Archive for January 2011
The House, the Senate, and the President?
You know, I’m sort of one to understand that there’s a lot of thoughts and talking points that any public official has to remember any time they are on TV or being interviewed, and misspeaks and stumbles are to be expected. How many of us have walked away from some conversation, only to think “Man, I should have said that” just ten minutes later?
But this is a man who is trusted with uncountable amounts of our money, and has a say in how the country operates. And the Three Branches is simple, basic 7th Grade civics! Still, he is correct in the context he’s talking about, the budget and debt debate that will be coming, the House and Senate will have to hash it out, and the President will have to go along; or veto, and they can start over. Either way, the Judiciary generally doesn’t get involved in budget debates.
So while I’m sort of tempted to be “fair” and give him a (conditional) pass, I think I might be done with that.
Can you imagine the reaction if Sarah Palin had said the exact same phrase? That’s what I thought.
Keith Olbermann, long time fixture in the MS-NBC primetime lineup, signed off of “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” for the last time on Friday night. No one is really sure of the exact reason he left yet, though speculation runs between new partners Comcast wanting him gone, to being fired for being supposedly hard to work with, to he just decided to leave on his own before he got fired.
Olby has been a long-time favorite whipping boy of the conservatives, as well. Listening to his rambling on politics would leave my mouth agape, in disbelief that he actually just said that. Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but my impression of him was he was doing what (he perceived, at least) his rivals at FOX News, namely Bill O’Reilly, were doing from the other side of the political spectrum. One could probably make that case more with Sean Hannity, but to my knowledge, he didn’t tend to make Hannity a continuous open target like he did O’Reilly.
His semi-regular feature known as the “Special Comment” was always great. He would take some righteous indignation with a particular person or event in the recent news cycle, and sound off in a rambling, sometimes barely coherent editorial, often lasting from 10 to 15 minutes. One of my favorites of these was him nearly yelling at the camera for then-President Bush to “SHUT. THE. HELL. UP!!”
Several websites followed Olbermann on a regular basis, pointing out his incorrect conclusions, hypocrisy, and other “errors” in his “reporting.” I think Keith loved that sort of attention, as he was able, or at least claim to be able, to link it back to FOX News somehow, and feed into the theme that “they” were trying to shut him up.
Personally, I don’t care what he said or how he said it. I barely watched his program, and the few times I did I was reminded every time why I didn’t. Just like every now and then I have to have a Big Mac, and every time I’m nursing that aching stomach I swear never again.
But as far as it goes, he was more than free to express his opinion. He had a platform, got paid good money, all built on that expression. No problem here. As long as the company wanted him there for whatever reason, he could continue as far as I was concerned. I’ve never been one to advocate firing a commentator for their views, after all, that’s the definition of a commentator, whether I like them or not.
In the end, though, whatever the reason he and MS-NBC parted company, I wouldn’t worry too much about where his next meal is coming from. He has an audience, and frankly a decent screen presence. He’ll find another platform, and will continue.
So, you may be asking yourself, just whose dreams are crushed then? Mine, of course!
With the end of “Countdown” also comes the end of one of his regular segments known as “Worst Person In The World.” The title was bestowed on whichever conservative he found most offensive for something they said or did.
And now, I will never have the chance to be named Worst Person. That was, after all, one of my goals with writing here. But alas, I guess it was never meant to be. I’ll just have to continue on as best I can.
Good night, and good luck, Keefums!
While not as loud and shrill as is usually the case after a “mass shooting,” the calls from some quarters to just do something about the availability of firearms to the general public are still there and making some news. At least one politician has taken to the airwaves to suggest that simply reimposing the “Assault Weapons Ban” passed during the Clinton administration would be a good start.
The AWB imposed magazine size restrictions, and limited firearms (generally of the rifle variety) to a certain number or type of accessories. Truth be told, however, this law did nothing but drive up the cost of ‘grandfathered’ guns and accessories, and made it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
So for a little bit of fun, let’s take a look at two weapons readily available today.
Here, we have a nice, “regular” rifle, traditional wood-type stock, appears suitable for many types of hunting, some ‘plinking’ at the range or in the back yard (if one has open space where such practice is allowed). Also looks like it would be right at home in a rack above the fireplace, perhaps with some mounted antlers near the fireplace, right?
Now take a look at this one:
(Apologies for borrowing the images from Gunbroker.com. If you like, you can go check out their auctions, and bid on them if the mood strikes.)
Looks quite a bit different? Synthetic material stock, pistol-style grip, and collapsible butt, appears that it would be more at home in some movie about chasing terrorists or in the hands of some military officer of a third-world dictatorship. Pretty scary, eh?
But this is a trick: Both of these are the same rifle! Ruger Mini-14, in .223 Remington caliber. Functionally, they are exactly the same: Semi-automatic, meaning one shot per trigger pull. The only difference between them is how they look.
This is a bit of a simplified example, I will grant you, however, it serves to illustrate the end result of the “Assault Weapons Ban.” I would need to know a few more specifics, however, more than likely the first version would be perfectly legal to purchase during the period of the law, and the second likely would have been banned (at least in some jurisdictions even today, if I’m not mistaken).
In fact, I believe that one could remove the stock, take out the actual gun part, and without any modifications, install it into the other stock, taking a “normal” hunting rifle and turning it into a “scary Army gun.” And both, again without modification, will accept 5-round, 20-round, and 30-round magazines and more.
So before anyone decides we must be just doing something about the country being “awash with killer guns,” we must be very careful to understand exactly what is being proposed, the effects it may have on otherwise law-abiding citizens, and any measure of effectiveness such laws may or may not have.
It is my hope that the politicians and advocate groups on all sides of this debate take great care to do just that. Knee-jerk reactions to tragedy often result in ineffective measures being taken just to prove a point.
In the wake of events in Tucson that left six dead, others wounded, and Congresswoman Giffords clinging to life, one of the usual debates has started making its way around the regular circles: Gun control.
After nearly every criminal mass-shooting, this comes up every time. It’s not so loud this time, though, as the ones usually screaming about gun laws are busy screaming about Sarah Palin, Tea Parties, and “violent rhetoric.” But its out there just the same, and to ignore it would be foolish on our part; while we are all distracted with apologizing for using “crosshairs” and fretting about political “targets,” anti-gun folks may be able to build support for additional useless regulations.
McCarthy has introduced a bill toward this end. Sebastian breaks it down, pointing out some of the inane portions of it. Frankly, to me that one looks like a vast overreach towards her (likely) ultimate goal of outright bans. He has several posts on that, so keep checking for more updates as they become available.
Even former Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that restricting high capacity magazines might be something we should think about. After all, who besides crazed killers need to fire more than a few shots at a time?
Here’s the thing: Who cares? While no number seems hard and fast as to what capacity they should be limited to, a common number seems to be 10. The problem is that many handguns out there today are made to hold more than 10 rounds, such as the Glock used in Arizona, which was made to hold 17 rounds. As high strength polymers have become almost normal for handgun frames and grips, magazine capacities have also risen with the need for thick, heavy steel sections being removed, thus allowing for a wider, ‘double-stacked’ magazine design, allowing more rounds to be in the same vertical space than stacked into a single column.
But rather than prattle on about firearms specifics, I thought I might point out a few things that anyone who leans towards civil libertarian might wish to consider.
Sure, if one is limited to the number of shots that could be fired repeatedly, it goes to reason that fewer people might be harmed or killed in the wake of a maniacal killer. Unless, of course, he has two guns. Or, perhaps, has several loaded magazines on him, and has practiced reloading. Very little amount of practice is needed to get reload times down to about 3 to 5 seconds from last shot of one magazine to first shot of the next. And, in the case of some aftermarket extended magazines, they might not function quite as well as ‘factory’ ones, for example, misfeeding, not dropping free, etc.
So, you might say, in light of those things, what harm would limiting them be? Who actually needs to carry more than, say, ten rounds at any given time? After all, most firearms enthusiasts emphasize accuracy, stopping power of one round over another, and reliability. Revolver die-hards even go as far to say that if you can’t do the job in six shots, then something is wrong. This is, however, misguided thinking.
Suppose there is an agreement on limiting magazine sizes. What number is good? Is 5 rounds enough for most circumstances? Is 10 rounds too many? I want to know just who, and by what criteria, sets that policy. And what happens when someone using a 10 round magazine goes off the deep end, and accurately places shots in a crowd killing eight people? Will we then have to adjust that limit down to 5, or less?
This same thinking can be applied to other areas in peoples lives. For example, President Obama once famously said that “at some point, I think you’ve made enough money.” Just who decides how much is enough? What happens after that?
The fact is that these sort of proposals would simply be a ‘foot in the door’ to removing firearms from perfectly normal, sane, law-abiding citizens. Once it’s accepted that ‘reasonable’ limits can be placed on the size of your magazines, it makes it easier in the future to restrict other things, such as the amount of ammunition you can purchase, or perhaps even the number of magazines you can own. Or even the number or types of currently-legal firearms themselves you are allowed to have.
And no, Micheal Moore: I don’t want guns because I’m “scared” of something. I don’t own guns because I’m a racist, or anything else. And I would venture to say that all but a tiny, likely statistically irrelevant number of gun owners fit into the same category as myself.
The world is a dangerous place. In all likelihood, I will never have to use any firearm, or anything else for that matter, to defend my own life or that of loved ones. But, in the event, however unlikely it may be, that something bad does happen, I simply want to have tools available to take care of the situation. And if by my thoughts and research that tool may include 17 rounds or more of 9mm ammunition, then that is what I want to have available to me.
Jazz Shaw also comments and expands on the Constitutional questions on this over at Hot Air.
Chris Muir sums up the Media’s love affair with President Obama.
Seems quite typical of the media’s relationship with Democrats in general, and Obama in particular. No matter what is said, how it is said, verbal gaffes, or outright contradictions, it seems they don’t often raise any questions about it.
While at the same time, Sarah Palin gets raked over the coals for a non-existent connection to a loony toon in Tuscon,and those same “reporters” who tend to slobber at the feet of the President show outright condescension and hostility towards someone who last I checked, was a private citizen expressing an opinion.
Way to stand up for the First Amendment, you idiots.
Who knew the European nations have some of the same problems we do here? At least Italy is trying to do something about it.
Yeah. THIS is an answer. You don’t like Sarah Palin making “death threats,” so the obvious answer is to make death threats. Good. How’s that working out for ya?
From KGUN TV, Loughner’s former girlfriend speaks out. Look, we all know someone who is a little, shall we say, “different?” Someone who operates on just a little bit different wavelength than most of us? It doesn’t automatically make them killers, or anything else. And this young woman should not be blamed for anything. It appears that Loughner appealed to her at one point, before he lost his mind completely. And she walked away when things got too strange.
There is a serious problem on and just beyond our southern border. Maybe we can’t affect the internal workings down there, but stronger security on our own border would help keep that sort of mayhem from our own citizens.
Oh for God’s Sake. Is there anything this guy doesn’t screw up?
I just finished watching the live, or rather, live paused 9 minutes on the DVR, memorial service in Tuscon, Arizona, for the fallen and wounded victims after last Saturday’s tragedy. Thought I might give my observations on it.
I have not followed or seen any sort of social media, and purposely stopped the DVR once the news anchor began speaking so as to not be influenced by anyone else. So what you are about to read is my opinion and mine alone.
I turned on the television shortly after arriving home and taking care of the normal things. It was near the end of Governor Jan Brewer’s statements. Following the Governor was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Naplolitano, Attorney General Holder, and President Barack Obama.
All day long through various media I had heard some speculating that this would turn into another Wellstone Memorial. For those that don’t recall, Senator Paul Wellstone had passed away shortly before his reelection bid would take off. Wellstone was an unapologetic liberal, but by all accounts was respected and respectful about it. However, this particular service turned into an embarrassing campaign rally, even to the point Republican Senators such as Trent Lott and others, in attendance to pay respects to a fallen friend, were booed by the the crowd, and lofty rhetoric of winning the election for Paul was front and center. And as far as I can tell, those that perpetrated that fiasco didn’t even have the sense to be embarrassed by it.
I thought to myself surely this won’t happen tonight. Not after the last time. Obama’s media people will tone it down. Seems I was partially right.
From Brewer, I didn’t get the full context of her remarks, but Napolitano and Holder merely read passages from the Bible, without giving any personally-prepared statements. But what bothered me at this point was the reaction of the crowd inside the auditorium.
As Napolitano was introduced, I heard wild applause, even cheering and whistling. Same with Eric Holder. I think this was highly inappropriate, considering it was supposed to be a memorial service to honor the fallen and wounded. I can’t place the blame for that with the speakers themselves. Still, had I been at the podium, I might have snapped a remark about “sit down and shut up, don’t you know why we are here?” Perhaps some polite applause after being introduced, and/or upon completion of their remarks, certainly. But cheering and whistles?
Then, President Obama was introduced. Again, to wild cheering. As for his statement, others might disagree, but it was mostly okay. I got annoyed at the crowd, thinking they had to applaud at the end of each sentence it seemed, but again, not really Obama’s fault.
He started with naming the victims, sharing part of their life story, bringing some humanity to the unknown names we see listed in the newspaper or on the TV screen. He also shared that shortly after his visit to the hospital, Representative Gabrielle Giffords was still recovering and had opened her eyes for the first time. The cheering at that line I feel was pretty much called for.
But it seemed he couldn’t resist. Obama just had to go into making a point about the civil discourse. Emphasized how we should all respect each other, even if we have different ideas. And continue the debate that moves this country forward. And I even noted at a couple of points he raised his tenor to “yes we can” and “we are the ones we have been waiting for” cadences.
On the whole, I do tend to agree with those statements. His actual words were generic enough in nature so as not to actually name anyone who might not be respecting others opinions, which I suppose is a step up for him. And if he really means it, then I applaud him. However, in the venue he was speaking in, and the circumstances surrounding it, bringing himself into the mud slinging fight over this issue was uncalled for. As Ed Morrissey has stated on a number of occasions, Obama has a problem known as “punching below his weight.” Simply put, that means picking a fight with someone or some issue that is beneath the level he should be at.
With the absolute insanity that is permeating the media (and not just the usual left/right blog types or pundit class, but ‘respected’ news outlets such as ABC, New York Times, and others) over trying to assign ‘blame’ to one thing or another for this senseless, horrific event, Obama had the chance to stay above it all. Simply honor the fallen, pray for the wounded, and perhaps suggest we all learn from the tragedy, and leave the specifics to others.
There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that anything other than a mental instability had anything to with the gunman’s motivation. For the President to suggest, however generically, that is is somehow our fault because we like to debate and bicker about politics is beneath him.
And I’m sorry to say, but I suspect that very shortly, in the State of Union speech coming up, we will see him reference this again in proposing some sort of new regulations, either to firearms sales, talk radio, cable news, or the internet. And I will happily apologize if I am wrong.
All in all Mister President, you could have done, and are capable of, much better than what I just witnessed. At least I hope you are.