I’m sick and tired of political pundits and politicians criticizing the President for EVERYTHING that’s wrong with our government and their inability to legislate.
Maybe I’m reading from the wrong Constitution but the last time I checked, the only powers that were endowed to the President of the United States were:
is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. He or she has the power to call into service the state units of the National Guard, and in times of emergency may be given the power by Congress to manage national security or the economy.
has the power make treaties with Senate approval. He or she can also receive ambassadors and work with leaders of other nations.
is responsible for nominating the heads of governmental departments, which the Senate must then approve. In addition, the president nominates judges to federal courts and justices to the United States Supreme Court.
can issue executive orders, which have the force of law but do not have to be approved by congress.
can issue pardons for federal offenses.
can convene Congress for special sessions.
can veto legislation approved by Congress. However, the veto is limited. It is not a line-item veto, meaning that he or she cannot veto only specific parts of legislation, and it can be overridden by a two-thirds vote by Congress.
delivers a State of the Union address annually to a joint session of Congress.
The President of the United States CAN’T WRITE OR PASS LEGISLATION, that’s the job of Congress who for the last four years HASN’T DONE IT!
If you don’t like the direction of the government, pay more attention to who you elect to the Senate and the House of Representatives!
If we can’t draw a sensible line on guns, we may as well call the American experiment in democracy a failure.
Well what more can be said? Conservative Judge Larry Alan Burns was appointed by former President George W Bush and is a proud gun owner who supports a ban on assault weapons and a proud member of the NRA!
Owning guns won’t help you “over-throw the government” unless you also own Tomahawk® Cruise Missiles, B52 Bombers, nuclear warheads, battle tanks and battleships.
The 2nd Amendment was written by men who used MUSKETS!
Remember Adam Lanza’s mother owned assault like weapons and it didn’t save her life but rather got her killed by her own son!
Obamacare made mental health benefits equal to regular health benefits so Americans with mental health issues now have affordable access to care.
Don’t let the lives of those 20 beautiful little angels and the 6 adults who were brutally murdered in New Town, CT; in addition to the many other mass murders be in vain!
It’s time to stop ‘talking about it’ and ‘be about it’!
Last month, I sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in federal prison for his shooting rampage in Tucson. That tragedy left six people dead, more than twice that number injured and a community shaken to its core.
Loughner deserved his punishment. But during the sentencing, I also questioned the social utility of high-capacity magazines like the one that fed his Glock. And I lamented the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, which prohibited the manufacture and importation of certain particularly deadly guns, as well as magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The ban wasn’t all that stringent — if you already owned a banned gun or high-capacity magazine you could keep it, and you could sell it to someone else — but at least it was something.
And it says something that half of the nation’s deadliest shootings occurred after the ban expired, including the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. It also says something that it has not even been two years since Loughner’s rampage, and already six mass shootings have been deadlier.
I am not a social scientist, and I know that very smart ones are divided on what to do about gun violence. But reasonable, good-faith debates have boundaries, and in the debate about guns, a high-capacity magazine has always seemed to me beyond them.
Bystanders got to Loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another. Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, chose as his primary weapon a semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines. And we don’t even bother to call the 100-rounder that James Holmes is accused of emptying in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater a magazine — it is a drum. How is this not an argument for regulating the number of rounds a gun can fire?
I get it. Someone bent on mass murder who has only a 10-round magazine or revolvers at his disposal probably is not going to abandon his plan and instead try to talk his problems out. But we might be able to take the “mass” out of “mass shooting,” or at least make the perpetrator’s job a bit harder.
To guarantee that there would never be another Tucson or Sandy Hook, we would probably have to make it a capital offense to so much as look at a gun. And that would create serious 2nd Amendment, 8th Amendment and logistical problems.
So what’s the alternative? Bring back the assault weapons ban, and bring it back with some teeth this time. Ban the manufacture, importation, sale, transfer and possession of both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Don’t let people who already have them keep them. Don’t let ones that have already been manufactured stay on the market. I don’t care whether it’s called gun control or a gun ban. I’m for it.
I say all of this as a gun owner. I say it as a conservative who was appointed to the federal bench by a Republican president. I say it as someone who prefers Fox News to MSNBC, and National Review Online to the Daily Kos. I say it as someone who thinks the Supreme Court got it right in District of Columbia vs. Heller, when it held that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to possess guns for self-defense. (That’s why I have mine.) I say it as someone who, generally speaking, is not a big fan of the regulatory state.
I even say it as someone whose feelings about the NRA mirror the left’s feelings about Planned Parenthood: It has a useful advocacy function in our deliberative democracy, and much of what it does should not be controversial at all.
And I say it, finally, mindful of the arguments on the other side, at least as I understand them: that a high-capacity magazine is not that different from multiple smaller-capacity magazines; and that if we ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines one day, there’s a danger we would ban guns altogether the next, and your life might depend on you having one.
But if we can’t find a way to draw sensible lines with guns that balance individual rights and the public interest, we may as well call the American experiment in democracy a failure.
There is just no reason civilians need to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun enthusiasts can still have their venison chili, shoot for sport and competition, and make a home invader flee for his life without pretending they are a part of the SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden.
It speaks horribly of the public discourse in this country that talking about gun reform in the wake of a mass shooting is regarded as inappropriate or as politicizing the tragedy. But such a conversation is political only to those who are ideologically predisposed to see regulation of any kind as the creep of tyranny. And it is inappropriate only to those delusional enough to believe it would disrespect the victims of gun violence to do anything other than sit around and mourn their passing. Mourning is important, but so is decisive action.
Congress must reinstate and toughen the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Larry Alan Burns is a federal district judge in San Diego.
Post-mortems of contemporary election coverage typically include regrets about horserace journalism, he-said-she-said stenography, and the lack of enlightening stories about the issues.
But according to longtime political observers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein , campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.
Mann and Ornstein are two longtime centrist Washington fixtures who earlier this year dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital’s media elite and publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
The 2012 campaign further proved their point, they both said in recent interviews. It also exposed how fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media’s fear of being seen as taking sides.
“The mainstream press really has such a difficult time trying to cope with asymmetry between the two parties’ agendas and connections to facts and truth,” said Mann, who has spent nearly three decades as a congressional scholar at the centrist Brookings Institution.
“I saw some journalists struggling to avoid the trap of balance and I knew they were struggling with it — and with their editors,” said Mann. “But in general, I think overall it was a pretty disappointing performance.”
“I can’t recall a campaign where I’ve seen more lying going on — and it wasn’t symmetric,” said Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who’s been tracking Congress with Mann since 1978. Democrats were hardly innocent, he said, “but it seemed pretty clear to me that the Republican campaign was just far more over the top.”
Lies from Republicans generally and standardbearer Mitt Romney in particular weren’t limited to the occasional TV ads, either; the party’s most central campaign principles — that federal spending doesn’t create jobs, that reducing taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit — willfully disregarded the truth.
“It’s the great unreported big story of American politics,” Ornstein said.
“If voters are going to be able to hold accountable political figures, they’ve got to know what’s going on,” Ornstein said. “And if the story that you’re telling repeatedly is that they’re all to blame — they’re all equally to blame — then you’re really doing a disservice to voters, and not doing what journalism is supposed to do.”
Ornstein said the media’s failure led him to conclude: “If you want to use a strategy of ‘I’m just going to lie all the time’, when you have the false equivalence meme adopted by a mainstream press and the other side lies a quarter of the time, you get away with it.”
Political journalists had no doubt heard similar arguments many times before, mostly from left wing bloggers. But this time the charge was coming from two of the most consistent purveyors of conventional wisdom in town, bipartisan to a fault.
And they were pretty harsh in their critique of the media. “Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views,” they wrote in the Post. “Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?”
Initially, at least, Mann and Ornstein weren’t completely ignored. “We had really good reporters call us and say: ‘You’re absolutely right’,” Mann said. “They told us they used this as the basis for conversations in the newsroom.”
But those conversations went nowhere, Mann said.
“Their editors and producers, who felt they were looking out for the economic wellbeing of their news organizations, were also concerned about their professional standing and vulnerability to charges of partisan bias,” Mann said.
So most reporters just kept on with business as usual.
“They’re so timid,” Mann said.
Some reporters did better than others, Ornstein said, particularly crediting Jackie Calmes of the New York Times and David Rogers of Politico among a few others. “They grew a little bit more straightforward in what they do, and showed you can be a good, diligent unbiased reporter, report the facts, put it in context, and yet show what’s really going on,” he said.
Most reporters, however — including many widely admired for their intelligence and aggressive reporting — simply refused to blame one side more than the other. Mann said he was struck in conversations with journalists by how influenced they were by the heavily funded movement to promote a bipartisan consensus around deficit reduction and austerity. Such a bipartisan consensus doesn’t actually exist, Mann pointed out. But if you believe it does, than you can blame both parties for failing to reach it.
“The Peterson world, I think, has given journalists the material to keep doing what they’re doing,” Mann said of the vast network of think tanks and other influential Washington groups underwritten at least in part by Wall Street billionaire Peter Peterson .
Peterson’s vast spending has given rise to an environment of contempt among the Washington elites for anyone who doesn’t believe the government is dangerously overextended. And by that reckoning, the Democrats are therefore more out of touch with reality than Republicans, who at least pay the concept ample lip service.
How Fact-Checking Made Things Worse
Ornstein and Mann’s views on journalistic failure have not been widely shared by mainstream media critics, who have instead focused on the fact that the press, in its enthusiasm to see the presidential race decided by a nose, ignored solid polling data to the contrary and called it wrong until the very end.
To the extent that the issue of widespread prevarication has come up at all, many media critics identified the rise of fact-checking as the big new trend of the 2012 cycle.
But Mann and Ornstein said that in practice, the fact-checkers may have made things worse rather than better.
“We had these little flurries of fact-checking — which I found not worthless, but not a substitute for coherent, serious reporting — and most of the time it just got stuck in the back of a news organization’s output and there was no cost to a candidate of ignoring it,” Mann said.
And then there was this terrible irony: “Fact checkers almost seemed obliged to show some balance in their fact checking.”
“There was some damn good stuff done, and stuff that really did hold Romney to account,” Ornstein said. But no fact-checker intent on “appearing to be utterly straightforward, independent, and without an axe to grind, is going to actually do the job of saying that we’re going to cover 20 fact checks on one side, to three on the other.”
So, Ornstein concluded: “If you looked at where the scales should have been, and where they were, they were weighted. And they weren’t weighted for ideological bias. They were weighted to avoid being charged with ideological bias.”
It’s hard to exaggerate just how popular Mann and Ornstein were with the press before their apostasy. They were quite possibly the two most quotable men in Washington. They were the media cocktail party circuit’s most reliable walking talking points.
And now they are virtual pariahs.
“It’s awkward. I can no longer be a source in a news story in the Wall Street Journal or the Times or the Post because people now think I’ve made the case for the Democrats and therefore I’ll have to be balanced with a Republican,” Mann said.
Neither Mann nor Ornstein have been guests on any of the main Sunday public affairs shows since their book came out. Nor has anyone else on those shows talked about the concerns they raised.
Ornstein is particularly infuriated that none of the supposed reader advocates at major newspapers have raised the issues they brought up. “What the fuck is an ombudsman doing if he’s not writing about this?” he asked.
Their phones are still ringing, they say — but not from inside the Beltway. “We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of attention, but much of that is due to the Internet and our original piece going viral,” Mann said. They were also featured on NPR .
There have been countless requests for speaking engagements. “We’re just selling a shitload of books,” said Mann. “There’ve been page-one stories in countries around the world.”
Domestically, however, Mann and Ornstein said they refuse to be “balanced” on TV shows by Republicans — because they are not anti Republican. The reason they wanted the press to expose what was really happening, they said, was to give voters a chance to respond in an appropriate way.
“The argument we’re making is that our politics will never really get better until the Republican Party gets back into the game, instead of playing a new one,” Mann said. “We want a strong, conservative Republican Party — but one with some connection with reality.”
Their critique came not out of ideology, they said, but out of their background as devoted process junkies and honest analysts, who finally realized that their vision of collegial governance wasn’t possible any more, and it was clear why.
Both see the rise of Tea Party influence on the GOP as a major turning point. For Mann, the moment of reckoning came in the summer of 2011. “What flipped me over was the debt ceiling hostage-taking ,” Mann said. It was clear then that the Republicans would “do or say anything” to hurt Obama, even if it was overtly bad for the country and false to core Republican values.
“That and getting older. What do I give a shit about access,” he said.
“The fact is that one of the parties stopped being a conventional conservative party,” Mann said. “My own view is that what needed to happen is somehow the public had to take a two-by-four to the Republicans’ heads, knock them back to their senses, and allow conservative pragmatic voices to emerge,” he said.
Democrats won soundly in 2012 of course, so the two-by-four was administered. But because the media obfuscated what was going on, the message was not entirely clear — and certainly not to the Republican leadership.
Their Message Going Forward
Mann and Ornstein don’t get invited to talk to the leaders of news organizations anymore.
But if they were, again, here is what Mann would say: “First of all, I’d sympathize. I’d say I understand that you have the responsibility to use professional norms of accuracy and fairness and not let your own personal feelings get in the way.”
But, he would add: “You all have missed an incredibly important story in our politics that’s been developing over a period of time. You’ll slip it in here and there, you’ll bury it, but you really don’t confront it.”
Ornstein said his message would be this: “I understand your concerns about advertisers. I understand your concerns about being labeled as biased. But what are you there for? What’s the whole notion of a free press for if you’re not going to report without fear or favor and you’re not going to report what your reporters, after doing their due diligence, see as the truth?
“And if you don’t do that, then you can expect I think a growing drumbeat of criticism that you’re failing in your fundamental responsibility.
“Your job is to report the truth. And sometimes there are two sides to a story. Sometimes there are ten sides to a story. Sometimes there’s only one.
“Somebody has got to make an assessment of whether the two sides are being equally careless with their facts, or equally deliberate with their lies.”
Dan Froomkin is in the process of launching a new accountability journalism project. He is contributing editor of Nieman Reports, and the former senior Washington correspondent for the Huffington Post. He wrote the White House Watch column for the Washington Post website from 2004 to 2009, and was editor of the site from 2000 to 2003. Dan welcomes your email and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.