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Packing heat everywhere

Personally, I’m convinced that the paranoid white guys who insist God wants them to carry guns everywhere are the same men who obsess over penis size, but I could be wrong. You never know.

Some bad ideas refuse to die. Include in that category an extreme proposal percolating in the House to strip states of their authority to decide who may carry a concealed loaded firearm. This gift to the gun lobby, the subject of a hearing last week by a House Judiciary subcommittee, is nearly identical to a provision the Senate defeated by a narrow margin two years ago.

Every state but Illinois makes some allowance for concealed weapons. The eligibility rules vary widely and each state decides whether to honor another state’s permits. For example, 38 states prohibit people convicted of certain violent crimes like assault or sex crimes from carrying concealed guns. At least 36 states set a minimum age of 21; 35 states require gun safety training.

The proposed National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 would shred those standards and the public safety judgments behind them, creating a locked-and-loaded race to the bottom in which states with strict requirements, like New York, would be forced to allow people with permits from states with lax screening to carry hidden loaded guns.
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And its chances in hell. That’s pretty much how Obama’s reelection speech went this morning. It won’t pass, it’s red meat for the base — if you’re the kind of person who likes to smell meat without actually ever getting to eat any.

No, no, no

It’s the “uncertainty,” damn it!

A Middle Class White Guy

There was a recent incident where some middle class white guy wrote to me, in two successive emails, the following things:

“You are sick, stupid and a plague on the world.”

“The only thing you could write that would improve the world, is your suicide note.”

Here’s what made it worse: it wasn’t a random trolling, I have known this person for years and we have mutual friends.

Here’s what other middle class white guys thought made it better: he’s a regular guy with a regular job that we have known for years.

Sorry, that also makes it worse. This may be tricky if you are a middle class white guy who’s never had your personal safety depend on understanding this, but bear with me.

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Working for free

Of course it’s something that appeals to Republicans! It provides free labor, no benefits and a dead end:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) isn’t a fan of President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act, but he does like the idea of allowing people who are receiving unemployment benefits to work for free.

The plan is based on a program called Georgia Works which matches job seekers with employers. Under the plan, employers agree to provide up to eight weeks of on-the-job training. Workers, who can only work for 24 hours a week, continue to receive unemployment benefits instead of getting paid.

“The Georgia plan sounds pretty interesting,” Ryan told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday. “I think that’s something we are looking at, which is unemployment reform.”

Ryan’s remarks echo House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) support of the idea.

“We stand ready to work with [President Obama] if there is interest in implementing a similar program on the federal level,” Cantor said.

According to data the Georgia Department of Labor provided to The Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney, the program isn’t very successful.

Between 2003 and 2010, only 16.4 percent of people that participated in the program found work, about the same rate as those who were not participating. As of late August, there were only 19 trainees enrolled in Georgia Works.

Game plan

Jonathan Bernstein on Obama using GOP’s fear of the trigger:

This time, the consequences of failure are very different — and what we can see in the strategy on the jobs bill and the deficit reduction plan is a very different calculation. The White House is clearly willing to accept the possiblity that the Joint Select Committee won’t be able to strike a deal, thus setting off the trigger. Perhaps White House advisers believe the trigger isn’t really all that bad a package. Or perhaps they believe that Republicans will blink first on this one, because the defense cuts and some of the other measures in the trigger might hit a bit too close to important GOP constituency groups. Or perhaps the White House calculation is that it doesn’t really matter if the trigger is enacted, since if Obama is reelected there’s plenty of time to cancel the actual cuts before they take effect.

The bottom line is that there’s no Republican “crazy person” strategy to gain leverage for the GOP this time around. Without the entire economy to hold hostage, no one cares very much if Republicans are willing to walk away from a reasonable compromise. My guess is that if Republicans do decide to deal, Obama will be just as ready as ever to bargain — but this time, he’ll be doing it from a much stronger position. And if it turns out to be true that Republicans are more afraid of the trigger than the Democrats are, then that suggests that the Democrats may have done far better in the summer debt ceiling negotiations — they won that trigger, after all — than many liberals have been willing to acknowledge.

Tea Party nihilists

And cliffs.

The fighting spirit

From the United Steelworkers Union:

A picture tells a thousand tales

Will Bunch.

Tax the rich

Looks like the new approach by the administration is a lot closer to what the rest of us have been calling for. We’ll know the details in President Obama’s speech today — in the meantime, HuffPo reports Obama will veto anything from the Super Committee that’s all Medicare cuts and no tax hikes:

President Obama on Monday will unveil a plan to tame the nation’s rocketing federal debt that will draw a sharp contrast with the Republican vision and amount more to an opening play in the fall’s debate over the economy than another attempt at finding common ground with the opposing party.

The president will propose $1.5 trillion in new taxes as part of a plan to find at least $3 trillion in budget savings over a decade, according to a person familiar with the matter. Combined with his call earlier this month for $450 billion in new stimulus, the proposal represents a more populist approach to confronting the nation’s economic travails than the compromises he advocated this summer.

Obama will propose new taxes on the wealthy and a special new tax for millionaires, according to White House officials. But he won’t call for any changes in Social Security, officials say, and may seek less-aggressive changes to Medicare and Medicaid than previously considered. In particular, people familiar with the matter say he is unlikely to call for an increase in the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

Coming as a congressional super­committee goes to work to find budget savings this fall, Obama’s position will probably delight Democrats, who have fretted for months that he is doing too little to solve the nation’s jobs crisis while being too willing to embrace major changes to Medicare and Social Security.

But his plan has little chance of passing and is already inflaming Republicans, who have vowed to oppose new taxes and have called for deep cuts in federal spending and entitlements. On Sunday, Republicans responded with vitriol to the proposal to create a special tax for millionaires.

“Class warfare may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It adds further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”

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