Expanded Background Checks – Sen. Manchin just realizing NRA has no credibility

Feels like a surreal alternate reality, but yeah, the NRA has zero credibility Joe. Tell your fellow Senators.

Manchin later criticized the NRA, of which he has been a lifetime member with an “A” rating. “Now when when they are so disingenuous and telling members that our legislation, and I quote, ‘would criminalize the firearms by honest citizens,'” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “This bill does not even touch …”

“That’s a lie,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough interrupted.

“It is a lie, Joe,” Manchin responded. “If they lose credibility, they’ve lost everything in Washington.”

Newtown figured this out, Aurora figured this out, Virginia Tech got it. America pretty much gets it. How is it that our elected representatives are the slowest people on the uptake of the duplicitousness and doubledealing of lobbyists? Could it be THE MONEY? Geez!

The NRA is Trolling America (and our Pols are falling for it) Sick! Sick! Sick!

David Cay Johnston, one of the most lucid reporters on economic issues in the country has the lowdown on what the NRA’s bait and switch proposal to arm schools would cost. Just in case you were thinking, “well, sure we could do that” or “yeah, why not, as part of…”  

None of the 13 (NRA) committee members named in the 225-page is an educator. However, all of them have a financial interest in security training.

From the NRA’s standpoint it’s a money grab. From ours it’s pure delusional folly.

In a time when schools are struggling for funding, teachers, teacher’s aides and administrators have been laid off, towns, counties and states are pinching pennies, usually at the expense of schools, this wouldn’t make any sense even if it made sense

1. Protecting schools is a slight of hand meant to draw attention away from actual firepower control. It does nothing to get guns off the streets, nothing to limit the firepower available to crazed gunmen, nothing to stop said crazed gunman from getting weapons of mass destruction. People trying to kill children specifically is not a thing. Guarding schools doesn’t help shopping malls, churches, etc.

America had almost 99,000 public schools, another 33,000 private schools and close to 7,000 colleges in 2010.

And say you do put up perimeter fences, have trained armed guards, security cameras, etc. what will the gunman’s response be? Probably aim their sites on off campus targets.  

2. In the real world, in which the NRA refuses to live, stats show that it is the proximity of guns that we should be afraid of. The fact of a gun in the presence of a child makes that child less safe. Do you really want your 5 year old to have to walk by armed guards every morning? 

How long would it be before some student pulling a black cellphone from his pocket was shot dead by an armed school officer who mistook it for a gun? On the streets, it happens.

… The understandably scared school guard who kills just one child would mean more money on lawyers and settlements, not to mention the awfulness of death-by-protector.

Or what happens the first time an irresponsible guard puts his gun down or leaves it in the rest room and a kid gets it?

3. Even if you ignored items 1 and 2, the cost will be astronomical and reminds me of the boondoggle that Homeland Security became after 9/11. Nineteen guys with box cutters pull off an unthinkable disaster and we immediately open the purse strings to spend billions in security and military overreaction. Likewise, this would be a windfall for whatever contractors get the deals to provide the guards and a further bleeding of tax payer moneys, while achieving next to nothing.

Using the median pay of police, assigning two officers to each school for 50 hours a week would cost $16.3 billion annually just for salaries. Of course we would need many more guards because many are, like the school I attended long ago, open.

… The cost, so far, comes to $34.6 billion per year for consultants, pay, fringe benefits and overhead. That’s almost $450 per student per year.

4. Armed guards are no guaranty they would even be a deterrent or an effective stop to a mass killing. Columbine had armed guards.  They were clear on the other side of the campus. Many schools are on large sprawling properties with multiple buildings. But even my old high school in New York was just one building, but with four floors each the size of a city block. If the guard is on the wrong floor, or even on the wrong side of the floor, with the high power guns with high capacity clips available to an Adam Lanza the carnage would be unspeakable before the guard can even enter the picture.

In reconstructions of police shootings, it is common to find that the vast majority of bullets not only missed their target — they went wild. That happens in real life when the adrenaline is pumping, adding to the fog of conflict.

In short, the NRA is trolling us and our pols are falling for it. Sick, sick, sick!!!


Citizen’s United and NRA – Obstacle is the Same Belief in Unfettered Rights and MONEY

The 1st amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The 2nd Amendment states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The frustration progressives have found in the age of Citizen’s United and since Newtown, to restore previously enacted and popularly accepted limits on the 1st amendment (money in politics) and the 2nd amendment (firepower/gun control) both come back to conservative lawmakers, media and their constituents having recently adopted an antagonistic stance towards common sense restrictions on each.

In each case we also know that such antagonistic stances derive from the cynical moneyed interests behind the dissemination of talking points against unfettered rights.  The Chamber of Commerce, Koch Brothers, massive business interests et al. and their hold on conservative think thanks (Heritage, Cato, Manhattan, etc.) and jurists’ conclaves (the Federalist Society) are the only parties arguing that campaign finance limits are unconstitutional abridgments of the 1st amendment – that we should accept that money is speech and political speech cannot be abridged even if it’s in society’s benefit to do so.  

Likewise, the gun manufacturers and their influence on lawmakers, through the NRA, keeps us from passing more stringent restrictions on fire power, ammunition and the trafficking of same, even if it saves lives.  What John McCain essentially said on President’s Day at a townhall meeting to the parent of an Aurora victim was that the rights of citizens to buy guns supersedes the rights of citizens to life.

Since the straw the broke the camel’s back that was the Sandy Hook tragedy we’ve finally been engaged in an extended debate over firepower/gun restrictions. What the Supreme Court has always said, even the current, extremely conservative Roberts court in Heller, is that there are, of course, reasonable restrictions that are not only allowable, but in society’s best interests.  None of what is on the table since Newtown should be or presumed would be found unconstitutional, and yet you can’t sell it to 2nd amendment absolutists.  

Likewise, the 1st amendment guarantee of free speech has also been found to be reasonably restricted, for the sake of society.

But what laws can pass muster with the courts seems to be less of issue today than what will be enacted by legislatures. Specifically, conservative lawmakers and their constituents have adopted a fairly recently found position on each of these enumerated rights that makes them antagonistic towards common sense prohibitions.  The lawmakers have either bought into right wing think tank propaganda, been bought outright or cowed by their deranged tea party constituents into standing athwart against these sensible restrictions.

One of the most famous constructions in constitutional law is the idea that the “constitution is not a suicide pact.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Constitution_is_not_a_suicide_pact) But strict constructionists are denying that the negatives for society, ie., a government by the plutocrats and thousands of gun deaths a year are worth sullying the constitution for.

Many of the arguments against further fire power/gun restrictions are nonsensical  – that citizens are entitled to assault weapons in order to keep the government at bay is ridiculous on its face. The government has apache helicopters, RPGs, fully automatic weapons! These same activists arguing not to ban high powered semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines are not arguing they should be allowed to have fully automatic weapons and tanks!  Society already says, overwhelmingly, that it’s in our best interest for people not to be able to legally purchase many weapons of war. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban tried to restrict the kinds of weapons used in Aurora and Newtown, and it was partially successful, but partially unsuccessful because of too many loop holes that manufacturers were able to get around. Hopefully, the lessons learned from that legislation would inform the new bills. 

In almost every case today the most vociferous argument from the right is the “slippery slope.” They cannot argue against the instant restriction, so they argue about where it will lead.  In the case of guns the debate is entirely about scare tactics and nonsensical warnings about “Obama taking your guns.”  There is no and has never been any truth to this.  But the NRA and the conservative media whip it up and weak spined legislators live in fear of backlash.  It never satisfies these people to say “see and watch, nobody is coming for your guns, give it a year and if it’s not as we say we’ll repeal it.” The vitriol and mistrust is too great to overcome by rational debate.

It’s perhaps harder to do anything about money in politics even though this issue infects every other issue in our democracy.  Even with the outrage that was the 2012 election and the crazy spending done by Super Pacs and anonymous dark money, there’s no way that popular outrage can be militated against political spending in the way that dead 6 year-olds can make average citizens say “enough is enough.” However, polls show that Americans do understand the issues regarding political money and want restrictions. In an October 2012 poll 84% agreed that “corporate money drowns out the voices of ordinary people.” The problem is the only answer to Citizen’s United is an amendment to the Constitution and that seems such a slog even though we passed the 27th amendment just 21 years ago (Limited Changes to Congressional Pay ratified 5/7/1992) and the 16th through 27th amendments were all passed in the last 100 years.  

Maybe its the failure of the ERA (and yeah, we still don’t have constitutionally guaranteed equal rights for females in 2013), that makes us believe that it’s not possible to pass a 28th amendment that says:  

Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

This is the entire text of the proposed 28th amendment introduced by Rick Nolan (D-MN) on February 14, 2013.  It’s called the “We the People Amendment” and pass it we must to get our democracy back.  Sign the petition, call your Congressman, write letters to the editor and get the word out about Move to Amend’s action to pass the 28th amendment and change everything. 


Reason No. Infinite Why The GOP Will Never Get its Shit Together

All you need to know is the POTUS has invited as a guest to the State of the Union tonight a 102 year old Florida woman (born before women had the right to vote) who waited on line for hours to vote, but persevered in order to exercise her franchise thus exemplifying the greatness of democracy.

And a totally deranged GOP Congressman from Texas (from the county where they dragged James Byrd to death by the way) invited gun wacko one hit wonder Ted Nugent. A man who pooped himself to avoid the draft, has admitted to having sex with underage girls, and has been in turns threatening and just profane towards the President, the First Lady, Hillary Clinton, and anybody who disagrees with him.

The contrast is illustrative.  

Other guests invited by Democratic lawmakers include gun violence victims and their families to keep the heat on Congress to do something about the 3 million guns in the country.

And Ted Nugent. A “voice” in the debate on guns. Ted Nugent. 

Okay, so what fair minded person looks at this and says this is balance? This is rational? These are two national political parties that are both acting responsibly in the debate over policy and the future of the country?

Oh and afterwards responses will be given (for the GOP) by the Magic Hispanic Marco Rubio and for the (Tea Party wing of the GOP) by Ayn Rand Paul.

Anybody who votes for Republicans in this era of Rush, Beck, Fox News, Tea Party, Koch Brothers, etc. total political bullshit, has taken leave of their ever loving senses.

No, just pissing off liberals is not a governing philosophy.