Dissecting Biden’s Gun Order(s)

Republicans will automatically object; Democrats will automatically cheer. It’s shirts v. skins out there, and that’s just how the game is played.

For the rest of us, however, it’s useful to have the details and judge based on them, rather than on what team scored the point.

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The Not Fake News Update, 28 March 2021

If you’ve been paying attention to recent events, you’ll be aware that an ultra-massive container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal the other day and is playing havoc with global shipping. If not, you’ll be interested to learn of it. Either way, here are a few other things that have happened recently that you might have missed.

Note: There’s not much good news, and the humor is ultra-cynical. If you’re having a bad day, you might give this Update a miss.

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The Price Of Freedom (Part 2)

In the last article, the statement was made that “it’s because of the First Amendment that the Second can be discussed”. The price of freedom is freedom; the ability to discuss a topic makes it inevitable that such topic will be brought up. As such, it well behooves us to be prepared for that conversation when it comes, whether on a personal or a national level.

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The Price Of Freedom (Part 1)

Those four words invoke a thousand images: rows of crosses on foreign shores, a kneeling Marine in dress blues handing a folded flag to a small boy, a uniformed man with no legs saluting as the flag goes by in a parade.

That’s where the mind goes, and with good reason. A lot of good men and women have fought and died to preserve our freedom, and we should honor that sacrifice. There are those who will scoff, saying things like “fighting for oil” and the “military-industrial complex” — but that’s not disagreeing; we need to make absolutely certain that, in the future, we never go to war for less than a righteous cause, or we dishonor the price that will be paid.

Worthy though that sentiment is, however, that’s not what I came here to say today.

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Bloody Spring

Opinion

It’s happened again: We’ve had yet another mass shooting. Just between us, as more and more people start coming out of their year-long lockdowns, I predict we’re going to have a fair number more. We got a year off from them, but that just means we’ve had people become crazy at the normal rate… but they didn’t have obvious targets and so kept right on stewing in their basements.

Plus, every time there’s one of these shown on CNN, it seems other nuts see the television coverage and get inspired to do one of their own — as though being a copycat nut-job is somehow better than the first one, who might have been honestly acting out his own selfish frustrations on innocents rather than pretending to for the free press.

Don’t get me wrong: They’re both foul and almost inhumanly selfish. But the copycat is at least partly after the attention, which is worse — people’s lives are more valuable than that.

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Earmarking: Greasing The Wheels

For decades, the term has been synonymous with Congressional corruption. Earmarks were the bane of responsible spending, the origin of billion-dollar boondoggles, bridges to nowhere, unwanted highways, and quid pro quo politics. Figures as different as Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama both parlayed their opposition to earmarking into heightened political power.

Today, there is a movement underway within the Democratic leadership to bring the practice back; Republicans, traditionally more responsible with spending, are initially showing some resistance. So who’s right and why?

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The Filibuster

While it may seem a strange way to conduct business, the filibuster within the Senate has existed as a procedure since 1806. It originated seemingly accidentally as an unforeseen consequence of a simple rules change, and has in one form or another regulated the legislative process ever since.

It has a much longer history; the first recorded filibuster was by Cato in the Roman Senate, opposing one of Caesar’s proposals in 60 B.C. However, the weight of tradition alone is insufficient to maintain this tool; one of McConnell’s unlauded triumphs was its preservation in the rules of the present Congress by passive opposition to the transfer of Senate leadership until language defining and guaranteeing it was inserted into the agreement. Otherwise, it may have been ended immediately with the convening of the new Senate — and it may well be again in 2022.

What is for us to consider rather is whether this tool is valuable enough to preserve, or instead fully deserves to be discarded as a relic of a long-outmoded past.

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What’s Actually In The Relief Bill?

With a nearly $2 trillion price tag, what is hopefully the last COVID-19 relief bill is up for debate in the Senate today — and, probably, tomorrow and the next and…

Due to the curious process under which it’s being considered — the Reconciliation rules — there’s no chance of a filibuster on the table; on the other hand, both the complexity of the proposed legislation and certain parliamentary tricks will create some fairly significant delays. These are normal (if petty) maneuvers; more to the point is considering the complexity of the bill proper.

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H.R. 1: Voter’s Rights Versus Election Security

Opinion

The headline’s boring, because I don’t write clickbait (no matter what Justin says). It’s also inaccurate, because the debate is being framed by two partisan groups who have skin in the game.

I’ll spell it out: While it would be nice to be able to say that Republicans are genuinely concerned about securing elections from fraud, or that Democrats are trying to make sure that everyone who wants to vote can vote, we really can’t. Oh, sure, when it comes to voters, that might well be their actual concerns, but that’s only because that’s what’s being hammered into them as what’s important by people they trust to tell them about things. The very simple version of the truth is, the Democrats want this to pass because it will mean they win more elections, and the Republicans don’t want it to pass for the same reason.

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The Not Fake News Update, 02 March 2021

Well, COVID is still raging, though there’s now a third vaccine approved in the US. Trump showed up at CPAC to wild applause, and whether or not that’s a Nazi rune on the floor, there was actually a golden Trump idol you could get a picture with. Oh, and we’ve got a couple new robots exploring Mars.

All this is true, and it’s news; so far so good. But if you think that’s all the news, you’ve got another think coming. Here’s just a few things that happened over the past couple of weeks that you might have missed.

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