Under Pressure

Within nanoseconds of the horrific bombing of the Boston Marathon, cable news went into overdrive to relay the events to the public. After four hours of running the same video loop of the explosions, (from every angle and in slow motion) pundits turned to speculating who or what could be responsible for such a vicious act. Opinions ranged from the Tea Party to Al Qaida to the CIA to Some Guy Who Worked In The Building Across The Street And Wanted To Get Some Time Off. As the television audience began to fall asleep, Chris Matthews of MSDNC put forth a new line of reasoning: Does the public really have any reason to possess a pressure cooker other than to build bombs, given that microwave technology can fry a chicken just as fast? (And asked in Matthew’s typical style of answering his own question the way he thinks it should be addressed.)

Twitters across the country went viral, and by nightfall Senator Dianne Feinstein proposed new legislation limiting the sale of home pressure cookers, declaring, “the time is past when we can overlook the danger presented by these instruments of death and destruction. Is it just a coincidence that you can buy these things at a store called Target?” The bill was was immediately co-sponsored by Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, and Boxer, while Collins of Maine said she would consider it until the last moment and then backtrack.

The right wing press didn’t waste any time coming out in opposition. Sean Hannity put on his best hurt puppy dog face and went into a long spiel about how he remembered his grandmother canning apples that would later be used in American Apple Pies. Rush Limbaugh snarled that it was another attack on business and jobs, even though most of the pots are made in China these days. Senate Minority leader McConnell vowed to filibuster the bill.

A plethora of advocacy groups on both sides weighed in. A 2.3 million dollar study that concluded most pressure cooker accidents happen in the kitchen was hauled out by feminists to reinforce the pro-cooker control argument. “Women have been chained to these devices for hundreds of years. Why should we be put in harm’s way when we can buy the same thing at the grocery store?” queried Mona Lotta, spokesperson for WACC (Women Against Cooking Coalition). The pressure cooker manufacturer lobby immediately introduced a three minute ad on You Tube describing the health benefits of responsible pressure cooking, as presented by tearful children. It was followed by another video from EIR (Eat It Raw) that advocated “beating your pressure cookers into plowshares” and calculated the energy savings that could be achieved by dismantling the traditional kitchen stove.

By the third day, Senator Feinstein had amended her bill to cover only background checks for cooker purchases. “You shouldn’t just be able to pick up one of these¬† at a yard sale,” she mused. Even though polls showed that Americans supported limiting access to pressure cookers by a ten point margin,¬† Democrats in rural jurisdictions were being pressured by pro-canning groups who vowed to mount primary challenges to anyone who would restrict their cooking rights. By the fourth day, the bill was dumped into the “unfinished business” file, along with immigration reform and guns.

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55 Responses to Under Pressure

  1. George Rebane says:

    Sounds about right.

  2. Greg Goodknight says:

    RL, the least we should be able to agree on is limiting the size of pressure cookers. Is it such a problem to limit their capacity to one serving?

  3. Brad Croul says:

    Require background checks prior to pressure cooker purchases, at the very least!

  4. Greg Goodknight says:

    BTW, it’s official. The senate just voted… 54 in favor, 46 agin expanded background check requirements. But it needed 60 yea to proceed. It’s dead, there will be no new background check in the new law. No ugly semi-auto bans, or bans on large metal boxes with springs.

  5. Greg Goodknight says:

    Not forgotten RL, just written off long ago. It will be an interesting side show as cases work their way up to the Supremes to see just how much infringement there can be before it’s an infringement.

  6. peteK says:

    I was watching one of those cooking shows one night when a pressure cooker blew up. I was thinking, who in their right mind would own one of those things? Seemed pretty dangerous when a “seasoned” chef accidentally blows one up.
    As McGyver used to say “you can pretty much make a bomb out of anything”

  7. Don Baumgart says:

    Jon Stewart nailed CNN last night on their rush to report the latest incorrect information, labeling them with a twist of the network’s own slogan: THE MOST BUSTED NEWS NETWORK.

  8. The so-called journalists on TV and the internet never learned one of the oldest rules in dead tree journalism: It’s better to be right than to be first.

    • TD Pittsford says:

      Yes George, but being right doesn’t sell products. Sensationalism does…just ask W.R. Hearst. He knew it years ago.

  9. Don Baumgart says:

    An old journalism maxim: If your mother says she loves you, get a second source.

  10. Todd Juvinall says:

    Dianne Feinstein has amended her bill to ban only “assault weapon” pressure cookers”. Whew! Dodged another one.

  11. Chris Peterson says:

    Humans are an interesting specie indeed. If we don’t soon see a worldwide epidemic, we will see more and larger incidents of us killing off each other.
    As we circle the drain, with the spiral getting smaller and faster, it’s interesting to watch if, like Carlin, you’ve decided you have no vested interest in the outcome.

  12. rl crabb says:

    I have the news on today while I try to get some drawing done. I tend to skip around…Fox…CNN…MSNBC…They’re all the same, telling the same story, over and over. The kid’s uncle sharing his disgust of his traitorous nephew’s actions. Endless speculation of the brothers’ motivation. It’s like cable news feels that it would be insensitive or blasphemous to break away from The Big Story to tell us what else is happening in the world. Even the big Texas fertilizer explosion story gets no traction while the kid is on the loose. It reminds me of when I was a kid myself. Come nine o’clock, it would be time to go to bed, but if you kept talking it would be proof that you weren’t tired and could stay up with the grown-ups. Just keep talking…Doesn’t matter what you say…Just keep talking…

  13. gregoryzaller says:

    I use our pressure cooker for canning. I used to use it for cooking because it cooks very fast. Prior to that, while a kid scientist, I used it to sterilize media I was growing bacteria and penicillin on.

    My daughter uncapped one once, before all of the pressure had dissipated, and the mixture flash boiled, giving her 3rd degree burns where splatter went onto her .

    There is a large safety plug that will blow out if the pressure regulator clogs, before the canister could fail catastrophically when left unattended on high heat. If not, an explosion could kill. Any explosion, for that matter.

    That said, pressure cookers are astronomically safer than a car or a gun. It is a matter of degree, RL. We systematically license drivers and cars, yet we have a half-assed system for licensing gun ownership and it should, simply, be fixed.

    • rl crabb says:

      You can make the case that everyone should have a valid ID to vote, also. It seems like a no-brainer, but the left is dead set against it for the same reason the right opposes gun background checks: it doesn’t work for their agenda.

      • gregoryzaller says:

        The explanation is pretty obvious. The right realizes that more of the Democratic voters don’t have ID’s compared to Republicans. That’s all it is. Why not some concern about corporations flooding us with misinformation etc. etc. ? The problem isn’t about whether some voters don’t have ID cards; the problem is how screwed up our election system is.

        • rl crabb says:

          So you think certain people should not be required to have a valid ID? And it’s not the same as having to show an ID when you buy liquor, drive a car, cash a check, or buy a gun? And it’s all the corporations’ fault?
          Now I agree that the Republicans were trying to pull a dirty trick when some states passed voter ID laws a few months before the election, but why should anyone be exempt from having to prove they are who they say they are? If a cop asked me for an ID and I didn’t have one, I’d no doubt have some ‘splainin’ to do downtown.
          I would think that the groups that are active in rounding up every homeless person on the street on election day might better use their time in helping these folks get some identification to go with their free cell phone.

          • Voter ID laws sound fine in the abstract; it’s the implementation that causes the problems.

            Take the Texas voter ID law that requires a card issued by the state DMV. As the federal judge pointed out in his decision tossing out the law, many residents of rural Texas live 100 miles or more from the nearest DMV office. Because none of the offices are open on Saturday, some people would have to take time off from work to get an ID (assuming they could find transportation).

            I’m okay with voter ID laws provided two things happen:

            –A procedure is established to make it reasonably convenient for people to obtain the ID card;

            –Once the procedure is in place, people get one year to obtain a card.

            Anything less is just another transparent attempt by conservatives to disenfranchise people who are likely to vote for Democrats.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          Beautiful rationalization, GZ.

          It’s a constitutional right to own and carry guns without infringement, and it’s arguably a constitutional right to trade your labor for something of value, like money. Travel is also arguably a constitutional right, but you can’t board a scheduled air carrier without a government issued picture ID? But the constitutional right to vote can’t require even just one ID?

          I believe you also need an ID to receive state unemployment and Federal social security benefits.

          To legally work as an employee, if you don’t have a current passport, you now need at least a valid state picture ID and an SS card. And IIRC you need a valid ID to buy ammunition in California.

          Fess up, GZ you’re all for requiring ID for the exercise of basic, constitutional rights unless you perceive a personal political benefit for not requiring them.

          • rl crabb says:

            Geo. B. 7:30 am – Good points. I can see problems with the new standards for owning a gun as well. How low will the bar be when it comes to your arrest record? Will some stupid act you committed as a teenager thirty years ago disqualify you? Will some anti-gun psychiatrist say that by the mere fact of wanting to own a gun, you are obviously paranoid?

  14. Todd Juvinall says:

    RL excellent point. The left says ad nausea that registering your gun is the same as requiring a drivers license yet when it come to voter ID cards etc. they drop their argument. Hmmm. I will need to discuss this further.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      I have always found it intellectually dishonest to bring up phrases like, “the left says this” or, “the right says that” in the middle of a debate between people. Argue against what Greg says, or what Bob says, or what anyone in the discussion has said, but leave the political spinning to the think tanks who try to influence our discussions with twisted interpretations of who said what on the “other side”.
      On gun registration, there really IS no other side. 90% of American citizens want background checks for ALL gun purchases, which is currently NOT the law.
      And if some conservatives see voter registration via ID cards as advantageous to their cause, who cares. Make it happen. Make it the law, and in short order it will no longer be an issue of contention. Then, there will be no doubt that blacks and latinos do favor Democratic tickets, with no straw-dog, funny business to blame.
      Then we can start an honest discussion on partisan redistricting and one voting machine per 100K in minority districts vs one per a hundred in white districts. But above all, we will get nowhere by quoting what “they say”, and we will never solve any of our problems if we keep quoting those who are paid to muddy the waters and set us apart.
      To me; it’s a sign of submission when you have to turn to hearsay, and look for manufactured points of division rather than common interests.

      • Todd Juvinall says:

        Oh please you are using the same points and claims as you diss others for using. It is a fact of life and politics that we have a POV and in most cases it is partisan. Your citing voting machines is a great example of your hypocrisy. The black members of Congress are mostly elected from black majority districts run by blacks, so give us a break on the bleeding heart crapola.

        Conservatives want to follow the Constitution and its intent as closely as possible, liberals don’t. If you are unable to figure that out I would suggest you are incapable of debate.

        • Chris Peterson says:

          That’s a truly ridiculous assumption on your part, Todd. If only six people were alowed to vote for their representative in a black neighborhood of 500,000, of course they’d still elect a black person who had their values. What in the world does that have to do with equal access to voting machines?
          The fact that redistricting predominantly minority districts so that conservative voters slightly outnumber them, and limiting their access to the process, is a reality; not some made up think tank menusha.
          And the second sign of a weak argument is to claim that since a person doesn’t see the wisdom of your argument, they must be incapable of intelligent discussion.
          Where are you going next? Perhaps arguing that this vet isn’t as patriotic as you? Try coming to your own conclusions; it may scare you at first, but you’ll respect yourself and others more… eventually.

          • Todd Juvinall says:

            You need to read your first comment. You have a conspiratorial bent apparently and are bereft of logic. My response was spot on in wiping your comment on the floor. Get smarter.

            You made a conspiratorial comment on minorities and voting and I proved you wrong. It is OK to accept defeat, try it.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            It’s truly sad to realize that someone I once respected for, if nothing else, your ambition and local accomplishment, is backed by nothing but the shallow arguments and claims of a common partisan hack.
            And congratulations on the political trifecta; closing with an attack on the person in lieu of being able to argue a coherent point, and thereby claiming absolute victory. I will take your future comments with a pound of salt, which you may pound at your leisure.
            I was merely playing the devil’s advocate to illicit stimulating conversation, but it seems I will need more coffee afterall, as your pedestrian comebacks having me once again yawning.

          • Todd Juvinall says:

            Wow, too much psycho babble for me. Good luck.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            Oh, don’t give up now. You’ve pretty much convinced me of the need for partisan redistricting if someone of your obvious caliber is to ever reach office any higher than local.
            Perhaps you should switch from gerimandering physical boundaries to one of mental ability. Kinda’ like the opposite of “You must be this tall to access this ride”. Start with an IQ of 80 and below; that should include only those of your political convictions. That, and a slogan like, “Juvinall; he are like us”, and you’re a shoe-in. lol
            Just having fun. Thanks for the yucks.

          • Todd Juvinall says:

            Naw, Juvinall, he do if you elect. That would convince libs and democrats he is actually one of them. LOL!

  15. gregoryzaller says:

    How did my post pointing out that pressure cookers are not dangerous enough to be treated the same as guns and cars turn into that I am a lefty campaigning against voter ID laws? Is that a hot button for guys or something?

    But, since you brought it up, it seems to me that a national ID card would solve a lot of problems. The most important problem a national ID card would help with would be the problem of illegal workers coming across the border. It could also be used for voter authentication-but please note that what the Republicans did is key swing states was sinister.

    Let’s face it, it is no use holding the line on who has information; it’s everywhere. We may need new laws protecting us from how that information is used, instead. I really don’t know.

    I just know that pressure cookers are not comparable to guns and that we should make an honest effort to keep guns out of the hands of those who would use them irresponsibly.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      “When pressure cookers are outlawed, only outlaws will have pressure cookers”.

      We already have honest efforts to keep guns out of the hands of the violent and mentally ill. A great bipartisan solution would be to actually prosecute the million or so folks a year who are said to have been blocked from getting a gun from the current checks after committing perjury by signing the application. Who knows, that might be one of those Executive Orders Obama is said to have in the queue; he could have done that 4 years ago.

      If they really are violent felons or deranged and are willing to commit perjury in order to try to buy a gun, they should be put in jail rather than left to find a gun on the street. Of course, we might end up finding out most of those blocked gun sales are actually false positives that stopped a legal acquisition, but that sunlight should end up improving the system.

    • rl crabb says:

      Ya know, Greg Z., I’m not really advocating banning pressure cookers. It’s called humor, with a dash of irony. And I still don’t see why having an ID, whether to vote or purchase a firearm, is a controversial idea.

      • gregoryzaller says:

        Interesting Points. Is this what we all do when our buttons get pushed or when talking politics?

        You made fun of banning assault rifles by comparing them to pressure cookers; I took offense that you were implying that registering gun owners was stupid; you took offense I was implying registering voters was not important.

        At some point, though, we need to restrict gun ownership. Can we agree that RPG’s and mortars should not be allowed at KMart? I will agree that illegal aliens should not be allowed to vote. I actually think that there should be some sort of a test to prevent people from voting who have no idea what they are doing. Ignorance kills democracy.

        • rl crabb says:

          So we agree. Don’t feel like you’re being singled out. I just like to challenge preconceived notions. It seems like both left and right tend to argue both sides of the same issue. Privacy vs. the public’s (or govt.’s) right to know.
          I think you ran into the same headwind on the marijuana issue on that other blog. Some folks just refuse to deal with facts. Frustrating, ain’t it?

          • gregoryzaller says:

            It is frustrating. but the above dialogue has given me a lot of insight into how disagreements come about.

            Forewarned is forearmed.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          GZ, machine guns, sawed off shotguns and destructive devices (RPG’s weren’t invented yet but they’re covered) have been very heavily regulated to the point of being virtually unavailable since 1934. In order to possess any of those NFA (National Firearms Act) weapons you have to reside in a state that allows them (California hasn’t since the Act was passed), pay a chunk of money to the Feds and pass what amounts to FBI background check for a Secret security clearance.

          Is that enough for you?

          The only challenge to the NFA was by a guy named Miller in the late 30’s who claimed he needed the sawed off for personal protection. He didn’t have the cash to get representation at the SCOTUS, so US v. Miller was decided with only the Federal lawyers making arguments, and Miller was murdered soon afterwards, apparently by the folks he thought he needed the sawed off for protection from.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            It should be noted that the NFA was passed due to the public’s horror over the 1929 murders in Chicago known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where seven people were killed by two mob gunmen armed with Thompson submachine guns.

            This past January, there were 44 murders in Chicago, many, if not most by the same sorts of criminal organizations as the ones involved in ’29: Bad guys selling prohibited substances that many people want to ingest. That’s a brand new St. Valentine’s Day Massacre every five days.

  16. Judith Lowry says:

    Checked in with the television coverage of the Boston bombing.
    There was some mention of the victims and a moment of silence scheduled for today.
    Awful images of the inside of the nursing home.
    Then it was on the the bombers.
    I can the a movie already.
    These guys were photographed a lot, showing that they were handsome, athletic and vain.
    I am afraid these guys will be glorified in film one day.
    It’s just too juicy for the film industry to ignore and it will receive money, acclaim and win statuettes.
    Very sad commentary on our values.

  17. Robert Lovejoy says:

    Alright Mr. Crabb, I will let you be the first to tell some woman from Iowa that her pressure cooker will be confiscated and she won’t be entering her famous corn and pepper jam in the State Fair this year. Just watch her blow her top. Ever been chased out of the kitchen by an angry jam maker with a cast iron skillet? It ain’t fun I tell ya.

    Perhaps it is time to get an second opinion on this deadly pressure cooker thing. Just like when I went to the doctor. He told me I was mildly obese. I replied that I wanted a second opinion. He said “Alrighty, you are ugly as well.” Perhaps next time I will bring him some delicious pepper jam.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      Ahh, my beloved (small l) libertarian Reason magazine. I thought the best comment was ‘You’ll pry my pressure cooker from my warm, sweaty hands’ as a nice echo of Charlton Heston’s Mosesesque “From my cold, dead hands!” while holding a presentation flintlock over his head.

      I do have a large cast aluminum assault pressure cooker but I don’t think I’d want to blow it apart.

      • Brad Croul says:

        I think I know where you can have that baby black anodized so it will look even more macho!

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          An originalist, I prefer for vintage weapons like that now quite dingy cooker to be left in factory original finish as much as possible. Subborn bits of dried tomato sauce sometimes need aggressive cleaning but it’s kept as a cooker, not as a collectible explosive device casing.

  18. Sciencegrrl Jones (Persephone grr) says:

    Don’t worry we’ve got you, we are all wearing Boston Strong tee shirts, everyone is safe. (Can you believe this kid saying he was SO STONED he doesn’t remember disposing of Djoar’s bomb-making gear? I have tried SO HARD, i swear, and I have never, ever managed to be that stoned.)

    I commute from Salem MA but was down in Boston the day of the Watertown lockdown (WHICH BTW NOBODY ANYWHERE SEEMS TO KNOW WAS NOT I REPEAT NOT WHAT CAUGHT TSARNAYEV) and that was one fucked-up day of military house-to-house mandatory search tanks rolling through our streets untrained uncoordinated POINTING AT EACH OTHER bullshit….and the search perimeter stopped about 100 feet from where he was hiding. The boat owner saw his blood trail leading to the boat in his backyard where the murderer was hiding and called the cops, after all that show of force.

    Now I am not jingoistic by any stretch, (ASK ANYONE or read the 7-9 “cops shoot unarmed Black dude” posts on my wall every day) and REALLY REALLY do not like cops, but I am MIT and Officer Sean Collier was beloved, he knew us and we knew him, he always came around and asked to see the kids’ experiments (especially the robots) and we are a community of 23K and this was our first loss, and Sean I grieve. Deeply. To the back of the head in his car, never had a chance, never saw it coming, right where I walk every day. FUCKERS. So I will say #MITStrong and RIP badge 179.

    But the rest of ’em? fuck em.

    (I am Persephone Jones on fb because the fascists closed my page due to “fake name” policy for the name Ive been using since about ’89, so pretty damned “real” to me #MyNameIsSciencegrrlJones #TheNewPigs )

    • Chris Peterson says:

      I’m banned from posting opinions on the Oregonian website because, after 7 years of writing under the screen name of Stronzo, someone figured out that it meant “turd” in Italian.

      Ah well.

  19. Sciencegrrl Jones (Persephone grr) says:

    Oh! OH! OH! After 9/11 they decided we needed all new bomb-proof trashcans in Boston at about $1500 a pop so they replaced them all – without testing them. Turns out they are less effective than the ones we already had. YAY #BostonStrong. Union Labor and Cronyism in Boston ain’t just a myth (bye bye menino, too bad Marty Walsh didn’t figure anything out BEFORE elected, like week 4 of classes kids rioting in streets because they don’t have class schedules – their teachers only got them the week before despite asking since June, and double capacity on school buses, seems legit. Kids in the streets saying “we want to be ready for college” In the poorest, Blackest communities of course, because Boston.)

    After Marathon Monday they took away all our trash cans and recycle bins in N Station where I commute from. So I feel really safe now and don’t mind lugging trash home every night for Freedom.

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