Currently Browsing: Politics

Another Walk Down Memory Lane

I decided to take a look in the immediate post-election era to see what we were talking about here eight years ago. I think it’s kind of a fun thing to do. Basically, I was talking people on my side down from the ledge a lot. What worries me today is I only see the madness feeding on itself. Then, I believed that madness was a distraction, and would imperil serious efforts to stop the new Administration:

Morning after election: “That is all.  Get ready folks, we are in for some dark, dark times.” Actually, if you had told me then where we’d be now at the start of a new Administration, I wouldn’t have believed you. We opposed Obama when he came after us and we came out on top every time. I figured we’d win some and lose some. I think we were helped greatly by the fact that neither Obama nor Bloomberg have any understanding of the gun culture in this country.

Barack Obama is my President.” “What I mean by that is I’m giving him a chance.” I still think he sucked, but the “Not my President” crap I see from the left now is still just as obnoxious when I was seeing it from the right eight years ago.

I largely blamed the Bushes for destroying Reagan’s coalition. Nothing I’ve seen since convinces me to change that argument. If there’s one thing I will always be eternally grateful to Trump for is sweeping aside the Bush family.

Boy is this not true anymore: “There are extremes on all sides.  Part of the reason our system works is that it tends to dull extremes.” Obama was actually far more successful at transforming the country than I thought. Plus, this bit of snark: “I think it’s safe to say that the re-education camps, at best, will be a second term project.”

Initially there were bailouts. I was happy to see the Administration spending time on this because it would weaken it for fights to come. I expected the Dems to act in their own self-interest, rather than march their historic Congressional majority off a cliff, which is what they did.

Judicial minimalists were no friend to the Second Amendment then, and they still aren’t.

Good manners are in short supply these days, and sadly that’s true of much of our side as well.” Little did I know it would only get worse. One of Obama’s tactics is to troll his political opponents to throw them off balance, and make them behave irrationally. It was very effective, but also bad for the country. Trump learned from the master.

The Dems could stand to hear this today, but then I was talking to gun owners: “There are literally hundreds of bills that get introduced in Congress, or thousands if you count the legislatures of the several states, each legislative session.  Most of them aren’t going anywhere.

Gun control supporting folks in the media were calling us crazy for thinking then President-Elect Obama wanted to do gun control, except for the fact that it was in his transition platform. He actually left us alone, for the most part, during his first term, if you recall. Even signed a few pro-gun measures (admittedly under duress, since they were attached to “must pass” bills).

This is still very relevant: “We feel a deep pleasure from realizing that we believe something in common with our friends, and different from most people.  We feel an even deeper pleasure letting everyone know of this fact.  This feeling is EVIL.” This feeling is what made Zuckerberg filthy rich, and we’re all about this today.

Obamacare was starting to shape up. This is exactly what happened: “Enforced through the tax system, eh?  Well, at least that’s probably constitutional.  Either way, there’s no word on how they plan to pay for what is bound to be an enormously expensive program.  To me this is the worst of both worlds.  There will be no incentive to control health care costs with a system like this, and costs will spiral out of control.

Sarah Palin would eventually beclown herself, but the GOP response to her was a prelude to Trump, looking back now. More along those lines here.

You know, I’ve been saying that I don’t think people have to worry about Obama shipping anyone off to concentration camps in cattle cars.  I still stand by that, because I think Obama is hiring and appointing solid progressives, within our legal traditions, not murderers.” I could say the same thing about Trump’s picks today, except for the “solid progressive” part.

Paul Ryan, who is fairly hard Right, won big in areas of his district that went hard for Obama” Of course, now Paul Ryan is an establishment sellout! (yes, I’m being sarcastic).

Why It’s Not the 1930s Again.” Another thing Dem voters could stand to read now, only then I was saying it to GOP voters. More along those lines here.

Obama Will Overreach” Boy, he sure as hell did, didn’t he? People who wanted to see gun control after Sandy Hook could have easily gotten some if they hadn’t overreached. Hell, we preemptively offered to reform the background check system and apply it to all transfers, and they rejected that because it wasn’t radical enough. So we took our respective sides, fought it out, and they lost.

These same people are now Trump voters.

Interesting. Trump’s approval numbers were pretty low as President-Elect. I didn’t remember this, but it looks like Obama’s were too.


How I Opposed Obama Eight Years Ago

I was looking back over my archives. This is something I don’t like to do, because my beliefs have evolved somewhat, and my blogging style today isn’t quite the same as it was back then. In some cases I’d like to reach through the screen and smack my then self. But what I was talking about in the post-Obama inauguration period is a sharp contrast to the nuttery I’m seeing on social media today:

I also noticed the day before Obama’s inaugural is when I launched a Facebook presence for the blog. That’s also, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence, when dialog in this country started to head downhill.

The World Gone Mad

Maybe it’s just because I’m used to being disappointed by the occupant of the White House, it’s hard for me to get as worked up over the Administration change as much as everyone on Facebook. I was reading Sarah Hoyt’s article about “Surviving the Cult” and glanced briefly at the comments. This really caught my eye:

I feel like I’m being constantly gaslighted by people I have, well, had, some respect for, joked with, met, and suddenly they’ve all gone crazy left as though they’re trying to win some kind of loon contest. And I must have just been really naive not to have seen it years ago.

Yep, and while I’m aware that this has reenergized the loony right, the center seems to be disappearing. Embrace the crazy! It’s quickly becoming the zeitgeist of our age.

Women’s Marchers Debase Women’s Monument

A monument dedicated to women on the site of the largest complex of buildings owned exclusively by women seems like it would be a great place to stop and pay some respect during the Women’s March, doesn’t it?

It was, if you define paying respect by climbing up the monuments to slap on signs, clothing, and hanging crap off of the outstretched hands. If respecting the property means stomping over flower beds, kicking the greenery up, pushing through the bushes, leaving trash strewn about, and apparently also smearing paint on statues, then sure, lots of respect was paid to the monument and buildings owned by women. (The paint apparently isn’t visible in the videos below because they were shot after signs were placed on top, but I’ve seen it mentioned by several who visited the site later.)

The buildings owned exclusively by women since the empty city block across from the White House lawn was purchased more than 100 years ago – before women could even vote in this country – and are home to the Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR is non-partisan and apolitical. I know women in the group who are far more conservative than I’ll ever be and far more liberal than I’ve ever been. And yet we have a few things in common – a sense of respect for American history and values, and we’re always volunteering for something in our communities.

In fact, the monument that was “decorated” by the marchers is dedicated to the founders who spelled out that DAR was supposed to be a community service organization. Our current goal for recorded service in our community is 19 million hours collectively doing meaningful service – not writing checks or showing up to a gala for a cause – in 3 years. The 19 number comes from the fact that our final year of recording hours will be the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.

I’ve seen marchers defend the mess they left on sidewalks by saying that the City wanted to handle clean up so they wouldn’t have as many trashcans that could be a security risk. Assuming that’s accurate, this mess is not on a sidewalk. In fact, much of it is not even on concrete. It’s in bushes and dropped over gardens. It’s on private property that women have to pay to clean. So all those complaints about the gender wage gap? A man is on video calling for people to leave their trash that women who make less will have to pay to have cleaned. That flower he laughs about kicking out of the ground, sure it’s just one bloom. But those gardens are paid for by women. So much for respect.

Inside those halls, if the people in the video had any interest in history, they would find a museum that primarily runs exhibits relating to women’s connections to history and craft. They would find collections put together by volunteers and staff (paid by women) dedicated to documenting the rich history that covers this country’s recent immigrants to the Revolution’s minority patriots. They would find out about how a group of women raised money to plant entire forests in every state – many of which are still preserved public green spaces today. Instead of actually showing even a reasonable level of respect for those efforts, they spread paint on our monuments and leave their trash behind as a “shrine” for women to clean up. (At least a past national officer reported that the paint seems to have been water based and was removed without further damaging the statue.)

But I have to say that it’s not just the marchers who left their trash behind in an effort to force non-partisan groups into partisan political debates, it’s also the reaction afterwards. Needless to say, the images of this vandalism have been shared widely in various DAR groups online. Some of the liberal members of the group are trying to put a positive spin on the intention, but also recognize that this is a man who is organizing some level of vandalism on our statues and that it will require women’s funds to clean up. I have seen some who have asked their fellow marchers to contribute to those expenses by donating to the DAR’s building maintenance fund in recognition of the fact that it wasn’t appropriate to leave everything behind for a private, non-political group that wasn’t involved to clean up.

Then there are those members who participated who I’ve seen demanding women who share information about the clean up efforts be banned from the organization. Their argument being that DAR is non-political, so a post about cleaning up the trash and paint left on our property by a political march is considered political because it makes their cause look less than perfect. Newsflash ladies, every movement has a**holes. If you’ve been involved in real grassroots action before, you know this. Call them out on their bad behavior and do what you can to correct that image. Instead, they want to silence those who are expressing disappointment in bad behavior. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to believe that a shared American value should include that even when you’re passionate about an issue, trespass and vandalism of private property is inappropriate.

Where is Gun Politics Going?

One of my big regrets of blogging about gun politics today is that I think all the interesting developments in politics are happening outside the gun issue. I’m hoping that a refresh on the federal bench might change some of that in 2017, and we can get some interesting movement in the courts again. But it’s hard to know what will happen.

I sense that the 2016 election is a pretty epic shift in the political balance, much in the same way 2008 was. Both the 2008 and 2016 election are not the pendulum swinging one way, and then swinging back. If you think that, you’re trying to shoe-horn the current political situation into the context you’ve understood all your life: the Post-WWII order created by our parents (if you’re a boomer) and grandparents (if you’re my generation). I believe 2008 and 2016 represent that order shattering. I’m not sure that will be a good thing. First let me argue where I think things are going with the gun issue:

  • Trump will fulfill a lot of his promises on court nominations, and that’s largely because Presidents don’t have a whole lot of leeway in who they appoint. If they did, we’d be talking about Justice Harrier Meyers. Court appointments are where Presidents appease their base. Your average voter isn’t paying attention to court fights, and nominations tend to get drowned in issues those folks don’t care to follow closely. We never would have won Heller and McDonald if Al Gore had won the 2000 election, even though Bush came into office promising to sign a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban. We can make progress with politicians who are “good enough.” We don’t need angels.
  • Trump is going to disappoint us in a lot of other ways. I am not looking forward to his first big test on the issue (think a Sandy Hook like event). He’ll be under a lot of pressure and he tends to get stupid off the cuff and under pressure.
  • Our bigger disappointment will be Congress. We’re all talking about this election as if we just won the lottery. It still takes 60 votes to pass legislation through the Senate. The GOP will be more than happy to put on a show for you and blame those dastardly filibustering Democrats for not being able to get anything done. Just be mindful of that. It’s not an excuse. The Dems will nuke the filibuster first chance they get. You can count on it. Republicans shouldn’t entertain any delusions about that.
  • Bloomberg is going to find that he can only defeat us at the margins, only at a very heavy cost in dollars. Unfortunately for us, the 20 million dollars Bloomberg blew on his gamble in Nevada is pocket change to him. He can still afford to whittle at the margins a lot, even if it mostly results in defeat, and if he’s smart it won’t. That said, I believe Bloomberg has hit his high water mark with gun control, but events unforeseen could prove me wrong here.
  • I believe we’re going to arrive at an equilibrium there we are not fully happy with, but it’ll be one that’s not disastrous to the gun culture we’ve been trying to build. There will be opportunities opened up. I think we can win on gun bans. The worst excesses of the anti-gun states can be checked.
  • On the down side, anti-gun states are going to win on a lot of marginal issues we won’t be completely happy with. I don’t believe California and New Jersey are, in my lifetime at least, ever going to be as pro-gun as Wyoming. The courts are going to leave more room for variation than we’d ideally like.
  • I don’t believe I will live to see the Hughes Amendment repealed, though I’d love to be wrong. I think we may get some more exceptions shot through it, but I think even a few decades from now if you want to take up collecting machine guns, you’re going to have to jump through hoops, deal with the legal maze, and fork up serious coin. That’s assuming it’s even legal in your state, because I don’t foresee court enforced protections for full-autos, SBRs and SBSs. That will have to come legislatively.
  • The good news is that I think we can achieve deregulating silencers closer to the short term, and that SBRs and SBSs might also be reachable legislatively, though I’m not very optimistic the courts striking down NFA provisions. In a lot of states these will remain illegal or more strictly regulated than under federal law.
  • The courts are liable to uphold a lot of “gun free zones” we’re not happy with. I believe they will uphold much of the “prohibited persons” mechanisms, though they might actually demand some token due process here and there. I’ve said for a long time, I will never live to see a return to cash on the barrel sales of firearms. Background checks are not going anywhere. There are probably even private sale restrictions the courts will uphold.
  • Here’s the real hard pill to swallow: the younger generation are far less concerned about personal privacy than earlier ones. They don’t have the visceral reaction to registration that we do if bans and confiscation are legal impossibilities. Even if the government never imposes formal registration, de-facto registration will likely become reality. To be honest, privacy is quickly becoming obsolete just because of technology. I’m not sure this is taking us to a good place, but that’s where we’re going whether we like it or not. How to manage this future could be a whole long post in itself.

What about politics in general?

  • Nationalism and populism are back, baby, and God help us. I don’t mean just the kind of traditional pride in your country, sing the national anthem at sporting events kind of nationalism, but the kind of nationalism that brought us such wondrous events as World War I and World War II. This is a global trend. Democracy is reasserting itself, and the people are sick of transnational institutions. Is this a good thing? Who knows. I generally tend to think the people reasserting themselves is probably healthy, but I also think there were good reasons many of our founders feared raw democratic power.
  • The post-WWII order is definitely disintegrating before our eyes. I’m not certain this incantation of nationalism will be the same as the kind we were taught spurned two major calamities, but I’m also not sure that another major calamity isn’t coming. History doesn’t really repeat itself, but it does have parallels.
  • Our current international institutions are anything but democratic, and probably deserve some rebuke. Both the UN and the EU are post-WWII technocratic institutions with no real democratic legitimacy. The UN was intended to be a top-down instrument of policy for the victors of the Second World War. It served as a stage on which the Cold War could be fought, and a mechanism by which “minor” country squabbles could be resolved before they had the chance to draw in major powers.
  • For all it’s faults, much of the Post WWII order was designed to avert the possibility of a Third World War fought with nuclear weapons, and it worked. But no one younger than 35 really understands this, and I believe that’s very dangerous.
  • The EU is probably going to collapse. To put it bluntly, the EU started off with good intention as a way to tie the continent together economically so as to make future wars unthinkable. It worked too well. What the EU has turned into is a not so subtle conspiracy by British, French, and German elites to control Europe both economically and politically via extra-democratic means. This was all well and good as long as those elites were actually doing a good job, but shit is starting to get real, and they don’t have answers except to double down on the status quo. The people have noticed.

If I had to make a prediction, technocratic and bureaucratic transnational institutions are going the way of the dodo. I don’t know what will replace them because I don’t believe globalism is going away: globalism is an inevitable consequence of technological progress. But people, everyday people, are reasserting themselves. You’re going to see that across the world, and not just here. Brexit and Trump are just symptoms. I don’t really know where all this is going, but it is definitely an interesting time to be alive, and I’m not sure whether by “interesting” I mean good “interesting” or bad “interesting.”


A Note to Democrats Post Election

I can’t find much to argue with in Eric Raymond’s note to Democrats, and of course I agree that gun control is a losing proposition for Democrats and always has been. ESR and I live in the same general area, so he’s probably seeing a lot of the same things I am.

My only comment is that one should never underestimate the Republican Party’s ability to completely and utterly bork things up. It’s their majority to lose, but I have faith they can do it! I don’t buy notions of permanent majorities, or even generational majorities. I wouldn’t suggest that the Dems merely waiting around for the GOP’s self-destructive tendencies to go to work isn’t a viable strategy.

More Culture Killing Gun Legislation in New Jersey

New Jersey is going to be so screwed when Christie leaves office, it’s not even funny. Dems are looking to impose onerous regulations on shooting ranges in New Jersey with the aim to prevent suicides. This is not about preventing suicides, it’s about destroying the gun culture in New Jersey.

Every gun owner would be required to present NJ firearms credentials to the owner or operator of a range before being allowed to use their own firearms on that range, every time they use the range. What if you’re from out of state?  Sorry.  What if the club doesn’t have staff to check credentials?  Too bad.

I won’t take a firearm into New Jersey, even legally. But I know people who compete over there. This will effectively end that if they don’t have a non-resident FID card (which is really a good idea to have if you’re going to be transporting firearms in New Jersey).

Shooting activity could only occur where staff exists to check credentials.  Unstaffed ranges would lose members (because members wouldn’t be allowed to shoot there), many clubs would be forced to close.

This would essentially close every club in New Jersey. It would make it impossible to bring new shooters into the sports, since they would essentially need to apply for and receive an FID card before they could even try it out. This would destroy the shooting culture in New Jersey, and that’s exactly what it’s intended to do. Suicide prevention is a ruse. Christie has shown a willingness to veto legislation like this, and will probably continue to do so as long as he’s in office, but it’s going to be hell to pay if Christie is replaced with an anti-gun Democrat.

Well, That Didn’t Take Long

Looks like the pendulum has swung back to having to argue, “No, burning the flag is speech protected by the First Amendment, and it ought to be.” Of course, no sooner are conservatives starting the flag burning debate again, some folks on the left acting like this is some kind of fringe, extremist position.

Nope. Hate to tell you, the American People like protecting speech they like, and don’t have issues restricting speech they don’t like. Actually, one could argue that the broad protections we have for First Amendment rights now are a product of elite opinion.

Defecting Electors are the System Working

I’m pretty confident that despite a few electors making noises about switching their vote, that Donald Trump will still occupy the Oval Office by the end of January. But people on the left and right are going nuts over this. To the extent that electors are receiving threats, that’s beyond the pale, but I have no problem with trying to influence electors to switch their vote through peaceful means. I also don’t have issues with electors actually switching their vote. While it’s not a popular position today, I’m a huge proponent of the Electoral College, for the following reasons:

  • It gives a voice to smaller states that would otherwise be completely irrelevant in National Politics. And yes, I’m OK with rural people having outsized influence. Why? Because city folks don’t understand or care about rural folks, and without rural folks, city folks starve. I think protecting their interests from a dismissive and smug majority that doesn’t understand them is important.
  • It prevents variability in the election system from bringing the results into doubt. There was a lot of “selected, not elected” talk after Bush v. Gore in 2000, but there was never any legal doubt about Bush being a legitimate President because the Electoral College is the lawful body that elects the President. Likewise, a close popular vote count would be far more consequential, bring dozens of state electoral systems under the microscope.
  • The Electoral College is a final check against the people doing something extremely rash. Given the horrible choices in this election, I don’t feel too bad about a few electors going faithless. That lets me know the Electoral College might not actually rubber stamp a real Hitler or Mussolini. Hillary and Donald Trump were awful candidates, but I don’t believe either of them are potential dictators. I don’t think this election rises to the level of the Electoral College thwarting the will of the people, but a bit of controversy, from my point of view, isn’t unwelcome.

I suspect there’s going to be a lot of call for abandoning the Electoral College, but that would establish a true, national election. In every other instance in federal elections, we vote as states. I don’t think the Electoral College is an anachronism, and it’s an important buffer between the people and the Presidency. It may be that Hillary won the popular vote, but that is relatively meaningless, since the campaign strategy to win in a majority vote system would be very different from the system we have. It’s impossible to know whether Hillary Clinton would have won the popular vote if we were a 50%+1 takes it kind of system. I think we ought to keep the Electoral College in place.

Semi Auto Hunting the Law in Pennsylvania

I thought there might be a good chance that Governor Wolf would sign the bill. There are a lot of hunters in Pennsylvania, and this looked like the kind of fight he might not want to pick. I’m sure Pennsylvania going red in the Presidential race may also have played into Wolf’s thinking.

It’s really not any big deal, since Pennsylvania was one of the few states that ever restricted hunting with semi-automatics. I don’t hunt, so it’s not something I’ll personally take advantage of, but I’ve heard a few “you can’t hunt with them” arguments for restricting semi-autos, so it’ll be good to see that put to rest.

« Previous Entries Next Entries »