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Friday, March 8, 2013

Taking a hiatus

The Nasty Jack blog is taking  a hiatus for an indefinite period of time.

However, I will be posting short blogs on a range of subjects from Senior Citizens to gun violence on the Democratic Underground website.  In your chosen category, just look for Nasty Jack in the "Author" column.

Thank you for reading! 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The latest in gun control


What we need is big time gun control
There’s a hitch in the passage of gun control laws in the Senate with Republicans objecting to the Democrats who want some record keeping when it comes to passing a law to require background checks.  The Guardian reports that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants private sales made at gun shows and through the internet, not only to be put through the FBI-maintained National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), but they also want such sales to be recorded.”  The GOP (and the NRA) says no.

The National Rifle Assn. (NRA) led by head gun fanatic Wayne LaPierre, has always been against any kind of registry of names on who owns guns fearing that once that is in place, the government will come into gun owning homes and take away their weapons.  "There absolutely will not be record-keeping on legitimate, law-abiding gun owners," Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican, said.  This kind of thinking should illustrate to the American public just what a group of gun worshipping maniacs LaPierre and his NRA minions are.

And Chris Matthews, progressive anchor for MSNBC’s Hardball, said: “Support Gun Control or an American President Could Be Murdered,” in a closing commentary in a show last week.  It is worth repeating, below:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: I was in a big city hospital recently and the issue of gun control, gun safety came up. The doctor said if I wanted to know the impact of guns, he could show me, take me down and show me. Look, gunshot wounds can be truly horrible. The reality justifies the discussion, today, about the need to try and do something about the proliferation of assault rifles, huge ammo magazines and the loopholes in the requirement that there be background checks. People have told us of the horrible sight of those young kids up in Newtown, Connecticut. I personally don't want to be part of a movement to keep those semi-automatics flying into the hands of all sorts of people as they are today, the hoarders, the survivalists, the paranoid, the criminal and downright politically nutty.

Why? Because the next mass shooter could well emerge out of this pack. Check the shooters of John F. Kennedy and Jerry Ford, who got shot at twice. Look at the men that shot Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and George Wallace. They all had political motives and they all had guns. Got them easy and put them easily to use. And if you're not against this movement, you're with it. Write your congressman and say what you think and what you feel. Do it tonight before you go to bed. The address of Congress, for all the congressmen is Congress, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C., 20515. That's Washington, D.C. 20515. It will get there. And that's Hardball for now. Thanks for being with us.

Well done!

Did you know that the United States, specifically Waikiki, Hawaii, is a haven for tourists who just want to shoot guns, all kinds of guns, because the gun laws in this country allow you to do pretty much anything you want with a firearm?  There are four shooting ranges along Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue where they learn how to shoot assault weapons.  A large majority of these tourists are Japanese, who are frequent visitors to Hawaii anyway, here because they can get their hands on guns they are not allowed to own in Japan.  There, only shotguns are legal.

USA Today says that, “…fewer than 1% of Japan's population owns a gun and the death rate from gun-related violence is extremely low.”  There were only 19 gun-related homicides in Japan in 2010 and in comparing that with gun violence in the U.S., “47% of Americans own a gun, according to a 2011 Gallup poll, and 8,583 Americans were killed in gun-related homicides, according to the FBI's 2011 crime report.”  It is pretty pathetic to think that tourists coming to America do it because of loose gun laws, which causes the gun carnage in the U.S.

But on a final note, at one of this country’s largest firearms manufacturers, Beretta USA, one of its lunatic executives, Jeffrey Reh, the company’s general counsel, is quoted in The Washington Free Beacon as saying, “Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013 is ‘tantamount to a legislative effort to ban certain books.’”  Just when you think you’ve heard it all.  Wacky Wayne would be proud of this sycophant of the gun rights fruitcakes who probably, himself, has never read a book outside the law.  Amen

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gene said…Bob said…White House wins this one


Gene Sperling
Gene Sperling is President Obama’s economic adviser and Bob Woodward is an award winning journalist who works for the Washington Post and along with Carl Bernstein exposed the Watergate conspiracy.  There are sufficient credentials on either side of this supposed “disagreement,” and frankly, from what I have read, the whole thing was blown completely out of proportion.  I believe even Woodward made this comment, which was echoed by White House spokesman, Jay Carney.

In an exclusive, Politico obtained and released the following emails between Sperling and Woodward:

From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013

Bob:

I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand bargain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is different. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.

Gene

From Woodward to Sperling on Feb. 23, 2013

 
Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob
 


From there on it’s ‘he said,’ ‘he said’ with Woodward commenting at one point, "I never characterized it as a 'threat.' I think that was Politico's word."  But Woodward at least implied that the “I think you will regret staking out that claim,” was a veiled threat and of course at that point it went viral.  It wouldn’t mean diddly squat had it been said by some lesser known journalist than Bob Woodward, especially with his connections to Washington and insight into Beltway politics.  It must have been a slow news day.

But the New Yorker had a different slant.  John Cassidy said, “The real rap on Woodward isn’t that he makes things up. It’s that he takes what powerful people tell him at face value; that his accounts are shaped by who coöperates with him and who doesn’t; and that they lack context, critical awareness, and, ultimately, historic meaning.”  Further, Joan Didion wrote:

“’…that “measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent’” from Woodward’s post-Watergate books, which are notable mainly for “a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.”

Cassidy states that in one of Woodward’s books about the Bush admin. he says that, “…President Obama bungled negotiations with congressional Republicans, and portrays him as overconfident, underprepared, and confrontational.”  Yet Ryan Lizza in a piece about Eric Cantor said, “…the House Republican virtually admits it was he who torpedoed the debt-ceiling negotiations.”  Cassidy confirms that Obama “was clear all along that, when it came to replacing the sequester, it would demand a balanced package of spending cuts and revenue increases.”

Cassidy added that Sperling’s history is a matter of record with “little to apologize for.”  But Woodward’s background is basically untarnished in a business that requires near-perfection in what you are doing.  Let’s just call it a draw and move on.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

United Kingdom has right to criticize U.S. gun control laws


As far as I can see, gun control is going almost nowhere, at least with the momentum that has been created by the increased gun violence nationwide.  Perhaps we have concentrated too much on mass killings like Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  Although this kind of carnage is horrific, it still represents but a small amount of the gun deaths that take place daily.  Apparently statistics like ‘there are some 300 million guns in American households’ or ‘88.8 per 100 households’ does not impress the public.  Hard to believe but true.

Or the fact that in a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 179 countries, the United States ranked No. 1, and with 10.3 gun deaths per 100,000 population they are much higher than the United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the list goes on and on.  Could the fact that most of these countries have measurably stronger gun control laws than the United States have something to do with the results?  ‘Absolutely not’ would be the answer from wacky Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA.

These are figures taken from GunPolicy.org, a non-profit organization reporting on international firearm injury prevention and policy.  If you have any doubts about my numbers I suggest you go to this site and do your own research.  If you come away without the opinion that America’s gun culture is completely out of control, then you are either a gun worshipper, completely apathetic over the issue, or you have a terrible problem with math.  The truth is in the statistics and in every case there is a monumental case for more gun control laws in the U.S.

Harry J. Enten writing in the UK Guardian says, “Americans want gun control, but not badly enough.”  His point one, “Most Americans don't see gun control as the most significant way to prevent mass shootings.”  Once again, mass gun violence, but it is obvious that Enten has zeroed in on where the American focus is.  He quotes, “only 25% of Americans believe that stricter gun control laws and enforcement would be the key to preventing massacres.“  Further, CBS News found, only 21% feel stricter gun control would prevent gun violence by much.

In point two, he laments that the subject of guns just isn’t a high priority for most Americans.  A tragedy when you consider the daily reporting of people shot and killed with guns, others injured, some seriously.  In the latest CBS News poll, only 4% listed guns at the top of their list.  50% chose the economy, jobs or the budget deficit.  It will be interesting in the future to learn what the impact of continued and escalating gun violence will have on the country’s economy and its overall well-being.  If as bad as it looks, then it will be too late.

 
Point three, most in the U.S. doesn’t feel gun control legislation is a priority in 2013, only 46% according to Pew Research.  With all the shootings and mayhem nationwide connected to guns on the street, the American public says, mañana.  Go figure.  And in point four, the public’s obsession with gun violence will eventually dwindle, meaning, if we don’t do this in 2013, we’ll never do it.  And as my headline indicated, the UK can criticize the United States because they have done what we cannot seem to accomplish due to the gun lobby.  Gun laws in the UK:

They have a gun registry

Firearms are restricted

Right to gun ownership not guaranteed by law

Assault weapons are banned

Handguns are banned

Background checks required

Number of guns and amount of ammunition owned is restricted

As a result of the above regulations, below are comparisons between the United States and the United Kingdom in gun violence:

                                                                                                US                   UK

All gun deaths per 100,000 population                                   10.3                 0.25

Gun homicides per 100,000 pop.                                            3.6                   0.04

Handgun homicides per 100,000 pop.                                    2.0                   0.01

Gun suicides per 100,000 pop.                                               6.3                   0.18

I rest my case.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Concealed carry firearms not protected by 2nd Amendment…says Denver federal appeals court


What is more important right now?  Whether we ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, make universal background checks the law, eliminate straw purchases, concentrate on improving investigations into and sharing of mental health data, create a registry of firearms or other gun control legislation being proposed, there is an even more pressing problem to be reckoned with.  It is what do we do with about 8 million cowboys and cowgirls walking around American streets with either a concealed weapon or one in a holster at their side?

I did a post in 2011 that questioned whether or not these people should be allowed to openly take their weapons all around town, even the whole country, if the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) has its way.  In Arizona, with the country’s loosest gun laws, they can even take a gun into a bar, and the state might soon be arming teachers in schools.  Right now I am fine with having a firearm at home for protection but that is where it should stay.  Many of these carriers have no real weapons training and I don’t want them protecting me anyway.  Leave the gun at home.

When I wrote the earlier post, the U.S. House had OKed a bill to allow concealed guns to cross state lines.  That means someone from Arizona, where all you basically need to buy a gun is a warm body, this person could carry his or her weapon into states like California, New York and Illinois where they have much tougher gun laws.  Thankfully this legislative idiocy has been tabled for the time being but always in the back of the minds of the gun nuts.  But there is other news for changing the concealed carry laws in the future that might involve the Supreme Court.

Although one year old, The Young Turks attack concealed carry laws:

Forbes did a recent piece with concern over the fact that new verdicts from Federal Appeals courts could be harmful to the gun industry.  “In Denver, the court decided that concealed-carry firearms aren’t protected by the Second Amendment,” the magazine reported.  In opposition, “…in Chicago, the court reached a different decision. It declined to reconsider a ruling that found that state’s ban on concealed carry unconstitutional.”  And in a New York federal appeals court, the fact that concealed carry applicants must prove “proper cause” to carry was upheld.

Two out of three sounds like momentum for gun control advocates and although this issue isn’t on the White House’s agenda, there are many who feel reevaluating this right, along with state laws re. self-defense use of guns when challenged is ripe for the picking.  The question that is never asked in polls on gun violence is: “Do you favor banning concealed weapons for anyone but law enforcement and authorized users?”  As an example, in a reaction to teachers carrying guns, the New Yorker found the idea “confounding.” 

Concealed carry weapons including small, compact pistols and revolvers produce big money for gun manufacturers.  And women have become a prime market for these firearms in one of the industry’s fastest growing segments.  Some even come with pink grips.  So companies like Sturm, Ruger and Smith & Wesson aren’t likely to give in to curtailment of the concealed carry laws without a fight, no doubt led by wacky Wayne LaPierre and his NRA gun worshippers.  Of course those cowboys and cowgirls will certainly have their say in the matter.

Forbes predicts these contradictory appeal decisions (above) would make it more likely that the Supreme Court would have to settle the matter.  Two earlier SCOTUS cases come to mind immediately.  In 2008 the “District of Columbia v. Heller, upheld many 19th century prohibitions on concealed weapons, but also acknowledged that the Second Amendment protects a right to own guns.”  Then in 2010, “McDonald v. Chicago, established that state and local laws should also recognize the right to own firearms.”  But the Supremes also put a fly in the ointment.

McDonald v. Chicago stated that there is a right for gun owners to have a weapon in their home for protection, which leaves open the premise that the high Court just might place restraints on the concealed carry law.  It is possible that eventually concealed carry permits may be available in all states.  To give you an idea of the popularity, the 8 million concealed carriers are almost twice the NRA membership which is 4.5 million.  It would be interesting to know what percent of these faux vigilantes are trained.  Regardless, I want them all off the streets. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Congress…and the President now…are losing the American public’s trust


With two-thirds of the public disapproving of the way Congress is handling the federal spending issue and only 26% on their side, you might think the blame lies squarely on the backs of the congressional leaders whose overall ratings are even worse.  Not so.  52% disapprove of the way President Obama has managed the issue but with 43% that do approve.  The latter is a lot better than Congress but David Gergen says right now this country is “leaderless.”  That is frightening when you consider the major issues facing the United States today.

Other than the lately infamous term, “Sequester,” also on the table is gun control legislation, immigration reform and taking the leadership on improving the environment.  This country cannot remain as a world leader without tackling and solving all four of these problems.  The typical Washington charade recently that is supposed to be governing is considered farcical by many throughout the free world.  In another poll, “…Americans are divided over whether Obama is emphasizing unifying the country or taking a partisan approach.”  That’s not good.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland commented, "It looks like this could turn into a "lose-lose" scenario for both sides, although the Republicans appear to have more to lose than Obama."  But the President’s advantage has been diminishing over the last two months, according to CNN’s Political Editor, Paul Steinhauser.  DavidGergen on CNN was much blunter: “In times past, a president has usually risen to the demands of leadership when a Congress has stubbornly resisted tough choices…”  Gergen added:

“That's what Lyndon Johnson did in persuading key Republicans to help pass the civil rights bills of 1964 and 1965. And that's what Bill Clinton did in working with a Republican House led by Newt Gingrich. People forget how hostile House Republicans were to Clinton -- hell, they impeached him -- but he nonetheless worked with them to pass four straight balanced budgets and an overhaul of welfare.”

Excellent definition of sequester by The Young Turks:
 
It seems to me that it all boils down to the art of negotiation, which I emphasized in a recent post.  Sam Rayburn was a master, as was Lyndon Johnson, both from Texas.  Bill Clinton had this knack and even Barack Obama has exhibited moments of proclivity in bringing the two sides together as he did in passing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Negotiation is defined simply as a “mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.”   It means that both sides must give a little and take a little.  Is that so hard?

Well, apparently it is, because David Gergen says that both Congress and the White House are neglecting their responsibilities of bringing this country together.  And if there is no real leadership on either side, the USS America is basically sailing without a rudder.  Gergen continues, “One of the foremost duties of Congress is to pass a budget: It has failed for four straight years. Republicans, especially in the House, have continually refused to meet the White House halfway.”  My question is whether House Speaker John Boehner is still in control.

Americans have now become apathetic about the sequester with only 18% of the U.S. who say they understand “very well” what happens when it goes into effect.  I am frankly not sure whether or not enough of those in Congress and the White House honestly know the outcome following today’s deadline.  The fact of the matter is that some feel the President should have more power on deciding where the cuts should be made and Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, and Jim Inhofe, R-OK, are working on a bill right now to address that issue.

Whatever happens today, this Congress, and partially Barack Obama, will have to shoulder the blame for the fact that the greatest nation in the free world could not bring together its two main political factions in an agreement to keep its democratic government functioning normally.  Just the idea of the bickering that has been going on for the last 12 years is enough to turn your stomach.  But the idea of putting ideology before your country is unforgivable.  Enough is enough.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

It’s time to dump the Tea Party back in the harbor

Even as a committed progressive, I get an average of two or three emails from the Tea Party on a daily basis with some of the most bizarre headlines I have ever read. Like, America in danger: Stand and Fight, Prevent the Next Holocaust Right Here in America.” The organization is floundering fast and the last gasps are both dramatic and desperate. With supporters like Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and Michelle Bachmann, this leaves no doubt over the mentality of this group. Wikipedia says:
 
The Tea Party “is an American political movement that advocates strict adherence to the United States Constitution, reducing U.S. government spending and taxes, and reduction of the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit.”

The “Party” took off in 2009 supporting several conservative candidates and labeled itself from the beginning as a crowd of conservative fanatics, many of which sported double-digit IQs.  Back in 2011 even Glenn Beck accused the membership of being racist, which was confirmed in several of their rallies.  They have been and still are in the radical camp with the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) on gun rights, with signs like, “Dictators want you disarmed” in a recent demonstration in Monterey, California, for gun rights.

Their opposition to immigration reform is legend.  From Day one the Tea Party movement has  supported hardline policies toward illegal immigrants and for border control.  As far as the group is concerned, we could deport all 11 million+ undocumented.  On Tuesday, Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation said in the Washington Times that Republicans are committing “political suicide” and “paying Democrats for the privilege of killing themselves, re. immigration reform.”  It is this kind of right-wing conservative rhetoric that is bringing the U.S. to its knees.       

 
But time and public opinion have not been on the side of the TPers with a recent conservative Rasmussen poll released in the Huff Post finding that only 30% of the country has a favorable view of the Tea Party.  A compelling 50% view the party unfavorably.  Rasmussen also reports that only 8% of Americans claim to be Tea Party affiliated.  This is clout?  This paltry bunch of bigots can have the sway on Congress it does to push the GOP ideological agenda and get what they want?  It reminds me of the NRA’s hold on Congress, also highly overrated.

Here’s an example of more headlines from the Tea Party rubbish I receive by email:

             Obama Communist Coup Underway: America in Danger
       (Pic of Obama with Swastika on his arm)
 
       Supporting a group to give away shotguns in high crime area

 Sheriff warns of 2nd American Revolution if gun laws are enforced

 Don’t let Obama get away with murder and treason

 We’re rude, crude, impolite, and we wouldn’t have it any other way

 Civil War 2: Why the banking elite want riots in America

 Shock claim: Obama picks Muslim for CIA chief

 Resistance to new gun laws builds in USA

 Foreign agent Piers Morgan talks about repealing 2nd Amendment

The Tea Party took a beating in the Senate in 2012 when many of their supported candidates lost. The House did much better but the writing was on the wall when some key members were defeated and Michelle Bachmann won only with a slim margin. Big questions loom in 2014 for both the Tea Party and the NRA in relation to just how much impact they will have on the elections. The apathy of the American public has been making a dramatic change over the past year or so and with involved voters you get a much more educated class at the polls.
 
But let me leave you with the most hilarious statement made yet in 2013.  This is Michelle Bachmann, the U.S. Representative from Minnesota who barely held on to her seat in 2012: “I was very proud of the fact that I didn’t get anything wrong that I said during the course of the debates," she said, according to Salon. "I didn’t get anything wrong, and that’s a huge arena."  She, of course refers to the 2012 GOP presidential debates.  According to the Huff Post:

“…there is a long list of statements Bachmann made during debates showing she actually got a number of things ‘wrong.’”

Who is it these people appeal to???  Thank God their numbers are diminishing fast.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gun nuts claim Obama Helter Skelter…the amassing of forces to annihilate White Americans


Although Taylor Marsh is a well-known political analyst, writer and strategist, I still might have discounted someone I never heard of like Stan Solomon whose Talk to Solomon Show recently had conservative blogger Greg W. Howard on his show.  I have also not heard of Howard but being new to the game of critical politics, just figure I may not yet be up to speed.  However, when Larry Pratt’s name came up I not only took notice but became very interested.  As a gun fanatic, Pratt is only topped by Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).


Charles Manson
Then I understood the first entry in Joyce Arnold’s article on the Taylor Marsh Blog.  Arnold quoted from Brian Tashman at Right Way Watch: “Gun Activists Warn Obama is Raising a Private Black Army to Massacre White Americans.”  Pratt was on the Talk to Solomon Show with Howard predicting that, “Obama may begin confiscating guns in order to provoke a violent response to justify further oppression, which host Stan Solomon feared would lead to the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of people.  That’s heavy; also completely brainless.

There’s more.  “I believe they will put together a racial force to go against an opposite race resistance, basically a black force to go against a white resistance, and then they will claim anyone resisting the black force they are doing it because they are racist,” commented Solomon and seconded by Howard.  Can you believe this idiot Howard accuses Obama of sowing the seeds of racial hatred when it has been clear from the President’s first inauguration that many in this country dislike, even hate, Barack Obama simply because he is black?

Clip from the Helter Skelter movie:

There is a comparison between Obama’s gun control legislation and the incidents at Waco and Ruby Ridge where government force was used to quell an illegal uprising, resulting in lives lost.  Each of those episodes was carried out due to a defiance of the law and the people involved decided to fight rather than surrender peacefully.  Arnold asks the question which is no doubt uppermost in the mind of anyone who reads her article:

“I don’t know how many people take this kind of ‘thinking’ seriously, but it’s happening in the context of the ongoing national debates about gun and ammunition controls.”  It is gun hugger scare tactics at their worst…my words.

And then Arnold quotes Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo who exclaims the war over gun control has gone to the “ground;” in other words as the media decide it is yesterday’s news, both sides will depend on grass-roots action to get the job done.  McMorris-Santoro points out that the NRA is already running ads against weak Democrat and Republican moderates in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina and West Virginia.  At the same time we can expect more on gun control through groups like Gabby Giffords new PAC.

Those moderate Democrats, above, are not as afraid this go-around because of the rash of firearm deaths across the country, particularly mass incidents like the Newtown, CT massacre. The Senate is working on a plan re, universal background checks but McMorris-Santoro comments, “there’s the usual GOP House members who oppose most everything that isn’t their idea. Some of them probably think it’s possible ‘Obama is Raising a Private Black Army to Massacre White Americans.’” Shades of Charles Manson and his HelterSkelter.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hard to understand how anyone could believe the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre


But they do.  These die-hard gun bubbas who strut around with their weapons either at their side or concealed completely from the public, are the real believers who do it because they have to have some way to prove their manhood.  And they would follow the head fanatic, wacky Wayne, to the end of the world if he said so.  It is amazing to me just how easily he can arouse these double-digit IQs to do his bidding and then force them to come back again and again to feed from the same fount spewing this propaganda.  But such is the mentality of these wackos.

Wayne LaPierre is head of the NRA and since assuming this post in 1991 the organization has prospered dramatically in increased membership and donations flowing in.  This is all due to one single factor; LaPierre zeroed in on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms exclaiming it is an “absolutist” right of the people and the gun control advocates want to take it away.  And then along came a Democratic President, Barack Obama, and the screed switched to “Obama wants to take away your guns.”  Same crusade, just a different target.

Wacky Wayne laPierre


In each national incidence of guns killing innocent Americans, wacky Wayne used the situation to fire up his fellow gun worshippers by saying, as an example, they want to take away assault weapons today but tomorrow they will come for your handguns, then your hunting rifles.  The latest was delivered in a tirade from Salt Lake City during a speech at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo.  He once again picked up on President Obama and other Democrats re. the drive for universal background checks.  This is what he saidon CNN:

"This so-called universal background check that you're hearing about all over the media ... is aimed at one thing: It's aimed at registering your guns.  And when another tragic opportunity presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns."

Actually, this registry of guns is a great idea for everyone but gun owners, and that raises a question within itself.  Why are you afraid to have your gun registered; got something to hide?  And it is absurd to think the feds would use any registry of firearms to confiscate legal guns.  It is the bad guys that they are after and if you gun huggers are a little bit inconvenienced, blame it on your head wacko LaPierre who has suppressed reasonable gun control legislation for years, putting 300 million guns on the streets of America, a record throughout the world.

Mark Kelly with wife Gabby Giffords
Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Arizona U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, who was seriously injured by Jared Loughner in the Tucson gun massacre, where 6 died, sort of whacked wacky Wayne up-side the head at the recent Senate Judiciary hearings on guns when the gun nut “LaPierre repeatedly voiced the talking point that there’s no need to expand the background check system because criminals don’t cooperate with background checks,” from the Washington Post.  Kelly’s retort was:

“The Tucson shooter was an admitted drug user. He was rejected from the U.S. Army because of his drug use. He was clearly mentally ill. And when he purchased that gun in November, his plan was to assassinate my wife and commit mass murder at that Safeway in Tucson. He was a criminal. Because of his drug use, and because of what he was planning on doing. But because of these gaps in the mental health system, in this case, those 121,000 records, I admit did not include a record on him. But it could have.

“And if it did, he would have failed that background check. He would have likely gone to a gun show, or a private seller, and avoided that background check. But if we close that gun show loophole, if we require private sellers to complete a background check, and we get those 121,000 records and others into the systems, we will prevent gun crime. That is an absolute truth. It would have happened in Tucson. My wife would not have been sitting here today if we had stronger background checks.”

LaPierre’s claims that background checks don’t work is obviously just another of his false statements since 1.5 million guns were prevented from going to those prohibited from having them in 2010.  In the hearing, after gun rights grunts pointed to Chicago’s tough gun laws, yet high volume of gun violence, Sen. Dick Durbin from Illinois commented:

When you take a look at where these guns come from, 25 percent plus are sold in the surrounding towns around the city of Chicago, not in the city. Look over the last 10 or 12 years. Of the 50,000 guns confiscated in crimes, almost one out of 10 crime guns in Chicago came to that city from Mississippi. Why? Because the background checks there, the gun dealers there, are a lot easier than in other places. And they end up selling these guns in volume.

It is easy enough to shoot holes in most claims made by Wayne LaPierre and his NRA minions, but what isn’t easy is having the equal time to advertise the gun control side of the issue.  Organizations like the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence try but have limited budgets.  Just the opposite of the NRA, which is well funded in its advertising campaigns with the support of U.S. gun manufacturers.  The gun nuts are preparing to launch a new onslaught of major propaganda that will cause many more innocent people to be killed by guns.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Will the US Senate fix the Washington mess?


I did a post on Wednesday of last week, “How to fix a broken U.S. Government,” which emphasized the importance of negotiating, a lost art from the days of Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson.  During those periods, an old hand at the job, and Johnson and Rayburn were not only well-entrenched but also well respected, could talk to his or her fellow legislators and somehow come to a reconciliation that was favorable for both side.  This mastery of politics has been gone for, let me see, at least as far back to when George W. Bush became president.

Mitch McConnell
So far the GOP hasn’t recovered from an election they thought they would win, and Sen. McConnell has never retreated from his statement to make Obama a one-term President, which obviously failed.  Joe Palermo said following the 2012 election, “McConnell now promises the next best thing: Continue to abuse the filibuster as no Senate minority in American history has and gum up the works while demanding total capitulation on Obama's part before any bill can escape the clutches of his icy, deadening hand.”  In Washington things never seem to change.



So with McConnell as the Senate Minority Leader, how is it that Ira Shapiro thinks this dysfunctional body can fix Washington?  He says the consensus is already formed and that politics under president Obama’s second term will continue to be polarized.  But he wants a “rejuvenated” Senate to be the nation’s mediator.  Somehow I can’t see Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader and Mitch McConnell coming together on any major issues, except maybe gun control.  Reid has refused to back Obama on the assault weapons ban.

Democrats do have control of the Senate and won 25 out of 33 elections in 2012, which Shapiro reads as a reaction to GOP extremism and obstructionism.  The question is whether this trend can continue with momentum leading through the 2014 elections where the incumbent President’s party traditionally loses seats in Congress.  Palermo’s article was over three months ago but now Shapiro says the country is in need of responsible adult leadership, something sorely lacking in both houses of Congress. 

Harry Reid
Shapiro the optimist thinks, “The Senate is the only realistic partner to the president in seeking constructive solutions to the nation's challenges on guns, climate change and immigration.”  I hope he is right because, aside from the economy and jobs, these are the three most important issues facing the United States.  And in continued optimism he believes the majority of the Senate is serious about facing the challenges of the country.  On the other hand we are just four days away from the $1.2 trillion in budget cuts that many say will paralyze the U.S.

Lyndon Johnson, along with Mike Mansfield, Everett Dirksen and Howard Baker are cited in Shapiro’s article illustrating a quality of leadership lost on today’s Senate.  Although Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell didn’t create the current political barricades in the Senate, it has certainly flourished under their watch.  Will they eventually retire having failed to accomplish the demands facing Congress today, or will they emerge finally as leaders who figure out that it is necessary to negotiate, not constantly call checkmate?  The ball is clearly in their court.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Arizona gun huggers and other stupid Wild West stories


Arizona is a state in which someone with absolutely no training can go out and buy a gun, carry it as a concealed weapon without a permit, and even take it into a bar.  That is the kind of rhetoric that has made the Grand Canyon State the laughing stock of the country.  The GOP-controlled legislature prides itself in passing the most asinine and loose gun control laws in the U.S. and then flaunts it to those hysterical over this obsession with guns.  And then you must add to that a foggy headed Governor, Jan Brewer, with shifting desert sand for a brain.

What more could the media ask for, particularly progressive bloggers like myself.  What is most disheartening about living in a state like Arizona is these fruitcakes are serious.  Their worship of guns transcends any reasonable approach to gun control and approaches the level of placing their weapons on a pedestal to be considered a divine entity.  I did a blog back in January, “Religious leaders say the worship of guns is a form of idolatry,“ that examines just how gun fanatics feel about their firearms.  The findings are pathetic.

But the religious community is reacting in force.  Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington Nat’l Cathedral, said, “Everyone in this city {Washington} seems to be in terror of the gun lobby. But I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.”  Rabbi Saperstein, dir. of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said: “Is the need for sensible gun control a religious issue?  Indeed, it is, for our worship of guns is a form of idolatry, the random distribution of guns is offense against God, and the only appropriate response is sustained moral outrage.”

Spoof on Arizona gun laws:

So where do these Arizona gun nuts come off pushing all these ridiculous gun laws to put even more guns on the street in the hands of completely unqualified owners when the state ranks eighth nationally in firearm deaths, with 15.1 deaths per 100,000?  They don’t care because they choose their celestial guns over human life.  Another source shows that in Arizona 65% of all murders are committed using firearms.  And yet another survey reports that there are 232 Arizona gun murders a year, or about 4.5 per week. 

Even considering all of the above, which really only scratches the surface, an Arizona legislature of Republican lunatics continues to propose and pass more bizarre gun legislation.  And it is all but guaranteed that the discombobulated Governor will sign the trash.  As an example, the gun bubbas got all up tight when a Tucson city Councilman did a gun “buyback” offering $50 gift cards for unwanted guns.  But the obsessed firearms crowd would have none of it and proposed a law to bar any destruction of guns in Arizona.  There’s lots more.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Another bill would allow people to carry guns into public buildings, unless secure gun lockers are provided which are expensive to construct.  Not a law, but another pitiable fact; Arizona ranked third in the nation for guns confiscated at the Phoenix airport checkpoints in 2012.  And Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is arming his 3,000 member “volunteer” posse with 400 military-style assault rifles.  That’s right, at least 400 scantily trained part-time upholders of Arpaio’s style of Arizona law on the streets with lethal weapons.  Hard to believe but true.

And now House Bill 2326 forbids state and local government agencies and federally licensed gun dealers from maintaining a database of people who own or sell guns.  State Attorney General Tom Horne, who himself has lawsuits filed against him for acting illegally as a candidate for office and leaving the site of a hit and run accident, wants to arm the teachers in Arizona schools.  And finally, a local pediatric cardiologist by the name of Dr. Scott Schnee responded to Denver reporter Adrian Dater re. something he wrote about the Phoenix Coyotes:

The Twitter user BabyDocScott tweeted "Go catch a movie in Aurora" and said Dater could "join Jessica for all I care." Dater was friends with Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in the Aurora movie theater shootings July 20.  Beyond pathetic.

So that’s the latest on a gun culture out of control from the Wild West state of Arizona, which for many of us is a beautiful and pleasant place to live.  But for those of us who want sane gun laws in our state, and throughout the country, the day is definitely on the horizon to get this accomplished, and the gun huggers will just have to go to the movies to get their violence.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gun deaths escalate while an impotent Congress of deadbeats just hovers in limbo


Mindy McCready
I am not a country music fan but it was tragic to hear that singer Mindy McCready had taken her life…with a gun.  On Monday, 4 people were shot in Spokane, 2 at a night club, 2 more nearby.  And then on Tuesday a gunman went on a shooting spree in Southern California that left 4 people dead, including the shooter.  Does the question, “What does it take?” come to mind?  Abby Rogers in Business Insider says, “A History Of Gun Control Laws Shows US Citizens Don't HaveAn Absolute Right To Bear Arms.”  Something I have blogged about for months. 

Rogers tracks the history of gun control laws from 1860 through 2010.  There were the early laws in the 1930s covering the manufacture and transfer of firearms along with another that regulated interstate commerce in firearms.  Then came the 1968 Gun Control Act following the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.  There were others like California’s law restricting the use of assault rifles, the Brady Act of 1993 imposing background checks and then the federal assault weapons ban in 1994 which was allowed to expire in 2004.

Most recently New York passed one of the toughest gun control laws ever and they did it with a GOP controlled Senate along with a Democrat-dominated assembly.  Are the Republican politicians more intelligent in New York, or do they simply favor human life over worshipful gun ownership?  And then on Monday, the Colorado House voted in a package of gun control measures that included a ban on concealed weapons on college campuses.  Also included is a fee for state background checks.  It now goes to the Senate.

Adam Winkler on gun control:

Former U.S. Rep. from Arizona, Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly have formed a gun control group called Americans for Responsible Solutions.  Giffords was seriously wounded in the 2011 Tucson massacre by Jared Loughner where 18 others were shot and 6 died including a nine-year-old girl.  And then less than a week ago, MoveOn.org announced it will spend six-figures on a TV spot titled, “The NRA doesn’t speak for me.”  Jerry Thompson, a gun owner and defender of the 2nd Amendment is the spokesperson who says in disgust:

“For years I’ve watched Congress take money from the NRA and then oppose any kind of reform that helps keep us safe.”  Further, "I've had enough. So here's my message to Congress. You take money from the NRA and then continue to do their bidding, we're going to remember that come election time. The NRA doesn't speak for me, and they don't speak for the vast majority of Americans so stop taking their money"

81% of gun owners support background checks which would close the gun show loophole.  40% of gun buyers purchase their weapons at gun shows where private sellers are not required to make background checks.  Seem like a no-brainer?  Not for Wayne LaPierre and his gang of gun bubbas at the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).  These gun nuts are fighting background checks as well as any other meaningful gun control legislation.  Other gun rights advocates say:

 “Our backs are against the wall,”  “We are in for the fight of our lives. I have never seen anything like it.”  This is a statement by Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun rights group following the Sandy Hook Elementary carnage.  The CCDL also conceded that the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans just might make it through Congress.      

What is it about New York, Illinois, Colorado and California gun control reasoning that the rest of us don’t seem to assimilate?  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg credits the state’s tough gun laws for decreasing his city’s gun violence significantly.  If it can work in the largest metropolitan area in the country, it should be able to work anywhere.  Contact your congressional leaders, U.S. House, here, U.S. Senate here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to fix a broken U.S. Government


 
I realize I am no expert on social science, wasn’t even really interested in the subject in college, but as a lowly progressive political blogger, I have become fascinated with our political system and its intricate workings.  Actually, the system isn’t working now and if we don’t fix it soon, this country’s downfall could make the decline and fall of the Roman Empire look like a Sunday school picnic.  We are no longer on the fiscal cliff, or curb as some described the problem, we are now headed toward a newly created political buzz word, “sequestration.”

Sequestration is defined by the HuffPost as, “referring to a series of draconian budget cuts, totaling $1.2 trillion, that {were} scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. These cuts are evenly split between defense and domestic discretionary spending (with some exemptions, such as Social Security, Medicare, and veterans' benefits).”  The GOP doesn’t want any more short-term fixes but refuses to budge on additional revenue mixed with spending cuts.  The President is standing firm on what he wants and is likely to win the battle in the long run.

Is the problem caused entirely by Republicans?  The answer is no and on the Democratic side, there is still the extreme left rallying for raising taxes and limiting spending cuts.  In some cases we have noticed House Speaker John Boehner shifting from his supporters on the right, particularly the fanatics of the Tea Party, moving further toward the middle for some reconciliation on the issues.  Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also seems conciliatory in his latest speeches.  So what is the problem?  I’m not sure anyone really knows.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the GOP hasn’t recovered from an election they thought they would win.  And Sen. McConnell has never retreated from his statement to make Obama a one-term President, which failed.  According to JoePalermo in November of 2012, “McConnell now promises the next best thing: Continue to abuse the filibuster as no Senate minority in American history has and gum up the works while demanding total capitulation on Obama's part before any bill can escape the clutches of his icy, deadening hand.”

Sam Rayburn, former Democratic Speaker of the house from Texas, was considered by many to be the great negotiator.  Lyndon Johnson was known to be good at bringing parties together in agreement on serious matters and even Barack Obama is looked on as a pretty good negotiator, considering the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.  What happened to the art of negotiation, which almost anyone will agree is the only objective way to arrive at a governing solution?  Where did this political necessity fall by the wayside, almost into oblivion?

Looking back at George W. Bush, he had a rather diverse Congress with the majority swinging from one party to the other in his eight years.  Regardless, with GWB it was his way or the highway, thanks in part to his henchman, Karl Rove.  Going back a few years, Ronald Reagan was known as the great communicator and managed to get a lot of what he wanted.  George H. W. Bush was known for managing the end of the cold war.  Bill Clinton was able to get those in his party to vote for the largest tax increase in history in 1993. He also passed sweeping trade and welfare reforms in the face of withering fire from the left. 

Not bad on both sides, except for the tyranny of George W. Bush, who many say will go down in history as this country’s worst president.

Negotiation is defined simply as a “mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.”  Well it’s not simple, at least as far as this Congress is concerned, a body that closed out 2012 with a 14% approval rating.  In picking that definition apart, there are three basic ingredients that have to be satisfied.  The first is there must be a discussion; second, there must be agreement on terms to fix the problem; and third, you must arrive at an agreement.  Here’s how I sum that up: 

There are discussions that tend to lead nowhere, basically blamed on a GOP Congress of “NO” to anything Barack Obama proposes.  No one can come to terms because Republicans would rather obstruct Democratic legislation than present their own, except in rare cases.  There can be no agreement because of one and two.

In simplification, it reminds me of the kid that didn’t like the way the football game was going, so he picked up his ball and went home.  Sure, the Dems have to shoulder some of the blame in this standoff, but they might be more amenable to the conservatives if they weren’t constantly being stonewalled.  But there is one thing that the right had better understand and that is the fact that Progressives are here to stay, and Republicans no longer have a free ride.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Did the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban work? Actually…yes


Alex Seitz-Wald has done an excellent job in Salon of organizing and evaluating statistics that relate to the success of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.  Having expired in 2004, the question was whether or not it had helped reduce gun violence while in effect.  The answer is that it did, especially when you consider the main obstacle the results were up against.  In 1996 Congress passed a law limiting the use of gun violence data collected that could be used to analyze this issue.  Naturally, this was backed and promoted by the National Rifle Assn. (NRA). 

Although Obama has issued a memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies to conduct more gun violence research in the future, fortunately one group did not wait for this to happen and compiled their own data on the success of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.  In the Salonarticle, it accuses the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) of misleading the American public on assault weapons.  It’s full of loopholes, Seitz-Wald says, and there are studies confirming that the ban was effective. 

Congress required an assessment of the law in 1999 which was paid for by the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Department of Justice.  Conducting the investigation were two criminologists, Christopher Koper and Jeffrey Roth.  The report was updated in 2004, evaluating everything from homicides to gun prices.  To start, it was found that banned guns and magazines were used in up to 25% of gun crimes before the ban.  Assault pistols were used more than assault rifles also finding large-capacity magazines were the biggest problem.

Comments on 2013 assault weapons ban:

I did a blog back in January, “NRAafraid of gun violence statistics,” that examined this issue of the missing gun violence data.  I came to the conclusion that, although the NRA made sure we can’t use the numbers, we still know that the gun violence is caused by guns.  No matter who is doing it or where they got the weapon, it was a gun that caused the injury or death.  Without the “death data” the gun manufacturers continue to sell more firearms and pour more money into the coffers of Wayne LaPierre and the NRA.  It is truly a vicious circle.

Not in the defense of assault weapons but more facing the reality of just what kind of gun control legislation might pass a much prejudiced Congress, my blog, “Would banning highcapacity magazines and requiring universal background checks be a good start tostricter gun control?” asks whether limiting these magazines to no more than ten rounds would at least be a start.  The Salon article reported that assault weapons accounted for only a fraction of the total gun deaths overall.  It was the high-capacity magazines that really caused the mayhem.
 
The infamous AR-15
 

As an example, Seitz-Wald says, “the same .223 Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle was used  in the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre, the shooting at the Clackamas Mall in Oregon, the Newtown elementary school shooting, and, just a few days ago, the killing of two firefighters in upstate New York.”  Jared Loughner in Tucson used a 33-round high-capacity magazine, Seung-Hui Cho used a 15-round magazine at Virginia Tech.  The big question here is whether curbing the size of the magazine would limit the effectiveness of the assault weapon?

Following are additional factors found in the recent independent gun violence research:

· An October 2012 study from Johns Hopkins concluded that “easy access to firearms with large-capacity magazines facilitates higher casualties in mass shootings.”

· Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also shows a significant drop (66%) in assault weapon usage in gun crimes following the 1994 ban.

· The 10-year ban was also complicated by the fact that millions of pre-ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines meant that any progress in stopping the violence would be gradual. The real results of the ban may not be known for years.


Seitz-Wald concludes with a comparison between American gun violence and our lack of gun control and Australia’s enactment of an assault weapons ban following a 1996 massacre killing 36 people.  Gun-related homicide plummeted by 59 percent.  In my 2012 blog, “Australia: Another gun control successstory,” I wrote about this carnage where the shooter also used an AR-15 assault rifle.  Are the citizens of Australia and some European countries with tough gun control laws more intelligent than the U.S. or do they just love life more?

I urge you to read the Salonarticle.