Reciprocity…

The House of Representatives has on deck this week, a bill known as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This bill says, in part, that a concealed carry permit issued by a citizen’s state of residence must be honored by the rest of the several states. It imposes limitations on this reciprocity in the case of people who are not eligible to possess a firearm under federal law (felons), those who are dangerously mentally ill, domestic abusers, and those who have several other disqualifying factors.

Suddenly the Democrats find themselves standing up as the party of state’s rights and the Republicans are the party pushing for federal law to supersede the will of states like New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, so called “may issue” states, where concealed permits are virtually impossible to get for the average citizen. Given the way the law is written, as an American citizen residing in the State of Maryland, this bill, if passed, does precisely nothing to allow me to carry concealed either within Maryland or in any other state. It does mean that residents of Pennsylvania, Delaware, or the District could carry their firearm concealed into the state based on permits issued by those jurisdictions.

I don’t buy that this should be a state’s rights issue any more than I buy that argument when it’s used in opposition any other Constitutionally protected right – same sex marriage, for example. The Constitution should apply equally to all people regardless of the state in which they reside – and that’s why I have a hard time supporting the CCRA.

From my vantage point here in Maryland, it creates a condition under federal law where a resident three miles away in Delaware is allowed to exercise a Constitutional right that I, living in Maryland, cannot. The solution in this case isn’t to overlay the current patchwork of state permits with another layer of federal law. The solution is for federal law to recognize that all citizens, with limitations spelled out clearly for felons, the mentally ill, etc, have the same rights and standing under the Constitution. The solution is for the Congress to recognize the inherent right to self-defense found in the 2nd Amendment and clarified by the Supreme Court’s Heller decision and legislate accordingly.

My reading is the CCRA is a half measure that adds complexity rather than clarity.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Poor resource allocation. In the last three jobs I’ve had, my chosen line of work somehow manage to evolve into being an event planner. That’s not an intrinsically bad thing to be, but it does seem like a bad match to put the person with virtually no interest in talk to people into the role of setting up an event the point of which is to talk to as many people as possible. It’s just a bad fit. It may not be classified as torture, but if given the choice between life as a “wedding planner” and a good waterboarding session, just let me know where to lie down.

2. Highway robbery. According to the lady on the television news, ATM fees are “highway robbery” and having money “ripped away” just because she uses out-of-network machines is unfair. Uhhh. No. You’re paying for the convenience of the service, lady. If you think the fees are too high, maybe just go to your own bank to get money instead of just sticking your card in the closest slot. Even now when I don’t travel very often, I keep a small account at a bank in the area where I grew up so I can withdraw cash without paying $5 a pop for the privilege. Once I withdraw it, I replenish that account with an electronic transfer from my primary bank. I’m just going to assume what the TV lady really meant that she was pissed that she was being charged a fee for being lazy, not really for the fee itself.

3. The Republican Party. OK gang, listen up. How exactly are we expecting the American people to trust us to put up a presidential candidate if we can’t manage to get our own House in order? We’re the majority party. The election of a Speaker should be a foregone conclusion long before it ever gets talked about in the press. We’ve got the chance to put one of our own into what’s arguably the most powerful chair in legislative politics, but instead we’re showing the real life version of Dumb and Dumber. Do you imagine for a moment that Sam Rayburn or Tip O’Neill would have tolerated this level of jackassery from their members?

The big news…

While the Pope of Rome was busy stealing the spotlight, there was some real honest to God news broken over the weekend. Rather than dealing with another round of how stupid can Republican members of Congress make themselves look, the Speaker of the House is opting to resign from Congress and give up the office that stands him second in line to the presidency.

Speaker Boehner has taken massive amounts of criticism from the Tea Party wing for not being conservative enough – as if the Republican Party should have some kind of purity test for membership. Given my oddball 1960’s brand of conservativism that is currently out of favor, I’ve always given the speaker the lion’s share of the credit for managing to hold together a majority that gets anything at all accomplished.

As he edges towards the door, there was a nugget from his interview this morning with CBS Face the Nation that, more than anything else, tells me that John Boehner gets it – perhaps more clearly than any of his contemporaries. While musing on his accomplishments as Speaker despite the active resistance of the most conservative members of the Republican caucus, he offered this, “You know this is the part that I really don’t understand…Our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where if you won the majority you got to do whatever you wanted to do. They wanted this long, slow press. So change comes slowly, and obviously too slowly for some.”

I worry that the next crop of candidates for the top job in the House won’t be so circumspect and will jam through an inevitably crackpot agenda no matter what long term costs might come.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Mobile check deposit. I learned a fun fact about my credit union’s new mobile check deposit process this morning. That little nugget is if you deposit a check by phone and the transaction doesn’t complete, there’s nothing in place outside of their website letting you know that something has gone amiss. No email, no text, just an envelope that shows up on their website when you get around to logging in. That would have been nice to know before going to the ATM this afternoon and finding the account dropped to a zero balance. I’m sure part of the issue is my insistence on using different financial institutions for different services and therefore using mobile check deposits to avoid transfer fees to keep money in motion, but still, I don’t think an email letting a guy know something went sideways or at least that there is a new message waiting on their website is too much to ask.

2. Suing POTUS. This is just one of of the many reasons I left the Republican Party (or maybe it’s really an example of how the party left me). The House of Representatives thinks they’re being cute by trying to drag the courts into the ongoing drama between the legislative and executive branches. The reality is a political solution already exists to remedy the Representative’s grievances. Of course they realize exercising that option creates nothing but problems for them. So basically what you have is just another example of my former party lacking the courage of their misguided convictions. I may disagree with any number of decisions made from the federal bench, but those judges tend not to be complete idiots, so I’ll be amazed if they ever find one to let this kind of asshattery move forward. Then again, I’m not entirely sure anything coming out of Washington can surprise me anymore, so don’t take any of that as a prediction.

3. Ebola. Honest to God, I can’t believe this is even a discussion we’re having in the 21st century. It’s even worse that there are reports circulating about a “special plane” owned by the Centers for Disease Control that could isolate and import ebola victims into the United States for treatment. I’m all for taking care of American citizens who find themselves afflicted in Africa. Import a whole damned hospital wing and treat them on site, but loading them into a jet and bringing them and their virus here just sounds like a ridiculously stupid idea. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks willingly importing a deadly virus into the country is a monumentally bad thing to do, right?

Wimps…

I’m a registered Republican and quite frankly I think the current crop of Republican “leaders” are a bunch of little nancy girls. Total friggin’ pansies. Cowards. Wimps. They’re going through the motions of “shutting down the government” in the name of resisting Obamacare. The reality is that what the government is going to carry out if they have their way is, at best, a partial government shutdown. If the “shutdown” happens, more than half the government will continue to operate. That’s a lame excuse for a shutdown if I ever heard one.

If the Tea Party Republicans were serious about stopping Obamacare, they’d actually shut down the government, not the kind of half-assed stunt like they seem bent on pulling. If they want to make a statement, they should really shut the mother down.

Shut it all the way down and let people suck on no Social Security checks, no federal prison guards or courts, no Border Patrol or Coast Guard; No food stamps, no disability, no agriculture subsidies, no meat inspection or drug oversight. No air traffic controllers, no TSA screeners, no GPS satellites, no weather forecasting or storm warnings. Shut down the VA hospitals, banks, and the stock market. Stop producing electricity at hydro-electric plants across the west. Lock the doors and walk away from every military installation across the country and throughout the world. Tell the troops overseas that they’re on their own until further notice. Take away their pay, food, uniforms, weapons, and ammunition because that came at tax payer expense. If you’re going to say you’re playing hardball, then for God’s sake have the stones to actually play hardball.

Unfortunately, what the loudmouthed amateurs who’ve hijacked the Republican party are doing is grandstanding, not standing on principle. If they were committed to their quest, they’d stop being a bunch of pansies about it… but all I can see them doing today is dicking around with the full faith and credit of the United States of America, loving the sound of their own voices, and trying to scorch the earth just to watch it burn.

You know what? I don’t think Obamacare is good law either, but I can accept that my party lost an election. The fact that we’re on the slippery slope to universal healthcare is an unfortunate results of that loss. It’s painfully obvious that these asshats have no earthly idea what it means to be a Republican (or a republican for that matter), because whatever they are, they’re not acting like the heirs of Lincoln, or TR, or Reagan. Right now they’re acting like nothing more than the bitter cranks that members of my party are always accused of being. That makes for bad politics. It makes for bad public relations. And it makes for bad government.