January 10, 2013

* Good reporting in the Post:

During the 10-year federal ban on assault weapons, the percentage of firearms equipped with high-capacity magazines seized by police agencies in Virginia dropped, only to rise sharply once the restrictions were lifted in 2004, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

Researchers have had trouble judging the efficacy of the ban nationwide, but the Post notes the Virginia data suggests it might have been having an impact before expiring. The argument over the ban’s effectiveness will loom large in the upcoming battle, but remember that it was riddled with loopholes that lawmakers would presumably try to close this time around.

* Blogospheric exchange of the day: Ezra Klein argues that minting the platinum coin simply puts off dealing with the real problem — GOP recklessness and extremism — and risks turning us into a banana republic. Krugman responds that the threat of default and economic Armageddon mean this is not the time or place for staging an epic confrontation with GOP nihilism.

I’m sympathetic to both arguments, but the question I would ask is this. If default really does present itself (I don’t think it’s a real threat, but let’s assume it is for the sake of argument), then isn’t the choice simply between being a banana republic (due to GOP hostage taking) that’s gone into default, and being a banana republic (due to hostage taking and the coin response) that’s avoided default?

* Brian Beutler finds more in that Karl Rove op ed that gives away the game: Republicans don’t have the leverage they claim in the debt ceiling fight — and they know it.

* Jamelle Bouie makes the argument for keeping the “platinum coin” on the table: It lets Republicans know that in the end, they are not in control of the outcome of the debt ceiling fight, which would leave no alternative but to cave.

* Steve Kornacki on why Republicans may cave in the end:

Much attention is paid to the way-out-there true-believers who have gained to power to define what conservatism means in the Obama-era. But there are still many Republicans in Congress – and in influential positions outside of Congress – who recognize the catastrophe that would be unleashed by a default. And in the wake of the November election, they may be more assertive in reining in the crazies now than they were during the debt ceiling showdown in 2011.

Yes. Also, the threat of taking the blame for the tax cuts expiring for all Americans was enough to get Republicans to buck the crazies on the fiscal cliff. Default obviously would be a catastrophe of another magnitude entirely.

 * As Jonathan Capehart notes, the nixing of Louie Giglio’s invocation at the inaugural reveals again that Obama has “made bringing dignity, equity and fairness to gay people and their families a priority.”

* Good stuff from Ed Kilgore, who proposes his own pastor to replace Giglio in delivering the benediction at the inauguration, raising a question: Why all this outreach to the Christian right, and why can’t we can’t have a progressive pastor deliver it?

* And as Sarah Posner notes, white evangelicals are never going to like Obama, no matter what he does.

* The chart of the day, courtesy of Kevin Drum, demonstrates that Medicare may be facing fiscal troubles, but they’re hardly insurmountable ones, and they flow in large part from the unalterable fact that the population is aging. In short: The future does not necessarily portend quite the fiscal nightmare conservatives like to pretend it does.

* And Eric Wemple on how Fox News is giving the NRA a big assist in hyping a Georgia home invasion story that supposedly delivers a severe blow to the case for sensible gun law reform. (It doesn’t.)

What else?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.