President Trump and Congressional Republicans are pushing for massive tax cuts, reportedly to the tune of $1.5 trillion. This may sound good to you because, hey, who likes taxes? But it won't benefit you. It'll benefit corporations and the wealthy. More importantly, it won't benefit America. Indeed, it'll actually harm most Americans and will prevent us from doing the things we need to do as a country to make it better.
You need not get too far into the details of it all to know that the Republicans are offering a bad plan, though. No, all you need to do is to realize that, in selling their plan, they're lying to you. In fact they've offered lie upon lie upon lie. When someone lies to you, repeatedly, about what it is they plan to do, you know they're up to no good.
Let's take a look at the lies Republicans are telling about their tax plan.
Trump and Republicans are selling this as a benefit to all Americans, but the proposed cuts are almost exclusively for the rich:
They're lying to you about who benefits from their tax cuts. If they told the truth, no one would support them.
They're doing this while claiming that we are “the highest taxed nation in the world.” In fact, we are among the lowest-taxed developed nations in the world, and our current tax burden is near the lowest it's been in this country in the past 35 years.
They're lying to you about how heavily we are taxed. If they told the truth, no one would support them.
The lies about our tax burden and who would benefit, however, pale compared to the lies Trump and the GOP are telling about the alleged benefits their tax cuts would bring. The claim is the same one we've been hearing from Republicans for nearly 40 years: if you cut the taxes for businesses and the wealthy, the economy will grow and, eventually, it'll benefit the middle class and the poor. That tax cuts will thus "pay for themselves."
This is the "supply side" theory of economics, which used to be called "trickle-down economics." George H.W. Bush called it "voodoo economics" back in 1980, and he was absolutely right to do so because it's more akin to religion than it is to economic theory. Republicans repeat the supply side claim like a mantra, but there is zero connection between tax cuts and economic growth. Anyone who tells you that there is a causal relationship between tax cuts and economic growth is simply lying to you.
They're lying to you about tax cuts causing economic growth. If they told the truth, no one would support them.
While the benefits of these cuts are the stuff of fantasy, the costs are all too real. They will lead to massive cuts to infrastructure spending, education, medical and scientific research, child care, job training, the arts, our national parks and public lands and a host of safety net programs that help families make ends meet in tough times. This is not just theoretical: the three states which have rolled out tax plans like Trump's -- Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma -- have been thrown into economic and budgetary chaos. The promised growth never came then and it won't come now.
They're lying to you about what slashing taxes and public programs did to Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. If they told the truth, no would would support them.
It gets worse, though. Republicans acted like deficit hawks back when Obama was in office, but now that a Republican is in office, they suddenly don't seem to care what impact these tax cuts will have on our federal deficit and the national debt. I actually don't mind too much about that -- the handwringing over debt and the deficit has always been misleading and overblown -- but I care what the Republicans think about it.
That's because after those tax cuts balloon our debt and deficit, Republicans will suddenly pretend to be fiscal conservatives again and they will look to you and me to fix the problem they've created. They'll say that we need to cut Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and a host of other social services to cover for all of those tax cuts they gave their rich donors. As a result, this whole thing -- the tax cuts combined with the services cuts -- will constitute as massive gift to the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class.
They're lying about what the tax cuts will mean for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If they told the truth, no one would support them.
It won't just be those entitlement programs which get slashed, however. If you give $1.5 trillion to corporations, hedge fund managers and the very wealthy, you forego any hope of doing the many other things necessary to build our country and to make it a better place both for our generation and later generations.
These are not just items from a wish list. They are the sorts of priorities and initiatives that form the very foundation of a civilized society. They are, contrary to what Trump says, the very things which make America great. Republicans say we don't have the money to do these necessary things, but they say we can give $1.5 trillion to the wealthy?
They're lying about about the need to invest in our country and in our people. If they told the truth, no one would support them.
When someone tells you lie after lie after lie, do you believe that they have your best interests in mind? Do you believe they have nothing to hide? Do you stand behind them and support them?
Of course you don't. So why on Earth should anyone support Donald Trump and the Republicans' tax cut plan?
Are you watching the World Series? Oh, I'm sorry, "The World Series Presented by YouTube TV?" If you are, than you're well aware of just how intrusive the ads are this year. Some distract the viewer from in-game action. Others make one question whether the media covering the Series is bought and paid for.
I wrote about it all this morning over at the baseball site.
Pat Tiberi's announcement last week that he was resigning his seat representing Ohio's 12th Congressional district came as a major surprise to most people. It wasn't so surprising, however, that there weren't three or four Republicans who immediately said they'd run to replace him. The 12th is a gerrymandered district, so most Republicans assume that all they need to do is win a primary and they'll have a job for life. I'm sure many were waiting for this opportunity.
And maybe the smart money should be bet on a Republican to take the seat. Tiberi won the district with two-thirds of the vote last year. It's only been held been held by a Democrat for one term in the past 76 years, and that was before it was redrawn to its current, Republican-friendly boundaries. Add in the fact that Tiberi himself has over $5 million in his campaign war chest and no campaign of his own to run, and one might assume that whichever of the GOP hopefuls emerges out of the special election primary will waltz to victory.
Republicans, however, should not count their chickens before they hatch. For two reasons: one mathematical, one practical.
In a vacuum, the district leans pretty hard to the right. Tiberi, as I mentioned, won it with 66.6% of the vote. Much of that, however, represents the district's support of Pat Tiberi specifically, not support for just anyone with an R next to their name. Tiberi is a nice guy and people like him, so he has always over-performed the partisan split in the district.
This is born out in the numbers. OH-12 has a Cook PVI of R+7, meaning that, Tiberi's large election margins notwithstanding, it's only seven points more Republican than the nation as a whole. Donald Trump won the district with 53.2% of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 41.9%. Mitt Romney won it with 54% of the vote in 2012. Yes, that reveals a pretty solid GOP lean, but it's not the sort of lean one sees in the impenetrable Republican fortresses elsewhere in the country.
While it's a small sample size, in special elections held since Trump was elected, Democrats have improved upon Clinton's showing by an average of 10 points. Democrats are improving upon the Cook PVI lean by an average of 12 points. If that happens in this district -- and there is nothing to suggest that Trump is any more popular here than he is in other districts -- it's a Democratic win.
No, OH-12 is not a friendly district for Democrats, but the popular incumbent is leaving and this environment is bad enough for Republicans that the district is no Republican gimme. A friend of mine who studies and writes about congressional elections for a living has a looked at all of this and tells me that, in his view, a solid Democratic candidate has a one in three chance to take it. That's way, way better than usual. More tea, anyone?
All of that is interesting enough, but elections are won by candidates and campaigns, not math. On that count, any Republican looking to succeed Pat Tiberi has to prove to voters that he or she can accomplish something voters want them to accomplish. Given the circumstances of Tiberi's resignation, however, it's hard to imagine a Republican making a credible case in this regard.
Tiberi was one of the most powerful and influential members of the Republican caucus. He was plugged in to senior Congressional leaders and held a key post on the Ways and Means committee. He was so powerful and important that Paul Ryan personally entrusted him with repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Tiberi, however, is reported to be "frustrated" at his inability to advance his agenda and is weary of the "grind" and "public battering" he's endured while trying to do so. If Pat Tiberi, with all of the power his seniority gives him, cannot further his agenda in this Congress under this president, what on Earth makes any of his would-be Republican successors think they can do any better?
Yet that's the case they'll have to make. Any candidate who wishes to inherit Pat Tiberi's political legacy will have to convince voters that they'll be better able to advance Tiberi's agenda than Tiberi was. "I'm way better positioned to push the agenda of the nine-term guy who just quit than even he is," seems laughable for a rookie Congressman, but it's an even harder argument to make if you expect that nine-term guy to campaign for you and to shoot you some of the money from his war chest.
So what's the alternative for a Republican? He or she could chose to run on a different sort of Republican agenda, I suppose. That presents its own tough choice, however. Tiberi is pretty mainstream as far as Republicans go, so anyone moving to his left would have a hard time winning a GOP primary. Moving further to the right and adopting a more Trumpist agenda, however, would likely be poison in this district and in this environment. Where does that leave them? Having to argue that they are, basically, just like Pat Tiberi but that Pat Tiberi was the wrong man for the job. This despite 66% of the district thinking he was the right one less than a year ago. That's a tough sell.
A much easier sell is the one a Democratic candidate has to make: (1) that however nice a man Pat Tiberi happened to be, the agenda he championed was the wrong one to begin with; and (2) Donald Trump and what he stands for is not what the 12th District of Ohio stands for and that what is most needed at this juncture is someone who will fight him. Given how poorly the agenda of Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans polls, the former proposition is not as hard as it may have seemed a few short months ago. Given the 14% spread between the number of the people who pulled the lever for Pat Tiberi and Donald Trump in 2016, the latter portion of that is not a particularly hard sell.
Regardless of that calculation, I am convinced that any candidate with strong values and integrity --- any candidate who vows to work tirelessly to make America a better place -- stands a strong chance of victory regardless of their party label. Specifically, a candidate who vows, credibly, to do the following can win even the toughest district:
People didn't vote for Pat Tiberi because of his agenda. They voted for him because they liked him and were in the habit of voting for Pat Tiberi. His over-performance of the district's leanings and the district's relative distaste for Donald Trump establish that. Given Tiberi's failure and resignation and given the fact that Trump has alienated a large number of the people who voted for him and is utterly toxic to anyone who didn't, the game has changed in OH-12.
Has it changed enough for a Democrat to win? It'll be tough, but I think it's doable. If the right candidate emerges, it might even be easier than many think.
The drive between New Albany and Granville, Ohio used to take you down a two-lane country road, but traffic eventually got heavy enough to where they needed to make it a freeway. They did that about six or seven years ago. As far as freeways go it's fine. It cuts through the country and, though it'll likely change the area sometime in the near future, there hasn't been too much in the way of development along the route just yet. It's still a nice country drive. The barn where my wife keeps her horse is out that way so we're on that freeway a lot.
There is one thing on the road that sticks out, though:
This house sits just east of the exit for Route 310, right up against the freeway. It's looked like that since about the time the freeway went through. "O.D.O.T.," stands for Ohio Department of Transportation.
I've always assumed it had to do with some dispute arising out of the condemnation of property to build the freeway, but I've wondered what the specific story was for years. Today I did a little searching and found this, written by a man who says that he spoke to the owner a few years back:
The owner's side of the story was that ODOT used eminent domain compelling him to sell the portion of the property they needed for the freeway, but that they refused to purchase the entire property, including the part on which the house sat. His problem, though, wasn't that he was stuck with a house right next to a freeway. That would be bad enough, but at least understandable. Rather his problem was that the portion of the property they compelled him to sell included the leach field for the house's septic system and the remaining parcel that the house sat on was too small to install a new leach field that would meet local code. So he wasn't just left with a house next to a freeway, he was left with an uninhabitable house next to a freeway.
It's been a while since I practiced law, but the foggy parts of my memory related to these kinds of cases suggest that there is likely a bit more to this story. Local juries determine land value when there is dispute, and they almost always tend to overpay landowners who challenge state valuation in condemnation cases. In light of that, the state usually comes in with high offers to begin with. Maybe he was screwed on the parcel with the house, but I suspect he came out fine overall after they bought the parcel they needed for the freeway. There's plenty of injustice in this country, but rural landowners tend to do OK financially speaking when the bulldozers come to plow places like Licking County into the 21st century, even if they are inconvenienced or displaced.
Regardless of the specifics, I've always been struck by the "O.D.O.T. Sucks" house. While I suppose most people who see it think of it as nothing but an eyesore, I'm amused by it. Both at its existence and by the fact that it's lasted in the state it's in for so long.
Some quick searching shows that the deed was redone in 2007, with the current owner conveying the house to himself, likely in connection with whatever it was ODOT did with respect to their other land. For tax purposes, the house is only worth $800, with annual taxes on it running around $13, which the owner has faithfully paid. While the house is uninhabited, a quick search of property records shows that the owner of the house lives in similar but slightly larger home two miles away. It's neat, tidy and inviting. It's also close enough to the old house that it's no inconvenience at all for him to go put a fresh coat of paint on his "O.D.O.T. Sucks" sign whenever necessary. Which he clearly has, by the way. The house faces south and the sun would've bleached those orange letters pretty badly by now if he had let it be. Today, however, they're as vibrant as the day they first went up. My wife took that photo when we drove past yesterday afternoon.
I wonder who will blink first. The owner could, if he wanted to, simply abandon the basically worthless property. If O.D.O.T. grows weary of the sign, it could restart negotiations with the owner to see how much it would take to get him to either give up the land or, at the very least, bulldoze the house or cover the sign. The county could maybe get involved too, perhaps creatively reassessing the value of the property -- it's right next to an exit, so might it be rezoned for a gas station? -- raising the owner's tax rates to the point where he's no longer able to cheaply maintain his sign. Given that an influential new neighbor is moving in just a couple of miles up the freeway soon, maybe someone else will come to the table too.
In the meantime, I'll continue to drive by the "O.D.O.T. Sucks" house a few times a week, acknowledging that, yes, it's an eyesore, but smiling that it's still there. Not because I take the landowner's side, necessarily. I don't know him and I don't know the specifics of his beef. No, I smile because we live in a world where powerful forces always seem to win, conformity always seems to reign and anything old, small, unique or just plain weird seems to get plowed over, literally or figuratively.
The fact that someone on the wrong end of the plow's blade has basically held his middle finger up like this for close to a decade gives me hope that the powerful forces' victory, even if inevitable, won't always be easy.
August 15, 2019 UPDATE: Someone has bought the house from the owner and is renovating the property. The kicker: he may keep the sign!
I awoke to the news that my congressman, Pat Tiberi, is planning on resigning this week, less than halfway through his ninth term.
Since turning this site's attention from personal to more political matters early this year, I've spent considerable time criticizing him for his political cowardice, his lockstep association with Paul Ryan and the manner in which he's allowed himself to be a useful idiot for Donald Trump. If you hit the "politics" tab over to the right, you'll find no shortage of criticism of my soon-to-be former congressman. It's no secret that I am not a fan of his.
Normally at times like this, however, people will lower their rhetorical weapons and talk about the outgoing politician's good works and good qualities, giving his political obituary the same positive, soft-focus treatment one sees in actual obituaries. Indeed, in the coming days I expect there will be no shortage of "Pat was a decent man and tried to do the right thing," talk both from his political allies and political adversaries.
I have no interest in that.
Yes, from afar Pat Tiberi always seemed to be a nice and basically decent fellow and I can recall no scandals, political or otherwise, attaching to him. That, however, should be the most basic expectation of a public servant. Contrary to what the professional political class believes, one does not earn kudos for simply avoiding infamy or for not being a crook.
Politics is not -- or at least should not be -- about any one public official's personal values or qualities, his friendships or even his character. Politics is about one thing: using the democratic process to implement policies and provide the sort of governance which make life better for people. Politicians should be judged based on what they have done to advance the interests of the men, women and children they represent and to make our world a better place. They should also be judged, negatively, based on what they have done to harm those interests and to advance the agenda of those whose interests conflict with the betterment of society as a whole.
On that score, Pat Tiberi is a failure and should be remembered as a failure. He has taken millions from the health insurance industry, the financial sector, pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists and he has made it his mission to do their bidding. Time and time again he made it his top priority to advance the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the most vulnerable. He has steadfastly refused to make himself accessible to his constituents and he has largely gotten away with it because his district is one of the more heavily gerrymandered districts you're likely to come across.
Among the things Pat Tiberi never did, and what his successor must be committed to doing:
If Pat Tiberi's political career had even attempted to embody any of these values and ideals, I'd be sad at learning about his impending resignation. He has, unfortunately, sought to undermine these values and ideals, often aggressively so.
As such I am quite happy to see him go and eager to welcome anyone who will take his seat and use it to make America a better place.
I've spent a lot of time beating up on "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance over the past year or so. My review of his book is here and some further stuff on him and his political writing is here and here, in case you've missed it. The short version of my beef with him: while his personal story may have been compelling enough for a decent memoir, he and others have attempted to use that personal story as disingenuous cover for an odious political agenda.
It's not a new political agenda, mind you. The gist of it involves blaming the poor and downtrodden for their misfortune, which has long been a talking point of the conservative establishment of which Vance, a Yale Law graduate who worked for a hedge fund in Silicon Valley for years, is quite firmly a part.
The twist is the use of Vance himself and his dubious hillbilly bonafides to provide absolution to anyone who would prefer to look away. "It's not your fault that poor people in flyover country are screwed," Vance has told both conservatives and liberals alike, "they've done it to themselves!" Upon being told that they all exhale in relief, content in the knowledge that they cannot do anything to help and thus cannot be criticized for turning away, their guilt assuaged because, hey, a hillbilly said it was OK for us not to care. It's almost genius, really.
As coastal elites have gotten off on Vance's guilt-free rural poverty porn, Vance himself has been plotting a political career. Now relocated to Columbus, Ohio, he strongly considered a run for the U.S. Senate in 2018. While he ultimately decided against that, he has surrounded himself with the sorts of advisors and donors, both in Columbus and nationally, who anoint political stars. He's writing Op-Ed pieces, spoken at political luncheons and has gone on the lecture circuit. It's the usual stuff a future candidate does.
Vance, however, claims that he has a particular problem for a Republican in middle America: he does not support Donald Trump and did not support him during the election. This "problem," of course, will increasingly be seen as a strength the longer Trump stays in office and the lower his popularity plunges. Vance, no idiot, knows this quite well and will likely continue to position himself as a Republican Party savior, seeking to take it back from the insane fringe that has taken it over in the past few years.
There's only one problem with that. He's buddying up to Steve Bannon, who is angling to get Vance installed as the next head of the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation:
J.D. Vance, the best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” a memoir about his upbringing in Appalachia, was also floated early in the process as a possible high-profile, younger recruit. He has met in recent months with Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist who has returned to his post running Breitbart News, and Bannon has privately expressed a desire to see an ally installed at Heritage.
You can endeavor to heal the nation of its Trumpist fever, or you can work with the leader of the alt-right agenda who parted with Trump because he wasn't extreme enough. Likewise you can work to elevate the voices of the overlooked people of poor middle America, as Vance has claimed over and over again that he desires to do, or you can fall in with Bannon, who has worked tirelessly to exploit these people into backing his twisted, white nationalist delusions. You cannot do both.
What J.D. Vance decides to do in this regard is his own business. It's a wonderful time for all of the rest of us, however, to stop listening to Vance and to stop believing he's some fresh new voice of reason who can bridge the vast political, cultural and social divides in this country. Because once you start taking meetings with a guy who blows up bridges and brags about doing it, you've opted out of the "bringing us all together" business.
UPDATE: I have some other ideas on politics and bringing people together. It's a decidedly more inclusive view of the world than whatever it is Bannon and, by extension, Vance is interested in pursuing.
This morning the President of the United States, in response to an accurate news report that made him look bad, threatened the license of a national broadcast network:
It happens to be the broadcast network that employs me. I'd hope, however, that such a thing angers people who don't work for NBC. I mean, I get that he's mad, but the most powerful member of the United States government threatening the media because it criticized him is, if not the most un-American thing ever, certainly in the top-10.
I'm pretty sure if Obama had said this about Fox News in 2010 there would be talk of impeaching him. Short of that, it'd dominate the news cycle for several weeks and be cited in the rants of conservatives for years and years. Now, I presume, we'll just chalk it up to "Trump being Trump" and stagger on to the next unnecessary crisis he creates or legitimate crisis he neglects.
In the meantime, Trump can take my NBC WordPress login from my cold dead hands. Or whatever it is people say in such situations. Sorry, I'm new to this "living under a petulant dictator" thing. We all are.
The mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 people dead on Sunday night is, on one level, shocking and on another unsurprising.
It's shocking in its violence, its cold-blooded calculation and its scale. Shocking in a way that something so awful must always be shocking to anyone who values and cherishes human life. Shocking to all of us who have not become numb to gun violence. To those of us who cannot and will not allow ourselves to become numb to it, because to allow this increasingly common and increasingly deadly sort of tragedy to become just another news story which holds our attention for a few days before being forgotten is to abandon our very humanity.
This is all unsurprising, however, because our laws and, increasingly, our very values, practically ensure that events like those that unfolded in Las Vegas will occur again and again. I'll get to the laws shortly, but it's worth talking about the culture of guns in America for a moment.
There is, obviously, a long and rich history of gun ownership in America. We are a nation born of the fighting of armed civilians marshaled into a revolutionary army. We are a nation whose land was explored by hunters and frontiersman. We are a nation populated by farmers and sportsmen and the children and grandchildren of farmers and sportsmen, the vast majority of whom were and are responsible and law-abiding members of our community. Our history -- and the largely rural character of America for most of that history -- forged a culture in which owning firearms, while never a requirement of responsible citizenship, was most certainly compatible with it. Where I grew up, in Michigan and West Virginia, there was hardly a household that didn't have at least one hunting rifle in it. I'm sure a lot of you grew up in similar circumstances.
Recently, however -- very recently -- there has been a marked shift in what it means to be a gun owner in America and who it is that owns most of our guns. Some have referred to this as "extreme gun ownership," in which people own a dozen, two dozen or perhaps scores of guns, including quasi-military weapons and hundreds upon hundreds of rounds of ammunition. This dynamic, which has resulted in a full 50% of all guns in our country being owned by 3% of the population, is perfectly legal, of course.
But however legal it is for a person to stockpile weapons like this, it's worth scrutinizing why they do so. Yes, a small portion of these people are genuine collectors. I suspect a much larger proportion of these people, however, own numerous weapons for what amount to philosophical reasons. Many of these people -- and I know a good number of them personally and professionally -- are afraid of something, be it rational or irrational. A fear egged on by the gun lobby and a conservative media that has convinced a wide swath of Americans that there are enemies hiding around every corner and that our government is their greatest enemy of all. I further suspect that we will find out that the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock -- who likely owned all of his guns legally -- harbored fears like these. Fears which, even if they did not lead him to commit mass murder, inspired him to compile a private arsenal, which in turn allowed him to carry his rampage out far more readily.
We can legislate until our pens run dry, but we will not stop the next Stephen Paddock unless we truly understand how a person can come to live in a state of such suspicion and fear that they feel it necessary to stockpile private arsenals that have only one deadly purpose. Until we understand how a country that was once comprised of households with some hunting rifles became one in which owning a dozen or more military-inspired guns became a lifestyle choice. We must, as a nation, come to understand how something that was, until very recently, thought of as a tool, became a symbol of so many people's personal politics and identity.
Achieving such an understanding may not be a simple matter, but it may not be as tough as passing new gun laws, which are obviously not easy to implement or change.
Part of this is by design. While, as a lawyer, I disagree with the legal notion that the Second Amendment confers an absolutist, unquestionable and un-regulatable individual right rather than a collective right of action (the words "a well-regulated militia" seem to be the only words in the Constitution conservative judges seem to think mean nothing) the fact of the matter is that any broad-based effort to ban certain types of firearms or to broadly restrict gun ownership in this day and age would be met with intense political opposition and legal challenge. Likely successful legal challenge, mind you, thanks to the current makeup of the federal judiciary, its view of the Second Amendment and the deep pockets of the National Rifle Association which has the entire Republican Party under its control and much of the Democratic Party living in fear.
The fact, however, that wide-ranging gun regulations seem legally and/or politically impractical in the current environment does not mean that there is nothing that can and should be done. Indeed, there are a host of common-sense regulations that we can and should pursue that do not violate the Second Amendment as currently interpreted but which would go a long way toward reining in the scourge of gun violence plaguing our country.
One of these is obvious, if only in hindsight of the tragedy in Las Vegas: outlawing devices that allow semi-automatic guns, which are legal, to be transformed into automatic weapons, which have been illegal to manufacture for civilian use for over 30 years. This relates specifically to “bump stocks,” which are attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire faster, mimicking the action of automatic weapons. Under no set of circumstances should a person be allowed to legally acquire devices which convert a legal weapon into one that is essentially identical to those which are illegal. Thankfully, there appears to be some movement this week on that very issue.
Beyond the currently newsworthy topic of bump stocks, we should work to pass laws or regulations, on the state or federal level, as appropriate, that fall, generally, into three categories:
None of these sorts of regulations would take guns away from law abiding citizens or infringe on the their rights under the Second Amendment. All of them would work to keep guns from falling into the hands of violent criminals and discourage those who would seek to inflict mass casualties.
Ultimately, though, there are many complex, historical and cultural factors which have led us to this regrettably violent place in our nation's history. As such, there is no one thing that can be done to drastically reduce gun violence in this country, let alone eliminate the threat of a mass shooting. Anyone who promises that they can put an end to such things is not being honest with you.
We can, however, do many things, each of them modest in and of themselves, that work to add a much-needed dose of common sense and responsibility to an issue which has, increasingly, led itself to intense, emotion-based polarization and special interest group-fed partisan rancor. We should start to do so, immediately.