Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chick-fil-A gets a Chick-fil-F

HuffPo reports that Chick-fil-A is facing a much greater push back for their intolerance and opposition to marriage equality than perhaps they had anticipated.

If a business opts to engage in political speech / political positions, while I think that is unwise and outside the realm of their purpose, they are free to do so.  As consumers, you and I are free to give that decision, that position a thumbs up or a thumbs down, by choosing to do business with them - or not.
Our business decisions, who and how and where we engage as consumers is also our free choice.
I strongly DISAGREE that corporations, or smaller businesses, are 'people' however.
But no entity, no municipality, should be allowed to in turn engage in discrimination against a business owners or operators from having their opinions and beliefs - even wrong ones, as the Chick-fil-A position is, SO LONG as they do not discriminate in practice.   If Chick-fil-A is refusing to allow gay people into their place of business, that is discrimination.  But if they simply hold a private belief which they express -- let them, encourage them, more power to them for being part of a discussion. 

We NEED multiple sides, not just one side, to have a discussion on issues.

Let's change the variable in play here.  What if the owner/CEO of Chick-fil-A made anti-Semitic statements that argued Jewish people should not have some form of equality, or that blacks or Asians should not have full equality?  Would a city have the right to bar those businesses from opening and operating within their borders?  Would that position so intensely expressed by a business be detrimental to a community?    Chick-fil-A is not simply pro-traditional religious marriage, they have been a large donor to anti-gay organizations where there IS a larger issue of discrimination activity involved.

The issue is raised in the excellent video below that mayors and alderman have freedom of speech as well, both on behalf of their unit of government and for themselves.  I have no problem with that speech either -- but it needs to stop short of preventing full and equal legal activity, including opening a business.  A municipality has an obligation to ensure that ALL of their citizens have freedom from discrimination, which includes being targeted for unfair treatment.  I would add into that category not permitting the baker to operate who recentl refused a gay couple their wedding cake for example -- THAT is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, something we are all born with rather than tend to acquire - like race, or gender.  That couple was marrying in Massachusetts, where same sex marriage is legal, so how is this different from interfering with THEIR religious and civil lives through discrimination?  How is this different from discrimination against someone for being Catholic or Jewish, black or Hispanic, or disabled?  Would we tolerate a protestant baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a Roman Catholic because the baker's sect believed the pope was the anti-christ, and therefore Roman Catholic weddings were an evil sacrament?  Of course not.

So far as I can determine, Chick-fil-A does not discriminate against serving anyone or hiring anyone.  So long as that is true, let them rise or fall with the public.  The following article makes it clear that Chick-fil-A is losing more than they are gaining, that their position is in fact harming their own business more than government is.  That is how it should be, success or failure on THEIR own merits, including their political position choices -- not having government discriminate in these ways.
HOWEVER, if for example, a municipality requires a certain category of business to open or not be open on certain days -- liquor stores in some states on Sunday, or that restaurants need to be open 7 days a week (Chick-fil-A closes so employees can go to church) because of issues of land use, revenue, necessary service to consumers,  then I think Chick-fil-A might need to rethink their business plans. 
People have religions.  Businesses do not, nor should we go too far in indulging that whole 'business are people too' concept.  They don't live or die as physical beings, and they don't vote.  They serve their communities, in a reciprocal relationship where those communities in turn provide them services and customers.  It is a mistake to give any one side of that three sided relationship too great a disproportionate power; if there has to be an err on one side of that balancing act, it should be in favor of the residents of the area, not government OR businesses.  Because they are the actual human beings involved.
from the Huff Po text:

Chickfilatop Qsr
Chick-fil-A's anti-gay marriage stance has gotten some high-profile support by way of Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and other conservative lawmakers. But among their longtime customers, it's a much different story.
Polling organization YouGov found that the Atlanta-based chain's brand approval ratings have plummeted in the wake of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's controversial remarks earlier this month. YouGov also reports that the company's overall consumer brand health among fast food eaters has dropped to its lowest levels since mid-August 2010 in the wake of the media firestorm.
Just before Cathy's interview was published, Chick-fil-A's Index score was 65, well above the Top National Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Sector average score of 46. Just four days later, however, Chick-fil-A's score had fallen to 47, while last week, the chain had a score of 39, compared to the Top National QSR Sector average score of 43.
View the YouGov chart below, then scroll down to keep reading:
qsr rating

Among the other brands ranked in the Top National QSR sector are Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King and McDonald's, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) noted.
Among those not surprised by the plunge was Aaron McQuade, Director of News and Field Media at GLAAD, who called the results "reflective of an America that values and respects its LGBT neighbors and rejects rhetoric like Dan Cathy's that seeks to demean and dehumanize the LGBT community."
"The business world has seen what happens when an organization supports the LGBT community -- which is that the LGBT community and its allies will support it," McQuade noted in a statement. "Now we have empirical proof of what happens when a company rejects the LGBT community. The LGBT community and its allies will reject it."
Although Chick-fil-A's financial contributions to anti-gay organizations like Exodus International and the Family Research Council have been well documented over the years, Cathy's somewhat glib confirmation of the reports ("Well, guilty as charged") in a July 16 Baptist Press interview has since sent both the media and a number of LGBT advocacy groups into overdrive.
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit," Cathy said in that interview. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that...we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."
Since then, at least seven petitions have been launched on Change.org, a social activism site, demanding that universities across the country remove existing Chick-fil-A restaurants or prevent new ones from opening.
Mayors in Boston and San Francisco have also weighed in, telling the restaurant chain that they're not welcome in their cities, and the Jim Henson company, which had provided toys for Chick-fil-A kids' meals, announced that it would end its relationship with the company.

Gun Advocates Use Unreliable Data to Prove Need for Weapons

CONSERVATIVE journalist and Former Speechwriter for President Bush, David Frum, says the number of times guns are used defensively has been vastly exaggerated.  He goes on to say that "The trouble is that this claim of 2.5 million defensive gun uses is manifestly flawed and misleading."

For gun advocates, however, the main problem with the government estimate is that it is not nearly high enough to support their case that private gun ownership is the best way to stop crime. Many of them prefer another statistic, this from a study published in 1995 arguing that Americans use guns in self-defense some 2.5 million times a year, or once every 13 seconds. A Google search finds more than 1 million citations of this study posted online.
Better yet:

But most of the time, gun owners are frightening themselves irrationally. They have conjured in their own imaginations a much more terrifying environment than genuinely exists -- and they are living a fantasy about the security their guns will bestow. And to the extent that they are right -- to the extent that the American environment is indeed more dangerous than the Australian or Canadian or German or French environment -- the dangers gun owners face are traceable to the prevalence of the very guns from which they so tragically mistakenly expect to gain safety.
Read more here

Monday, July 30, 2012

Update on that OTHER Mass Shooting,
the Same Week
As the Aurora, Colorado Mass Shooting

This one got shoved to the back, fell under the radar, however you wish to describe receiving no attention in view of the larger, splashier media event in CO.
Here's a news flash; guns don't kill people; stupid, sick people USING guns kill people, more than any other deliberate method of harming, threatening, or killing people.  More guns consistently equate to more gun violence, not less, and fewer guns equate to less incidence of gun violence.  People like this guy, and our gun culture generally are why that is true.
That guy was trying to commit suicide by cop, hoping to provoke law enforcement into killing him.
Except that he chickened out, and left, leaving one person in critical condition, two others in serious condition -- neither of whom wanted to be shot apparently.  But heck, if you've got yourself a gun, what does it matter what OTHER people want, right?  Because THAT makes sense doesn't it?  I mean, how important is it that people who have guns have their heads screwed on straight or are capable of cogent thought?
Is being capable of cogent thought and rational thinking as important as a Constitutional Right for dangerous people?  You shouldn't have to THINK to have a gun, should you?
Right?  Just nod y'all.

So.........why did the shooter do it (allegedly)?  I'm sure it seemed like a good idea, at the time.  I'm sure that could be said for all of our recent mass shootings, copycat shootings, and just plain regular run of the mill shootings, murder / suicides, kidnappings, law enforcement encounters, etc.

He teared up after being taken into custody; do you think there are hundreds of people on facebook in support of him too, arguing HE should be given a second chance, you know........just because?

From AL.com

Tuscaloosa bar shooting suspect to Jasper police: 'I wanted the Tuscaloosa Police Department to kill me'
JASPER, Alabama -- A suspect in the mass shooting at a Tuscaloosa bar early today told authorities shortly after his capture that he wanted to die.
"The only thing he said was that he wanted to die and was hoping the Tuscaloosa Police Department had killed him last night," said Jasper Police Capt. Larry Cantrell. "He said, 'I wanted the Tuscaloosa police to kill me, but I got scared and left before they got there."
Copper Top bar in downtown Tuscaloosa, where 17 people were shot
Enlarge A pedestrian checks out the scene of the shooting at the Copper Top bar in downtown Tuscaloosa, where 17 people were shot around 1 a.m.. The arrest of a suspect who shot 17 people early Tuesday morning at the Copper Top bar in Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa County sheriff Ted Sexton, Tuscaloosa Police chief Steve Anderson and Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox answered few questions and announced the arrest of the shooter. Photos of the locations where shooting took place. (The Birmingham News/Joe Songer).Shooting suspect Nathan Van Wilkins in custody
Authorities said 44-year-old Nathan Van Wilkins drove a white Ford F-150 pickup truck from Tuscaloosa to Jasper, where his sister lives. The truck is parked in the lot at the city's Wal-Mart and is being kept there under police guard while investigators obtain a search warrant, Cantrell said.
Cantrell said police received a tip from a family member that Wilkins was in Jasper. Moments later, they received a call from a FedEx worker saying the wanted man was in the store and had confessed to the shooting that wounded 17 people in the Copper Top bar.
"Within 15 minutes, the parking lot was filled up with U.S. Marshals," Cantrell said. "They had tracked him here also, and were in Oakman when they got the call we had him."
When Jasper police went into FedEx, "He threw his hands straight up in the air and said, 'I am the guy you're looking for. I shot those people."
Cantrell said Wilkins teared up as he was escorted into the Jasper City Jail. "He wasn't sobbing or anything, but he did tear up."
Wilkins was charged with 17 counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting into an occupied building in the Copper Top shooting. He was also charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of shooting into an occupied dwelling in a late Monday night shooting in Northport.

From MSNBC.com and Alabama Ch. 13:
UPDATE: Police say 17 injured in shooting at a bar in Tuscaloosa

We all know more guns make us more free, and more guns make us more safe.



Continuing from Ch 13

UPDATE 10:30 a.m. - Play by Play of Tuscaloosa mass shooting press conference:

Per Tuscaloosa Police Department Chief Steven Anderson:

Victims are talking, but it’s unclear how many shots were fired. Officials are unclear about how were many hit by projectiles and other hits by shrapnel.

According to Chief Anderson, one individual is in very critical condition, 3 in serious condition.

Chief Anderson said the shooter stood there for a few minutes before shooting.

The shooter used a military style assault weapon. When the individual fired shots that person moved individual moved from section to section – shooting from the outside.

They canvassed the area and sent out a helicopter to see if anyone was wounded.

Investigators are collecting shell casings and submitting them.

At Northport around 11:47pm last night there was a separate shooting at a residence – at least two inside—one wounded. 

read more on the original report here.

And here is what happened next.

A Little Southr'n Racism, Alive and Well in Mississippi

We have a Gallup Poll that says Americans mostly don't know Obama's religion.
from Political Wire:

Most Don't Know Obama's Religion

A new Gallup poll finds that just 34% of Americans know that President Obama is Christian, while 11% say he's Muslim and 44% don't know.
Meanwhile, Americans are more likely to know Mitt Romney's religion, with most Americans correctly saying Romney is a Mormon and a smaller 33% saying they don't know.

We have Warren Jeffress and others claiming that being a Mormon means you belong to a cult.  And it is not just Jeffress but a cross section of Christians who claim Mormonism is NOT Christian.

We have a significant percentage of southern conservatives who believe that mixed marriages between people of different races, the technical term is miscegenation, should be illegal - and of course, President Obama is bi-racial.  Conservative surrogates are calling him Un-american, an old tired tirade that Michele Bachmann wore out, gaining her long term contempt from everyone except hard core right wing extremists.
So it should be no surprise that the typically conservative southern Baptists needed to flex a little racism, to..... you know, keep those uppity black Americans in their subordinate, submissive place. It should be noted, there was no objection to this couple for any other reason, any belief, any behavior, conduct or action that offened on their part.  It was purely because of their race and ethnicity.
And the right wonders why the rest of us think many conservatives  (not all) are racist? THIS is just one example of why.  Nationally, we are better than we were, but we are not there yet -- and most of that problem is from conservatives.
White Church Blocks Black Wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson
By Michael Allen, Fri, July 27, 2012
In Crystal Springs, Mississippi, Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson, who are black, told WLBT-TV that the day before their wedding, Dr. Stan Weatherford, of the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, said their ceremony would have to be moved because some white church members were offended (video below).
Charles Wilson said: “The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if [the pastor] went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church.”
Te’Andrea Wilson added: “He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple. I didn’t like it at all, because I wasn’t brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody.”
Dr. Weatherford gave into his racist church members and performed the marriage at another church: “This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that."
"I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’ Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.”

I wonder how many of these Obama-is-a-Muslim, anti-miscegenation, no black people marrying in our church, evolution disbelieving old white people also believe that homosexuals are child molesters? Demonize one group, it is easy to demonize everyone with whom you disagree from the right. You just start by totally ignoring anything factual, claim moral high ground, and hate hate hate.  You can't do it without that fundamental, fundamentalist conservative ignorance.

Warren Jeffress - Lying to try to demonize

Making false claims about groups has been used across history to try to gin up hatred, fear, and eventually harmful action against targeted groups.  We've see it used against Jews, against blacks, and now increasingly we are seeing it used as a tactic against gays and Muslims.  NONE of the claims are truthful; they are only hateful and ignorant and bigoted.
Per Rightwingwatch, now we have Warren Jeffress doing the same thing.

His Pathway to Victory radio ministry also replayed one of his an anti-gay sermons on Friday, where he warned that homosexuals, since they are “perverse,” could begin to molest children since “if a person will sink that low” then “there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”
Jeffress: Amazingly, some gay activists don’t even try to hide the link between homosexuality and pedophilia. There are some who are right now are actively involved in trying to legalize sex between adults and children by lowering the age of consent or removing it altogether. In all fairness, it would be wrong to suggest that all homosexuals to pedophiles, it would be wrong to even suggest that a majority of homosexuals are pedophiles, but the truth nevertheless is there. There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that, and the reason is very clear: homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.
There are no homosexuals trying to lower the age of consent, or to eliminate it. It is NOT factually accurate that there are more homosexual pedophiles than heterosexual pedophiles.  Jeffress just makes that shit up.  It is simply not true.  There are NO credible studies, reports, data or statistics that support that claim.  It is a boldfaced, blatant LIE.

What is the result? Right wing crimes of violence based on the ignorance and hatred, including the lies from people like Jeffress.  Back in 2009, there were an average of 14 hate crimes a day against LGBT individuals; in 2011 the number of murders of gays for gender and sexual orientation bias reached an all time high.  Real, active harm, including violent crime is the result of false statements like Jeffress's.  Those violent crimes come from the fearful, homophobic right, including because of claims like this from the religious right,.
From U.C. Davis website, Facts about Homosexuality and Child Molestation:
Members of disliked minority groups are often stereotyped as representing a danger to the majority's most vulnerable members. For example, Jews in the Middle Ages were accused of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices. Black men in the United States were often lynched after being falsely accused of raping White women.
In a similar fashion, gay people have often been portrayed as a threat to children. Back in 1977, when Anita Bryant campaigned successfully to repeal a Dade County (FL) ordinance prohibiting anti-gay discrimination, she named her organization "Save Our Children," and warned that "a particularly deviant-minded [gay] teacher could sexually molest children" (Bryant, 1977, p. 114). [Bibliographic references are on a different web page]
In recent years, antigay activists have routinely asserted that gay people are child molesters. This argument was often made in debates about the Boy Scouts of America's policy to exclude gay scouts and scoutmasters. More recently, in the wake of Rep. Mark Foley's resignation from the US House of Representatives in 2006, antigay activists and their supporters seized on the scandal to revive this canard.
It has also been raised in connection with scandals about the Catholic church's attempts to cover up the abuse of young males by priests. Indeed, the Vatican's early response to the 2002 revelations of widespread Church cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests was to declare that gay men should not be ordained.
If you listen to Warren Jeffress about homosexuality and pedophilia, you might as well make the false connection that being male or Christian is a causation of pedophilia as well - which is offensive, ludicrous and bigoted. It would be as inaccurate as claiming that sports like football cause or correlate to pedophilia after the Sandusky convictions, and the many other reports of sport-related child predators that made the news. Jeffress statements reflect his hatred, but it is no more factual than claiming the earth is flat; both are statements that rely on false observations and wrong conclusions.

We need MORE people who are knowledgable about factual information regarding human and animal natural sexuality, not right wing fanatics who promote ignorance.  We need a better, accurately informed understanding of all forms of sexual predatory behavior, not misinformation
The overwhelming majority of pedophiles are heterosexual, and male.  That doesn't mean that either being male or heterosexual has a causal relationship to pedophilia.

The tragedy of hateful ignorance like Jeffress is that it misdirects practical efforts to counteract pedophilia, while at the same time falsely accusing people born with same sex attractions of terrible sexual acts without any foundation for their accusations.  It promotes suspicion, hatred, fear.......and doesn't help children, doesn't raise awareness of REAL sexual predators at all.

Here is more factual information about pedophilia:
Pedophilia is ... a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification. It may be directed toward children of the same sex or children of the other sex. Some pedophiles are attracted to both boys and girls. Some are attracted only to children, while others are attracted to adults as well as to children.
The sexual behaviors involved in pedophilia cover a range of activities and may or may not involve the use of force. Some pedophiles limit their behaviors to exposing themselves or masturbating in front of the child, or fondling or undressing the child, but without genital contact. Others, however, compel the child to participate in oral sex or full genital intercourse.
The most common overt aspect of pedophilia is an intense interest in children. There is no typical pedophile. Pedophiles may be young or old, male or female, although the great majority are males. Unfortunately, some pedophiles are professionals who are entrusted with educating or maintaining the health and well-being of young persons, while others are entrusted with children to whom they are related by blood or marriage.      


A variety of different theories exist as to the causes of pedophilia. A few researchers attribute pedophilia along with the other paraphilias to biology. They hold that testosterone, one of the male sex hormones, predisposes men to develop deviant sexual behaviors. As far as genetic factors are concerned, as of 2002 no researchers have claimed to have discovered or mapped a gene for pedophilia.
Most experts regard pedophilia as resulting from psychosocial factors rather than biological characteristics. Some think that pedophilia is the result of having been sexually abused as a child. Still others think that it derives from the person's interactions with parents during their early years of life. Some researchers attribute pedophilia to arrested emotional development; that is, the pedophile is attracted to children because he or she has never matured psychologically. Some regard pedophilia as the result of a distorted need to dominate a sexual partner. Since children are smaller and usually weaker than adults, they may be regarded as nonthreatening potential partners. This drive for domination is sometimes thought to explain why most pedophiles are males.
and the UC Davis has an extensive web site that clarifies the fallacies of Jeffress:

<>The Mainstream
Reflecting the results of these and other studies, the mainstream view among researchers and professionals who work in the area of child sexual abuse is that homosexual and bisexual men do not pose any special threat to children. For example, in one review of the scientific literature, noted authority Dr. A. Nicholas Groth wrote:
Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).
In a more recent literature review, Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy (1998) similarly cautioned against confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. He noted, "The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women" (p. 259).
This well known lack of a linkage between homosexuality and child molestation accounts for why relatively little research has directly addressed the issue. Proving something we already know simply isn't a priority. Indeed, a commentary that accompanied publication of the 1994 study by Jenny et al. in Pediatrics noted that debates about gay people as molesters "have little to do with everyday child abuse" and lamented that they distract lawmakers and the public from dealing with the real problem of children's sexual mistreatment (Krugman, 1994).

Another Scientist Acknowledges Global Warming, Human Causation

As one by one, all of the predictions made about how Global Warming / Climate Change would happen come true, more of the errant 3% are defecting from the dissenters to join the 97% of the world's leading scientists, especially those who have as their field of expertise climatology.

I expect we will see more of these.  I hope the appropriate anger at big oil junk science will be directed where it belongs, as we have increasing famine, fires and floods.  I think in this country we fail to take into consideration the political upheaval factor that was contributed by food prices rising and food availability declining in the Arab Spring countries uprisings.

Here is another of those, from NBC News and the New York Times:

Ex-climate change skeptic: Humans cause global warming

Dan Tuffs / Getty Images file
Richard Muller, physics professor, is chair of the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature project.
Global warming not only is real, but "humans are almost entirely the cause," a self-described former climate change skeptic has declared.
"Call me a converted skeptic," Richard A. Muller, University of California, Berkeley physics professor said in an opinion piece posted online Saturday in The New York Times.
Muller in October released results from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, set up for global warming skeptics, that showed that since the mid-1950s, global average temperatures over land have risen by 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
In his new statement, Muller said, "Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause."He credited his turnaround to "careful and objective analysis" by BEST, explaining:
“Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases. These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming. ... ”
Money for the BEST study came from five foundations, including one established by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and another from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, set up by the billionaire coal magnate and widely seen as a source of money for conservative organizations and initiatives that have fought efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.
Muller's website says the BEST findings will be released Monday.
Muller said in his opinion piece he remains skeptical of some climate-change claims.
"Hurricane Katrina cannot be attributed to global warming. The number of hurricanes hitting the United States has been going down, not up; likewise for intense tornadoes. Polar bears aren’t dying from receding ice, and the Himalayan glaciers aren’t going to melt by 2035."
Related stories:
We did it with our ag practices as the significant causation of the dust bowl in the 1930's; now we're causing the disasters to ourselves on a more global basis.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Would armed off duty police have helped? What about armed theater goers? NO

Re armed theater goers stopping alleged Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes, this is perhaps the most apt quote I have seen so far:
Hubert Williams, former head of the Newark police department and president of the Police Foundation, said that the idea that average citizens with guns could keep a theater safe only makes sense "on a piece of paper."
"Reality is much more complicated. What if you pull a gun out, take aim and someone else thinks you're the shooter?" he asked. "Would you stand up against an AR-15, AK-47 military-style assault weapon? Give me a break."
Law enforcement consistently debunks the gun nuts notions that they are not going to miss, they are not going to have a weapon malfunction or accidental discharge, they are not going to get themselves shot by mistake, or they are not going to shoot someone else in error. 

The reality is different than the gun nut heroic fantasy myth.

The typical NRA member is old, white, crabby, and not physically fit, including having less than optimum vision.  They have a lot of heart, and good intentions; aim, or good judgment, not so much.

Problem: Miami Man, Driving Around, Randomly Shooting People
Solution: Far Fewer Firearms,
NOT more gun nuts armed to the teeth shooting up the city

Florida has a lot of guns, and pioneered the shoot first laws that allow, and some would say encourage (by removing penalties and civil liability) doing so.
It has been established by repeat investigations by the St. Petersburg and other papers that Florida does very lax investigations, allowing firearms permits in the hands of people with warrants out for their arrest, active felons, and domestic abusers and drug addicts.  Their online permit process is deplorable, allowing people in other states beside Florida to receive permits who should equally be prohibited by any conscientious and effective permitting process.
This is just ONE of the many reasons why conscientious and responsible states should not recognize the permits of lax states like Florida.  It is just one of the many many many reasons why Florida has so many news events of terrible shooting incidents like this one.  The Florida shoot first laws and gun permit process is an unmitigated disaster for the citizens of Florida and for the rest of the country where people use their online permit process.  Florida's terrible record is one of the best reasons shoot first laws should be rendered null and void by a federal law, and why we need something that works, not more NRA / ALEC special interest laws that cause death and injury, for no better purpose than making the gun manufacturers a little richer.

From MSNBC.com and Ch. 6:

Miami cops search for man randomly shooting victims

Erin Cash
Miami authorities are searching for a man driving around and shooting at unsuspecting victims.
Police said three people were shot at random by 23-year-old Erin Cash on Sunday morning.
The conditions of the victims were not immediately known.
Cash is wanted for attempted murder, police said.


Authorities continue searching for a gunman who shot three people in Northwest Miami Sunday.
Miami Police issued a lookout alert for 23-year-old Erin Cash around noon, for a "suspect randomly driving around shooting at victims," according to a release.
The incident began as a domestic dispute when Cash and a woman riding in his car got into an argument, police said. The women threw herself out of the car, but a toddler remained inside the vehicle, Miami Police said.
Cash then went to the home of the woman's relatives for revenge, shooting three. Two of the victims were relatives of the woman.
The baby was found safe inside the home of a grandparent, police said.
Police said the injuries suffered by the victims were non-life-threatening.
Cash is wanted for attempted murder. His last known address is 1255 NW 72 Street in Miami.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Batman on Guns

cross posted from Mikeb's blog, with permission of our co-blogger Laci:

Batman--Seduction of the Gun

The power of Art:

The DC Graphic Novel Batman: Seduction of the Gun, by John Ostrander and Vice Giarrano is said to be the impetus for Virginia passing its one gun amonth bill in the 1990s. The novel was written after an adult son of one of the Warner Brothers executives who worked with DC Comics was senselessly murdered in 1990.
The comic talks about a gun runner who goes to Virginia to bring guns back to Gotham City. Batman masquerades as a gun dealer while Robin enrolls in an inner-city high to protect the dealer’s daughter from gang reprisal. This picture is where Robin is talking to the other non-gang affiliated kids at the School.
See also:

  • Batman takes on the Virginia gun lobby: David Usborne visits the state which is the main source of guns used in crime in eastern America
  • Monday PSA: Batman — Seduction of the Gun
  • Batman: Seduction of the Gun

    Not from Laci's original post, but because Batman as a comic book superhero has always been intensely ANTI-GUNS, it is worth sharing this piece of Batman Art.  Clearly, Batman comics are not the inspiration for either the mass shooting by the grad student in Aurora, Colorado, or his many copycat wannabes.  Our gun culture that glorifies gun violence and which seeks individual violence instead of other means of resolution of conflicst IS the problem.  We need less pro-bullet right wingers and more pro-ballots for every legal voter attitudes.  It is the ballot box that makes us free, not guns.  Guns just make us dead and injured and threatened, when so poorly regulated.  If that were not true we would have fewer murder suicides, regular suicides, accidental shootings, homicides, and domestic violence and stalkings involving firearms.  Guns don't kill people, but they make it too easy for people to kill people.

    How Many More Mass Shootings, Rampages, and Intent to Terrorize Before We Stop This?

    The Maryland self-styled Joker, Neil Prescott, made terroristic threats that he was going to kill a lot of people where he used to work.  He had a small arsenal, including thousands of rounds of ammunition.  He has been identified in an article in the Huffington Post as claiming to be law abiding, you know, except for the part about making terroristic threats to commit a mass shooting because he was disgruntled:

    A search for Neil Prescott on a website that tracks users' online activities led to a profile that appears to be him on mdshooters.com, a website for gun enthusiasts. On it, Prescott, who used an online tag of slog403 and identified himself as from Crofton, traded advice with other users about obtaining firearms.

    During a conversation last week about acquiring a 30-round magazine, he indicated he would "never violate MD laws as I respect this site and state." But in a July 18 post, he also said he wished to "unleash 30 rounds of hell" and added a smiley face emoticon. It wasn't clear what he was referring to.
    In Pennsylvania, we have another multiple murder and kidnapping involving firearms:

    3 killed in Pennsylvania; suspect fled with daughter, 4, triggering Amber Alert

    Pennsylvania State Police via AP
    Kevin Cleeves
    Three people were shot dead Friday night in rural Pennsylvania, state police said Saturday, and the suspect was later arrested after fleeing with his four-year-old daughter. One of the dead might be the child's mother.
    Kevin Cleeves, 35, was under arrest and his daughter was safe in police custody, NBC affiliate WGAL TV reported.
    During the search for Cleeves, police also initiated an Amber Alert for the child.
    read more here

    and in Indiana we have another gun nut gone berserk, including a repeat of  the gas mask wearing violence stylings of the Aurora, Colorado mass shooter.

    Suspected Indiana gunman, passerby dead after shooting rampage

    Updated at 1:45 p.m ET:
    A suspected gunman and a bystander are dead after two officers were wounded and a police dog was killed during a shooting rampage in the central Indiana town of Pendleton, authorities said Friday.
    A New Castle man identified as suspect Jim Kenneth Bailey, 58, was found dead possibly by a self-inflicted gunshot, police told NBC station WTHR of Indianapolis.
    Police say Bailey, clad in a flak jacket and gas mask, showed up at his estranged wife’s home in Pendleton late Thursday and started firing his gun outside.

    read more here

    These are just a few random headlines from the national news.  EVERY state in this country and Washington DC has these kinds of headlines every week, reports of gun violence, threats of gun violence, law enforcement officers being shot  or at least shot at, in increasing record numbers.  There are approximately 3 murder suicides every week.

    Our gun culture is a failure, our lax gun laws are a disaster.  There is nothing cultured about our so-called gun culture; it is brutish, it is contrary in essence and philosophy to the rule of law and the use of law enforcement instead of personal force by emotional people.  It is the choice of people who have the social and psychological development that show a lack of socialization and an inability to function successfully with other people who resort to violence because of those personal failures.

    Enough is enough; it is time to remove the vast quantity of firearms from people who do not use them wisely, it is time to BE more cultured and more civilized and to be a less violent society without massive quantities of firearms.  Clearly people who claim to be safe are not safe - as evidenced by the many deaths every week and injuries ever week from firearms accidents, including the deaths of children.  I have yet to meet any gun owner who admits he or she is not safe, and yet we continue to have incidents where clearly people ARE NOT SAFE, and ARE NOT IN FULL CONTROL AT ALL TIMES of their weapons.  We do not have a good or sound reason for this prevalence of firearms among us.  It is time to apply reason and sanity in place of the emotional irrationality that consistently drives our firearms policies and legislation.

    There is only one winner in all of this, the firearms manufacturers who sell a lot of guns and ammo; we've provided them enough blood money. Enough is enough; time to curtail firearms. Time to be reality based, and recognize that claiming to be safe and secure is not the same as being safe and secure, that claiming to be law abiding is not the same as being law abiding, that claiming to be sane and responsible is not the same as being sane and responsible.

    The Right Exceeds in Bad Taste and Irrationality

    The old 'Miss Me Yet?' Billboard featuring the still vastly unpopular George Dubya Bush along the interstate was stupid.  Instead of ameliorating the negatives of the previous president it only served to highlight and entrench how much he was despised and regarded with contempt as a failure of the right, both domestically and internationally.

    But this exceeds that for stupidity, bad taste, and most of all for a failure of logic.  It epitomizes what happens when extremism is expressed, where ideology dominates rationality, proportion, and most of all as we continue to see from the right, just plain factual basis in reality.  It is the alternate world of fantasy where bizarre beliefs and implausible conspiracy theories operate, and where people clearly are out of touch with the rest of the world that a billboard like this could be put up and not be laughed and scorned to oblivion.  This is the essence of intransigent extremism and unreality.  There can be no meeting of the minds, no compromise, no moving forward when one side is this out of touch with objective reality, this delusional, this irrational and this hate filled.  The extreme right now appears to live full time in Bigotville, alongside the river of Denial of Reality, in the state of Delusion, USA.

    If Obama is guilty of any wrong doing in his foreign policy, it is not differing ENOUGH from the wars of George W. Bush, which has been responsible for most of the foreign policy based killings.   Funny how the right, with the Bush Redux policies proposed by candidate R-money, seems to miss those realities.

    From MSNBC.com:

    Idaho billboard compares Obama to Colorado theater shooting suspect

    "Offensive." "Abhorrent." "Pathetic." Words like that are being used to describe a billboard in Caldwell, Idaho, that compares President Barack Obama — unfavorably — to James Eagan Holmes, the suspect in the shooting deaths of 12 people in a Colorado movie theater last week.
    The sign features photos of Holmes and Obama side by side. Of Holmes, it says: "Kills 12 in a movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out." Of Obama, it says: "Kills thousands with foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize."
    The electronic billboard often blares anti-Obama messages, but this one struck people as especially insensitive. It's the work of supporters of the late Ralph Smeed, for many years a lightning-rod activist for libertarian causes in Idaho, The Idaho Statesman of Boise reported.
    "This billboard is offensive to all those lives lost and affected by the shooting," wrote a commenter on the Facebook page of KBOI-TV of Boise, which first reported the story. "Just pathetic, even if this is their expression of the 1st amendment."
    Another called it "insulting, ridiculous and just plain inaccurate."
    Watch US News videos on NBCNews.com
    Maurice Clements, a former Idaho lawmaker who now keeps Smeed's tradition alive, told the Statesman: "We're all outraged over that killing in Aurora, Colo., but we're not outraged over the boys killed in Afghanistan."
    Asked about the reaction to his billboard, Clements acknowledged: "That's a technique of trying to make a point, and maybe it was poorly done."

    Republicans LIE About the Affordable Care Act, (and not for the first time)

    There is a difference between well intentioned oops or innocent inaccuracies; and then there is deliberate lies and misrepresentations made by politicians who want to deceive and mislead voters.

    The right wing claims about certain key subjects are oft-repeated lies no matter how often, how thoroughly debunked they have been (and the right knows them to be).  There is no subject where that is more true than health care reform.  The right wants to continue to cater and sell us out to the special interests of the Insurance companies that spent so very much money buying the conservative cooperation prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

    So it is no surprise that the right continues to deliberately lie, deceive and misrepresent the facts--- and factcheck.org catches them at it.

    From Factcheck.org:

    Twisting Health Care Taxes

    Posted on July 23, 2012 , Updated on July 24, 2012
    Republicans are twisting the facts on taxes in the Affordable Care Act, grossly overstating the impact on families or lower-income earners.
    In what has become a Republican talking point, several GOP lawmakers have wrongly claimed that a Congressional Budget Office report said that 75 percent of the federal health care law’s taxes would be paid by those earning less than $120,000 a year. That’s not what the CBO said. It found that 76 percent of those who would pay the penalty for not having insurance in 2016 would earn under $120,000. The average annual penalty — which the Supreme Court labeled a tax — is $667 for those individuals. Most of the total tax revenue from the penalty would be paid by those earning more than $120,000 a year.
    In addition, Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico went beyond the language used by the high court in calling the cost of an insurance policy a “tax” when he said: “[T]he average American family will pay roughly $4,700 a year in new taxes.” His office told us that was a reference to what an employee might pay for family insurance premiums. For starters, the “average American family” already has insurance. Plus, paying a premium to an insurance company isn’t paying a tax, by the standard definition, and most of those who stand to gain insurance under the law would receive subsidies to do so.
    A Growing, False Talking Point
    Let’s start with the idea that most of the taxes in the law are paid by those earning less than $120,000 a year.
    • Rep. Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi made the claim in a July 18 column published by The Memphis Commercial Appeal, saying: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that 75 percent of the cost of Obamacare will be paid by people making less than $125,000 per year.”
    • Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas made a similar statement in a press release on the House Judiciary Committee website on July 11: “After the Supreme Court’s decision, we now know that Obamacare is a massive tax hike on the middle class. According to the Wall Street Journal, 75 percent of the laws [sic] new taxes will be paid for by families who make under $120,000 per year,” he said. Smith’s statement twisted the words of WSJ editorial board member Stephen Moore, who referred to who would pay the individual mandate penalty.
    • Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire included a version of the claim in a press release, also on July 11: “This law will hit most Granite State families hard. That’s because it contains 21 new or higher taxes, with 75% of them falling on the middle-class.”
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell almost got it right on “Fox News Sunday” on July 1: “The president said [the mandate penalty] was not a tax. The Supreme Court, which has the final say, says it is a tax. The tax is going be levied, 77 percent of it, on Americans making less than $120,000 a year.”
    The claim is based on a 2010 Congressional Budget Office report that shows the projected revenue in 2016 from the law’s penalty on those who choose not to have health insurance. In a 5-4 decision in late June, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, saying that the penalty was a “tax” that Congress could levy. Republicans have criticized the law for this new “tax,” but several are misconstruing the CBO report in the process.
    According to the report, the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that 76 percent of taxpayers who will pay the mandate penalties in 2016 will have incomes at or below 500 percent of the poverty level (see the chart on page 3). The 2016 poverty level is expected to be $24,000 for a family of four, so families at 500 percent of the poverty level would have an income of $120,000 annually. However, these 76 percent of penalty payers account for only 46 percent of the mandate penalty revenue, as shown in the same table, because the penalty amount increases proportionally with income.
    So, the CBO report comes nowhere close to backing up the claim that those earning under $120,000 incur “75 percent of the cost of Obamacare,” as Nunnelee put it. In fact, the report shows that those income earners won’t even pay the majority of the taxes for not having insurance.
    According to the report, 3.9 million taxpayers will pay the mandate penalty/tax in 2016. Of these, 3 million will earn less than $120,000, and pay a total of $2 billion, averaging $667 per penalty-payer. The remaining 900,000 penalty-payers (those with incomes above 500 percent of the poverty level) will foot $2.3 billion, an average of $2,556 per payer.
    The law sets the tax at a minimum of $695 per person in 2016. (The lower average payment according to the CBO and JCT table is likely due to rounding.) But the tax would increase with income. It would be 2.5 percent of household income beyond the threshold for filing a tax return (which was $9,500 for an individual in 2011). The penalty will be capped at the national average of the lowest cost plan offered through state-based exchanges. We don’t yet know what that will be.
    Rep. Smith attributes the figure to the Wall Street Journal, but that, too, misconstrues what Stephen Moore, a member of the Journal‘s editorial board, said in a June 30 interview on Fox News. Moore was speaking about the penalty for not having insurance when he said: “We found that about three-quarters of whatever you want to call them … taxes, fines, penalties … about three-quarters of those costs will fall on the backs of families that make less than $120,000.” We understand that Moore’s phrasing, “three-quarters of those costs,” may have given the impression that 75 percent of the revenue collected from the mandate penalty would come from those earning under $120,000 — rather than 75 percent of those paying the tax would make under that amount. But, even so, he didn’t say that “75 percent of the laws new taxes will be paid for by families who make under $120,000 per year,” as Smith does.
    Not everyone has twisted the CBO report. Sen. Jim DeMint got it right on his website earlier this month: “The Congressional Budget Office analyzed this issue back in April 2010. It found that more than three-quarters of individuals paying the mandate tax will have income of under five times the poverty level – or less than $120,000 for a family of four.”
    Before politicians started twisting the numbers, the CBO report was widely misconstrued on Facebook, as our colleagues at PolitiFact previously noted.
    The CBO has updated its estimates since that 2010 report. The most recent estimate, released in March of this year, says the mandate penalty would bring in $6 billion in 2016, and $45 billion over 10 years. There was no breakdown on who would pay the tax. The CBO is expected to release another report on the mandate this week.
    Who Pays Most of the Law’s Taxes?
    The total mandate penalty revenue is only a small part of the total tax increases under the ACA, which are estimated by the Joint Committee on Taxation to be $49.9 billion in 2016 alone, and to total $675.3 billion over the next 10 years (excluding mandate penalties). And the biggest revenue-generating taxes by far fall on those earning more than $200,000 a year, or $250,000 a year for couples.
    Those upper-income earners will pay an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on income above those thresholds, and they’ll pay a 3.8 percent tax on investment income. Those two taxes in the law account for $317.7 billion over 10 years, according to JCT estimates. That’s 47 percent of the total tax revenue from the law — again, excluding the mandate penalty.
    The next largest tax is the excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans, which is expected to bring in $111 billion over 10 years. As we’ve explained in the past, that revenue doesn’t come from the excise tax itself. Rather, the CBO and JCT expect employers and employees to sign up for plans that stay below the excise tax threshold. Employers would then increase workers’ salaries in lieu of giving more expensive benefits. And the government would make money on the increased payroll tax revenue on those increased salaries.
    Redefining Taxes
    At least one lawmaker has taken to calling the cost of insurance premiums “taxes,” and making the greatly exaggerated claim that the “average American family” would get hit with thousands of dollars in “taxes” by buying health insurance. In a July 17 op-ed for the Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce said that under the health care law: “All told, the average American family will pay roughly $4,700 a year in new taxes.”
    When we asked Pearce’s office for support for the claim, a spokesman told us the $4,700 figure was a calculation of 7 percent of an average family’s income, and that 7 percent of income is what an employee might pay for employer-based insurance. (The column, however, suggested that this is the amount of the mandate tax.) We find several problems with this logic.
    First, the “average American family,” as Pearce says, already has insurance. They won’t pay any of Pearce’s loosely calculated “new taxes.” The CBO estimated that 82 percent of nonelderly Americans have health insurance in 2012 (excluding undocumented immigrants). Second, paying an insurance company a premium for a health care plan is not equivalent to paying a tax to the government, and Pearce didn’t explain in his op-ed that he was redefining what a tax is.
    Third, many of those who do decide to buy an insurance policy under the law won’t pay full price. Of the 33 million previously uninsured who would gain coverage by 2022, according to the CBO, 17 million would join Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Twenty-two million would buy coverage through the state-based exchanges, and only 5 million of those would do so without receiving any government subsidy. (Also, the CBO projects a net 3 million dropping employer coverage and another 3 million dropping individual coverage, which is how it gets a total net of 33 million gaining insurance.) Those earning under 400 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible for subsidies, and the average subsidy per exchange enrollee would be $7,270 in 2022, the CBO estimates. That’s an average, so the subsidy each individual receives could vary substantially.
    It’s true that a health insurance policy purchased by a family on the state-based exchanges, or now on the individual market, could cost about $4,700 for the year, or substantially more. And the CBO estimated in a May 2011 report that some families would pay that much and more even with the help of federal subsidies. Under the CBO’s hypothetical example for the first year of the subsidies (2014), a family at 150 percent of the poverty level would pay $1,200 for an insurance policy and a family at 350 percent of the poverty level would pay $6,700, with subsidies that exceed that amount.
    CBO, May 2011: In the first year of the illustration, premiums for the reference plan for a family of four are assumed to be $15,000, and the federal poverty level is assumed to be $20,000. In this hypothetical example, a family with income equal to 150 percent of the FPL (or $30,000) will be required by the law to pay up to 4.0 percent of its income ($1,200) to enroll in the reference plan and thus will be entitled to a subsidy of $13,800 ($15,000 minus $1,200). Families with higher income will be required to pay a larger percentage of their income to enroll in the reference plan. Specifically, a family with income equal to 250 percent of the FPL will pay 8.1 percent of its income to enroll in the reference plan (about $4,000) and will receive a subsidy of about $11,000, and a family with income equal to 350 percent of the FPL will pay 9.5 percent of its income (about $6,700) and will receive a subsidy of about $8,400.
    But the premiums those families would pay are not “taxes” by the normal definition, and the federal subsidies they would receive in most cases are even larger than their premium payments.
    There are plenty of taxes in the Affordable Care Act, but Republicans are manipulating the facts to overstate the impact on lower-income earners.
    – Lori Robertson and Jesse DuBois
    Update, July 24: The CBO released new estimates on July 24 on the impact on insurance coverage. It says that 6 million fewer individuals would join Medicaid by 2022, 3 million more would join the exchanges and 3 million more would be uninsured. The change is due to the Supreme Court ruling that effectively meant states did not have to comply with the law’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility. The change also lowers the cost of the insurance coverage provisions by $84 billion over 11 years. The CBO’s 10-year estimate for total revenue from penalties paid by individuals for not having insurance is now $1 billion higher than the previous estimate.
    Posted by Lori Robertson on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm Filed under The FactCheck Wire. tagged with , .

    FactCheck.org Busts Mitt R-money for His Colorado Shooting Statements

    Mitt Gets It Wrong........On purpose, to pander to his base? Or just another of his many gaffes, on both sides of the Atlantic?  Either way, it is unacceptable and just plain wrong.

    From Factcheck.org:
    Posted on
    Gunman’s Weapons Already Illegal?
    Arguing against the need for new gun laws in the wake of the Aurora shootings, Mitt Romney said many of the weapons possessed by shooter James Holmes were “illegal … already.” While it’s true that the bombs found later at Holmes’ apartment were illegal, that’s not the case for the weapons he used at the movie theater on the night of the rampage. Police confirmed that all of the weapons and ammunition used by Holmes that night were legally obtained at local sporting goods stores or over the Internet.
    Romney’s comments came during an interview in London on July 25. NBC’s Brian Williams asked Romney about his position on gun control in the wake of the shootings at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that left 12 dead and dozens more critically injured. Williams noted that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed an assault weapons ban and spoke out forcefully against the sale of assault weapons. Did he still believe that?
    Romney said, “I don’t happen to believe America needs new gun laws. A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law. The fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening.”
    Later in the interview, Williams specifically asked Romney what he thought about the legality of the type of semi-automatic rifle used by Holmes during the shooting, as well as Holmes’ purchase of ammunition via the Internet.
    Williams: On things however like Aurora, Colorado, do you see why Americans get frustrated at politics. They can see and hear your words from earlier in their career, people are hurting out there. Perhaps they want to start a national conversation about whether an AR-15 belongs in the hands of a citizen, whether a citizen should be able to buy six thousand rounds off the Internet. You see the argument?
    Romney: Well, this person shouldn’t have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already. But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won’t. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential, to improve the lots of the American people.
    Romney campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told us via email that Romney’s comment about illegal weapons “was a reference to the bombs, which the Governor directly mentioned in his comments.”
    But that point wasn’t entirely clear during the interview, coming as it did in response to a specific question about the legality of semi-automatic assault rifles and the ability to purchase thousands of rounds of ammunition via the Internet.
    According to law enforcement reports, Holmes is alleged to have used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in the attack. The sale of many forms of that rifle were prohibited during the years 1994 to 2004 due to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. An official at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said the type of ammunition magazine Holmes is alleged to have used — a 100-round drum magazine — was also banned for new production under the federal assault weapons ban, but went back into production and sale after the law expired in 2004.
    Romney has said he would have supported an extension of the federal law at the time, and he signed a law banning assault weapons in Massachusetts in 2004 to take the place of the expiring federal ban in his state. In a press release at the time, Romney said: “These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.” But during his runs for the presidency, Romney has consistently said that he does not believe there is a need for new legislation. (In a speech to the National Urban League this week, President Barack Obama appeared to call for reimposing an assault weapons ban.)
    Law enforcement officials said they recovered four weapons following the shootings in Aurora. Holmes purchased a Glock pistol and the AR-15 assault rifle from Gander Mountain outdoor stores in Aurora and Thornton, and a shotgun and second Glock pistol from Bass Pro Shops in Denver, according to law enforcement officials quoted by the Associated Press. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Holmes passed the required background checks. And, he said, Holmes purchased ammunition, including thousands of rounds and multiple magazines for the assault rifle, on the Internet.
    Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, July 21: All the weapons that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the clips that he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the ammunition that he possessed, he possessed legally.
    After detaining Holmes, law enforcement officials discovered that Holmes also had booby-trapped his apartment with explosives. Federal authorities detonated one small explosive and disarmed another inside the apartment, a law enforcement official told the AP. According to the AP, officials said the apartment had three types of explosives: “jars filled with accelerants, chemicals that would explode when mixed together and more than 30 ‘improvised grenades.’ ”
    In a later story, AP reported: “It’s unclear if [Holmes] obtained the materials illegally, but it’s against Colorado law to build an explosive device.”
    So Romney is correct to say that any bombs found at Holmes’ apartment were illegal. But all of the weapons alleged to have been used by Holmes at the movie theater that night — including a controversial semi-automatic rifle once banned by federal law — were obtained legally.
    – Robert Farley

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Another Child Dead from Firearm Carelessness

    I'm not persuaded that the 2nd Amendment regarding a well regulated militia was ever intended to facilitate stupid and avoidable incidents like this one. Nor am I persuaded that the Founding Fathers ever intended a gun culture like ours to develop.  Incidents like this should be regarded as at the very least criminally negligent homicides, resulting in significant periods of incarceration and permanent loss of any access to firearms, as well as the removal of any other children from the care of the firearm owner. 

    These are, emphatically, avoidable firearms incidents that are not offset by any value in people carrying or having firearms 'just because I wanna', when they do not do so responsibly.  Yet far too often, there is no prosecution for this kind of negligence whatsoever, or any other outcome other than people shrugging their shoulders and muttering, hmmm....that was a shame.  Why should this be treated any differently than if a child had overdosed on illegal or legal drugs, or died from any other kind of negligence?

    From the HuffPo:

    Boy, 4, Accidentally Shoots And Kills Self In Virginia

    Virginia police say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself in Woodbridge today.
    The tragic scene unfolded at about 3:25 p.m. when cops got a call from a family member who said the unidentified boy took a gunshot wound to the head, WUSA reports.
    The boy had apparently gone into an unoccupied pickup truck at that address and found the gun, according to The Washington Post.
    The boy was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
    Authorities on scene said the wound seemed to be self-inflicted and accidental. The sad incident is still under investigation.

    Rounding out the week - recent Fiore animations

    These couldn't be more appropriate as Mitts on R-money makes a shambles of appearing presidential by offending, repeatedly, the people of the UK. Well, maybe he has only offended those who are Anglo-Saxon; you know -- the WHITE people that he identifies with; he manages to overlook anyone else pretty easily. I'm sure there are plenty more god-awful bits and bobs to come before he's done.
    And I can't wait to see how many other foreign gaffes he makes; it should be particularly interesting to see what he does in Israel. A VERY LARGE number of his more militant neo-con advisers hold dual U.S. / Israeli citizenship, which raises the legitimate question as to where their loyalties ultimately reside. I think there is an excellent argument that the policies espoused by Mitts on R-money to date sublimate what is best for the United States to serving the interests of the more far right wing hard liners in Israel. That would argue for more conflict in the area, not less, and put us in the thick of it, militarily and financially. R-money favors treating Palestinians as second class citizens the way our own Jim Crow laws used to treat African Americans.
    I can't imagine why Mitts on R-money is going to make a stop in Poland, but we can only hope it is too brief to do much damage....


    Another Attempted CopyCat Mass Shooting Foiled in Maryland in the past few hours

    It may or may not be the case that James Holmes is crazy, dangerously mentally ill in the clinical sense that Jared Loughner has been diagnosed as schizophrenic rather than the colloquial sense.
    Time and the court case will make that clear.

    But some of these other men emulating Holmes are clearly not nuts, they're just bastards, and whatever justification they have for trying to get this kind of attention is simply crap.  All it represents is the destructive fantasies embodied in our damned gun culture. 

    It is time to take the lethal toys out of the hands of the incompetent, violent, crazy, politically extreme, and just plain irresponsible once and for all.  That includes the deluded dangerous jackasses who think it makes sense to ignore the rules of firearm safety when someone else starts shooting.  I've already lost count how many damned copy cat attempts have occurred to date.

    We are better than this, we are smarter than this, we are less deluded than this.  We CAN improve on this problem of gun violence, but it won't be with MORE guns!

    From ABC news:

    Police say man threatened to kill people in Maryland

    Posted: 2:32 PM
    CROFTON, Md (WMAR) - Authorities say they were granted an emergency petition to take a man into custody after he threatened to "load my guns and blow someone up."
    The man was in the process of being fired from his job at a Federal Contracting company when the threats were made.
    Investigators say the suspect, who has yet to be identified, was taken into custody in Crofton, MD early Friday morning.
    Authorities say they had an emergency petition giving them the right to enter his home and take him into custody based on their investigation. That petition was granted after the man was deemed a threat to himself and the public.
    Some people who live in the area were evacuated before police entered the man's home.
    According to officials, the man was facing termination from his job at Pitney Bowes, a postage meter company, in Prince George's County. Police say he had worked with the company for a number of years.
    Authorities opened a 36 hour investigation after the man had told his co-workers "I'm a joker, I'm going to load my guns and blow someone up."
    Authorities say they found an "arsenal" of weapons in his home at the time of his arrest and that he had made threats directed toward his employer.
    Police say the talked to the man yesterday and he was spotted wearing a t-shirt that read "Guns don't kill people, I do."
    The man was taken to the Anne Arundel County Medical Center for a mental evaluation and treatment.
    A law enforcement source told WJLA that they believe the foiled shooting "could have been another Aurora," making reference to the mass shooting that happened last Friday at a suburban Denver movie theater.
    This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

    Read more: http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/national/sources-suspect-arrested-in-maryland-mass-shooting-plot-possible-aurora-copycat#ixzz21qnWIm8T

    Are Voters Showing Buyer's Remorse for Electing Conservatives in 2010?

    Ballotpedia is an excellent non-profit, non-partisan source on campaigns, elections, and ballot issues.
    It was conspicuous in the 2010 election cycle that conservatives were successful in a range of elections from local to federal.  Those incumbents are doing badly, which suggests that they are being voted out of office by an unhappy electorate; that in turn would mean the right failed, utterly, and overreached badly in their arrogant culture wars.
    Here is the exclusive Ballotpedia article:

    Ballotpedia study: More incumbent state legislators losing in primaries than prior election cycles

    By Geoff Pallay
    MADISON, Wisconsin: An early look at the 2012 legislative primary results indicates a growing number of primary challengers are defeating incumbent state legislators than in previous years.
    A new report released today by Ballotpedia, Primary Change: Anti-Incumbency Voting Patterns in State Legislative Primaries, finds that 76 incumbent state legislators have lost in primaries so far in 2012.
    There will be 6,015 state legislative seats up for election in 2012. Thus far, a total of 2,930 seats have held primaries, which accounts for 48.7 percent of the seats that will be up for election this presidential year.
    Of the 76 incumbents that have lost a primary in 2012, 22 are Democratic incumbents and 54 are Republican incumbents.
    Main results

    File:Incumbents defeated in primary 6-2012.png

    July 26, 2012
    For this study, Ballotpedia staff analyzed the races that have been held through July 26, 2012. We tracked how many incumbents ran for re-election, then explored how many faced a primary opponent; and finally, how many were ultimately defeated in the primary. This process was a sub-study within the larger Ballotpedia project, the Competitiveness Index.

    2012 results

    • 2,301 incumbents have sought re-election so far in 2012
    • 513 of them (22.29 percent) have faced a primary opponent
    • 76 incumbents have lost in a primary (14.8 percent)

    2010 results

    • 4,985 incumbents sought re-election
    • 1,133 incumbents faced a primary (22.7 percent)
    • 95 incumbents were defeated. (8.38 percent)

    2012 vs. 2010

    • The 14.8 percent of incumbents who have lost a primary in 2012 is 76.7 percent higher than the 8.38 percent in 2010.
    • Twelve of the 76 incumbents defeated this year lost to a fellow incumbent in districts whose boundaries were changed through redistricting. Even subtracting these incumbents, the rate of defeats in 2012 is higher than in 2010.

    Further analysis

    As the remaining primaries unfold, Ballotpedia staff will be tracking to see how the ultimate total figures shape up to the 2010 levels. If the early trends continue, at least 150 incumbents could lose in a primary in 2012.

    Full study

    If this is accurate, then not only will the gains for the right of 2010 evaporate due to their own failings to govern successfully -- largely I would speculate because of their relentless emphasis on culture wars which are not broadly representative of what people genuinely want -- but because that focus meant a total and utter failure to attend to the legitimate business of real importance, in anything resembling a fair and honest way.  Intransigence on the right is resulting in them being shown the exit. 

    I would bet further that this might reflect more than is commonly expected in federal elections.