Thursday, January 03, 2013

What could go wrong?

From Think Progress:
‘Armed Teacher Training Program’ Launches In 15 States

By Annie-Rose Strasser on Jan 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

An Ohio gun owners’ group is launching an “Armed Teacher Training Program” to instruct teachers and school staff on how to shoot off firearms in the classroom. 
OK.  I actually don't have a problem with this.  If we're going to have guns around anyway it makes sense for people to be familiar with them.  Knowledge is power, and knowing exactly what you're dealing with when it comes to firearms as opposed to only scare stories or video games or cop shows on TV is a good thing.  I think it would make for a more effective advocate for gun control, if only because the person won't be subject to casual dismissal as someone who doesn't know anything about guns.  Also, if the training is done properly (and I know that's a big "if") it should be pretty clear to the trainees just how dangerous it is to be shooting guns in a crowded space like a classroom; even if your intent is to protect the kids, those bullets go somewhere and it might not be where you intended.

So I think gun training is a good thing.  This quote from the "Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation" is just deluded, though:

"The strategy is the same as ordinary concealed carry. No one will ever know who is or is not armed. Those who seek to do harm in schools should be met with armed resistance, even before law enforcement shows up. Over time, schools will no longer be considered easy, risk-free targets.
Give me a break.  People don't shoot up a school because it's an easy, risk-free target.  People shoot up a school because they're nuts and want to burn out instead of fading away.  They don't plan to come out alive.  Knowing that others might have a gun to shoot back with will only heighten the thrill and the fantasy of going out in a blaze of glory.  It won't be any kind of a deterrent.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

On Tyranny of the Minority

David Atkins over at Digby's blog has had enough of lunatic Republicans gumming up the machinery of government:

If we want a future in which we do more than simply determine which hostages to save and which ones to shoot, the American People will need to figure out how to make these and other reforms to our broken political system that disempowers rational majorities in favor of extremist ideological minorities with nothing to lose.

 I sympathize with the sentiment; one of the most frustrating things about the past 4 years has been the Senate Republicans' ability to stymie almost every progressive/liberal policy initiative the President has put forward (and those have been few enough as it is) despite always being in the minority.  It seems to be the rule that when a Democrat is in the White House the Senate requires 60 votes to pass anything; when a Republican is President it only requires 50 (with the VP providing the tiebreaker).  That simply doesn't seem right.  Similarly the Senate filibuster rules currently allow any Senator to declare a filibuster and it magically occurs without anyone having to take to the Senate floor and say a single word; it is simply accepted that they have done so implicitly, and absent a successful cloture vote (60 votes, again) the "filibuster" succeeds in blocking passage of the measure under consideration.

So Atkins (and he is hardly alone) suggests that we need to dump the filibuster or at least return it to its original procedure, with Senators forced to maintain a quorum in the Senate and the filibusterer(s) to hold the floor physically by speaking at great length.  He also suggests other reforms such as eliminating the gerrymandering of Congressional districts, instituting proportional representation in the Senate, and a number of campaign finance changes.

My problem with some of these suggestions is that we are proposing tinkering with the fundamental structure of the government in ways that should give us pause.  It is true that there is a "tyranny of the minority" situation in which we find ourselves and it is very frustrating.  But that was the express intent of the Founders when they wrote the Constitution.  From Federalist #10:

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.
 The Founders were far more concerned with the prospect of a tyranny of the majority running roughshod over the rights of minorities (and I think they were right to do so).  It may be (or at least seem to us) that our proposals are in the best interests of society as a whole, and the objections and obstructionism of the minority irrational and counterproductive; but that should not mean that we should then explicitly disempower that minority and force our programs through.  Because next time around it may be the irrational and counterproductive who find themselves in the majority, and we would dearly regret our inability to prevent their proposals from going forward.

Happy New Year 2013

Still alive.  Still free to post, though I know I'm probably in some NSA dossier somewhere as a potential "person of interest."  Heh.  I flatter myself.

No posts in almost 4 years...I'm amazed this blog is still here.  The lack of ability to post comments at Digby's blog has inspired me to make those comments here.