gmillener's comment history

gmillener said...

The 'principal business' is not binding in the same way a numerical restriction would be - if a place bills itself as a 'restaurant' but still makes it's profit in alcohol sales, there's legal recourse to argue that the 'principal business conducted' remains that of serving food. In that the market demand is an uncontrollable factor - i.e. though the 'restaurant' provides meals, consumers may elect not to purchase them and spend their money on drinks instead, a secondary product nonetheless supplied by the 'restaurant' - the establishment would be well within its rights to argue its intended legitimacy as a restaurant. In that sense, the 'principal business' does not necessarily lie with profit, but rather with (I suppose) advertising. The problem with the legislation from this standpoint is that, in not defining 'bar' expressly, it does not differentiate one from a traditional restaurant - there's a lot of needless legal gray area that could be avoided if the intent were truly to limit carrying firearms to what popular opinion would consider restaurants. If you're against judges legislating from the bench (which I'll assume at least the Tennessee legislature is), it seems odd to pass a law with so many obvious loopholes. My problem with the law is as much its poor draftsmanship as its object - the House and Senate have been so busy rushing these firearm bills through, they've given little thought to the ramifications such inexactitude. Or, perhaps, they've given it too much thought - this law, implicitly allowing firearms within at least some 'bars,' opens the door for further expanding the boundaries of what constitutes a 'restaurant' rather than than limiting it.

As for my obstinance, I would not say I'm being willfully obtuse - I think my point is legitimate: that non-quantitative restrictions are inherently exploitable. And as to my reading comprehension, I'm comfortable with my limited abilities - I apologize, though, for the frustration they've obviously been causing.

May 6, 2009 at 6:34 p.m.
gmillener said...

Regardless of the law's intent (or what you perceive its intent to be), semantics unfortunately play a large role in legal interpretation. The spirit of the law can only be gleaned from the text, and that's what I find so troubling - a law so, if what you claim is true, specific in its purpose should leave very little to said interpretation. Why not, as you say, institute that 51% rule? That the wording is inexplicit is intentional - because its not intended to exclude establishments like sports bars. It is a law left intentionally vague, and the possibilities for reinterpretation are troubling.

May 6, 2009 at 2:02 p.m.
gmillener said...

I would argue that an establishment required to serve just one meal five days a week could not by definition only be a restaurant. I think you'll find that many sports bars, for example, more than fulfill this requirement, and would certainly still technically fall under the loose guidelines of being a "restaurant" as defined above.

What intrigues me about your position is that I imagine it is the same one the left will take upon the first shooting within what public opinion would consider a "bar" - that shooter, regardless of whether or not his actions took places in self defense, would not be within his rights based on your argument. A looser (that is, using the definition of "restaurant" included - a definition that again I would argue does not preclude said bar) interpretation of the law, though, would indicate the opposite - though the establishment served alcohol and may even have been called a bar, if the loose guidelines above are met (however contentiously), he or she would be protected by the law and withing his or her rights to carry a firearm within. That, I think, would be the right's (or anyone with a vested second amendment interest) argument, and perhaps yours, too, should such a case arise. (And I apologize for the 'what if' - I usually shy away from them, but here the example seemed not entirely out of the realm of possibility.)

Here, though, you're clearly in favor of the law, but still taking that first position. And it's a clever way of supporting the legislation, I suppose. Arguing the narrowest interpretation of the law - something with which the wording, I would argue, inherently and intentionally conflicts - in order to receive its fullest benefit does seem somewhat disingenuous, though. Unless, of course, you really do want stricter wording yourself? In which case, why not (for argument's sake) exclude places that serve mixed drinks - many restaurants have beer and wine lists, but it takes a bar to serve cocktails. Though, again, such a limitation would not entirely exclude bars from falling under the "restaurant" header, it would certainly reduce the number that could.

Regardless, I think, considering the law as written, refusing to admit that establishments many would consider bars (any place labeling itself a 'bar and grill,' for example, is technically a restaurant, but could/would still have one or more full bars available to patrons) still fall under its loose guidelines is willfully partisan and self-serving. That the law applies to restaurants, too, however, does not change the fact that it does indeed apply to many bar-like establishments. Again, it is a matter of semantics, a problem that could be solved with stricter, less ambiguous wording (but I maintain purposefully isn't - you could either risk excluding some restaurants from the list of approved establishments or including at least some bars, and I think it's obvious which lawmakers elected and why).

May 6, 2009 at 10:36 a.m.
gmillener said...

It really seems a matter of semantics - the term "restaurant" is redefined, and not in a way that would exclude many, as you say, "bars." While the law certainly doesn't apply only to what we would traditionally perceive as "bars" (and perhaps that argument has been made), it does not, again, exclude them. Your logic is flawed, I think - it's a law intentionally inexplicit, undoubtedly in an attempt to shake the controversy so obviously clinging to it. That the word "bar" is not expressly mentioned should come as no surprise. A rose by any other name, or something to that end.

May 6, 2009 at 1:28 a.m.
gmillener said...

I can't say I understand why members of a currently minority party are willing to so easily dismiss the loss of moderate support. The term 'RINO' I find particularly baffling - while on the occasional vote (and, admittedly, sometimes for something big - the stimulus bill remains a matter of contention, however effective its proving) these Senators and Congresspersons certainly vote more frequently with the party line than against it. Losing Specter (who, oddly enough, is voting consistently more conservatively in recent years) may not prove to be much a of loss if he continues to vote as a moderate Republican might - if he's an unprincipled politician pulling off a reelection stunt, though, the Republican party may have created a monster. Becoming a liberal democrat (and at least temporarily renouncing his centrist views) would ultimately be more helpful to his campaign, and I expect to seem voting in such a way. And however much his credibility has been hurt by this stunt, he still carries considerable weight by virtue of his tenure. I will agree that his switch is more newsworthy in its novelty than its political implications, but it should serve as something of a warning to the GOP - they're losing the support of moderates (which, arguably, is how they lost bicameral control of Congress as well as the Presidency), and as the majority of Americans identify themselves as such, it's a dangerous time to take the hard line approach.

Senators Snowe and Collins are consistently considered two of the most influential members of the Senate. Wishing them away would not be wise, I think.

April 30, 2009 at 9:22 a.m.
gmillener said...

Caught me, Rolando - I forgot a crucially important part of that sentence. The Nielsen numbers I gave are cumulative for 2008 (the most recent available, unfortunately - obviously we have a while to wait for 2009's). Households reached, by the way, are the units for Nielsen values (i.e. is indicative of viewership).

Also, the Project for Excellence in Journalism is associated with the Pew Research Center and formerly the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, not USC's Annenberg School. Per your question.

April 19, 2009 at 7:13 p.m.
gmillener said...

(Of course, when you compare Fox or CNN's viewership to ABC, NBC and CBS's .. well, they're still fringe networks.)

April 18, 2009 at 10:32 a.m.
gmillener said...

This is an instance in which I'd argue that the statistics are in need of more context - having a larger audience is all well and good, but in terms of political impact, having a more ideologically diverse audience would ultimately be more important than viewership. I would argue that, at least based on this assumption, CNN (admittedly still a somewhat left-leaning network) remains the most relevant news source of the three listed above - as both Fox and MSNBC preach to their respective choirs, they're real influence is limited.

Here, by the way, are the Nielsen numbers for total households reached: CNN/HLN - 98.63 million HHs CNBC - 97.13 million HHs FNC (Fox) - 94.82 million HHs MSNBC - 93.00 million HHs

CNN again has the most potential impact.

(I would encourage everyone to browse through the Project for Excellence in Journalism's website,, for some truly fascinating media studies.)

April 18, 2009 at 10:23 a.m.
gmillener said...

I believe that still leaves it as about 6.3% of their income for the year - they just didn't pay taxes on it. So I did underestimate the percentage of their income the taxes actually represent - it would be slightly higher if you exclude the $172,000+ in charity from the gross. As for the $169,706 in foreign income (which I believe is included in the reported $2.7 million) was in foreign book sales. Book sales, in fact, account for all but about $260,000 of the Obamas' income for 2009.

I would also guess that their charity giving was lower this fiscal year because of campaign costs - not that the amount they gave was anything to sneeze at, of course.

Anyway, hope that helps clear things up.

(And in using ctrl-F to find my post and seeing the other places I came up, I'll apologize if you indeed feel my comment was intended to be stinging. After reading through this comment section - well, I have some perspective.)

April 17, 2009 at 9:06 p.m.
gmillener said...

The Obamas paid $855,323 in federal taxes, or about 32% of their gross income. They also donated $172,050 (another 6.3%) to various charities. Just to answer your question.

April 16, 2009 at 10:20 p.m.

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