Gail Collins | Robocalls Are Not Even the Worst of It – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I am happy to inform you that the federal government is revving up the war on robocalls.

I checked on how things were going just after hanging up on a tinny-voiced woman who wanted to warn me that my car’s extended warranty was going to expire unless I pressed 1. In case I didn’t really care, she could take me off the calling list forever if I pressed 2.

Public service announcement: People, do not press 2. It’s press 1’s evil twin sister.

Robocalls refer to anything that comes to your phone via automated dialing. Which might include legal stuff you want to hear about, like a snow day.”

Gail Collins | Why Are We Still Going Great Guns? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Let’s take a look at how well Joe Biden is doing with his gun safety agenda.

We call this gun safety, people, because “gun control” makes a lot of politicians nervous. And really, what the heck? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that eliminating the sale of semiautomatic rifles would make the country more … gun safe.

Banning assault weapons was on Biden’s to-do list, along with universal background checks and a stronger, more forward-looking Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under the leadership of David Chipman.

Well, here we are, less than a year into the administration, and Chipman’s nomination is kaput. Biden hasn’t yet come up with a new name. This is not all that unusual, since congressional gun politics has limited the A.T.F. to only one actual confirmed chief in the last 15 years.”

Gail Collins | What Makes Cuomo So Grabby? – The New York Times

” . . . He’s buried under these sexual harassment charges and nobody is defending him. Well, virtually nobody. Rudy Giuliani says driving Cuomo out of office would be “unjust, dangerous and entirely un-American.” People, do you think this is because:

A) Giuliani just wants to see Cuomo suffer through a long, painful impeachment.

B) Giuliani made the remark at a party after several tumblers of scotch.

C) Giuliani thinks it’ll help his son Andrew’s chances to be governor.

Yeah, yeah, it’s A. Well, very possibly all three. But short of Rudy, Cuomo does seem to need all the help he can get. He’s been trying to defend himself by showing pictures where he’s kissing and hugging lots of people who seem perfectly happy with the attention. Of course, some are elderly fans who were standing in line waiting for it. Others, like, say, Al Gore, seem … not transported.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Gail Collins. My lady and I are used to your writing being magnificent and funny, and this was fun to read aloud. We especially liked, “And then there’s the non-grabby Cuomo, who looks almost as bad in the James report. Some women said his “flirtatious behavior” was problematic, but still “a better alternative to the otherwise tense, stressful and ‘toxic’ experience in the Executive Chamber.” Don’t think it’s possible to defend yourself against charges of unwanted grabbing by proving your targets were even more traumatized when you screamed at them.”

Gail Collins | The Robocall Rebellion – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Let’s find something fun to talk about.

Really, we need a little break. The top topics for civic discussion right now are the pandemic, climate change and collapsing infrastructure. It’s summer, but baseball games keep getting postponed when somebody tests positive for the coronavirus. Broadway is all but closed. There’s nothing much on TV except the Olympics, and the Olympics are kind of depressing.

So let’s complain about … robocalls!

Among the nonlethal problems currently facing the nation, robocalling looms large just for raw irritation. Really large. According to the call-blocking company YouMail, Americans got about 4.4 billion robocalls in June — seriously. This is up from a mere four billion in May.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This subject always makes me angry. How about passing a bill, that phone companies have to pay 10% of their gross profits every year, if they don’t stop these calls to the public. Gail wrote, ““They used grammatical gymnastics to create an opening for Americans to be bombarded with unwanted calls on their cellphones,” complained Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts in a phone interview. Markey, who’s one of Congress’s anti-robocall crusaders, expects to come up with a bipartisan bill to undo what the court has done. Even in an era when Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on whether to hold a hearing about the assault on the nation’s Capitol, they’re pretty much in accord on robocall reform.” Shame on the Supreme Court. They are acting like they have been bribed. I pray that Senator Markey is successful, in fixing this most annoying and dangerous abuse of the phone system in the US.
David Lindsay Jr is a writer and author who blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Gail Collins | Who Sold That Gun? Nobody’s Telling. – The New York Times

“. . .  It’s very possible he acquired the gun in a street deal, or borrowed it from a friend. But we’re not going to learn anything about who originally purchased it, or where. That’s because — bet you didn’t know this, people — it’s illegal for the authorities who track this stuff to let the public know.

Yes! This is thanks to the Tiahrt amendment, first passed in 2003, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing information with … almost anybody. It also limits the F.B.I.’s ability to hang onto gun background check data, requiring its quick destruction. All in all, the idea is to give gun dealers approximately as much right to privacy as cloistered nuns.

Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman from Kansas, has been out of office since his political career crashed in 2010 because of an unfortunate attempt to move up to the Senate. But his amendment lives on and on and on. As a result, it’s pretty much impossible for the public to know if there are one or two particular gun dealers in their town who’ve sold a whopping number of weapons that were later used in crimes.

“The A.T.F. has a tremendous amount of data,” said Josh Scharff, legal counsel for Brady, the gun-safety advocacy organization. Five percent of gun dealers, Scharff said, are responsible for selling 90 percent of the guns used in crimes.   . . .   “

Gail Collins | Our Firearms Problems Just Keep Piling Up – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…George Frey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

” “Lock them up. There are things that you can do,” a Houston assistant police chief said last week after a 3-year-old boy fatally shot his 8-month-old baby brother in the family home.

The assistant chief was talking about guns, not the 3-year-old. Obviously. Although in some parts of the country, the idea of putting kids in prison seems to elicit more enthusiasm than the idea of locking away the weapons.

This kind of disaster happens way, way, way too much. Last year at least 371 children stumbled across a loaded gun and fired, causing 143 deaths and 243 injuries. In one case, a 3-year-old shot himself to death with a pistol that had fallen out of the pocket of a member of his family — apparently while the adults were playing cards.

None of this has led to any significant change in the national attitude toward deadly weapons. Many Americans like to arm themselves to the teeth as protection from crime — and bleep over the danger that comes with all that hardware, especially in the hands of people who aren’t really equipped to use it.  . . . . . “