Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19. 2013

GOP plays small ball (again)
by David Harsanyi
January 18, 2013

So House Republicans will vote next week on a bill that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling for three months. The catch? It will feature a provision that would stop all pay for members of Congress if the Senate doesn’t pass a budget. When we consider that the median wealth for a senator in 2009 was almost $2.38 million; well, this clause isn’t the most effective threat available to snap Harry Reid (worth between $3-$10 million) into action. The chances of the Senate passing it? Zero.

Strategically speaking, this is obviously another attempt to shift the public’s ire from Republicans to Senate Democrats on the ongoing cliff battles. I’m not sure it’s exactly a bad idea, but more than likely it is an ineffective one. The problem with this stuff is that it’s small ball and transparently political. It sounds like a stunt. (UPDATE: Not to mention, probably unconstitutional.)

In a statement released from Republican retreat in Virginia, Eric Cantor said: “The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending. The House has done so, and will again. The Democratic Senate has not passed a budget in almost four years, which is unfair to hardworking taxpayers who expect more from their representatives. That ends this year.”
Well, the last time the Senate passed a budget was April of 2009. And the habit is probably not going end this year.

Cantor might be right in substance, but everyone understands: 1 – Republicans were going to vote to raise the debt ceiling. All kinds of Republicans have openly said they’d do it. Whether you agree with taking a stand on the debt ceiling or not, to extract concessions from a president who offers so little, you have to be prepared to take the dive. 2 – Republicans aren’t making compelling big-picture arguments so there’s no way to win the small ones. Even if you believe, like I do, that conservatives are right on these budgetary issues, they’re not very convincing.

As Jonah Goldberg recently argued, the GOP’s problems do not stem from “being insufficiently conservative. Its troubles stem from it being insufficiently persuasive, not to its right flank but to the general public.” Want proof? Most polls – now, and during the debt ceiling showdown in 2011 – show that Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling. As you’ve no doubt heard, this is supposedly the position of the most extremist and radical elements in society. Yet, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey found that 45 percent of those polled say they will blame Republicans if the debt ceiling is not raised and the United States defaults. Only 33 percent would blame Democrats. That means there is a broad problem communicating to average, disinterested Americans a compelling reason to side with them. At some point, Republicans will have to take a stand, and with it the consequences.

Read more:

Nothing, and Maybe Worse: A President’s Nonsensical Gun Proposals - He knows not what he speaks.
by John Rosenberg
January 18, 2013

As far as I can tell, here is the totality of what President Obama proposed Wednesday to do about “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines. (Actually, regarding those guns and magazines, he didn’t really propose to do anything; what he proposed for was Congress to do something — the same thing it did in 1994). In any event, here is the beginning, middle, and end of what he proposed:

Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines. (Applause.) The type of assault rifle used in Aurora, for example, when paired with high-capacity magazines, has one purpose — to pump out as many bullets as possible, as quickly as possible; to do as much damage, using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage.

And that’s what allowed the gunman in Aurora to shoot 70 people — 70 people — killing 12 in a matter of minutes. Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater.
Here’s my recommendation: Congress should take the president literally, and do exactly what he says: nothing.

“Weapons designed for the theater of war” have the capability of firing automatically. Such weapons have been prohibited (except to collectors, who pay a very high license fee) since 1934. They are not available to the general public.

They have been used in no mass shootings, and no crime at all, for over 60 years.

Banning them again would ban no weapon currently in production or readily available anywhere. What weapons would the president’s “proposal” ban? Who knows? He certainly doesn’t. The 1994 law dealt with the fact that there really is no such thing as an “assault weapon” by naming a few specific weapons and by listing some required identifying features. For example: a pistol grip or a detachable magazine could qualify a gun as an “assault weapon.” But what would President Obama have Congress do about this rifle?

Note that this Mossberg MVP Varmint Rifle has a very distinctive pistol grip, and it also has a detachable box magazine. Many hunting rifles do, but this one is distinctive: it uses any magazines that will fit AR-15 rifles. It comes with a 10-rounder (of the same caliber, 5.56 NATO/ .223 Remington) that most AR-15s and other scary-looking “military style” weapons fire. Thus, it will accept the 20- and 30-rounders that Obama would like to prohibit.

Yet — since it is a bolt action and not a semi-automatic, this weapon would not be illegal under the terms of the 1994 law, even though it can be fired rapidly enough (as can pump action shotguns, also not banned in 1994) to do extensive damage quite quickly.
Would Obama have it be outlawed? Certainly, he doesn’t know.

The “one purpose” of the weapons used in Aurora (the movie theater in Colorado) and Sandy Hook, according to the president, is “to pump out as many bullets as possible, as quickly as possible.” This description does not distinguish those weapons from the millions of other semi-automatics (and high-capacity magazines) currently in the hands of law-abiding Americans.
The Washington Post reports that when the 1994 ban went into effect, “there were roughly 1.5 million assault weapons and more than 24 million high-capacity magazines in private hands” (and that was just “assault weapons” according to the limited definition of the 1994 ban — not all semi-automatics). There are many more now, and none of those weapons or magazines already produced were affected by the ban. Nor are the bullets those “assault weapons” fire — the .223 Remington — different in any way from those widely in use in all those other semi-automatic rifles.

The president’s reference to “bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage” presumably refers to hollow-points, bullets designed to expand on impact. But is the president seriously proposing to ban all hollow-point ammunition? If so, it is not accurate to say that his attempt to restrict “military style” weapons and limit the capacity of magazines would have no effect whatsoever on the likelihood or lethality of mass shootings. Indeed, banning hollow-points would almost certainly make future shootings — at least future shootings conducted with federally approved ammunition — much more lethal.

Solid bullets penetrate walls, doors, bodies, etc.; hollow points do not, or do so rarely.
In fact, limiting magazine size can also be predicted to cause more rather than fewer fatalities. As I argued here:

Indeed, a perfectly predictable but unintended consequence of banning high-capacity magazines would be to decrease the appeal of 9mm handguns and increase the popularity of more the powerful and lethal .40 and .45 caliber and .357 Magnum, since the main appeal of the 9mm has always been its higher-capacity magazines.

As with many “reforms,” the president’s proposals are sure to be ineffectual if implemented, and in some cases are far worse than doing nothing.

Read more:

An interesting, if mildly depressing, exchange on Obamacare
by Moe Lane
January 18, 2013

Goodness gracious, but check this out. Background: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey called Obamacare first ‘socialist,’ then ‘fascist,’ then regretted calling it fascist because the Left is generally too ill-educated to understand the difference between National Socialism and economic fascism* -so they were thus all getting hung up in their own ignorance, and thus omitting to address Mackey’s point. Cue CNN Carol Costello, who gave a stunning demonstration of same.

So, once Mackey had dumbed it down again for the nice talking head, we get this exchange:
Costello then asked, “But why inject yourself into the debate over ObamaCare in the first place?” 
Mackey responded that he provides health insurance for 73,000 Whole Foods employees and some provisions of Obama’s health care law will raise his company’s costs. “It’s making it more difficult to provide the insurance at affordable rates to our team members, so I’m trying to protect them as well as I can,” he said. 
“I think, though, that many of your customers probably wouldn’t agree with you since, I don’t know, you kind of run a store that appeals to the more liberal in America in some ways,” Costello replied. 
“I don’t understand what your question or your point is,” Mackey said.
I suspect that Mackey was being nice. The question was Why are you publicly disagreeing with your customers on a political issue? and the point was HERETIC! UNBELIEVER! Which Mackey almost certainly knew, although I’m not sure that Carol Costello did.

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