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January 05, 2016
 
 
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty
 
 
 
Obama Touts His Gun-Control Regulations, Because It’s the Easiest Option

The president’s going to spend this week discussing gun control. Because it’s what he loves to do, apparently.

On Monday he met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey and the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He holds a White House ceremony to announce the measures on Tuesday. And on Thursday, Obama partners with CNN for an hour-long town hall to discuss gun violence in primetime.

Never mind that he couldn’t get a Democrat-controlled Congress to pass any of these proposals. Never mind that none of the mass shooters got their firearms from a gun show or the kind of casual seller that these regulations target.

Just as the drunk looks for his lost keys under the streetlight because that’s where the light is, Obama focuses his energies where it is easiest.

Never mind that the Sunni–Shia world war is kicking into a higher gear.

Never mind that ISIS is advancing in Libya. The Syrian regime continues to use chemical weapons from a program that President Obama said had been eliminated:

The Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on 23 November 2015 expressed “grave concern” that chemical weapons (CW) had once again been used in Syria after its fact-finding mission (FFM) confirmed “with the utmost confidence” that sulphur mustard had been deployed in an attack on the rebel-held town of Marea on 21 August. Although the OPCW did not publicly identify the perpetrators of the Marea attack, the report added to the growing evidence about the Islamic State’s CW interest.

For those keeping score at home, we now have allegations of use of sarin, sulfur mustard, chlorine gas, and possibly “Agent 15,” also known as BZ or 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate. There are allegations of chemical-weapons use on about 60 separate occasions.

Never mind that the Chinese markets are crashing, suggesting the world economy is slowing which will eventually mean an economic slowdown here. Economists are suddenly slashing their predictions for growth.

“Plenty” of people who thought Obamacare would fix everything are finding the premiums and deductibles so expensive, paying the penalty looks like a better option.

But fighting ISIS, stabilizing the Middle East, building a prosperous economy, undoing the damage of Obamacare -- all of that stuff’s hard. Obama would much prefer taking a victory lap over his decision to “tweak a few minor rules around the edges” -- our Charles C.W. Cooke’s assessment -- than to actually address any of these serious, worsening problems.

Will an Injustice Get Revealed or Obscured by the Oregon Occupation?

David French makes the case that those guys in Oregon got railroaded by the government, and a legitimate injustice is being protested:

The prosecution of the Hammonds revolved mainly around two burns, one in 2001 and another in 2006. The government alleged that the first was ignited to cover up evidence of poaching and placed a teenager in danger. The Hammonds claimed that they started it to clear an invasive species, as is their legal right. Whatever its intent, the fire spread from the Hammonds’ property and ultimately ignited 139 acres of public land. But the trial judge found that the teenager’s testimony was tainted by age and bias and that the fire had merely damaged “juniper trees and sagebrush” -- damage that “might” total $100 in value.

The other burn was trifling. Here’s how the Ninth Circuit described it:

In August 2006, a lightning storm kindled several fires near where the Hammonds grew their winter feed. Steven responded by attempting back burns near the boundary of his land. Although a burn ban was in effect, Steven did not seek a waiver. His fires burned about an acre of public land.

In 2010 -- almost nine years after the 2001 burn -- the government filed a 19-count indictment against the Hammonds that included charges under the Federal Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which mandates a five-year prison term for anyone who “maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or possessed by, or leased to, the United States.”

This is part of a longstanding American tradition of peaceful protest -- a sit-in. But if you bring guns to an occupation of a public building, the odds of something going wrong increase. For most peaceful protests, getting arrested is the point; the protester is standing up for something noble and just, and the state is arresting them, in front of the cameras, punishing them for standing up against injustice. The government looks bad and the protesters look good.

Of course, you also need clarity in what your ultimate, tangible objective is.

For two days, the group made only vague statements about what would make them leave. But on Monday night, protest spokesman Ammon Bundy laid out specific demands.

The occupation would end when “the Hammonds are freed and the federal government gives up control of the Malheur National Forest,” Bundy tweeted.

The tweet was later deleted.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building was unoccupied when the armed protesters moved in. There’s not much pressure on the government to act; they can simply wait out the protesters.

If you ever get the feeling that there are some in the media who would like to see another Waco or Ruby Ridge . . . you are probably right:

“People are calling this a standoff, but it isn’t, at least not at the moment. Really what we’re talking about here is maybe a handful, maybe more -- men mainly, as far as I can tell -- who have taken up residence at this National Wildlife Refuge, in some of the buildings here. There’s no law enforcement visible. In town, about 30 minutes away, there is an increased law enforcement presence.

“They say just to kind of show the fact that they’re around. But there certainly [aren’t] blockades, there isn’t any kind of a confrontation, at least nothing like that yet.”

Perhaps calm will carry the day:

Armed men have offered a peaceful resolution to an occupation near Burns, Oregon.

Ryan Bundy of the so-called Bundy Militia tells OPB that he and the other men occupying federal buildings in Harney County, Oregon, will leave peacefully if the people of the community want them to.

Bundy said the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will be calling for a meeting in the near future.

“This is their county – we can’t be here and force this on them,” Bundy told OPB Monday. “If they don’t want to retrieve their rights, and if the county people tell us to leave, we’ll leave.”

Earlier in the day, Harney County Sheriff David Ward asked the men to peacefully leave the community.

Liberals Suddenly Realize that They’ve Demonized Ordinary Language

I said Sunday on Fox News that Trump’s first miracle was getting Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post to write, “In the larger scheme of things, Bill Clinton’s conduct toward women is far worse than any of the offensive things that Trump has said.”

Trump’s second miracle is spurring this conclusion from Kevin Drum:

For someone without my advantages, I can easily see how it might feel almost impossible to express an unpopular opinion without tying yourself in knots. And let’s be honest: We liberals do tend to yell racism a little more often than we should. And we do tend to suggest that anyone who likes guns or Jesus is a rube. And the whole “privilege” thing sure does get tiresome sometimes. And we do get a little pedantic in our insistence that no conversation about anything is complete unless it specifically acknowledges the special problems of marginalized groups. It can be pretty suffocating at times.

For the most part, I don’t mind this stuff -- and conservatives do themselves no favors by harping on supposed PC idiocy like the “war on Christmas.” But the reason I don’t mind it is that I can navigate it reasonably well and I mostly agree with the aims of the PC police anyway. People who have trouble with navigation obviously feel a lot more constrained. So while I don’t really buy Nichols’ argument -- conservatives built the monster named Trump, not liberals -- I do think he has a germ of a point. Donald Trump is basically telling ordinary people that ordinary language is okay, and since that’s the only language they know, it means they feel like they can finally talk again.

Trump’s third miracle will probably be that if gets the nomination, liberals will suddenly have a newfound interest in the Constitution, checks and balances, and limits on the powers of the presidency.

ADDENDA: The reaction to yesterday’s piece about Doomsday Conservatives on Twitter and in the comments section was predictable: about 60 percent calling me an idiot for contending that white nationalism is a key part of the philosophy of Doomsday Conservatives and Trump fans, and about 40 percent calling me an idiot and traitor to my race for not seeing the obvious need for white nationalism. 

 
 
 
 
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