It's been two weeks now since various gun control measures went down in flames in the US Senate, prompting President Obama to don his petulance pants and lecture us from the Rose Garden. In that time I've read quite a few pieces by Democrats seeking to explain, in one way or another, how gun control could fail in the wake of the Newtown mass shooting. Some blame the NRA, of course. Some blame Republicans, of course. Some even blame Obama, but not for the reasons I'm going to cite. Pretty much all are long on self-pity and short on self-examination, so here are my criticisms of the pro-gun control side, because they are every bit to blame, if not more, than the NRA and Republicans.(This is a long one, so I'll put most of it below the fold)
Obama's poor leadership
When Obama outsourced the issue to Joe Biden, the probability for meaningful action took an immediate and negative hit. At that moment Obama signalled that it was really going to be business as usual, in other words it was going to be "inside the beltway politics." In the short term that was probably smart politics for Obama personally, but it was also another missed opportunity for him to match the greatness of his office.
He could have taken the role of an honest broker between the two sides and step by step publicly guided the conversation toward what was possible. That would have meant swallowing his own personal preferences for the moment and acting as President of all of these United States to bring both sides together. I suppose many in both party establishments would consider that idea naive, but my gut tells me the less ideological on both sides and independents would have eaten it up. Besides, isn't that the Hope and Change president we've been promised twice now?(I know, I know, that was always phony, but I couldn't resist)
Biden's Poor Leadership
Many projects fail before they even begin because the problem and/or the scope of the solution are not properly defined from the start. I've seen it countless times over the years to the point where I can smell a looming clusterf*ck from a mile away. As I noted here and here, the problems of overall gun violence and mass killing are related but also distinct, and they have related but also distinct solution sets.
A tightly focused effort on Biden's part might have had a chance, but instead we got what was basically a free for all of gun control wish list items, regardless of how effective they would be in preventing the next mass shooting or daily gun violence on the streets.
To be fair to Biden, the Washington Post back in January noted how Obama had tied his hands somewhat from the start. Still, he wasn't just Obama's puppet on this issue. He fully embraced Obama's strategy of foregone conclusions, emotion over reason, and divisiveness through demonization. That worked in the last general election with the media covering their backs, but as shown in the results two weeks ago, it's a disastrous way to try to govern.
Mom tripped and fell in her house last week. She wasn't seriously hurt, but she's not exactly okay either. She is sore enough that she is having trouble moving around, though it is getting better. The most frightening thing is she couldn't get up and spent 20 minutes on the floor until my sister who lives with her got home. For now the three of us who live in town are making sure that one of us is always around, but an alert system of some sort is definitely in the cards now.
Glorious weather here today. I'm never going to complain about the weather again. Hahahahaha...right.
Maybe it's the weather that is making people drive particularly poorly today, I don't know. With trips to Mom's and extra errands I'm driving more than usual and today it seemed like about every other driver had turned into a zombie. Not paying attention to the merge, not paying attention at stops signs, not using signals, and on and on. I was glad when I pulled into my driveway unscathed this afternoon.
Saw this woman's appearance at a press conference today. She had to choose whether doctors would try to salvage what they could of a foot that was severely damaged in the Boston Marathon bombing or have them amputate it. The details are at the link. The grace she displayed in handling what fate had dealt her was impressive and inspiring. Catch some video if you missed it. Her name is Heather Abbott and here's some video:
We usually have iceout on Twin Cities lakes by April 10 or so each year. We're now a good two weeks behind normal, though it should be gone in the next few days.
Last night's storm was something of a fizzle for my neck of the woods, not so much south and east. Only 3" at my place while they got closer to 7", and it petered out before midnight instead of lasting into the morning. That made it easy for the road crews to clean up before the commute. They're talking 70s by the weekend.
You know what I understand, Amanda? I understand the image below of the man with his feet blown off(Warning: Gruesome!). The damage he did to so many is no excuse to treat the little bastard like an animal, but you expect me to understand him?
Get some help, Amanda, because you are messed up. Seriously, you are one fucked up little bitch.
Another "Is that who I think it is?...And is that...?" moment today as I caught the last half of an Emergency! episode this afternoon.
That's Harmon and Popwell as animal control officers in a somewhat ridiculous 1975 episode that leads to the Rampart doctors operating on a goat. According to IMDB it was only the second credited role for Mark Harmon in what has turned out to be a very successful and ongoing career. His partner, played by Albert Popwell, was already well known for a number parts, including two stints as a bad guy in the "Dirty Harry" franchise.
This has to rank up there in the "People Who at Least Showed Up the First Day" category:
A local news anchor was fired on Monday after his first-ever words on air turned out to be very inappropriate.
As AJ Clemente prepared for his debut on the evening news program for North Dakota's NBC affiliate KFYR, he uttered some words that he must have dearly wished he could take back.
"F---ing sh-t," he was heard whispering into his mic as an announcer introduced the show. It was Clemente's very first moment on air, and also his last. He was first suspended for using profanity and his coanchor, Van Tieu, opened up the 10:00 p.m. news hour with an apology.
I'll say again that there's no choice in my mind but to try him in federal court as he is a US citizen on US soil. If it had been determined that he was a foreign national and there was evidence that he could be declared an enemy combatant under the AUMF I would have no problem with putting his ass on a plane to Guantanamo. He's not, so that's it in this case.
I have to say I'm not keen on calling a non-NBC IED a "weapon of mass destruction." It appears that the legal definition is just that loose, but shouldn't we use that term only for something beyond a somewhat ordinary explosive device?
Unfortunately one officer was killed and another seriously wounded before it was over, but the Boston bombing suspects are dead or in custody. Or are there more out there?
A source close to the investigation said: “We have no doubt the brothers were not acting alone. The devices used to detonate the two bombs were highly sophisticated and not the kind of thing people learn from Google.
“They were too advanced. Someone gave the brothers the skills and it is now our job to find out just who they were. Agents think the sleeper cell has up to a dozen members and has been waiting several years for their day to come.”
I don't see confirmation from other sources tonight, so we'll see if that goes anywhere or gets walked back. Obviously, a sleeper cell or cells would be unwelcome news.
Have we forgotten to be alarmed at unattended bags? One of the severely injured who helped to identify at least one bomber remembers him setting the bag down and then two minutes later it exploded. Were there just so many backpacks and duffel bags around the event that they somehow didn't look out of place? It seems strange that I've seen no mention of this in the media reports, because watching for unattended bags is a basic security measure that everyone should be aware of.
I don't think we have anything definitive about motive yet, so even if we have some signs we should not jump to conclusions. Whether it was religious, political, or something of both remains to be seen.
That "shelter in place" business was pretty extraordinary, particularly for the wide geographic scope. In the twenty block cordon area where the firefight took place on Thursday night that made sense. I'm much less sure about outside of that area. Granted the guy on the run was extremely dangerous, but shutting down an entire major city? I'm pretty sure terrorists have taken note and will be looking to create the conditions for that again.
The guy who found the younger bomber hiding in his boat last night really did good by checking into it and then calling the cops. I can understand why people at his neighborhood bar will be buying him drinks for a good while. I'm pretty sure he's not a hero, though. We use that term too broadly these days and this last week was no exception. Look, people do good things, important things in these situations and it does not diminish them if they aren't labeled "heroic."
More: I'm not going to buy into any conspiracy theories, but the stories around how the older brother met his demise don't seem to add up. I don't see how half a dozen officers could engage in gunfire with two suspects and then have tunnel vision on one and apparently ignore the other. We need some clarity on this.
I'm a little disturbed about talk of treating the captured suspect as an enemy combatant. An exception to Miranda to discover any remaining immediate threats is fine with me, but that's it. He's a US citizen, end of story. That there's even discussion contrary to that bothers me.