Category: USA: Gun Violence

Another damn shooting

Is there something in the water in Aurora?
Four dead, including the gunman.

I have generally avoided the brouhaha over gun control as being an issue of two sides preaching to their respective choirs. The discussions seem revolve around the choice of: on the one hand – militarize kindergardens; on the other hand – nothing more dangerous than a marshmallow.
If we could simply exclude the two extremes, we might have a fruitful discussion, but I don’t see that happening. In theory, this is a perfect instance of where political leadership should manifest itself, and it is a sharp indictment of our politicians that no such leadership is apparent.
It does not bode well for a sensible resolution to the problem.

Cracker Stupidity

Did someone tell House Republicans that “haggle” was an instransitive verb and they misunderstood?

I honestly thought we’d have a deal by now. Both sides realize that going over the “fiscal cliff” is dumb after all. Weren’t we told that’s why the cliff had been set up, so that both sides would be sure to want to negotiate a better deal rather than go over it? I thought Republican obstructivism was simply a bit of political theater, because surely even they could see that if sticking by your “no tax rises in a deal” rhetoric meant more and bigger tax rises across the board then actually blocking a deal was going to mean you’d get the blame for raising taxes by a simple process of being too stupid. I underestimated the power of cracker stupidity. I think everyone did, even John Boehner.

I shouldn’t have. I live in West Texas after all. A place where a gun shop owner can start a petition to have teachers concealed carry handguns in schools and no-one notes the conflict of interest. A place where the National Socialist Party -Nazis – can distribute propaganda door-to-door and people innundate a local news station’s Facebook page to defend those Nazis and their First Amendment rights without ever stopping to mention that Nazis don’t have a great track record at defending other peoples’ rights at all.


Conversations From The Common Ma’am

David Gregory is now a possible felon for showing an empty magazine, not attached to any gun, on TV. NBC checked, got conflicting answers, prior to the show. The conflict is pretty standard when dealing with multiple government employees. He was showing what they look like, which is information for those who’ve never seen one. Now, police are screaming, right along with anti-gun groups about what a horrible crime he committed. In plain English…####. Consider – a mother who’s never handled a gun finds such a thing in her son’s room. Now, she know what that strange item is…now she can do something that may prevent another idiot from killing.

On a smaller scale, I had a problem with DMV over a registration issue. Spoke to 11 DMV employees, got 11 different answers. Had to go closer to the top to get a stupid issue resolved because those working with the public use their own translations to explain the law. In one case, I suspected the employee got bonuses for collection of fines as there was a sense of glee as she said – “Pay $500.” There is an obvious lack of training and a more severe lack of communication. It seems equally spread among all civil service employees in all state and federal offices.

This is the result of hysteria after the CT shootings, with the anti-gun lobby using those deaths for their agenda. Fear and panic are not foundations for good laws. Look at DHS and TSA if you question my statement.

Michael Hayden, CIA Director, 2006-2009, comments on “Zero Dark Thirty” and Benghazi.

“When I was at CIA I asked my civilian advisory board to tackle some tough questions. Among the toughest: In a political culture that every day demands more transparency and more public accountability from every aspect of national life, could American intelligence continue to survive and succeed?”

It’s worth a bit of time to read his editorial. The above comment is something I’ve often thought, recalling Nicholson’s line from “A Few Good Men:” “You can’t handle the truth” and it returns often when I hear politicos or special interest groups calling for transparency. In some issues, No, we can’t handle the truth; in some cases, reporting too soon or too much undermines US security. Wait until the mission is over, or all the facts are in, rather than using partial information to try to hang your opponent. McCain should know better, but he was one of the loudest; he (and others) blatantly used a horrible event for political purposes.

On Zero Dark Thirty -“It’s only a movie.” Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy were investigated for their writing because some of the information was supposedly top secret only. It turns out they used information readily available if one does their homework and investigations went no where. Great imaginations can come pretty close to reality.

On Benghazi:

“An intelligence analyst may attribute an attack to al Qaeda, whereas a policy maker could opt for the more general “extremist.” It’s still not clear what happened in this case (or why) and both speakers could technically be correct, but it is never a good thing for the analyst to be drawn into a debate to explain or justify the word choices of the politician. Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper’s office seemed forced to do just that in late September.

Surely what happened before and after those fateful hours in Benghazi is of national importance and our political processes need to adjudicate these questions. But at their heart these are now more political and policy debates than intelligence issues.”

Putin signs anti-US adoption bill

So this is how powerful leaders play pay-back? He’s pissed at Obama over a human rights bill that effects some Russians so he uses babies? Wow – are we back in middle school? Now, those children are denied homes and sentenced to a childhood in pretty scary orphanages. Russians aren’t big on adopting their own, apparently – rather like Americans.

I’m always puzzled by Americans going overseas to adopt, as there are so many babies and children here in the US desperately needing forever homes. (Too many see adoption of a child on the same level as adopting a pet – if it doesn’t live up to expectations, give it back.) Is this because only blonde, blue eyed babies are acceptable? Do they need a more dramatic story when they brag of their good deed?

Remember that long abortion fight in the US? The one where it’s God’s will that all babies must be born? Who’s going to raise them? Obviously, not a large portion of childless American couples. Hypocrisy on all levels on this one, and childishness from a world leader. Maybe this will be a good move for our own needy kids dreaming of parents and a home.

Looking beyond movie violence

by Tom Emanuel

(Originally posted by Waging Nonviolence, republished under a Creative Commons license)

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, there is little doubt that the gun violence debate in the United States has radically changed, with proponents of gun control and mental health care gaining greater acceptance. Even those calling for an end to violence in the media have found a more receptive audience.

Several films scheduled for release since the Newtown shootings, such as revenge auteur Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, have been delayed. And following reports that Newtown killer Adam Lanza may have played violent video games, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced legislation to study the impact of video game violence on children.

The problem is, when it comes to media violence, questions of causality are difficult to establish. Is society violent because we glorify violence in our films and video games? Or do films and video games simply reflect the violence that’s already present in society? The real answer is probably both. Research on the subject is inconclusive, though as Django star Jamie Foxx said in a recent interview, “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence.”

Americans have already had this conversation once this year, following the grisly theater shooting at the opening of The Dark Night Rises in Aurora, Colo. But movie studios seem to have recused themselves from the discussion. Rather than produce films with a critical view toward violence, their only effort to acknowledge the controversy has been to simply postpone the ones that glorify violence to a more socially acceptable hour.

It was at another opening night, however, that I began to think seriously about this issue: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in director Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Perhaps it’s not the kind of film you’d expect to prompt a critical examination of violence in the media. But this film was released the same day as the Newtown massacre. Also, as a lifelong Tolkien fanatic — my father first read The Hobbit to me when I was too young to remember — I was struck by the heightened level of violence in the film as opposed to the book.

Granted, the violence portrayed in The Hobbit is of the swords-and-sorcery variety, with comparatively little blood and gore. Nevertheless, Jackson did add several action-packed battle sequences that were not present in the book and expanded those that were in the original into set-pieces of central cinematic importance. [Spoilers after the jump – mb]
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The Story of the Year

Throughout the year, I’ve posted my thoughts on the swinging pedulum of politics, and how I believe the swing to the far right has ended and a swing back towards the middle well underway.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board is dismissing right-wing calls for David Gregory’s indictment as “entirely nonsensical,” reflecting the widely-held belief that the investigation involving the “Meet The Press” is not a legitimate use of law enforcement’s time.

On last Sunday’s program, Gregory displayed what appeared to be a gun magazine while interviewing National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre. Police officials here in Washington, who have launched a probe into the incident, have since confirmed that doing so was a violation of the law, and that NBC News knew as much prior to the show. Gun rights advocates are, for lack of a better term, up in arms.

The Wall Street Journal, defending David Gregory. The mind wobbles.

This year, 2012, has been a watershed year in the rise of liberal politics. It’s seen the re-election, on his own merits, of Barack Obama by a coalition of “minorities” (soon to be a majority), youth and women votes. The reasons are many, but they boil down to one: he’s trustworthy.

The attempt by Republicans and the right-wing to tear up politics by making the very word so untrustworthy by the average American that they stay away from the polls in droves backfired badly in 2012. The big money infusions of superPACs, big corporations and rich donors like the Koch brothers failed miserably.

Indeed, it failed so badly that the 2010 election must be considered an outlier, albeit a repeatable one in 2014. State houses, gerrymandering, and local governments have been so co-opted by the grifting and bribery of big money that it will be next to impossible to move the House to the middle anytime soon, I’m afraid.

Unless the news cycle overtakes it. And here, too, things bode well for liberals.

From the mildest winter on record early this year to the scorching heat of summer, from the selection of Mitt Romney — nominally a conservative but someone who’s credentials as a rightwinger were highly suspect — to the election of Barack Obama to a second term, from the uptick in the economy and the lowering of the unemployment rate (not fast enough, but then no Republican has dared propose a jobs program in Congress), even to the tragic slaughter of Americans — 151 in 2012 alone, and sadly, counting — in mass shootings, liberal thought and liberal policies have stood the test of time while reactionary conservativism, that black-or-white bastion of immaturity, has lingered and languished and coughed it’s death rattle like Torquemada in the monastery at Avila.
Things will only get worse for conervatives, too. The voting bloc that was primarily responsible for Barack Obama’s election — youth, minorities, women — are all growing, and gaining economic power while the voting bloc that was most dependable for conservatives in 2012 — older white men — is dying at an accelerating pace and lost the most in the economic meltdown of 2008 (e.g. wealth in home values).
Their voices fade. Ours grow stronger.
It’s a good time to be a liberal.

How The Black Panthers Taught the NRA to Love Radical Gun Rights (AUDIO)

Via On the Media:

We’ve become accustomed in the past 20 years to seeing the issue of guns in America broken down into two camps: gun control advocates — led by police chiefs and Sarah Brady — and the all-powerful National Rifle Association. Bob talks to Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms In America, who says there was a time, relatively recently, in fact, when the NRA Supported gun control legislation, and the staunchest defenders of so-called “gun rights” were on the radical left.


“Only Outlaws Will Have Guns”

WEBSTER – An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and “do what I like doing best, killing people,” police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman’s missing sister, was found.

William Spengler, 62, who served 17 years in prison for manslaughter in the 1980 hammer slaying of his grandmother, set his house afire before dawn Christmas Eve before taking a revolver, a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle to a sniper position outside, Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.

Now, here’s the thing: Spengler should have been clearly ineligible to have weapons of any kind…after all, we live in a country where if you’re an ex-con, you can be purged from voting rolls, even if your debt to society is completely paid.
It seems likely that Spengler, who spent 17 years in prison for bldugeoning his 92 year old grandmother to dead with a hammer, owned these weapons legally. He was off parole in 2006, presumably his “debt” being paid.
This is the world Wayne La Pierre and the fascists who are NRA members want you to live in. You have trouble voting. Felons can carry guns. It looks to me as if the only people who amass these kinds of weapons ARE outlaws, and the mere fact that you own any assault or semi-automatic weaponry ought to make you suspect in any kind of polite society.
Really, who needs a Bushmaster to hunt deer? I know those antlers can be pretty intimidating, but think of it as a giant hat rack and you should be fine shooting with your little Remington rifle. You are in no danger, and it’s not like the fight is a fair one anyway.
La Pierre spoke last week of having a registry of the mentally unstable. For my part, he has a seed of that registry if he just lists his membership roles. Any sane person would have quit after his egregious press “conference” and subsequent appearance on Meet The Press Sunday.
But isn’t it interesting that he’d rather have a government-compiled list of people’s private medical information than a government-compiled list of weapons that will kill someone.