Guns Don't Kill People

James Holmes, the detained shooter in our latest national mass murder tradegy, bought four guns from various retailers over the last two months.

Holmes bought his first Glock pistol in Aurora, Colorado, on May 22nd. Six days later, he picked up a Remington shotgun in Denver. About two weeks later, he bought a .223 caliber Smith & Wesson rifle in Thornton, Colorado, and then a second Glock in Denver on July 6th — 13 days before the shooting.

A high-volume drum magazine was attached to the rifle, making that rifle an assault weapon and allowing him to fire 50 to 60 rounds in under sixty seconds.

Led by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congress passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) on September 13 1994 and signed into law by President Clinton the very same day. But the law expired on September 13, 2004. Despite numerous attempts by Senator Feinstein and others in the Democratic leadership, attempts to renew the AWB have all failed because of Republican opposition.

Guns don't kill people, Republican policies do.




Quick Hits

Three U.S. troops died in blasts in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for July to at least 63 and surpassing the previous month's record as the deadliest for American forces in the nearly 9-year-old war. More coverage in the Los Angeles Times.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist leads the three-way race for the U.S. Senate seat with 37 percent, followed by 32 percent for Republican Marco Rubio and 17 percent for Jeff Greene, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In Nevada Senate Race, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle are locked in a dead heat. The new survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows Reid and Angle neck and neck. The Senate majority leader would win 43 percent and Angle 42 percent of support from likely Nevada voters if the election were held now. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points . A July 12-14 Mason-Dixon poll showed Reid 7 points ahead of Angle, 44-37 but Angle has countered with ads blaming the Nevada economy on Reid.

Judicial confirmation rates have nosedived in the Obama Presidency as flibusters, anonymous holds, and other obstructionary tactics have become the rule. The Center for American Progress has the story.

The financial blog Credit Writedowns has more on the report by Fed Governor James Bullard on deflation which I covered yesterday. Their post has a great summation of the situation we face:

In our view the case for deflation is a strong one as most of the classic symptoms are present in the U.S. today. Record historic debt is already in the process of deleveraging, and there is still a long way to go. Consumer demand is restrained. There is an excess of labor supply with five people available for every open job. Capacity utilization rates are historically low. Household net worth is far below peak levels. Credit is available only to the most highly qualified borrowers. Money supply has been flat or decreasing despite massive stimulus. All of this is a classic recipe for deflation. We also believe that there is little the Fed can do to avoid the outcome. Japan kept both short and long-term interest rate exceedingly low for many years and ran massive budget deficits with little to show for it, although they did prevent a complete collapse of their economic and financial system. While there is a difference between the U.S. and Japan, two major differences were in favor of Japan rather than the U.S. During most of Japan’s two-decade malaise the global economy was quite strong and Japan was able to support its economy with a substantial amount of exports. Furthermore, Japan started with a 12% household savings rate and was able to run it down, thereby providing some support for consumer spending.

Michael Whitney over at Firedoglake covers the latest madness from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. Senator Feinstein's “Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act of 2009″ (S. 258) that targets pot brownies and other marijuana edibles preferred by some medical marijuana patients passed the Senate unanimously.

DiFi Pondering

Per the San Jose Mercury News:

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday she will base a decision on whether to run for California governor next year largely on the solutions the announced candidates put forward to deal with the state's fiscal problems.

Polls indicate she would be a heavy favorite if she chooses to run. Feinstein told The Associated Press in a brief interview that she is grateful for that support, but it will not be a significant factor in her decision.

"What does affect it is watching to see what precise programs are put forward by various candidates to handle what is a very serious structural budget deficit in this state," Feinstein said. "It's of major consequence and California is in considerable distress, and there have to be reforms."

Feinstein said she would take a close look at candidates' dedication to enacting their proposals as well as their ability to develop enough support to enact the changes.
The state's Department of Finance is anticipating a $7.4-billion deficit in 2010-11, even after lawmakers enacted deep budget cuts this past summer. Those cuts were so hard to come by that the state had to issue IOUs to continue operating.

Republicans have three candidates running for governor: Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and former congressman Tom Campbell.

Democrats have no announced candidate so far, though Attorney General Jerry Brown has formed an exploratory committee.

Two thoughts cross my mind. One, she and Jerry Brown are close friends. I suspect that if he runs, she won't. Two, she is at the pinnacle of her Senate career and the chair of the Intelligence Committee. If that's not her dream job, I don't know what is.

There's more...

Congress Should Have Been Briefed

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that the Bush Administration should the Congress should have been told about the secret CIA program to kill Al-Qaeda operatives that Vice President Cheney ordered kept undisclosed. Here's the exchange between Senator Feinstein and Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: In our final moments, I want to turn to another subject, and this involves your role, Senator Feinstein, as chair of the Intelligence Committee.

CIA director Panetta briefed you recently on an 8-year-old program that he had stopped but that Congress had never been told about. Now there are reports that Vice President Cheney ordered the CIA not to tell Congress about it.

One, should Congress have been told about this program, which apparently was never fully implemented? And what do you make of the vice president's apparent role in telling the CIA not to brief Congress?

FEINSTEIN: The answer is yes, Congress should have been told. We should have been briefed before the commencement of this kind of sensitive program.

Director Panetta did brief us two weeks ago -- I believe it was on the 24th of June -- said he had just learned about the program, described it to us, indicated that he had canceled it and, as had been reported, did tell us that he was told that the vice president had ordered that the program not be briefed to the Congress. This is...

WALLACE: And what do you think of that?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I think this is a problem, obviously. This is a big problem, because the law is very clear. And I understand the need of the day, which was when America was in shock, when we had been hit in a way we'd never contemplated, where we had massive loss of life, where there was a major effort to be able to respond and -- but this -- see, I don't -- I think you weaken your case when you go outside of the law.

And I think that if the Intelligence Committees had been briefed, they could have watched the program. They could have asked for regular reports on the program. They could have made judgments about the program as it went along. That was not the case because we were kept in the dark. That's something that should never, ever happen again.

CIA Director Leon Panetta briefed Congress about the still classified program on June 24, a day after learning about it and immediately canceling the program. Intelligence sources noted that the program never got off the ground and hadn't been fully instituted.

There's more...

Blessed Are the Gatekeepers

Blessed are the gatekeepers, for theirs is the power to getting things done.

If President-elect Obama thought that changing the way Washington works was going to be a breeze, he got his first lesson in comeuppance with his selection of Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency. His mistake wasn't the choice per se but rather not checking with the gatekeepers, the Washington power brokers pertinent to this decision. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the incoming chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was surprised by the pick and complained that she wasn't consulted. That's one gatekeeper with ruffled feathers. Another gatekeeper not reckoned with, and therefore not terribly amused, was the outgoing chairperson Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Through an aide, the long-serving member of the Intelligence Committee let it be known that while he "has tremendous respect for Leon Panetta" the aide said that Senator Rockefeller "believes the CIA director should go to someone who has significant intelligence experience and someone from outside the political world of Washington DC."

Had these gatekeepers been consulted prior to announcing the selection, I suspect their tone would have been more conciliatory and supportive. Certainly, we would have fewer ruffled feathers.

Even Senator 'for two more weeks' Joe Biden conceded it was a "mistake" in not consulting the Senate's gatekeepers before tapping Leon Panetta to head the CIA.

"I'm still a Senate man and I always think this way," he told reporters in the Capitol. "I think it's always good to talk to the requisite members of Congress."

Yup. It's always good to talk to those blessed gatekeepers. In doing so, President Obama will likely get his way more often than not but ruffle their features by pulling surprises seems like a recipe for not getting things accomplished. Blessed are the gatekeepers, for in their hands is the power of the gavel. Some aspects of Washington, it seems, will never change.

There's more...


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