Monday, April 8, 2013
On ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos", Greta van Susteren brought up the talking points of "job creators" and Washington hurting "small businesses".
Without defining how she categorizes what makes a business "small", she offered the following.
"We're strangling small businesses, I mean, no one's paying much attention to these small businesses, the regulations that are strangling them, some are laughable and silly, but they have profound impact on the job creators, those who are making jobs. They can't afford to hire people to do them."
The Small Business Administration (SBA) views 500 employees as a small business for most industries. Using a very different yardstick, the ACA(Obamacare) considers businesses with 50 or more employees large enough to require them to provide healthcare to their staff. Additionally, the smaller the business, the more ACA tax credits they get for offering health care to their employees.
In an extremely rare inquiry into what one means when they use the abstract rhetoric of "small business", George Stephanopoulos asks van Susteren if some businesses cut off their work force at 49 employees in order to avoid Obamacare responsibilities. She does not respond by defining what constitutes a "small business". Rather, she avoids the definition entirely, and offers more abstract rhetoric...
"Instead of looking at just numbers, if you actually talk to them, a lot of them are struggling with this, they don't understand a lot of those things that happen, they don't understand a lot of things that happen in Washington. They're very cautious because they see a real dismal economy out there, and that does have an impact."
Though no one pointed out that van Susteren first claims small businesses are being "strangled" by regulations, then claimed that "small business" owners aren't hiring because they "don't understand", Paul Krugman points out "If you actually talk to them, that's not what they say."
But the crucial question of who "they" really are is virtually never addressed despite endless rhetoric about the plight of "small businesses". The term itself is extraordinarily misleading. Intentionally. The term "small business" conjures up the image of a "Mom and Pop store". Politicians rarely use that term however, since when they speak of "small businesses", they are including under that umbrella quite large businesses with up to 500 employees.
Of course very few people have actually given thought to just how do you really define a business as "small". You would be very hard pressed to find a random voter that thinks a business the size of a Wal-Mart store is actually a small business. What about 250 employees? 100? 50?
Personally, I think that if your business is successful enough to employ 50 people, you are no longer a "small" business.
But exactly what magic number of employees or annual company profit anyone uses to personally view any business as "small", the label is little more than an abstract impression. We root for the small business person to grow their company and be very successful. We love the narrative of rags to riches. We also don't define when riches have been more than adequately reached. Such a concept is contrary to the American psyche. As a result, we never speak of "medium" businesses. The general (political) references to business size in America is self-restricted to just small business and corporations.
Consider a handyman with one part-time employee, or a self-employed artist, or a small carpet-cleaning business with 4 employees, or a Mom and Pop store with 6 employees. These are truly small businesses. That huge gap between "small business" and corporation does a real disservice to every one of them. When we allow politicians to imply they are referring to THESE small business people when in fact their umbrella-term "small business" is speaking of large companies even bigger than a Wal-Mart store with up to 500 employees, we are all being duped.
I suggest that every time you hear a political talking head, or a politician refer to "small business", you demand from them a definition of that term before accepting the remaining rhetoric that follows.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Patrick Murphy(D-FL) follows Tammy Duckworth, Chuck Hagel, Shuan Donovan, Maurice Jones, President Obama, Mark Begich and Claire McCaskill in forgoing part of his sequester-exempted government salary.
While most Congressional and administration staff is subject to pay cuts and furloughs as a result of the sequestration, the pay of actual Congressional members and administration officials is exempt from the sequestration cuts. Those listed above must accept their paychecks in full, then write checks to equal the cuts they vowed for themselves.
Some, like President Obama, are returning the percentage they promised back to the Treasury.
Others, like Patrick Murphy, will be writing those checks to various charities. In Murphy's case, he will write a check each month to a different Florida cause.
For all the talk about a bloated budget and government over-spending, I have to wonder if Allen West would have done the same had he won a re-election and Patrick Murphy did not replace him in Congress. I'm not aware of West having done that when he actually was in Congress.
|After a prolonged contesting of the election results, |
Allen West lost his House seat to Democrat Patrick Murphy.
Frankly, I don't know the political affiliation of HUD deputy secretary Maurice Jones, but there is a noticeable pattern in the eight people listed above who are vowing self-imposed pay cuts. Other than Chuck Hagel (and the unknown of Jones), the list is overwhelmingly made up of Democrats.
At the moment I am not aware of any others vowing such salary sequestration solidarity. Even despite the never-ending cry from the GOP about how government spending must be cut, then cut some more, that talking point seems to end when it comes to THEIR bloated salaries.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
This linked video obviously focuses on pointing out how easy it is to do a background check before purchasing a gun, but if you listen to Mark Giffords read off the questions asked in that background check, this video actually offers up a separate issue as well. The questions asked are pretty straightforward and have obvious relevance.
One question however should bring up a whole list of questions that should be asked in return.
When the background check asks - "Are you an unlawful user addicted to marijuana?" - my reaction is - what fool thinks that marijuana is a lone substance that if over-used will lead to gun owners using their firearms in an inappropriate, reactionary way that will put others at risk?
Why is marijuana singled out? Frankly, I am far more concerned about a firearm owned by someone addicted to alcohol, cocaine, LSD, or even legal drugs sold to adults every day on the television. Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you. This drug that spends half the commercial listing all the side-effects, often including depression, and thoughts of suicide, etc. etc. How in the world is marijuana use the concern in relation to gun ownership when its side effects are primarily the munchies, and calmness. Even for those who respond with paranoia, I think the threat of gun mis-use would be far less than virtually any other drug, legal or not.
I must disclose that no, I do not have direct experience with marijuana. I have yet to try it. I have however seen people use it, and even in the extreme cases of such use that I have seen, the effect of marijuana made them actually far more trustworthy in regards to inappropriate acts of passion - like with a firearm.
In fact, I have yet to see any evidence that marijuana use, even over-use, warrants more concern with regards to mis-use of a firearm. I have in fact seen the exact opposite. I have seen a single inhale convert very stressed, angry and reactionary moods virtually instantly into far calmer, more rational thought processes.
Despite the evidence though, I still have no desire to use marijuana myself. I have however made a vow, that come age 60, regardless of any medical need or not, I do plan to try it for myself. I am now 45. I honestly think that by the time I try it, we will have ended this insane, costly and destructive prohibition against a natural plant.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Fox is the only major network not broadcasting the white smoke. (That's Fox entertainment network, not FoxNews.)
But the biggest point that stands out to me now is the false separation between many people of strong Christian faith and those who put little focus on religion.
Religiosity covers a vastly wide scale. There is the quiet believer who seeks zero attention for his personal connection to God (and Jesus). There are the Bible-thumpers who are at "war" with the world for not having Christianity a required aspect of everyone's daily life.
There is a strange disconnect in comparing the latter group to the America around us. Just look at television media. Even the most liberal outlet has virtually hourly coverage of pundits eagerly discussing who the next Pope may be. Now (with the exception of Fox who is airing the Ricki Lake Show), every major tv network with a national news dept. is covering the white smoke with the same intensity of a Presidential election.
Don't get me wrong. I know announcing a new Pope is a huge moment for any Christian, but that's the point. America is filled with Christians. Quiet Christians and loud spotlight Christians. Your political affiliation does not matter. As a Christian, you personally follow the teachings of Jesus. In America as a Christian, you are an overwhelming majority.
Yet this false American Christian persecution-complex does not go away. Granted, it is kept alive by wealthy talking heads who profit from selling such an idea as a "War on Christmas", but the absurdity being sold does only damage to bringing focus on the good that can be achieved through church programs. When those profiting off of selling their fictional "War on Christmas" also advocate for cutting programs that do what Jesus actually taught, the good of the church only gets buried further from view.
The big disconnect between Sarah Palin announcing her new book on the "War on Christmas" and the national attention on the just-announced Pope is one that is hard to swallow.
With that false divide addressed, I only hope that once all the spectacle of ushering in the new Pope has passed, the church truly helps lead a focus on what Jesus concerned himself with the most. Unconditional compassion and a nonjudgmental helping hand to the least amongst us.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Senator Rand Paul's 13 hour filibuster show on the floor of the Senate produced a sea change in Washington, but it's not the victory he thinks it is.
Paul (and others) set out to seek more public knowledge of the drone program. The focus then shifted to a search to hear that no drones would ever be used on Americans on American soil.
First Sen. Paul got a statement from Attorney General Eric Holder that drones would not be used on Americans on American soil unless the most extraordinary circumstances arise. Holder cited two examples that could meet that criteria - Pearl Harbor and the attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
This was not good enough for Sen. Paul. To his questioning, he wanted to hear an absolute answer of no. He spent almost 13 hours filibustering on the floor of the Senate in an attempt to get such an answer.
In the end, he got a very brief letter from Holder, who clarified that the President does not have the authority to use weaponized drones to kill an American who is "not engaged in combat on American soil".
Sen. Paul declared that simple statement a "victory" of his filibuster, even though it offered no new elucidations. Paul erroneously summarized Holder's statement as "…the President is not going to kill unarmed Americans on American soil."
That simple substitution of Holder's word choice of "not engaged in combat" with Paul's choice of "unarmed" allows Sen. Paul to conveniently overlook the fact that one does not necessarily have to be "armed" to be in "engaged in combat". Then again, it may be a simple language oversight on Sen. Paul's behalf. Note his words from a FoxNews interview on 3/6/13 -
"The thing about the drone strike program is - we're not talking about someone's actively attacking America. We're not talking about planes flying into the World Trade Center. What we're talking about is you're eating dinner in your house. You're eating at a cafe, or you're walking down the road. That's when these drone strikes can occur. It's not about people involved in combat. It's about people who they think might be." - http://www.politico.com/multimedia/video/2013/03/rand-paul-drone-strike-during-dinner-.html
Sen. Paul's expectation that an enemy combatant must be in the act of murder in order to warrant the enemy combatant label brings on just as many questions to be asked of Sen. Paul as he is asking of the administration over the drone program. As Holder alluded to, in the event a hijacked plane is heading towards the White House, does this warrant the drone use? Even if the plane is known to hold 100 US citizens? Just what does it take to warrant the "enemy combatant" label? Are there circumstances where the resulting innocent American deaths on American soil would be a tragic, yet "better" choice than allowing an enemy combatant to complete an act of terror?
Neither Bush nor Obama have used the presence of "arms" on an individual to determine if someone is an enemy combatant of the United States. (If Sen. Paul believes the simple presence of "arms" on a person warrants the combatant label, then there are about to be some wild twists in the gun control debate.)
As Holder explained in the first place, (and still left open in the letter that then satisfied Sen. Paul), even with a clear policy of not using weaponized drones on American soil, we cannot define every possible worst case scenario. Even though the use of drone missile strikes on US soil is ruled out, we cannot rule out their use on (or above) American soil in the event of such extraordinary extreme cases.
The technical difference between what Holder actually said, and how Sen. Paul paraphrased those words still allows use of drone attack on an American on American soil in an extreme circumstance. Highly unlikely of course. Maybe even more unlikely than the electoral vote and the popular vote producing different outcomes, but still, the technical difference does not exclude the possibility.
Though Holder's brief letter to Sen. Paul did not give him the absolute answer he sought, it did however give Sen. Paul the wherewithal to move on.
Despite the technical differences in what they both actually said, Holder's brief letter allowed Sen. Paul the opportunity to infer that his "demands" were met. Using that letter to suggest such a "victory" is exactly what Rand Paul did.
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I'm not so sure Sen. Paul really wanted to continue his mission to bring "public humiliation" (his words) to the White House any further. Despite the political bravado, even Sen. Paul could see he reached the point of diminishing returns in his crusade.
Just like Rush Limbaugh and other talking heads who must fill hours of time ruminating aloud on far-right talking points, the valid essences are quickly covered. The bulk of the talking time is used on the ridiculous. Sen. Rand Paul's near-13 hour filibuster was no different.
There are valid points to address here for sure. Just like there were when Bush ran the drone program. Issues of oversight and clarifying just how far such Presidential authority goes in using the technology are very valid debates. Drifting so far from those points into the realm of absurd right-wing fear-mongering is another. Suggesting that a President would have the authority to kill Jane Fonda with a drone strike, or land a missile from a drone on Kent State is ridiculous. Droning on with tired Hitler comparisons is pathetic. Arguing that the President thinks he can kill US citizens with drone strikes as they sit at a cafe, or walk down the street is nothing more than preposterous fabrication. Yet these all made up part of Sen. Paul's near-13 hour filibuster show.
Such inane anti-government arguments are nothing new. The Hellfire-missile-coming-to-your-door style of paranoia is applied in the most cockamamie conspiracy theories. Take the census for example. Just a few years ago, Alex Jones was selling the Constitutionally-bound once-a-decade undertaking as an excuse to aim Hellfire missiles at your front door. Note the following text from Alex Jones' infowars.com website in March 2010.
“Given the history of the US Federal government, at Waco with the Branch Davidians, at Ruby Ridge among others, you will excuse me that I am not buying the Census story....The reason is simple…They, whoever you think “they” are, intend to kill you for your political, religious and cultural views. And they intend to do it in the most intense “shock and awe” manner they can....So, when a HELLFIRE missile shows up at your front door, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
But that's Alex Jones - the king of anti-government conspiracy theories. He can rail for hours about such ridiculous offerings.
Glenn Beck also chimed in on the census saying - "Today they're asking the race question to try to increase slavery."
This type of nonsense, when given voice on the floors of Congress, does not match the quantity or length that Conservative shock-jocks devote to it on a daily basis. Its Congressional appearances are also quickly met with voices of reason. Soundbites are extracted and played on various media to mock not only the Congressional member who uttered it, but their affiliated Party.
Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster offered numerous such soundbites. So many in fact, that it was not just Liberals or Democrats taking note. Ranking Republicans noted the damage being done. They actually had to engage in damage control and take to the floor to oppose the ridiculous rhetoric.
Lindsey Graham spoke out about the hypocrisy of fellow Republicans now getting worked up against the drone program. He pointed out that Republicans had no problem with Bush having the drone program, and that Democrats were not outspoken against Bush’s drone program.
|Amazingly, in response to Rand Paul's filibuster, |
actually made this point on the floor of the Senate.
Thanks to Politically Preposterous for use of this meme.
Graham's objections to fellow Republicans here stems from two separate concerns.
First, he can read the writing on the wall about how dangerous the optics are in Republicans' pushing the over-the-top rhetoric. It was just last year that Graham told the Washington Post "The demographics race we're losing badly. We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."
Secondly, attacking the drone program is a snub to the neo-con ideology of military intervention.
President Obama has said from the start of his first Presidential campaign that he would use the military in more efficient manner. Large troop presence would not occur when Special Forces can effect an equal or better outcome. He has held true to his word. He has increased our Special Forces, and he has deployed them many times with great success. The Somalian pirates and the bin laden raid are two of the most prominent examples. These crucial affairs were not dealt with by going to war with Pakistan or Somalia. They were handled by elite forces.
President Obama truly reserves war for the last resort. Diplomacy, Special Forces, air power, and yes, drones make up his primary arsenal in handling sticky foreign affairs.
Some neo-con personalities have a problem with this, and have a hard time learning the lessons of how costly and deadly the entanglements are that arise from jumping too quickly to a "boots on the ground" strategy. Voices whined about "leading from behind" over President Obama's handling of Libya. FoxNews personalities decried it "unnatural".
Rand Paul is not a neo-con. He is a pure Libertarian. There is an ideological divide between the two. An absolute Libertarian sees spending on wars a poor choice and a waste of money. Bring everyone home, then secure the borders. Spend what you need to make the borders tight, then stop spending money on war and foreign affairs.
To highlight the gap in ideology between these two factions of the Republican Party, note this exchange between Paul Krugman and Rand Paul.
On ABC's This Week in Sept of 2012, Krugman pointed out how Romney's ad campaigns were claiming government spending can't create jobs, while simultaneously claiming Obama was trying to cut defense spending. The Romney ads argued that defense spending should not be cut because… that would cost jobs. Rand Paul replied "That's an inconsistency and it's wrong. They are accepting Keynes with regards to military spending, but not with regards to…"
The Libertarian constitution of Rand Paul would view the drone program overseas a waste of money on unnecessary military imperialism. His ideology would also then see no need for such a program domestically.
The neo-con ideology would have a different perspective. To the neo-con constitution, the drone program would be seen as vital military defense. Especially given President Obama's opposition to heavy troop deployments.
Note Lindsey Graham's words -
“So what is it all of a sudden that this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun up… To my party, I’m a bit disappointed that you no longer apparently think we’re at war.”
Then there is John McCain, who stood on the floor and called Sen. Paul's questions and assertions "ridiculous".
No stranger to trying to balance support of the right-wing fringe without creating a monster, McCain recognized the damage being done by an unchecked near-13 hour tirade chock full of anti-government paranoia soundbites. “We’ve done a, I think, a disservice to a lot of Americans, by making them believe that somehow they’re in danger from their government. They’re not.” said McCain.
No matter the negatives involved, we all owe Sen. Rand Paul a thank you for literally taking a stand and offering a REAL filibuster.
Whether focusing on a crucial oversight, a ridiculous delusion, or even a mix of the two, a REAL filibuster sparks a national dialogue that goes way beyond the sensationalized headlines. In the last few years, we have failed to see that happen.
Instead, we experienced a record number of silent filibusters. They have the same effect of stopping movement in Congress, but they lack any debate. They not only lack debate, they usually lack any transparency. A single member of Congress can literally call in a silent filibuster from home without offering any reason, and due to the anonymity, they also receive no repercussion. That is the silent filibuster.
It is a blatant abuse and over-extension of legislative privilege. It abuses the intended protection from potential tyranny of the majority and creates from it, at the very least, blatant guerilla obstruction from the minority. Some would call that act tyranny itself. Tyranny by the minority.
|Sen. Rand Paul's ACTUAL filibuster was the first in a long time.|
Yet this formula has been used ad nauseam in the last few years.
It is the silent part of that recent construction known as the silent filibuster that causes so much damage.
It minimizes real debate. Reporting is minimal, if existent at all. The result is simplistic and sensationalized misinformation that only seeds irrational rumors. Without requiring extensive nonstop speaking on the floors of Congress to effect a filibuster, the full "debate" fails to spill out beyond the beltway.
In fact, the silent filibuster keeps the full "debate" from even happening within Congress itself. Had we not seen the spectacle of Rand Paul going on for almost 13 hours, but instead experienced yet another silent filibuster, it is virtually a given that we would not have heard Lindsey Graham and John McCain be forced to speak up in opposition. More likely, a silent filibuster would have kept the new status quo of simply sidestepping the actual debate while giving a metaphorical wink to the extreme rhetoric.
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So Rand Paul, I thank you.
Your actual filibuster forced actual debate. That is a very good thing. It brought focus to what oversight, or at the least, what knowledge, the American people should have regarding the use of deadly force in our name. It brought debate on the limits of executive power. All things that we continually must keep in check. By extension, your filibuster brought contemplation of our national defense outside (and inside) our borders. I don't think we can simply seal our borders and forget the rest of the world. I also know we can't go the other extreme living in eternal war all around the globe.
No matter the President at the time, there will always be enemy combatants that require action to protect our national security. Many of us may like to overlook that fact and avoid the reality altogether until forced to consider it amidst a national dialogue.
Your filibuster brought such a national dialogue, and for those willing to engage, they must consider the costs and risks of various foreign policies and actions. We must compare the outcomes and entanglements of flat-out war to those of doing nothing. We must compare those extremes to the current use of Special Forces, intelligence and drone strikes. No policy will ever be perfect, and frankly doing nothing is not an option. I personally see the current policies as far more efficient and effective than the all-out war approach of our last President. I imagine I am hardly the only one. Especially as anyone truly focusing on your filibuster is then forced to weigh all these concerns.
But many already have considered these issues. Many actually voted for Barack Obama because he offered this policy approach from the beginning of his first campaign. He was actually mocked for it, but so far the approach has successfully dealt with numerous global challenges without resorting to more American war entanglements.
For millions then, that leaves your ridiculous rhetoric of Hitler and Jane Fonda and Kent State and cafe killings and Hellfire-missiles-aimed-at-your-door as the biggest takeaway from your filibuster.
Senator Rand Paul, you claimed a "victory" of getting the answer you sought, despite Eric Holder's letter to you technically offering nothing more than did his original statements. Feel complacent in your assessment that your near-13 hour show brought "public humiliation" to our current administration. No matter how you self-evaluate your performance, the fact is that your filibuster, in bringing forth actual debate, also forced fellow Republicans to stand up against your tirade and take a stance against the extreme ridiculous fear-mongering rhetoric that has been leading the Republican Party for years.
The most consequential "victory" from your filibuster is not the brief letter from Eric Holder, it is the result of making it now acceptable for Republicans to publicly take a stance against the extremes of tea party rhetoric.
Throw in the ideological divide between the jingoism of Neo-Conservatives and the shrink-government-at-all-costs ideology of Libertarianism, and the acceptability of Republicans to speak openly in condemnation of such extreme rhetoric intensifies into an imperative.
THAT is the ultimate "victory" of Senator Rand Paul's filibuster.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
At three different times last month, I asked a different relative to guess how many gun deaths there have been since the Sandy Hook tragedy. None knew what the others had guessed, or even that I had asked the question of anyone but them. Strangely, the three answers differed only by how many zeros the number included.
One guessed 3.
One guessed 30.
Another guessed 300.
Suffice it say all three answers fell far short.
Most news outlets rarely even report on the thirty or so daily gun deaths in America, yet focus heavily on the mall and school shootings. This helps implant a false sense of the true scope of the problem of gun violence in America.
I also think this is finally beginning to change. Slowly yes, but I think much of America is waking up to the seriousness of just how many gun deaths we have every day. We are starting to wake to just how quickly that adds up every week, every month, and just how devastatingly huge those numbers are when accumulated over the course of a year.
Sadly though, much of the nation is in denial of the true scope of this problem. One of the biggest hurdles to doing anything to truly address the problem is to first acknowledge the true scope of the daily tragedy of American gun deaths.
I offer anyone to seek out the daily, the weekly, the monthly, the yearly count of American gun deaths. The numbers are so high that even the callous rhetoric of dismissing up to half of them because they are "just suicides", cannot diminish the scope of the tragedy.
I offer you the idea of repeating the same unofficial poll I did.
First, gather the latest daily update by googling the phrase "how many gun deaths since sandy hook".
Then ask friends and relatives how many people they think have died from guns in America since the Sandy Hook tragedy. How far off do you think they will be?
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Except for the first 15 or so minutes, I saw the entire hearing today on addressing gun violence.
I listened to Wayne LaPierre continually assert that we can never ensure background checks on every gun purchase, thus we should not bother ending that loophole in gun shows.
I listened to Lindsey Graham arguing that 6 bullets in a gun may not be enough for a woman to use in self defense. Why? Because the one story he told about a woman defending herself from a home invader involved all 6 bullets. One missed the criminal, and though the other five bullets hit him, he did not die, and he ran away. What if there were more than one invader? OK. So what about 10 bullets? Nope. Lindsey Graham thinks 15 might be too few bullets for a woman to protect against violent home invaders.
What about 100 bullets? Can we at least agree that a weapon that can fire 100 bullets is way more than what is necessary for a woman with screaming babies to fight back against violent home invaders? Nope. According to Gayle Trotter, we cannot even make that argument, for it is a matter of being pro-women's choice. According to her, women should be free to choose however much firepower they see fit for future home invasions.
And I listened to Lindsey Graham also argue that tight budgets will absolutely cut police forces across the nation. Thus we will all need to become our own individual law enforcement and protection in time of trouble, so we better not limit the firepower available to the average Jane or Joe.
I listened to Wayne LaPierre argue that the 2nd Amendment exists for two reasons, One, to protect against too much government that he abstractly defines as tyranny, and two, to protect against too little government that allows a lack of law and order.
So no matter what government does or does not do, we must increase personal firepower to be armed against its actions or its inactions. (Amazing how gun manufacturers make out so well in this loop of logic.)
I listened to all this for over 3 hours today.
I admit that maybe that wasn't the brightest idea given the flu-driven headache I was already nursing, but I will say there were some moments that I would portray as pretty bright.
Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson stated that "The common sense measures we call for will not infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights, but will keep guns out of the dangerous hands of people who are out there to commit danger in our society."
First, and foremost, he argues we must end the background check loophole for gun shows and person to person sales. Second, he supports a 10 round maximum capacity. Thirdly, he supports Dianne Feinstein's bill.
Now that my headache is finally subsiding, I am able to type out these "highlights" for you of today's hearing. But having nothing to do with the flu, I now feel like I need to vomit as I realize these "arguments" really did happen today.