Tag Archives: current events

Why Can't Americans Get Real on Guns?

So now two lives have been claimed by people with hate in their hearts and deadly weapons in their hands. First it was Dr. George Tiller, and now a security guard at Washington’s US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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The guard’s name was Stephen T. Johns, and he didn’t have to die. America should have been able to keep a rifle out of the hands of a known racist and anti-Semite, James von Brunn. We didn’t, and this is what happened.

Von Brunn was known to law enforcement. Back in 1981, he tried to take board members of the Federal Reserve hostage by actually entering the system’s Washington headquarters. He was armed with a revolver, hunting knife, and sawed off shotgun. He did time for that one, which leads to an interesting question. If 88 year old James von Brunn had a history of drunk driving or driving erratically at his age, there would have been some effort to take his driver’s license away. So how does a man who went to prison on assault and weapons charges manage to procure a rifle, especially if his extremist views were known to authorities?

The answer lies in part in the power of the gun lobby. When they say “If you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns”, they aren’t talking about James von Brunn. If the media does its job and asks how he got the rifle he used, the lobby will publicly wring its hands and decry the violence. At the same time, they’ll caution against blaming those law abiding citizens who have nothing better to do than blow off the head of a squirrel at 150 yards for “sport”.

Well, it’s time for a paradigm shift in that way of thinking.

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It’s precisely because of those Second Amendment zealots that its easier to buy a gun in some states than it is to get a fishing license. We are reaping what we have sowed when it comes to George Tiller, Stephen Johns, or a young, innocent kid in the Bronx who gets caught in deadly crossfire.

There is no excuse for this. And by the way, don’t bet on the media asking too many questions about von Brunn’s rifle. They didn’t ask about Scott Roeder’s weapon in the Tiller case, so don’t expect anything different now. That’s how we operate here.

PileOGuns

It’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell when it comes to guns. After all, it’s our sacred right to have them, whether we be racist or deranged.

white supremecist

Never mind the head scratching that goes on in the rest of the world when these events take place.

They’re wondering how America can lecture others about the need for restraint when it comes to weapons procurement when our own citizens are buying guns at a record clip.

I can’t figure it out. Can you?

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Hurry Up and Wait on Sotomayor?

There are times when our elected officials act like little more than sullen, spoiled children (witness what’s happening in the New York State Legislature, but that’s another post). Now that Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy has announced a July 13th start date for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, Republicans are crying foul. “Not enough time”, they bleat. Senator Jeff Sessions argues “It’s far more important we do this right then we do it quick”.

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In other words, there isn’t enough time for the GOP to play “Gotcha” with this nominee. They know they don’t  have the votes to stop her confirmation, so now they grasp at straws. When confronted by the fact that Leahy’s timeline is remarkably similar to that of Chief Justice John Roberts when he was confirmed, they counter that she’s ruled on ten times more decisions than he , hence the need for more time.

And of course, the flaw in the Republican argument. If experience on the bench is an important qualifier for the nation’s highest court (and we’ve heard the GOP trot this out many times in the past), Judge Sotomayor would make the grade just by the number of decisions she’s rendered. Still, the Republicans argue that under the July 13th timeline announced by Leahy, they’d have to review 76 cases per day to be prepared for her confirmation hearing.

Well, if Senate familiarity on national security briefings is any indication, Most of them won’t be doing the heavy lifting themselves anyway. That’s why they have paid staffs, and trust me, they don’t skimp on them. No, the GOP wants time because they want to find something, anything that would torpedo Sotomayor’s nomination. To be fair, this isn’t new, nor is it the sole province of Senate Republicans. But they ought to be honest and say that’s what they’re doing.

If they were totally frank, they’d say they need more time not  not to study Sonia Sotomayor’s record but to figure out how to make themselves look good to moderate and independent voters during the televised confirmation hearings. Seen from that vantage point, the political stakes are high, high enough to make a big stink about the timing of the process. Make no mistake. If the Republicans still controlled the Senate, those hearings wouldn’t start until after Labor Day, and no power on earth would make them move faster.

All this attention around Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation is a good thing. Americans ought to have something substantial to focus on besides “Jon and Kate, Plus 8” (lol).

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The Supreme Court  has a tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. The Senate should look at her record. Barring any surprises, it shouldn’t be found wanting.

What do you think. Is July 13th too early for Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings to begin?

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