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Interesting Question on Incoming Administration's Questionnaire for Those Seeking High Posts:

Question 59:

Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.

(See the New York Times article.) Naturally, the Administration is entitled to know a great deal about its prospective high-ranking members, especially with regard to possible violations of the law, both for its own sake and in order to anticipate possible political problems. And the questionnaire certainly asks about a lot more than just guns, e.g., question 46, "Have any members of your family or close social or business associates been arrested for, charged with and/or convicted of a crime, other than a minor traffic violation? If so, please identify and describe each such arrest, charge or conviction. Please provide the same information for anyone under your professional supervision, or anyone of your superiors." Still, it struck me as interesting that gun ownership and gun registration was one of the things that they'd specifically ask about. It also struck me as interesting, though perhaps necessary given the reasonable worry about political blowback should the facts come out, that people would be told to report (1) gun ownership not just by themselves but also by immediate family members, and (2) possible hitherto undisclosed criminal conduct by their immediate family members (which likely includes adult children and possibly parents or siblings, though that's hard to tell).

UPDATE: As some commentators have pointed out, most states don't require registration for guns, but I understood the question as asking about registration information, if any: If the guns don't need to be registered and have never had to be registered (because the people had only owned guns in no-registration jurisdictions), then the registration information would be "no registration required," and the answer to "has the registration ever lapsed?" would be "no."

loki13 (mail):
First, Obama took away the guns his cabinet.

And I was silent.

Then, Obama took away the guns from the heads of the Administrative Agencies.

And I was silent.

Then, Obama took away your guns.

Muahahahaha!
11.13.2008 12:44pm
CDU (mail) (www):
I wonder if the person who wrote that question realizes that in the vast majority of the United States, there's no such thing as gun registration.
11.13.2008 12:45pm
Houston Lawyer:
You have to wonder whether it will be a strike against someone being hired in the Obama administratin if they happen to own a gun. What if the applicant owns a scary looking gun like a .50 caliber rifle? We can't have people like that in our new enlightened administratin.
11.13.2008 12:49pm
MCM (mail):
Maybe in terms of number of jurisdictions. But some of those jurisdictions are more populated than others, and I have a feeling the more populated areas are the ones with the gun laws.
11.13.2008 12:49pm
therut (mail):
Most guns are NOT registered,
11.13.2008 12:51pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
They're looking at Chicago. Remember, there was a fuss about the Chicago gun ban, and the discovery that Aldermen were, well, ignoring it?
11.13.2008 12:52pm
cboldt (mail):
-- in the vast majority of the United States, there's no such thing as gun registration. --
.
It depends on the firearm, and in some cases, on the combination of type of firearm and locale. For those who own firearms that are not subject to registration, the answer would be responsive only to the "ownership" question.
.
That same question caught my eye this morning. As far as I know, this is the first time a "Do you own a gun" question was asked as part of a questionnaire aimed at learning of potentially embarrassing information in advance of a nomination, nomination hearing, or confirmation vote.
11.13.2008 12:52pm
therut (mail):
And I should say never will be.
11.13.2008 12:53pm
hawkins:

I wonder if the person who wrote that question realizes that in the vast majority of the United States, there's no such thing as gun registration.


Any idea on what percentage of states do require registration?
11.13.2008 12:53pm
cboldt (mail):
CA required registration of certain "scary looking longarms."
.
MI requires approval in advance and registration of handguns.
.
Some cities have registration requirements. Some states (e.g., WA) obtain registration information via dealership sales records.
.
Not a comprehensive list, those are off the top of my head.
11.13.2008 12:58pm
MCM (mail):
"Any idea on what percentage of states do require registration?"

http://www.nraila.org/GunLaws/Federal/Read.aspx?id=74

Apparently, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and DC require registration of long guns and handguns.

Michigan, and certain counties and cities of Ohio and Nevada, require handgun registration.

New Jersey and Connecticut require registration of long guns, but apparently not handguns.

I have no way of verifying the accuracy of this information, of course.
11.13.2008 12:59pm
Mark E.Butler (mail):
This site (which appears to be from 1998, and from CNN) suggests that only New York, Hawaii and the District of Columbia require registration of handguns, and only DC the registration of rifles and shotguns.

I guess Obama's looking to move a bunch of New Yorkers down to DC.
11.13.2008 1:00pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
Past relationships with Maoist terrorists, check.

Funding radical racial groups to emplace them in elementary schools, check.

Representing political activists who deny the right to private ownership of property, check.
11.13.2008 1:01pm
wfjag:

question 46, "Have any members of your family or close social or business associates been arrested for, charged with and/or convicted of a crime, other than a minor traffic violation?

Answer: He was just some guy in the neighborhood and I happened to be video-taped with him at a going away dinner for a former spokesman for a listed terrorist organization, and while he picked me to run a multi-tens of millions of dollars charitable organization and we served on the board of another organization for a few years, and although my spouse and his spouse worked at the same law firm, I barely knew him. And, I also barely knew the guy convicted on influence peddling or any of the people involved with the community organization whose employees are indicted or being investigated currently for voter registration fraud in 13 states.
11.13.2008 1:05pm
CDU (mail) (www):

But some of those jurisdictions are more populated than others, and I have a feeling the more populated areas are the ones with the gun laws.


States requiring handgun registration on a statewide basis represent less than a quarter of the U.S. population.
11.13.2008 1:05pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

New York, and DC require registration of long guns and handguns.


NY state, handgun registration

NY state, no long gun/shotgun registration.

NYC, registration, long gun, shotgun, handgun.
11.13.2008 1:06pm
Hoosier:
So does this mean James Webb is not on the list of possible appointees?
11.13.2008 1:06pm
subpatre (mail):
--in the vast majority of the United States, there's no such thing as gun registration.--

That simply means new administration members will not come from "the vast majority" of the United States, that great big expanse of red on voter maps. Welcome to Chicago-style politics.
11.13.2008 1:10pm
Oren:

They're looking at Chicago. Remember, there was a fuss about the Chicago gun ban, and the discovery that Aldermen were, well, ignoring it?

As I recall they weren't ignoring it, they are exempt by State law.
11.13.2008 1:10pm
BT:
A friend of mine is a very progressive social worker but he happens to work in mostly rural areas and owns a number of guns. Most of the social workers he meets at conferences are from urban areas and are appalled that he would be anywhere near a gun, reflecting in my opinion, a commonly held view about guns amoung the liberal elite.

Chances are this question was written by someone from Chicago where handguns are banned and for those lucky few who were around when the ban went into effect and are grandfathered (or is it now grandmothered)in, they must be registered.

My guess is that this question is placed to smoke out those that would be embarrassing to the administration simply because they are gun owners. They are looking for not only idiological purity but behavioral purity as well.
11.13.2008 1:10pm
Anon21:
That simply means new administration members will not come from "the vast majority" of the United States, that great big expanse of red on voter maps. Welcome to Chicago-style politics.

I wonder how many Russian bigwigs hail from Siberia? I mean, come on, it's a great big expanse! How can they allow the underrepresentation of all that...open space?
11.13.2008 1:14pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):

So does this mean James Webb is not on the list of possible appointees?

Given that Sen. Webb made an explicit point of declaring himself out of the running for the VeepStakes, I think it is safe to say he very much enjoys being a senator.
11.13.2008 1:15pm
cboldt (mail):
-- My guess is that this question is placed to smoke out those that would be embarrassing to the administration simply because they are gun owners. --
.
Simply being a gun owner is a source of embarrassment?
11.13.2008 1:16pm
Shivering Timbers (mail) (www):
I guess Dick Cheney won't be applying for an Obama cabinet post.
11.13.2008 1:18pm
Metoo:

"Do you own a gun" question was asked as part of a questionnaire aimed at learning of potentially embarrassing information in advance of a nomination, nomination hearing, or confirmation vote.


Now, why would owning a gun be embarrassing information?
11.13.2008 1:18pm
cboldt (mail):
-- As I recall they weren't ignoring it, they are exempt by State law. --
.
Illinois: Chicago Alderman Embraces Anti-Gun Elitist Hypocrisy (NRA-ILA)
The answer was easy, for an elected official with a strong sense of entitlement. Simply propose a new, personally tailored law that will accommodate your needs. And that is exactly what Mell has done. Alderman Mell has proposed a one-time registration amnesty that would allow people (especially Mell) to register any firearms they may have forgotten to re-register.
11.13.2008 1:21pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Metoo: Gun ownership as such wouldn't be politically embarrassing. But it could lead to follow-up questions that could discover information that might be politically embarrassing (e.g., violations, even minor ones, of various gun laws, ownerships of types and amounts of guns that many people might -- even wrongly -- find troubling even if not illegal, and so on).
11.13.2008 1:28pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Simply being a gun owner is a source of embarrassment?



When the president you work for is on record saying to John Lott, "Oh, your the gun guy. I don't think people should be allowed to have guns.", yeah, being a gun owner could be a problem when he tries to get rid of them all.
11.13.2008 1:31pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Metoo: Gun ownership as such wouldn't be politically embarrassing. But it could lead to follow-up questions that could discover information that might be politically embarrassing (e.g., violations, even minor ones, of various gun laws, ownerships of types and amounts of guns that many people might -- even wrongly -- find troubling even if not illegal, and so on).


I agree and would also add that given the “gotcha” political climate we live in, having someone in the administration who has violated a federal, State or local gun law or who received a special exemption or permit that ordinary owners don’t or couldn’t get would be wonderful political fodder for the Obama administration’s opponents.

I’m thinking specifically how many proponents of “shall issue” concealed carry reform seized on the fact that many well-connected anti-gun people either had permits themselves or were able to hire armed body guards for themselves or their family members.
11.13.2008 1:34pm
Oren:

So does this mean James Webb is not on the list of possible appointees?

As I understand it, they haven't said anything about qualifications. I would assume that, if Jim Webb applied, he would be truthful about his past and the administration would make a judgment.

Are gun owners supposed to be embarrassed now?
11.13.2008 1:35pm
zippypinhead:
Now, why would owning a gun be embarrassing information?
You wouldn't want The Boss to be shocked and dismayed to belatedly discover that an otherwise "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking"** appointee actually owns EVIL devices like GUNS.

And, I guess nobody commenting on this or any other VC thread need apply even if you don't own a firearm, as per the NYT article:
The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.”
At least they don't also ask if the applicant has ever visited the Drudge Report or foxnews.com...




**[quote attributed to our VP-elect, of course].
11.13.2008 1:44pm
Helen2 (mail):
If owning a gun disqualifies you as a potential member of the new admininstration, it'd very fortunate for Senator Biden that the Office of the Vice President is part of the legislative branch.
11.13.2008 1:58pm
Oren:
Yes, continue to insist that this is about qualifications instead of truthfulness.
11.13.2008 2:04pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
This doesn't bode well for us gun owners. Personally, I think we should insist that each anti-gun type must disarm themselves, including any bodyguard services, before they disarm us.

Oh, I forgot..... I am not important, only the elitists count...... man, I can be so very thick sometimes......
11.13.2008 2:05pm
dcuser (mail):
This looks like it's just the equivalent of asking whether people have housekeepers/nannies, and, if so, have they paid social security taxes, etc. In other words, the emphasis would be not on the act itself (owning a gun; or having someone else clean your kitchen), but on failure to follow applicable laws (registering; paying taxes).
11.13.2008 2:20pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
Eugene, the act of asking for detailed information concerning the ownership of firearms is, in and of itself, a form of registration. If a potential appointee gives any of that information, they have "registered" their firearms.

I wonder what happens to that info afterwards...... hmmmmmm.
11.13.2008 2:22pm
Yankev (mail):

Apparently, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and DC require registration of long guns and handguns.
Illinois also requires anyone who owns a firearm to have a valid gun owner's registration. I'm not sure whether the requirement extends to mere possession as opposed to ownership, but it may.


Michigan, and certain counties and cities of Ohio and Nevada, require handgun registration.
For some reason I thought that Ohio recently pre-empted local firearm laws. Columbus requires a license to conduct any firearms transaction, which included buying, selling or lending a firearm. Residents avoided the prohibition by going to the suburbs to buy or sell; the ordinance drove most pawn shops out of the gun business, and there is only 1 gun shop left within city limits. Presumably the ordinance is now pre-empted.

Columbus at one time also banned "assault weapons", which it defined more broadly than federal law did. There was a grace period for registering those owned when the ban went into effect. Peoples Rights Organization successfully sued to overturn the ban, and when city council re-wrote the law, PRO successfully sued again.
11.13.2008 2:23pm
cboldt (mail):
-- This looks like it's just the equivalent of asking whether people have housekeepers/nannies, and, if so, have they paid social security taxes, etc. In other words, the emphasis would be not on the act itself ... but on failure to follow applicable laws --

Please also describe how and by whom it is used ...

Looks to me as though the justification for the act (hiring a housekeeper, owning a gun) is also part of the inquiry. The inquiry is asking more than is necessary to determine the presence of law-breaking. If the gun is owned by the candidate, but is used by a hired guard, that would be acceptable.
.
If an administration was going to go on a prohibitionist streak, it would be prudent for it to ask its potential team-members about their alcohol possession and consumption; or if it was going to make tobacco illegal, it might ask about tobacco use, etc. I see the question as pre-emptive, in trying to avoid teaming up with partners who might not fit in with a program of determined advancement of restrictive firearms laws.
11.13.2008 2:32pm
The General:
Q: Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?

A:
- If yes, continue to the next question.
- If no, have a nice day.
11.13.2008 2:35pm
TomHynes (mail):
If you know how many guns you have, you don't have enough.
11.13.2008 2:41pm
zippypinhead:
the act of asking for detailed information concerning the ownership of firearms is, in and of itself, a form of registration.... I wonder what happens to that info afterwards...... hmmmmmm.
I'm making a wild guess that the applicants' submissions aren't going to be destroyed anytime soon. And political operatives NEVER leak stuff when they think it's in their personal or institutional interest...

And then there's question #31, which can fairly be construed as including asking whether you're willing to publicly release all your firearms and ammunition purchase records such as receipts and credit card statements (and such records on anything else you might have ever bought):

"Are there any categories of personal financial records . . . that you (or your spouse will not release publicly if necessary? If so, please identify theese records and state the reasons for withholding them."
11.13.2008 2:41pm
Grigor:
It would have been of value to the voters to have seen the nominee's responses to this questionnaire before the election.
11.13.2008 2:52pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
The General, you couldn't be any closer to the truth. :)

TomHynes: I couldn't agree more..... I have no idea how many I have at the moment, does that mean I have enough? :)

zippy: You got it!

Man, this is a thread I thought would be as contentious as they come and it seems like almost everyone is on the same page, or close to it.
11.13.2008 2:58pm
Anony:
Isn't this just as concerning to VC members and commentators?

13) Electronic communications: If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.

Coupled with:

10) Writings: .... Please list all aliases or "handles" you have used to communicate on the Internet.

Sorry, Juan Non-Volokh.
11.13.2008 3:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
#10 is interesting. Perhaps we should all start using the name "Michelle Obama" on comments.
11.13.2008 3:14pm
PC:
Eugene, the act of asking for detailed information concerning the ownership of firearms is, in and of itself, a form of registration. If a potential appointee gives any of that information, they have "registered" their firearms.

This is a joke, right? Have you never watched appointment hearings? Or heard of background checks when you work for the federal government?
11.13.2008 3:16pm
zippypinhead:
Sorry, Juan Non-Volokh.
Anony, you missed one that will make it even easier to screen out VC posters: #10:

"Writings: Please list and, if readily available provide a copy of each . . . publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored . . .

So not only do you have to "out" yourself, you have to run a search thru the VC archives and give them a copy of all those nifty late-night posts you thought were so witty at the time.
11.13.2008 3:19pm
Floridan:
cbolt: "That same question caught my eye this morning. As far as I know, this is the first time a "Do you own a gun" question was asked as part of a questionnaire aimed at learning of potentially embarrassing information in advance of a nomination, nomination hearing, or confirmation vote."

How would you know?
11.13.2008 3:23pm
wfjag:
Not only that Zippy, but we'll also find out that Hoosier also posted comments under the alias Jukeboxgrad!
11.13.2008 3:30pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Bear in mind, everyone, the fact that they gather this information does not mean it is disqualifying or has an adverse impact on employment decisions. The reality is that they gather a heck of a lot of information on prospective political appointees (unless the prospective appointee's name is Sarah Palin). I am neither surprised nor disturbed by this. The right to bear arms is a lot different than the right never to be asked about it when seeking a political appointment.
11.13.2008 3:32pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
PC, yes to both questions. In my own case, for access to classified material and other official purposes. At no time was I asked if I even owned a firearm, much less "the details" of its procurement or use. I was certainly asked if I had broken any laws, but they didn't associate it with firearms ownership.

So as far as the government was concerned, unless they ran tracers (which would be silly), they had no idea whether I owned any or not, much less the "details" of that ownership (e,g, make, model, caliber, serial, etc).

So, no I am not joking. The giving of those details is not any more their business than whether you own, possess or use marital aids.
11.13.2008 3:34pm
zippypinhead:
wfjag
wins the thread
!!!

(So all those Hoosier v. JBG arguments were really just the Hoos talking to himself... go figure!)

On a related note, I think I'll start a betting pool: How many seconds will elapse between the announcement of any given nominee or appointee, and the first FOIA demand for the person's questionaire answers? I'm not convinced everything asked for would necessarily be covered by Exemption 6, which exempts materials involving invasion of personal privacy from public disclosure. Certainly your public blog posts, your concealed carry permit, your various affiliations with outside organizations, your court records, your speeding tickets (valued over $50), etc. should all get disclosed.

This could get funny...
11.13.2008 3:38pm
cboldt (mail):
-- How would you know? [this is the first time a "Do you own a gun" question was asked ...] --
.
Just by recollection of reviewing the questionnaires put to the nominees whose questionnaires I have reviewed. I don't recall that sort of question.
.
See historical White House Personal Data Statements (PDS); Standard Form (SF) 86 "FBI background check," and SF-278 from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE).
.
I'm not saying "do you or anyone in your family own a gun, and if so, why?" has never been asked as part of the consideration process for entry into an administration; what I am saying is that as far as I know, this is the first time. My research hasn't been exhaustive, but it hasn't been negligible either.
11.13.2008 3:44pm
commontheme (mail):
It would appear that the person(s) who drafted that question are simply ignorant about gun "registration."
11.13.2008 3:52pm
Bama 1L:
What could be even more embarrassing than most of the scenarios already discussed is if an appointee claims to be and is sold as a sportsman, hunted with his dad, etc. and then turns out in hearings not to have ever owned a gun. The questionnaire guards against that surprising the White House.
11.13.2008 3:53pm
gcr (mail) (www):
"Most of the social workers he meets at conferences are from urban areas and are appalled that he would be anywhere near a gun, reflecting in my opinion, a commonly held view about guns amoung the liberal elite."

Urban social workers are "elite"?
11.13.2008 3:53pm
RPT (mail):
"wfjag:

And, I also barely knew the guy convicted on influence peddling or any of the people involved with the community organization whose employees are indicted or being investigated currently for voter registration fraud in 13 states."

Glad to see someone is out there carrying the ACORN torch. Are any of those "investigations" or "indictments" coming out of a nonpartisan USA office? Please call us when any employee (non-independent contractor) is actually convicted of anything.
11.13.2008 3:54pm
wfjag:

been arrested for, charged with and/or convicted of a crime

Sorry, RPT, but Question 46 says "and/or" after arrested and charged -- no conviction required.
11.13.2008 4:08pm
zippypinhead:
I'm not saying "do you or anyone in your family own a gun, and if so, why?" has never been asked . . . what I am saying is that as far as I know, this is the first time.
I can vouch that in the past when I went through both initial and renewal full-field background investigations for TS-level clearances, I was never asked about firearms ownership, either on the paperwork (SF-86 and supplemental questionaires), or in the interviews.

I think I did disclose the existence of my C&R FFL in response to SF-86 Q.25, since that asked for any time a U.S. government agency investigated your background, and ATF does at least a records check before issuing C&Rs. But even with that on the paper record, firearms ownership never came up.

Why not? I suspect because a rather large percentage of people getting National Security clearances own guns -- lots of current and ex-military and law enforcement types are in the pool of people with clearances. Law-abiding firearms ownership is not a disqualifying issue, and even asking that sort of irrelevant question would generate a lot of useless noise. As the Transition Team may be discovering at this very moment...
11.13.2008 4:15pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
Folks, read the question again and the order of the requests:

FIRST: Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun?

SECOND: If so, provide COMPLETE OWNERSHIP and registration information.

THIRD: Has the registration ever lapsed?

FOURTH: Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.

It is obvious that there is a litmus test going on here. The first question in this series should be, "Have you committed a crime?" If appropriate, followed by, "Did it involve the use of a firearm (not referred to as a *gun*) ?" Given what comes first, second and third, etc, in this question, it is obvious to me that they really don't care about the crimes part, they care about whether you or any of your family own a firearm ...... The crime part appears, to me, to be an afterthought used to legitimize the question they are REALLY asking. After all, what if you own a firearm and have committed no crime with or without it..... what business is it of Obama's whether you own one or not? Hmmm?
11.13.2008 4:16pm
James Gibson (mail):
I went through the comments and no one asked the most pertinent question: define immediate family. Are they just talking about spouse and children, local (instate) relatives, or immediate blood kin.

My brother doesn't own a firearm (that I know of). But my brother-in-law (sister's husband) owns a hunting gun, a staple of life in Idaho where they live. If my brother was to enter the administration and not have the specifics on my brother-in-laws firearm would that be held against my brother.
11.13.2008 4:17pm
Karan Singh (mail):
I say it's CYA to prevent the next Carl Rowan from embarrassing the administration.
11.13.2008 4:22pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
Zippy, EXACTLY! I have, as I mentioned, the very same background checks, for the same reasons and level, and several renewals during my career. Ditto! I was never asked that question or anything even close to it. Nor should you be unless you have committed a violent crime, at which point you would probably not qualify for the clearance anyway.

Ditto FFL. I held one during my career so that personnel in my service, with whom I served and competed, could readily procure target-grade firearms for competition without having to find a dealer of said firearms (and without a markup other than for the trouble of doing some paperwork).

Your last paragraph is right on the money. I know few retired or ex-military that don't own firearms. I do know many ex-military (retired and otherwise) due to my membership in several organizations (VFW, AL, etc). My "sample" is rather large. I know quite a few former law enforcement personnel and of all of them, none are without firearms..... not a single one.

Quite frankly, as an aside, I am hoping this wakes a few people up who are law-abiding firearms owners who thought Obama and company are ardent defenders of the second amendment...... Yeah right......
11.13.2008 4:31pm
Artkady:
If a position requires a security clearance, then I wonder if this bears on the discussion of the question asked:


Modern gun control laws

In the United States, the Gun Control Act of 1968 forms the basic national gun control law, with the restrictions amended or added to in subsequent laws such as the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 and the Brady Bill. The Gun Control Act of 1968 essentially banned the interstate sale of firearms through the mail and created various arbitrary categories of persons prohibited from owning a firearm. The Firearms Owners Protection Act includes a ban on the licensing of new automatic weapons under the National Firearms Act for automatic rifles manufactured after May 1986. The Brady Bill requires would-be purchasers of firearms to submit to a "background check". The prohibited persons categories created by the Gun Control Act of 1968 have been since copied wholesale into other laws restricting people from working in jobs (such as trucking or railroads) transporting hazardous materials, being granted a "security clearance" by the federal government, or purchasing and using explosive materials [My emphasis].


From, Gun control, LibertarianWiki.org
11.13.2008 4:37pm
Dan Weber (www):
I say it's CYA to prevent the next Carl Rowan from embarrassing the administration.

This was my first impression, too. They want you to say "tell us ANYTHING that could embarrass the administration." And they make it so impossible to comply with that they can just point and say "he didn't fill out his application honestly!"

I mean, a copy of every single thing you've ever written on the Internet? I know I'd be embarrassed by some stuff I've written in the past, but I simply could not think of how to come up with such a list.

It's the "lie to me, baby" phenomenon. Like filling out a profile on a dating site, everyone expects everyone else to lie, so someone who tells the truth is seriously disadvantaged. Or the broker who promises a 10% return year after year while the other broker says that returns cannot be guaranteed. Or the politician who promises to make it rain donuts with awesome services and no taxes. It's hard to compete against the liar.
11.13.2008 4:38pm
BZ (mail):
On the ACORN front, it's not hard to find convictions of ACORN employees for election fraud:

Keith Ervin, “Three Plead Guilty in Fake Voter Scheme,” Seattle Times, October 30, 2007, available at here
11.13.2008 4:40pm
RPT (mail):
Even Air America's Ron Kuby is addressing the questionnaire on today's show. However, when you consider the context of the now concluded presidential campaign, this does not seem unreasonable for all of you conservatives, as you also embraced and promoted the following inquiries:

-what church did you attend?

-did you approve of all of the speakers and sermons presented over the entire period of your membership; if not, what affirmative steps did you take to register your disapproval?

-do you approve of all of the activities of all those in your various affinity groups, from boards of directors on down? If not, what affirmative steps did you take to register your disapproval?

-have you ever used your Taser on another person? If so, please explain the circumstances.

-please list the names and addresses of all persons who hosted any fundraiser which you attended for your candidacy for any current or past post?

And so on....

You have imposed a very intrusive standard on your candidates. Too bad no one vetted Monica Goodling.
11.13.2008 4:47pm
RPT (mail):
"BZ:

On the ACORN front, it's not hard to find convictions of ACORN employees for election fraud:

Keith Ervin, “Three Plead Guilty in Fake Voter Scheme,” Seattle Times, October 30, 2007, available at here"

Is that the best you can do? One case? A year old?
11.13.2008 4:52pm
richard cabeza:
RPT: Wow, you're right. Considering the racist and Marxist background of a candidate with a half-page resume printed on Chicago-political-machine letterhead is exactly the same thing as filtering out prospective employees on the basis of their exercise of a right from which the Constitution prohibits the federal government interfering. It would be just like asking whether they've ever shot up a bus full of boy scouts; it's technically illegal, but speaks to the power.
11.13.2008 4:56pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
Artkady: ".....The prohibited persons categories created by the Gun Control Act of 1968 have been since copied wholesale into other laws restricting people from working in jobs (such as trucking or railroads) transporting hazardous materials, being granted a "security clearance" by the federal government, or purchasing and using explosive materials [My emphasis]."

Read it closely again. What was COPIED from the GCA 1968 was the LIST of prohibited people. In other words, they used the same categories of "prohibited people" to define those who cannot have a security clearances, too. What was stated has nothing to do with whether folks with clearances can own a firearm. In fact, I can "personally" guarantee you that it doesn't. If that is the way you were taking it, you simply misread it.
11.13.2008 4:58pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Wow, you're right. Considering the racist and Marxist background of a candidate with a half-page resume printed on Chicago-political-machine letterhead is exactly the same thing as filtering out prospective employees on the basis of their exercise of a right from which the Constitution prohibits the federal government interfering.

The fact that it is a constitutional right doesn't end the inquiry, it begins it.

Justice Scalia, for instance, thinks patronage hires are perfectly constitutional. Those hires, of course, are completely based on something (political party affiliation) that the Constitution clearly protects. And that's not just asking about it, that's making the hiring decision on that basis. (Thankfully, a majority of the court rejects Scalia's position.)

Similarly, I am sure that the government is perfectly entitled to ask about political speech that might embarrass the administration or be incompatible with service. It may be perfectly protected by the First Amendment to advocate the dismantling of the Federal Reserve-- that doesn't mean that Obama's people shouldn't be able to keep someone out of the Treasury Department who has advocated that.

Bottom line, again, the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms. It does not protect against anyone asking you about whether you own any.
11.13.2008 5:03pm
zippypinhead:
Artkady, you quoted the following:
The prohibited persons categories created by the Gun Control Act of 1968 have been since copied wholesale into other laws restricting people from working in jobs (such as trucking or railroads) transporting hazardous materials, being granted a "security clearance" by the federal government, or purchasing and using explosive materials.
This refers to the prohibited person categories listed in 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1)-(9), the most famous of which is the so-called "felon-in-possesson" prohibition. Not terribly surprising that if you're in one of the 922(g) categories, you might also be disqualified for a security clearance. If you take a look at the Sf-86 linked above (which is used for National Security clearances), you'll see that there are questions that would require disclosure of inclusion in literally any 922(g) category. But there's no question about legal firearms ownership.

Although being a mere pinhead, I could be talked into having suspicions that the next rev. of SF-86 might just include questions on gun ownership. Who'da thunk it...
11.13.2008 5:03pm
Anon21:
It might be appropriate to note at this juncture that no one has adduced the slightest bit of evidence that the Obama Administration will be "filtering out" applicants who are legal firearms owners. Well, except if you apply a standard that would also lead you to conclude that the Obama Administration is "filtering out" people who have given speeches, kept diaries, or been members of any type of social organization.
11.13.2008 5:03pm
zippypinhead:
ForWHatItIsWorth (4:58 pm post) and zippypinhead (5:03 post) are clearly each others' sock puppets...

[moral: I really should remember to hit "refresh" before hitting "post comment" on this blog if I don't want to be redundant. Sorry].
11.13.2008 5:05pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Considering the racist and Marxist background of a candidate

By the way, this really is a pet peeve of mine, but conservatives who don't like blacks very much don't get to redefine the term "racism" to refer to things blacks do rather than things that have been done to blacks.

There is not a "racist" bone in Obama's body. And while blacks CAN be racist (e.g., Farrakhan), anyone who downplays past or present WHITE racism or justifies a lot of racist policies, past, or present, needs to retire the term from their vocabulary. Only in the worst Orwellian nightmare world is Barack Obama, rather than Bull Connor or Jefferson Davis, a racist.
11.13.2008 5:06pm
richard cabeza:
but conservatives who don't like blacks very much don't get to redefine the term "racism" to refer to things blacks do rather than things that have been done to blacks.

Yeah, blacks can't be racist! Only other races can be racist against blacks. That's how it's defined! Get a dictionary!
11.13.2008 5:08pm
cboldt (mail):
Just speculating out loud, the Obama administration doesn't want to be surprised by a team-member's having bought a firearm via private sale (aka, "the gun-show loophole), hence the request to provide complete ownership information. There is an obvious risk to non-compliance with local registration laws, see the handful of Chicago pols who self-exempt from local laws, and you can bet there are a mess who reside in NYC and WDC as well, who possess even tough the law forbids it. Laws for thee, but not for me, etc.
.
There may also be plans to strip the right to own or possess a firearm from all people who have caused property damage with a firearm, as well - hence the question about "have you caused any damage."
.
I don't think any of these questions are meant to disqualify a person from taking a position. My thought is that they telegraph the contours of a possible set of "reasonable restrictions." 1) have a reason to own (if for hunting, then what's the problem with having the gun kept in secure storage by the state?), 2) establish a federal registry for all guns, 3) promulgate limitations on firearms possession based on minor infractions.
11.13.2008 5:10pm
Arkady:

What was stated has nothing to do with whether folks with clearances can own a firearm. In fact, I can "personally" guarantee you that it doesn't. If that is the way you were taking it, you simply misread it.


I didn't read it that way. Of course a person with a security clearance can own firearem. What it suggested to me was a possible rationale for the questions EV listed:


Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.


Answers to those questions might, in the minds of some, determine whether one would be able to get a security clearance. And that would bear on the kind of position one could get in a presidential administration. (And note that I'm not saying the questions are well-considered toward that end.)
11.13.2008 5:14pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
"drafted that question are simply ignorant"....ignorant and simple, I think, accurately describes the people, all of them ;seeking the answers to these questions and the nefarious reasoning behind this question.
11.13.2008 5:16pm
Dan Weber (www):
It might be appropriate to note at this juncture that no one has adduced the slightest bit of evidence that the Obama Administration will be "filtering out" applicants who are legal firearms owners.

I think some folks here are a little paranoid, but ask yourself how you think folks would react if a Republican were asking applicants if they were now or had ever been gay.

(And if gay, the names of partners. Plus all your AIDS tests.)
11.13.2008 5:20pm
bfw:
When the left and the media was in full anti-Palin attack mode they jumped all over the McCain camp and alleged that Palin was not thoroughly vetted. Among the campaign's responses - "Hey, we vetted her! We even gave her this really detailed questionnaire asking for all kinds of intrusive, personal information." This defense was summarily dismissed and ridiculed by the media and the left generally.

Dilan Esper - it sounds like you probably jumped on that ship.

Now Obama sends a 7 page questionnaire to his prospective employees, and this is major news? It merits its own article in the NYT? Its currently running as the headline story on cnn.com? Message - wow, that Obama sure is thoughtful and thorough! What vetting! What a guy!

I'm confused. Is a detailed questionnaire evidence of a thorough vetting job, or isn't it?

Nah, that's not a double standard. Nothing to see here. Move along.
11.13.2008 5:33pm
richard cabeza:
But bfw, she uses guns... doesn't that automatically disqualify her!?!?

Anyway, to clarify: are these questions unprecedented? And if so, why wouldn't you assume (without more information) they are a filtering tool? Isn't that one of the main purposes of such a document?
11.13.2008 5:39pm
zippypinhead:
Answers to those questions might, in the minds of some, determine whether one would be able to get a security clearance.
No. For at least the fifth time on this thread, they do NOT ask these questions in the course of a National Security clearance background investigation. The closest you get is SF-86 Q.22.d, which asks "have you EVER been charged with a firearms or explosives offense?" (original emphasis).

In fact, for security clearance purposes, you could have killed someone with a firearm (e.g., self-defense), and as long as you were never arrested or charged, it need not even be disclosed, let alone be a disqualifying fact.

Whether you or a family member owns a firearm is simply irrelevant to a National Security clearance. Whether a "gun registration" (in the minority of jurisdictions that even require registration) has ever lapsed is about as relevant as whether your car registration or dog registration has ever lapsed. None of which are asked, either.

Are we paranoid? Maybe. But we keep hearing about the need for additional "reasonable regulation" from a guy who endorsed the unconstitutional D.C. gun ban and wants to make an incredibly broad "assault weapons ban" permanent, among other things. I'm willing to bet that in the end not one Cabinet nominee will be an owner of a semi-automatic firearm of any sort. The Secretary of the Interior or the head of BLM may own a (non-semi-automatic) shotgun and even duck hunt from time to time, but that's going to be trumpeted as "diversity" and a sop to "sportsmen."

Incidentally: the questionaire asks about "a gun." Not a "firearm." Suggesting the person who wrote it has no understanding of the relevant legal terminology. There is no such thing as a "gun" defined under Federal criminal law -- there is, however, a device defined as a "firearm." See 18 U.S.C. §921(a)(3). The question as drafted is ambiguous. What about an air rifle? Airsoft gun? Cap gun? Nail gun? Staple gun?
11.13.2008 5:54pm
wfjag:
RE: ACORN:

So, less than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from Acorn, the liberal activist group that has registered millions of voters, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board. But hey, who needs voter ID laws?

We wish this were an aberration, but allegations of fraud have tainted Acorn voter drives across the country. Acorn workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and investigations are still under way in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

"The Acorn Indictments A union-backed outfit faces charges of election fraud." Wall Street Journal, Friday, November 3, 2006

And, from Seattle, Washington:

Clifton Mitchell helped register nearly 2,000 voters for the community group ACORN. But not one of them actually existed.

"Ex-ACORN worker: 'I paid the price' for voter registration fraud", cnn.com, Wed October 22, 2008.

See also www.rottenacorn.com/activityMap.html which lists Voter Fraud activities in 14 states by ACORN employees between 1998 and 2004.

These, and other reports are easy to find RPT. Just go to your internet search engine and type "ACORN + conviction". Other variations -- "ACORN + voter + fraud". I'm sure you can think of some other queries if you really want to learn the facts. Or, you can post snarky dismissals of comments that refer to ACORN's well-established history in this area. Your choice.
11.13.2008 5:58pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Yeah, blacks can't be racist! Only other races can be racist against blacks. That's how it's defined! Get a dictionary!

Congratulations for not reading my post.
11.13.2008 6:07pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I'm confused. Is a detailed questionnaire evidence of a thorough vetting job, or isn't it?

It's part of one. And then you follow up on it. Unless you are desperate to announce your Veep pick, first contacted 3 days before, on the day after your opponent's convention speech. Then you don't follow up on it.

I will give you a piece of advice. Stop focusing on perceived hypocrisy. 99 percent of the time, "your side does it too" is a very bad argument.
11.13.2008 6:09pm
richard cabeza:
Congratulations for not reading my post.


You wrote:
By the way, this really is a pet peeve of mine, but conservatives who don't like blacks very much don't get to redefine the term "racism" to refer to things blacks do rather than things that have been done to blacks.


If you can explain how my paraphrase parroting is inaccurate, I want to know. I'm uncertain whether this is getting farther off topic or not (since the nature and purpose of the questionairre is evidently in its architect's eyes), but an explanation for the quoted sentence ought to be entertaining.
11.13.2008 6:18pm
Bama 1L:
You guys do realize this questionnaire is for those who want presidential appointments, not just any old civil service job, right?

I think the President ought to be able to find out just about anything about you before suggesting you for a position of trust and presenting you to the Senate.
11.13.2008 6:19pm
whit:
do they ask similar questions about the person's

1) religious affiliation
2) prior exercises of free speech
3) refusal to allow consent search of their property by police
4) choice to remain silent when questioned in a criminal matter
5) sexual practices

?

of course not . all of the above are constitutional rights (#5 by recent invention of the supreme court).

and do they ask any of these type of questions to those who are applying for presidential appointments? of course not

this is yet one more example how many on the left treat the 2nd amendment differently. it's not a REAL right to them.

this is so obvious. just apply any (stupid and unconstitutional, but that's redundant when it comes to the left and guns) argument the left uses against gun rights and apply it to our other constitutional rights.

you would be accused of "fascism".

it's simply amazing that they cannot see the logical/constitutional inconsistencies.
11.13.2008 6:43pm
Yankev (mail):
ForWhatitsWorth

"Did it involve the use of a firearm (not referred to as a *gun*) ?
Given the military meaning of "gun", most firearms owners could truthfully answer "no" to question 59.

Zippy, there may be no statutory meaning of gun, but there is a long accepted military meaning, as even this life-long civilian knows. Just ask anyone who forgot the distinction while they were in basic training.
11.13.2008 6:45pm
zippypinhead:
Bama 1L:
I think the President ought to be able to find out just about anything about you before suggesting you for a position of trust and presenting you to the Senate.
Fair point. But WHY does the incoming administration demand to know this particular factoid, and why is the answer deemed significant? Same question would have been asked if the GWB Administration had asked applicants about (legal, but disfavored by that POTUS) sexual or procreative practices. What would the uproar have been in 2000 if the transition team asked applicants if any family member ever had an abortion? Or was gay? And then asked for details...

It doesn't take a paranoid pinhead to intuit that the likely answer here is there's a political agenda in the works to crack down hard on Second Amendment rights, consistent with what was posted on the Obama campaign site and at change.gov until they started tweaking it a few days ago in response to complaints. And they don't want to be "embarrassed" by belatedly discovering that a firearms owner (or worse, enthusiast) somehow snuck into the tent when they weren't looking.

Funny, but they don't also ask whether applicants or any of their family members drive gas-guzzling, CO2-spewing full-size SUVS, and if so, whether their registration has ever lapsed, or whether they ever hit anybody or anything with them. Must mean Al Gore won't be the new EPA Administrator after all, I guess.

Now excuse me while I bitterly go off and cling to my politically-incorrect you-know-whats...
11.13.2008 6:46pm
zippypinhead:
Yankev wrote:
"there may be no statutory meaning of gun, but there is a long accepted military meaning, as even this life-long civilian knows. Just ask anyone who forgot the distinction while they were in basic training."


In my old branch of the service, a "gun" was a crew-served, deck-mounted device with at least a 5-inch rifled bore, used to make people miles away from you very unhappy. The DI made sure the M-16A2 you befriended in Basic was called either your "rifle" or your "weapon."

I hate to ever cite this particular source, but it's easy to copy/paste. From the definition of "gun" in Wikipedia:
"In military use, the term "gun" refers to artillery ordnance that fires projectiles at high velocity, such as naval guns which in the modern navies are not called cannons, or the tank main gun. In military use, mortars and all hand-held firearms are excluded from the meaning of guns because they do not require the accurate gunnery data calculations and training when engaging targets.[2] Two exceptions to this include: the shotgun, which is a smoothbore hand-held firearm that fires a load of shot or a single projectile known as a slug, and the machine gun, which is a fully-automatic weapon mounted on a tripod or wheeled carriage and is almost always operated by a crew of two.

The word "gun" is also applied to some more or less vaguely gun-like or gun-shaped tools such as staple guns, nail guns, and glue guns."


Res Ipsa Loquitur.
11.13.2008 6:54pm
Yankev (mail):

Res Ipsa Loquitur.
Or Q.E.D. Nearly every citizen who owns a firearm can truthfully answer "no" -- unless of course you also own a deadly stapler or a hot glue assault applicator.
11.13.2008 7:15pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
zippy: "...."In military use, the term "gun" refers to artillery ordnance that fires projectiles at high velocity, such as naval guns which in the modern navies are not called cannons, or the tank main gun...."

Yup and with that in mind, I answer question 59 with a resounding NO! And I don't even have to redefine "is" to get there! :)
11.13.2008 7:20pm
autolykos:

The question as drafted is ambiguous. What about an air rifle? Airsoft gun? Cap gun? Nail gun? Staple gun?


Paint gun? Glue gun? Squirt gun?
11.13.2008 7:24pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
cboldt: Just speculating out loud, the Obama administration doesn't want to be surprised by a team-member's having bought a firearm via private sale (aka, "the gun-show loophole), hence the request to provide complete ownership information.

There is no such thing as a gun-show loophole. FFL holders MUST do the insta-check, the same as if they were in their own stores.

Private people can sell firearms to each other all day long, but the numbers are limited. If you sell to many, you may be tagged as a dealer without an FFL. This applies whether they are at a gun show or showing at home.

Gun-show "loophole" is nothing but another attempt to stigmatize firearms owners and collectors. It is a tempest in a thimble..... doesn't even qualify for tea-pot status. People really should go to a gun show. It is the safest place on the planet and the collection and variety of firearms is sometimes astounding. For those who appreciate fine metalwork and woodwork, it is hard to find a better place to see the best of both.
11.13.2008 7:27pm
ForWHatItIsWorth:
Oh yes.... forgot to mention something. If someone answers that question YES and they have, in fact, violated a firearms law, then it is incumbent upon the person asking the question to have them arrested. To do otherwise would be making him/herself an accessory to a felony.

So what do you actually think the chances are that someone who has actually broken some law is going to be honest (unless they have already been punished, of course)? The ONLY people who answer those questions honestly are honest, law-abiding people.

This is why many firearms owners are sick and tired of more firearms ordinances, laws and regulations being added to the stack that exists. These regs only impact the law abiding, NOT the criminal. I cannot remember the last time I heard of a known criminal being nailed for firearms violations and being convicted of those violations. They can practically throw away the key if a convicted felon is caught with a firearm.... so when was the last time you heard a key flying by your ear for that violation? When are people going to learn that criminals don't CARE about your silly "gun" laws. Never have, never will. Instead of adding on more laws, how about enforcing the ones that exist?
11.13.2008 7:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
You wrote: By the way, this really is a pet peeve of mine, but conservatives who don't like blacks very much don't get to redefine the term "racism" to refer to things blacks do rather than things that have been done to blacks. If you can explain how my paraphrase parroting is inaccurate, I want to know.

Quote the rest of it, ********. Seriously, I don't want to run afoul of Professor Volokh's comments policy, or I would call you a bunch of profane things right now.
11.13.2008 7:41pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
do they ask similar questions about the person's 1) religious affiliation, 2) prior exercises of free speech, 3) refusal to allow consent search of their property by police, 4) choice to remain silent when questioned in a criminal matter, 5) sexual practices? of course not . all of the above are constitutional rights (#5 by recent invention of the supreme court).

Actually, whit, they certainly do ask about 5. Read down-- it's a few questions below the one about guns. (And they ask about (2) as well.)
11.13.2008 7:42pm
whit:
thanks, dilan.

well, they are intrusive, but at least they are intrusive about more than guns.

makes it seem less of an issue then.
11.13.2008 7:49pm
Brian K (mail):
dcuser:

This looks like it's just the equivalent of asking whether people have housekeepers/nannies, and, if so, have they paid social security taxes, etc. In other words, the emphasis would be not on the act itself (owning a gun; or having someone else clean your kitchen), but on failure to follow applicable laws (registering; paying taxes).



this point bears repeating. a little reality is needed to counteract the rabid ODS in this post.
11.13.2008 7:52pm
Metoo:

I think the President ought to be able to find out just about anything about you before suggesting you for a position of trust and presenting you to the Senate.


I find this point rather amusing given the lack of information Obama gave us when applying for the job of President.
11.13.2008 8:11pm
Brian K (mail):
aren't all these people employed at the will of president? can't he hire and fire them for any reason whatsoever or no reason at all? or does that rule only apply to republican presidents firing attorneys for blatant political reasons?
11.13.2008 8:23pm
RPT (mail):
Wow, that 2008 ACORN evidence was overwhelming.
11.13.2008 10:37pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

There is not a "racist" bone in Obama's body

ROTFLMAO


I think the President ought to be able to find out just about anything about you before suggesting you for a position of trust and presenting you to the Senate.



Hey! That would be a great idea for the electorate, too!! That way, the people would know about the candidates past, and be able to better use their judgment when voting!!!
11.13.2008 10:49pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
A little late in the discussion, but add Massachusetts to the list of gun registration, etc. states.

Our stupid laws work as follows:

1) In order to own (or carry) any firearms in MA, you need a license. As near as I can figure it out this violates both state and federal constitutions, but then, I'm not a lawyer.

2) While any firearm you may own - for example, owned since before the registration law went into effect or if you move into the state with firearms - does not need to be registered, all transfers and sales of firearms in MA are registered with the state. That this has no particular effect on the crime rate or, presumably, criminal investigation and prosecution, doesn't seem to matter to the people who run this operation. Technically, this is called "point of purchase registration."
11.13.2008 10:55pm
Smokey:
0bama got slightly more than 50% of the vote. Only slightly more.

And now he's acting like a Socialist tinhorn dictator wannabe with a mandate to take away everyone's 2nd Amendment rights.

Sorry, 0dumbo, the honeymoon is over.
11.13.2008 11:03pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
There is not a "racist" bone in Obama's body ROTFLMAO

When you finish rolling on the floor, you should resolve never to use the term "racism" again, because if you think it applies to Barack Obama, in reality it probably applies to you.
11.13.2008 11:37pm
Oren:
Smokey, how did you leap from questionnaires asking about gun ownership to "taking away everyone's 2A rights"?

I'm with cboltd, he's going to try to close the private-seller loophole and doesn't want charges of hypocrisy leveld at him because the undersecretary for HUD bought a .22 at a gun show when he was 25.
11.13.2008 11:40pm
Oren:

In order to own (or carry) any firearms in MA, you need a license. As near as I can figure it out this violates both state and federal constitutions, but then, I'm not a lawyer.


I agree on the Federal but the State Constitution is pretty clear on the militia-purpose ("common defense"). I would prefer if it protected an individual RKBA but in 300+ years (predating the US), it has never been used to strike down a restriction on the personal carrying of guns AFAIK.

That's a quibble though . . .
11.13.2008 11:44pm
AlanDownunder (mail):
No biggie compared to the Federalist Society membership question asked by the Rove/Miers/Taylor/Goodling branch of the DoJ.

I'm amazed Fed Soc members didn't loudly protest this vastly more undue prying.
11.14.2008 12:04am
bfw:
Thanks for the "advice", Dilan Esper.

In your eagerness to sound wise and condescending, though, you missed my point entirely. I didn't write my original post simply to point out a case of hypocrisy. I wrote to question why we're even having this conversation. I'm amazed that this "questionnaire" is being passed around like a hot potato and breathlessly declared to be some great, in-depth fact-finding tool. Many of the people treating it as such were entirely dismissive of the very same tool when it was used with respect to their new favorite punching bag. That's not just hypocritical (although it is that, too). Its unfair, and its intellectually dishonest. I'm just surprised that this is a national news story. Whatever it takes to keep making Obama look superhuman, I suppose.

In your response to my post, and my (rhetorical!) question about whether the questionnaire is a valid vetting tool, you wrote:

"It's part of one. And then you follow up on it. Unless you are desperate to announce your Veep pick, first contacted 3 days before, on the day after your opponent's convention speech. Then you don't follow up on it."


This is entirely irrelevant to our discussion, which concerns the utility of the questionnaire itself. We know next to nothing about Obama's vetting process, other than his issuance of this questionnaire. Will he "follow up on it"? We don't know. More to the point, you don't seem to care. You seem inclined to simply regurgitate the conventional left wing talking-points about the vetting of Palin and otherwise conclude that a questionnaire is a sufficient fact-gathering tool for Obama. Just not for a Republican.

You then wrote:

"I will give you a piece of advice. Stop focusing on perceived hypocrisy. 99 percent of the time, "your side does it too" is a very bad argument."


I tend to agree. I guess its a good thing that the hypocrisy I pointed out is very real, and not just "perceived".

In closing, here's a piece of advice back at you - don't make hypocritical arguments. You risk falling subject to that other 1%.
11.14.2008 12:15am
Oren:

This is entirely irrelevant to our discussion, which concerns the utility of the questionnaire itself. We know next to nothing about Obama's vetting process, other than his issuance of this questionnaire.

No, but you assume the absolutely least charitable possibility to fill those unknowns. Meanwhile, the most plausible explanation (cboltd's) is sitting right in front of you.

So much for good faith.
11.14.2008 12:42am
richard cabeza:
Wow, thanks Dilan. Good to know that quoting you enrages you.

Are you sure you aren't really Obama?
11.14.2008 6:20am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
wfjag:

the community organization whose employees are indicted or being investigated currently for voter registration fraud in 13 states


There's something I've been trying pretty hard to find, and no one seems to be able to help me find it. In various places I've asked for proof that ACORN's work has ever led to single fraudulent vote. Can you show me any? I don't think you can. Nevertheless, McCain said this:

ACORN … is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.


Detect any hyperbole?

I've also been trying to locate an instance of a single ACORN leader or official being convicted of a crime. I can't find that, either. It turns out that the number of convictions (or guilty pleas) obtained against ACORN workers compares very favorably with the number of same obtained against GOP leaders. Even though the former pool is probably much larger. So the GOP should aspire to operating as cleanly as ACORN.
11.14.2008 8:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
smokey:

0bama got slightly more than 50% of the vote. Only slightly more.


52.7%. And your expectations are distorted. In the post-FDR era, only Ike and Bush I have managed to exceed 51% while running as a non-incumbent. No Ds.

By winning his first term with 51% or more, Obama has accomplished something that all of the following did not accomplish:

Bush II
Clinton
Reagan
Carter
Nixon
JFK
Truman

And in 2004, when Bush won 50.7%, Cheney and lots of other people promptly called that a "mandate." Even though since FDR, every incumbent president who won the election (Reagan, Nixon, LBJ, Ike) achieved at least 57% (with the exception of Clinton, who achieved 49.2% when Perot won 8%; polls showed that Perot voters preferred Clinton over Dole by a wide margin).
11.14.2008 8:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I think no one has mentioned that Obama might want to know about gun ownership because it could be seen as a positive, not a negative. Someone with a personal history of gun ownership (legal, of course) could have an enhanced ability to devise and sell policies that relate to guns. And that's true without regard to the actual policy, i.e., whether the policy itself is 'pro-gun' or 'anti-gun.'

Also, a person with a personal history of gun ownership is perhaps more likely to be 'culturally conservative,' and a person like that could have extra utility inside an Obama administration, to the extent that Obama wants to engage with (or at least neutralize opposition from) people like that.

cboldt:

I see the question as pre-emptive, in trying to avoid teaming up with partners who might not fit in with a program of determined advancement of restrictive firearms laws.


I understand the logic you're offering (also summarized nicely by oren). On the other hand, a gun owner could be exactly the right person to help with the "determined advancement of restrictive firearms laws." Kind of like Nixon going to China.
11.14.2008 8:16am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

When you finish rolling on the floor, you should resolve never to use the term "racism" again, because if you think it applies to Barack Obama, in reality it probably applies to you.


ROTFLMAO
11.14.2008 10:11am
pintler:
What struck me was the omission of questions about drug use. I guess it's finally OK to have inhaled.
11.14.2008 11:03am
Brian Mac:
Glenn makes a strong case!
11.14.2008 11:54am
wfjag:
Courtesy of WYFF Channel 4 in So. Carolina, "Dogs Campaign for White House Job"

www.wyff4.com/video/17972408/index.html

You have to wonder what questions they have to answer.
11.14.2008 12:28pm
Karan Singh (mail):
jukeboxgrad: I think no one has mentioned that Obama might want to know about gun ownership because it could be seen as a positive, not a negative. Someone with a personal history of gun ownership (legal, of course) could have an enhanced ability to devise and sell policies that relate to guns. And that's true without regard to the actual policy, i.e., whether the policy itself is 'pro-gun' or 'anti-gun.'

Also, a person with a personal history of gun ownership is perhaps more likely to be 'culturally conservative,' and a person like that could have extra utility inside an Obama administration, to the extent that Obama wants to engage with (or at least neutralize opposition from) people like that.


This makes sense, but could also be seen as your "looking for a silver lining," or something about "polishing" something else . . . but a good point that I didn't even consider before you raised it.
11.14.2008 12:49pm
MartyA:
The full questionnaire is interesting in at least two respects. First, it is so detailed that it suggests that Obama will be concerned with traditional issues and public concerns. It is almost as if he wants to know problem areas before the media finds out.
Second, I am surprised that Obama released (I assume it was "officially" released) the full text of his questionnaire. If Obama were a Republican, some ultra-left wing, anti-American media outfit would immediately file a FOIA request for every questionnaire submitted.
To those of you who follow such things, is there a exception that would allow the administration to withhold release of such a record? Only for those actually appointed? How about candidates who were not selected?
11.14.2008 12:52pm
dick thompson (mail):
What frosts me about this is that Obama obviously never filled out anthing like this nor did the media ask him about these items. I remember when I was in the service and had a very high security clearance, Obama would never have passed the test to get a clearance in a million years. He would have been thrown out just for his acquaintances. Yet here he is in charge of the nuclear football and he requires anyone who applies for a job in his administration to fill out a questionnaire he could not pass himself. How did this guy even get nominated let alone elected.
11.14.2008 3:27pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

How did this guy even get nominated let alone elected.



Because he's... Lil Barry!!!! He can do whatever he wants to do just because. Gramma said.
11.15.2008 12:05am
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Oren -

Yes, the MA Constitution refers to "the common defense." I have always felt that the common defense refers to more than the state militia; defense from criminal attack (or savage Indian attack, back when it was written) against an individual or a family would seem to me to be for the benefit of the whole of society as well as the individual(s) directly involved.

In addition, Article 1 of the first part reads: All people are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.

While that doesn't mention guns specifically, it does use the words "defending", "protecting", "safety" in ways that surely sound to me like armed defense by individuals, and given the period and culture in which it was written, that would mean, defense with firearms.

I grant that that's not how the SJC sees it, but I believe that the relevant case was from the 1970's (?) which was not exactly a period of rugged individualism in Massachusetts....

And as you say, it's a quibble, if a somewhat important one given the anti-gun predilections of both our Governor and our President-elect.
11.15.2008 2:23am
eaglewingz08 (mail):
Barry couldn't be a member of his own Administration under these questions.

Thank you for applying to join the Obama Administration. We have just a few remaining questions. The NY Daily News had some fun with these questionnaires and added a few and I add a few too as well.

What is your middle name?
List all inappropriate jokes at which you have laughed. Specify whether the laughter was a) wholehearted, b) begrudging, c) ironic.

How many knives do you own? Please specify butter, ordinary, steak, machete switch blade or other.

Do you think you can play guitar?

Can you really play guitar?

Remember that night in college you'd rather forget? Tell us all about it.

Have you ever written a love letter. Please attach.

Have you ever gotten testy with the credit card company's support line in a way that, if revealed, might jeopardize U.S.-India relations? Please describe.

Do you possess any of the following obsessions: 1) comic books, 2) fantasy football, 3) video games. If you circled 2, please describe said fantasy.

In the following ink blot, do you see a) hope, b) change, c) the Obama campaign symbol d) President Obama's head carved into the side of Mount Rushmore, e) other.

How much hope do you have for America under President Obama? Please be expansive.

Have you ever been voted off a reality TV-show. Why?

In his/her adult life, how many times has your spouse been proud of America? a) 0, b) once, on Nov. 4, 2008, c) 2-6 times, d) every day or his/her life.

What's the worst thing you ever said in a breakup fight? Did you take it back? If not, can you please take it back now?

Have you ever sat in a sermon you regretted? If so, why did you continue to sit in the church or synagogue. What, you say it was a mosque? Please see form 13B-iii.

Do you watch America's Next Top Model? What do you think of that guy with the hair?

If Batman, Spiderman and Barack Obama got in a huge fight, describe exactly how the winner would use his superhuman integrity, intelligence, coalition-building skills and discipline to win.

Are you a) a lover or b) a fighter?

If a) how deep is your love?

If b) is Saturday night all right for fighting?

Have you ever failed to disclose something on a disclosure form (including this one) that could prove to be embarrassing? Why not?

Do you like it rough?

Are there any photos circulating of you: a) in compromising positions with men/women other than your husband/wife, b) in a turban or c) with President George W. Bush?

When you walk on water what is the appropriate footwear?
Does the footwear change based upon whether one is walking on a lake, river, or ocean?

Have you ever been a member of a controversial church, temple or synagogue for more than fifteen years attending services once a week without remembering a single sermon given by the preachers of that church, temple or synagogue?


When organizing a community to vote, which is the most
cost effective way to register 'new voters'?
A) Fill out seventy two registration cards for the same voter;

B) Go to the cemetary and record names from the headstones;

C) Go to the phone book to record names in alphabetical order;

D) Import temporary workers into the state to vote multiple times in different jurisdictions;

E) Make sure that the Secretary of State of each state is in the pocket of the community organization;

F) All of the above.

When meeting with President Elect Obama (PBUH) do you make a half bow and/or curtsy, or a full bow with your forehead touching the floor until the President acknowledges your worthless presence?

If you've had working relationships with controversial figures, convicted felons, foreign financiers, imploding government supported entities, unrepentent terrorists, and you are a democrat, you get five additional points.

If you are a veteran of the OIC or the Afghanistan War and are not a member of Veterans Against the War and/or Not in Our Names, deduct seven points.

If you worked for former President Clinton and/or Hillary Clinton, add three points

If you worked for John Kerry, add five points

If you worked for Michael Dukakis add seven points

If you worked for Walter Mondale, add nine points

If you worked for Jimmy Carter, add eighteen points.

If you worked for or with Mayor William Daley Jr add twenty one points

If you can't produce a true original copy of your birth certificate with raised seal, add fifteen points.

Explain why you are really proud of your country for the first time.

Explain in what ways Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Moses and Solomon could learn from President Elect Obama?

Explain President Elect Obama's national security policy.
Ten points if it is still his policy one week after you submit this application.

Explain what the legitimate grievances of Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, and Al Queda are with respect to the US and Israel?

Explain what the root causes of 9/11 were?

Explain how, if you have a hottie waiting for you in the Carribean, but a dour wife with you 18/7, you could arrange visits to your tropical love nest for 'business' without attracting the suspicion of your wife.

In this questionnaire, are you not not telling everything but the truth?

Are we cool? No, seriously, are we cool? I just need to know we're cool.
11.15.2008 6:53pm
markm (mail):
RPT:

...this does not seem unreasonable for all of you conservatives, as you also embraced and promoted the following inquiries:

-what church did you attend?

-did you approve of all of the speakers and sermons presented over the entire period of your membership; if not, what affirmative steps did you take to register your disapproval?


No one asked what church Obama attended. He volunteered the information, listing the minister as his spiritual advisor. And yet, somehow he had never noticed the guy's frequent racist anti-American rants...
11.16.2008 9:16pm