Monday Reads: Blood Sport EditionPosted: October 5, 2015
Election Season continues to close in on us with a number of national policies under consideration and under fire.
It’s time to focus on issues.
Hillary Clinton has introduced her policy prescriptions for sensible gun regulation. They include repealing laws giving legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers. Gun manufacturers and gun retailers are the only industry given protection from every circumstance of negligence in product design, sales, and use. Dealers can sell to anyone and not be held to account. On-line dealers and gun show dealers bear no legal responsibility for selling to felons or the mentally ill. Clinton’s position stands in direct conflict with Senator Bernie Sanders’ voting record. Sanders–an independent–is Clinton’s closet challenger in the Democratic Party presidential race. Martin O’Malley–a former Governor and Democrat–also embraces sensible gun control. Of course, the Republicans support a weapons free-for-all.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday detailed new proposalsaimed at closing gun sale loopholes and holding accountable those who sell guns for violence committed with those weapons.
Seizing the moment following last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, Clinton called for the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers whose guns are used for criminal activity.
As a senator from New York, Clinton voted against the law in 2005 and, the official said, would lead an effort to repeal it if elected president. Her closest competitor in the Democratic primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who served in the U.S. House at the time, voted in favor of it.
Clinton appeared viscerally frustrated as she spoke after Thursday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College, in which authorities say a student killed nine people before turning one of several guns he had with him on himself. “What is wrong with us, that we cannot stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and the gun manufacturers they represent?” Clinton said Friday at Broward College in Davie, Florida. “We don’t just need to pray for these people. We need to act.”
In staking out a hardline position on guns, Clinton is capitalizing on an issue where she stands to the left of Sanders. He has a mixed record on gun control—he voted against the Brady Bill in 1993 and for the liability protection law, but also in favor of restrictions on the size of gun magazines—that he attributes to the gun culture of his rural state. He responded to the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Oregon with promises to implement “sensible gun-control legislation” and to improve mental health services, but has not yet offered specific proposals.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is trailing Clinton and Sanders in polls, on Sunday in New Hampshire called on his rivals to “join me in building a new consensus” on gun control by supporting his four-point plan, his campaign said.
Could Clinton staking out a position make Gun Control an actual issue in the 2016 presidential primary? Greg Sargent of the Plum Line discusses the question.
Clinton’s new plan, which she will discuss on the campaign trail today, includes a raft of ideas: closing loopholes in the background check system; more aggressive action to revoke the licenses of gun dealers who knowingly supply so-called “straw purchasers”; and repealing a law that protects gun manufacturers from liability for gun violence.
But the most controversial aspect of Clinton’s plan is this: She vowed to take executive action to partly close the loophole that allows private sellers to peddle guns without a background check if Congress doesn’t.
Clinton’s campaign says that this could theoretically be accomplished via a new rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that would more clearly define what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. Gun control advocates point out that under federal law, those “engaged in the business” of selling firearms must perform background checks, but federal regulations defining that phrase are too vague, allowing too many gun sales to proceed without such a check. Such federal regs, they say, could be changed through executive action that, for example, would set a clearer threshold defining “engaged in the business” of selling firearms in terms of the number of guns sold.
Arkadi Gerney, a gun policy expert at the Center for American Progress, tells me what Clinton’s new policy proposal means:
“The statute says that anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms must apply for a federal license. Like any other statute where it’s vague, there’s the potential to define it further. You could update the regulation and have a more clear threshold. You couldn’t say, we define ‘engaged in the business’ as anyone who sells a gun ever. But you could change the regulation to be more focused, more narrow, and less vague than it currently is, which makes it very hard to prosecute people who abuse the law and are selling tens and hundreds of guns as private sellers.
“One way you could do this would be to have a clear numerical threshold on the number of gun sales.”
But if Clinton could do this as president, couldn’t Obama do this by executive action right now? Gerney thinks the answer is Yes:
“Clinton’s idea of clarifying further what kind of gun sellers are engaging in business and need to get a license to sell guns is a smart one. She’s right that the President can do more to define the current law on what level of gun-selling activity triggers the requirement to conduct background checks. And, by putting this idea forward it is something of an implicit challenge to the current administration to move forward along these lines.”
More on this later, but this raises new questions: Is Obama, who has been visibly frustrated by government inaction, thinking of undertaking such an executive action? Will Clinton’s public vow to undertake such action raise the pressure on the administration to do the same?
It seems another Columbine-style school massacre was in the planning stage in California. How can we put an end to these things?
An investigation into a planned shooting at a Tuolumne County school led to the arrests of four male students, deputies said Saturday.
“They were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible at the campus,” Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele said.
Investigators with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said administrators at Summerville High School contacted them Wednesday about three students who were making threats against students and faculty.
The investigation included interviews with the students and several searches, and deputies said they were able to identify a fourth student who was also involved in the plan.
“The suspects’ plans was very detailed in nature, and included names of would-be victims, locations, methods in which the plan was to be carried out,” Mele said.
Mele said the students confessed to planning the mass shooting.
They were removed from campus Wednesday after other students at the school noticed suspicious activity and alerted administrators.
“Their willingness to get involved and report what they saw prevented what well could have been another needless tragedy,” Mele said.
Detectives plan to meet with the families of the children whose names were on the hit list to notify them. Among those listening at Saturday’s press conference were parents sick with worry.
Meanwhile, carly Fiorina appears to be challenging Sarah Palin for most stupid answer to a lack of foreign policy credentials. Palin is well known for explaining that parts of Russia are close to Alaska which was later turned into the Tina Fey’s “I can see Russia from my front porch” lampoon. Fiorina argues that her Medival History degree will help her contain ISIS. I can see the political cartoons referencing The Crusades already. Maybe her plans include holding Rennaisance Festivals in Syria.
For over three decades, Carly Fiorina’s bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in medieval history and philosophy has had little real-world application.
But as she mounts a presidential bid, the Republican candidate says her degree is finally of use as she considers how she would deal with ISIS as commander-in-chief.
“Finally my degree in medieval history and philosophy has come in handy,” Fiorina said Sunday night, “because what ISIS wants to do is drive us back to the Middle Ages, literally.”
Well, the Republican Party should know about policies that derive from the Dark Ages. That explains a lot of Fiorina’s management style at HP.
There is still speculation about a Biden candidacy. It seems awfully late to get into the race, but the some members in the media seem to be dying for something resembling an internecine battle between Democrats. Ed Kilgore haves some Tiger Beat on the Ptomac for breakfast.
It figures that the penultimate Biden’s Running!story comes from Mike “Win the Morning” Allen of Politico, who begins with the trumpet blare of a scoop:
He’s finally close. Confidants of Vice President Joe Biden expect him to make a decision next weekend, or shortly thereafter, on whether to launch an epic battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Several people who have visited Biden recently said he seems to be leaning “yes.”
“Nothing he has heard in the past couple of months has deterred him,” said one Democrat close to the process.
A former Senate colleague of Biden’s said, after visiting the vice president, “He loves what he does, and he has a great deal of confidence that he could contribute in a meaningful way. He’s willing to face, ultimately, having his final political expedition be a defeat.”
Ah, but then Allen starts hedging, and before you know it, the confident trumpets become the kazoo orchestra of mere rumors and guesswork:
One longtime friend said the long windup — and the fact that no staff has been hired — tells its own story.Huh. Didn’t I just read at CNN last week that campaign managers had been lined up for all the early states? Could it be that was just another assertion by the five or six Draft Biden blind quote machines who have been more or less making stuff up for months? But somebody didn’t get the memo:
“If you’re going to run, you run,” the friend said. “Every time he pushes back a decision, that’s the ultimate tell.”
A third recent Biden visitor said: “I can’t see how he can wake up one morning and think some big tidal wave sweeps him in. The raw politics just aren’t there.”
After describing their hunches, friends and advisers almost universally added that they remain unsure which way he’ll go.
But there will be a big announcement any day now, right?
Meanwhile, the real internecine battle is in the Republican House leadership race where right wing extremists are out winging each other. Who votes for these people? Oh, never mind. Steve Scalise–representative for David Duke Land (aka Jefferson Parish)–is one of our neoconfederates. Representative Scalies (KKK) says he has the votes to win majority leader.
The Louisiana Republican held a conference call with backers Sunday evening during which he indicated he’s locked up support from more than half of the 247-member GOP conference. Closed-door voting for the majority leader post is expected on Thursday, though some Republicans are pushing to delay it until after a new Speaker is sworn in.
“I’ve been making calls all day. I haven’t stopped working, and I know you haven’t stopped working either,” Scalise said, according to a source on the call. “In this race, the winning number has always been 124. A couple of days ago, we actually hit that number and we’re continuing to add to it each day.”
Scalise, the current No. 2 Republican in leadership, is squaring off with Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the race for GOP leader, a post occupied by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is running for Speaker. Both Scalise and Price are red-state conservatives who previously have served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
Last week, several Republicans tried to draft Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) into the majority leader’s race, but he said he was focused on leading the House panel investigating the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Did I mention he likes to mention he’s “David Duke without the baggage?”
One of the major Congressional whackados is going for Speaker. You had to know Jason Chaffetz of Utah was after something given his embarassing performance in the Planned Parenthood witch hunt. Embarassing, non-reality based witch hunts are a Republican Leadership speciality these days.
The bid by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, comes amid unrest from conservatives driven by doubts that McCarthy (Calif.) will be any more inclined than Boehner to embrace the right flank of the House Republican Conference.
Chaffetz said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was “recruited” by members displeased with McCarthy’s ascent and that he would “bridge the divide” in the House GOP
“You don’t just give an automatic promotion to the existing leadership team,” he said. “That doesn’t signal change. I think [House Republicans] want a fresh face and fresh new person who is actually there at the leadership table in the speaker’s role.”
Chaffetz’s remarks not only reflect tensions between conservatives and establishment Republicans, but also concerns about McCarthy’s ability to communicate with the GOP base and the public at large. Those concerns grew after McCarthy made comments last week suggesting that a House investigation into the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, stemmed from political motivations.
“We need somebody who’s out there who is actually going out there and making the case to the American people, talking to the Senate about what we need to do, and going on the national television shows and winning that argument,” Chaffetz said. “We don’t seem to win the argument, and that’s a problem.”
Some one needs to tell Mister Chaffetz that they don’t win the argument because the majority of people in the Senate do not think the Moon is made of Green Cheese because Satan!!!
The frontrunner is no peach either. Remember, this position is third in line to the President.
In spite of the rapid dumbing-down of the GOP (see also Mr. Trump), they continue to churn out more dummies.
Enter Kevin McCarthy. The Bakersfield, California Republican is the most likely conservative white-guy to ascend into John Boehner’s post as Speaker of the House. And he shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near Congress, much less a leadership post.
By now, we’re all aware of McCarthy’s admission that the congressional select committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks is almost exclusively designed to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.
They say gaffes are merely the truths spoken out loud. This was certainly the case with McCarthy. By the way, we should underscore at this point how McCarthy isn’t just another ambitious member of Congress. He’s the House Majority Leader. So, yes, the House Majority Leader accidentally spilled the beans on one of the longest running scams in congressional history — one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer money since Ken Starr’s probe into President Clinton’s pants-parties.
That’s pretty bad. But McCarthy’s bad week didn’t end there.
Either McCarthy is incapable of reading, or he has the worst speech-writing staff in the history of American politics — and that includes Sarah Palin’s self-authored Patriotic Mad Libs. Three days after Boehner announced his resignation from Congress, McCarthy was propped up for a foreign policy speech before the John Hay Initiative. The ostensible goal was to burnish McCarthy’s political heft, but the exact opposite happened and, frankly, even the dumbest Republicans ought to be embarrassed to caucus with this idiot.
So, that’s my round up of what passes for politics in our country. To me, the choice couldn’t be clearer.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?