Tag Archives: Ben Armbruster

An Invitation From Their Cold, Dead Hands

Matt Schneider at Mediaite:

On a smaller platform than some may have hoped, President Obama wrote an op-ed in today’s Arizona Daily Star launching his intention to tackle serious and “common sense” gun control. Two months after the Tucson, Arizona shooting tragedy, Obama seems to be searching for middle ground on the issue in an effort to protect “our children’s futures.”Obama first reaffirmed he has no intention of confiscating guns:

Now, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. . . . And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners – it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

And Obama discussed his awareness of how difficult it will be to approach an issue that both sides feel so passionately about:

I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country.

Then Obama outlined a few practical beginning steps, including “enforcing laws that are already on the books,” strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, rewarding states that provide the best data, and making the background check system “faster and nimbler” so that criminals can’t escape it.

Jacob Sullum at Reason:

In an Arizona Daily Star op-ed piece (which Jesse Walker noted this morning), President Obama urges “an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks” in response to the Tucson massacre. But since there is no reason to think such a system would have stopped Jared Lee Loughner from buying a gun, this recommendation seems like a non sequitur (as gun control proposals often do).

Obama regrets that “a man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.” But people who are rejected for military service or thrown out of community college are still allowed to own firearms, and Obama does not propose changing the factors that disqualify people from buying guns. As for his description of Loughner as “a man apparently bent on violence,” that is true mainly in retrospect; the school officials and police officers who encountered him prior to his crime seem to have viewed him more as a nuisance than a menace. In any case, Loughner was never “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to a mental institution,” which would have made his gun purchase illegal.

In short, the president’s solution would not have stopped Loughner, and it would not stop similar assailants in the future. Yet Obama not only says the current system of background checks is “supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun”; he claims beefing up the system (primarily by incorporating more state data regarding disqualifying criteria) “will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.” Which is worse: that Obama believes this (assuming he does) or that he expects us to believe it?

Jennifer Epstein at Politico:

The National Rifle Association is declining to meet with the Obama administration to discuss gun control, signaling that the nation’s largest gun lobby isn’t willing to come to the table on a Democratic president’s terms.

“Why should I or the NRA go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, in an interview with The New York Times on Monday. He cited Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — the latter of whom has little to do with gun policy — as examples.

Jim Hoft at The Gateway Pundit

Weasel Zippers:

Or as Obama would call them, “bitter folks clinging to their guns and religion.”

Ben Armbruster at Think Progress:

However, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre immediately rejected that offer. “Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” he asked, adding, “It shouldn’t be a dialogue about guns; it really should be a dialogue about dangerous people.”

Putting aside LaPierre’s posturing on the Second Amendment, it’s telling the NRA is not willing to state a substantive disagreement with Obama. The Post reported:

LaPierre said he favored much of what Obama endorsed in his op-ed, but he charged that the president was targeting gun ownership for political reasons rather than addressing the “underlying issue” of “madmen in the streets.”

The NYT similarly reported:

Despite his opposition to joining the administration’s table, by his comments in an interview Mr. LaPierre sounded at times like the White House.

Echoing NRA arguments, an Obama administration official told the NYT they want to redefine the gun debate to “focus on the people, not the guns” and they want to “begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books.” Nevertheless, the NRA is unwilling to be appeased.

So why is Wayne LaPierre misrepresenting Obama’s views and rejecting his olive branch? Since everyone seems to agree on a path forward, the answer seems to be quite clear: money and self-preservation. Since President Obama took office, the NRA has benefitedsignificantly in increased membership, due primarily to baseless and unfounded fears actively promoted by NRA officials, supporters and sympathizers, that Obama wants to eliminate the Second Amendment and take away everyone’s guns.

The NRA tells its members not to believe Obama when he says he supports the Second Amendment. It’s no wonder then that rank-and-file NRA members think Obama wants to “get rid of all the guns,” “has no respect for the country,” is “an idiot,” and “anti-American.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Guns, Political Figures

Bill’s Excellent Adventure


Top Of The Ticket in La Times:

Finally, the Obama administration has figured out how to take advantage of former President Clinton‘s skills as a savvy political negotiator. We hope.

The 42nd president landed today in North Korea to negotiate the release of the two American journalists who were arrested in March while trying to report on the trafficking of women along the China-North Korea border. Working for Al Gore’s Current TV — a cable television network that allows viewers to contribute stories — Laura Ling and Euna Lee were convicted in June of “grave crimes” and sentenced to 12 years in the notorious North Korean labor camps.

The Obama administration considered sending other envoys, according to the Washington Post, which quoted Asian expert Chris Nelson as saying Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was on the short list. Others had no doubt lobbied for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who negotiated the release of other Americans from oppressive regimes. Some even thought Al Gore, Clinton’s vice president, might have been a logical choice. CNN reports the North Koreans vetoed them.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner:

Statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

“While this solely private mission to secure the release of two Americans is on the ground, we will have no comment. We do not want to jeopardize the success of former President Clinton’s mission.”

Patricia Murphy in Politics Daily:

The New York Times reports that the former president flew yesterday to North Korea in an unmarked jet and was greeted on the Pyongyang tarmac by both a young Korean girl, bearing a bouquet of white flowers, as well as North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan. The presence of the negotiator raised hopes that Clinton would also be able to open a dialogue about the North’s escalating nuclear program. In May, the government conducted its second nuclear test and then launched several ballistic missiles. The journalists’ capture was seen as a part of an overall campaign to force the West into engagement.

Oliver Willis

Jason Zengerle in TNR:

I’m sure the North Koreans would have pressed the nuclear issue with any visiting American representative, but the fact that the rep is Clinton–former president and husband of the current Secretary of State–does make this a bigger gamble for the Obama administration. After all, not many people would have believed the U.S. was rewarding bad behavior if it was Bill Richardson making this visit to Pyongyang.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

If Bill Clinton can secure the release of the two women taken hostage by the regime in Pyongyang, it will be fantastic news, and worth every awkward “Bill Clinton Goes to North Korea for Women” headline.

Still, one can’t help but wonder how the Secretary of State feels at this moment. First her duties are limited by a slew of special envoys; now her husband is given responsibility for the most tense and dramatic diplomatic mission of this young presidency.

Taylor Marsh

Jules Crittenden:

It would be fun to make him watch some Marilyn Monroe flicks with Dear Geezer, too, lots of good American presidential immorality irony there, maybe with the “Happy Birthday Mr President” footage as a short before the main feature, only Beloved Bouffant’s been a little sickly lately and might not up to a movie marathon. Too bad, because Glorious Safari Suit’s so … ronery. One thing Bill, just because you’re out of the country, someplace where no one knows you, don’t, whatever you do …

[…] The United States, as reported at the NYT link above, is eager to avoid linkage between the release of the captured journos and any of the other myriad issues. Good luck with that. And Bill’s track record in negotiations with the Norks … not so good. Last time, they got the aid and the nukes. However, it may be that giving them Bill to play with for a while will satisfy them. Hope so. As ill-advised as skulking around the North Korean border is, the Gore news agency in sending Laura Ling and Euna Lee into harm’s way was at least trying to address a real menace to the planet.

UPDATE: NK pardons the journalists



The Corner

UPDATE #2: Allah Pundit:

Normally I’d dismiss the idea of Clinton apologizing for the crime of journalism as North Korean propaganda, but after today’s betrayal of democracy, I’m not so sure. Exit question one: The media’s bound to greet this with another round of “Hillary marginalized!” stories, but isn’t it better that Obama sent a private citizen than the secretary of state? The difficulty here was giving Kim enough to get the journalists back without giving him so much that it would sacrifice the prestige of the U.S. government. Having the head of the State Department jet off to Pyongyang to beg for mercy would have been humiliating. Having the Clenis do it — well, who cares? Exit question two: Any hawk worth his or her salt will bristle at the thought of Kim being “rewarded” for kidnapping journalists with a state visit by a former C-in-C, but isn’t that perfectly consistent with our North Korea policy? They’re a major threat to launch a regional war but they’re also oddly easily placated by sporadic attention (and food assistance, natch) from the United States. A state visit every 10-12 years to keep Kim stable-ish and out of our hair seems like a bargain as a way to buy time until the regime eventually implodes.

Fred Kaplan in Slate

UPDATE #3: Ben Armbruster at Think Progress

John Podhoretz in Commentary

Michael Crowley at TNR

UPDATE #4: James Joyner

UPDATE #5: Daniel Drezner and David Frum on Bloggingheads

1 Comment

Filed under Global Hot Spots, Political Figures

The Cable News Wars Will Tear This Country Apart

Chuck Todd at MSNBC:

*** On the Glenn Becks and Howard Beales: The White House doesn’t want to give Glenn Beck a bigger platform or extra oxygen — especially regarding his remark yesterday that the president has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” — so they won’t comment, even off record. Beck, after all, is a radio DJ who somehow ended up getting a national platform to give his opinion on politics. What’s most amazing about this episode is that what Beck said isn’t a fireable or even a SUSPENDABLE offense by his bosses. There was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs. But not anymore; if anything, it’s now encouraged. And all of this could turn ACTUAL journalists into the next Howard Beales. It’s getting nuts that the folks who are creating the perception of an ideological/polarized media world are people who have never really spent their lives being journalists. Whether it’s former political consultants-turned-TV execs or former radio DJs, or former California socialites, the folks helping to accelerate the public’s perception of the media off a cliff made their livings trying to do other things. Of course, Beck’s crazy language could have one unintended consequence: It could cost him bookings with any Republicans who want to be popular outside Beck’s hard-core bizarro-land viewers.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:

Okay, so now I’ve watched it. I agree with a lot of it. But I don’t think the words “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” were all that well chosen (which is clear since he  later contradicts himself by “I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people”), but on reflection — and viewing — I don’t think he has to retract anything.  If he believes it, he’s free to say it. Some clarification would be good though.

Isaac Chotiner at TNR:

A couple things come to mind. First, in the same sentence that Beck generously allows that Obama may not in fact hate white people, Beck concludes by calling Obama a “racist”! Goldberg is apparently very easy to satisfy. And finally, notice the language: Golberg “does not think” Beck’s comments were “all that well” chosen. What condemnation! Even the “serious” American right is in a pathetic state these days.

The Friar at Reason and Revelation:

There is another possibility here–Beck is a muddled thinker. He certainly is emotional–how many times can a grown man cry on television?

But, Goldberg makes too much an apology, and he avoids the issue by pointing to equally crazy personalities on other cable networks. The problem with this is that claiming Beck is no more idiotic than his counterparts on the left is not an argument. The reason conservatives do not like, say, Olbermann is because he makes outrageous statements unsupported by facts. That Beck does the same thing is no excuse. Goldberg’s analysis amounts to: he may be outrageous, but he is our outrageous personality on the right.

The question for those on the right is what will it take before he is effectively purged from the movement ala National Review did in its formative days. Beck does conservatives no favors. He should be dispensed with now before he causes real damage.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

President Obama has many faults, but there is no evidence that hating white people is among them. (In this particular case, class snobbery is more likely the culprit.) Conservatives should not mimic liberals by recklessly deploying the charge of “racism,” a term that has largely lost its meaning. And Obama’s foolish jumping into the Gates controversy was a self-inflicted wound, so why take him off the hook with baseless accusations?

Mostly, though, Beck’s comments were dumb because they weren’t true. Obama is, so far, an awful President. Let’s leave it at that.

David Weigel in the Washington Independent on Joe Scarborough’s twitter response. Ben Armbruster at ThinkProgress with Morning Joe, sans Joe, on Beck.

Joan Walsh in Salon

Leave a comment

Filed under Mainstream, Race