Archive for category Perspective
Spouses of the furloughed, to Congress: Take them back — please.
By Monica Hesse, Published: October 8
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post - Jeff Gates, who is furloughed from his Smithsonian museum job, asked his wife, Susie Krasnican, to make a sign for him to wear on the Metro when he went to work the four hours before the partial government shutdown occurred last Tuesday. Now, a week later, she has made her own sign.
She told him — and here her husband, Jeff Gates, a Smithsonian employee, joyfully remembers the exact wording — she told him: Pre-shutdown, “you used to be so intellectual.”
Nationwide, 800,000 federal employees were affected by the government shutdown, worrying about jobs, back pay, a sense of purpose. Consider the collateral damage: This means there are approximately 800,000 spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates or otherwise affected parties who have spent the past week worrying about furloughed loved ones. Whether they’re all right. Whether they’re watching all of the TiVo’d “Homeland” alone, when they are supposed to wait until tonight. What, exactly, they’re doing.
Congress, take my spouse back. Please.
“He’s taken pretty much all of the CDs off of the shelves,” E.L. Farris, an author in Northern Virginia, says of her husband, a lawyer who is among the shut down. She is chronicling the experience on her blog.
The moving of the CDs is part of a grand plot to arrange them by genre, then alphabetically, then by subgenre. “It’s becoming a very complicated plan,” Farris says. And it is accompanied by a parallel effort to organize their books according to the Dewey Decimal System.
Then there is “his whole escape plan,” she continues. Which is: After nine years of meaning to, Farris’s husband is compiling a first-class disaster preparedness kit. “He can finally find the time to get to Costco,” she explains. And so water bottles are piled in the basement. “You know those crank-up radios? We apparently need to get another one of those. And batteries. We have enough of those to light up the whole town.”
He is growing, she says, a furlough beard.
The furlough beard, that scourge of the furlough spouse. As the shutdown continues, the hair grows on the faces of housebound government employees around the country. It has become a movement, with a name: “Shaveless Shutdown continues to day 7,” a furloughed employee writes on Twitter. “If this doesn’t end soon, my wife may divorce me.”
The furloughed, according to their spouses, are sometimes not changing out of their pajamas until noon. They are eating all of the cereal or buying weird things for the house.
Some also are becoming industrious: finally cleaning out the storage room, picking up the kids from school, baking furlough desserts. Were it not for the uncertainty of it — the vagueness of when this will end, and whether back pay will come through before the next mortgage payment is due — it could be a lovely thing to have a furloughed spouse at home.
“It feels like an endless weekend,” says Krasnican, an artist who works from home. In good ways and bad. Her husband has been able to explore hobbies and pick up day-to-day slack around the house, but the ambiguity of the shutdown’s duration prevents him from tackling longer-term projects.
And then, of course, he’s talking to the cat.
“You’re not normally together as a couple during the day,” says Rob Maher, boyfriend to a furloughed government contractor. Romantic couples are typically sequestered away from each other for nine to 12 hours every day, locked in cubicles or home offices, free to engage in their daily routines without judgment.
Maher, for example, is a comedian; he works nights and then sleeps until 10 or 11 in the morning. His girlfriend, a government contractor, normally is out of the house by 6 a.m. Due to this schedule, their household has acquired a certain rhythm. Maher is typically in charge of housecleaning. But now that his girlfriend is home because of the shutdown, the natural order of the house has been disrupted. She also has begun cleaning. This is causing guilt and confusion. “If she’s cleaning in front of me, wait, does this mean that I should also be cleaning?” Maher asks. “Or did I not do a good enough job cleaning?”
And when he’s on Twitter, doing promotional stuff for his job, does she think he’s slacking off? Does she realize this is part of his work? “She’s at home, stressed about her future, and how am I helping? I’m making snarky comments online.”
Re: the stress. On Tuesday afternoon, House Republican leaders began pushing for debt-limit negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said his party would be open to negotiations if the House passed measures to reopen the government. President Obama called on Congress to vote and end the shutdown “right now.”
After eight full days of shutdown, is an end in sight?
“I definitely have the ideal furlough husband at home,” says Amy Lupold Bair, a social media marketer whose policy-analyst husband has been dominating household chores for the entirety of the shutdown. He is picking out outfits for their fourth-grade daughter, preparing snacks, assisting with homework — tasks that usually fall to Bair, because she works from home. He is assembling items for Goodwill. The boxes of uncertain contents stacked in the garage? He is unpacking them.
The boxes have been there how long?
“Since always!” Bair says. Since the day they bought their house three years ago and stuck them there.
He is bringing coffee and doughnuts to the office staff at their church, for a midday pick-me-up. He has begun to eye the leaf-laden gutters.
“We’ve joked that I’ve needed staffing for a very long time,” Bair says, so it’s been nice to have him at home.
However, she admits. However. “I can sense that he’s starting to get restless.”
Maybe it is time to get back to work.
- Hundreds of Washington state workers furloughed over shutdown (q13fox.com)
- Government shutdown 2013: Unemployment filed by 24,000 furloughed workers (wjla.com)
- Montana workers furloughed in federal shutdown file for unemployment (billingsgazette.com)
- SRS contractor furloughs 1,400 (thetandd.com)
- Some furloughed employees back to work at Fort Indiantown Gap (fox43.com)
- Federal workers prepare to lose their paychecks (tv.msnbc.com)
- SHUTDOWN REACTION: Furloughed Workers Protest (whotv.com)
- Lockheed Martin Furloughs 3,000 Workers as Shutdown Continues (dailyfinance.com)
- Furloughs ending for ‘most DOD civilians’, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says (al.com)
- Bill to assure pay for furloughed feds hits a snag in the Senate (al.com)
Exclusive Excerpt from: “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!” by Tom Purcell
What’s in a name? Way too much these days where babies are concerned.
Bob Englehart / Hartford Courant
According to The Wall Street Journal, parents are obsessing over what to name their kids. They’re hiring consultants, applying mathematical formulas and software programs and even bringing in nutty spiritualist types.
One couple hired a pair of consultants to draw up a list of suggestions based on “phonetic elements, popularity and ethnic and linguistic origins.”
One woman paid a “nameologist” $350 for three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing each name’s history and personality traits.
Another spent $475 on a numerologist to see if her favorite name had positive associations, whatever the heck that means.
Why the obsession over children’s names? One baby-naming expert says that we live in a market-oriented society. That by giving your kid the right name — the right branding, if you will — he or she will have a head start in life.
Look, I know these parents mean well. I know they’re trying to do what is best for their kids. I know they think a special name will help the rest of the world know how special their kid is.
But they’re doing more harm than good.
Take one couple. Mom and dad went to great lengths to come up with this name: Beckett. The name sounds reliable and stable, says the proud dad. The “C-K” sound is very well regarded in corporate circles, he says. The hard stop forces one to accentuate the syllable, which draws attention to it, he continues.
But he overlooked a very important consideration: Beckett is going to be getting wedgies well into his 40s.
I’m no expert on child rearing, but it seems to me if you want to give your kid a leg up in life, it’s better to give him a simple, traditional name, not one that stands out.
I’m 51, at the tail end of the baby boom, and here are the names of my high school friends: Tom, John, Jeff, Bill, Bob, Rich and Tim. We had one Clint and he has a brother named Reid, but that was as daring as things got in those days. Any of these are good names for boys.
As for girls, why not use my sisters’ names: Kathy, Krissy, Lisa, Mary and Jennifer. How about Lauren, Linda, Elizabeth or Sandy? Or, if you want to get bold, go back a few generations to the early 1900s: Gertrude, Helen, Ruth, Margaret and Beatrice (my grandmother).
The reason is simple. If you really want your kid to be special, a name is not going to do it. Your kid is going to have to earn it. She is going to have to work hard and sacrifice. She’ll have to try and fail and eventually find her place — find whatever she’s good at — and then work harder to develop her talents.
It will be easier to do that if she is humble. And it will be easier for her to be humble if she doesn’t have a name that makes her think she’s precious and special and God’s gift to the universe (such as Nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backward).
It’s nobody’s fault that we’re screwing up kids’ names — we’re screwing up a lot of things. We’re doing it because we’re able to. We’re able to because the American experiment has produced untold wealth — which shifted our focus from trying to subsist, as our parents did, to fretting over what to name our kids.
We have to knock it off, though.
I was lucky my parents named me Tom. That is my dad’s name, too. I knew early on I had to live up to it. With such a name, I never took myself too seriously — I knew I wasn’t the center of anybody’s universe. I turned out half decent as a result. And I never did get a wedgie.
I doubt things would have turned out that well if my name was Michelle or Gilad.
- A Pencil’s Point by Tom Purcell (mbcalyn.com)
- It’s (No Longer) A Jeep Thing by Tom Purcell (mbcalyn.com)
- A Pencil’s Point (athomesense.com)
- Great Minds on Government (athomesense.com)
- Fidel Goes To Confession (athomesense.com)
- Male Baby Names (bestsuccessway.wordpress.com)
- It’s (no longer) a Jeep thing (triblive.com)
- Why ‘Duck’ viewers flock (triblive.com)
- Purcell police send trespassing rattlesnake to jail (kfor.com)
- INVINCIBLE x CONVERSE First String Jack Purcell Johnny (freshnessmag.com)
NEARLY HALF OF U.S. JOBS COULD BE DONE BY COMPUTERS, STUDY SAYS
If computers become as smart as humans, will they do our jobs better than we can?
The study, based on 702 detailed job listings, found that computers could already replace many workers in transportation and logistics, production labor and administrative support.
But computers, armed with the ability to find patterns in big data sets, are also increasingly qualified to perform “non-routine cognitive tasks.”
“While computerization has been historically confined to routine tasks involving explicit rule-based activities, algorithms for big data are now rapidly entering domains reliant upon pattern recognition and can readily substitute for labor in a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks,” write study authors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.
Software already provides medical diagnoses and does legal research, for example.
To be clear, the study doesn’t predict, based on economics, whether more jobs will be automated, but rather, whether they could.
And it suggests that, notwithstanding smarter algorithms, the jobs most vulnerable to being given to a computer in the near future will be the lowest paying.
“The authors do not claim 47 percent of total U.S. employment will be lost as a result of computerization. They only argue that 47 percent of U.S. employees are in occupations that are at risk as a result of computerization,” Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution, told Singularity Hub.
The economic effects of automation nevertheless remain uncertain because of the number of variables in play: possible regulation, the relative costs of labor and computing power, and whether or not workers receive additional training to move into new jobs.
Technological progress has always caused turbulence in the labor market, Burtless said, regularly foreclosing particular areas of work. But workers eventually land in other occupations. How long “eventually” takes also depends on how healthy the overall economy is and whether labor markets were prepared for the changes.
Just as the invention of the automobile squelched all the jobs building horse-drawn buggies, driving buggies and crafting whips for buggy drivers, they also opened up highly paid jobs building cars, economists inevitably point out. (Of course many of those jobs have since been given to robots.)
Computers are better at certain types of jobs, like those the Oxford study identifies as at immediate risk. Those jobs are largely entry-level office jobs. Displaced workers mostly have to move down into lower paying jobs because they can’t move up, Autor and Dorn argue. In this way, technological progress has contributed to the gap between the rich and the poor without reducing the total number of jobs in the United States.
Benedikt and Osborne say automation will return to eating the lowest-paying, rather than middle-income, jobs because computers continue to lack social intelligence. But that still doesn’t mean the workers they replace won’t find new jobs, Autor told Singularity Hub.
“It could certainly be that ‘this time is different’ — computers are ‘more human’ than cars, after all — but the burden of proof is on the ‘it’s a serious threat to employment’ camp to show why this era is exceptional, and to present any meaningful evidence that technological change has reduced net employment even in this decade,” Autor said.
It seems, then, the effects of artificial intelligence in the workplace will likely be complicated but not catastrophic.
Studies that point to which jobs are at risk can help make sense of the economic dust storms in the forecast, Burtless suggested.
The Oxford study is useful because it points toward “the occupational areas where technical progress in the form of computerization has the potential effect of reducing or boosting the demand for workers,” he said.
- Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Could Be Done by Computers, Study Says (singularityhub.com)
- 47% of US jobs under threat from computerization according to … (gizmag.com)
- Quantum Computers, Artificial Intelligence and the Singularity (nextbigfuture.com)
- Elysium and the Transhumanist Movement (sarcasticny.wordpress.com)
- Eric: Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us? – We Live in the Future – Medium (medium.com)
- ActivistPost – Nicolas West – Dawn Of The Singularity: Superheroes of Science To Rescue Humanity From Itself? – 23 September 2013 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)
- Artificial Intelligence (drbadfish.wordpress.com)
- 33rd Square | Bruce Sterling Says The Singularity Has No Business Model (33rdsquare.com)
- Half of all U.S. jobs will be automated, but what opportunities will be created? (smartplanet.com)
- New UM Cyber Innovation Lab will teach about security, ‘big data’ (missoulian.com)
Why the Poor Don’t Work, According to the Poor
· SEP 23, 2013
Conservative Republicans have officially made it their mission to end food stamps as we know them. Such was evident last week, when the House GOP voted to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps are now known, by $39 billion over a decade and begin bulking up its work requirements, along the lines of welfare reform in the 1990s.
Whether you believe this a good or humane idea probably boils down to your take on a single question: why don’t the poor, who make up the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients, go to work? In 2012, more than 26 million 18-to-64-year-old adults lived under the poverty line; about 15 million of them didn’t have a job during the year. Is the economy to blame? Or are personal choices at fault?
If you’re a liberal, your answer is probably pretty cut and dry, and these days likely involves the word “recession.” But conservatives tend to take a different view. They argue that whereas unemployment among middle class families rises and falls with the health of the job market, poverty is shaped and fueled mostly by cultural forces, that the poor could work if they wanted, and that the safety net lulls them into indolence. One of their key data points on this front comes from the Census. Each year, the bureau asks jobless Americans if they’ve been out of work. And traditionally, a only a small percentage of impoverished adults actually say it’s because they can’t find employment, a point that New York University professor Larry Mead, one of the intellectual architects of welfare reform, made to Congress in recent testimony.
In 2007, for instance, 6.4 percent of adults who lived under the poverty line and didn’t work in the past year said it was because they couldn’t find a job. As of 2012, it had more than doubled, leaving it at a still-small 13.5 percent. By comparison, more than a quarter said they stayed home for family reasons and more than 30 percent cited a disability.
As you might expect, the are some big differences between the genders on this front. Women are far more likely than men to cite family. Men are more likely to cite their inability to find a job.
To me, these are the sorts of numbers that raise more questions than they answer. Are women staying home because they prefer to be mothers, or because they can’t find jobs that pay enough to make working a financially viable choice, once the cost of family care is factored in? Are youngish retirees really choosing to leave the workforce early, or are they cashing in their social security benefits prematurely because they’re out of other options? Of the 1.2 million adult men who said they couldn’t hunt down work, how many really couldn’t find any job, and how many couldn’t find a job they wanted? Of the millions of apparently impoverished college students in the country, how many are essentially living on loans or their Pell Grants? You get the idea.
If you do choose to take the Census figures at face value, though, I think there are a couple of lessons. First, the recession changed poverty to some extent. More of the non-working poor claim they cannot find a job than at any point in the past two decades. Given that there are three unemployed Americans for every job opening, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Second, the poor who choose not to work aren’t necessarily doing so out of laziness, but because they have other obligations: they’re trying to take care of relatives, they’re ill, or they’re attempting to make their way through school.
And taking away their meal tickets won’t fix any of those problems.
- Want to Move Kids Out of Poverty? Then Protect the Middle Class – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic (theatlantic.com)
- Why the Poor Don’t Work, According to the Poor (theatlanticcities.com)
- Why the Poor Don’t Work, According to the Poor (theatlantic.com)
- The final triumph of welfare reform – Salon.com (salon.com)
- Family Research Council: ‘Nothing more Christian’ than food stamp cuts (rawstory.com)
- 4 million more people would be poor if it weren’t for food stamps (washingtonpost.com)
- Cornel West rips GOP: Vote to cut food stamps ‘morally obscene and spiritually profane’ (rawstory.com)
- Media ‘neutrality’ lets Republican lies thrive in food stamp vote coverage (dailykos.com)
- ‘Afghanistan War Veteran Slams Republicans For Cutting Food Stamps In Epic Letter’ (thelastofthemillenniums.wordpress.com)
- House Republicans: Huge farm subsidies for me, no food stamps for you (dailykos.com)
Making Sense, by Michael Reagan
The Idiots Against Guns in the media and Congress overdid it this time.
Not wanting to miss a chance to politicize a shooting tragedy, the anti-gun nuts went berserk Monday when news broke that a man had gone on a rampage at a D.C. naval base and killed 12 people.
Rick McKee / Augusta Chronicle
Long before the facts were known or clear, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and their liberal cousins launched their latest gun-control jihad.
Seizing on an early report from the scene that Aaron Alexis used an AR-15 assault rifle, the Idiots Against Guns pulled out their hymnbooks and sang their favorite tune all day.
Forget the madman who pulled the trigger.
It was the evil AR-15 assault rifle that was responsible for his killing spree. And here was the latest proof that this demonic weapon of death should be banned by the federal government.
We now know the killer didn’t buy an AR-15 in Virginia, legally or illegally.
We know he didn’t pick up an AR-15 during his rampage.
And we now know the AR-15 never existed.
But the nonexistent AR-15 proved to be a godsend to the liberal media and the professional gun-grabbers in Congress.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin were at the top of their political game. They leaped in front of the TV cameras, blamed the slaughter on a “military assault rifle” and called for more gun control almost before the blood of the victims stopped flowing.
In the media, CNN won worst prize. It was so hung up on pushing the AR-15 angle that on Tuesday, after the FBI reported Alexis had used a shotgun to do his killing, CNN’s “journalists” invented a new weapon, the “AR-15 shotgun.”
Meanwhile, Monday night’s performance by Piers Morgan was pathetic.
CNN’s prime-time hysteric was so irrational, so emotionally revved up about the AR-15 being to blame for yet another mass shooting, he could barely blather about America’s need for greater gun control or interrupt his guests.
You’d think charter members of Idiots Against Guns like Morgan, Durbin and the editorial writers at The Washington Post would know by now to get the basic facts of a shooting straight before they begin politically exploiting these tragedies.
But that assumes they are interested in finding truth, not spreading propaganda. Facts and nuance and complexity mean nothing to the IAG crowd.
All mass shooting are the same to them. It’s always the guns that are to blame, not the troubled humans who pull their triggers.
And their simplistic solution to stop future mass shootings is always to call for new laws to ban military-style guns like the AR-15.
But whatever we do, we’ll never stop every mass shooting. I’ve said before, as one of my father’s Secret Service men once told me, “You can’t defend against the crazies.”
Alexis in Navy Yard, as well as Holmes in Aurora, Harris at Columbine, and many other mass shooters, were crazies. They each had serious mental problems.
Did they turn violent because they were naturally psychotic, or were they twisted by the side effects of the powerful anti-depressant drugs they were taking?
Could their rampages have been prevented by better medical care, better ways to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, more armed guards in public places, or by ending the gun-free zones that attract young men bent on mass murder?
I don’t know if any of these common-sense methods would prevent or reduce future mass shootings. The Idiots Against Guns in government and the mainstream media obviously don’t know, either.
But they don’t want to find out. For them it’s always the gun that’s to blame — even when it doesn’t exist.
- FBI: No AR-15 Used in Navy Yard Shooting. (ammoheads.com)
- FBI denies claims that AR-15 used in Naval Yard shooting (640whlo.com)
- Some of Piers Morgan’s bogus AR-15 claims go down the Twitter memory hole (twitchy.com)
- AR-15: Anti-Gun Narrative Blows Up In Face of CNN, Daily News (breitbart.com)
- Video: Piers Morgan and the scourge of the AR-15 shotgun, or something; Update: FBI confirms no AR-15 used in Navy Yard shooting (hotair.com)
- UPDATE: IT GETS WORSE…Piers Morgan wrongfully claimed Naval yard shooter bought AR-15 in Virginia… (therightscoop.com)
- Even If the Navy Yard Shooter Did Not Use an AR-15, His Crime Shows Why AR-15s Should Be Banned (reason.com)
- Gun-grabbing media’s narrative crumbles: Navy Yard shooting suspect reportedly ‘NOT armed with AR-15′ (twitchy.com)
- FBI denies claims that AR-15 used in Naval Yard shooting (schnittshow.com)
- Media Buries Psychiatric Drug Connection to Navy Shooter (rinf.com)
Dems split on new gun control push – The Hill – covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill | TheHill.com
Dems split on new gun control push
Congressional Democrats are divided on whether to renew their push for gun control in the wake of Monday’s deadly shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
Hours after Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Tuesday called for action on gun legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he won’t seek a new vote.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who aggressively pushed his background check bill earlier this year, is skeptical that the upper chamber will revisit his measure.
As reports emerged that a former Navy reservist with a history of mental illness had fatally shot a dozen people, it appeared to give fresh impetus to the move for more gun control.
“It should be a call to action,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), an outspoken advocate of gun control legislation after the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his state.
Durbin, who is Reid’s top deputy, suggested on Tuesday morning that a measure to expand background checks — which the Senate defeated in April — might have prevented the shooting.
“God forbid this becomes so commonplace we don’t stop and reflect and think about how to avoid it in the future,” he said. “I hope some members will reconsider their opposition.”
Democrats, however, facing tough reelections showed little inclination to shift their positions.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said he wants to wait until investigators have finished their work before reevaluating his opposition on background checks.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) avoided questions about his stance on gun control legislation.
Pryor and Begich voted against expanding background checks earlier this year. The other two Democrats who voted “no” were Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.).
The FBI on Tuesday said that Aaron Alexis, whom police have identified as the sole gunman, entered the Navy Yard with a single shotgun before killing a dozen people. Alexis purchased the gun lawfully in Virginia, the FBI said, adding that there is no information to suggest he had an assault rifle. Alexis was killed soon after he opened fire.
Some Democrats may have been chastened by the results of an election earlier this month in Colorado, where voters recalled two state senators who supported tougher restrictions on firearms. The development was especially alarming for the left because pundits say the state has been trending blue in recent years.
A Senate Democratic aide said some in his party don’t want to talk about guns.
“Do vulnerable Democrats want to see this issue on the radar again? Probably not,” said the aide.
But the staffer said Pryor and Begich could attempt to spin the issue to their advantage by defying President Obama and the Democratic leadership.
Gun control advocates tried to use Monday’s shooting to build fresh political support for their cause.
“Our message to federal and state legislators: Strengthen and expand background checks for gun purchases and ban the military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines so frequently used by mass killers,” said the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in a statement.
Manchin, who co-sponsored a measure earlier this year with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to expand background checks, told reporters that he has no plans to rush his bill back to the floor.
He said he did not know whether the Manchin-Toomey proposal would receive another vote during the 113thCongress, and tried to dispel the label that it’s a gun control effort.
“It’s not gun control,” he told reporters. “This is gun sense — nothing to do about gun control.”
Manchin said he first wants to be sure it will get 60 votes — enough to overcome a filibuster.
“We just have to have the support for it,” he said.
It is clear that Democrats in both the House and Senate are focused on fiscal matters at the moment. And Monday’s shooting will not affect the legislative calendar.
Toomey issued a statement offering little guidance on the path forward.
“The Senate spoke on this issue and we came up five votes short. It is unclear if [Monday’s] tragedy changes the atmosphere sufficiently to yield a different outcome,” he said.
Reid signaled Tuesday he is not eager to revive a debate that roiled his caucus five months ago.
“We’re going to move this up as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to have the votes first,” he told reporters. “We don’t have the votes. I hope we get them, but we don’t have them now.”
Monday’s shooting raised speculation that Senate Democrats could attempt to move legislation narrowly tailored to addressing mental illness as a cause of gun violence.But Reid said it is not possible to address mental illness without expanding background checks.
“No you can’t, you have to have background checks,” he said.
Reid argued Tuesday that Republicans and the gun rights lobby are primarily responsible for the legislative impasse on firearms.
“I’ve talked to people consistently and the thing that bothers me is the number of Republicans who say, ‘Yeah, we know you’re right but we can’t do anything about it,’ ” he added, referring to the power of the National Rifle Association and other groups.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the assault weapons ban, which received only 40 votes this spring, said she wants to see Reid bring gun violence legislation back up for a vote.
“I’d be happy if he did. I’m not going to tell him he should because I don’t want another loss,” she said. “If I can find 20 people who want to change their minds, I’m ready to go.”
- Senate stays still on gun politics (politico.com)
- Navy Yard Shooting Revives Calls to Expand Gun Checks – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Top House Dem: Gun lobby likely to block new laws (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Dems call for renewed gun debate…but is this time different? (tv.msnbc.com)
- Gun legislation remains stalled after Washington shootings (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- Mental Health Legislation, Not Gun Control, Focus of Congress After Navy Yard Shooting (usnews.com)
- The next gun control debate – in 6 charts (washingtonpost.com)
- Capitol Hill Renews Calls For Gun Control (radio.foxnews.com)
- Diminishing Returns: Why the D.C. Shooting Won’t Lead to New Gun Laws (theatlanticwire.com)
- Colorado Recall Stifles Stalled Gun Control Efforts, Advocates Say (huffingtonpost.com)
Another massacre, another cry of despair
People hold their hands to their heads as they are escorted out of the building where a gunman was reported at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. At least one gunman opened fire inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday morning.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Let’s not rush to conclusions.
Nobody is sure quite yet what led to the massacre on Monday of at least 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.
The killer could have been a homegrown terrorist. He could have been a nut.
Yes, that certainly seems like a sensible thing for a newspaper editorial to say.
But wait. We said that just five months ago, on April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Remember that one? Three people were killed and 264 people were injured.
Then how about this:
Monday’s shootings should shake America to its core. This is the moment to commit to ending America’s horrific gun violence. For how much longer will the Second Amendment trump all, leaving us defenseless and despondent? Is the best we can hope for luck — that the next shooting doesn’t hit our school, our street corner or mall?
No, sorry. We said that on Dec. 14, 2012, the day of the massacre at a grade school in Newtown, Conn.
Remember that one? Twenty children and six adults were killed.
So how about this:
Many commentators in the next few days will float the simple-minded but comforting notion that Monday’s massacre was the work of a “bad apple” — a monster produced entirely outside the American cultural mainstream.
That was precisely the cheap, instant analysis offered by many, in fact, when two teenagers went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo., on April 20, 1999. At first, the two teens were portrayed as swastika-wearing racists who belonged to an alienated gang called the Trench Coat Mafia. It would be years before a more accurate profile of the killers — they were chillingly more mainstream — emerged.
But wait yet again. We said all that already, too, two days after the July 20, 2012, massacre in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.
Remember that one? Twelve people were killed.
And, for that matter, remember Columbine? Twelve students and a teacher were killed.
We could go on, but you get our point and we don’t want to sound flip.
We are angry. And despairing.
The massacres keep coming. The morgues keep filling. The families of the victims keep crying. This president or that president keeps offering soft words of comfort and tough words of resolve.
“Whoever carried out this cowardly act” will be held responsible, President Obama said Monday, as he has said before.
And nothing gets better.
The dead gunman in the Navy Yards shooting has been identified as Aaron Alexis, 34, a former avionics electrician with the U.S. Navy. He reportedly had been arrested at least twice previously: once in Seattle for malicious mischief and once in Fort Worth for discharging a firearm in public.
Got that? He was picked up on a firearms violation.
And yet does anybody doubt that Alexis had no trouble at all obtaining the guns he used in Monday’s shooting?
Our cult of the gun continues. Our gun laws remain a joke. The daily carnage on our streets goes on.
At some point, all this hand-wringing in the wake of every new massacre had better lead to real action — beginning, as we always argue, with stricter gun laws — or please file away this editorial and give it another read in another week or another month or another year.
Every word will still be true and we’ll all still be spitting into the wind.
- Another massacre, another cry of despair (suntimes.com)
- Should Media Give Mass Shooter The Spotlight? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Washington Navy Yard Shooting: Friends and relatives speak of ‘nice guy’ gunman (telegraph.co.uk)
- US Navy Yard Shooting: How did Washington killer get security pass? (dnaindia.com)
- Navy Yard area reopens as investigators search for clues to massacre – Washington Post (washingtonpost.com)
- Charts: Half the deadliest shootings in U.S. history happened in past six years (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- ‘Columbine’ Author Dave Cullen Criticizes Media’s Handling Of Mass Shootings (freshwaddabrooks.com)
- Video: Eye Opener: Investigators search for a motive in Navy Yard massacre (cbsnews.com)
- Washington Navy Yard Shooting: Motive for massacre is still a mystery (walesonline.co.uk)
- Washington Navy Yard Shooting: Motive for massacre is still a mystery (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
Exclusive Excerpt from: “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!”
Now is a good time to revisit the 1958 essay in which Leonard Read examined how a pencil is made — and how it is miraculous that a pencil is made at all.
The standard pencil begins when a cedar is cut down. Ropes and gear tug it onto the bed of a truck or a rail car.
Paul Zanetti / Cagle Cartoons
Think of all the numberless people and skills involved in mining ore to produce steel and refine the steel into saws, axes and motors, wrote Read.
Think of all the people who grow hemp, then transform it, through various stages, into a strong rope.
Think of the untold thousands of people who produce the coffee the loggers drink!
The logs are shipped to a mill and cut into slats. The slats are kiln-dried, tinted, waxed, then kiln-dried again.
How many skills were needed to produce the tint and the kilns, Read wondered. What about the electric power? What about the belts, motors and other parts at the mill?
The pencil slats are shipped to a factory. A complex machine cuts grooves into each. A second machine lays lead into every other slat. Glue is applied. Two slats are sealed together as one, then cut into lengths that form pencils.
The lead alone is complex, he explains. It’s not really lead. To produce it, graphite is mined in Ceylon. The graphite is packed and shipped, then mixed with clay from Mississippi. It is treated with wetting agents — such as sulfonated tallow, which is formed when animal fats chemically react with sulfuric acid.
The pencil receives six coats of lacquer. Lacquer has numerous ingredients, including castor oil. Think of all the chemists needed to create the paint — think of all the castor bean growers needed to produce, refine and ship the oil.
The brass end that holds the eraser in place is a marvel. Miners need to first extract zinc and copper from the earth. Experts transform those materials into sheet brass, which is then cut, stamped and affixed to the pencil.
That brings us to the eraser. It is made from “factice,” wrote Read, a rubber-like product that is produced by rapeseed oil from the Dutch East Indies reacting with sulfur chloride.
To be sure, an awe-inspiring amount of work goes into producing a pencil. Millions of people collaborate to produce it — millions ply their unique trades and skills — yet they have no idea they are collaborating.
Each is merely exchanging his small piece of know-how for the money he needs to buy the goods and services he wants, wrote Read.
More amazing is this: No one person is capable of making a pencil. Not even the president of the pencil company.
No one person could possibly manage the millions of people — and the millions of decisions they freely make — who produce the ingredients that become a pencil.
Despite the absence of a mastermind, billions of pencils are made every year. They’re produced with such humdrum efficiency that every one of us takes pencils for granted.
The pencil, explained Read, is the triumph of human freedom — a triumph of creative human energies spontaneously responding to human necessity and desire.
There never was a need for a presidential commission on the production of pencils.
Without one government program, the need for pencils arose. Without any meddling from an Ivy League bureaucrat, the pencil was invented, produced and sold — the demand for pencils was met.
It is a folly for any man, or group of men, to think of producing something as incredibly complex as a pencil. How much harder must it be to produce a car — one that consumers will want to buy, anyhow?
Read concluded his essay with this advice: The best thing our government can do is leave our creative energies uninhibited — remove the obstacles that prevent human creativity and innovation from flowing freely.
Not create more obstacles by using taxpayer dough to take over a private company.
Thank goodness our government hasn’t taken over any pencil companies yet. It would be that much more costly and difficult to write to our congressmen.
- I, Pencil (theburningplatform.com)
- Sharpening this pencil produces rainbows (adriennesimons.wordpress.com)
- Making a Pencil Holder – A lesson learned (artscottme.wordpress.com)
- Turn Drawings Into Sound With the Drawdio Musical Pencil (makezine.com)
- I had about 30 pencils to ship today so I went to the Beacon post office and got in line directly… (howtosharpenpencils.tumblr.com)
- My Studio Week (artscottme.wordpress.com)
- Loving pencils (kottke.org)
- Review: Faber-Castell “Dessin 2001″ (mypencilsdrawworlds.wordpress.com)
- Pencil Pilot’s Background (pencilpilotshq.wordpress.com)
- I, Pencil (joseywales1965.wordpress.com)
George Zimmerman Is Taken into Custody After His Estranged Wife Calls 911 On Him
George Zimmerman was taken into custody Monday after what the police are calling a “domestic altercation with his wife and her father at a home in Lake Mary, Florida.”
Shellie Zimmerman called 911, and the police found a gun in the home.
“As of right now, (George Zimmerman) has been placed in investigative detention,” Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson said, according to , who also reported that Hudson explained that this is procedure when they suspect someone of doing something.
ABC reports that George Zimmerman is being held at a family residence. “There was some kind of a domestic, we know that with his wife and father-in-law. Apparently there were some weapons involved and threats,” the deputy police chief in Lake Mary told .
Kelly Sims, Shellie Zimmerman’s attorney, told ABC that George pulled a gun on Shellie and her father.
Zimmerman has not been charged with a crime.
“Domestic altercation”/”Domestic” is often police code for one person who may or may not still be a domestic partner perpetrating violence on their partner. It should be called what it is, as it would be in any other crime. We don’t call robbery a wallet altercation.
In the August 29th article, I explained that leaving is the most dangerous time for a woman leaving an abusive, controlling partner. Shellie had left George the night before he killed Trayvon.
Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce just days ago, and the police have already been called via 911. This man is going to kill someone else. It’s just a matter of time.
- George Zimmerman taken into custody after allegedly threatening estranged wife with gun (myfox8.com)
- Zimmerman, wife say the other was aggressor (bostonherald.com)
- Breaking: George Zimmerman Being Questioned By Police After Pulling Knife And Gun On His Wife (madamenoire.com)
- George Zimmerman In Police Custody After Allegedly Pulling Gun On Estranged Wife (buzzfeed.com)
- George Zimmerman arrested in Florida after domestic fight (fox43.com)
- Police have George Zimmerman in custody (abcactionnews.com)
- George Zimmerman reportedly pulled a knife, gun, on wife and father-in-law (rollingout.com)
- George Zimmerman In Custody After Gun Incident (1045wfla.com)
- George Zimmerman In Custody After Gun Incident (640whlo.com)
- Zimmerman’s Estranged Wife: He Threatened Me With A Gun (wjhg.com)