Deal or no deal?

The New York Times Editorial Board recommends a fight over Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms post in A Broken System for Tracking Guns:

One immediate task for Vice President Joseph Biden Jr., who is heading the new White House group on gun violence that will report recommendations in January, is to focus on dismantling the senseless obstacles impeding the bureau’s day-to-day functioning.

The bureau — which should have a lead role in protecting the nation from gun crimes — has been severely hindered by an array of N.R.A.-backed legislative restrictions. For example, a 1986 law prohibits A.T.F. agents from making more than one unannounced inspection a year on a gun dealer, a rule that serves no purpose other than protecting unscrupulous dealers. (As it is, a lack of agents means that a gun shop can go years between inspections.)

Paul Krugman at The New York Times says Brewing Up Confusion that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's "Come Together" campaign should never have recommended people read about the nation's problems by reading the material at "Fix the Debt" website:
First of all, it’s true that we face a time-sensitive issue in the form of the fiscal cliff: unless a deal is reached, we will soon experience a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that might push the nation back into recession. But that prospect doesn’t reflect a failure to “fix the debt” by reducing the budget deficit — on the contrary, the danger is that we’ll cut the deficit too fast.

How could someone as well connected as Mr. Schultz get such a basic point wrong? By talking to the wrong people — in particular, the people at Fix the Debt, who’ve been doing their best to muddle the issue.

Joshua Holland at In These Times vivisects the Weekly Standard's BS on the social safety net in The GOP’s 1 Trillion Dollar Lie.

Ruth Marcus presenting her support for chained-CPI at the Washington Post, makes the case for buying cheaper catfood in A cost savings everyone should endorse.

Daniel Akst at the Los Angeles Times snarks his way through the gun debate in What's missing from the typical kindergartner's backpack? A pistol:

The time has come to get over our squeamishness and arm the children. If those kids in Connecticut had been allowed to bring firearms to school, it's doubtful anyone would ever have attempted the kind of assault that so tragically victimized them. If anyone did, the combined firepower of 20 or more armed elementary school pupils in a single classroom would put a stop to it, and far more effectively than a single dozing constable summoned from the opposite end of campus.
The Denver Post Editorial Board explains Why Colorado should end the death penalty:
Start with the fact that capital punishment is nearly extinct in Colorado already as a practical matter, with only one execution occurring in the past 45 years. Admittedly, part of the reason for this long dry spell has to do with court decisions at various times that pushed some inmates off death row. However, the bigger reason is that prosecutors don't often seek the death penalty and juries are reluctant to embrace it when they do.

But that in turn means that the penalty is unevenly applied — that there are many instances when prosecutors could have sought the death penalty but didn't as well as instances when criminals committing similarly brutal murders end up being punished in significantly different ways. That shouldn't be.

The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board points out how tough things are for some Americans in The recession that keeps on taking:
In a recent study, scholars at the University of Chicago and Columbia University found that men ages 50 and under who were laid off when the nation's unemployment rate stood below 6 percent could expect to lose the equivalent of 1.4 years of income over the rest of their working lives. That's money they otherwise could have expected to earn had they been able to continue on their former career trajectories, before layoffs forced them to take jobs that paid less.

And when the unemployment rate exceeds 8 percent, as it did from early 2009 until this September, those thrown out of work lose a staggering 2.8 years of income over the rest of their working lives.

These insights help explain why demand is unusually high — three years after the Great Recession formally ended — for emergency food and shelter.

Marcy Wheeler at  The Nation asks Will Congress Rein In Illegal Spying?:
When New York Times journalists James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed, on December 16, 2005, that the Bush administration was secretly wiretapping Americans without a warrant, it caused a scandal. Outraged commentary ensued. Lawsuits were filed. An attempt to renew the Patriot Act was met with a filibuster.

But seven years later, the government not only continues to collect Americans’ communications (including e-mail) without a warrant; it has largely gutted the law designed to protect against such abuses. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), passed in response to domestic spying on activists, sought to require the government to obtain a warrant before wiretapping Americans. Today the law is all but extinct, thanks to the 2007 Protect America Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which legalized—and expanded—much of what the Bush administration had been doing illegally. [...]

Back when he was rolling out this secret program, Dick Cheney’s counsel, David Addington, reportedly enthused, “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious” law. Sadly, FISA’s intent couldn’t withstand the politics of fear, much less a bomb. The government still conducts its warrantless wiretapping in secret. But that’s just to prevent us from knowing what it’s doing. It no longer needs to fear the law.

Mark Folman declares at Mother Jones in The NRA Myth of Arming the Good Guys that mass shootings will not be stopped by ordinary citizens with guns:
Attempts by armed citizens to stop shooters are rare. At least two such attempts in recent years ended badly, with the would-be good guys gravely wounded or killed. Meanwhile, the five cases most commonly cited as instances of regular folks stopping massacres fall apart under scrutiny: Either they didn't involve ordinary citizens taking action—those who intervened were actually cops, trained security officers, or military personnel—or the citizens took action after the shooting rampages appeared to have already ended. (Or in some cases, both.)

But those facts don't matter to the gun rights die-hards, who never seem to run out of intellectually dishonest ammo.

Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive is happy with President Obama's actions regarding the national debt and negotiations over spending and taxes, as he notes in Why the “Fiscal Cliff” Bores the Snot Out of Me:
The “fiscal cliff” has been a tiresome charade, and it disguises the fact that both parties are taking us down the path of austerity.
Owen Jonesat The Independent says in Sexual violence is not a cultural phenomenon in India—it is endemic everywhere that Europeans and other Westerners should not get self-righteous over the gang-rape that ultimately took the life of a woman in Delhi:
Rape and sexual violence against women are endemic everywhere. Shocked by what happened in India? Take a look at France, that prosperous bastion of European civilisation. In 1999, two then-teenagers – named only as Nina and Stephanie – were raped almost every day for six months. Young men would queue up to rape them, patiently waiting for their friends to finish in secluded basements. After a three-week trial this year, 10 of the 14 accused left the courtroom as free men; the other four were granted lenient sentences of one year at most.

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