Tuesday, June 28, 2016

GOP Bigots Lie AGAIN about history, and about banning Muslims

Snopes debunked this claim.

Carter, briefly, denied visas on the basis of nationality, not religion, strictly during the hostage crisis. At the same time, he was allowing in many asylum seekers from Iran, including a number of non-Muslim Iranians, but also those who were Muslim Sunnis, seeking refuge from Shia Muslim persecution.

The ban was NEVER religious based, as is the ban proposed by Donald Trump.

As so often happens, from conservatives, who years after the fact try to revise history to put themselves in a better light (civil rights history is just one example), the right is now trying to link themselves to humanitarian Jimmy Carter, winner of the Nobel Peace prize for his work with the leaders of Israel and Egypt, with the Camp David accords. Those accords have held for more than 30 years, and appear likely to be in effect for some time to come.

Clearly Carter held nothing like the anti-Muslim positions and policies advocated by Donald Trump. It is a mark of their innate sense of shame, and fear of criticism and charges of intolerance and bigotry that make conservatives so desperate they are trying to leverage their reputations using Carter.

No one, not liberal or conservative at the time called Carter a racist, because he so clearly was nothing of the kind.  The same cannot be said of Trump or far too many of his supporters who are ignorant bigots.

Image result for Jimmy Carter banned Muslims, face book

Monday, June 27, 2016

Donald Trump is P.T. Barnum

The snake-oil Donald Trump is selling really is only one note.  Trump brings people into his camp by promising that he’s going the help defend “them”, those who have been looked over or disenfranchised by the movement of the nation away from caring about the middle-class.  He says he’s self-funded and so “not for sale.”  Yet, now of course, he’s taking money from big money donors, so I guess the “not for sale thing” is gone.
In fact over his entire career, Trump is exactly the type of Wall Street elitist who was raised in opulence and has been advocating for the tax changes, trade changes, etc. that made it easy and profitable for the elites to move jobs away.  Even more importantly, his solution to “bring back” jobs it to reduce wages for manufacturing sector workers so that we can be “competitive” with workers in places where the standard of living is both far cheaper and FAR below what the workers in the US, including our parents, worked hard to attain and so enjoyed for decades and expected to pass on to us. 
The bottom line of the economics landscape of the past 35 years has been that the rich cut wages but didn’t cut prices and instead pocketed the difference.  Any class on Macro-Economics will tell you that is a recipe for disaster as consumption power will fall over time while the wealth at the top will create an “asset bubble” (e.g. the real estate bubble).  Those bubbles burst and the economy suffers disastrous periods of volatile and violent upheaval where jobs are lost by the millions and savings destroyed.  Trump has been all-too-happy to take advantage of those changes, he’s employed thousands of meagerly paid workers in China to make his shirts, ties, and the like.  He seeks to hide behind lawsuits to avoid having it disclosed that he pays nearly nothing in taxes and gives LESS to charity in actual cash out of his pocket – in short, he’s been an advocate for the exact changes he now says he opposes and opposed the changes he now says he’d make.  So, do you believe a guy who only has ever acted to enrich himself, including doing things which were allegedly illegal, when he says he stands for you?  Even if you do, do you seriously think chasing wages down the rabbit hole and making our workers live on the same meager salaries that are paid in Indonesia is what you think of when you hear him say he will “Making America” great?  Great for him I guess, but not for you.
 Barnum was famously quoted as saying, "There's a sucker born every minute."  The question is, are you a sucker?  Do you buy the crap coming from this man, a man who has made a career of (over)promising solutions in which EVERYONE is going to win, only to have those promises prove hollow and the only one who won was Trump as he pocked his millions, walking away laughing, shielded by our favorable corporate bankruptcy laws.

There is no question the west needs to figure out how to better manage the transition toward a more global economy, there is no question that simply letting the rich keep prices high while slashing jobs and wages is not working and will not work, but there is also no question that slashing wages further (Trump’s solution) is no solution and that Donald Trump is selling disaster and a worse life for you.  So, are you a sucker, or do you understand the bearded lady is a fraud?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Honor, Integrity and Gun-Enabled Violence

There is much to reflect upon whenever a tragedy happens.  What we should focus on is easing the pain to the extent any easing can be done.  We should try to provide some justice so that the tragedy can be avoided if that is even possible. We should for a way to bridge the divide that caused the hate to develop.
When I look at the reaction of various groups to the Orlando massacre, I see most people wanting to do nearly all of this.  A few, like Donald Trump, seek to use it for political advantage, some others seek to use it to make false claims about “gun free zones.”  A number of others, like the NRA, seek to get ahead of any outcry and so make some false claims, using misleading statistics, about crime and gun violence.
I won’t compound the rancor with more of the same.  I will simply say that the NRA and its supporters in Congress are wrong to ONLY offer up that they’ll modify the law to include people on the “No Fly” list as those who can’t buy firearms.  That misses the mark by a long way.  It’s not just access to firearms, it’s the type.
The high capacity magazine and semi-automatic “assault” rifle are really more to blame than any hole in the “No Fly” list.  The gun-show loophole is equally a part of the problem in allowing for straw purchases for reselling firearms to criminals.  The weapon type and magazine point should be what we are discussing, not the political theater of the “No Fly/No Buy” bill.  That bill is pablum and would never have stopped Omar Mateen.  It would never have stopped the shooter at Sandy Hook, or San Bernadino, or Aurora Colorado, or Virginia Tech or Gabby Gifford's shooter. 
That said, it’s not a bad thing to do, but it’s far short of enough, enough to offer the victims justice, their families solace, and the nation some meaningful improvement in safety.
Instead it’s time to admit assault weapons and high capacity magazines are not needed by civilians for home defense.  It’s past time to close the gun-show loophole nationally.  It’s time to require the national database to be universally implemented and enough time for it to be accessed prior to the completion of a sale.

These aren’t even hard measures.   

They will curtail gun sales; so the gun lobby and their mouthpiece, the NRA, will hate it.  But, in response to a tragedy, we have the obligation to the dead and their loved-ones to stop pointing fingers and do that which we’ve known for a long time needed doing. 

We have an obligation to the living, to keep them safe from further mass shootings. 

We have an obligation to our first responders to minimize the number of both mass shootings and the frequency of smaller 'every-day' shootings that put their life and limbs in harm's way.  Other countries do not have the frequency of violent death that is experienced by our law enforcement and first responders, who should be the ultimate 'good guys' of our society, deserving of our protection through regulation. Instead we put them in an on the street weapons race of firepower.

This isn’t knee-jerk legislation, it’s finally pushing aside political resistance we should never have let stop us in the first place.   Honor requires it, decency pleads for it, and the memory of the dead demands it.  Our choice is intelligent pragmatism that addresses facts and uses logic, or foolish ideology that ignores and denies a violent reality.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gun Free Zones and Conservative Sock Puppets

Pro-gunners, particularly of the rabidly conservative variety are irrational on the topic of firearms, particularly those used in mass shootings.  They would prefer to blame victims for being shot, or the absence of firearms, for shootings that clearly would not happen in the first place if access to those firearms were more strictly regulated.  They are one trick ponies for whom the only answer is more guns more guns more guns.

Gun free zones are defined by law.  Gun free zones are enforced by law enforcement or other appropriately legal authority, the kind who are armed.  Gun free zones generally tend to involve active measures to restrict firearms - like metal detectors and/or pat-downs, and actively asking people if they are carrying a firearm (or weapon of any kind). 

Simply posting that a retail establishment does not allow or welcome civilians with firearms (as distinct from law enforcement) without measures enforcing the request does not make the area a gun free zone.  It has no teeth; rather it relies on the good will of people entering to cooperate with the request.

Where a venue, like the venue in question where Christina Grimmie performed, simply has unarmed security looking in people's bags for contraband, which COULD potentially include firearms doesn't count.  For starters, most people carrying firearms use holsters, not backpacks or purses. Security was also checking for other contraband, like drugs and alcohol.  So far as I could determine, no attendees of the venue where Grimmie performed were ever asked if they were carrying, nor did anyone perform more than the most cursory glance into purses and bags -- because no one was enforcing a gun free zone.  Contrast this theater with, for example, the TSA at an airport, or most courthouses where people go through metal detectors under the supervision of armed deputies.

Right wing media, which likes to make up details that have no connection to actual events, claimed that Grimmie insisted on no firearms as a condition of her contract to perform.  That appears to be rubbish, since she was the opening act for the main performers, and does not appear to have the clout to demand special treatment in her contract.  Rather this appears to be a pro-gunner fiction where they seek to blame the victim for being shot.  Their fantasy is that had there only been lots and lots of amateur civilians around with little or no training but lots of firepower, the shooting would never have happened.

That of course does not fit the actual events; had someone been standing right next to the shooter with a loaded gun in their hand, and the safety off, they could not have prevented the shooting.

They consistently omit that the shooter, after firing, was tackled by the victims UNARMED brother, and shot himself (apparently so far, deemed accidentally).  No need for any NRA-style 'good guy with a gun'.

Those pro-gunners will look anywhere, do anything, no matter how torturous, to avoid looking at how it is that people who commit gun violence have such EASY access to firearms.  Without the guns, there would be no shooting, no death.  A similar attack occurred in Japan for example, where there was strict gun regulation; the attacker used a knife instead, and the victim survived, unlike Grimmie.

One of the most recent erroneously styled gun-free zone shootings involved Christina Grimmie, also in Orlando, Florida.  An allegedly deranged fan shot the singer as she was signing autographs in the lobby area of the theater where she had been performing.

We get the usual drivel that if there is gun regulation only criminals will have guns; rather we have overwhelming evidence that where there is strict, effectively executed gun control, criminals have FEWER firearms and there is less gun-related crime.  Law enforcement is safer, communities are safer; it is not a fact that is in question. Those states in the US which have the most rigorous state-wide gun control have the least gun crime, while those with the most pro-gun lax gun regulation have the worst problems with firearm violence.

For those conservative sock puppets that blog promoting pro-gunner propaganda, many are avoiding the topic of the Orlando massacre, but I have seen instead where they are pushing the standard party lie that gun free zones are somehow responsible for gun murders, for example the shooting of a minor celebrity in Florida who appeared on the TV reality show, the Voice.

What IS a gun free zone?  There is no consistent definition, rather there are patchwork of laws where each location is different.  The existing federal level law is the 1990's Gun-Free School Zones Act.  Look - it was bi-partisan!
The Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) is a federal United States law that prohibits any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(25).
It was introduced in the U.S. Senate in October 1990 by Joseph R. Biden and signed into law in November 1990 by George H. W. Bush.
So.......that covers schools, but not other locations, like shopping malls or courthouses.

There was another Gun-Free School Zone act, but that was about zero-tolerance for students bringing guns to school.  While some students DO engage in mass shootings - notably for example, Columbine, one of the best known.  But the biggest gripe for the pro-gunners are other places that prohibit and penalize gun possession.
The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 (GFSA) was part of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA). The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 also amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
In 1994, Congress introduced the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, which encouraged each state receiving federal funds for education to follow suit and introduce their own laws, now known as zero tolerance laws. President Bill Clinton signed the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 into law on March 31, 1994. The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 requires each state receiving federal funds to have a state law in effect requiring local educational agencies to expel, for at least one year, any student who is determined to have brought a weapon to school. The one-year expulsion is mandatory, except when a chief administering officer of such local education agency may modify it on a case-by-case basis. In addition, schools are directed to develop policies requiring referral to the criminal justice or juvenile delinquency system for any student who brings a firearm or weapon to school.
Here is the thing; private property can choose for whatever reason to ban firearms on their premises.  Often this is a choice based on increased insurance liability, because -- using Walmarts as an example - there are plenty of people carrying firearms, legal or otherwise, who are careless and outright dangerous, including going on shooting rampages.  Some retail establishments that offer food and alcoholic beverages prefer not to have firearms carried on their premises because alcohol in quantity doesn't mix well with firearms.  The annual Darwin Awards, year in and year out, are an excellent example of the epic and even fatal stupidity of firearms used where "alcohol was involved'.

There is no evidence that more guns reduce crime or make us safer.  They don't. Better, effective, restrictive gun regulation DOES make people safer and reduce gun crime.  It's time for the pro-gunners to quit doing their one trick pony act, and to pull the NRA and other gun crazies out of their behinds, and to start THINKING rationally, not just mouthing whatever propaganda is the current party line.