We* were right —
He IS an idiot. (*those of us who voted “no” on the recall!)
Welcome to Dodge —
An editorial from the NY Times, worth saving you the registration effort:
July 19, 2004
The Right to Bare Arms
The latte grande at the Starbucks in Tysons Corner, Va., must have seemed extra steamy last month when two college students bellied up to the bar packing pistols on their hips, as casually as if they wore cellphones. Someone called the police, who confiscated the handguns and charged the students. But wait: the Catch-22 in Virginia’s enfeebled gun control laws has kicked in.
Sure there’s a state law against carrying loaded firearms in public. But the lethal fine print defines “firearm” as a 20-round-plus assault rifle. So smaller weapons, like the .22-caliber and 9-millimeter pistols the students flaunted in their holsters, are legal and no permit is required. The pistols were returned, thereby contributing to a celebratory mood among the state’s gun enthusiasts. Now they’re strutting their Second Amendment stuff among Main Street shoppers and restaurant diners in Washington’s booming Virginia suburbs.
There was what seemed a self-fantasized posse of six this month at a table in a Champps restaurant, their weapons prominent as pepper mills. The same false alarm ensued, with a police patrol backing off in the face of citizens’ exercising their rights, according to The Washington Post. And how about the couple walking their dogs on busy Market Street in Reston? They carried pistols on their hips, plus extra ammunition clips, as if the area were a set from “The Wild Bunch” and not one of the most crime-free places in Virginia.
The flaunting ritual is a tribute to “open carry” gun laws on the books in a score of states. Outcries from the unarmed public usually go unheeded. In Utah, university administrators worried over students’ wearing guns in dormitories were overruled by the legislature, which defended gun rights — even to the point of packing in class.
You’d think Virginia citizens concerned about weapons in public would be able to seek comfort in the primacy of local controls. Alexandria, for instance, has barred open carrying. But that was before the very latest Catch-22 in Virginia law: effective this month, state law bars any locality from enacting gun regulations. Gotcha.
And a terrific editorial on the assault weapons ban, from Howard Metzenbaum, in today’s WaPo:
America Wants the Assault Weapons Ban
By Howard M. Metzenbaum
Monday, July 19, 2004; Page A17
A decade ago I was privileged to lead a fight with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on what for me has become a deeply personal issue: the federal ban on assault weapons. These killing machines had no place on our streets in 1994 and they have no place now. Yet as the days pass, it is becoming clear that many members of Congress are content to skip through the summer months doing nothing while awaiting this fall’s greatest prize — not the elections, but the sunset of the assault weapons ban.
Ten years after that great victory we are facing the extinction of an important public safety law that was an unusual piece of bipartisan lawmaking. In 1994 I had the support of two men whom I would rarely call my allies, Republican icons Ronald Reagan and Rudy Giuliani. As a result, Congress was able to put public safety ahead of special-interest politics.
What’s going on these days, by contrast, is typical political doublespeak. The president speaks publicly in support of the assault weapons ban but refuses to lobby actively for it. The House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, says the president never told him personally that he wants the assault weapons ban renewed, so DeLay isn’t going to pass it.
There you have it. The president says he supports the assault weapons ban but refuses to lift a finger for it. And the powerful House majority leader — who does not support the ban — is pretending that all it would take to pass it is a word from the president.
This is a tragic development for many reasons, not the least of which is that the public wants this legislation. A new study, “Unconventional Wisdom,” by the Consumer Federation of America and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, found that a substantial majority of likely voters in 10 states support renewing and strengthening the federal assault weapons ban, as do most gun owners and National Rifle Association supporters. The survey found that:
• Voters in Midwestern states supported renewing the assault weapons ban slightly more than those in Southwestern states. Midwestern states (Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri) averaged 72 percent support for renewal. Southwestern states (Arizona and New Mexico) averaged 67 percent. In Florida, 81 percent of likely voters support renewing the ban.
• Rural states, traditionally seen as very conservative on gun issues, strongly favored renewing the ban. Sixty-eight percent of voters in South Dakota and West Virginia support renewal.
• Majorities of gun owners in all but two states favored renewing the ban. Even in those two states, Missouri and Ohio, only slightly less than 50 percent of gun owners and NRA supporters favored renewing the ban.
• In nine of 10 states surveyed, union households supported renewing the ban by at least 60 percent. In Pennsylvania, 80 percent of union households supported renewing the ban and 73 percent supported strengthening it.
• At least 60 percent of current and former military members and military families supported renewing the ban in all states surveyed. In Wisconsin, more than three-fourths (77 percent) of current and former military members and military families support renewing the ban.
In March the Senate passed a renewed ban as an amendment to a gun industry immunity bill, which was the NRA’s top legislative priority. President Bush issued a statement of administration policy calling the assault weapons ban amendment “unacceptable.” The amendment passed on a bipartisan vote, 52 to 47, but the underlying bill was defeated. It was a stunning loss for the gun lobby. The NRA opposes even a straight renewal of the ban. It maintains that most Americans don’t want the ban renewed, let alone strengthened, and that Congress should let the ban expire. Not true.
The gun industry is licking its chops waiting for the ban to expire. In an upcoming report from the Consumer Federation of America, “Back in Business,” one assault weapon manufacturer’s sales and marketing director told us, “When the AWB sunsets, which I fully expect it to do, we will be manufacturing pre-ban style weapons and shipping them to the general public through distribution systems and dealers the very next day without doubt… We look forward to Sept. 14th with great enthusiasm.”
After 19 years in the Senate, I understand differences of opinions, ideologies and constituencies. What I cannot understand is why congressional leaders and the administration think that the American public won’t notice that the ban expired. We’ll notice, and they’ll be sorry.
The writer, a former Democratic senator from Ohio, is chairman of the Consumer Federation of America.
What’s the matter with Democrats? —
I’ve been interested in reading Thomas Frank’s new book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” ever since I read an excerpt, “Lie Down for America: How the Republican Party Sows Ruin on the Great Plains,” in Harper’s (it’s online here, thanks to some very industrious person who encourages us to buy the book and/or magazine [to help atone for his/her copyright infringement?]). Frank gives a synopis of his thesis in today’s LA Times, in which he argues that Democrats went astray when its new centrists decided to try to match the Republican emphasis on wooing the affluent, appearing less hostile to business, and abandoning the working class. The corporate Democrats of today distinguish themselves from Republicans on hugely divisive cultural issues. What’s not to hate? Here’s a smidgeon of the editorial to chew on:
So maybe Kansas, instead of being a laughingstock, is in the vanguard. Maybe what has happened there points the way in which all our public policy debates are heading. Maybe someday soon the political choices of Americans everywhere will be whittled down to the two factions of the Republican Party.
Sociologists often warn against letting the nation’s distribution of wealth become too polarized, as it clearly has in the last few decades. A society that turns its back on equality, the professors insist, inevitably meets with a terrible comeuppance. But those sociologists are thinking of an old world in which class anger was a phenomenon of the left. They weren’t reckoning with Kansas, with the world we are becoming.
Behold the political alignment that Kansas is pioneering for us all. The state watches impotently as its culture, beamed in from the coasts, becomes coarser and more offensive by the year. Kansas aches for revenge. Kansas gloats when celebrities say stupid things; it cheers when movie stars go to jail. And when two female pop stars exchange a lascivious kiss on national TV, Kansas goes haywire. Kansas screams for the heads of the liberal elite. Kansas runs to the polling place. And Kansas cuts those pop stars’ taxes.
God speaks through the president —
Via the Political Wire, a LancasterOnline.com column by Jack Brubaker:
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA – President Bush met privately with a group of Old Order Amish during his visit to Lancaster County last Friday. He discussed their farms and their hats and his religion.He asked them to vote for him in November… [skipping several paragraphs] At the end of the session, Bush reportedly told the group, “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.”
Four More Wars! —
Next stop on the Axis of Evil, Iran.