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We certainly agree with Vice President Joe Biden that the massacre last month in Newtown, Connecticut, that took the lives of twenty elementary school children “touched the heart of the American people so profoundly” that it “requires immediate, urgent action.” And we would hope Congress and the president can avoid the partisan bickering that has caused so much gridlock in Washington and reach a solution to the problem of firearm violence in America.
Having said that, we are troubled by a growing sense that the president feels he should assume authority to act without Congress – despite Congress’s clear prerogatives in the matter and constitutional provisions generally granting the right of Americans to own weapons.
Mr. Biden was appointed by President Obama to head a task force charged with the job of coming up with proposals for dealing with gun violence. Here is some of what the vice president recently had to say:
The public wants us to act…. There is nothing that has pricked the consciousness of the American people, there is nothing that has gone to the heart of the matter more, than the visual image people have of little 6-year-old kids riddled – not shot with a stray bullet – riddled with bullet holes in their classroom. And the pubic demands we speak to it….
The president is going to act…. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet, but we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members….
I’m convinced we can affect the well-being of millions of Americans, and take thousands of people out of harm’s way, if we act responsibly…. And as the president said, if our actions result in only saving one life, they are worth taking.
If this all seems reminiscent of the old utilitarian view about the ends justifying the means, it is. And we don’t think the president or his vice president are talking about emergency situations requiring a temporary waiving of the rules.
Consider the observations of Senator Dick Durbin, a leading Democrat and powerful member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Durbin said he would prefer that a solution to gun violence come through the normal congressional process rather than by dint of the president issuing an executive order. Significantly, however, he added that he was leery of the power to block legislation wielded by the National Rifle Association and the gun industry, against whom many congressmen would not stand up. So he said he would support Mr. Obama if the president does issues executive orders to stem gun violence: “Whatever it takes to keep our streets and schools safe, I’ll support.”
In other words, it matters little if it can’t be done in the prescribed way since almost anything goes if some of us think a particular action should be taken.
What heightens our concern is that this new development comes with a context. President Obama threatened to gut congressional procedures in order to enact Obamacare when it appeared he could not otherwise get it done. He acted directly in the face of congressional power when he summarily, by executive order, revised the enforcement of provisions of federal immigration law concerning the deportation of certain illegal aliens – even though Congress specifically declined to amend the law in that way. And after the Senate blocked action on his nomination of three federal officials, he appointed them anyway as “recess appointments” – after unilaterally redefining the meaning of the Senate being in recess.
We are as appalled by the spate of senseless violence as are President Obama and Vive President Biden. But if we are to deal with it in a way that is not corrosive of the system of government that has made our country the envy of the rest of the world, we need to be exceedingly careful when we throw longstanding rules and practices out the window.
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Making Rouhani the president was a brilliant strategic move for Khamene’i.
Noone, least of all me, wants to see any Arab child suffer, God forbid.
The Sanctuary was built with an ezrat nashim, a separate area for women.
Every American child seems to be on Ritalin and Israelis are imitating them.
The weapons will be given to people whose politics encompass hatred for Jews, Christians, the West generally, and Women.
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The top Israeli advocate for letting the terrorists out of jail is none other than Shimon Peres.
The “Community Democracy” model meets all the criteria of the liberal democratic outlook, but it is based on the Jewish heritage and the Torah.
Rowhani will have little power.
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With Iran and Hezbollah openly supporting the anti-Sunni side in Syria, the battle lines have been redrawn, this time according to ancient and familiar traditions.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi knows how to express his ideas clearly and persuasively.
The boys who leave yeshiva to go to work are made to feel like they are second class and this makes it difficult for them to remain chareidi.
At some point I noticed an arresting picture on his wall and discovered that his maternal grandfather was Rav Dovid Lifshitz.
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Last week we lauded the efforts of several Jewish organizations to ameliorate the plight of the victims of the recent massive Oklahoma tornado and the extraordinary gesture the owner of Agri Star Meat & Poultry of Postville, Iowa, made in donating ten tons of meat for distribution.
We have no doubt that there is some measure of political partisanship in the controversies swirling around the Obama administration. That is, after all, the American way of governance and, frankly, how wrongdoing is often identified and uncovered. But political maneuvering is just a sideshow that distracts from the questions that should concern us, each of which strikes at the heart of American self-government.
We proudly salute those Jewish organizations that have rallied in support of the victims of last week’s devastating tornado that destroyed a large swath of the Oklahoma City region. As we reported last week, though there are relatively few Jews who live in the area, Jewish groups are providing an array of assistance.
President Obama’s speech on counterterrorism last Thursday at the National Defense University was one of the more impressive he has delivered while in the White House. Indeed, in discussing a reevaluation of how to fight what we all have come to refer to as “the war on terror,” he eloquently identified some profound issues.
Reports that the Obama administration targeted the records of reporters in an effort to determine who in government leaked secret information about a Yemeni bomb plot and a CIA report on North Korea would almost be amusing if the implications weren’t so troubling. Leaking information seems to be a forte of his administration – mainly, it seems, when the image of the president is thereby enhanced.
In an editorial last week (“Circling the Wagons”) we noted the efforts by the administration and its supporters to dismiss allegations that the government’s spin on the Benghazi attack was designed to shield the president and that the IRS was improperly used to stifle opposition to Mr. Obama’s reelection.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-president-and-gun-control/2013/01/16/
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