December 31, 2012
Happy New Years Eve All!
Put on the hat, grab a party cup and come on inside.more...
— Dave in Texas Sponsored by that company. Which had terrrific numbers in 2012 in year over year same store sales so suckit, haters.
LSU ( and Clemson (14). 7:30 EST.
Happy New Years you bunch of morons.
BONUS video of LSU cheerleader getting thrown in the air. Made me dizzy.
— Ace Big fan of unchecked power and tyranny, I guess. This isn't surprising. Certain soft minds have a natural attraction to Strong Men on White Horses.
If we acknowledged what should be obvious that much constitutional language is broad enough to encompass an almost infinitely wide range of positions we might have a very different attitude about the obligation to obey. It would become apparent that people who disagree with us about the Constitution are not violating a sacred text or our core commitments. Instead, we are all invoking a common vocabulary to express aspirations that, at the broadest level, everyone can embrace. Of course, that does not mean that people agree at the ground level. If we are not to abandon constitutionalism entirely, then we might at least understand it as a place for discussion, a demand that we make a good-faith effort to understand the views of others, rather than as a tool to force others to give up their moral and political judgments.
If even this change is impossible, perhaps the dream of a country ruled by We the people is impossibly utopian. If so, we have to give up on the claim that we are a self-governing people who can settle our disagreements through mature and tolerant debate. But before abandoning our heritage of self-government, we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.
— Ace Your offer is accepted without reservation.
Deport me? If America won't change its crazy gun laws... I may deport myself says PIERS MORGAN
By Piers Morgan
I have fired guns only once in my life, on a stag party to the Czech capital Prague a few years ago when part of the itinerary included a trip to an indoor shooting range. For three hours, our group were let loose on everything from Magnum 45 handguns and Glock pistols, to high-powered sniper rifles and pump-action shotguns.
It was controlled, legal, safe and undeniably exciting. But it also showed me, quite demonstrably, that guns are killing machines.
The Sandy Hook massacre brought back such horribly vivid memories for me of Dunblane, the worst mass shooting in Britain in my lifetime.
I was editor of the Daily Mirror on that day back in 1996 and will never forget the appalling TV footage of those poor Scottish mothers sprinting to the small primary school, many already howling with anguish at the thought of what might have happened to their five-year-old children.
It was a slaughter so senseless, so unspeakable, that it reduced even hard-bitten news reporters, including me, to tears.
Note that Piers says Dunblane was the worst mass shooting of his lifetime. He doesn't mention the second worse. We'll get to that.
In 1996, Britain had much more restrictive gun laws than America had -- and yet the Dunblane massacre still happened. The killer shot and killed 16 children, armed with four handguns.
That resulted in even tighter gun laws that "effectively" made any possession of a handgun illegal in Britain.
So, did the tightened gun laws stop mass shootings in the UK?
Nope. In 2010, with the de facto ban on all handguns now in place, a man killed 11 and shot 12 more in Cumbria.
And in October 2012 a maniac killed one and shot 13 in Cardiff. Where they film all those Doctor Who episodes with "guns are bad" messaging.
Piers wants to talk about Dunblane, the massacre that happened before Britain had its draconian gun laws (but they were still pretty draconian then, too!); he doesn't want to talk about the massacres which have happened even under the total prohibition against handguns.
And from this record of the efficacy of stopping mass shootings by banning guns -- first almost every gun, then, literally, every gun -- Piers Morgan deduces "America must follow Britain's lead"... so that we may experience a mass shooting at approximately the same rate as Britain.
— Ace Hypocrisy?
I saw this video last week but wasn't sure what to make of it. The short film here, ridiculing celebrities for pronouncing on gun control while romanticizing gun violence in movies, seemed to be making the same mistake the celebrities were.
That problem is precrime.
I think our society -- any society -- goes off the rails badly when it stops criminalizing criminal acts and instead dabbles in a precrime regime, seeking to criminalize non-blameworthy behavior on the theory that such behavior, while not harmful to others directly, is indirectly harmful, or is a "root cause" of the ultimately blameworthy behavior.
Making murder by gun a crime is perfectly reasonable. So is making it an extra felony to carry a gun during the commission of a crime.
But actually just owning a gun?
The theory these Big Thinkers work under is that "the crime couldn't happen but for the gun," so they want to eliminate the gun, and not just remove it from the criminal's hand, but to remove it generally, from existence.
But this is a horrible response for two reasons: First, criminals are defined as ignoring the law generally so they really don't care if you make a gun illegal. In the case of the Newtown shooter, the criminal was not deterred by the law that you are forbidden to murder your mother and steal her guns, for example.
Second: And in your attempt to make it slightly more difficult for a small pool of persons to get a gun, you're taking away guns -- and basic rights -- from millions and millions of law-abiding Americans.
People often criticize Hollywood, too, for celebrating gun violence -- and thus, the theory goes, making it more likely that some lonely, unloved loser will see The Gun (capital letters intended) as a totem, as a Symbol, as a vehicle for giving him power over others which he doesn't otherwise have.
That's actually... true. And yet I still flinch from the idea of taking away another Amendment right (the first, of course) simply because of the indirect and tenuous link that violent, gun-crazy movies might have on a violent, gun-crazy viewer.
Some things may in fact be indirect contributing factors to an ultimate harm, but we do not generally criminalize indirect contributing factors for a simple reason: Virtually everything we do that is not useful work, sex for reproductive purposes, childraising, and church-going is an indirect contributing factor to some social or criminal evil.
Alcohol causes a great deal of violence and death that probably wouldn't happen in its absence -- drunk driving deaths, the hand that balls into a fist and strikes the head in a flare of vodka-fueled anger, the gun that sneaks out from a pocket in an inebriated fury.
Shall we ban that?
No. All these things are PreCrime.
There is a sad fact that most people don't seem to appreciate, or wish to even credit as a fact: Most heinous crimes are punished retrospectively, after the carnage. Only a minority are stopped beforehand, and that can only happen if the criminal (or would-be) criminal is under intense surveillance before his intended crime. An intense surveillance our society has not yet -- thankfully -- extended beyond a few thousand known terrorists or known mafiosi.
So people start dreaming up ways in which we could have avoided the carnage -- they start thinking Precrime. If we just had criminalized this or that behavior...
So as I thought about it more I started thinking this video was in fact fair, and not a mistake. If these celebrities want to install Precrime laws criminalizing otherwise-lawful activities on the notion that We Must Do Everything Possible to stop all contributing factors to killings... They should take a look at themselves.
They certainly have done an awful lot of PR work for the Gun as Totem Bestowing Power on the Impotent. They've depicted the gun -- unrealistically, fantastically -- as a Magic Wand that grants its owner the heroic ability to Win and Impose His Will on Any Situation.
And that belief is just as necessary to the mass killing of six year old children as the gun itself. Normal people do not murder 20 children.
It wasn't only the gun that was needed for this killing; it was also the psychological state of believing in The Gun as an agent of Power and Deliverance.
And that came from Hollywood.
Now I wouldn't indulge in either of these awful and stupid precrime measures. I would not repeal the First Amendment just as I wouldn't repeal the Second.
But if Hollywood's calling for one precrime prohibition, it is duty-bound to call for the other as well.
After all -- the children. The children that they were responsible for killing.
— Ace Here is the outline, as I understand it.
Rates on the rich will increase, but only above the $400,000 threshold, rather than the $250,000 threshold so beloved by Obama. But the tax cut for those making less than $400,000 would be permanent -- no sunsetting, no expiration date.
However, some exceptions and deductions will be lost for those making more than $300,000 (jointly) or $250,000 (singly):
Under the proposed accord being hammered out by Biden and McConnell, households earning less than that would largely escape higher income tax bills, though couples earning more than $300,000 a year and individuals earning more than $250,000 would lose part of the value of their exemptions and itemized deductions, under the terms of the emerging agreement.
The estate tax rises from 35 to 40%, but the $5 million exclusion (the first five million isn't subject to tax) remains.
You'll be happy to know we've agreed to keep spending an awful lot of money. Republicans spin this, saying they've gotten a permanent good in exchange for a temporary bad, but we never get around to spending, do we?
Low-income households would also benefit from a five-year extension of credits for college tuition and the working poor first enacted as part of Obamas stimulus package in 2009. And businesses would see a variety of popular tax breaks extended, including a credit for research and development.
The two sides also appeared to have reached consensus on unemployment benefits, with Republicans acceding to Democratic demands to keep benefits flowing to the long-term unemployed for another year. Medicare payments would not be cut for doctors next year, and the cost of preserving those programs would not be offset with other spending cuts
There are no damn cuts in the agreement. The agreement isn't quite struck yet, as the sides are hung up on what to do about the automatic sequester -- Republicans want to delay that for three months, in order to revisit spending issues later without, I guess, the supercharged atmosphere of the current negotiations. Democrats want the cuts delayed until after the 2014 election (to 2015).
Sabotage? The liberals apparently hate this deal, so Obama larded his 1:30 speech with attacks against them, possibly to provoke them into walking away from a deal he's finding politically tough. (The liberals are incensed that the $250,000 threshold was moved.)
Obama: "If Republicans think I will finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone then they've got another thing coming"
Others call the "speech" a "political rally" and "tone-deaf."
Republicans are apparently reacting angrily, but who knows if they'll walk away.
ATM Fix Permanent? The current plan is to fix the ATM -- permanently.
And nearly 30 million households would be protected from paying the costly alternative minimum tax for the first time either on their 2012 tax returns or at any time in the future. The developing agreement calls for a permanent fix."
Is There Any Hope? Soothsayerwing Plover has an idea:
emember that ROBERT PALMER video with all those hot looking CLONE MODELS behind him?more...
that's what Boehner should do
— andy President Obama's scheduled to speak at 1:30pm Eastern. It's possible we can get a sense of how much our alleged GOP "leadership" is going to cave then.
Feel free to make your predictions in the comments. A one-year subscription to AoSHQ Premium goes to the winner.
— Open Blogger
Seriously, what better "jobs program" could you have than a Deathstar? In less dramatic news, the Chinese are building a heavy transport akin to the C-17. Its something they'll need to support their African economic push.
— Pixy Misa
- Journal News Hacks Memory Hole Twitter Accounts
- Oops, Der Spiegel Publishes George HW Bush Obit
- Gun Control Fails Says Statistics From Gun Control Advocates
- Tom Friedman Opinion Editorial Generator
- Video Mocking Hollywood's Demand A Plan Video(autoplay)
- Muslim Brotherhood To Egyptian Jews: Come Back. Admiral Ackbar Could Not Be Reached For Comment
- As Assad Quakes On His Throne, Is Iran Ready To Deal?
- Obama Promises Gun Grab Bill In 2013
- Brace For An Avalance Of Unfunded Debt
- Liberal Author: Why Is Obama Caving On Taxes?
- In A Surprise To No One, Pat Buchanan Backs Chuck Hagel For SecDef
- Peggy Noonan Pretty Excited About This George Will Speech
- Sentimentalizing Serial Murder
- There's A New Bhutto In Town
- Is Manchin's CALM Worth Consideration?
- Pentagon To "Temporarily" Fire 800,000 If No Cliff Deal
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— Gabriel Malor Happy Monday.
Over the weekend you may have heard something about "chained CPI" and social security benefits. Chained CPI (consumer price index) is an inflation index, one that many folks on both the right and the left have advocated for, both because it is more accurate and because it would reduce the growth in Social Security payments a bit.
Chained CPI came up over the weekend because Democrats lost their leverage. Until this weekend, the Democrats, with the help of their media allies, had portrayed the major stumbling block to a fiscal cliff deal as Republican intransigence on tax hikes for the wealthy. That ended this weekend because Senate negotiators were openly shooting for about a $400,000 threshold for the Bush tax cuts to expire.
In other words, the so-called major stumbling block to a deal was gone and Democrats were worried that the Republicans were starting to look a little "reasonable" to the American public. They hurriedly turned to the old Democratic playbook and came up with a new plan: tell the media that the Republicans were trying to take away Grandma's Social Security.
Here's the thing: although many Senate Republicans would vote for a switch to chained CPI, it wasn't a dealbreaker for their fiscal cliff offer. It wasn't a stumbling block at all. Democrats merely claimed that Republicans were refusing to budge on this "controversial" proposal (which in the past had been supported by many Democrats, including President Obama) and the lapdogs in the media faithfully reported that.
And that's how the Democrats kept their leverage over the weekend. Instead of reporting that a deal was in sight, the media reported that the big bad Republicans were holding middle class tax cuts hostage to cutting Grandma's Social Security.
So the media got played, the American people got rolled. Nothing new there. The only reason it got my attention at all was because it wasn't just the media that took this bait. So too did many conservative commentators.
Aghast that the Senate Republicans would fold on chained CPI (even though it hadn't been part of their program), conservatives had harsh words for Republicans and Republican leadership in the Senate. How dare these Senators, the conservative commentators said, not consider the rejected House plan of Speaker Boehner to be a baseline for any Republican fiscal cliff offer?
Well, obviously the Senators dared because Speaker Boehner's plan was rejected by the House. It, and the things it contained like a switch to chained CPI, cannot serve as a baseline for the Senate Republican negotiation because not even Republicans could pass it. If conservatives had wanted Speaker Boehner's plan, with its $1 million tax cut expiration threshold and its permanent AMT and death tax fixes and its chained CPI to serve as the foundation for Republican negotiations, they probably should have voted for it.
December 30, 2012
Actually we already are and in fact the Federal Government is basically paid for by the top 5%.
And if more than few take their taxes elsewhere we are screwed e.g. France.more...
— Open Blogger US govt source 1
US govt source 2
US govt source 3
- 70,000+ NICS (instant check) rejections/yr
- 4,000+/yr deemed a violation of law and referred for prosecution
- Under 200/yr actually prosecuted
Prosecutions have DECLINED under Obama too.
— DrewM Why would anyone think Reid and Obama want a deal? They are on the verge of total victory.
The GOP's only messaging argument is, the Democrats are meanies.
Mitch McConnell has a brillialnt idea! Call Joe Bidden for help.
McConnell came to the Senate floor and announced hed reached out directly to the White House for help shortly after Democratic aides said negotiations between McConnell (R-Ky.) and Reid (D-Nev.) had suffered a major setback.
Reid said he was stepping back from the talks to allow McConnell and Biden to work.
In his floor remarks, McConnell said he had delivered his latest offer to Democrats shortly after 7 p.m. on Saturday but had not yet received a response. Now, he said, he was appealing directly to Biden.
This is just sad. Remember the Reid-McConnell talks were the result of the Friday session at the White House. Last I checked, Biden is part of the administration, if Obama wanted to be involved he wouldn't have dumped it on Reid and McConnell.
If Reid can't work out a deal with McConnell (again, why would he?), he simply brings Obama's $250K and up hike and the Unemployment Insurance extension up for a vote in the Senate. Then McConnell can filibuster it (or try to, enough GOP Sens might break to pass it) or let it go through on a simple majority vote.
Boehner being the genius he is has already promised to bring up anything the Senate sends over. So the Obama/Reid plan will pass with a majority of Democrats and enough Republicans.
Dems will win the policy fight and the GOP will be shattered politically .
Or....nothing passes and all this happens anyway on Wednesday and everyone can say they are "cutting taxes for 98% of Americans" by returning them to the level they were the day before and for the last 12 years. Yay!
The GOP bet last year Obama would lose reelection. Everything since he won has been about how the GOP wants to get its ass handed to it.
They should have never set up this cliff. The tea party demand of tying a debt hike to spending cuts set this in motion. That was iditotic considering the cuts are going to be mostly from defense and leave entitlements untouched. The mainline GOP accepted the two-year extension on the Bush cuts (it should have either been 1 year or 4 years. 2 years was the worst possible time frame).
As much blame as there is for the GOP the real villains here are the voters. Reelecting Barack Obama was an act of national suicide. There's simply nothing to be done about it now.
UPDATE: After the Reid/McConnell talks broke down both parties held caucus meetings. The GOP's just broke up and they immediately announced they won't seek to save any money from reducing Social Security cost of living adjustments (the chained CPI).
And just like that GOP sens emerge from their meeting saying chained CPI is off the table, "a losing hand," McCain says.
Again, why would Reid/Obama cut a deal when they are getting everything they want?
— DrewM Obama rewarded David Gregory for flouting DC gun laws last week with an exclusive
Following Obama's one-sided version of reality, Speaker of the House John Boehner went in front of the media to whine about Obama.
Americans elected President Obama to lead, not cast blame," Boehner said in a Sunday statement. "The presidents comments today are ironic, as a recurring theme of our negotiations was his unwillingness to agree to anything that would require him to stand up to his own party. Needed cuts and reforms that the president agreed to just last year were no longer on the table, as he cited an inability to sell them to Democrats."
Boehner continued: "Republicans made every effort to reach the balanced deficit agreement that the president promised the American people, while the president has continued to insist on a package skewed dramatically in favor of higher taxes that would destroy jobs. Weve been reasonable and responsible. The president is the one who has never been able to get to 'yes.'"
Shut up Mr. Speaker. Just SHUT UP.
I'd like to Boehner the benefit of the doubt and say this is his plan. The problem is, if it is his plan, it's a piss poor one.
Stop demanding the Obama "lead". He is leading! He won running on a tax hike for earners making $250,000. Does Boehner's idea of "leadership" include Obama unilaterally giving into the GOP even though by saying no to everything he gets what he wants automatically by going over the cliff (and as a bonus, he gets to blame Republicans for it)?
Obama maybe an idiot but he's not that stupid.
I can't tell if Boehner is stupid enough to believe that Obama wants some sort of compromise (spoiler, he doesn't) or he's too stupid to come up with a better counter message than whining like this.
In 1984 Ronald Reagan won with a much bigger mandate than Obama received this time around. Everyone loves to talk about how he a Tip O'Neil were able to come to a deal but that didn't just happen. O'Neil had a plan that involved actually making his case to the American people. So he put Dan Rostenkowski, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on TV to respond to a Reagan speech. "Write Rosty" became a national catchphrase that enabled O'Neil to get in the game.
Boehner wants to follow Obama's lead but the reality is he needs to stop trying to be a follower and become the leader of the opposition. He's clearly not up to the task.
— Gang of Gaming Morons! Afternoon Morons and Ettes! I hope you are enjoying a pleasant weekend with your friends and family.
This being the last Gaming thread of the Year, Game of the Year discussions are fine. Try really hard not to spoil people. For The Walking Dead, that ends next week. With all the GOTY discussion it's been really fascinating to go through everyone's different choices and how it impacted what was My 2012 GOTY.
So yea, GOTY discussions, but be nice about Spoilers.
I've really been enjoying the coverage and podcasts from Giant Bomb this year. Go check out thier show parody videos which were pretty funny. Also if you are a podcaster, all 5 are very good. Fair warning, the videos spoil the podcasts (not terribly, but you know the winners if you watch the vids)
More Gaming Shiz Below the fold more...
— Open Blogger
New Year's Day At AoSHQ
Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to this week's bleary, hungover, and out-of-focus. Sunday Morning Book Thread.
You Know Who Else Has Written a Book?
Moron commenter Oldsailors Poet, that's who. His new book Amy Lynn, just came out last week. According to the Amazon description:
Amy Lynn is the story of the life of a sheltered, unrefined, tomboyish country girl relatively untouched by the culture of the outside world. While growing up in the early 1990's on the outskirts of the small rural town of black Oak Alabama, she learns that honor, virtue and a strong work ethic are not just positive character traits, but a way of survival
This is a story about character, both good and bad, and how it is formed and how it is nurtured. From the intensely personal author's note:
Throughout the years I have met people, wonderful people, that stood by me when I was at my worst, when my life was at it's lowest. I often wondered, who mentored them? Who made them who they are? Why would they waste time with me? But they did, and I am a better man for it.
With this in mind, it appears to me as if this book is Oldsailors Poet's way of paying back a debt that he never really can repay. So, if someone does you a kindness, the only thing you can do do is to pass on that kindness to someone else. And that looks to be precisely what OSP has done by writing his book.
— Dave in Texas Dayum it's cold here today. Even in Houston.
— Open Blogger Bourbon Milk Punch
This is a nice, simple breakfast drink that is a bit more festive than a Bloody Mary. Although...a little more bourbon seems to be in order to cut the richness of the milk (or cream). I haven't figured out where the bacon goes in this recipe, but I'm working on it.
— andy Gun Control's Self-Refuting Arguments
I personally believed in civilian disarmament until an acquaintance in law enforcement challenged my gun-banners assumptions with questions and points I could not rebut. This began a research journey limited only by my decision to exclude any data cited by the NRA. At the time, I was convinced only caring people like the Brady Campaign would present the truth.
Surprisingly (to me, at the time), I found no dataset proving civilian disarmament made anybody safer.
In response to Ezra Kleins report titled Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States, below are eight fictions about gun control.
Oh, did I mention it was a nut stomping of a piece by WaPo wunderkind Juicebox Klein? No? Well that's just an added bonus, so read the whole thing.
This point really jumped out at me:
Fiction 3: Gun Violence
Gun violence is a crafted phrase to induce people into associating guns with violence. Using Ezra Kleins logic, Bradys A-graded, low-gun states should be the safest. But when collated with CDC firearms murder rates, an inconvenient correlation appears: more gun control, higher black homicide, lower Caucasian homicide.
(Crime rates = incidents per 100,000 population.)
One of the unpleasant realizations from my original research was my learning that the history of American gun control is that of racist oppression: banning sales to Indians in order to maintain dominance while grabbing land; ensuring free blacks remained as close to slaves as possible; disarming the Japanese before their internment during World War II.
Modern gun control still makes whites safer, while more blacks get murdered.
Gun control is racist. Tell all your liberal friends. Or acquaintances. Whatever. Also, somebody tell this clown.
Another good read by someone applying logic instead of emotion: A Reluctant Vote in Favor of Armed School Guards
Most Americans agree that dramatic steps must be taken to prevent the recurrence of a horrible event like that of Dec. 14, 2012. Just what steps should be taken is a matter of disagreement. After considerable thought I have sadly concluded that Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, is correct when he advocates for armed security in the country's more than 100,000 schools.
What happened at Sandy Hook was not the failure to plan; it was the failure of the plan. The teachers and administrative staff executed their school district's plan heroically in trying to save lives, some at the loss of their own. Police departments changed their policies after Columbine and now rush to the source of an incident inside a school building at great risk to themselves. But a major flaw in such plans persists to this daynamely that it takes just a few unguarded minutes for a catastrophe to unfold.
It's really not that hard, is it? Like LaPierre said, the only thing that'll stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
The only problem the left really has with this is that the proposal was made by the NRA. When Bill Clinton said largely the same thing after Columbine, it was the most brilliant thing ever.
Journalists and Guns
Lots of fun was had at the HQ this week in pointing out how ignorant journalists are of gun laws. You'd think they'd recognize this deficiency and seek to address it, but you'd be wrong.
@theh2 Approached a MSM bigwig 2 days ago, with suggestion to hire a firearms editor to "proof" stories. No response.— Bob Owens (@bob_owens) December 28, 2012
I wonder, though, whether they're any more ignorant about guns than they are about any other topic in general. It's at this point that a reminder of Michael Crichton's Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect is in order:
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backwardreversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
See also: Ezra Klein.
Gun Of The Week
What's this Semiautomatic Assault Pistol?
— andy Woke up to about 10" of snow outside ... an awesome white Christmas was missed by a matter of days.
I blame the Mayan calendar.
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