Friday, October 25, 2002

Laughter is important: even in troubled times like this. So I give you a question from Andrew Lazarus, in the comments over at Armed Liberal's. Referring to the D.C. sniper:

Can you imagine the reaction if he had been caught with a weapon called a "Goremaster"?
Saying nice things about the media: Normally, I complain that the media is biased and distorts conservative positions either out of ignorance or malice.

Well, not today. The reporting about the D.C. sniper’s gun--a Bushmaster AR-15 knockoff--has been very good, at least on NBC. They drive me nuts every time they say “high-powered rifle,” or "assault weapon," but other than that foible, the national news has been accurate and has not demonized gun owners. They admitted that these guns are popular and used for perfectly legitimate purposes--target shooting, varmints, self-defense. They admitted they are rarely used in crimes (that made me wish I could see their old coverage of the 1993 “assault weapons” debates). KING-TV in Seattle had a very balanced bit on the ballistic “fingerprinting” debate, which gave plenty of time for both sides to advance their best arguments.

Way to go guys--you appear to actually be doing your jobs.
The Declaration of Independence: Was the DoI a multilateralist manifesto? When the Continental Congress declared “THAT these United Colonies are, and of rights ought to be, FREE and INDEPENDENT STATES,” they seem to have omitted any mention of overcoming China’s likely Security Council veto. Frankly, it is hard to imagine a more unilateralist statement than “you aren’t our king anymore, and if you don’t like it, we’ll show you where to shove it.”

Fortunately, my historical understanding is now corrected by the eminent Hubert Locke, who writes,
”Once upon a time”--and this will sound like a fairy tale to most people--this country’s leaders and citizens cared a great deal about what other nations thought of us. “A decent respect of the opinions of mankind” led an earlier American who later became president to set forth the reasons that drove the decision of the American colonies to declare independence from England. That marvelous phrase is enshrined in our nation’s Declaration of Independence; it is a matter of national embarrassment that it no longer has significance in the conduct of our country’s business.

Locke also cites the opposition of Britons and Norwegian oil baron Gunnar Berge to war in Iraq.

Of course, it is a matter of debate whether the DoI’s careful enumeration of the crimes of George III was aimed at the outer world, or at the fence-sitting colonists whose support could tip the scale. But let us give Locke the benefit of the doubt. Where was he, and what was he doing, on Sept. 12, 2002? The Bush administration has been extremely busy explaining to everyone who is willing to listen exactly why it wants to invade Iraq. Locke and his foreign friends may well disagree with Bush’s reasons; that isn’t proof that Bush hasn’t attempted to explain them. The monarchies of 18th century probably didn’t think much of the notion that, say, trying accused British soldiers in Britain rather than in Boston was a legitimate casus belli.

Locke:
If we ask what it is that has our friends across the Atlantic and elsewhere around the world so upset, it is not that we plan to declare war on another country in violation of every international law ever written; it is that we act so arrogant and cavalier about it.

I disagree rather strongly with this proposition. I think Europe’s elites are opposed to war at any cost, and the complaints about “arrogance” are nothing but window dressing. There: I’ve done exactly what Locke did, by writing a declarative statement without any logical or evidentiary support. At least my declarative statement doesn’t reduce international affairs to personality conflicts (hello, Maureen Dowd). But seriously--if Europe agreed with Bush about the threat of Saddam’s WMD, no one would care about “arrogance” or “Texas swagger,” as Locke puts it. They’d want the problem solved without much concern for who or how. If the niceties of U.N. process were the important factor, the French and Chinese would be working with the U.S. to secure the necessary pieces of paper, not obstructing like a pretzel in the President’s craw. Patrick Leahy doesn’t obstruct judicial appointments because he’s deeply concerned with Senate rules or the “cowboy” origins of the man who appoints them--he obstructs them because he disagrees with their politics.

What Locke wants is not for Bush to submit his reasons to a candid world, which he has obviously already done. He wants the United States to subordinate the pursuit of its interests to the approval of our “allies.” He really ought to be candid himself, and say so in so many words.
Criminal “profiling”: You would think, given that almost everything they said about the D.C. sniper was wrong, the “profiliers” would be keeping their mouths shut. But on the “Today” show this morning, some supposed expert is telling us how a serial killer’s first victim is usually the same race as the killer. Therefore, he argued, if only we had known that the Alabama liquor store killing of a black woman was tied to the sniper, we could have determined that the sniper was black.

But there were two victims in the liquor store attack: a black woman who died, and a white woman who was only wounded. Is this profiler arguing that these cold-blooded murderers intentionally missed the white woman’s brain (she was shot in the jaw, but appears to have recovered) because of some weird racial psychology?

Note to so-called criminal experts: SHUT UP, ALREADY! You’re making your entire profession look like astrology.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Why the terrorists will lose: Al-Jazeera is playing a video of the terrorists holding hostages in Russia. Apparently they are shown saying, among other things, "I swear by God that we are more keen on dying than you are on living."

And that, my scumbag murdering facist friends, is exactly why you will lose.

To be sure, courage is a virtue in battle. Sun-Tzu says that an army, if it is to prevail, must fight without fear of death. Certainly, on a smaller scale, a man who confronts an attacker boldly and with conviction stands a better chance of survival than one who puts up only weak and fearful resistance.

But it is one thing not to fear death, and quite another to desire it. The soldier who seeks death himself, who has no goal other than his own oblivion, is not fighting for anything. He is as useless as a soldier who fights only with a view toward survival. When a man who loves life does battle with a man who loves death, who is likely to prevail? Each will most likely get what he wants. In any case, it is an overstatement to say that these terrorists "love" death. At most, they lust after it, which is something else entirely.

A father may not wish to leave a widow and children behind. But he wants even less to see them hurt by his enemy. His backbone will be stiffened by the love of what he protects; his courage and shrewdness will be deployed at full strength in the service of victory. He will fight for his own survival, and die for the survival of his cause. The nihilist who cares nothing for life brings but rage and hate to the battlefield; he is a tactical, not a strategic animal, and as effective tactically as an enraged beast. He fights only to bring harm to his enemy, and neglects thereby to ensure either his own survival or that of the cause he ostensibly serves. He has nothing to lose, nothing to fight for, and thus, in the moment of truth, he will die at the hands of those who do.

We have purpose. We have a cause. We have something worth defending. We are driven, at the core, by a love and celebration of life, not a lust for death. The outcome is preordained.

We will prevail.
Compulsory voting: John D. Solomon wants to force you to vote. Well, not actually to vote, but to travel to the polling place. What better way to promote freedom than to punish people who don't go to the polls?

Seriously, I think this is foolish, as I've mentioned before. But Solomon takes a stab at answering one of my principal objections:
Opponents of compulsory voting say it makes little sense to force uninformed people to make important electoral choices. But making those choices may lead them to become more informed. And, remember, those same ''uninformed'' citizens are compelled to serve on juries, with much more serious consequences.

I have serious doubts about the theory that forcing people to vote will cause them to subscribe to The Economist. And--I'll be perfectly frank--if "becoming more informed" means nothing more than consulting a newspaper's endorsements, that isn't good enough. Being fully informed on any given issue requires a serious investment of time, and people who rate themselves "too busy" to take half an hour once a year to vote are most assuredly too busy to take an hour every evening to keep up with the news. What's next, mandatory daily reading of the NYT?

The jury thing is a red herring--you don't need to be politically "informed" to make a good choice in a jury box, you need to be minimally rational and awake during the trial. You will be informed of everything you need to know by the judge, lawyers, and witnesses. Some people don't meet even this modest standard, and those are exactly the people we don't want to force to vote.
Even if mandatory voting makes sense in theory, it has not received serious consideration in practice. That's largely because Republicans, believing Democrats would draw more votes from ''non-voting'' demographics, have opposed the idea.

It doesn't make sense in theory, but OK. Now we know that the only reason anyone opposes mandatory voting is because he's a mean, heartless, cynical Republican who plays games with Democracy in the pursuit of power. Not principle, not philosophy, not even the opinions of constituents. Just power.
Yet recent electoral changes that expanded the voter base don't seem to have helped either major party. The ''Motor Voter'' bill that President George H.W. Bush refused to sign -- but that President Clinton later did -- hasn't hurt Republicans, as it was feared it might. Nor has Washington state's new mail-in voting process.

Um, could he be referring to Oregon's new mail-in voting process? 'Cause we still have polling places here in Seattle. How did he make that mistake?
John D. Solomon is a New York-based journalist.

Aha! Now we know. Apparently they don't have internet connections in New York yet, with which one could use Google or Cnn.com. We're so lucky here in the home of Microsoft. You need to get out more, John.

On a less sarcastic note, Solomon uses exactly two sentences to rebut the contention that having uninformed people in the voting booth is a bad idea: He speculates that such people might become informed, and makes an irrelevant jury comparison. He devotes three times as many sentences to arguing that Republicans shouldn't fear increased turnout. He devotes exactly zero sentences to explaining what "positive, concrete impact on the nation" (his words!) greater voter turnout would have, unless we accept his unbuttressed speculation that the act of travelling to a polling place will cause these involutary voters to become more informed.

Let's put the horse before the cart here. Make a case for voter turnout, then we can talk about criminalizing abstention (would non-voters get jury trials?).

Via Best of the Web.
Good Work, Chief Moose: Looks like they may have the DC sniper. I was going to blog about this, but the Indepundit has already said most of what I would have said.

However, there is one comment worth making. My local news has reported that police found a "Bushmaster" rifle in the car. That would be a brand of AR-15, which is the civilian version of the M-16. This has relevance for several reasons: expect a lot of political hype about "assault weapons." You can expect me to comment unfavorably on this hype when it appears. But there's another lesson here: The "upper reciever" of an AR-15, with barrel, bolt, and carrier, is easily replaced with mail-order parts. You can convert your .223 rifle to .308, or 9mm, or just get a new barrel and action. In other words: this is the perfect rifle for defeating ballistic fingerprinting, since you can order a complely different "fingerprint" through the mail.

Of course, I expect the gun-banners will have a solution to that problem, as well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Terrorism in Russia: Foxnews beats out CNN with this report. Men armed with automatic rifles have taken a Russian theater hostage with as many as 1000 Muscovites inside. Muslims and children have been permitted to leave. Could this be the hostage-taking we saw on the al-Queda training tapes?

I don't know how good the Russian SWAT teams are, but I hope they're damn good. Concealed carry, anyone?

UPDATE: They're Chetchen rebels/terrorists. Do these people WANT a war in Iraq or what?
Sense in Environmentalism: Lori Alden of the Economist (reprinted in the Seattle PI) writes that environmentalists should focus more on the demand for lumber rather than the supply. She points out that cutting quick-growing Douglas Fir stands in the Pacific Northwest (my home, BTW) is better environmental policy than restricting cutting there. Why? Well, as long as people want lumber for their big houses and broad decks, they are going to get it. And if it doesn't come from the wet, warm mountains of Washington, where companies are required to replant, it's going to come from cold, arid Siberia, where replanting is optional, forests are 10 times less productive, and regrowth takes much much longer.

This article points to two interesting truths: one, the environmental movement often seems more interested in looking like the good guys rather than being the good guys. Sitting in a tree makes you a heroic participant in "direct action." Carefully analyzing the alternatives and concluding that temporary forest loss in the heavily-regulated U.S. is better than semi-permanant forest loss in anarchic Russia makes you a "sell-out." Another way to put it: American environmentalists are more interested in Right and Wrong than in True and False.

The other interesting truth is more widely applicable: focus on supply, rather than demand, is an ineffective tactic. If people want wood, they'll get it. If they want cocaine, they'll get it. If they want guns, they'll get them. If they want oil, they'll get it. Success in the battle against drugs, crime, deforestation, whatever, will not come from Congress. It will come from cultural change. The sooner everyone realizes this, the sooner we can stop fighting over toilet flushes in the corridors of power and start trying to change minds rather than laws. As a side benefit, a Congress unhindered by the powerful bathroom-fixtures lobby might accomplish more in areas of real national concern.
Odd Poll Questions: This article about Charlton Heston's failing health and the NRA includes this weird one-sentence paragraph:
Two-thirds of the people in a new poll say that a measure requiring that guns be fired when they are sold so that police have a ballistic "fingerprint" would help solve the Washington-area sniper case, according to The Associated Press.

Now, certainly the political question of public support for ballistic "fingerprinting" (scare quotes because fingerprints don't change, gun barrels do) is an interesting subject for polls, especially with an election coming up. And the factual question regarding the usefulness of a big national ballistics database is also an interesting one, best discussed by gunsmiths and forensics experts.

But why should we care if the (probably uninformed) public thinks that a particular law is likely to be effective in a particular case? Should astronauts pay close attention to the feelings of Americans who believe in a geocentric universe?

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

More on Krugman: Jane Galt, after very kindly expressing her love for me (I'm married and my wife is a positively deadly marksman, Jane, but thanks), takes on the Paul Krugman piece I mentioned earlier today. She's an economist and I'm not, so you should have a look.
A Canadian take on the D.C. sniper: Christie Blatchford comments on the attempts to "blame America" for the sniper attacks. A refreshing voice, and one that made me grateful. Thanks, Christie.
EU Expansion: Some of the old Soviet bloc countries are balking at their own inclusion in the E.U., calling the Nice treaty "undemocratic."

They're right, of course. How sad that the ex-Communists understand democracy so much better than the Western powers.
Persons of Size and the Airlines: Remember when Southwest took heat for making overweight travelers buy two seats? Actually the policy was pretty reasonable--they only had to buy two seats if the plane was already full, and they got a fare discount on the second seat. Not much to complain about, but predictiably someone called it discrimination. Some "fat advocates" basically demanded a free ride. It's unusual to see Begala and Novak agree on something, but they agreed that that claim was bogus.

So did I. Big people pay more for clothes, they pay more for shoes, they may be limited in which homes they can buy and which monuments they can visit. That's not discrimination, it's a reflection of a perhaps unplesant reality.

Well, now Virgin Atlantic is paying $20,000 to a woman crushed by her overweight neighbor. The wages of hypersensitivity. I'm wondering why the overweight passenger isn't also paying this woman, given that nothing prevented her from buying two seats.

This isn't a pleasant subject. But I feel rather strongly that people large enough to require two seats on an airplane (or in crowded theater, or at the Super Bowl) have an obligation to their fellow fliers to accept whatever humiliation and financial loss their weight incurrs, and pay for all the space they are occupying. The alternative is just as humiliating and also insensitive to the legitimate desire of other passengers not to be crushed.
Krugman on inequality: Paul Krugman’s column runs in my newspaper, and it has never impressed me much--he seems too partisan, too anti-Bush for me to take seriously. This piece is different; much more thoughtful and interesting, with only a few cheap shots. His focus is on income inequality, and sadly, I can (and will) make a better case against inequality in this blog post than he does in pages and pages of verbiage. (As an aside, Andrew Sullivan wrote a similar piece a couple of months back. I haven't found it yet, but If I do, I'll link. Odd that Sullivan and Krugman should agree, no? UPDATE: Here it is.)

Krugman falls prey to a misplaced romanticism regarding the past which is usually associated with Bill Bennett. Those 1950's must have been some decade, huh? Both sides in the political debate want to get back to the decade of bobby socks and Brown v. Board of Ed.! But the poverty rate has fallen since then, and life expectancy has increased. Some of this improvement is no doubt due to social spending, and some of it comes from the free market. Of course, those two things aren't totally at odds--it is the free market which creates the wealth which is spent on welfare. Today’s homeless usually have access to clean drinking water, reasonable sanitation, and a large number of soup kitchens and shelters which are warmer and serve better food than the shack of an employed coal miner in 1950. Factory workers own multiple cars and DVD players--a far cry from their lifestyle in Krugman’s warm and fuzzy childhood.

I don’t want to give the impression that I think everything is A-OK; I just want to acknowledge real progress and point out that the poor have not, in fact, gotten poorer (if they had, they’d all be dead). I also want to laugh at a liberal who romanticizes the past as absurdly as some conservatives. When will these jokers learn to live in today rather than an imagined yesterday? Frankly, if the price of clean water for homeless people is more billionaires, I’m willing to pay it, and you should be, too.

Krugman makes a good case that income inequality has increased, in particular at the very very top. The richest .01% are much richer than 50 years ago. Let's just stipulate to that and ignore anyone who doubts his conclusion. But he offers virtually no explanation as to why I should care, other than dark hints about “plutocracy” and a throwaway comment about underfunded schools. I mean, who cares if the capital gains rate is cut or the "death tax" is eliminated? Those tax cuts don't make me worse off unless the government refuses to cut spending. He jabbers about Sweden, without noting that many of the technological innovations and pharmaceutical discoveries that help Swedes to live such long happy lives come not from the Swedes themselves, but from, you guessed it, the Great Satan of Capitalism. He barely dignifies the (entirely legitimate) claim that incentives are an essential part of innovation.

Frankly, I’ve never understood the constant focus on inequality in some segments of our political landscape. If the stock market goes up tomorrow, I might make a few bucks. Bill Gates will make a few million. The “gap between rich and poor” will widen! But I won’t be upset--I’ll be a few bucks richer. Few people ever bother to explain why this is a problem.

But there is a real concern here, which Krugman barely touches on: truly huge income disparities are a severe detriment to economic growth. Look at it this way: when a company hires a CEO, it is essentially buying a commodity. If General Motors needs a million hose clamps, and steel hose clamps cost five cents a piece, they would be fools to pay a dollar for sterling silver versions which do a worse job. A CEO is no different. If a really good CEO with stellar instincts, training, and experience can generate $100 million in new profits next year, it makes perfect sense to pay him, say, $25 million. If, on the other hand, Kenny Boy drives your company into the ground and shafts everyone in sight, people lose their jobs and the economy suffers. You might as well have hired a one-armed oversexed monkey to run Enron--he would have cost less and been less likely to play accounting games. Though the economy generally is not a zero-sum game--wealth can be and is created--a given company in a given year is a zero sum game, and if the CEO is paid more than he generates in profits, then growth, job creation, and wealth creation will all suffer. He barely mentions this argument, and quickly careens off into his Sweden section.

There's a really good argument to be made here that CEO salaries are bad not only for shareholders, but for the country at large. I, as a conservative/libertarian free-market believer, happen to buy that argument. It's bad for everyone when the CEO is dramatically overpaid. It's bad for everyone when the top managers use the company as a piggy bank (hello, George W. Bush!) So why does Paul Krugman let his entire argument get distracted by shaky retreads of decades-old anti-rich rhetoric?

I don’t know what he was thinking. He should have ignored Sweden and left the love of the 1950’s to Pat Buchanan. But if he had done so, and stuck to a solid economic argument, would he have gotten any love from his fellow travelers on the left? I have a feeling this guy knows his audience pretty well.

Monday, October 21, 2002

In defense of Andrew Sullivan: Ted Barlow and friends are giving Sully a hard time over his silly question: Why do lefties only call for divestment from Israel, and not from Zimbabwe or Syria or Egypt? The obvious answer: because no one has invested in Zimbabwe, it is not possible to divest from that country.

Ok, Ok, very cute. But Sullivan's larger point is this: Why is it that we only see protests about "Zionist racism," and none about Mugabe's odious racial policies? Why do people compare Sharon, a perhaps unsavory but undeniably elected leader, to Hitler, but not Mubarak or Assad or Arafat, who much more closely resemble that historical dictator? Why all the fuss about Israeli occupation of the West bank, but none about Syrian occupation of Lebanon? Why does terrorism against Israeli civilians seem less important to "peace" activists than Israeli attempts to kill terrorists?

Does D-Squared Digest have a response to these more diffucult and meaningful questions, or just for the easy irrelevant one?
McCain on SNL: Sen. John McCain hosted Saturday Night Live this week. Some folks at The Corner got their knickers in a twist--dignity of the Senate and all, and didn't he miss an important vote? (Yeah--a 93-1 vote. Terrible that he wan't there).

Well, I'm sensitive to the complaints. SNL does some pretty questionable humor, and it isn't crazy to wonder if a lawmaker belongs in a Mr. Peepers sketch. I didn't catch the whole show, but what I saw was abso'fricken'loutly HILARIOUS. SNL is really at its best when it does political humor--they do such a great job mocking the weaknesses of both sides. How could I not laugh when Tracy Morgan, as Harry Belafonte, said "Winston Churchill was a house Negro! Poodles are the black man of the dog world!" Or when Tina Fey suggested that France be the country which resolves the North Korea crisis--after all, they have lots of opinions, and they should like it there because there are no Jews!

The "Meet the Press" sketch was classic--you had to see it, and it was all the better for having the real John McCain rather than an imitation.

Was this inappropriate? Maybe. Was it a classic example of McCain taking advantage of his "maverick" reputation to get free publicity? No question about it. Would I pay $20 to get this on video? You bet.
Thank You Armed Liberal! for saying the following:
As long as each party can blow enough smoke at the other guys as the cascade of scandal unfolds, they have some prayer that their own venality, self-interest, and corruption will get overlooked. Because I’m a liberal, I’m supposed to overlook the sins of ‘my guys’ and put a magnifying glass to the sins of the ‘other team’. Well, fuck it. They’re all sinners, and until enough of us are willing to stand up and point to the dirt on our hems, this problem isn’t going to go away.

This isn’t a sport, we aren’t divided into teams, and my children’s world is at stake.

What can I add? Nothing.
On Blogging: Sgt. Stryker is down on blogging and bloggers, comparing them to the old Usenet discussion groups. Ted Barlow seems to agree.

I never got into Usenet because of the problems the Seargent describes--endless yelling and rhetorical dishonesty without progress. But I love blogs because they are nothing like Usenet. Sure, there are trolls and idiots. Just check out the comments on this Ted Barlow post. Or, if you want to see worse, write a post about gun control, turn on the comments, and sit back. (I can't get my comments to work, but I'm starting to think that's a good thing after seeing what happens to people like Ted and Armed Liberal when they try to approach a controversial topic in a rational fashion).

But the wonderful thing about blogs is that you don't ever really need to hear from the trolls. My blogroll is very short--only the people I read every single day. I have many sincere disagreements with these people, but every one of them is a rational, thoughtful person who listens to arguments and avoids cheap rhetoric (UPDATE: well, maybe not Tim Blair. But he is funny). There are lots of morons out there--and I don't ever see their stuff, because I quickly figure out who they are and stop reading them.

Frankly, I respect and trust the people in my blogroll much, much, more than the average newspaper columnist or editorial. Maybe they aren't influential in the halls of power--so what? They are intellectually honest and open-minded about those with different opinions, which is far more than the average "thought leader" can possibly say.
Iraq, Nobel, and Oil: The Weekly Standard strikes at Gunnar "kick in the leg" Berge:
We note that Norway--surprise!--is the world's third largest oil exporter. We note that Norway's non-oil economy slipped into recession in the second quarter of this year. We note that the Norwegian government forecasts rising unemployment and only modest total GDP growth from now through the end of 2004. We note that even these not-especially-cheerful forecasts depend for their fulfillment on world oil prices remaining at current levels.

We further note that an American-led "regime change" and subsequent reconstruction of Iraq would inevitably and significantly transform the current global petroleum market: In a post-Saddam Iraq, the United States (and our genuine allies) would surely help modernize that country's oil fields and exploration capabilities. We note, in other words, that President George W. Bush's "belligerent" foreign policy promises sharply to boost future Iraqi oil production, which will depress world oil prices, which will leave the Norwegian economy . . . well, totally screwed.

And we note, finally, that the director general of his government's policy-making Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is none other than Nobel Peace Prize committee chairman, and Bush critic, Gunnar Berge.

Ouch! Is the Nobel Prize controlled by wealthy oil interests? It seems at least as likely as the oft-repeated charge that Bush is controlled by Big Oil.
Christopher Hitchens: says lots of things I've been thinking but haven't wanted to say because I'm not a lefty, and didn't want to seem like a partisan jerk.
Schumer vs. LaPierre: The Main Event! NY's long-time gun-banning Senator Charles Schumer took on the NRA's unappealing spokesman Wayne LaPierre on "Meet the Press." I've beaten the issue of ballistic fingerprinting to death, so I won't comment on the merits here. I just take a couple of quotes out of context and mock them.
SEN. SCHUMER: It’s not only the AFT (He must mean the ATF, or maybe its a transcription error--Rob). Just about every—this is, once again, the NRA standing in the way of good law enforcement. Let me read you a statement from the Fraternal Order of Police. This is an organization that is not a pro-gun control organization. In fact, most police officers tend to be pro gun. And these are rank-and-file officers. “The FOP, the Fraternal Order of Police, supports the concept of ballistic fingerprinting and considers it a very important law enforcement tool. We look forward to finding the means to bring to bear this technology on fighting gun crime in the most effective
way possible."

Emphasis mine. So, Chuck if most police officers are pro-gun why aren't you? Seriously, the FOP regularly comes out in favor of gun control. The views of rank-and-file officers are not necessarily the views of union leadership, which is the case in just about any union. And as long as gun control is a lower priority for the rank and file than pay, pensions, and three-strikes laws, the leadership can do whatever it wants on that issue. Also, note the careful parsing of the FOP statement: "supports the concept" "look forward to finding the means" etc. Not exactly "we want Schumer's bill passed now."
SEN. SCHUMER: “What a fabulous opportunity”—this is Randy Rossi, head of the Firearm Division of California Justice. “What a fabulous opportunity it would be to have a system that gave you the make, model and possibly the purchaser of a gun just from a shell casing ejected at the crime scene.”

Yeah that would be fabulous. Too bad it won't work. If only you'd paid attention to what Wayne said...
SEN. SCHUMER:...We have a registration system for cars. We have a registration system for everything else. As John Walsh said—again, he’s in favor of this. He said we have VIN numbers for our cars.
MR. LaPIERRE: And it’s...
SEN. SCHUMER: And because occasional people will file down the VIN number, do we not have VIN numbers? It hasn’t interfered with the right to drive. This is just extremism.

Um, Chuck, the reason that VIN numbers and registration don't interfere with the "right" to drive is that there is no "Sen. Schumer for cars" who seeks to restrict, regulate, ban, and infringe on car owner's rights at every political opportunity. A serial number and registration need not result in gun confiscation if it wasn't for people like Schumer, DiFi, Hillary, etc who are actively shoving us down an otherwise unslippery slope.

In defense of the Senator, he isn't proposing a true registration scheme. There is nothing inherently objectionable, from a gun-rights standpoint, in a database which has only ballistics info and serial numbers. It's just a really big-ass waste of money, which could be better spent on other, more useful law-enforcement projects that might actually work. Maryland, for instance, spends $800,000/yr. maintaining their database, in exchange for, so far, two matches and zero arrests. That's a fair chunk of change that could be better spent on hiring cops, paying for training, or feeding prisoners in jail. Maybe this will work better after a few more years; I doubt it, but we'll see.

Anyway, a hearty thanks to Tim Russert, who did an admirably unbiased job of mediating this debate.