Moments of Lucidity, Working the SEO and a Weekend Filled with “Fear and Darkness” …Oh Yeah, this is an open thread too.

c1407bb0d326d9cc7b36793cbec25dabGood Evening!

Hey, how is everyone doing?

Hope you will bear with me a few paragraphs while I ramble on a little, with a quick observation and story before I get to the few links I have for you tonight.

Y’all know that I was recently put on Topamax for my epilepsy…and as a bonus, it would help my debilitating migraines. I’ve mentioned the dopamax effect it has had on me, and you have probably noticed the other side effect, shall we say dopamax induced blogging Tourette syndrome.

My mom was the one who pointed it out to me last week. While reading one of my posts she said out loud, “JJ, what a foul mouth you have.” Of course, her bit of criticism surprised me, considering that the woman knows every other word out of my mouth is damn, shit, asshole….well, you get the picture. But, what my mom was commenting on was that my posts of late have become more “colorful,” in that I was dropping shit bombs left and right. (Not only shit bombs, but several ass holes and even a few fuck wads.)

I think this is a side effect of the topamax. What I usually could control in my writing is now finding it’s way in uncontrollable outbursts…dopamax induced blog…shit…swear word…damn…Tourette syndrome….ass…ass…asshole fuck fest.

Wow, don’t know where that came from. (My apologies to anyone who may be offended by my comments…this is meant as a joke, to be taken in a humorous way and not intended to degrade or demean anyone who suffers from dopamax induced uncontrollable curse word blogging or Tourette Syndrome.)

Which leads me to this little story…here in the land of Banjoville, we have a bit of an ongoing scandal, what I call Cheergate.  It seems that a lot of the parents are pissed off that their girls did not make the competition cheerleading team. So, it was decided that a new open tryout will be held.  Obviously, this is not fair, and reeks of sour grapes and bullshit…so being the woman I am, I took it upon myself to call the powers that be and voice my opinion.

Now, since the dopamax makes me completely loopy, imagine my surprise when I had a few moments of lucidity and spoke in a coherent manner….even talking in words more than three syllables long. According to my mom, who was listening to most of my side of the conversation, I was impressive…sounding like a real professional, mentioning Georgia High School Sports Associations, Rules and Regulations and I have to say, whatever was said, it sure did shut the principal up…they had no response.  Of course, moments after I hung up the phone I couldn’t even remember what the hell I said. It was so bad that when I tried to explain to my daughter what happened, all I could get out was…”It had to do with lying and making something up, it begins with an f or an s and it has more than 2 syllables.”  Who the hell knows what word I was trying to tell her.

Well, now and then we all have our moments of clarity…even if they are just fleeting at that.

One more thing, a mention about the blog. Wow, we have had so many hits the past couple of weeks. It is quite something to see the numbers of people visiting our little blog that come from all over the world…Google is a strange and wondrous thing.  Kind of like the catch 22 you have with the SAG card in acting. You can’t get an acting gig without a SAG card and you can’t get a SAG card without the acting gig. We got big notice with the Google gods a couple of weeks ago with Boston Boomer’s Too Good Looking post, and with that surge in hits and outside links…it makes getting those higher ranking search results a lot more frequent.

So, the reason I mention this is just to say hello to any new readers out there who do come back and give Sky Dancing another look, we are glad you are here! (And to our regular readers, y’all know that obviously goes without saying…)

Now…for the links.

Y’all may have missed this, it is magnificent!

Jon Stewart Tears Apart NRA’s False Choice Between Freedom And ‘Obama-Sponsored Government Mom Rape’ | Mediaite

Jon Stewart opened Monday night’s edition of The Daily Show by looking back at the weekend’s NRA convention and its not-so-singular focus on guns. With Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and others in attendance, Stewart realized, “this is the same lineup, with the same laundry list of conservative grievances, that we saw at CPAC a month and a half ago.”

Eventually the speakers did get to the primary issue of guns, with Glenn Beck going after President Obama for his “tactics of fear and darkness.” Stewart congratulated Beck for acknowledging that “fear mongering is wrong” before playing another clip of him saying, “the only difference between your mom and sister getting raped and then walking home unmolested is a gun.”

“At the heart of the NRA’s message,” Stewart said, is “don’t let liberals say it’s a dangerous world and scare you into gun control. Let us say it’s a dangerous world and scare you into gun-a-pa-looza!” But, of course, the NRA’s real mantra comes from executive Wayne LaPierre: “Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.”

Based on Beck’s warnings against tyranny, the “government is the bad guy.” But based on LaPierre’s praise of the Boston police, “government is the good guy.” By the end of the segment, Stewart said he believes we all want the same thing: for “bad guys not to have guns.” While he and other Democrats want background checks, it appears some on the right want to “wait for a bad guy to draw and then draw faster.”

But if that’s the case, he said, “stop pretending that background checks are the last barrier standing between a free America and Obama-sponsored government mom rape.”

You have to go and see the clip…I know that I quoted most of the Mediate post, but seriously, Stewart just nails it…and that summary is just right.

There was also this from Ian Reifowitz: Gun Owners of America Is ‘Primarying’ the NRA From the Right

The NRA is even more extreme than it was just a few years ago. And that’s saying something. We’ve seen the shift in their rhetoric and in their policy positions. They just elected a new president, James Porter, who called the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression,” who referred to Barack Obama as a “fake president,” and who believes that one of our highest priorities should be to train and arm all our citizens so that, when the time comes, they can “fight tyranny.”

Wow. Take a deep breath. Yes, the new NRA president is a far right-wing extremist whose rhetoric makes his predecessor, David Keene, look like a Rockefeller Republican.

That is no news to us of course,

There’s no one simple reason why the NRA has moved even further to the right in recent years. Certainly, the right wing overall has become more extreme and paranoid since the election (and reelection) of President Obama. The Southern Poverty Law Center has plenty of material on the most extreme among them.

But within the gun movement, we are seeing something very specific, something that has a parallel within Republican electoral politics as a whole. In the last few years, conservative — not moderate but conservative — Republican senators like Richard Lugar of Indiana and Robert Bennett of Utah were defeated in reelection bids by insurgents who have come at them from the right. This is exactly what is happening to the NRA.

I didn’t see much room to the right of the NRA. At least I figured that any group to their right would have to be so extreme as to be unable to achieve any kind of influence. Wow, was I wrong. Gun Owners of America, led by its executive director, Larry Pratt, has done exactly that. The New York Times gave them a large degree of “credit” for mobilizing conservative opposition to the recent gun control package on Capitol Hill.

And I don’t think the word “extremist” truly captures where Pratt stands. Pratt’s been fomenting hatred and paranoia about President Obama’s desire to create a private army, and claimed that the president was “definitely capable” of using that army to start a race war.

The things Pratt has said should have made him 100 percent persona non grata to any senator or congressman. That he and his organization were able to spearhead a lobbying campaign in the halls of Congress tells you everything you need to know about the Republican Party’s tolerance of hateful, bigoted extremism.

Again nothing new there….

But this kind of extremism represents a real challenge to the NRA. If they don’t step up, they could lose credibility and eventually even leadership of the gun movement to a group like Gun Owners of America. GOA’s website prominently features a statement from former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the gold standard for extremism among national politicians, praising it as “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.”

Notice who that praise is aimed at. The implication is that the NRA is a bunch of weak-kneed compromisers, squishy moderates. You want a real gun rights organization, then come over to the GOA.

There’s no formal primary, no election day where the NRA and the GOA are on competing ballot lines. But make no mistake that there is a competition. The NRA has a huge head start, and should have no trouble winning. But they aren’t taking any chances. The NRA won’t be out-crazied by anyone.

Uh…Okay then.

Hmmmm.

Personally, I think they are all batshit crazy fuck-faced asshole bastards with tiny dicks and even smaller brains! (Same goes for the women gun-nuts too…sans penises.)

Anyway, I will end this post with this cartoon…

NRA Takes a Turn to the Right – Political Cartoon by Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, Inc. – 05/07/2013

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - NRA Takes a Turn to the Right

Y’all have a great evening, my daughter has a chorus concert tonight so I won’t be around until late.

This is an open thread.


Friday Nite Lite: Dope-A-Max Edition

546d436494f69d9a94d1bd725afbaf8aHey Y’all!

I can’t believe it is Friday! This spring-break week has gone by so fast for me. It could be that it is because I have been asleep for most of it, as most of you know….I had a seizure a while back. The doctor put me on Topamax, which I started to take on Monday.

It is amazing to me just how a small dose of medication can give a person such a wide range of side effects. I am being worked up to a full dose, and the tingling in my fingers and toes is supposed to become less noticeable in the weeks to come…but damn it is freaky!

It feels like my hands and feet have fallen asleep…and no amount of movement will wake them up. Not only that, but my eyes feel as if they are popping out of my head. (That is when I am awake, because this medicine is knocking me out.) Like I said, these side effects are supposed to diminish with time. And to be honest, this is nothing compared to the shit I experienced with Keppra.

Anyway, I take my dope-a-max twice a day, and it really kicks in when I usually write the evening reads post. So for the next couple of weeks I am going to take a break from the weekly evening news round-ups. However, I can’t stop the Friday Nite Lite post, those are my favorite ones of the week. Soooooo, I am writing this post at 6:30 in the morning on Friday, before I take my pill.

Here are your cartoons for the week, I think it is safe to say we all need a laugh tonight!

I am going to start with three from my man Luckovich, he has been on a roll lately and damn if these aren’t fabulous.

4/3 Luckovich cartoon: Last man standing | Mike Luckovich

040313-toon-luckovich-ed

4/4 Luckovich cartoon: Book report | Mike Luckovich

040413-toon-luckovich-ed

4/5 Luckovich cartoon: I object! | Mike Luckovich

040513-toon-luckovich-ed

That one about Dubya’s Library made me laugh like hell!

The rest of these cartoons are in no particular order…hope you enjoy them!

Kim Jong Un War by Political Cartoonist Rick McKee

129722 600 Kim Jong Un War cartoons

Riot!!!!!!

Totally Safe Schools by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

129727 600 Totally Safe Schools cartoons

Deadly Weapon

129611 600 Deadly Weapon cartoons

Distinguishing Armed Schools from Prisons by Political Cartoonist Jeff Parker

129661 600 Distinguishing Armed Schools from Prisons cartoons

Ain’t that the truth?

N Koreas Low Tech Threat by Political Cartoonist John Darkow

129720 600 N Koreas Low Tech Threat cartoons

Evacuate Rodman by Political Cartoonist Jeff Koterba

129488 600 Evacuate Rodman cartoons

Yesterday we lost one of the most outstanding film critics ever…Roger Ebert.

Roger Ebert by Political Cartoonist Milt Priggee

129732 600 Roger Ebert cartoons

ROGER EBERT REST IN PEACE by Political Cartoonist Randy Bish

129739 600 ROGER EBERT  REST IN PEACE cartoons

This next cartoon is about a little news item from a couple of weeks ago…Taken For A Ride by Political Cartoonist Tim Campbell

129687 600 Taken For A Ride cartoons

And finally…

Start Me Up by Political Cartoonist Steve Nease

129761 600 Start Me Up cartoons

50 Years of the Rolling Stones? Damn…has it been that long? It’s enough to make a grown man cry…

This is an open thread.


Good Evening Valentine: Open Thread

valentineHappy Valentine’s Day!

Evening everyone, hope your Valentine Day is going well. Usually I get a kick out of V-Day, but this year…meh.

The past two days have been a kind of fog for me, and other than the news that another athlete has shot and killed his girlfriend, I have no idea what is going on in the world. Heavy duty pain medication and a case of PAD is keeping me from reading and watching the news.

That is why today’s evening reads are going to be rather thin.

First this from “Pepe” LaPierre( I wish I could draw, if I could I’d do a caricature of LaPierre as a skunk, like Pepe Le Pew….kissing an AK15…saying, “Come wiz me to ze Casbah – we shall make beautiful musicks togezzer!”) from Huffington Post : Wayne LaPierre: More Guns Needed For ‘Hellish World’ Filled With Hurricanes, Kidnappers, Drug Gangs

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, adopted on Wednesday a significantly more ominous and expansive line of reasoning than he has before in order to make the case that newer, more dangerous threats require Americans to buy more guns, join the NRA and organize opposition to gun control measures.

“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe,” LaPierre wrote in a commentary published by The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.”

“Tens of millions of Americans are already preparing to Stand And Fight to protect their families and homes,” LaPierre declared, but the threats are growing “during the second Obama term.”

Good Lawd, what horrors!

…LaPierre wrote that “the American people clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster. Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there — or simply doesn’t show up in time.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE COMMENTARY. (IT’S WORTH IT.)

New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was LaPierre’s prime example of just such a disaster: “After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.”

The facts, however, indicate the opposite was true. In the five days following Hurricane Sandy, there were no homicides at all in New York City — which is unusual, considering historical data.

You can click the link to that HuffPo article, which goes on to point out other facts LaPierre has twisted to his will.

I think this cartoon from Signe Wilkinson fits perfectly with this discussion.  NRA Shoppe

The Guardian has a cool interactive poking fun at the dumbing down of the US President’s State of the Union Address: The state of our union is … dumber: How the linguistic standard of the presidential address has declined

How the linguistic standard of the presidential address has declined. Using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test the Guardian has tracked the reading level of every state of the union.

Just go and check it out!

Also from The Guardian: Horsemeat scandal deepens as minister says bute may be in food chain

Eight horses slaughtered for food in the UK have tested positive for the veterinary painkiller phenylbutazone, known as bute, new tests from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed on Thursday.

The minister for food and agriculture, David Heath, told the Commons that 206 carcasses had been tested. Six of the carcasses that tested positive may have entered the food chain in France in the last few weeks, according to the FSA, and efforts were being made to recall them. Heath said the Findus lasagne found to contain horsemeat had tested negative for bute. The FSA confirmed that all tests on the food products analysed so far, including Tesco burgers, were negative.

Heath said: “It is unacceptable that bute at any level has been found in horsemeat. We are investigating and anyone found to have broken the law will be dealt with.”

Eeek!

In other horsemeat news, Oklahoma State Senate committee advances bill on commercial slaughter of horses

A state Senate committee unanimously passed a bill to allow the operation of horse slaughterhouses in the state.

Senate Bill 375 – written by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro – passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on a 9-0 vote without debate or question.

Before the bill was considered, Allen announced that he had substituted new language in the bill that would ensure that meat produced at an equine slaughterhouse would be consumed only outside the state and that animals would be allowed to come to a facility only through a livestock auction and a livestock dealer, meaning horses couldn’t be sold directly to a slaughterhouse.

Cynthia Armstrong, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said the changes to Allen’s bill didn’t make it any less horrible and unacceptable for the state.

“Oklahoma City has a reputation as the Horse Show Capital of the World,” Armstrong said. “We do not need to be known as the Dead Horse Capital of the U.S.”

Of course I have a cartoon for this story too:   Oklahoma Horse Slaugherhouses – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 02/14/2013

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Oklahoma Horse Slaugherhouses

Lastly, this year’s Oscar poster is cool, check it out:  Oscar Poster Reveals Years Of Best Picture History, But Can You Guess The Movies? (PHOTOS)

http://i.huffpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/279678/slide_279678_2099998_free.jpg?1360711003525

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a fun new poster on its website Tuesday. The Olly Moss and Gallery1988 project features 85 renderings of Oscar statuettes — one for each Best Picture winner from 1927 to 2012.

Go to the link to see a gallery of each statue. I like the ones that make references to the movie itself, and not just a costume. Like The Sting (finger to nose), The Apartment (tennis racquet and spaghetti), English Patient (melted head and shoulder) and All’s Quiet on the Western Front (butterfly).

Have a wonderful evening!

This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: Guns Galore and Other News

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." -- C.S. Lewis

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” — C.S. Lewis

Good Morning!!

The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, 34-31. I completely ignored it, so I didn’t see any of the commercials or the game. I did find this review of the commercials at the WaPo. I’m very happy for Ravens fans though–especially Janicen. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s see what else is going on in the news.

I’m sure everyone has heard about the Navy Seal sniper who was shot in by a marine he may have been trying to help. The NYT reports:

From his perch in hide-outs above battle-scarred Iraq, Chris Kyle earned a reputation as one of America’s deadliest military snipers. The Pentagon said his skills with a rifle so terrorized Iraqi insurgents during his four tours of duty that they nicknamed him the “Devil of Ramadi” and put a bounty on his head.

The insurgents never collected, and he returned home to become a best-selling author and a mentor to other veterans, sometimes taking them shooting at a gun range near his Texas home as a kind of therapy to salve battlefield scars, friends said. One such veteran was Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old Marine who had served tours in Iraq and Haiti.

But on Saturday, far from a war zone, Mr. Routh turned on Mr. Kyle, 38, and a second man, Chad Littlefield, 35, shortly after they arrived at an exclusive shooting range near Glen Rose, Tex., about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, law enforcement authorities said Sunday. The officials said that for reasons that were still unclear, Mr. Routh shot and killed both men with a semiautomatic handgun before fleeing in a pickup truck belonging to Mr. Kyle.

“Chad and Chris had taken a veteran out to shoot to try to help him,” said Travis Cox, a friend of Mr. Kyle’s. “And they were killed.”

I’m sorry about these two meaningless murders, but I’m mystified as to why anyone would want to read a book about someone who shot hundreds of people from a distance in Iraq. Supposedly they were “insurgents,” but who really knows? All those innocent people at Gitmo and dead civilians in Pakistan suggest to me that the U.S. military isn’t so great at separating civilians from combatants.

I’m even more mystified as to why taking someone with PTSD from serving in Iraq and Haiti to a gun range for therapy would be a good idea. Anyway, I don’t mean to judge, just my two cents.

According to the Dallas News, Routh became aggressive in jail and was tasered by guards.

After eating dinner, Routh refused to return his food tray to jailers. He became aggressive and tried to attack them when they tried to get it back from him, said Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant.

Jailers tasered Routh and placed him in a restraining chair in his solitary cell. He is on suicide watch, Bryant said….Routh, a former Marine and Iraqi War veteran, is believed to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Investigators say that he shot Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at point-blank range around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Please note Routh used a semi-automatic handgun to shoot the Kyle and Littlefield. Wayne LaPierre is outraged that there was no “good guy” with a bigger gun around to protect them. Sorry, I made that up.

Speaking of Crazy Wayne, he was on Fox News Sunday yesterday, and he managed to be so outrageous that Chris Wallace told him he was being “ridiculous.” From Business Insider:

Fox News host Chris Wallace and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre got into a heated exchange on “Fox News Sunday” this morning, as Wallace challenged LaPierre on a controversial ad involving President Barack Obama’s daughters.

Wallace played the clip of the ad, which called Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for sending his children to a school with armed protection while opposing it for other schools. (That ad has actually been proven false.)

Wallace asked LaPierre if he regretted putting up the ad. He avoided the question and said the point of the ad was “not to pick on the President’s kids.”

Here’s the most contentious exchange:

LAPIERRE: The President’s kids are safe, and we’re all thankful for that.
WALLACE: They also face a threat that most people do not face.

LAPIERRE: Tell that to the people in Newtown! Tell that to the people in Newtown.

WALLACE: Do you really think that the President’s children are the same kind of target as every schoolchild in America? I think that’s ridiculous, and you know it, sir.

Here’s the video of the interview:

It seems as if the entire gun safety debate has boiled down to a huge argument over the AR-15 rifle.  What is it about that gun anyway?   The New York Times has a very long read about it headlined The AR-15: The Most Wanted Gun in America.

THE phone rings again at Pasadena Pawn and Gun, and a familiar question comes down the line: “Got any ARs?”

The answer is no. Pasadena Pawn and Gun, a gun retailer and pawnshop 15 miles south of Baltimore, is pretty much sold out of America’s most wanted gun, the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Since the massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December, the AR-15, the military-style weapon that the police say was used in the shootings, has been selling fast here and across the nation.

Before Newtown, the rifles sold for about $1,100, on average. Now some retailers charge twice that. At Pasadena Pawn, on the wall behind glass counters of handguns, are three dozen or so AR-15-style rifles. Dangling from nearly every one is a tag that says “Sold.”

hellokitty_ar15assault_2

Is that sick or what? Basically, the gun has become a fashion statement–like an expensive handbag or pair of shoes.

“The AR-15, it’s kind of fashionable,” says Frank Loane Sr., the proprietor. His shop has a revolving waiting list for the rifles, and a handful of people are now on it. “The young generation likes them, the assault-looking guns.”

Sick. I don’t know how else to react to that.

As everyone knows, the White House released a photo of President Obama shooting a gun–supposedly he was skeet shooting at Camp David–in response to demands from wingnuts like Marsha Blackburn.

Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, expressed doubt about Obama’s skeet shooting.

“You know, if you don’t have the photos, if this is not something that’s a new hobby, then I think he should invite me out to Camp David and I’ll challenge him,” Blackburn said on CNN, according to a transcript.

Read the rest of this entry »


Thursday Reads: Happiness is a Warm Gun

beatles reading4

Good Morning!!

Listening to that gun violence hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday was truly mind blowing. It’s very difficult for me to understand how someone like Crazy Wayne LaPierre or Gayle “Guns Keep Women Safe” Trotter can actually be permitted to testify before Congress. It was also mind-blowing to hear these people (Senators and pro-gun advocates) attacking “the mentally ill” and video games, yet no experts on mental illness or the effects of video games were invited to testify.

My mind was so blown by what I saw and heard yesterday that I have been unable to think of much other than gun violence and the refusal of our “leaders” to do anything about it. So this will be a gun-oriented post. First some information about the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TPM Muckraker: NRA Spent Big To Help Senate Judiciary Republicans

The biggest recipient of the NRA’s money is one of the committee’s newest members: freshman Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who got a $344,742 boost in independent expenditures from the NRA during his race against former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona. According to Public Campaign’s figures, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has received $136,639 from the NRA, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, has received $78,526. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is the only Democrat on the committee who has received an NRA donation. Leahy’s Green Mountain PAC has received $7,000.

Patrick Leahy sells out pretty cheaply. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: Senate Judiciary chair rejects Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee did not endorse colleague Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban at a packed Capitol Hill hearing on guns Wednesday in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called for “common sense reform,” that closes loopholes in current gun laws and enforces background checks. Buthe did not endorse Feinstein’s tougher ban. “I know gun store owners in Vermont,” Leahy said. “They follow the law and conduct background checks…why should we not try to plug the loopholes in the law that allow (criminals and the mentally ill) to buy guns without background checks?”

The rebuffed California Democrat plans to hold her own hearing in her Judiciary subcommittee on her legislation, which is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has also refused to back a ban on military-style weapons and high-capacity clips. Reid’s position reflects the political fact that a whole bevy of conservative Democrats do not support Feinstein’s ban.

happiness-warm-gun2

HuffPo: Senate Judiciary Committee Includes At Least Seven Gun Owners.

* At least 7 of 18 committee members own guns (7 committee member refused to answer the question)
* Senator Leahy was champion marksman in college
* Senator Sessions has about a dozen firearms

And guess what Lindsey Graham has in his closet with him?

“I have an AR-15 at home and I haven’t hurt anybody and I don’t intend to do it,” Graham declared on Wednesday at a Judiciary Committee hearing.

We’re all relieved to hear that, Senator.

Read the rest of this entry »


Gun Advocate Gayle Trotter: “Guns Make Women Safer”

Listening to the pro-gun testimony at the Senate Judiciary Hearing today has been a bizarre experience. The three people testifying against limits on gun ownership are Crazy Wayne LaPierre of the NRA; David Koppel, adjunct professor at the University Denver; and Conservative Attorney Gayle Trotter of the Independent Women’s Forum, who is totally stealing the show.

From TPM:

“Guns make women safer,” she said. “Over 90 percent of violent crimes occur without a firearm, which makes guns the great equalizer for women. The vast majority of violent criminals use their size and their physical strength to prey on women, who are at a severe disadvantage. In a violent confrontation, guns reverse the balance of power.”

Some background on Gayle Trotter from HuffPo:

Guns haven’t always been Trotter’s specialty. A tax lawyer by trade, Trotter appears to have published her first op-ed about gun control issues this past fall, when she urged voters to “cling to your guns” in a piece published on the conservative website The Daily Caller.

Two months before the gun-control piece came out, Trotter argued that President Obama “has the idea of government completely wrong” in an op-ed on Fox News Channel’s website. Obama, Trotter wrote, “is a card-carrying member of the jet-setting liberal class that wants to bargain with the American people to win their votes.”

Trotter’s presence at the Senate hearing appears to be tied to her status as a Senior Fellow at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, a nonprofit whose mission is to “to expand the conservative coalition” by pitching conservative ideas with a specifically feminine focus. According to its website, IWF’s mission is two-fold: “increasing the number of women who understand and value the benefits of limited government, personal liberty, and free markets,” and “countering those who seek to ever-expand government.”

Since April of 2012, Trotter has produced a few dozen op-eds and media appearances for the group, on topics ranging from Obamacare to Trotter’s opposition to the Violence Against Women Act. Before becoming a senior fellow, Trotter was the group’s lawyer. In March of 2012, before she started posting on IWF as a senior fellow, Trotter identified herself as general counsel for the group in a blog post about Obamacare, published by The Huffington Post.

If you’re not watching this hearing, you’re missing a show that’s funnier than Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show.   Of course Crazy Wayne has been entertaining too and the adjunct professor from the University of Denver–supposedly a constitutional expert–has made quite a few jaw-droppingly bizarre remarks also.

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who looks and sounds as if he’s at death’s door, got Crazy Wayne to admit that the NRA is opposed to requiring background checks for people who purchase weapons at gun shows.  That was quite a coup, achieved after powerful efforts by Crazy Wayne to dodge the question.

Watch the hearing at the C-Span website.

The Washington Post is publishing a running transcript of the hearing.  Read it here.

This is an open thread.


Saturday Reads: The Gun Lobby and Bad-Faith Negotiations

some monsters are real

Good Morning!!

I had a tough time sleeping last night. The past couple of days’ political events have been so surreal that it feels like there’s a disturbance in the force, so to speak. I couldn’t stop thinking about that bizarre NRA press conference yesterday and the way Wayne LaPierre talked about the need for more guns in our schools while at the same time a man in Pennsylvania was “randomly” shooting and killing people and grieving families were holding funerals for first graders and school teachers and administrators in Connecticut.

If only we had a responsible mainstream media. But that’s not going to happen either. Early this morning I heard CNN reporting on Americans who are rushing out to buy more guns because they’re afraid there will suddenly be gun control laws to stop them. A man in Georgia was who was interviewed was remarking on the high cost of AR-15’s right now, because so many people want to stock up on them. He was at the store because he had long wanted one of these and was no afraid he soon wouldn’t be able to get one. The interviewer asked if he would pay the high price, and he said, “I probably will.”

Here are some more intelligent reactions to Wayne LaPierre’s so-called press conference, at which the press couldn’t ask questions.

The New York Daily News: NRA’s Wayne LaPierre was America’s mad gunman in first comments after Newtown school massacre

A week after a gunman armed with an assault rifle murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and ever so shortly after the bells there tolled for the dead, LaPierre lashed out at everyone and everything but the weapons that were used to kill.

Still worse, in his arrogance and in his sense that terrible forces are out to get him, LaPierre was callous to the raw agony of the families of the slain. The hell with them — he made clear that he will fight to maintain the easy availability of assault weaponry of the kind that killed their kids.
He flayed the news media for supposedly perpetuating a culture of violence and ignorance.

He blamed video games and movies for murder, as if big-screen or small-screen entertainment matters more than easily obtained machines of death.

He mocked anyone with a single new idea to prevent deadly weapons from falling into the hands of those intent on mayhem.

And, exhibiting a level of insanity that qualifies people for commitment as a danger to themselves or others, he called for stationing armed cops at every school in the United States.

The Atlantic: The Most Paranoid, Fear-Mongering Lines in Wayne LaPierre’s Call to Expand the Gun Market to Schools

Anyone expecting the NRA to be chastened at all by the shooting in Newtown, Conn., was quickly disabused of that expectation as Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the gun industry and enthusiast lobbying group, delivered a blistering speech effectively arguing today for a major expansion of the market for the product his group represents.

It was an extraordinarily tone deaf performance, but it followed a well-worn script for product sales: Provoke anxiety — and pitch your product as the one and only solution to it.

Read the examples at the link.

Dan Bigman at Fortune: What The NRA’s Wayne Lapierre Gets Paid To Defend Guns

If you’re a transparency fanatic like me, you appreciate knowing what kind of skin public people have in the game during episodes like this. So what did the NRA pay Lapierre to say that the best way to stop school shootings is to have the government put every mentally ill person in the nation on a watch list and arm school personnel to defend schools like banks?

Just under a million bucks.

That’s according to the most recent NRA filings with the IRS.

The numbers are a bit out of date. The last filing of a Form 990 from the NRA was in 2010. Still, if you’re interested in the numbers behind America’s most powerful gun lobby, it makes for interesting reading.

The organization’s mission is simply stated, right at the top: “To protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.” To accomplish this, in 2010 the NRA reported that it had 781 full time employees, 125,000 volunteers and generated revenues of $22.5 million.

BTW, as Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out last night, banks don’t use armed guards anymore, because they don’t prevent bank robberies. But LaPierre is living in the past as he showed with his pop culture references to decades-old video games and movies.

Here’s O’Donnell’s rant. It’s pretty long, but well worth watching in full.

It’s not a response to the press conference, but Mark Ames posted a great piece on the history of the NRA a couple of days ago: FROM “OPERATION WETBACK” TO NEWTOWN: TRACING THE HICK FASCISM OF THE NRA. Ames is the author of Going Postal, a book on workplace and school shooters. His article can’t be easily excerpted from, but I highly recommend you go an read it at the link.

On a slightly more positive note, here’s an article in New York Magazine about a former school principal who has been studying school shootings ever since one happened at his own school: School-Shooting Specialist Bill Bond on Why Lockdowns Save Lives

Bill Bond, specialist for school safety at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, has spent more than a decade speaking and consulting on school violence. Here, he tells assistant editor Eric Benson about lockdown procedures and the deadly shooting he witnessed himself.
Along with Columbine, my school is the reason lockdown procedures came into being. I was principal of Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, and we had eight shot in the lobby; three girls were killed. Back then, we had a crisis plan for the school, but what we were thinking about was a school intruder — an irate person, a mad parent, someone like that. We weren’t thinking about guns at all.
A lockdown means that all students get to the nearest classroom, regardless of whether it’s theirs or not, as quickly as possible. You lock the doors. You pull the shades. You turn the light out. You have the kids move to the back corner of the room, away from the door and windows. And you get the kids to be as quiet as possible. You want them to be quiet, because shooters react to sound and movement. If there’s someone screaming and hollering or running around, the shooter is much, much more likely to try to enter that door.

It sounds like that’s exactly what the teachers did at Sandy Hook School. Read much more at the link.

The other big story of the day is the so-called “fiscal cliff” and the way the Villagers–politicians and media–have turned this giant clusterfuck waiting to happen into an even huger and more horrible clusterfuck.

Boehner poker

Last night Jonathan Chait posted the perfect response to the insanity of the “negotiations” between Speaker Boehner and President Obama: Obama Waking Up From Dream of Grand Bargain

In recent weeks, Obama seems to have concluded that Republicans have come around, and that it is time to sit down and hash out a deal like reasonable people. He moved his position more than halfway toward Boehner’s. Democrats in Congress are, incredibly, discussing the option of compromising even more.

But reasonable compromise to avert the fiscal cliff is impossible. Republicans, as a whole, don’t even seem capable of linear thinking about the budget. They don’t know what they actually want on spending. They don’t understand why Obama wants more revenue or what role this would play in the broader fiscal picture. They don’t even seem capable of politically organizing in a way that maximizes their fanatic principles. The House Republican caucus is simply a teeming pit of revanchist anger.

Chait is hopeful that Obama’s latest remarks on the mess in which he outlined a smaller proposed solution to the standoff may be a sign that the president has once again let go of his fantasies of postpartisan cooperation.

Obama’s remarks today indicate an apparent acceptance of the dynamic and a desire to at least steer the process toward minimizing the economic harm that would result if the contractionary policies scheduled for next year take effect. Obama is again demanding a tax cut for income under $250,000 a year, along with canceling out some of the more punitive spending cuts. He can get that if he holds absolutely firm on his income threshold. Unfortunately, his offer to Boehner confused the matter. Obama offered to lift the tax hike level to $400,000 a year. Now, he was proposing to make up the revenue through reducing tax exemptions, so he really changed only the delivery system for higher taxes rather than the end result, but this fact has gotten confused in the reporting, and Obama needs to re-solidify it. (In his press conference, he didn’t.)

The president also needs to learn about the uselessness of the corporate media.

Roll Call had an interesting insider report on the goings on during the GOP battle over Boehner’s Plan B on Thursday night.

Even his allies admit that Boehner’s stunning failure to find the votes for his “plan B” tax legislation was a major blow to his credibility, provoking befuddlement and even outrage from fellow Republicans.

But there is also considerable anger in the GOP conference directed at the conservative lawmakers that forced Boehner’s shocking defeat.

That fractured reaction — coupled with the lack of a plausible challenger — mean Boehner is unlikely to face any significant challenge to his position as speaker in the near term.

“These are people that, they don’t have a leader amongst them, and they don’t want to be led,” said a GOP member and Boehner loyalist. “He had probably 200 people lined up for him, for his position. And those 200 are pretty dad gum loyal to the speaker and pretty angry at that group.”

Read lots more at the link.

Finally, Rob Urie, who describes himself as an “artist and political economist,” writes at Counterpunch on why Obama and other Democrats are determined to cut Social Security even though it is political suicide and Republicans will use it against them in successive elections–and why we might fight back: Democrats, Social Security and the Fiscal Cliff

Why cut Social Security? The program is currently solvent, is expected to remain solvent for decades to come, and projected shortfalls in the future could be better addressed by raising the incomes of the people who pay into the program, not by cutting payments to those who depend on them. What is to be gained by ‘solving’ a problem that isn’t?

If cutting Social Security isn’t necessary, why then is it being proposed? Barack Obama provided copious evidence in prior proposals, television interviews and speeches that doing so is his intent. Congressional democrats and labor leaders quickly acceded to his proposal to do so, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi going so far as to actively lie that proposed cuts will ‘strengthen’ the program. And given the cuts will eventually put tens of millions of Americans into dire poverty from a program they paid into for all of their working lives, what rationale could possibly justify doing so?

The reason I ask is a coalition of democrats, labor, liberals and progressives just re-elected Mr. Obama and democrats in Congress to what—cut Social Security? Mr. Obama created the ‘fiscal cliff’ to first push his stacked (in favor of cutting social insurance programs) ‘deficit commission’ to develop a plan to cut government spending and second, to force the issue to be revisited immediately after the election if no plan was agreed to. And Republican threats to refuse to raise the debt ceiling for leverage to ‘force’ spending cuts are idiotic—George W. Bush and congressional Republicans just led the largest increase in government spending in modern history. And that is not a difficult point to make. (And had it been on beneficial programs, it would have been laudable).

Ultimately the entire ‘debate’ is nonsense—the U.S. doesn’t fund spending directly from taxes. As the Federal Reserve is in the process of demonstrating with its QE (Quantitative Easing) programs, it can buy an unlimited quantity of government debt with money it ‘creates’ –the ‘debt limit’ is an arbitrary misdirection.

None of this is news to any of us who went into this with our eyes open about Mr. Obama, but it’s a very good summary of what’s happening and well worth reading in full.   And remember, George W. Bush did his darndest to privatize Social Security and failed miserably.  Perhaps Obama will succeed, but I believe can be tripped up too.  The Republican hatred of anything Obama wants will probably help–after all Social Security wasn’t even addressed in Boehner’s “Plan B” proposal.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the politicians have left for their luxury vacations (leaving unemployed people to wonder whether they’ll have any money at all after Dec. 31); so I guess we can relax for the moment and try to enjoy some peace and quiet for the next week.

I’ve focused on only two issues in this post, so I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading and thinking about. What’s on your list for today?