Thursday, October 24, 2013

11-year-old with 400 rounds of ammo

More evidence that the U.S. has more guns than it can responsibly handle. CNN reports
A Washington state middle school boy was arrested Wednesday and faces an attempted murder charge, after he brought 400 rounds of ammunition, multiple knives and a handgun to his school, police said.

The 11-year-old was booked into a juvenile detention facility after the incident that caused the lockdown of Frontier Middle School, Vancouver Police said.
The NRA should be along any moment now to tell us that the only thing that stops a bad 11-year-old with a gun is a good 11-year-old with a gun.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Irresponsible gun ownership

This week's news featured a trio of stories of irresponsible gun ownership that so far have led to the deaths of two children and one adult and the woundings of two other children. The words "so far" have to be emphasized because the gun from one of the incidents is still out in the community and because the week is only half over.

On Saturday, a two-year-old in North Carolina died after finding her father's loaded semi-automatic pistol. Besides being irresponsibly stored, the gun was irresponsibly provided to the father, a convicted teenage felon.

On Monday, a Nevada 12-year-old child killed a teacher, wounded two other middle-school students, and shot himself after taking a semi-automatic pistol from his parents' home.

And still later this week, we discovered that an AR-15 rifle was stolen from the home of NC Rep. Renee Ellmers after her family left it and other gear "out in plain sight" in an unlocked garage. To make it easier for thieves, the Congresswoman's teenage son had earlier advertised the availability of the gun in a tweet. Heaven knows where or how the stolen weapon will be used.

Rep. Ellmers' spokesperson expressed the Congresswoman's concerns, "As you can imagine, the Ellmers family is shaken by these events and is working with law enforcement to make sure those responsible are found and brought to justice."

We already know who was irresponsible, and it's highly doubtful that Congresswoman's community, which is also shaken by the availability of another gun, will see any justice.

Ironically, Rep. Ellmers co-sponsored legislation calling for a special prosecutor to investigate gunwalking.

Update (10/23/13, 2:30 p.m.): The week's tragic toll includes the death of a third child. CNN reports
A woman who was babysitting a 5-year-old who fatally shot himself Monday with her gun has been charged with abandoning or endangering a child, a felony, and jailed in Orange County, Texas, police said Wednesday.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Good fight?" Good grief

In the end, the Republicans accomplished nothing, and to hear House Speaker John Boehner describe it, the Republicans learned even less.

In a radio interview yesterday following his and his party's capitulation on their latest extortion attempt, Speaker Boehner said that he was "doing good" because "we fought the good fight; we just didn't win."

Give him credit for recognizing orange-tinted failure when he looks in the mirror. The "good fight" part, however, is delusional.

While Speaker Boehner's "good fight" accomplished nothing, it cost Americans a whole bunch.

The needless government shutdown hurt the economy. Bloomberg reports
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services yesterday said the shutdown has shaved at least 0.6 percent off of fourth-quarter 2013 gross domestic product growth, or taken $24 billion out of the economy.

IHS Inc. of Lexington, Massachusetts, reduced its fourth-quarter GDP growth estimate to 1.6 percent, from 2.2 percent in September.
That $24 billion works out to about $200 per American household.

And that's not all, the latest damage to the economy can be added to the costs from previous extortion efforts.
Macroeconomic Advisers LLC said in a report prepared this week for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation that the recurring budget battles in Washington have lowered U.S. economic growth by about 0.3 percentage points a year since 2009. It has also added more than a half-point to this year’s unemployment rate, or the equivalent of about 900,000 jobs, the report said.
Republicans' extortion strategy and default nihilism are also damaging America's credit rating and will increase our borrowing costs going forward. Their "good fight" is the gift that keeps on giving.

The shutdown was also wasteful. Although the furloughed government employees will be repaid and made whole, taxpayers won't be compensated for the work that couldn't be performed while the workers were idled (as well as the needless work that was required to prepare contingencies for the shutdown). The GOP rails against waste and abuse yet singlehandedly caused billions in foregone government production.

Worse, the Speaker has promised that "the fight will continue."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Games but not so much fun with Speaker Boehner

Referring to the government shutdown that he caused, House Speaker John Boehner petulantly cried, "This isn't some damn game"--an odd statment given all of the games that Speaker Boehner has played leading up to and during the shutdown.

Here are just a few of the games.

Games with the shutdown. The first and biggest game was loading a temporary, short-term continuing resolution for spending with a poison-pill amendment to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This only 11 months after promising that he would stop with these games.
Asked whether he will make another attempt to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, Boehner said "the election changes that" and "Obamacare is the law of the land."

Games with lawmaker subsidies. After the Senate approved the continuing resolution but rejected the defunding amendment (and another delaying the ACA), Speaker Boehner insisted on including an amendment that removed an "exemption" that would have provided subsidies to Senators, Representatives, and their staffs to help cover the costs of mandated health insurance.

However, as Politico reports, Speaker Boehner had earlier worked to provide the same subsidies.
Yet behind-the-scenes, Boehner and his aides worked for months with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and others, to save these very same, long-standing subsidies, according to documents and e-mails provided to POLITICO.
Games with the conference committee. When Speaker Boehner lost that game, he next moved a resolution with an amendment calling for a conference committee to "negotiate" the terms of the House's extortion.

However, over the previous seven months, Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected 18 requests for conference committees for the Senate-passed budget.

Games with piecemeal legislation. When that gambit also failed, Speaker Boehner moved on to a new game. Instead of his original ploy of passing a single continuing resolution that omitted funding for the ACA, he pushed for a series of piecemeal funding bills. Taken together, these bills would have accomplished exactly what his original legislation proposed--funded what the Tea Party liked but dropped the funding for the ACA and other things that it didn't.

Games with an up-or-down vote. And Speaker Boehner continues to block the House from voting up-or-down vote on any of the versions of the continuing resolution that the Senate has passed, saying "That's not going to happen." A so-called "clean" continuing resolution appears to enjoy the support of a majority of House members, not to mention a majority of Americans and plurality of Republicans.

Sadly, the Speaker's games have had real consequences for the 800,000 idled federal workers, for citizens who depend on or enjoy government services, and for the economy as a whole.

As my parents used to say, "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt."

The country is hurting, Mr. Speaker, and it's long past time to end your games.

Update (10-4-13, 4:25 p.m.): More games: Roll Call retrieves a previous Republican plan from the memory hole.
Senior Republicans were for “clean” CRs before they were against them.
Conservative Republicans have been pushing “automatic” continuing resolutions going back at least to the 1995-96 government shutdown era. The idea was popular on the right because an automatic freeze of government spending would take a shutdown off the table, lessening the leverage appropriators had to increase spending or include extraneous items.