Friday, July 27, 2012

Opportunity to act against high-capacity ammunition magazines

The Hill reports that seven Democratic senators have filed an amendment, S.A. 2575, to the proposed Cybersecurity Act that would ban the further sale and transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The amendment was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Schumer and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.). S.A. 2575 would make it illegal to transfer or possess large capacity feeding devices such as gun magazines, belts, feed stripes and drums of more than 10 rounds of ammunition with the exception of .22 caliber rim fire ammunition.

The amendment is identical to a separate bill sponsored by Lautenberg. Feinstein was the sponsor of the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. 

The proposed amendment would only affect sales and transfers after the law took effect.
Please consider contacting your senators to support this amendment.

Dear Senator _____:
I urge you to vote in favor of S.A. 2575 which would restrict high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in the tragic mass murders in Aurora, Tuscon, and Blacksburg. High-capacity magazines serve no legitimate hunting, sporting, or self-defense purpose. Bipartisan legislation restricted these engines of death from 1994 until 2004. Those sensible restrictions should be restored.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gov. Romney trips overseas

Despite being "part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage" and "appreciat(ing) the shared history" with the United Kingdom, presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has already managed to step into it in the U.K. through inartfull comments regarding the London Olympics. The Washington Post reports
Romney tried to defuse controversy sparked by comments he made to NBC on Wednesday, when he cited potentially “disconcerting” problems with security and immigration staffing at the London games and said, “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out.”
Gov. Romney had hoped to show off his diplomatic chops on this trip while also using the London Olympics to remind voters of his own Olympic accomplishment and while garnering implicit support from conservative government officials in the U.K., Israel, and Poland.

Instead the Romney campaign has shown itself to be not ready for prime time.

First, a Romney advisor was caught making truly awful comments. In talking up his/her candidate, the advisor told a reporter for the London Telegraph, "We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special...The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have." Not only was the comment racially insensitive, but it violated a key precept that politics should stop at the water's edge.

Second, the advisor's comments were made anonymously and on background, and even though the Romney campaign surely knows the adviser's identity, they're not revealing it. This only draws more attention to Gov. Romney's proclivity for secrecy and non-disclosure. Gov. Romney only compounded his problems by later saying, "So I don't know agree with whoever that advisor might be." If you really think that Gov. Romney is in the dark about this, I've got a great deal on the London Bridge that I want to talk you about.

Third, Gov. Romney's comments about the preparations for the London games were insulting and offputing to the U.K. public. Besides creating a stir, the comments contribute yet another example of Gov. Romney boorishly insulting his hosts.

Finally, in walking back the comments, Gov. Romney reinforces his well-earned reputation as a flip-flopper.

When all is said and done, Gov. Romney's trip may turn out to be a great benefit...for the Obama campaign.

Update (7/26/12, 22:13): Gov. Romney's trip is the gift that just keeps giving. From the Washington Post
Thursday was supposed to be the easy day, when Mitt Romney would audition as a world leader here by talking about his shared values with the heads of the United States’ friendliest ally.

Instead, the Republican presidential candidate insulted Britain as it welcomed the world for the Olympics by casting doubt on London’s readiness for the Games, which open Friday, saying that the preparations he had seen were “disconcerting” and that it is “hard to know just how well it will turn out.”

...It was a difficult start to Romney’s first foray on the international stage as the presumptive Republican nominee, one that was supposed to present him to U.S. voters as a potential commander in chief. Beyond his Olympics remarks, Romney had a series of uncomfortable moments — some of them seemingly minor, but distractions nonetheless.

At one point, he told reporters about his previously undisclosed meeting with the head of the MI-6, Britain’s secret intelligence agency.

On the first official day of his six-day overseas tour, Romney declined to answer reporters’ questions about his foreign policy positions , saying he will avoid talking about any policy specifics while he is on foreign soil.

He ended the day in a scene that could prove damaging for a candidate sometimes labeled as out of touch. A dinner fundraiser, which raised $2 million, was co-hosted by executives at banks under investigation in London’s rate-fixing scandal.
At this point Gov. Romney must be glad that a day is only 24 hours long.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The mass-murderer's best friend

The nation is mourning yet another mass murder from a crazed gunman. This tragedy has so far claimed the lives of 12 victims. Another 58 people were wounded. A mind-boggling 70 people felled in just a few minutes.

Like earlier gun tragedies in Blacksburg and Tuscon, the gunman had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. In this case, a 100-round drum magazine.

These types of magazines were outlawed from 1994 to 2004 but are now again available to mass murderers.

Two bills--H.R. 308 and S. 32--would put the common-sense restrictions on high-capacity magazines back in place.

High-capacity magazines serve no purpose other than to mow down large numbers of people. They are a mass-murder's best friend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tea Party champion blocking Camp Lejeune water bill

South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, champion of the extremist Tea Party, has turned his venom toward North Carolina military families who were poisoned by their own government. The News and Observer reports
Thousands of sick Marine veterans and their families may be on the verge of taking a giant leap toward receiving health care for illnesses they suffered from decades of water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Legislation that has languished for years was expected to be voted on in the full Senate this week under an across-the-aisle deal between the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. But a South Carolina senator has blocked the bill, saying he worries about fraud.
The Senator is using a procedural tactic called a "hold," which allows any senator to unilaterally block a bill or other action, such as a nomination. In this case, a bill with widespread, bipartisan support is being blocked by a single ideological crank.

The most immediate consequence of Sen. DeMint's stunt is that it slows much-needed assistance for victims of the government's negligence. However, the Senator's unilateral action also keeps the Senate from considering other business. The types of holds have figured into the larger Republican strategy to slow everything in the Senate.

Step one for the Senate should be to pass this bill to help military families.

Step two should be to remove the undemocratic power of individual Senators to obstruct the nation's business.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New way to blame the 1960s

Robert Samuelson has found a new way to blame today's ills on the 1960s.
Wondering why government can’t restart the sluggish economy? Well, one reason is that we are still paying the price for the greatest blunder in domestic policy since World War II. This occurred a half-century ago and helps explain today’s policy paralysis. The history — largely unrecognized — is worth recalling.

Until the 1960s, Americans generally believed in low inflation and balanced budgets. President John Kennedy shared the consensus but was persuaded to change his mind. His economic advisers argued that, through deficit spending and modest increases in inflation, government could raise economic growth, lower unemployment and smooth business cycles.

None of this proved true; all of it led to grief.
Samuelson is so focused on the 1960s that he seems to overlook the fact that the budget was in balance in the late 1990s and thrown back into deficit in the 2000s through the profligacy of the Bush administration, whose fiscal policies were neatly summed up by Vice President Cheney--"deficits don't matter."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Republicans' dismal jobs record in NC

In an article in yesterday's News and Observer, Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina were touting how promising their jobs record was.
In discussing their economic policies, Republicans often use a farming metaphor the folks in Edgecombe understand: Fertile soil will produce jobs. With business-friendly policies and a low-tax environment, they argue, new companies will relocate to the state and existing ones will grow.

“I think we are seeing some green shoots,” said Tillis, the House leader and a business consultant. He still wears the same red “Think Jobs” wristband from the 2010 campaign. “I think there are reasons to be optimistic.”

In an interview last week, Tillis staked a claim on the state’s sputtering economy, even though his party blames Democrats for the current situation.

“This is our economy,” Tillis said. “I am fully confident. I want to own this economy. It is our responsibility. We did a good job of starting, and we’ve got a lot of unraveling to do of bad policies that have hamstrung us that cannot be undone overnight.”
The fertilizer metaphor is apt--Rep. Tillis is spreading bullsh*t.

In the 16 full months that have elapsed since the Republicans came to power in North Carolina and for which we have state jobs data (Feb. 2011-May 2012), the state has shed jobs in eight, including six of the 11 months that have elapsed since the Republican's austerity budget was enacted.

Republicans blame a weak national economy, but the national economy has added jobs in every one of those months.

Republicans also blame Democrats, but the Republican budget is leading to less job growth. In the 11 months since the Republicans' budget was enacted, the state has added a measly 12,900 jobs; in the 11 preceding months (and during a much weaker economy), the state added 47,200.

If this is Republicans' "good start," one can only imagine what the finish will look like.