NBC News’ David Gregory apparently defied the (absurd) District of Columbia law forbidding anyone “to possess [&c.] any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” by openly holding in his hand and displaying an empty 30-round magazine during a Meet the Press program in which he confronted NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre.
Anne Althouse elucidates the semiotics that drove NBC News to turn to open, on-the-air, defiant commission of a crime.
If possession of that high-capacity magazine was a crime, and the NBC folk knew it and had even contacted the police and thus even knew they’d created rock-hard evidence that they knew it, why did they go ahead and have Gregory flaunt that illegal possession on television? They had to have thought it was a devastatingly powerful prop. My first guess was that they imagined that viewers — some viewers, at least — would find the object itself scary. ...
I’m not sure exactly why that jogged my thinking, but suddenly I understand the drama Gregory (and his people) were trying to enact. It’s a deep psychic memory of childhood. Gregory sought dominance over his interlocutor, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, and the idea — in the act of picking up that magazine and beginning an interrogation about it — was that Gregory would become (subliminally) a parent figure who would push LaPierre into the subordinate role of the little boy, the cowering child confronted with undeniable evidence of his wrongdoing. What’s THIS I found in your room?
The plan was for LaPierre to babble lamely, scrambling to explain it away, like the kid trying to concoct some cockamamie reason why that (whatever) got into his room. He’d look foolish and guilty, as Dad continues to hold up the item which the kid knows will be the defeat of every idea that flashes through his stupid, stupid brain.
The scenario didn’t play out as scripted. LaPierre is a stolid veteran of many a confrontational interview. He’s not going to let the interviewer get the upper hand that easily.
Naturally, all this has inevitably provoked considerable discussion about whether Mr. Gregory should really be prosecuted and potentially convicted, sentenced, and treated as a criminal for an action obviously involving no real threat of any kind to anyone, for a purely technical violation of an obviously extravagantly far-reaching provision of a law aimed in intent at curbing authentic violent crime.
A lot of people have made good arguments and intelligent points. Even NRA President David Keene argued that Gregory’s “crime” should simply be overlooked.
Mark Steyn, however, decided to swim against the tide of general opinion, and argues that David Gregory ought to be held to the same irrational regulatory standards as everybody else.
This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”
So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. Ignorantia juris non excusat is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about doable. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them. And in this case NBC were informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it anyway: You’ll never take me alive, copper! You’ll have to pry my high-capacity magazine from my cold dead fingers! When the D.C. SWAT team, the FBI, and the ATF take out NBC News and the whole building goes up in one almighty fireball, David Gregory will be the crazed loon up on the roof like Jimmy Cagney in White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” At last, some actual must-see TV on that lousy network.
But, even if we’re denied that pleasure, the “dumbest media story of 2012” is actually rather instructive. David Gregory intended to demonstrate what he regards as the absurdity of America’s lax gun laws. Instead, he’s demonstrating the ever greater absurdity of America’s non-lax laws. His investigation, prosecution, and a sentence of 20–30 years with eligibility for parole after ten (assuming Mothers Against High-Capacity Magazines don’t object) would teach a far more useful lesson than whatever he thought he was doing by waving that clip under LaPierre’s nose.
To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?
Occupy Wall Street food servers get sick of the “professional homeless people.”
“They know what they’re doing.”
For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.
They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.
[Emphasis added] What if everyone suddenly got sick of freeloaders?
[I]f you extract the crap music and the new-age quasi-religion, you’ve got men apologizing for manliness. But they are not apologizing for their own manliness. They are purporting to apologize for other men, whom they are demonizing. Really what you’ve got are the insufficiently manly men, who think that by insulting other men, they will get the women.
But they will not get the women, because they are insufficiently manly. And it’s a particularly pussy move to group all the manly men together for the purposes of trying to promote unmanly men. The violent, hateful, abusive men belong in a class by themselves, and to group them with all the other men who are more manly than you is self-serving and specious.
Brook trout fishing, filmed by F.S. Armitage on June 6, 1900 somewhere along the Grand Trunk Railroad. 1:15 video.
Who should replace Dennis Blair as National Intelligence Director? No one, proposes John Noonan at the Weekly Standard:
Unnecessary bureaucracy has a venomous effect on the national security establishment, whether it’s infantry or intelligence. The director of national intelligence, which has ballooned to a 1500-man supporting office, was a top down solution to a bottom up problem.
Admiral Blair was a casualty of Intelligence Community turf wars. Closing the DNI office would reduce unnecessary conflicts and duplication of effort. It’s too logical a course of action to be given serious consideration most likely though.
Bruce Fleming says that standards at US service academies have been lowered for affirmative action and to allow academy teams to compete in the NCAA top divisions. He thinks standards should be restored or all the service academies closed down.
———————————————————— Robin Hanson observes a unidirectional dynamic at work in progressive statism.
[I]n any area where we let humans do things, every once in a while there will be a big screwup; that is the sort of creatures humans are. And if you won’t decrease regulation without a screwup but will increase it with a screwup, then you have a regulation ratchet: it only moves one way. So if you don’t think a long period without a big disaster calls for weaker regulations, but you do think a particular big disaster calls for stronger regulation, well then you might as well just strengthen regulations lots more right now, even without a disaster. Because that is where your regulation ratchet is heading.
What if you can’t imagine ever wanting to weaken a regulation, just because it was strong and you’d gone a long time without a big disaster? Well then you apparently want the maximum possible regulation, which is probably to just basically outlaw that activity. And if that doesn’t seem like the right level of regulation to you, well then maybe you should reconsider your ratchety regulation intuitions.
Hat tip to the News Junkie.
———————————————————— Ann Althouse chides the Washington Post: If you’re going to criticize the new social studies curriculum adopted by the Texas Board of Education, you’d better quote it or link it, not paraphrase it inaccurately.
Anne Althouse is at her best when she is cutting.
Texian, commenting at Breitbart, remarks: The scary part is that four justices think that this does NOT violate the First Amendment. Hat tip to the Barrister.
Bird Dog, at Maggie’s Farm, recommends going to Yale so you can use the Yale Club of New York City, conveniently located on Vanderbilt Avenue right across the street from Grand Central.
It’s easier than that. They even let people who went to Dartmouth and University of Virginia have memberships, and a fair number of clubs in other cities have reciprocal privileges.
It is the cheapest hotel you’d want to stay at in NYC. The second floor lounge is a peaceful refuge where you can read the paper, sip your drink, and watch traffic bustle busily around the PanAm Building out the window. The bar serves generous drinks. Harvard’s New York Club has a larger bar with good big game trophies, but it’s much farther away from the trains and it has a lot fewer rooms to stay in.
In the latest, Jan/Feb 2010, issue of the Yale Alumni Mag, the same chap was eulogized by two classes.
Don Masters started with us in Woolsey Hall in September 1964, served with distinction as an officer in the 82nd Airborne in Vietnam, and completed his Yale degree in 1972. He practiced law in New York City and in Denver through his career, as well as serving in entrepreneurial and general counsel roles. He was particularly active in the recovery community in the Rocky Mountain region. He loved touring on his motorcycle, and died August 31 at a beautiful location near Salmon, Idaho, doing what he loved.
On a sad note, I received notification that Don Masters was killed some time ago in a motorcycle accident in a remote part of Idaho. His body was only recently found, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, having served with distinction in Vietnam.
Sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.
Glenn Reynolds yesterday found the above photo on the White Houses’s Flicker page and posted it (along with the enlarged detail below) inviting readers to “interpret the body language.”
Barack Obama has always been a mirror, reflecting back to individual members of the American public their own preconceptions, and the Instapundit selection provides a perfect opportunity for a wide range of interpretation.
I, for instance, thought Obama looked like the Godfather contemptuously rebuking an incompetent consigliere.
Over on Flicker, MCarrier1 thought Obama looked like James Bond.
Hot Air immediately launched a caption contest, where FishGov offered:
The Emperor Obama: [to the Senate] In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society which I assure you will last for ten thousand years.
Biden: [to Emperor Obama] So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause.
Ann Althouse, on the other hand, just thought The man is tired and it’s a way to get above it all. And that’s the other thing I see in that face: He’s tired and he’s floating above it all.
Andrew Sullivan had to puzzle for a while over what exactly Glenn Reynolds was trying to pull posting this cryptic photo, (a)nd then I realized why this photo immediately strikes some people are damning. Obama is a black man who looks as if he is condescending to a white man. That’s political gold.
The redoubtable Ann Althouse announced her engagement yesterday with a series of photos, including a finger being measured for a ring, accompanied with shots of flower, foliage, and views of Cincinnati, the city where her apparent victim (a braver man than me) evidently resides.
Ms. Althouse met her fiance, we are informed, four years ago via his commenting on her blog.
Never Yet Melted extends congratulations and best wishes.
Not all members of the punditocracy are always wrong.
Here are some opinion-makers who thought Sarah Palin would make a terrific vice presidential selection for McCain more than two months ago.
Jack Kelly, of the Toledo Blade, is narrowly the earliest I’ve found, writing on June 7th:
There is one potential running mate who has virtually no down side. Those conservatives who have heard of her were delighted to learn that McCain advance man Arthur Culvahouse was in Alaska recently, because they surmised he could only be there to discuss the vice presidential nomination with Gov. Sarah Palin.
At 44, Sarah Louise Heath Palin is both the youngest and the first female governor in Alaska’s relatively brief history as a state. She’s also the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating that has bounced around 90 percent.
This is due partly to her personal qualities. When she was leading her underdog Wasilla High School basketball team to the state championship in 1982, her teammates called her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her fierce competitiveness.
Two years later, when she won the “Miss Wasilla” beauty pageant, she was also voted “Miss Congeniality” by the other contestants.
Sarah Barracuda. Miss Congeniality. Fire and nice. A happily married mother of five who is smart and drop-dead gorgeous.
But it’s mostly because she’s been a crackerjack governor, a strong fiscal conservative, and a ferocious fighter of corruption, especially in her own party.
Ms. Palin touches other conservative bases, some of which Mr. McCain has been accused of rounding. Track, her eldest son, enlisted in the Army last Sept. 11. She’s a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association who hunts, fishes, and runs marathons. A regular churchgoer, she’s staunchly pro-life.
Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal said Mr. McCain should run against a corrupt, do-nothing Congress, a la Harry Truman. If he should choose to do so, Ms. Palin would make an excellent partner.
“The landscape is littered with the bodies of those who have crossed Sarah,” pollster Dave Dittman told The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes.
Mr. Obama’s support has plunged recently among white women. Many Hillary Clinton supporters accuse him – I think unfairly – of being sexist. Having Sarah Palin on the ticket could help Mr. McCain appeal to these disgruntled Democrats.
Running mates usually aren’t named until the convention. But if Mr. McCain should name Ms. Palin earlier, it would give America more time to get to know this extraordinary woman. And because she’s at least a dozen feature stories waiting to be written, she could help him dominate the news between now and the conventions.
Another reason for selecting Sarah Palin early would be to force Barack Obama to make a mistake. He’d have to rule out choosing someone like Virginia Sen. Jim Webb as his running mate, for fear of exacerbating charges of sexism. And if he chose a woman other than Hillary Clinton, the impression Democrats are wimpy would be intensified.
But only a day later, on June 8th, Beldar published what would become the first of a series of posts strongly arguing for Palin.
I’ve spent several hours now reading about, and watching video clips of, 44-year-old Alaska governor Sarah Heath Palin. There are indications that she’s on McCain’s radar, along with many other candidates. I, for one, am very, very impressed with her. Indeed, I’m convinced already that it’s no fluke that she’s more popular with her constituents than any other current American governor (roughly a 90% approval rating). And I’m finding myself increasingly receptive to, and even persuaded by, the idea that she would be not merely a bold pick, but a smart pick, as McCain’s running mate.
If you’re not acquainted with Gov. Palin already, you owe it to yourself to get up to speed. ...
Sarah Palin actually risked her entire political career to take on her own party’s entrenched leadership, and then thoroughly and effectively cleaned house in the largest state in the Union. Between her and Obama, who’s already proven him- or herself more likely to provide the “change you can believe in”?
This spring she used her line-item veto to cut $268 million from state spending bills — in a state that, comparatively, is flush with money, which makes pork projects almost irresistible. She resisted, and it appears that she’s going to make her vetoes stick. That’s the antidote to Bridges to Nowhere! (Which she opposed, by the way; the federal money originally committed to it, she’s now re-directed into more appropriate infrastructure programs.)
As governor, she’s also pushed hard against other entrenched interests, including the energy companies (BP, ConocoPhilips, and ExxonMobil) who hold the lease rights to much of Alaska’s oil and gas wealth. She is a fierce, knowledgeable, and articulate advocate of responsible development of Alaskan resources to benefit not only its own residents — who actually pay among the nation’s highest gasoline prices and have the least access to affordable and clean natural gas — but also the other 49 states, and she recognizes that this is not just a matter of economic necessity, but ultimately of national security.
Palin has spoken out and brought suit to prevent radical environmentalists from exploiting the ridiculous naming of the polar bear as an endangered species, showing no hesitation to stand up against them or their well-wishers in the federal bureaucracy. Yet she and her family are enthusiastic outdoorsmen — engaging in ice fishing, hunting, and snow-mobiling (her husband has won the 2000-mile Iron Dog race four times). Check out this campaign video of her and her family loading up their single-prop float-plane (not a corporate jet!) with sporting gear — that’s got to be at least as cool as Obama shooting hoops.
It doesn’t hurt that Gov. Palin is attractive and photogenic. (She was not, as Jonah Goldberg recently wrote, Miss Alaska, but she was Miss Wasilla; last December Vogue Magazine came to photograph her and her three daughters back in Wasilla; and comedian Craig Ferguson declares that she has a “sort of naughty librarian vibe.”) But she’s climbed through local and state politics on her own — not based on who her daddy or her husband is (or was).
Beldar may have influenced the thinking of sometimes-somewhat-Conservative Ann Althouse, who on June 12th, made a 10:06 video of a discussion with Rachel Sklar in which she strongly contrasted Palin with Hillary, as a woman who made it into high office on her own.
Ann Althouse, responds to James Risen’s New York Times story on the left blogosphere’s recent conniption fit over Obama’s flipflop on FISA Telecom immunity:
You can’t please everybody, and if you want to be President, you really can’t please Greenwald, Hamsher, and Kos. Obama is taking the right position now, and he should defend it frankly.
——————————————— Andy Borowitz, at Huffington Post, was also impatient with the left.
The liberal blogosphere was aflame today with new accusations that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) is trying to win the 2008 presidential election.
Suspicions about Sen. Obama’s true motives have been building over the past few weeks, but not until today have the bloggers called him out for betraying the Democratic Party’s losing tradition.
“Barack Obama seems to be making a very calculated attempt to win over 270 electoral votes,” wrote liberal blogger Carol Foyler at LibDemWatch.com, a blog read by a half-dozen other liberal bloggers. “He must be stopped.”
The Wall Street Journal notices Obama’s speedy march toward the Center with slightly less congratulation.
We’re beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps protesting so vigorously against the prospect of “George Bush’s third term.” Maybe he’s worried that someone will notice that he’s the candidate who’s running for it.
Most Presidential candidates adapt their message after they win their party nomination, but Mr. Obama isn’t merely “running to the center.” He’s fleeing from many of his primary positions so markedly and so rapidly that he’s embracing a sizable chunk of President Bush’s policy. Who would have thought that a Democrat would rehabilitate the much-maligned Bush agenda?
Take the surveillance of foreign terrorists. Last October, while running with the Democratic pack, the Illinois Senator vowed to “support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies” that assisted in such eavesdropping after 9/11. As recently as February, still running as the liberal favorite against Hillary Clinton, he was one of 29 Democrats who voted against allowing a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reform of surveillance rules even to come to the floor.
Two weeks ago, however, the House passed a bill that is essentially the same as that Senate version, and Mr. Obama now says he supports it. Apparently legal immunity for the telcos is vital for U.S. national security, just as Mr. Bush has claimed. Apparently, too, the legislation isn’t an attempt by Dick Cheney to gut the Constitution. Perhaps it is dawning on Mr. Obama that, if he does become President, he’ll be responsible for preventing any new terrorist attack. So now he’s happy to throw the New York Times under the bus.
Next up for Mr. Obama’s political blessing will be Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy. Only weeks ago, the Democrat was calling for an immediate and rapid U.S. withdrawal. When General David Petraeus first testified about the surge in September 2007, Mr. Obama was dismissive and skeptical. But with the surge having worked wonders in Iraq, this week Mr. Obama went out of his way to defend General Petraeus against MoveOn.org’s attacks in 2007 that he was “General Betray Us.” Perhaps he had a late epiphany.
Look for Mr. Obama to use his forthcoming visit to Iraq as an excuse to drop those withdrawal plans faster than he can say Jeremiah Wright “was not the person that I met 20 years ago.” The Senator will learn – as John McCain has been saying – that withdrawal would squander the gains from the surge, set back Iraqi political progress, and weaken America’s strategic position against Iran. Our guess is that he’ll spin this switcheroo as some kind of conditional commitment, saying he’ll stay in Iraq as long as Iraqis are making progress on political reconciliation, and so on. As things improve in Iraq, this would be Mr. Bush’s policy too.
Mr. Obama has also made ostentatious leaps toward Mr. Bush on domestic issues. While he once bid for labor support by pledging a unilateral rewrite of Nafta, the Democrat now says he favors free trade as long as it works for “everybody.” His economic aide, Austan Goolsbee, has been liberated from the five-month purdah he endured for telling Canadians that Mr. Obama’s protectionism was merely campaign rhetoric. Now that Mr. Obama is in a general election, he can’t scare the business community too much.
Back in the day, the first-term Senator also voted against the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. But last week he agreed with their majority opinion in the Heller gun rights case, and with their dissent against the liberal majority’s ruling to ban the death penalty for rape. Mr. Obama seems to appreciate that getting pegged as a cultural lefty is deadly for national Democrats – at least until November.