Monday, January 21, 2013

Last Call

The speech was amazing.  On Martin Luther King Day, the nation's first African-American president made the progressive case for government.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other - through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security - these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries - we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure - our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

And Chuck Pierce with the best reaction to it.

The speech was a bold refutation of almost everything the Republican party has stood for over the past 40 years. It was a loud — and, for this president, damned near derisive — denouncement of all the mindless, reactionary bunkum that the Republicans have come to stand for in 2013; you could hear the sound of the punch he landed on the subject of global warming halfway to Annapolis. But the meat of the speech was a brave assertion of the power of government, not as an alien entity, but as an instrument of the collective will and desires of a self-governing people. 
We are not free because we are individuals, the president told them, daring them to hold two ideas in their heads at a time without their brains leaking out of their ears. We are free because, as individuals we work together in the creative act of self-government to produce a viable political commonwealth in which that freedom can thrive and prosper, and the primary instrument of that commonwealth is the government we devise out of it. That government must be allowed to function. That government must be allowed to operate for this freedom to be generally achieved.
We will wait and see, of course, what happens once the scaffolding and the bunting comes down, bearing in mind always the scriptural caution about faith without works being dead. But, for an afternoon, anyway, a Democratic president reclaimed the language of freedom from those for whom it means merely lower taxes and more guns. He reclaimed government as a manifestation of a country's aspirations, and not as an anchor on its progress. And he refuted, with precision and neatly camouflaged contempt, many of the most destructive ideas that have poisoned out politics for nearly four decades now. He did nothing less than redefine patriotism in a progressive way. That is already bothering  all of the right people. This, I tell you, is what gives me hope.

Amen to all of that.  Game is on now.  The President dropped a huge marker here.  He won.  And he's acting like it.

On The Next Night Court...

It's funny how in the blink of an eye, law-and-order minded wingers have gone from screaming about the need for mandatory sentencing, three strikes laws, and giving prosecutors the power to actually deal with those who break the law, to now that firearm legislation is the question of the day, yelling that America's various district attorneys and prosecutors are power-hungry pocket dictators.  Col. Mustard references Instadoofus:

Though extensive due process protections apply to the investigation of crimes, and to criminal trials, perhaps the most important part of the criminal process — the decision whether to charge a defendant, and with what — is almost entirely discretionary. Given the plethora of criminal laws and regulations in today’s society, this due process gap allows prosecutors to charge almost anyone they take a deep interest in. This Essay discusses the problem in the context of recent prosecutorial controversies involving the cases of Aaron Swartz and David Gregory, and offers some suggested remedies, along with a call for further discussion.

What follows is six pages of somnolent paranoia (itself quite a feat) that boils down to "Gubment is going to use prosecutors to steal your soul" followed by "let's do everything we can to make sure the broken criminal justice system is shattered to pieces so we can blame liberals and government, and then privatize the whole deal."

The whole thing is an exercise in Reynolds's usual glibertarian nonsense, where because government cannot be perfect, we have to scrap it in favor of free market everything.  Please note that most prosecutors are government employees, and trial lawyers are of course hired guns, so of course prosecutors are now the epitome of evil, with lots of hand-wringing over Jason Swartz and David Gregory.

Reynolds actually uses the words "skin in the game" and "loser pays" in his kit bag of snake oil remedies, which tells you just how much thought he's put into it.  We've gotten to the point where "Prosecutors should only bring cases they are sure to win or they'll be wasting taxpayer dollars!" as the solution to criminalization.

Where were these guys when New Jack City era drug laws in the 90's thought every black guy in the system was Nino Brown and the mass incarceration of minorities began in earnest?  Prosecutorial discretion was never a problem until the issue of actually enforcing gun regulations on the books became an issue, and especially wasn't an issue until President Obama proposed background checks and enforcing them.

Funny how that works.

An Old Gun Fighter Speaks

Doug Mataconis makes the case that Democrats should at least heed Big Dog's advice and keep in mind that pissing off the bitter clingers isn't going to help get anything passed.

If there’s any Democrat in the United States who has experience in taking on America’s gun owners and the Second Amendment, it’s Bill Clinton. Mere weeks before the 1994 Presidential Election, the United States Congress passed, and Clinton signed, a controversial Assault Weapons Ban. Indeed, while the conventional wisdom continues to hold that the primary motivation behind the massive Republican victories in the 1994 Congressional Elections was due in large part to the President’s failed effort at health care reform, many political observers have contended for years that it was the Administration’s push on the Assault Weapons Ban, and the political backlash that it unleashed from the National Rifle Association and other groups, that played the most significant role in the tidal wave that handed control of both Houses of Congress to the Republican Party.

I'm going to have to say that I disagree with that.  I still think "HillaryCare" did it, not to mention the House Post Office scandal.  The Dems were headed to defeat long before the Violent Crime Control and Prevention Act passed.  Let's remember that the bill passed the House with a number of Republicans you might recognize:  John Kasich, Jon Kyl, Illena Ros-Lehtinen, Olympia Snowe, 46 of them in all.  In the Senate, seven Republican broke ranks, including Arlen Specter and Nancy Kessebaum, as well as Linc Chafee.  Too many Republicans signed up for the bill for it to be the reason why the Dems were wiped out.

As far as Clinton's advice goes, Doug's take:

Clinton injects a little bit of political reality into the post-Newtown gun control conversation. The “gun culture” of which many gun control activists so derisively speak isn’t just limited to the South. It’s a strong force in the Midwest, especially among hunters, and in the west. Indeed, even in California there area millions of people who own guns and who would resist any effort to take those guns away. We live in a nation were that are nearly as many firearms in the open market as there are people. That suggests the very simply idea that draconian gun control laws are, for the most part, not going to succeed in taking significant action to restrict Second Amendment rights because of the legislative power that the so-called “gun lobby” can bring to bear. Results will vary from state to state, of course, but nationally it seems fairly clear to me that America’s gun owners and those of us, such as myself, who still support the right of American citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, remain a force to be reckoned with. As Bill Clinton told his fellow Democrats, that’s something the advocates of further gun control ought to keep in mind.

Except for the fact that what President Obama has proposed isn't at all "significant action to restrict the Second Amendment."  It's being called that, and in fact has been called that for four years when President Obama was actually making it easier to obtain weapons, so much so that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence rated him an across-the-board "F".   Much like "Obama is weak on immigration enforcement and national security" when the facts were completely the opposite, the notion that Obama is a gun grabber is complete nonsense.

If somebody can show me where President Obama is proposing to take guns away from people who already lawfully own them, that's different.  He has done nothing of the sort.

StupidiNews, MLK Day Edition!

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