Saturday Reads

Bob Dylan reading Disc Magazine with Mick Jagger on the cover, 1966

Bob Dylan reading Disc Magazine with Mick Jagger on the cover, 1966

Good Morning. It’s such a very sad day that I hardly know what to post. I’m still in shock about yesterday’s terrible shooting in Connecticut. How many more of these nightmarish events have to happen before our “leaders” in Washington finally decide to do something about controlling guns? How about completely banning all ammunition?

I’m just going to post a few reactions to the horror. I’m sure we’ll be learning much more about Adam Lanza and his possible motivations in the coming days. We’ll also learn if there are any courageous politicians left in the White House and Congress who will stand up the the National Rampage Association (NRA).

Raw Story: Gun control advocates gather near White House.

Gun control advocates gathered near the White House, many holding white candles, in a demonstration calling for a renewed discussion of gun control policy after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., left almost three dozen children and adults dead, reported the Associated Press. Multiple signs read “#TodayISTheDay,” a response to Press Secretary Jay Carney’s assertion that “today is not the day” to discuss gun control in the United States. However, the demonstrators made no specific appeals, reported Talking Points Memo.

“We can change the worst conditions of our country. Together we can change the pain into joy. Together we can change the sorrow into gladness,” said one demonstrator.

The speaker then called on everyone to hold their candles high so that everyone can see that “today is the day.”

Adam Gopnik at the New Yorker: Newtown and the madness of guns.

After the mass gun murders at Virginia Tech, I wrote about the unfathomable image of cell phones ringing in the pockets of the dead kids, and of the parents trying desperately to reach them. And I said (as did many others), This will go on, if no one stops it, in this manner and to this degree in this country alone—alone among all the industrialized, wealthy, and so-called civilized countries in the world. There would be another, for certain.

Then there were—many more, in fact—and when the latest and worst one happened, in Aurora, I (and many others) said, this time in a tone of despair, that nothing had changed. And I (and many others) predicted that it would happen again, soon. And that once again, the same twisted voices would say, Oh, this had nothing to do with gun laws or the misuse of the Second Amendment or anything except some singular madman, of whom America for some reason seems to have a particularly dense sample.

And now it has happened again, bang, like clockwork, one might say: Twenty dead children—babies, really—in a kindergarten in a prosperous town in Connecticut. And a mother screaming. And twenty families told that their grade-schooler had died. After the Aurora killings, I did a few debates with advocates for the child-killing lobby—sorry, the gun lobby—and, without exception and with a mad vehemence, they told the same old lies: it doesn’t happen here more often than elsewhere (yes, it does); more people are protected by guns than killed by them (no, they aren’t—that’s a flat-out fabrication); guns don’t kill people, people do; and all the other perverted lies that people who can only be called knowing accessories to murder continue to repeat, people who are in their own way every bit as twisted and crazy as the killers whom they defend. (That they are often the same people who pretend outrage at the loss of a single embryo only makes the craziness still crazier.)

So let’s state the plain facts one more time, so that they can’t be mistaken: Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries, and in every other country, gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.

Politicker: Message to President Obama from Mayors Against Gun Violence, “Offering condolences is not enough.” Statements of Co-Chairs Michael Bloomberg of NYC, and Thomas Menino of Boston:

Statement of Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:

“With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.”

Statement of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino:

“As a parent and grandparent, I am overcome with both grief and outrage by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. This unspeakable act of violence will forever imprint this day in our hearts and minds. My heart goes out to the families impacted by this senseless tragedy and the many others we have recently witnessed across the United States. As a Mayor who has witnessed too many lives forever altered by gun violence, it is my responsibility to fight for action. Today’s tragedy reminds us that now is the time for action. Innocent children will now never attend a prom, never play in a big game, never step foot on a college campus. Now is the time for a national policy on guns that takes the loopholes out of the laws, the automatic weapons out of our neighborhoods and the tragedies like today out of our future.”

I’m glad I live in a state that at least tries to control guns. In Massachusetts you have to apply for a license from your local police before you can apply to purchase a firearm. All firearms must have trigger locks and must be stored unloaded in locked containers. If you are caught with an unlicensed gun, you go directly to jail for a mandatory two-year sentence. See the links above for more.

Now a few more reads on other subjects.

School cafeteria worker fired for feeding needy student.

For two years, Dianne Brame worked as a cafeteria manager at Hudson Elementary in Webster Groves, keeping kids’ bellies full for their all-important task of learning.

The lunch lady loved her job: “I knew kids by their names, I knew their likes and dislikes, so it was just fun.”

But recently, she came across a fourth grader who consistently came without money. She says he used to be on the free lunch program, but language barriers got in the way of reapplying: “I sent them paperwork so that they could get back in contact with me, but it didn’t happen,” she says.

For days, Brame snuck the boy lunches. She explains, “I let his account get over $45 which I’m only supposed to let it get over $10, and I started letting him come through my lunch line without putting his number in, and they look at that as stealing. I thought it was just taking care of a kid.”

There’s an update to the story: “Dianne Brame has been rehired by Hudson Elementary following the huge response from this story.”

Center for American Progress: The ‘Debt Limit’: Time to End 95 Years of False Labeling

Congress and the White House have struggled over what has wrongly been called the “debt limit” since 1917, when a cap on the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority was inserted into legislation permitting “Liberty Bonds” to be sold to support U.S. military operations in Europe during World War I. A country that wants to maintain a reputation of paying its bills must recognize that debts are incurred when goods and services are purchased, not on the basis of whether or not the country wants to borrow the money needed to pay for those purchases.

The vote on what we have wrongly referred to for these many years as the “debt limit” is not a vote on how much we will spend or how much revenue we will raise to cover that spending: Those decisions are generally made by Congress months, and in many instances, even years before the extra borrowing authority is needed.

Each spring Congress deals with a budget resolution—setting targets for spending, revenues, and indebtedness. That legislation caps the amount of money that can be appropriated and prescribes what changes are needed in permanent spending legislation such as entitlements and whether we should raise or lower taxes to pay for those spending decisions. That resolution contains specific language stating what those decisions will mean in terms of the annual budget deficit and the change that will take place in the public debt.

Congress then considers the specific appropriation bills, entitlement changes, and tax legislation to implement the plan and determine the size of the debt. The vote on the so-called debt ceiling occurs long after those decisions are made. It is not a vote on how much we will spend or whether we will raise the money to pay for it but rather a vote on whether we will pay our bills. Voting against raising the debt limit is sort of like being the guy who turns down opportunities to work overtime so that he can spend more time at the movies, only to decide when his credit card bill arrives that he needs to correct his profligate ways by refusing to pay it.

Much more at the link.

Here’s a must read from Andrew Sullivan: The Unreason of Antonin Scalia. I’m not going to excerpt from it–you need to read the whole thing.

A few more reads, link dump-style.

The Independent: Jacintha Saldanha: Suicide note criticising senior hospital staff found among possessions of nurse at centre of Duchess of Cambridge phone call hoax

The Guardian: Hospital defends treatment of Jacintha Saldanha

Media Matters: Limbaugh Delivers Sexist Remark About Making A “Real Woman” Out Of Hillary Clinton

Last but not least, from Rolling Stone: How Mick Jagger Learned to Dance – By His Brother, Chris Jagger

I’m heading back to the Boston area today, so I’ll be on the road the next couple of days. I’ll check in when I can. I hope everyone has a peaceful, restful weekend.

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20 Comments on “Saturday Reads”

  1. Eric Pleim says:

    Leave it to the New Yorker to put words to feelings I have had. I’m stealing this to trash any moron I come across telling me “It’s not the time” for tightening access to assault weapons in this allegedly peacetime society.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    The tragedy is that by next week we will be referring to what happened in Connecticut a “just another unspeakabe event” since it is more than likely another one will come along to take its place.

    As if what happened in Oregon just one week prior wasn’t bad enough, this one is just more overwhelming from the standpoint that it caused the deaths of 20 innocent children just one week before Christmas. How could this happen?

    I thought I had misheard when some pundit stated that the nation is awash in over 250 million guns. In a nation of 320 million this should be seen as an outrage against the publc since many of these guns are semi automatic weapons designed for the military and law enforcement use and should never be sold into the hands of the average citizen because of the possibility of the carnage involved. But that would be seen as a breech of the rights of someone to purchase these weapons of mass destruction rather than consider why anyone would need to own something as dangerous.

    The gun laws in MA are stricter than in some states but this does not prevent hoodlums and morons from getting their hands on these weapons. Last week an arrest was made by two people attached to the Smith and Wesson manufacturing company here in Springfield who stole the weapons then sold them on the streets of Hartford to whoever had the money to buy them. Out of 500 weapons stolen only 50 have been retrieved.

    The aftermath of this devastation will be long felt by the families of those who have been slaughtered by some troubled young man long after we have moved on. There is no means to measure the loss to these families when the media moves out and the politicians argue with one another about the “right to bear arms”.

    Why is it easier to ban the smoking of cigarettes due to the question of public safety when it comes to second hand smoke but not okay to discuss the proliferation of these weapons of death when in just 60 seconds swaths of people can be destroyed by the slightest pull of a trigger?

    The reasoning and logic escapes me as we are more at risk then ever before in our lives due to the lobbying of special interests who are not at all interested in public safety as they are in making money on the graves of those who never stood a chance.

  3. RalphB says:

    Great post. Hope you have a good trip home to Boston BB.

  4. janicen says:

    According to the link, Limbaugh made the remark on his December 14 show. First of all, the joke is so offensive it doesn’t bear repeating, but second of all Limbaugh made the remark on the very day that the entire nation was overcome with grief and horror over the Newtown tragedy. Does he think he can distract us from talking about guns? 2012 will be remember for a lot of things but one of the most significant things that happened this past year is that people’s eyes have been opened, even the ones tightly shut, to what the right wing is really about. These people can’t even take one day off from hating to honor the fallen innocents and the broken hearts of everyone in our nation.

  5. janicen says:

    Safe travels, bb.

  6. RalphB says:

    his kind of messes up the theories I had seen about the motive for the school massacre.

    TPM: Nancy Lanza Not a Teacher?

    Here we seem to be getting a bit more of a handle on the origins of this. According to the AP, the origin of Lanza’s alleged tie to the school seems tenuous …

    A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said investigators believe Lanza attended the school several years ago but appeared to have no recent connection to the place.

    At least one parent said Lanza’s mother was a substitute teacher there. But her name did not appear on a staff list. And the law enforcement official said investigators were unable to establish any connection so far between her and the school.

  7. janicen says:

    Glancing through the comments on the New Yorker article, I read the same point made by the troll on the earlier thread, that why should everyone be punished by tougher gun restrictions just because of the actions of one person? Why the hell not? Isn’t the slaughter of 20 kindergarteners and 8 educators and staff members enough to allow some of us to be inconvenienced by restrictions that might help prevent more incidents like this?

    Also in the article, I hadn’t read about the ringing cell phones at Virginia Tech. What a horrible image.

  8. Boo Radly says:

    BB- have a safe and speedy journey home. May I offer a theory on how most Americans deal with such abominable horror? The numbers of occurrences and the depth of depravity keep increasing. We do not forget. The number of Americans dealing with PTSD is huge. Most of us do not have ‘knee jerk’ reactions. It is with deep sorrow and ever deepening dread that we go on.. We live in a very unhealthy environment – mentally and physically. Only the most balanced will come to the fore, and only through truth will we survive as a country. The creation of lobbyist was a rethug’s wet dream. Watching healthy people reject xians has been encouraging. Fux and fux like news sites are exposed every day as hate sites. Hate is the opposite of Life. May the “R’s’ own what they have wrought and end soon. I am possibly over-wrought right now and should not speak – I am going to be a grand parent next summer. How does one live without hope? History is such a great teacher and yet, it keeps repeating itself.

  9. janey says:

    The story about the lunch lady being fired for feeding a hungry kid just makes me sick. They couldn’t chip in a few bucks to pay the 45$? They couldn’t contact someone to help the family fill out the necessary paperwork?? The principal couldn’t contact the parents? their only recourse was to fire someone?? Is there something in the water that is making the whole population of the US stupid beyond belief??? We can’t keep our kids from being shot and we can’t feed them if they are hungry?? GRRRRRRR

  10. PHL says:

    I fear that we are doomed as a species unless we can figure out a way to overcome our innate tendency to reject ‘different’ and cling to ‘same’. Humans on earth are a single community precariously clutching survival in the vastness of space, descended from a population that almost blinked out of existence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_bottleneck

    The next step in human evolution must be the successful incorporation of civilizing social structures for the one community.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_(philosophy)

    The US culture of individualism is an evolutionary dead end. It should not be okay with any of us for a troubled youth to go untreated, or a hungry child to go unfed, just because they are not our biological progeny.