TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Good morning everybody. Welcome once again, to your Sunday morning liveblog of the high-end, top-dollar, political blatherskite that somehow ends up getting televised, to our lasting detriment. My name is Jason.
I suppose there's no other place to begin today, other than to say that I hope everyone is well, after the very sad events of this past Friday. I sincerely hope none of you have been directly touched, by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. I know that this world we live in online is always closing and collapsing and bring our distant lives closer to one another however, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's someone out there, in this little Sunday morning community of ours, who felt this pain a little more personally, a litte more feelingly, than most. Should that be the case, I hope we can all, today, offer a lift.
I want to try to avoid being overly mawkish. The thing about events like this one, is that we sort of end up convincing ourselves that we live in a sort of bruised age in which these tragedies are common and constant. They do seem to be quite common, if we squint our eyes the right way. But we really shouldn't lose sight of the fact that this really is an uncommon event, in our lives. Go out today. Walk around the place where you live. Take in the faces around you -- those you recognize, and those you don't. And feel confident in this: you are walking in the company of people who are by and large hard at work making your life better, happier, cooler. Your friends and neighbors: they aren't monsters. They are mostly wonderful.
Here's a name to remember: Jarell Brooks. For every terrible human being who has to work hard at being terrible, there are lots of people, like Jarell Brooks, who are just naturally wonderful because it's actually pretty easy to be a wonderful person.
William Saroyan once wrote: "In the time of your life, live--so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it." You guys, I'm quite sure, are doing that. So keep it up! Do that much and we're cool, okay? It will never matter to me what movie you see, or where you work, or where you live, or who you vote for. Just keep up what you're doing okay? I'm sure you're making the world more wonderful.
As always, you should feel free to spend some time with one another in the comments, or send me an email about how terrifically ineloquent I am, or follow me on twitter. Over at my RebelMouse page, I've got plenty of fun and interesting things to read for when you're waiting for more of my liveblog.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Today we will have one of those discussions about gun control that will go nowhere and solve nothing with Dianne "Leave Mitt Romney Alone!" Feinstein and Bailout Baby Ron Johnson, who is a real self-made man if by "self" we mean his "daddy-in-law." And then a panel discussion, as per usual.
As far as the news goes, James Holmes, the guy who shot up the Century 16 movie theatre, is going to be arraigned on Monday, and police have a "mountain of new evidence," as if they needed it. Also, hopefully, they've made this guys apartment building safe again, so that his neighbors can return to their homes.
Okay, so here's Feinstein and Johnson to talk about guns. Feinstein says that her "pure and simple thoughts" are that "weapons of war" do not belong on the streets and that Holmes should not have had access to the sort of weapon that he did have. She says that she has "no problem with people being licensed to own firearms" but that there should be a discussion of what sort of weapons people should have. I'm pretty much a middle-of-the-street type on the 2nd Amendment, but I think it's probably worth a second look at whether private citizens should own, you know, military ordnance. (Though some will tell you that's the whole point of gun rights.) I'm pretty sure most police don't want to see things like CornerShot weapons on the streets. Maybe I'm wrong!
Anyway, she is concerned about weapons that are designed, solely, to kill many human beings in as rapid a fashion as possible. The previous assault weapons ban would have covered the gun Holmes used, and there have been attempts to limit the capacity of the magazines used (high-cap magazines were used in the Gabby Giffords shooting).
Wallace asks if Holmes really has the Constitutional right to buy an AR-15 assault rifle with a hundred-round clip. Johnson says that the problem is that Holmes is sick and demented, and society won't be able to stop all sick and demented people from killing people. He says that this is a story about sick and demented people, not about guns, which, I guess, just enable sick and demented people do their worst sick and demented things. (How sick and demented would things look today, is Holmes only had access to knives?)
The point is, Johnson says, is that he cannot imagine "Washington" being able to do something about it, because there's some force field of magic crappiness that surrounds the city and makes everyone here terrible, I guess? We should probably just burn Capitol Hill to the ground and offshore our policy making to some more useful country.
Wallace notes that Democrats have pulled away from Federal gun control. Feinstein says that the gun lobby has made it hard to win if you're in favor of gun control. She nevertheless questions why anyone makes these extended magazines, with their guns. Johnson says that criminals will always be able to obtain it -- but that's sort of not Feinstein's point.
Let's allow, that there are people out there who have decided to embark on a career of violent criminality, who will, by crook if not by hook, always find the means to kill whoever needs to be killed, as quickly as possible. I think, though, that what Feinstein is wondering, is why anyone NOT decidedly bent on a career in violent crime is able to walk into a store, point at a magazine, ask, "Hey, what does that do?" and be told, "Oh, that? Well, say you have a gun, but you don't think that it will kill people in as rapid a fashion as possible." Why open up a world, of rapid people killing, to people not yet inclined to do a lot of that. I mean, if you went into the deli and in the cheese aisle there was 67 types of cheese you could eat and one type of cheese that exploded in a half-mile radius as soon as you unwrapped it, you'd probably wonder why that one type of cheese was even being sold.
Anyway, Johnson says that semi-automatic weapons really are used in hunting, by hunters who do not enjoy being particularly challenged by the animal kingdom.
"There are thirty-round magazines that are just all over the place," Johnson says.
Wallace asks if maybe there are too few guns. Johnson is very hedgy on this, saying that a responsible individual "maybe...maybe" could have stopped Holmes. It's worth pointing out that guns are illegal in movie theaters in Aurora. Feinstein says that a firefight between two gunman in a dark movie theatre could have been worse.
Also, for the best take on "what could a guy with a concealed-carry weapon" have done, check out Dave Weigel's interview with Greg Block, a California firearms safety trainer. My takeaway is that the notion isn't absurd, but consider the knowledge and skill that Block brings to the table. If you have a concealed carry licence, ask yourself, are you as good as Block is? If not, let's agree that you won't play movie theater hero with your gun until you're as prepared, okay?
"I'm a strong defender of the Constitution," says Johnson, who is actually a pretty mediocre defender of the Constitution, without his wife's father's cash assistance.
Feinstein says, "I think it's a bad time to raise the subject." Because "gun organizations have gotten so strong."
Johnson says, basically, that mass spree-killings of numerous individuals in the prime of the lives by psychopaths is just the new normal in America, because shucks-freedom-shrug.
Now Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is here to discuss this week's terror attack on a bus shuttling Israeli tourists around Bulgaria, and other matters.
Beginning with Syria, Wallace asks what he knows about the condition of Bashar al-Assad's regime. Netanyahu says that he thinks the regime is "not sustainable" and "will go" sooner or later. His main concern is what will happen to Syria's rockets and chemical weapons, should there be a power vacuum in Syria. Wallace asks about earlier contentions that Israel was prepared to enter Syria and claim control of those weapons, Netanyahu says, "We hope we don't have to...but I think this is a real problem," citing the possible of Hezbollah gaining access to chemical weapons.
"The need might arise if there is a regime collapse without a regime change," he notes. Would he prefer that other Western countries (read, us) go in and seize those weapons. Netanyahu demurs, saying he neither seeks not precludes that.
Moving to the Bulgarian bombing -- Netanyahu claims that Hezbollah is behind the bombing, and details the evidence. There was a Hezbollah agent caught in Cyprus planning the same sort of attack. Beyond that, he has "absolutely rock solid intelligence," which obviously isn't going to be documented here on television.
Wallace asks though! Netanyahu says that he's given that intelligence to "friendly agencies." Okay, well, I guess we're not going to crowdsource Middle East terror investigations this Sunday. Sorry everyone!
Netanyahu says that the reason Iran gets away with terrorism is because nobody "names and shames" them. So, here's Benjamin Netanyahu, bravely being the first guy in history to criticize the Iranian regime!
"Imagine them possessing nuclear weapons," Netanyahu enthuses. Hey, imagine ANYONE having them. He's basically convinced that right now, there's no diplomacy to be had, which sort of implies that someone needs to do something -- you know, more bomb-y and go-into-further-massive-debt-y -- so here's looking forward to that. The future is so bright, y'all.
Mitt Romney is coming to Israel to hang out with his pal Bibi from Boston Consulting Group, and Wallace says that Romney's promise is to "do the opposite" of Obama when it comes to Iran. Wallace asks if Bibi understands what that means. He replies, "You're not going to draw me into your politics." Yes, indeed, that's sort of the way this bilateral relationship works.
"But the jury is out," he says, "on all of us." I can't help but feel like Netanyahu is signalling that he'd definitely like to be second in line to attack Iran, he just needs the fish at the table (you know, the "table" from "everything is on the table with regards to Iran") to recognize that they are the fish at the table. (We are probably the fish at the table.)
Netanyahu says he will "receive Romney with the same openness with which I received then-Senator Barack Obama."
Wallace asks one last question about the "changing landscape" in the region and whether the Arab Spring is "good or bad for Israel." He says that "in general" it's been a "cascade of Islamist regimes that hold the first election but what about the next election." "If we have real democracy," he says, "Then we have nothing to fear."
Actually having to run these countries should make a lot of cheap belligerence toward Israel untenable, but one should remember that as governments start to fail or give up, they often succumb to cheap, idiotic belligerence that has no real point. (See also, the Second Iraq War.)
I guess it's time to panel away the hour, with Bill Kristol, Liz Cheney, Kirsten Powers, and clapped-out lobbyist-bred homunculus Evan Bayh.
("In this time of tragedy, let us all heed the words of Evan Bayh," said no one, ever, including the members of his own family.)
What are everyone's thoughts on the matter in general? Bill Kristol takes a moment to remember the people who took measures to protect their own loved ones, only to lose their lives in the process, of which there seem to be a few instances. He compares their efforts to those of Liviu Librescu at Virginia Tech, who I remember because I wrote about him rather inartfully for DCist. He was a really great man, me and Bill Kristol agree.
So what about the "debate over gun control?" Let's continute to pretend to have one, by all means. Bayh says that tragedies will happen, and evil people will be evil, "crime, boy, I don't know." And there isn't the "political support" for change, so, you know, shucks, better shrug the ol' shoulders, sigh, and stare into the middle-distance, manfully.
Bayh goes on to remember all the seats that Democrats lost in trying to take up the issue of gun control. And isn't that the real tragedy? All those lost seats? Yes, Democrats have vowed that they will never again put America through those sad days where the lost seats because they had principles, or something.
Wallace says that he was struck by the fact that Obama didn't announce any new policy, and Bayh reiterates that Obama could see so many electoral votes lost to him, tragically, if he tries to do "something."
Cheney says that there's a "human instinct" to try to find a solution. (This is based on her years of studying "humans" in order to better emulate one.) But, you know, it's a tragedy, and it's a campaign year, what are you going to do? (Maybe not have every single year be a "campaign year?")
Powers says that surely it's smart to limit what choice a spree-killer has, between a handgun or hunting rifle and a semi-automatic weapon with a hundred-round clip.
Cheney brings up the fact that the theater in question had banned weapons from its facility and describes this restriction as "unconstitutional." So, there are, I guess, limits to how much authority she's willing to give business and property owners.
Obviously, we need to consider repealing the third amendment, so we can just quarter troops in movie theatres, forever.
Cheney also says that she's not sure that legislation could prevent, say, gangs from obtaining weapons, but this wasn't a case of gang violence. Powers starts to point this out, but Wallace redirects the conversation to point out that in twenty-years time, support for gun control has dropped. Powers says that the reason that Democrats do nothing, though, because the NRA is powerful and Democrats are fearful. That's true up to a point. Selling off gun control as a platform plank has allowed Democrats to win Western states, where environmentalists live (and pack heat), and they've no real desire to start losing those seats again.
Kristol says that he's a "squish" on gun control, and doesn't see that anyone has a constitutional right to own "machine gun-type" weapons, and that Democrats are being "foolish" because there's support for gun control to be won if they can "separate it from a desire to take away everyone's handguns and hunting rifles." Maybe so, but that would suggest it would be still possible to have a ban on assault weapons, which clearly isn't true.
Moving to the horsey-race. Kristol says that this respite from politics has ironically, made both candidates look more appealing and that maybe Obama and Romney should look at maybe running less "petty" campaigns against each other.
Is the Romney tax returns matter a "good issue" for Obama? Bayh says it's a "helpful" issue, and that clearly Republicans like, say, Bill Kristol think Romney should put out more tax returns. Bayh figures that the only real problem with Romney's tax returns are that they reinforce a stereotype, rather than paint a picture of some sort of grift and graft, and figures that while it bothers some people, those people are already bothered by it. He reckons that the race will only get thoughtful and substantive once it reaches the debate.
Cheney says Romney is "good where he is" and that there will be no satisfying the Obama camp: "There will never be enough." But that's why you put out in the first place, so you don't look like you are afraid to do so. (None of this might matter if the gold standard for disclosing tax returns wasn't set by a guy named George Romney.)
Powers says that Romney needs to "focus on the jobs issue," but she agrees that Romney "looks suspicious" by not releasing the tax returns. However, she reckons that "in the end" there aren't going to be a lot of people who wouldn't vote for Romney if he refuses to release the returns, as opposed to the votes he could potentially lose if those tax returns show things that alienate people. Powers and Wallace have a pointless colloquy over the matter.
Wallace points out that a year ago, Kristol said John McCain should pick Sarah Palin, and so he wants to know his prediction for Romney's V.P. Kristol says that Romney will probably announce it August 6-7, and it should be Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, or Chris Christie, but it will probably be Portman or Pawlenty or maybe just a box of yawns!
THIS WEEK WITH HOPEFULLY ANYONE FROM ABC NEWS BESIDES THE TRULY EXECRABLE BRIAN ROSS
I don't know how much of this show is livebloggable, because it seems pretty bent on wallowing in other people's tragedies. Any new news? In the coming days, it seems like we'll know more about the victims of the tragedy, and how they lived, and how many of them did things to protect their fellow moviegoers, and let's hope that we can get thirty times the coverage of those people next week than we got of the killer this week. Inevitably, we'll know more about the killer, too. Probably more than we want. (Every time I hear something like, "We may never know what was going through the mind of [person who gunned other people down]," I sort of think, "Isn't that a good thing?")
Pierre Thomas, the ABC correspondent covering the criminal justice angle, describes the killer as a "mad scientist" type, "really like a killer in a movie." He had nothing even close to a rap sheet, and thus would not have been barred from purchasing weapons in any event.
Now we're joined by Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper -- whose well-known for having a prankish sense of humor that I'm guessing we'll see no sign of today.
Hogan says that he's got no new information about the crime or its perpetrator to share, other than the fact that it's "hurt the community" and the event has been "tough for Aurora's citizens." Hickenlooper characterizes Holmes as a "kind of terrorist," though not, it should be pointed out, a political one. I really hate to keep making these abstruse connections to Christopher Nolan's Batman series, but it more or less seems like Holmes took the "some men just want to watch the world burn" idea too much to heart.
The first responders in Aurora, from the cops to the EMTs to the emergency room personnel, seem to have done a really superlative job in this crisis. Hickenlooper goes on an extended monologue about the response times and how soon doctors got to work on the wounded. It really seems like a stellar job was done, so props to everyone.
One somber note, per Hogan: there's no guarantee that the number of people killed in this incident won't go up. There are still many people in serious medical condition.
Stephanopoulos brings up the gun control debate, and asks Hickenlooper if it's going to prompt a new look at the issue? Basically, not if Hickenlooper can help it. "I'm sure it might happen," he imagines, in the passive voice, "But this is a human problem." Technically, all "problems" are "human problems" because humans are the only species on the planet with the sentience that allows a "problem" to be perceived. Besides maybe dolphins. But dolphins spend all day swimming around, saving people from drowning, and having sex with one another, with no killing sprees, so maybe they've figured all this crap out.
As near as Hogan can tell, Holmes was a perfectly normal guy, up until some point, where something went terrible wrong.
Hogan is appreciative of the fact that President Obama is coming to Colorado to have private conversations with the families involved, and he thinks he did the right thing by not coming to the vigil, because it would have been an inevitable distraction. He says that from all over the world, people have contacted him, and he really appreciates it. "The city will go one, we're still a great place, we just need a little time to heal."
Now here's Charles Ramsey, who used to run the MPD here in Washington, DC but who now serves as the police commissioner of Philadelphia, to offer some sort of law enforcement perspective.
He says that after the shooting, his officers put special attention on movie theaters, but there needs to be a long-term solution in the future, because he can't possible put a cop everywhere. He says that going forward, there will probably be a brief discussion about gun policy, that it will flare up, fade quickly, and nothing will change, and then this sort of thing will happen again.
Would it have been helpful to have an armed citizen in the theater to take out Holmes? Ramsey is skeptical: "The guy had body armor from head to toe...tear gas, and many states -- and I don't know about Colorado -- that authorize concealed carry have no provisions at all for people to receive training in marksmanship or proper handling of a firearm...so now you have two people shooting in a movie theater, I don't know how that helps."
Ramsey allows that gun control is "not going to stop violence from happening," but he's got day-to-day gun violence that could be mitigated somewhat through policy. Unfortunately, he says, most politicians "lack the courage to do" something about it. Ramsey says he personally supports regulations on internet sales, strict permitting, a ban on things like high-capacity magazines, and very punitive prison sentences for people who use guns to commit crimes.
Now we are going to roundtable with Pierre Thomas, Dan Abrams, and Dr. Richard Besser. Thomas says that the concerns over copycat incidents are starting to subside, but the concern over another incident won't fade anytime soon, because historically, there are just tons of terrible spree-killing incidents. Thomas notes that in counter-terrorism circles, there's a lot of head-scratching over why terrorists do not do more spree-killing, because "it clearly would be effective." I'm not an expert in terrorism, but it seems to me that the political goals of terrorism -- deranged as they are -- would get lost if the "statement" was too easy to perceive as random.
Abrams says that Holmes defense team is going to get access to the movie theater, which is unusual, for some reason. The first question, he says, that the legal system has to answer is whether or not he's competent to stand trial. The question of insanity defenses, he says, actually comes later. (Abrams says that despite the common perception of the insanity defense as a shelter for killers, the fact is that the insanity defense is almost always a loser.)
Besser says, "clearly this is a disturbed individual" but thinks it's not a wise idea to jump to any conclusions or armchaiy psychiatric diagnoses. He says it's actually rare, in these instances, to find that these sorts of killers really are "crazy" by a clinical definition. Abrams points out that just because you have a mental ailment, doesn't mean you have a de facto insanity defense.
Besser also says that it's not healthy for people to watch videos of the mayhem, even as ABC runs a video of the mayhem.
Seriously, everyone. Watch PORTLANDIA, or something.
Well, now we'll have some horsey-race roundtable dribble-drabble from George Will, Jennifer Rubin, Joe Klein, Ed Rendell, and Cokie Roberts. It's unfortunate that GSteph mentions Rendell's book, "A Nation Of Wusses," for a lot of reasons, the primary being that so many people in Colorado proved to be anything but wusses these past few days, and so maybe the next time Rendell wants to criticize the obvious patheticness of the people he trucks with, he could jolly well leave the "nation" out of it?
How do we protect ourselves from twisted, deranged people? Will says that the first step is to accept that some people are twisted, and not some product of society, that can be fixed with tweaks. I'm not quite sure he truly believes that? This is the guy who thinks blue jeans are a clear sign of societal decrepitude. That said, I'll allow that it's going to be David Brooks who says that Holmes is a byproduct of the 1960s, and other such vacuous bunk.
Roberts says that maybe society could surmise something terrible is going to happen when it becomes clear that someone out there in the world is buying thousands or rounds of ammunition. "The internet knows what size dress I wear," she says. (Is that good? That the internet knows that?)
Rubin says that the problem that society could fix may be the way the mentally ill are treated, and not how guns are sold. Klein says that it's still weird that people can be so much ornate and exotic and deadly weaponry, and maybe ammunition should be prohibitively expensive. Rendell just thinks that citizens should not be able to have assault weapons and high-cap clips.
Will says that we need to "deal with Norway," but I think we'll just leave Norway to the Norwegians? Klein gets all scoldy about the "culture" and it's "pornographic violence" that most people wade into and out of very seamlessly without becoming psychotic, or even immoral, so maybe that's not the problem?
Klein attributes the diminishing public support for gun control to the fact that Democrats don't lead a discussion on the matter any more, because of the NRA and how terrified they make Democrats. I think he's excusing a lot of self-interest there -- the Democrats like winning in the West, and winning in the West required that they stop talking about gun control.
Now there's some crosstalk, and Will suggests that we "test Klein's hypothesis" about the coarsening of culture, just a few minutes after he said that society at large shouldn't shoulder the burden for these crimes.
Will says conservatives have a tragic view that informs them that no matter how much expertise is brought to bear on a problem, that nothing will help, ever and the world will remain a "broken place," so let's just all go home and get into bed and stay there, waiting for kittens to come and nuzzle us. Klein keeps arguing that we could, in some way, LIMIT the extent of tragedy. This doesn't seem to be a gulf that will be bridged anytime soon.
Maybe some horsey-race crap, now, to close out the roundtable. Will laments that there were lots of negative ads, and that this year, the negativity seems particularly brutal. Roberts says this won't change, because everyone's basically worried about getting outgunned on the air by a negative ad. (Also, who wants to come off like they live in a "nation of wusses," right?)
Rubin notes, though, that the only people who could possible be swayed by a negative ad are the people who aren't naturally locked in to an ideological stance and who thus are spending the summer "having a life." I think that's correct. Those folks will tune back in, in the fall, the rest of us should swallow August, and its traditional, election-year awfulness.
Will says that the tenor of the election was changing of late, with Obama and Romney finally showing some "honest passion." I'm not actually sure that's true, but I suppose we'll see, when the two men start campaigning again, whenever that happens. It would seriously be awesome, if everyone decided to take the next thirty days off. It would also be awesome if we could somehow keep campaign activity restricted to a short time frame, like they do in the U.K.
ABC News helpfully provides the names of those who lost their lives in Aurora, Colorado this week. They are: John Larimer, Alex M. Sullivan, Rebecca Ann Wingo, Matthew McQuinn, Alexander Teves, Jonthan Blunk, Jessica Ghawi, Micayla Medek, Gordon Cowden, Alexander Boik, Jesse Childress, and Veronica Moser-Sullivan. Larimer, Blunk, and Childress served in out armed services. McQuinn and Teves died protecting their girlfiends from harm. Ghawi, if you don't know this already, was the survivor of another mass shooting at the Eaton Center in Toronto.
Tell other people about these people, okay?
MEET THE PRESS
As you might expect, MEET THE PRESS is going to stick with this story, too. We're joined by Governor Hickenlooper again, who reiterates that he appreciates the outpouring of support and assures everyone that the people who he's spoken with have demonstrated "buoyancy and resilience." He says that the "anger" that makes you "want to strangle this guy" needs to "translate" into a desire to left up one's fellow man, instead. Hickenlooper says that if you get to know the people in the theatre, and how they acted, it will provide a lot of solace. "Heroism isn't a strong enough word."
The suspect, he says, is lawyered up and not cooperating. Law enforcement, however, is "working together" to make the case and keep everyone safe. He once again lauds the functional, fast way first respondents went about their business.
Hickenlooper says that so far, no one has even an "iota" of an idea what cause Holmes to snap.
Gregory notes that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg called upon Obama and Romney to stop talking in sentimental fashion about the incident and move to a concrete discussion of "what they intend to do about guns." Hickenlooper says, "I think that debate is going to happen." (I don't!) He also says that Holmes was just twisted, and diabolical and demented, so what's to be done. "It's a human issue," he repeats, because that's the talking point. (You aren't going to win many elected offices state-wide in Colorado being in favor of gun-control.)
Hickenlooper says that his chief of staff took lots of people to see Batman last night, and that it was a "political statement."
No, it wasn't. Doing the easiest thing in the world is never a political statement.
The NBC News reporter finds it striking that there was an extraordinary number of young people in the movie theatre. I'll remind her that it was a midnight showing of a Batman movie.
Now, we have Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was killed by a similar gun-wielding spree-killer, former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, and former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton.
Bratton says that the "single individual who operates below the radar...remains the most difficult" criminal to deal with, from a law enforcement perspective. McCarthy concurs, but points out that the common thread is "large magazines." Chertoff says that "as horrible as the tragedy is...it could have been worse," and cites the first respondents and the people in the theater, who "did the best they could to protect themselves and one another."
Can the James Holmeses of the world be caught before they act? Bratton says that such criminals are "bad, and mad," and that in some instances, it is possible for law enforcement to check on people whose mental condition is deteriorating, but police need people to do the old "if you see something say something" routine.
Gregory runs down some of the "high profile massacres" that have happened (which always leaves out the low profile massacres, I guess), and asks about Louie Gohmert's insistence that someone else in the theatre could have stopped the killing if only they'd be armed. McCarthy isn't convinced that's an argument, and she's been told by plenty of law enforcement officials that say that's the "worst scenario."
Of course, everything was purchased legally, and even if he couldn't purchase the guns, the guy was building bombs. Chertoff says that it's disconcerting to learn that you can create deadly weapons out of household materials. He adds, though, that when you can perceive that someone's not well, in terms of mental health, especially in cases where people become "more isolated and start changing the way they relate to people," that's a situation that law enforcement can help deal with.
Here's Bratton's take on the matter: "The Congressman who made the comment about that if people in the theatre had been armed they may have been able to stop this individual. He was armed to the teeth with all types of bullet protection materials. The ability of a citizen to try and take that individual down, equipped the way he was, would have been de minimis. Fortunately for the responding officers, it seems that his automatic weapon, semiautomatic rifle, jammed. Otherwise, they would have been outgunned. The initial responding officers who probably would have had nine millimeter, 40 millimeter and a shotgun. He would have been able to basically, the way he was equipped, take them on. First responding officers weren't SWAT officers, so this issue of arm everybody, I'm sorry, in this circumstance I don't know that that would have made a difference."
Gregory points out that Democrats don't seem to want to take on the issue of gun control. McCarthy says, "I personally think that it was a fallacy when President Clinton was able to pass the assault weapons bill. Everybody kind of forgets about that time in history. We also raised taxes." She says, "I don't think the members that lost actually lost on the gun issue."
"But the thing of it is as a politician a lot of politicians know it's the right thing to try to fight for something to save lives," she says, "They don't have a spine anymore. They pander to who's giving them money."
Bratton: "The tragic irony of this and the continuation of these types of incidents, and they will continue, is that the outrage that's expressed against the perpetrator and the act is not then reflected in the part of the general public about wanting to do something about the instruments that are used to kill so many, the guns. All the polls I've seen recently indicate that the American population is following the political leadership who are missing in action, most of them on this issue, by increasingly being in favor of, if you will, relaxing of gun laws."
I just think they're increasingly in favor of being increasingly missing in action.
I suppose it would be very inappropriate of me to joke about wanting to shoot up my teevee, with a gun. Here to test my resolve on that matter is the MEET THE PRESS roundtable, which features (as I had feared, gravely) David Brooks. Also Michelle Rhee. And Bob Shrum. Only the GOP strategist, Steve Schimidt, qualifies as a person who is capable of speaking aloud without making my brain burn. (I have a soft spot for apostates, I guess.)
Anyway, I guess we are attempting some horsey-race stuff. Brooks says that the candidates are going to have to figure out whether to focus on the guns or the person, and he thinks they should focus on the person, which the candidates have no legal purview over, so, what does he want? I don't know. There are a lot of "lonely" people, and we should have a "debate" about them, and look out for people who have fallen through the cracks.
Rhee says that it would be a mistake to say that there is a silver bullet solution to the problem, except for maybe destroying all teacher's unions, with silver bullets.
Schrum says that the "gun control debate" is basically settled, because it costs people their seats in Congress. Just about anything, by the way, can cost you your seat in Congress. This is sort of an argument against doing anything at all, about anything. And the reason people want to retain their seats, so desperately, is because you cash-out big time, the longer you hold on to it.
Okay, so some real horse-race stuff. Shrum says that Romney erred in the period between the end of the primary and the start of the Olympics by allowing Obama to define him, all of which cost him specific esteem with certain demographic groups and clouded his standing overall. I think that's about right...but the problem is hardly fatal, because the economy is terrible. Schmidt notes this: the wrong track numbers, the approval numbers, the economic polling has kept the race tight.
Rhee says that "one thing that people are missing is that we're not going to fix the economy in the long run without addressing education." Actually, we're not going to fix the economy in the long run without fixing the economy in the short run, and unfortunately, we have this toxic inability to let go of the long-term policy trajectory debate long enough to actually stop the world from burning down.
(For more on this, see Jamelle Bouie's post, "The Beltway's Destructive Obsession with the Deficit.")
Shrum figures that the anti-Romney argument that Obama is mounting will "go from Bain, outsourcing, taxes, offshoring, to [Romney's] policies." I think it will go from Bain, vulture capitalism, gutting Medicare, gutting the middle-class, to end up with tying Romney (who doesn't have "policies" -- at least none that he'll cop to, at the moment) to Paul Ryan's Hunger Games budget plan. It's a good strategy, that still could easily lose out to Romney going from the economy is terrible to the economy is terrible to the economy is terrible to the economy is terrible.
Schmidt is right that Romney needs not come out with a governing vision until he absolutely has to -- which is probably the convention. The sooner you are specific, the sooner Obama can attack those specifics. The problem, though, with his tax returns isn't, as Schmidt suggests, that it's not an important issue that can be extended over the next 100 days and win the election. The problem is that it's now a part and parcel with the lumpen discontent that conservatives have for Romney. And the more Romney activates that discontent, the more conservatives will yell at Romney for not defining himself. David Brooks wants Romney to specifically defend the Bain Capital style of capitalism. It can be defended. But can you imagine Romney doing such a thing? I can't. This is the guy who wouldn't even RUN Bain Capital without getting all sorts of assurances that if it failed, he wouldn't be blamed for it.
Schmidt assures everyone that there's nothing wrong with Romney's tax returns, and that the story with Romney not becoming the V.P. has to do with a terrible political decision.
Know why else Romney didn't end up McCain's veep? Because John McCain really, really hates him. Watch McCain debate Romney, and it's instantly obvious.
Anyway, various pundits have various opinions on who Romney might choose as his running mate, let's summarize it by saying "Rob Portman," and move on with our lives.
Michelle Rhee agrees with David Gregory's "way out on a limb" observations that the presidential debates could be "a big moment."
Now Gregory wants people to react to the removal of the Joe Paterno statue. I don't have much to say about that. Probably it's too bad that we're much more serious about the quick removal of statues than we are about the quick removal of pedophiles. Let's keep winning all the unnecessary battles, America!
Okay, well, once again this liveblog has come to an end. I'll simply leave here with a shared hope that if we cannot have better days ahead, we'll surely be happy to have some boring days instead. Have some kind of pleasant week, everyone.
[The Sunday Morning Liveblog returns next week. In the meanwhile, I've got fun and interesting reads over at my RebelMouse page. Check it out.]