District of Columbia
In the wake of a terrible tragedy, there are almost universal requests for calm, peace, and a moratorium on politics. We have now reached the stage in the evolution of the Onion Nation where not commenting on a tragedy is worth criticizing.
Within hours of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard this morning, in which at least 12 have lost their lives, the objective journalists of Buzzfeed compiled a list of NRA tweets around the time of recent mass shootings, showing that the gun rights organization stops tweeting for a day or more when such an event occurs. The irony is astounding. If the NRA makes a statement about a shooting event, they are accused of politicizing it, standing on the graves of the victims, or worse. And now if they don’t make a statement, that’s also worth calling out?
Sure, Buzzfeed will just claim they found it interesting and weren’t criticizing. But savvy social media producers that they are should know better. Gun rights opponents will take their post and do the dirty work for them, calling the NRA cowards for staying silent in the face of such horror that they will inevitably be accused of causing.
The great Charles Cooke of National Review summed up the stupendous hypocrisy well on Twitter:
What would people who want the NRA to “say something” like them to say?
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) September 16, 2013
“By the way, we’re still right”?
Back when I first heard about the proposed New York soda ban, I couldn’t believe anyone would suggest something that ridiculous. Seriously? A city putting limits to sizes on sugary drinks? They couldn’t be serious.
But they were serious. Then it was approved by New York’s Board of Health. Seriously. You can’t buy a 20-ounce Coke in New York City.
Now people in Washington D.C. are trying to get the soda ban in place there, as well. Apparently stupidity is contagious.
The issue came up at a debate for council seat candidates. Two current council members said they would support a ban like New York put in place. That got councilwoman Mary Cheh giddy with excitement. It was Cheh who tried unsuccessfully to put a larger tax on sugary drinks, so the thought that she could control what you drink in Washington – or at least how much of it you drink – is music to her ears.
And Cheh even knows that her position on this issue is going to bring criticism from, you know, people who have a brain. She said, “I know ‘nanny state’ and all that, but it’s appropriate for government to intervene at times to make sure that the choices that are presented are healthy for us.”
Her statement isn’t even kind of correct. It’s not ever appropriate for government to intervene to save you from yourself.
After waking up this morning, I saw on Twitter that Occupy DC was commemorating its one year anniversary by marching down K Street and protesting big banks, such as Bank of America and others. After knocking out some work, I decided to head over to Freedom Plaza, just a couple of blocks over from the White House, to see what was going on.
After observing for a few minutes, seeing next to nothing. A group of maybe 15 activists were discussing techniques to throw off police during a group protest. It was mildly entertaining, but also pointless.
As I was about to leave, a small group of activists sat down to discuss the finer points of anarchist activism, such as “collective housing” and dumpster diving. The sound isn’t that great in the video, but you can hear some of the points being made by protesters, such as their aversion to private property. This woman leading the talk explains, “Collective housing is a very important environment to survive, organize, and support each other. This is why we’re not pro-private property, because we think we need to share. If we don’t share, it means nothing”:
In 2009, Democrats quietly issued the death certificate for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program by slashing its budget on the way to phasing it out altogether. It is unheard of for Democrats to be so enthusiastic about cutting funding for anything other than the military, so this must have been a drastic case indeed to convince them that the program needed to go. So what was it that led to the decision to end the program? Was it because it was too expensive? Not by a long shot, and besides, when was the last time you’ve heard a Democrat argue for ending a program just because it costs too much? Was it because of underperformance? No, it actually performed quite well. If you guessed it was because Obama and the Democrats fell prostrate to their masters in the teachers unions, now you are making some progress.
The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was founded in 2004 and became wildly successful. The program provided $7500 scholarships to students so that they could attend private schools. For students of the D.C. Public School system, which is at the very top of the national list of worst-performing public schools, and in one of the most violent districts in the nation, this was a lifeline out of poverty, and a path to a brighter future. The scholarships allowed students, nearly all from low-income families, and the vast majority of them being minority children, to escape the prison system for children known as the D.C. Public Schools. The fact that minority children could take these scholarships and go to private schools was quite a bargain, considering that the public school system in D.C. was spending $18,000 per child per year, and still managing to turn out some the worst academically achieving children in the country. To give you an idea of how bad it was in the DCPSS, only 14% of 8th-graders attain proficiency at reading on their grade level.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) says the $174,000 annual salary members of Congress receive isn’t enough to live on in Washington, D.C. In fact, the appropropriator believes that he and his colleagues should get an additional stipend for each day they’re in session.
“I think that the American people should know that members of Congress are underpaid,” Moran told Roll Call last week. “I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.”
“A lot of members can’t even afford to live decently when they’re at their job in Washington,” he said. “Some of them and others have small little apartment units, and they’re not able to spend the time they should with their families.”
Look, regardless of how one feels about Congress, its members do serve an important role in our government. That’s true. But the notion that they don’t make enough money to “live decently” in Washington falls flat.
Though there are many members who are independently wealthy and can afford to live in luxury in Washington, others have modest lives or live paycheck to paycheck.
Shortly after President Barack Obama announced his “administrative fix” for Obamacare, many state insurance commissioners rejected the proposal, noting that insurers had spent three-plus years working to comply with the law and could not so easily reverse course.
Among the insurance commissioners who criticized the fix was William White, insurance commissioner for the District of Columbia. He said in a statement on Thursday that the fix “undercuts the purpose of the exchanges, including the District’s D.C. Health Link, by creating exceptions that make it more difficult for them to operate.”
On Friday, a day after making those comments, White was fired without explanation by his immediate supervisor, according to the Washington Post:
White was called into a meeting Friday afternoon with one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) top deputies and told that the mayor “wants to go in a different direction,” White told The Washington Post on Saturday.
Tuesday, the first day of the government shutdown, started out with Senate rejecting a proposal from the House of Representatives to enter into a conference committee to discuss differences between the two chambers on the Continuing Resolution (CR).
House-appointed conferees held a photo op in which they sat at the table across from empty chairs where their Senate counterparts would be sitting if they had agreed to negotiate. “We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate. #FairnessForAll,” tweeted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), attaching the photo below.
House Republicans decided on another round of action to work through disagreements on ObamaCare by bringing up stop-gap spending measures that would end the disruption of certain parts of the federal government.
The House went into session early yesterday evening, planning to take up three separate spending measures to fund the National Park Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the District of Columbia, which is under the purview of Congress.
House Democrats chided Republicans for not passing a so-called “clean” CR before the government shutdown and overwhelmingly opposed the measures, leading to their defeat.
Anti-gun politicians and talking heads didn’t wait too long in the aftermath of the Monday’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that claimed the lives of 13 people, including the gunman, before they began pressing for more onerous gun control laws.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who has pushed for a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” was among the first to play politics with the shooting, speaking before the facts of the situation had been determined by law enforcement.
“There are reports the killer was armed with an AR-15, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol when he stormed an American military installation in the nation’s capital and took at least 12 innocent lives,” said Feinstein after offering condolences for victims and their families.
“This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time,” she added. “When will enough be enough?”
Likewise, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence also sought to exploit the tragedy to advance anti-gun policies that they have long-supported.
Written by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Last month, D.C. attorney general Irvin Nathan announced that he would not be prosecuting David Gregory for displaying an empty ammunition magazine on his national TV show Meet the Press—even though NBC knew ahead of time that this action would violate D.C. law. In a letter to NBC, Nathan admonished Gregory for knowingly flouting the law, but said he decided to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and not pursue a criminal case. “Prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia, nor serve the best interests of the people,” Nathan wrote.
In the Washington Post story about this episode, I was quoted as calling Nathan’s decision “a wise use of prosecutorial discretion” but that the episode “illustrates the absurdity of some of these gun laws.” My position apparently paralleled that of the NRA—even though Gregory had waved the illegal magazine in front of the group’s executive VP, Wayne LaPierre—but “thousands of gun advocates” signed a White House petition calling for Gregory’s arrest because he ought to be treated the same as anyone else.