expensive restaurant. And the NRA? It’s on target.

What’s to be found, racing around
You carry your pain wherever you go
Full of the blues and trying to lose
You ain’t gonna learn what you don’t want to know

The masthead includes a quote from the works of Sam Harris.

The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Fedora Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.

Publisher: The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee.