Thursday, February 28, 2013

GOP, Seeking New Image, Continues To Obey Mandates of NRA

The WaPo notes that the GOP is again resisting naming an ATF head.  As it has done for 8 years--at the behest of the NRA.

In the absence of a head, the agency, already disempowered, unable to determine whether gun shops are complying with the law more than once every 8 years due to lack of staffing, cannot act in significant ways regarding gun policy.

The NRA is aware of this, which is why they have coerced members of the GOP to resist allowing the head of the agency to be allowed to lead.

This is well known.

And it is why the GOP, in following the mandates of the NRA out of personal electoral interests, have the blood of the victims of the NRAs policies--eviscerated background checks, entirely unchecked sales by "hobbyists" at gun shows and over the internet, refusing to permit research on the public health impact of guns by federal agencies, refusal to ban straw purchases, refusal to allow the NICS background check system to be updated with current data--on their hands.


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Mark Kelly on Gun Shows: Correct

There is no argument against Kelly's article other than falsehoods.
First, there is a gun show loop hole.

At gun shows, some of the sellers are Federal Licensed Firearms Dealers. They are required by law to check the buyer in the NICS system. While this does not rule out the issue of straw purchases, or the massive holes in the NICS system, or the three-day default rule--they are checked.

At other tables--at the same show, right next door to the ones described above, are tables where the sellers are not Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers. These tables also offer every type of gun for sale that the FLFD's do. But there is no background check required. None. At all.

In fact, the tables often have signs that read "No questions asked". And indeed, none are asked--expect "how much", and perhaps, "would you like a bag for that?"

This is because those dealers fall into the loophole where they have classified themselves as "hobbyists". Such "hobbyists" are often large scale dealers with extensive inventories, often larger than those of the FLFDs.

They purchase guns in states with very weak gun laws--often Mississippi, for example, or Virginia--and then sell these guns at gun shows in states with regulations are more strict.

The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 listed a number of categories of individuals who, by law, could not purchase guns: Felons, the seriously mentally ill, and so on.

At gun shows, felons, the mentally ill--anyone, in fact, can walk up to one of these tables operated by a so-called "hobbyist"--even if he makes his primary imcome from this "hobby"--and buy whatever gun they want, as many as they want, any ammunition they want, as much as they want.

With no questions asked.

If gun show sales are not uniformly required to have background checks, any felon, anyone with mental illness, or anyone fro one of the other prohibited categories, who could not purchase at a FLFD, will simply go to a gun show, and buy one, or two, or three, or ten--as many as they like--with no questions asked.

The same issue applies to guns sold over the internet by such "hobbyists". Or in so called "transfers" that are not conducted by FLFDs. There are no background checks--none at all--for these sales.

This is why the NRA and its cohorts are being so fervent about the gun show loophole--which supposedly "doesn't matter", so I wonder why they would be so strident about it.

Because as long as the gun show loophole exists, anyone who wants to evade the background check system will be able to do it simply and easily, and defeat any efforts at meaningful and effective gun control, which is the goal of the NRA.

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Scalia on Voting Rights Act Section 5: Not Aging Gracefully

Scalia's pleasure at his role as a gadfly has, with privilege and age, gradually morphed into a role as a speaker of surprisingly ill considered, and poorly support contempt.

What Scalia referred to as a "racial entitlement", Congress, by a vote of 98-0, viewed as necessary to ensure a constitutional privilege: The right to vote, which, as demonstrated by 15,000 pages of evidence, was still being uniquely undercut in covered states.

Scalia's response--a monarchical one, which anyone familiar with the Separation of Powers would shudder to hear. was that Congress was unfit to make law here.

His basis here was what was essentially a psychological analysis--an area of examination for which he is poorly suited:

“I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any senator to vote against continuation of this act. ... They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?”

Such an analysis would require that the Court examine each Congressional passage of legislation for each member's personal, interior reaction to the name of the Legislation--and to judge its constitutionality on that (unfathomable) basis.

What special quality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act distinguished it for Justice Scalia such that the reaction of members of Congress to its name. and to its electoral and political consequences for the member, should be held up as disqualifying?

Do members of Congress not consider the electoral and political implications of other legislative acts when they vote on them? If so, has Scalia ruled all of them to be unconstitutional?

The keys here are Scalia's words "racial entitlement" combined with the above analysis. He is stating that, unlike intimidation by the force of industries, lobbying groups, or other constituencies themselves, the concerns of this particular constituency are--somehow--invalid.

The use of Scalia's criteria for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would, apart from undermining Congress's legislative power for that of an increasingly crankily grandiose Justice, invalidate most legislation, which is enacted by members of Congress for a variety of personal, electoral and political purposes.

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Ryan Lizza on Cantor: Outmaneuvering Boehner and Himself

Re: Ryan Lizza's  New Yorker piece on Eric Cantor

That Boehner failed to see Cantor's win-win calculation here is remarkable for a Speaker of the House. Romney wins, and Cantor is credited for a brilliant move in forstalling a grand bargain until the arrival of better circumstances, paving the way for his later assumption of the coveted chair after Boehner. Obama is elected, and Boehner fails, leaving to discontent, and a split within the party, paving the way for Cantor's earlier assumption. (Robert Caro would remind us that Lyndon Johnson would never have fallen for this). Cantor has the oft-seen Republican ability for selective self-hypnosis: Reciting that people believe that "Republicans do not have their backs", with a rote certainty of the deputy who almost believes, a sufficient substitute for belief, while otherwise serving his wealthier masters. Exceptionally dangerous, as he believes that he is doing both, depending upon when you ask him.

Nota bene: I also loved Ryan's utterly unironic citation of Mussolini. Those trains don't just run on time...they arrive an hour early!

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