New York Attorney General Letitia James seems to have taken that gun-lovers’ maxim to heart, as she launches a stunningly bold suit to dissolve America’s top gun lobby group: the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The NRA is one of the most feared forces in American politics. It has spent billions to weaken gun control initiatives after mass shootings, install sympathetic members in Congress and transform the constitutional right to bear arms into a cultural cause that dominates conservative politics. In 2016, the NRA spent more than $400 million on Donald Trump and other candidates.
After the Sandy Hook massacre, which killed 26 people, including 20 elementary school kids, the NRA’s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, unleashed a now infamous rant: The problem was “genuine monsters” in society — “people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them.” And the solution, he argued, was not fewer guns, but more of them.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said, voicing the NRA mantra.
James accuses LaPierre and three other top NRA officers of years of breathtaking corruption, and her plan to destroy the organization over it will make her a hero among liberals. But while gun control is almost as much a mobilizing issue for the left as the right, Democrats who need to win rural, conservative, swing state voters might wish she had waited until after the election.
Conservatives, desperate for a cultural wedge issue to distract from Trump’s blundering response to Covid-19, leapt to the NRA’s defense. Radical liberals were bent on confiscating guns from law-abiding Americans, they warned. And Trump, whose nose for a base-baiting issue is unparalleled, suggested the problem was not corruption in the NRA, but its decision to register its business within reach of New York prosecutors.
“I think the NRA should move to Texas and lead a very good and beautiful life,” he said.
Fake videos of Beirut
‘Are you trying to make me laugh right now?’
Trump may be the President — but for basketball star LeBron James, he’s just another butt in the bleachers. In an interview with Fox on Wednesday, Trump said it was “not acceptable” for athletes to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, adding that he’d been an advocate for the sport to resume amid the pandemic. He also repeated his claim that no one, apart from possibly Abraham Lincoln, had done more to help the Black community.
“Are you trying to make me laugh right now?” Los Angeles Lakers star James responded Wednesday, when reporters relayed Trump’s comments. “I really don’t think the basketball community’s sad about losing his viewership.”
Yankee stay home
Uncle Sam announced Thursday that Americans can travel abroad again. Too bad much of the world doesn’t want them back.
The State Department has lifted a four-month long “Do Not Travel” advisory that urged US citizens not to venture overseas amid the pandemic. Americans will now get advice on specific countries to avoid. But don’t expect hordes of US tourists returning en masse just yet. No one has the appetite for travel, flights are sparse, and crucially, Americans aren’t welcome in many places right now: The European Union and the United Kingdom are not allowing American tourists to enter, due to the US’ uncontrolled coronavirus problem. And even neighboring Canada and Mexico have renewed restrictions on non-essential travel until at least the end of the month.
‘You had to be careful what options you gave him’
Amid escalating tensions with both North Korea and Iran, President Donald Trump’s advisers hesitated to give him military options fearing the President might accidentally take the US to war, CNN’s Jim Sciutto reports. Joseph Yun, who served as President Trump’s special representative for North Korea policy until 2018, recalled that during the worsening standoff with North Korea in 2017, the Pentagon feared Trump he might order a major military attack on the North. “You had to be careful what options you gave him,” Yun told Sciutto. “We were being very cautious, because any options you put out there, he could use them.”
A week of mourning
This week is the 75th anniversary of the US atomic bombings in Japan, still a global point of reference for unspeakable destruction. More than 70,000 people were killed instantly in the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. At least 40,000 more were killed three days later, in Nagasaki. Those two bombs are the only nuclear weapons ever used in warfare.
The picture above, from the U.S. Army via the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, shows the mushroom cloud rising above Hiroshima. The city’s Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, one of few buildings to remain standing, later became a memorial to the victims. On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked the loss there. Another ceremony will take place Sunday in Nagasaki’s Matsuyama neighborhood, where the second bomb fell.