The Watering Hole, Monday, April 20, 2015: Sixteen Years And Not Much Better

It wasn’t the first, and many of us knew then that it wasn’t going to be the last. Unfortunately, we were right. There were more. Plenty more. Too many more. Way, way too many more. And the children. So many, many children. Even after the nation was shocked that a score of little kids would fall victim, still we did little or nothing. Sixteen years ago, on April 20, 1999, two Colorado high school students committed one of the worst gun massacres in American history. The guns they used were bought from gun dealer shows where no background checks were performed (even though they were straw purchases), because no names were taken. One of the guns had been banned from manufacture five years before, but the loose gun laws in our country made it possible, even likely one might believe, that it would end up in the hands of someone who planned to shoot the thirty-six rounds it could hold at other people. A year later, more than 800 pieces of some form of gun control legislation were introduced across the country. Only about ten percent passed. People rightfully asked what it would take to do something about gun violence, but nobody seemed to want to link gun violence to guns. Even after somebody killed more than thirty people on a college campus, even after a nine-year-old girl was killed and a United States Representative suffered a critical, life-threatening head wound, even after twenty small children and seven adults were gunned down by a deranged young man, America still refuses to admit it has a gun problem.

I don’t want to add up all the innocent people who have died at the hands of mass murderers with guns. The number would be too depressing because it’s way more than zero. I don’t know what the financial impact has been on the communities and people who were victims of these mass shootings. I doubt anyone can because the NRA, through its friends in Congress (most of them Republicans, but not all), has managed to make it a crime for the government to compile that kind of information. Congress won’t allow the government to conduct any studies on gun violence, thus giving them the chance to dispute any statistic anyone throws at them as being from a biased source with an agenda, as if that alone disqualifies anything factual that might be said. Yes, everyone who takes the time to inform his or her Congressman about something has an agenda, otherwise they wouldn’t be taking the time to do what they’re doing. That doesn’t mean that each and every one of them isn’t proposing something worthwhile, because many are. But when an organization originally created to teach gun safety and proper shooting procedures has become warped and distorted into an organization that lobbies on behalf of gun manufacturers, not on behalf of its estimated 3.4 million members (about 1% of the country), one can easily wonder just what the “original intent” of the Second Amendment (more on that later) has to do with what’s going on. The NRA spends millions of dollars defending the alleged individual right to bear arms (it is not settled law yet), yet refuses to allow sensible precautions that might help prevent another mass killing. Polling suggests the vast majority of average NRA members support the use of background checks at gun shows, to prevent the sale of guns to people who wouldn’t otherwise pass one, yet the NRA leadership ignores that and cries that background checks would lead to gun owner databases (which are not a bad idea), which would lead to mass confiscations of guns (never in a million years in this country), which would lead to Tyranny, which the Second Amendment was written to prevent. No, it wasn’t.

Prior to 1977, nobody was ever arguing that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to carry a gun for personal protection. That only began to happen when the National Rifle Association was taken over by extremists who argued that 200 years of legal and constitutional precedent were wrong. A large part of their ultimate success in deceiving people into believing this was the misuse of various quotes form Founding Fathers, including Patrick Henry’s “That every man be armed.” In its proper context (see link), it was actually a call to limit gun ownership, not expand it. It is true, regardless of who said it, that the NRA has perpetrated a massive fraud on the American People by claiming the Second Amendment is about the individual right to possess guns. It’s simply not true, regardless of Supreme Court decisions which wrongly claim it is. The Second Amendment was justified to support the use of state militias to defend the nation against invasion and rebellion, and to authorize Slave Posses to capture runaway slaves. President George Washington used the authority of the Second Amendment to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, so that should dispel the myth that its primary purpose (which is the gun enthusiasts’ main argument) is false. And since Slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment, the idea that guns should be allowed to capture runaway slaves is now null and void. Despite the Constitutional limitations on such a thing, the fact remains we have a standing army, even though we’re supposed to be re-authorizing its existence every two years. (How they could legally make me sign a contract to enlist in the Air Force for four years still escapes me.) So we no longer rely on State militias to defend the nation from invasion or rebellion in the same way the Colonists did in the 18th century. Yes, they are called out in emergencies, which can include rebellion, but they aren’t quite used the same way the Founders intended. They tend to get used to suppress exercise of First Amendment rights. The point is, maybe it’s time to rethink how we interpret the Second Amendment in 21st Century America. There’s no reason to lock ourselves into living and thinking like 18th century colonialists. The Constitution is meant to be a framework for our evolving country and its government, not a shackle to the past. Things that were issues and concerns back then don’t necessarily apply to today, which means the same justification used back then don’t necessarily apply today, either. Where citizens might have patrolled streets back them to catch purported thieves, now we have police patrols to whom we’ve granted the authority to use guns and capture criminals. Nobody seriously expects a private citizen to pull out a gun and stop a criminal (and none ever has.) The arguments people come up with to justify carrying around a gun get weaker and weaker. Most of the time the only danger that exists is in their own minds, which is why I hate the idea that one can use that as a justification to kill. “I thought my life was in danger.” From what? “From something it turns out I imagined.” Well, if you were never in actual danger, then you can;t justify using actual deadly force to defend yourself, can you? After all, what was going to kill or harm you? Nothing but your own imagination. Does it make any sense to say it’s okay to claim you were defending yourself against something you imagined when you killed someone?

We have a serious problem with gun violence in this country, and it’s long past time we admit it’s largely connected to our serious problems with guns and the fact, yes, I repeat, fact, that they are dangerous. It defies all logic and common sense to say guns are not dangerous, especially loaded ones. The same Justice who wrote the infamous Heller decision had previously written that laws adding years to a prison sentence for using a gun were constitutional, even when the gun in question was not being used as a gun but as a bludgeon. If guns weren’t dangerous, why would we make sure every soldier sent into battle carried at least one? If guns weren’t dangerous, why would trigger locks even be necessary? If guns wren’t dangerous, why are so many children killing other children with them? It is totally stupid to say a loaded gun isn’t dangerous. It’s dangerous for the same general reason it’s dangerous for a country unfriendly to you to have a nuclear weapon that can be carried by missiles that can reach you. It would allow them to kill or harm you from a safe distance, and before you can do anything to stop them. If I’m standing across the room from you, I can kill or harm you without needing to put myself in close proximity to you, thus giving you the chance to kill or harm me (or take my dangerous gun away and kill me with it.) Yes, you can cite all the cherry-picked statistics you want about how more people are beaten to death with bats than are killed by high-powered rifles, if you want to ignore the use of handguns (which were designed for one, and only one, purpose – to kill people.) But there is one indisputable fact that cannot be ignored, but which all too often is: In every single instance of gun violence in this country’s history, the one common element to all gun deaths, regardless of who, if anyone, was pulling the trigger, has been a gun. So maybe that’s where you have to begin.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss guns, gun control, lying NRA bastards, or any other topic you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 23, 2013: Is Extremism in Denial of Liberty a Virtue?

I’m worried about my country. I’m worried because our open and free society has been manipulated by extremists bent on exploiting the worst in us in order to achieve their own very undemocratic, very anti-freedom, and very mentally unstable goals. The First Amendment protection of Free Speech is great and this wouldn’t be America without it, but just because you’re allowed to say something, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to treat what you say as valid, nor does it mean you have any right to demand that people do. And there has been a perversion of our Free Speech rights such that to question anyone’s right to say insane, even traitorous things, brings wrath that is, for reasons that escape me, treated as valid complaints. We have a Right Wing movement in this country so extreme that to call them “Conservative” is to misunderstood what true Conservatism is about. Barry Goldwater, in his acceptance speech as the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” A nice, patriotic sentiment, as patriotic pablum goes, but if we accept it as valid, must we also accept that extremism in the denial of liberty is no virtue? Yet this is exactly where today’s so-called “Conservative” movement has gone.

If you believe in reproductive freedom rights, then this is an area where you and the RW extremists shouldn’t even be in the same library, let alone on the same page of the same book. In 2011, “legislators in 24 states, many elected in the 2010 Republican tide, passed a record 92 laws restricting abortions“, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some Republican extremists even want to ban contraception, an issue that was decided by the Supreme Court long before Roe v. Wade. If you believe that what you and your lover do as consenting adults in the privacy of your own bedroom/hotel room is your business and none of the government’s, how could you ever support a movement that would vigorously fight to regulate that activity? Is this extremism in the defense of liberty or in the denial of it? Should we really be treating what the proponents of these anti-abortion, anti-contraception laws say as valid?

Another issue sure to invoke Right Wing extremism is that of gun control. Now, I have some serious disagreements with Gun Rights advocates that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to serve as a check against a potentially tyrannical government. I agree that allowing citizens access to their own guns for purposes of community defense and security would have the side effect of helping to keep such a government in check, but I wholeheartedly disagree that this was its primary purpose. But try telling that to the RW extremists who believe that not only was this its primary purpose, but that it was its only purpose. You never hear some of these people mention militias or the “security of a free state,” but they can sure quote the second half of the Second Amendment. And lately, their rhetoric has become so extreme that they are claiming that President Obama is raising a private black army to massacre white Americans. Well, it’s not exactly what they’re saying, but it is one of the many false premises they’re using to denounce what the evil Obama “might” be doing. You know, “If he really is raising a black army to massacre white Americans, that would be a bad thing.”-kind of thing. Or, “If he really does go door-to-door to try to take away people’s guns [something which, in fact, he has NEVER proposed], then he can expect to meet a lot of resistance.” Except none of those things are happening. Not even close. They are grossly twisting and distorting a line out of a 2008 campaign speech. It’s true that Obama said, “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” But as with many of the more extravagant claims quotes from the RW, this quote is taken out of context. According to FactCheck.org, Obama “was talking specifically about expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and the USA Freedom Corps, which is the volunteer initiative launched by the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11, and about increasing the number of trained Foreign Service officers who populate U.S. embassies overseas.” (Go to the link to see the full quote in context.) Now if people want to say these things, that’s all well and good. They’re as wrong as one can possibly be, but they do have a Constitutional right to say these nonsensical things. But what they don’t have is a right to expect us to treat them seriously and respectfully and to act upon those unfounded fears as if they have validity. They don’t.

As the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, from my own state of New York, once famously told a rival, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” The problem we face today is that facts don’t matter in our political discourse. (Even a lack of facts, such as that there is no evidence something happened, doesn’t even stop our elected officials from making outrageous claims that they did happen.) The RW does feel entitled to their own facts because they believe having an opinion is equivalent to having a valid opinion. They feel that not only do you have to respect the fact that they have an opinion (I do), but that you must respect that opinion (I don’t.) Is it any wonder, really, why our country is so divided politically?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish.

Sunday Roast, February 3, 2013 – Food for Thought

Just some numbers:

Iraq Body Count 2013

341 civilians killed

United States Body Count from gun violence in 2013 (you can use the date range button on the site)

936 civilians killed

Numbers may increase with every click on the link.

We all agree, that Iraq is a postwar society, plagued by ethnic conflicts and a weak government. We all agree that the United States of America is not that. Or do we?

This is an open thread. Comment on this, or on anything else that comes to mind and have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 23, 2013: Breaking Gnus! Obama to do a 180 on Guns!

Twitter, The Zoo's Top Investigative Journalist

Twitter, The Zoo’s Top Investigative Journalist

This just in: President Obama plans to announce a new White House Policy on gun control. In response to Republican calls for his impeachement even before he takes the oath of office for a second time, President Obama has decided to do a stunning about-face in his stance on gun control. Twitter managed to get an advance copy of the draft of the President’s upcoming speech.

     “My fellow Americans. And that includes you old white guys that voted for the other guy.

     “It is time to acknowlege that our government has failed you, the honest, hardworking, God fearing American Citizen. We can no longer keep you safe in your homes, on your streets, in malls and movie theaters, and in your schools.

     “A few days ago, I introduced a package of Executive Orders and legislation I thought would help. You responded with outrage, and calls for my impeachment. I got the message. You don’t want any restrictions on your right to bear arms.

    “Now I know there are a great number of Americans who hold President Ronald Reagan in high esteem. But lately I’ve heard that they believe he was senile when he signed the bill outlawing machine guns. So, effective immediately, I am ordering law enforcement to stop enforcing all laws that impinge on your right to bear arms. If you feel you need a fully automatic machine gun to protect yourself from criminals, outlaws, or a takeover by your government, feel free to go out and buy one.

     “I am ordering the Justice Department to draft a legal challenge to those laws, to have the Supreme Court strike them all down as unconstitutional.

     “And I am asking all members of Congress to join with me in bipartisan support and pass a new, revised version of the Militia Act of 1792. As you might know, the Militia Act of 1792 required all able bodied men to buy muskets and keep a store of musket balls and gunpowder. Well, we’re beyond the days of muskets. I want every able-bodied adult, not just you men, but women-folk too, to own at least one assault rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition. And I want Congress to pass this legislation immediately.

     “We cannot wait. The bad guys have had this kind of firepower for far too long. It is time we, as a nation, come together and stand united in our support for the Second Amendement, united in protecting ourselves and our loved ones, and united in gun ownership.

     “Thank you, and God bless America.”

A spokesperson for the NRA merely said, “It’s about time.” But, as Twitter was leaving, he heard the man pick up his phone and say, “Bud? Yeah, it’s me. You know that national chain of funeral homes you want to start? Count me in.”

Foreign car makers Aston-Martin and BMW are quietly working up plans to introduce commercial versions of their “Bond Cars” for the American market. They will come as fully armed as their movie counterparts. Prices are expected to start at over $2.4 million for the BMWs and over $6 million for the Astin Martins.

Democrats, by far and large, applauded the President’s move. One aide spoke, on condition of anonymity, “The President knows that Republicans cannot help but oppose everything he wants, and will propose the exact opposite.”

Republicans, when asked for comment, were uniformly outraged. “He can’t do this!” said one, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s unconstitutional! He has to enforce the laws we have! And who is he to order everyone to go out and buy guns! We can’t have everyone armed! The Second Amendment was all about State’s Militias! If he dares to have someone introduce this legislation on the floor of Congress, I will file articles of impeachment the very same day…the very same minute!” With that the Congressman rushed to his office to begin drafting articles of impeachment.

READY, AIM, POST!

 

UPDATE:

Ok. So I wrote this over the weekend and scheduled it for today. Who knew?

Tea Party Congressman: Citizens Should Have Same Weapons As The Military

Yes. Sadly, there are those who want an arms race here in America, with civilians lining up to buy the latest and bestest killing machines available. Fear begets fear. Carnage on an unimaginable scale awaits. Will calmer, saner heads prevail?

Sorry to bring in a downer on what was supposed to be a lighthearted satire…..but, really…civilians with military grade hardware?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 17th, 2013: The NRA

Today’s thread provides a look at some recent activity from the NRA’s website, along with some background and statistical information from the ATF’s website, plus a few other odds and ends.

From the NRA’s website:

January 16, 2013
NRA RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S GUN CONTROL PROPOSALS
Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority.

The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset — our children.

Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.

[“inevitability?]
– and –

January 10, 2013
STATEMENT FROM THE NRA
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again. We attended today’s White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.

We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment. While claiming that no policy proposals would be “prejudged,” this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners — honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans. It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works — and what does not.

Back in December, the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) – self-described as “The Lobbying Arm of the NRA” – commented on Senator Diane Feinstein’s draft for proposed new gun legislation. And on January 4th, the NRA-ILA began to gin up fear over proposed House gun control bills.

From the ATF (which the NRA refers to as the BATFE, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), here’s a brief history of the National Firearms Act. The ATF website also includes information regarding Firearms Trace data (“state-by-state reports utilizing trace data which is intended to provide the public with insight into firearms recoveries”) as well as graphs and links for “Number of NFA Firearms Processed by Fiscal Year” Take a look at the jump in the numbers of “firearms processed” in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012, when the NRA, in the person of Wayne LaPierre, was strongly pushing the “Obama’s going to take your guns away” meme. The website also provides a list (including photos and descriptions) of firearms which are covered under the National Firearms Act and subsequent additional gun control legislation.

Let’s go back to the NRA again. Here’s a brief introductory excerpt from a fascinating Alternet article by Steven Rosenfeld entitled “The Surprising Unknown History of the NRA”:

“For nearly a century after, its founding in 1871, the National Rifle Association was among America’s foremost pro-gun control organizations. It was not until 1977 when the NRA that Americans know today emerged, after libertarians who equated owning a gun with the epitome of freedom and fomented widespread distrust against government—if not armed insurrection—emerged after staging a hostile leadership coup.

In the years since, an NRA that once encouraged better markmanship and reasonable gun control laws gave way to an advocacy organization and political force that saw more guns as the answer to society’s worst violence, whether arming commercial airline pilots after 9/11 or teachers after the Newtown, while opposing new restrictions on gun usage.

It is hard to believe that the NRA was committed to gun-control laws for most of the 20th century—helping to write most of the federal laws restricting gun use until the 1980s.”

The NRA claims to have over four million members, a number disputed in this article from motherjones.com. There have also been claims made by the NRA that, since the Newtown tragedy, the NRA is gaining 8000 new members a day, supposedly over 100,000 total. However, when I tried to find more information to back up these claims, all I found were links to Fox News, Breitbart, and to some site called “The Daily News Report” (no relation to the NY Daily News.) And since this Daily News Report article contains the sentence “Unlike many who are using the school shooting as a political club, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been staying quiet out of respect for the Newtown victims“, I think we can safely dismiss this ‘report.’ BTW, tomorrow night, FoxNews will be presenting “Hannity Special: Inside the Gun Debate, featuring Wayne LaPierre.” I wonder if they’ll have any of the parents from Newtown on for this “fair and balanced” Hannity “Special.”

And lastly, also from motherjones.com, here’s Frank Smyth’s article “Unmasking the NRA’s Inner Circle”, as discussed last night on Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word.

This is our open thread…better put your reading glasses on!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, January 10th, 2013: I Love NY

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State address, covering topics ranging from education to housing to green energy initiatives, women’s issues, and, of course, the topic du jour, gun control. New York State already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country; Governor Cuomo is now calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with other measures, in response to recent tragic shootings in Connecticut and in upstate New York. The Governor is working with State lawmakers to hammer out new legislation, and is hoping to reach an agreement with them by the end of this week.

The complete outline of Governor Cuomo’s forward-looking proposals, which also include a minimum wage hike and decriminalization of “open possession” of less than 15 grams of marijuana (woo-hoo!), can be reviewed here.

Although the comments following articles regarding the Governor’s proposals regarding gun control are much the same blustering rants as those on way too many sites, i.e.: American citizens misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment to justify that they need their guns to protect against a tyrannical government, or for personal protection of self, home, family; the “government” is coming to take their guns, basically from their cold dead hands; cars, hammers, knives, you name it, all kill more people than guns; and (the most laughable) that “people are leaving New York in droves”; I am proud to be a New Yorker, and glad that Governor Cuomo is starting to act (not just sound) more like his father than I had expected.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, January 9, 2013, The case for repealing all gun control.

The Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Those who oppose gun control cite the 2nd Amendment as their Constitutional source for their right to bear arms, and oppose any legislation that restricts that right.

Ok. Fine. Let’s repeal all legislation that restricts the “right to bear arms.”

Individuals, and terrorist groups, within the United States can then own nuclear, chemical and biolgical weapons. The same would go for surface to air missles, drones, fully automatic weapons, anti-personal mines, anti-tank mines, tanks, artillery, you name it. Repeal all those bans, all those “infringements” on the “right to bear arms.”

Let the carnage begin.

Perhaps then, and only then, will we be able to take a fresh look at the 2nd Amendment…we, being the survivors of the cataclysmic Civil War that follows allowing free reign to kill whomever you happen to disagree with at the moment…we will be able to say “never again.”

Or are we wise enough to say, “never again” now and not wait for another mass murder of kindergartners?

THIS, AGAIN, IS OUR OPEN THREAD.

AND THANK YOU, JON STEWART, FOR DEVOTING MOST OF YOUR SHOW ON JANUARY 8, 2013 TO THE TOPIC OF GUN VIOLENCE IN AMERICA.

YOUR TURN

Sunday Roast: January 6, 2013 – Permanent Campaigning

Will permanent campaigning remain to be the future of Politics? I seems so.

Take the upcoming fight about the debt ceiling. President Obama has said his piece and stressed he won’t give in again.

“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed,” he said late Tuesday night. “Let me repeat: We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. If Congress refused to give the U.S. the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic – far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff. People remember, back in 2011, the last time this course of action was threatened, our entire recovery was put at risk. Consumer confidence plunged. Business investment plunged. Growth dropped. We can’t go down that path again.”

But on the other hand Republicans don’t seem eager to take this for granted:

 

On Thursday, the Speaker, John Boehner, humiliatingly sidelined in the fiscal-cliff talks after he lost control of his unruly House membership, was re-elected to his post for the 113th Congress by just six votes, after a dozen arch-conservative Tea Partiers defected. Less than 24 hours later, Mr Boehner promised House Republicans he would use the debt ceiling to force Mr Obama to cut spending.

A recipe for the next disastrous showdown? Or, maybe not? Lately we have seen some active campaigning when it comes to several issues. In the matter of the debt ceiling we may have the most colorful and ingenious one. #mintthecoin that’s a gem. Although I am highly nervous about that one, here’s why.

The fancy of a $1 trillion platinum coin is so tantalising in part because it puts a monetary option in play. The larger attraction, though, is that it does so in a way that honours democracy by sticking to the letter of democratic legislation, yet also flirts with the heady unilateral decisiveness of fascism.

There was and is a very active campaign for the protection of social programs, as soon as the rumors were flying Medicare and and the Social Security COLA were on the table. There is active campaigning going on from both sides pro and contra when it comes to gun control. And there was a rather active but unsuccessful campaign from the very right to unseat Speaker Boehner. 

The powerful had done their lobbying for ages and activism played a very important part in American politics for a long while, so why is this different from what we had before?Politicians and activists understand, that in a media environment where nothing remains unseen or unheard of and twitter and facebook can get a message viral within seconds, political life is a constant campaign and you’re not campaigning only for office anymore, but rather for every bill and measure you are supporting. So, the campaigning goes on, after elections is before elections, no time to go back to some serious policy making.

Who uses the media best will get proclaimed the winner, even if in the process the people they are supposed to work for, loses. Politics has become about winning and losing in a constant campaign. Policies will be determined by Gallup Daily, Rasmussen, tv ratings or Nate Silver. (The latter would be a blessing though, because then we would at least have the unbiased majority decision on policy.)

All that’s missing is a full onslaught of tv ads, or do I only think so because I can’t get US television? If the media don’t pick up their responsibility in this this won’t change any time soon. But will they? Do I have to mention that this is a billion $$$ market, well worth to extend beyond it’s two and four year cycle for the National Elections? So no, I don’t think they will.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD, HAVE A GOOD SUNDAY AND JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

Open letter to President Obama

Article 2, Section 3 of the United States Constitution grants YOU the power to convene both houses of Congress, “on extraordinary occasions”.

I submit to you that the mass murder of kindergarten children constitutes an “extraordinary occasion”. You have said that if we could take even so much as one step to prevent such tragedies in the future, that we should take that step.

Well, one such step is the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.

YOU, President Obama, have the power to convene both houses of Congress and DEMAND they get a bill reinstating the assault weapons ban on your desk before Christmas.

It is but a small step. But a step in the right direction. Could you stand in the room of those slain kindergartners and ask for anything less?

The Watering Hole: Monday, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 23rd, 2012: CRAZY

When I eventually go crazy, I anticipate that I will simply curl up into a ball somewhere and just live inside my brain. I do NOT anticipate, when I finally lose it, loading up on weapons and ammo and makeshift bombs; nor do I anticipate, prompted by madness, gearing myself up so that I cannot be somehow harmed while I massacre defenseless people. I do not understand the kind of crazy that can make a person plan and commit such an inhuman act.

And in the aftermath of such insanity, I also do not understand the kind of crazy that says things like:

“@WBCFredJr – Only 500 miles to WBC Aurora picket. #GodCursesUForFagMarriage #WorseAndMoreOnTheWay #WBCToldU #GodisAmericasTerrorist #ObeyToday Too fun!” – Fred Phelps, Jr.

“If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.. on the other hand, if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place.”Jerry Newcombe, spokesperson for Truth in Action Ministries

“I have to think that all of this, whether it’s the Hollywood movies, whether it’s what we see on the internets, whether it’s liberal bias in the media, whether it’s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together—and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God—all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.” – Fred Jackson, director of the American Family Association

“You simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals who want to do harm. And when you try to do it, you restrict our freedoms.” and “If a responsible individual had been carrying a weapon, maybe, maybe they could have prevented some of those deaths, some of those injuries.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

“Why would a responsible person take a gun to the movies? That person would take a gun BECAUSE they are responsible. If you ask me, more people need to be armed. The criminals already have guns or will get them. Until the playing field gets leveled, we will be taken advantage of by predators.” – commenter at Think Progress

“not that this isnt tragic but if you look at it on a per capita basis this kind of thing almost never happens. why not ban cars? they kill more people than guns. the right to own a gun isnt to protect you from people like this per se but more to keep the govt from being the only ones with guns. its no coincidence that hitler banned guns.” – Ron Paul supporter commenting at Think Progress

“Gun Ban Bloomberg’s former head of NYC police Intelligence, Dan Oates, is chief of police for little Aurora Colorado. Chief Oates has a gun ban wet dream of a shooting in HIS town out of all the towns in the country. The shooting happens just before ratification of a UN gun ban treaty. Go figure.” – commenter (screen name “WhiteNationalist”) at The Daily News (NY)

“Perhaps the answer isn’t gun control. Maybe the answer is to publicly teach the Bible and the importance of right and wrong. Watch Kirk Cameron’s “Monumental” film.” – commenter (screen name “ONENATIONUNDERGOD”) at The Daily News (NY)

Had enough? Yet there is so much more of ‘teh crazy’ out there, that curling-up-in-a-ball thing is looking better and better.

All right, here’s a distraction. This is our cat Greygg who thinks he’s a puppy:

Greygg thinks he’s a puppy

Greygg (with Missy’s tail)

Is that better?

This is our daily open thread — what’s on YOUR mind today?

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers Edition

(San Benedetto del Tronto, Art on the Seaside)

The California wildfires have finally subsided and the newspapers turn back to politics, where they find another red hot issue: Iran.

While many tabloids were busy to mourn the danger to beachfront celebrity homes, the Washington Ultras have not rested their feet. The sanctions on Iran have been stepped up, but there are doubts about their effectivity, given that the sanctions are unilateral and won’t make much of a dent in the Iranian economy. So are the sanctions a diplomatic fig leaf ? Probably, says “The Times”. There are more than enough indicators which are pointing towards military action will be taken before the Bush presidency is over. Will Bush really bomb Iran? No doubt he will, or rather Dick Cheney has decided that Bush will, says Maureen Dowd.

Is Afghanistan going downhill in a hurry? Despite claims that another 80 insurgents have been killed today, the prospects are not good at all. Things are much more complicated than people are led to believe, so who are the insurgents? 

Are we allowed to know and decide on what we eat in the future? On what will be introduced into nature without any idea of the consequences? Certainly not, it’s the corporations’ planet, not ours! It’s big business and the politicians are extremely helpful, as usual! 

Turkey has put the military option back on the table again. While the US military is celebrating it’s success in Anbar province, there is a new battlefield on the horizon. A crisis that was predictable and predicted and is, of course, a direct result of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Back to the California wildfires on a more serious note. The environmental impact of the fires is far from over. There are huge amounts of noxious particles in the air and the consequences of heavy rainfall, if it should come, on the barren landscape remains to be seen.

The battlefields at home: Is a schoolteacher entitled “to pack” in school ? Shirley Katz says yes, and goes to court for her right to carry a weapon in class. 

Trendy clothing comes for a price, a price other people’s children have to pay.

And finally: This is the kind of story fit to glue me to the news channels – Which member of the Royal Family are they talking about ?? – Bets are on, it’s our ‘Arry.

…Europeanview