PROPOSAL: The Well-Regulated Militia Act of 2013

“By calling attention to ‘a well regulated militia’, the ‘security’ of the nation, and the right of each citizen ‘to keep and bear arms’, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation, the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason, I believe the Second Amendment will always be important.” 

– John F Kennedy

After a rash of multiple-victim public shootings in the last few months, the “we must do something” mentality has reached near-consensus levels. From armed guards at schools to blanket gun bans to national registry to mental health awareness, everyone has an solution. If we must do something, let’s do something smart. I would like to propose a moderate, comprehensive plan to address several gun-related issues that might satisfy the “do something”ers, as well as disparate ideological forces all at once.

One of the most popular gun control measures proposed recently is a national registry of all gun ownership (or sales). I’m skeptical that having a list of who owns what gun would prevent anyone from using them in a crime, only make them easier to track after, but let’s consider it. An acquaintance (and political adversary) of mine, Patrick Goff, suggested making gun registration part of a militia membership. Innovative! Synergistic! Bipartisan! Brilliant!

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution reads:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

At the time of the founding, there was no standing army (and generally, the founders were against having one), so the military defense of the nation and the people was ensured by the people themselves being armed, and called to service when necessary. One argument against the individual right to arms is that without a “well regulated militia” that right is no longer applicable. Then what if we in effect re-created the militia with the national gun registry that so many suggest? You would register your gun with your state’s National Guard, who would then issue you a (cheesy as it sounds) membership card as an honorary member of the National Guard militia.

This might sound like a national military conscription, and there’s certainly the threat that a different administration and Congress might want to turn it into one, but it wouldn’t be. We already have the Selective Service System that enables a nationwide draft upon congressional approval. Militia membership would not require any action or service from the member, only serve as an incentive to register your guns.

To give further incentive to this arrangement, militia membership might provide modest tangible benefits. The member could be entitled to a free gun safety/target practice/self defense course at the nearest National Guard base once every three years. Concealed carry permitting could be streamlined by militia membership. (If you have ideas for other benefits, leave a comment!)

Of course this proposal does not solve gun violence, cure mental illness, or keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but it does represent a huge, potentially bipartisan step forward in responsibility and awareness.

Texans vs Patriots, a history

To prepare for the Texans-Patriots divisional playoff game this weekend, let’s review the Patriots’ postseason history under Brady.

– beat Broncos (beat Broncos week 15)
– beat Ravens (hadn’t played Ravens that year)
lost to Giants (lost to Giants 24-20 week 9 & preseason week 4)

lost to Jets (beat Jets 45-3 week 13)

lost to Ravens (beat Ravens 27-21 week 4)
(note: lost to Texans 34-27 week 17)

– didn’t make playoffs

– beat Jaguars (hadn’t played Jaguars that year)
– beat Chargers (beat Chargers 38-14 week 2)
lost to Giants (beat Giants 35-30 week 17, 27-20 preseason week 4)

– beat Jets (lost to Jets 17-14 week 10)
– beat Chargers (hadn’t played Chargers that year)
lost to Colts (lost to Colts 27-20 week 9)
(note: beat Texans 40-7 week 15)

– beat Jaguars (hadn’t previously played Jaguars that year)
lost to Broncos (lost to Broncos 28-20 week 6)

– beat Colts (beat Colts 27-24 week 1)
– beat Steelers (lost to Steelers 34-20 week 8)
– beat Eagles (beat Eagles preseason week 1)

– beat Titans (beat Titans 38-30 week 5)
– beat Colts (beat Colts 38-34 week 13)
– beat Panthers (hadn’t previously played Panthers that year)
(note: beat Texans 23-20 week 12)

– didn’t make playoffs

Certainly the Patriots are a great team and have done well to consistently get to the playoffs and do well once there. But looking at their playoff losses, three of them were to teams they had previously beaten, and three of them were to teams they had previously lost to in the regular season. For their 13 playoff wins, six of them were against teams they had previously beaten, five against teams they hadn’t played, and two against teams to whom they had lost.

So while they do have a nearly 50% chance of beating teams twice in a season, they also have a 50% chance of losing to a team they’ve previously beaten, especially recently. In two of the last three post-seasons, they lost their first game to a team they’d beaten earlier in the year.

The Texans (with Schaub) have only played the Patriots twice. The Texans won the first meeting in 2009 and lost the second this year. They are absolutely capable of beating them again, especially with the newly confident, healthy, balanced team they have now. Betting on the Patriots might be a smart move, but it’s not a certainty, even based on their playoff history.

For Current TV, Al Jazeera > Glenn Beck

I’m no Glenn Beck fan (though I used to be), but this is pretty outrageous:

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze approached Current about buying the channel last year, but was told that “the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view,” according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

So according to Current TV executives (see: Al Gore), Glenn Beck isn’t “aligned with [their] point of view” (obviously), but Al-Jazeera, a network that uses questionable methods to be a primary source for terrorist propaganda, is?

It could be that A-J just offered them more money than Beck did, and they’re using the ideology argument to bolster their progressive audience while they’re in the news. But if they truly did mean it, and “point of view” was one of the criteria used to reject Blaze and select A-J, it adds a whole new level to the red-green (or in this case, black-green) alliance to undermine Western institutions.

Senate fiscal cliff deal in numbers

Let’s take a broad look at what 40 Senate Republicans voted for last night to avert the fiscal cliff deficit reduction they passed over the last few years.

Biden-McConnell Plan:
$620 billion revenue – mostly from tax increases on $400,000+ incomes
$30 billion in new spending – unemployment extension not offset
$15 billion in cuts – mostly military and healthcare tweaks
Postpones automatic sequester cuts of $1.5 trillion for 2 months 

Those sure do seem like small numbers. To see just how small, consider that they’re spread out over 10 years, then compare them to 1 year of the budget itself.

$3.8 trillion total spending
$2.9 trillion total revenue

But let’s compare apples to apples: 1 year of the budget to 1 year of the deal.

$3.8 trillion spending to start
$3 billion new spending
$1.5 billion cuts
end with … wait for it … $3.8 trillion spending

$2.9 trillion revenue to start
$62 billion new revenue (assuming economic growth doesn’t slow…)
end with … wait for it … $2.9 trillion revenue

In broad terms of the budget, absolutely nothing was accomplished either in revenue or spending. Next, let’s take a look at the previous proposals to really judge where we ended up.

Geithner Plan
$1.6 trillion new revenue – increase taxes, eliminate deductions over $250k income
$50 billion new spending
$350 billion cuts

Boehner counteroffer
$800 billion new revenue – eliminate deductions over $250k income
$1.2 trillion cuts

Obama outline
$1.2 trillion new revenue – increase taxes, eliminate deductions over $400k income
$80 billion new spending
$1.2 trillion cuts

Boehner “Plan B”
$1 trillion new revenue – increase taxes, eliminate deductions over $1M income
$1 trillion cuts

So instead of $350 billion to $1.2 trillion in cuts, we got $15 billion. Instead of $800 billion to $1.6 trillion in new revenue, we got $620 billion. Over 10 years.

This is not compromise, it’s surrender.