Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Washington’s top five most ridiculous reactions to the Arizona shooting

It’s a well-worn mantra in politics to never let a crisis go to waste, so it comes as little surprise that public officials and the chattering class are wasting no time in dusting off some of their wilder ideas in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

With only a few days detached from the national tragedy, here’s the list of the top five most ridiculous proposals already floated by your national leaders and thinkers.

1. Encase the entire House and Senate floor with Plexiglass so the tourists can’t throw things at members of Congress 

Tourists (who reportedly don’t smell very good during the warmer months) file into the congressional galleries every day to watch members wax poetic in front of empty chairs and bored teenage pages. To keep members safe, Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton will re-introduce a bill that would encase himself and his colleagues in “a transparent and substantial material.” Burton has called for Congress to be more like an inner-city 7-11 before, but this time, people are actually listening.
Just last week, a protester on a quest for President Obama’s birth certificate interrupted the reading of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor by shouting down the speaker. If Burton’s dream becomes reality, he will finally be protected from such outbursts by the unwashed masses.
(An investigative review of his campaign donations does not reveal any major contributions from the infamous Plexiglass lobby, which everyone knows really pulls the strings in this country.)

2. Impose a federal ban on carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of any “high-profile” public official 

New York Republican Rep. Peter King, with full approval from New York City’s freedom-loving mayor Michael Bloomberg, has vowed to introduce a bill that keeps all guns at least 1,000 feet from from him at all times.
The call for thousands of constantly roving gun-free zones all over the country probably won’t pass constitutional muster and would be impossible to enforce. It would also effectively ban any member of Congress from all shooting ranges, which would be a shame, because rifles actually make Sen. Harry Reid, a fierce NRA supporter, look pretty awesome.
(Nevermind that at least two of King’s colleagues, Rep. Heath Shuler, North Carolina Democrat, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, have said they want a firearm within an inch of them at all times.)

3. Make it illegal to draw pictures of elected officials within crosshairs or say things that might be considered ‘threatening’ to lawmakers

Democrat Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania wants to know what you’re photo-shopping to make sure you don’t draw a crosshair symbol (it’s a “surveyor symbol” officer, I swear!) on a map of his district.
“You can’t threaten the president with a bull’s-eye or a cross hair,” he said when describing the idea for his bill.

Some have tied Saturday’s shooting to political messaging ads used by both Republicans and Democrats that show districts they hope to capture as “targets.”

4. Use the Federal Communication Commission’s power to finally get that dastardly Rush Limbaugh off the air (or at least get him to stop being so mean)

Highly ranking House Democrat Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina said this week he wants to reimpose the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which would force radio and television broadcasters to bring guests they disagree with on air and provide equal time to “both” sides of an issue.
“Free speech is as free speech does,” told the Charleston Post and Courier. “You cannot yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and call it free speech and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that.”

According to the paper, Clyburn’s daughter, an FCC commissioner, said she opposes her dad’s idea “any way shape or form.”

5. Since the alleged Tucson gunman liked to smoke pot, the federal government should impose tougher drug laws

Last but not least, take it away, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum:
After horrific shootings, we hear calls for stricter regulation of guns. The Tucson shooting should remind us why we regulate marijuana.
Jared Lee Loughner, the man held as the Tucson shooter, has been described by those who know as a “pot smoking loner.”
He had two encounters with the law, one for possession of drug paraphanalia.
We are also learning that Loughner exhibited signs of severe mental illness, very likely schizophrenia.
The connection between marijuana and schizophrenia is both controversial and complicated. The raw association is strong:
  • Schizophrenics are twice as likely to smoke marijuana as non-schizophrenics.
  • People who smoke marijuana are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those who do not smoke.
But is correlation causation?
Increasingly experts seem to be saying: “Yes.”

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