Nel's New Day

February 1, 2019

DDT: Week 106 – Mass Shootings, Corruption

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:25 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The shutdown is on hiatus, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gets to escape the White House this weekend for a retreat to Mar-a-Lago. DDT spent his week causing making Venezuelans people to suffer while gifting Vladimir Putin by lifting sanctions and encouraging him to make as many nuclear weapons as he wants by removing a treaty. Little noticed by the media, however, is the ongoing slaughter of people in the United States by young white men. Three 21-year-olds each murdered at least three people in three different mass shootings last week:

  • Five women killed in a Sebring (FL) SunTrust bank.
  • Three people shot in a Pennsylvania bar, two of them killed, and an elderly man shot dead in a home where the suspect crashed his car and killed himself.
  • A young woman killed with her brother and father before the murderer shot and killed his parents in their nearby Louisiana home.

Media focus on mass shootings now seems to come only from a location such as a school or religious institution and/or massive numbers of dead. Largely ignored in the first month of 2019 were 32 mass shootings—the shooting of at least four or more people. As the media writes about how ISIS radicalized its recruits, it skips over how young white men in the United States are radicalized and committing more and more mass shootings.

Back, however, to the actions of the nation’s tweeter-in-chief who promotes violence in the United States. Before DDT left for his weekend getaway, he gave an 85-minute interview to the New York Times, which he claims to hate, in which he said that he would proceed with “wall” without congressional negotiations because they were a “waste of time.” About House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DDT said, “I’ve actually always gotten along with her, but now I don’t think I will any more.” He also denied that he worked on his Moscow skyscraper through his election, saying that former fixer Michael Cohen was lying. According to DDT, outgoing deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, told his lawyers that DDT was not a target of special investigator Robert Mueller.

In a reversal from his temper tantrums how his intelligence leaders had contradicted him, DDT claimed that they told him that the media misinterpreted the testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. “They said, ‘Sir, our testimony was totally mischaracterized,’” DDT said. “I’m happy with Dan Coats.”

In his intent to take over Venezuela, DDT looks to help from Brazil where 13 Brazilian investors, involved with DDT in a Rio de Janeiro hotel project until 2016, have been arrested and charged with diverting pension money into the scheme. DDT bailed just after his election and just before a criminal investigation into the funding process.

Three of DDT’s children—Ivanka, Eric, and Don, Jr.—are being sued for their endorsement of a fraudulent scam promoted on DDT’s reality show, The Apprentice. The Trumps received millions of dollars in secret payments from 2005 to at least 2015 from ACN persuading people to sell a “doomed” desktop video phone service. The video phone, which connected calls among only ACN customers, lost to Skype and smart phones.

Three House committee chairs have asked for documents surrounding Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s lifting sanctions from Russian companies, giving Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs millions of dollars to spend on election interference. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has also asked about Mnuchin’s possible conflicts of interest with his ties to the oligarchs because he refused to recuse himself from the sanctions discussions.

When Mnuchin took his current government position, he sold his shares in RatPac-Dune Entertainment for $25 million to Len Blavatnik and Oleg Deripaska. Blavatnik co-owns Sual Partners with another sanctioned oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, and Sual “is a major shareholder” of Rusal, one of Deripaska’s companies that benefited from Mnuchin’s lifting the sanctions. Blavatnik, who donated $1 million to DDT’s inaugural fund, formerly served on Rusal’s board. SUAL will own 22.5 percent of Rusal after the restructuring, and the rise in Rusal’s stock price with the lifting of the sanctions increased the value of SUAL Partners’ holding in the company by about $800 million. When questioned earlier about lifting the sanctions, Mnuchin testified in a House committee hearing that legislators should just “trust” DDT.

Part of the agreement to lift the Russian sanctions was for the Rusal to change its board of directors. Now one of DDT’s presidential transition team, Christopher Burnham, sits on Rusal’s board. Burnham is a former official at Deutsche Bank, the financial institution involved in money-laundering scandals with strong ties with DDT’s funding for his projects. The sanctions were quietly lifted last Sunday as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her presidential candidacy to a crowd of over 20,000 in Oakland.

Russian oligarchs support U.S. Christian fundamentalists in their fight to make the United States a theocracy. As the keynote speaker for the 2014 National Organization for Marriage gala, Ben Carson mixed with such notables as Alexey Komov, fascist-supporter, anti-Semite, and key employee of sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. In his speech, Carson said that Marxists were “using LGBT rights to destroy American unity and impose the ‘New World Order.’” The process of “Making America Christian” includes partnering with U.S. homeschool organizations and working closely with Christian movie reviewers. Malofeev funded eastern Ukrainian pro-Russian “separatists” who are believed to shoot down Malaysian Air Flight MH17 and kill all 283 passengers and 15 crew members.

Campaign groups connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY), instrumental in making sure the sanctions were lifted, received $7 million to elect Republicans, starting with $3.5 million to a PAC connected to McConnell. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also received hefty donations.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Armed Services Committee, received $1,000 in “unused campaign funds” from former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) on the day that a McKeon associate met with an Inhofe staff on behalf of the Saudi Arabians. The Saudis paid McKeon $450,000 three days after they killed U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The House has also directed the Pentagon to complete a report on climate change that ommitted requested details such as specific cost estimates to protect or replace the ten most vulnerable bases from each of the military services. The Pentagon report already released expressed security concerns about climate change although it listed no Marine Corps installations. Four months before the release of the report, Hurricane Florence cost Camp Lejeune, the biggest Marine base on the East Coast, over $3 billion in damages. Also omitted was Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida where Hurricane Michael destroyed 95 percent of the buildings. Patrick Shanahan, former Boeing executive, became acting DOD Secretary after Jim Mattis left.

DDT is sending thousands more troops to the border with Mexico because of the “caravans” coming from the south, and he agrees with the majority of people that a physical barrier will not stop the migrants. Told that the border for much of Texas is the middle of the Rio Grande River, DDT agreed that people just had to “touch the land.” He was wrong when he said that criminals “are released into our country.”

A caravan of millions is actually crossing the Mexico border for health care—but it’s going south. In just Yuma (AZ), 6,000 people cross into Los Algodones every day for healthcare, especially dental care. In the U.S., 74 million people, one-fourth the population, have no dental insurance, and most people with that insurance are not covered beyond regular checkups and filings that have a cap of $1,500. Getting dental work in Mexico saves people between 67 percent and 80 percent. One reason for less cost is lack of student debt: dentists pay the government for tuition with one year of free service. [Below: U.S. cars heading into Tijuana.]

More people are going to need healthcare with DDT’s plans to weaken regulations for beryllium exposure, causing lung cancer and symptoms such as difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, joint pain, cough, and fever. The disease also leads to disability and death.

DDT may be watching too many Star Trek reruns on television. He offered NASA unlimited funding if they can put the U.S. flag on Mars by 2020. An astronaut surprised DDT by reminding him that DDT had already set the timeline for the 2030s. Unhappy with that revelation, DDT suggested that NASA drop all other priorities and focus on a trip to Mars, which is 200 times farther than the moon. Even private efforts for a Mars journey were set back last week after a storm flipped the test vehicle SpaceX in progress at Boca Chica (TX). In his new book Team of Vipers, Cliff Sims described a conversation in the White House when DDT was pushing for a trip to Mars in the coming year.

The Senate passed nonbinding bipartisan legislation objecting to DDT’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria. Women in Afghanistan fear control by the Taliban who may subject females to forced marriages, domestic violence, inability to leave their homes without a male relative, and mandatory full-length burqas that cover their faces.

To keep DDT happy, his campaign team used Republicans to poll 10 GOP-leaning House districts that Democrats took in 2018 and supposedly found that a plurality of voters endorsed DDT’s wall. The purpose is to convince DDT that he has a good chance of being re-elected. Unfortunately for DDT’s peace of mind, 56 percent of people say they would “definitely not vote for him.” Majorities of independents (59 percent), women (64 percent), and suburbanites (56 percent) said they won’t support DDT for a second term. It is early to determine his chances, but another shutdown won’t be good for his reputation.

October 28, 2018

The Travesty Doesn’t End

Many of us have given up on any expectations that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will exhibit any compassion or sympathy for people. He claims he is a nationalist, he supports white supremacists, and he jokes about not going to a campaign rally only hours after a racist white man slaughters people in a place of worship because of a “bad hair day.” Fox network lies about events and either covers up or excuses the bigotry and violence of conservatives. In an attempt to exonerate the connection between DDT’s rhetoric and the suspect who sent the bombs, Fox network blurred the stickers/images on the bomber’s van. Yet some of us hope that the mainstream media might present information in a direct way rather than following DDT’s and Fox’s example.

Chuck Todd dashed that hope on today’s Meet the Press when he decided to blame progressives equally to the conservatives, despite the right-wing violent racist diatribes about immigration, Jews, George Soros—the list goes on. This past week, a Nazi walked into a Pittsburg synagogue and killed as many people as he could before he was captured. The police reported that he still spewed his vicious racist rhetoric while they took him to jail. A white supremacist shot and killed two older black people in a Kentucky supermarket because the church was locked, and he couldn’t get inside. He had wanted to replicate the massacre in Charleston (SC). One of the dead men was accompanied by his 12-year-old grandson because they were buying poster board for the boy’s school project. Last week, people waited in fear to see where the next bombs would be sent and whether they would kill people.

When Todd’s guest Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) blamed the inability to detect fact from fiction in the media on “older people” who cannot “navigate” social media, Todd agreed. No matter what Stivers said to exonerate Republicans, Todd said, “Right.” Or a version of agreeing. Stivers’ pablum included the need to “keep our dialogue civil” while Republicans refuse to so that and his ability to show “moral leadership. When he said that he hoped that DDT would “continue on that path” of moral leadership, Todd said, “Fair enough.” Then Todd equated the attacks on George Soros as a Jew and the lying about his giving money for protests (although he didn’t mention those facts) to Democratic attacks on Koch brothers with no evidence. He also said nothing about voter suppression, the racist connection between conservatives’ murders to the constant false accusations surrounding the caravan from Honduras, and DDT’s incessant lying attacks on people as he supports white supremacy.

Todd’s biggest pandering, however, came when Todd said to conspiracy theorist Erick Erickson, “You’ve had to deal with conspiracy theories on your site.”  The topic was “civility,” and Erickson’s personal conspiracy theories include smearing Christine Blasey Ford who reported Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault, accusing Parkland survivor David Hogg of not being at the school during the mass murder, comparing Planned Parenthood leaders to Nazis, claiming that transgender people are “perverts and the mentally ill,” attacking Muslims by saying that DDT’s ban is “brilliant politics,” stating that gay men in bars wearing certain clothing are asking to be assaulted, and arguing that mass shootings are “so rare.” And more. Yet Erickson claims that it’s the older people who can’t tell fact from fiction in the media.  (Erickson is 43 years old.)

Erickson exonerated DDT in his conclusion is that the blame for increasing violence is “on the American people as a whole…. Society is crumbling around us…. The president’s not the cause, he’s a symptom.” Todd just kept saying, “Right.”

Todd overlooked the fact that the alleged shooter at the Pennsylvania synagogue echoed the lie from DDT and other Republicans that George Soros funded “caravans” of refugees full of ISIS terrorists and called for the same white genocide that DDT and Fox’s Tucker Carlson push. DDT’s white supremacy goes back to his birtherism that led him to the Oval Office. He launched his campaign by calling all Mexican immigrants of being “drug dealers, criminals, rapists” and followed that by promising “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

The predominant myth regenerating within the next few weeks until the horror of the shootings dies down but reappearing with the next mass shooting is that of the “lone wolf.” Anyone of color who murders people is a “terrorist,” but a white man is assumed to be mentally unbalanced. The right-wing pundits deny responsibility, and Republicans support them while moving toward the next murders. DDT wins his base with hatred and fear, the fuel useful for more and more violence.

Erickson claims that the U.S. has very few mass shootings, buy white supremacist murders more than doubled in DDT’s first year of office. The first terrorist plot connected to DDT occurred the night of his election.    Arun Gupta has listed several of these, and others can be found here.

Other cover came from VP Mike Pence who said that “Everyone has his own style” and that nothing DDT says can be connected to any acts of violence.

The federal government is exacerbating the problem of domestic terrorism. In April 2009, the DHS tried to issue a report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” GOP politicians attacked the leaked report and forced part of it to be retracted. Parts about tracking and combating domestic terrorists were gutted, including the part of the report that assessed “lone wolves” who hold violent rightwing extremist ideology as “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States” bent on “committing violent acts.”  The report noted that “white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy.”

Rick Hasen wrote:

“Things with President Trump are different. He has refused to condemn anti-semitism and racism; he has encouraged chants of “lock her up” against his political opponent Hillary Clinton and against others; he has appeared with, and promoted the views of, those who blame George Soros and the Jews for immigration problems; he calls his political adversaries by demeaning names, especially African-American women opponents such as Rep. Waters. He has done these things even as this violence grows. He praised the body slamming of a journalist by Rep. Gianforte. He has shown no interest in bringing the nation together, suggesting that rather than ‘toning it down’ he could ‘really tone it up.’

“He has pursued a political strategy that is aimed at inflaming his base to try to win the election. He has even complained about how the pipe bombs could hurt Republican election momentum.

“And he has brought many Republicans along with him, such as Kevin McCarthy, soon to be leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives. McCarthy, in a now-deleted tweet, accused ‘Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg’ of ‘trying to BUY this election.’ Such anti-Semitic tropes have moved from the fringe right wing to the center of the Republican party.”

Thanks to DDT, the GOP that enables him, and far-right media—including Fox network that gives DDT his talking points promoting violence—the United States is a place where people are no longer safe in even ordinary settings such as shopping, worshipping, attending school, seeing a movie, riding mass transit—in short, going out of their house.

Mainstream media like Meet the Press have become complicit in the lack of freedom in the United States because of the increasing violence. The violence will only grow if nothing is done.

February 20, 2018

Dead Children: A ‘Reprieve,” the Price of Freedom

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) visited a visit to Parkland (FL) last Friday, he was all smiles. He never mentioned the word “guns” and largely ignored the victims’ families while focusing on first responders. On Valentine’s Day 2018, a mass shooter killed 17 people at a Florida high school with a legally purchased assault-style rifle. The day after the shooting Florida Republicans tried to loosen background check laws for guns by putting the provision into an agricultural bill. Along with oyster harvesting and water standards in vending machines came granting a concealed weapons permit within 90 days even without a full background check.

The day after the killings, Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio went to the U.S. Senate floor to explain that they shouldn’t ban the AR-15, the weapon of choice by mass shooters. That’s the conservative mentality for these tragedies. Republicans have had several other mass shootings that they use to choreograph their responses. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) repeated his argument against the “knee-jerk” political response to mass shootings, his same statement after the 2015 San Bernardino shooting killing 14 and the Umpqua Community College (OR) killing of nine the same year. Ryan got $177,000 from the NRA in 2016; his first successful bill last year was rescinding barriers to gun ownership for the mentally ill. Other GOP legislators repeat “knee-jerk” in the midst of their call for “thoughts and prayers.”

Ryan’s “knee jerk” comment did add the possibility of collecting “the facts and the data” that can’t happen because Republicans won’t remove the funding ban for this collecting. removed all funding for getting this information. Two decades ago, gun research in the United States stopped after the GOP threatened to take all funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if it funded research on firearm injuries and deaths. No one has a basis for any gun safety laws. The author of that law, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR), regrets his action, but the NRA hasn’t allowed any changes.

This weekend Ryan was at a fundraiser 50 miles away from the shooting in Key Biscayne. When teacher Maria Thorne criticized him for his response to the killings, he told her he “didn’t want to talk politics.” She was removed from the facility. An activist tweeted a photo of people at the Ritz-Carlton and wrote, “This is @SpeakerRyan’s version of Thoughts and Prayers. Odd, it looks like a donor event in the tropics.”

The White House response to the killing of 17 people was one of relief. Aides said that the tragedy gave them “a distraction or a reprieve” from the media attention on coverups for wife-beating, Cabinet secretaries’ luxury travel, payments for DDT’s paramours, and, most especially, the Russian investigation. [The White House may have more “reprieves”: three of the ten deadliest mass shootings in nation’s history have occurred in the past five months.] DDT hid out at Mar-a-Lago for the long weekend where he hosted a disco party immediately after spending a few minutes with victims of the Parkland shooting. DDT had heavily criticized President Obama for playing after the ISIS beheading of a journalist, but DDT was back on the links Monday at the same time as the funerals just 40 miles away for children killed in the shooting.

Through his speech after the shooting, DDT spread more propaganda and lies. In addition to not mentioning the word “gun,” he talked about “defenseless students and teachers,” a line to support the NRA by encouraging guns in every school. The site of the shooting had armed security personnel who never encountered the shooter. His promise of doing “anything we can … assist in any way we can” is false because communities are asking for closed loopholes on buying guns, background checks, and bans on assault-style weapons. DDT also elevated the “thoughts and prayers” to “we hold on to God’s word in Scripture.” In his commitment “to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” he avoids the problem of gun ownership for all. Millions of people suffer from mental health, but they aren’t shooting people. Millions of other people aren’t classified as mentally ill, but they are violent.

DDT’s budget for 2019 eliminates funds for school counselors and violence prevention programs. The $25 million cut, 36 percent of funding for school safety activities, eliminates the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) and Project Prevent Grant programs. DDT’s budget also reduces funding by 16 percent that helps states report domestic and violence crimes for the national background check database for gun purchases. The man who killed 26 people at the Sutherland Springs (TX) church legally purchased his gun because his conviction of domestic abuse had not been entered into this check system. DDT’s constant judicial nominations of gun-happy conservatives will make life for people more dangerous for decades.

The NRA has been praised for its programs teaching young people how to shoot. The teenager who killed 17 people last week sharpened his marksmanship in a NRA-supported school program that received $10,000 from the pro-gun organization in 2016. While he was a member of JROTC, the shooter talked about his AR-15; he was described as “a very good shot” with one of the “air rifles special-made for target shooting.” The NRA gave $2.2 million in grants promoting gun use to schools including “elementary and middle schools” for “youth shooting sports.”

Teenagers refuse to wait to talk about gun safety. The last few days they have been protesting and giving speeches that received national media notice. They also plan these events:

  • March 14: National school walkout
  • March 24: March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.
  • April 20: National school walkout

Stories from these young people are powerful. Carly Novell, 17, sent this message about herself and her grandfather, Charles Cohen, with this photo:

“This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn’t be repetitive. Something has to change.”

In response to conservative claims that the shooting was about mental illness and people, not guns, Carly wrote:

“I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.”

The conservative New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch, has reversed its position on assault-style weapons, now calling for a ban on them. The ten-year ban passed in 1994 banned features on semi-automatic rifles such as large capacity and detachable magazines as well as high-caliber bullets. The New York Daily News also has a cover attacking him.

Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida real estate developer who contributed millions of dollars to Republicans, said that he will no longer donate any money to organizations and candidates who don’t support a ban on selling military-style firearms to civilians. Buying an assault-style gun is easier that getting birth control or purchasing Sudafed.  Every state requires an ID to register to vote, but 39 states, including Florida, permit the sales of these weapons with no ID. At least 40 percent of guns sold in the U.S. are purchased with no ID. People can buy as many guns at one time that they wish, and Florida gun sellers need no license to sell weapons.

Russians again flooded social media with “bot” propaganda, this time opposing any gun safety laws. Much of the propaganda pushed the concept of the crazy lone wolf shooter with possible terrorist connections, a device that blocks action on gun safety laws. The sole purpose of Russian involvement is creating chaos to widen divisions and freeze any action. DDT helped the chaos by first blaming the students for not reporting the shooter’s behavior (they did) and then the FBI for ignoring the tip they got because they concentrated on—according to DDT—the non-existent Russian collusion.

Kali Holloway has the solution for ending mass shootings: arm all black men. As in the past, armed black men would move white conservative legislators to endorse gun control. “Racism [can] move American political mountains,” Holloway wrote. The first gun control law, passed in Virginia in 1640, banned blacks from owning guns, and the 1857 Dred Scott decision banned blacks from citizenship because it conferred the right “to keep and carry arms.” Following the Civil War, “Black Codes” made gun ownership by blacks illegal. Martin Luther King was denied an open carry permit. California under Gov. Ronald Reagan ended public carry when the Black Panther Party for Self Defense patrolled Oakland with weapons, and the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, the first federal gun law in almost 30 years, came after race riots.

This list of congressional legislators shows which ones are profiting from supporting the NRA in its opposition to gun safety laws.

Millions of people throughout the United States demand unlimited gun ownership as their definition of “freedom.” The price of their freedom is dead children.

February 14, 2018

Shooting, Russian Involvement: Demand Action

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:20 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Today at least 17 people were killed in a school shooting, taking the public attention from other events. Vice President Mike Pence is especially lucky because most people may not notice that he again blatantly lied in an interview of Axios. He said:

“Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Pence lied.

Six U.S. intelligence leaders, including Pompeo, Coats, and Wray, testified that Russia had interfered in the last general election, that they plan to do so in the current election, and that DDT has not given any direction to stop the Russian meddling. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that the meddling has already started but that there is nothing that the United States can do to prevent any Russian involvement.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said:

“We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said:

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

The intelligence community concluded that Russia “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” Collectively, they made this statement:

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.”

The intelligence community made no ruling on the Russian affect on the outcome of the election last year when Donald Trump became the president of the United States. Yet Pence said that “it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Donald Trump’s appointed FBI director, Christopher Wray, thinks that Russia believes its maneuvers succeeded in electing Trump as the president.

The Russians hacked and revised emails that resulted in negative press about Hillary Clinton. It distributed massive communications on social media that lied about Clinton and other progressive candidates. The FBI spread doubt about Clinton just days before the election while it failed to release the information about the Russian involvement in Donald Trump’s campaign, knowledge that they had for months before the election. And Donald Trump got over 60 million votes after he lied to the public about protecting the working people.

The same hackers also got into the email accounts of defense contract workers, and nobody is talking about that. Donald Trump refuses to sanction Russia for its interference.

Today witnessed the 18th school shooting in only 31 days of school in 2018, most of the shootings largely unnoticed by the media. Because of the gun industry and the NRA, conservatives take no action. (Although I wonder if they decide to allow all students over the age of five to take guns to school.) Yet GOP legislators give away trillions of dollars to the wealthy and the huge corporations. They plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on a wall to keep out immigrants and hundreds of billions of dollars to start and continue wars throughout the entire world.

The killer’s choice of weapon, at least one AR-15 style rifle and a large number of magazines, was the usual one for the deadliest mass shootings, including the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas massacre and the November 5, 2017 Texas church shooting. The assault-style rifle was developed for military use, but people use the Second Amendment to force its availability for the general population. Florida has no waiting period for anyone, including those on the terrorist watch list, who wish to buy guns, and the U.S. House has passed a bill making concealed-carry permits in one state valid in any other state.

Within hours after the shooting, officials associated the shooting with mental illness and calling them “evil.” Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County said that nothing can be done about shooters if they are determined to kill people. Others are using the standard statement that shooters are “evil.” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s response was that she would guarantee no “price gouging” for funerals and make sure that the families didn’t have to pay for the funerals of the dead students. Florida Gov. Rick Scott gave his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims.

People who want to think of the United States as exceptional should know that the U.S. has 270 million guns with 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012. No other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters. In 2009, the gun homicide rate in the U.S. was far higher than other developed countries at 33 per million people. The rate was 5 per million in Canada and 0.7 million in Britain, corresponding with differences in gun ownership. In 2013, Japan had 13 deaths related to guns; U.S. gun-related deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides, and 505 deaths caused by an accidental discharge. The chances per capita of a U.S. resident dying from a gun is 300 times more likely than a Japanese person dying in the same manner, and U.S. gun ownership is 150 times as high as that of Japan. Only three countries—Guatemala, Mexico, and the U.S.—have the assumption that people have an inherent right to own guns.

Gun ownership is the reason for these gun deaths:

  • The U.S. does not reflect a greater problem with mental health issues than any other wealthy country. Only four percent of U.S. gun deaths might be attributed to mental health problems. Other countries with high suicide rates have low rates of mass shootings.
  • People in the U.S. are no more likely to play video games than in any other developed country.
  • European countries show little association between immigration and other diversity with the rates of gun murders or mass shootings.
  • The U.S. is no more prone to crime than other developed countries—just more lethal.
  • Gun control legislation reduces gun murders, according to an analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

Britain’s 1987 mass shooting and Australia’s 1996 shooting turned the tide of unregulated gun ownership. The U.S. doesn’t care. British journalist Dan Hodges wrote:

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

These are the 1,607 mass shootings in the U.S. since Sandy Hook.

Broward County Public Schools Supt. Robert Runcie said, “This has been a day we’ve seen the worst of humanity.” He may be right, but the worst is coming from people on the internet accusing the shooter of being a DACA recipient and an ISIS supporter with no evidence. The worst of humanity comes from people who refuse to take any action to stop mass shootings. The shooter will be dehumanized as insane, and the dead will be classified as heroes. And the Republicans will block any sane action. Only a shooting by an immigrant or in the name of a non-Christian religion would bring any action.

In their sanctimonious method of controlling gun safety laws, conservatives always accuse people who want to stop shootings as attempting to “politicize” a tragedy. The only way to stop the growing mass shootings and lack of safety at schools is to stop electing Republicans because they are controlled by the NRA and the gun industry. They have no interest in protecting people; they only want to get elected and grow richer and more powerful. Their demands to not politicize tragedies are to guarantee that gun laws grow more lax.

Happy Valentine’s Day, thanks to your GOP legislators, owned by the gun industry, who think that words like “prayers and condolences” are sufficient action. And Vice-President Pence, your intelligence community didn’t say that Russia had no impact on last year’s election that turned the United States away from democracy and toward authoritarianism.

June 14, 2016

Toxic Masculinity Leads to Killings from Guns

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:50 PM
Tags: , , ,

We could never get to the moon. We could not possibly do away with (fill in the name of a disease). We could never build highways across the United States. Planes will never fly. These are some of the statements proved false during the past century. Why, then, do we think that we can’t do away with gun violence? The reason comes from the disease of toxic masculinity controlling gun laws.

Guns are “manly.” Yes, the killer in the recent Orlando shooting suffered from internalized homophobia and he may have tried to blame his action on his religion. But he also loved his guns, having two different concealed carry licenses. The FBI investigated him in 2013 after he made threats to a coworker, and before that he physically abused his wife. He was so controlling that her father had to rescue her. His job at the private security firm, G4S, allowed him to be controlling and dominant. The company is known to be abusive to immigrants, children, and other inmates.

Mention toxic masculinity, and some men whine about feminists condemning all men. Amanda Marcotte explains that the term “toxic” changes the definition of masculinity. She writes:

“It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act not of affection but domination, and which valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world.”

Conservatives push disasters like the Orlando shooting as done by either a crazy person or a “radicalized” Muslim. They ignore the self-appointed heavily-armed militia that took over public land in Oregon  and the head of a self-appointed Arizona border patrol who molested five- and six-year-old girls as well as the men who attack and kill people at abortion clinics.

Men suffering from toxic masculinity are terrified of appearing tender or soft—being less than “manly.” The far-right white conservatives, concerned that they might be emasculated by a lack of racist beliefs, developed the term “cuckservative” for anyone who thinks that non-white, non-heterosexual people have the right to live in the United States. “Manly” men aren’t worried about Muslims killing people in the United States; they worry about them—and all other people not in their “manly” group of forming the majority of the population.

Toxic masculinity ends up with a man killing his family because it’s the only way he can control them, to show that he has power over them. And thanks to legislatures controlled by the “manly” men, they have the military weapons to carry out the murders. They argue that they need guns to “protect” themselves, but the “manly” George Zimmerman didn’t need his gun for protection. He stalked Trayvon Martin despite the police telling him not to do it and executed a 17-year-old boy. That’s toxic masculinity.

Just one or two guns for defense isn’t enough. They stockpile more and more of them, taking pride in how much control they give them. And toxic masculinity demands that the guns be capable of shooting 100 or more people. “Manly” men develop an attachment to their guns. They sit and stroke them–and sometimes shoot themselves in the process. Any imagined threat that they can’t buy as many as they want sends them into hysterics. Just thinking about LGBT people sends these “manly” men into more fear and hysteria because they compare non-heterosexual people to be feminine.

The more fear that “manly” men experience, the more they threaten others—sometimes carrying out their threats. Donald Trump is an example of toxic masculinity, shouting for “toughness” and calling for his supporters to beat up protesters. His only strategies are to bomb the enemy—whoever they are—and keep people who don’t look like him out of the country. And to make sure that everyone has enough guns to keep killing innocent people.

The “manly” gun-lovers complain about the gay bar in Orlando being a “gun-free” zone because Florida law doesn’t allow guns in bars. An off-duty police officer hired as armed security at Pulse tried to stop the killer but failed to succeed against the military weapon that the killer brought with him. There was “a good guy with a gun,” that miracle that gun-lovers call for, and the “solution” failed.

“Manly” men say that mass shootings are not that common so there should be unlimited ownership of guns. They’re wrong, and between 2009 and 2012, 40 percent of mass shootings started with a shooter targeting his girlfriend, wife, or ex-wife. Just last year almost one-third of mass shooting deaths was related in some way to domestic violence. The majority of mass shootings in this country take place inside the home where men target the women and children in their intimate life.

Male entitlement makes “manly” men think that violence and coercion are part of romantic relationships. If abusive men were blocked from obtaining guns, the number of killings could shrink. The Orlando killer abused his wife and threatened co-workers–and still got concealed carry permits.

Other shootings from “toxic masculinity”:

Mainak Sarkar killed a professor at UCLA earlier this month. Before his trip to California where he also planned to kill another professor, he climbed through a window to kill his estranged wife in Minnesota.

Cedric Larry Ford killed three co-workers at Excel Industries in Hesston (KS) last February after he was issued a restraining order by someone he had abused. Women in past romantic relationships were afraid of Ford, and one said that he tried to strangle her.

John Russell Houser killed two people in a Lafayette (LA) movie theater last July after his family had talked about his violent behavior. His wife had gotten a temporary protective order against him in 2008.

Robert Lewis Dear killed three people at a Planned Parenthood last fall after a long history of preying on women. Dear’s wife said he pushed her out a window in 1997, and a neighbor took out a restraining order in 2002 after he made “unwanted advances.”

Syed Rizwan Farook, who killed fourteen people in San Bernardino (CA) last December, grew up in a violent home where his father abused his mother.

Elliot Rodger killed six people in Santa Barbara (CA) in a rampage because he claimed that women romantically rejected him. He perceived his virginal state as the fault of women and pledged to “slaughter every spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see” inside the “hottest sorority house of UCSB.”

Cho Seung-Huim killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in the second worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Two women had complained that he was stalking them, and Cho left behind a “rambling note raging against women.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Florida has some of the nation’s laxest gun laws in its support of NRA’s crusade of guns everywhere:

  • No waiting period except for a handgun.
  • No background check for the sale of weapons between two private parties.
  • No state permit requirement to sell guns.
  • No license requirement for gun ownership.
  • No registration for guns.
  • No regulation on the sales of assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles, or large capacity ammunition magazines.
  • No limit to the number of guns a person can buy at one time.

The state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issues concealed carry licenses for applicants who meet basic qualifications.

After two days of silence after the Orlando shooting, NRA broke its silence with “Gun laws don’t deter terrorists” in Rupert Murdoch’s publication USA Today. Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action misrepresented statements from the president, skipped over the common use of the AR-15 assault weapon for mass shooting, and blamed Islamic extremists. Like other conservatives, Cox accused the Obama administration’s “political correctness” for the shooting.

The NRA promotes toxic masculinity through its crusade to put multiple guns in every home:

  • Opposition to background checks;
  • Support for restoration of gun rights to convicted felons;
  • Protecting the arsenals and gun rights of domestic abusers;
  • Making it harder for courts to review—and uphold—gun laws.

As conservatives and their leader, Donald Trump, continue to push toxic masculinity, “manly” men will push their agenda through the NRA, more guns will be sold, and more people will die. If we can go to the moon, cure diseases, build highways, and fly huge plane, we can stop gun violence.

March 13, 2016

Christianity – Good, Bad, Ugly

 

Good:

After over seven years in office, President Obama has decided not to include abstinence-only education programs in his budget. Ronald Reagan began in 1981 to fund these programs that are proved to be failures, and funding “grew exponentially” between 1996 and 2006. In 25 years, taxpayers have been forced to pay over $1.5 billion for these failed programs. One survey showed the doubling of participants in one type of this program who would “probably” have sex during high school. Teen pregnancy has steadily declined in states that require comprehensive-sex education while teen pregnancy in states where abstinence-only sex education is allowed and even mandated stays high.

States with the highest rate of teen pregnancies are New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma—places that mandate sex-education programs stress abstinence and “the importance of sex only during marriage.”New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Maine had the lowest numbers of teen pregnancies in the nation during the same time. Teen pregnancy costs the U.S. about $9.4 billion in 2010.

Unlike the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts have long refused to engage in bigotry, a policy that occasionally makes them the target of conservative religious groups. The most recent event comes from a Missouri Catholic archdiocese when St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson urged priests to sever all ties with Girl Scout troops, accusing them of “exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior.” A week later the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri had raised a record amount of money at its annual fundraiser—over $350,000. In addition, increased sales of Girl Scout cookies has caused shortages, and  several local businesses offered to host cookie booths in their lobbies.

In a possible lessening of Catholic anti-contraception position, Pope Francis said that its use in avoiding infecting fetuses with the Zika virus is better than abortions. He said, “Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.” For example, Pope Paul VI permitted African raped nuns to use contraception. The Catholic church’s position on preventing contraception does not hold up in Latin America: 88 percent of Mexicans, 91 percent of Colombians, and 93 percent of Brazilians support the use of contraceptives. Francis also said that Catholic lawmakers are free to vote for same-sex marriage and civil unions in opposition to Pope Benedict XVI’s document in 2003 when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that explicitly forbid Catholic legislators from voting for same-sex marriage or unions.

Bad:

Good news, bad news. Idaho is getting rid of a law mandating daily Bible readings in schools while allowing Bibles to be used in school classes—including science.

The Rev. Dwight C. Jones, mayor of Richmond (VA), thinks that the First Amendment protects him as he hires people from his church to do volunteer work for the church while being paid by the state’s capital city. Over ten percent of Richmond’s executive-level positions were filled by members of Jones’ church, First Baptist of South Richmond. Head of public works for Richmond, Emmanuel Adediran, was discovered supervising renovation work for First Baptist while on his city’s job. Two contractors also listed Richmond city offices as the billing address for estimates on kitchen equipment for the church. One employee has already been fired, but more are in the pipeline. Jones is asking for respect “for the wall of separation between church and state.”

Many Christians who fear Sharia Law in the U.S. support Christian Law. GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz is one of those according to his wife, Heidi. She claims that her husband is the only one able to provide a “combination of the law and religion.” According to Heidi Cruz, “the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.” She also calls Christians “loving” and  “nonjudgmental”–the same ones who want to take away rights from people. Cruz is running on a platform that rights in the United States come from God and talks about “Christianity under attack.” He openly supports torture, carpet bombing, distribution of water in Flint only to anti-abortion religious centers, and has connections to which supremacy groups.

GOP presidential candidate John Kasich, who claims to be “small government,” goes beyond pushing Christianity through the United States. He wants an agency to make Christians out of everyone in the world. His proposed tax-payer funded agency would “beam messages around the world about what it means to have a western ethic, to be part of a Judeo-Christian society.” In many ways, Kasich is as dangerous as his GOP competition, but the media gives him as pass as a “moderate Republican.”

Ugly:

God has declared that domestic violence abusers should have the “freedom” to “open carry” guns in order to protect themselves, according to Rep. Jeff Coody in his defense of an Oklahoma bill that passed the House by a large majority. When Rep. Mike Brown asked if the government had a responsibility to protect other people, Coody said, “No.” Since the state passed a concealed carry law, it is at a 10-year high for rapes. This bill also removes any requirement for permits or training before people can buy guns. “If we give people some freedom, people tend to use that responsibly,” Coody said.

Proving that “religious liberty” is only for Christians, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is furious that President Obama has blocked the sale of a San Carlos Apache sacred site to foreign-owned Resolution Copper. He justifies his actions by alleging that the place has never been sacred, despite testimony from Scientists for the Society for American Archaeology the site has been used for religious purposes since “well before recorded history.” The area had been closed to mining since then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s recognition of the sacred land in 1955. Tribe members have occupied the site since it was sold out to the mining company according to a provision in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The sale would mark the first time in history that Native American land would be handed over to foreign interests by Congress.

Just when people thought that the Catholic Church might try to stop child sexual abuse, the church has delivered a different message. The guidelines for training newly ordained bishops state:

“According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds.”

This directive ignores the pope’s statement that “everything possible must be done to rid the church of the scourge of the sexual abuse.”

Girls-are-like-apples-on-trees

In addition, just plain creepy weird:

“Girls are like apples on trees. Their fathers are the farmers, whose job is to care for them. He must protect his apples from pests and disease. He must guard them against thieves who may pick his apples prematurely. Neither those at the top nor those at the bottom can help their location. But, when each reaches peak ripeness, it is the farmer’s job to harvest that fruit and give it to whom he will, to those in need. So there is nothing wrong with the apples still on the tree and nothing wrong with the boys who seek them. But it is the farmer’s duty to provide for both, in due season.”

That comes from Vaughn Ohlman, who thinks that Christian youth aren’t marrying early enough because fathers are too selective about which “boys” they give their “girls” to in marriage. According to Suzanne Titkemeyer, Ohlman is upset because he wanted a girl in his church and the father wouldn’t “give” her to Ohlman.

Mass shootings have increased within the past few weeks across the nation, but the GOP refuses to take any actions for prevention.  Their solution is prayer. Several months ago, the president said, “[T]houghts and prayers are not enough…. It does … nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America, next week or a couple of months from now.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) responded, “When you are praying, you are doing something about it. You are revealing the presence of God….  That is why prayer should always come first.” No comment on what should come next. For Christian Republicans, solutions are denial and prayer while giving all the resources in the nation to the wealthiest people. This would be worsen under a fundamentalist Christian president.

December 19, 2015

Gun Myths Promote Killing Innocent People

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 8:13 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a survivor of the lax gun laws in the United States, spoke on December 14, 2015, the third anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 20 children and eight adults, about the lack of gun safety laws:

“Congress will do exactly what its members have done every week since those 20 kindergartners and first-graders were murdered in their classrooms: nothing at all. That’s cowardice, an embrace of the shameful status quo we’ve grown to expect from a Congress in the gun lobby’s grip. Many of my former colleagues are in the cold clutches of pessimism and its key ingredient: fear.”

The second reason for refusal to face gun violence is ignorance and allegiance to distorted reality about guns. Many people opposed to gun safety laws don’t believe the following information:

Feeling safer is not the same as being safer. Two-thirds of gun owners say they feel safer because they have a gun in their home, but they aren’t. Having a gun in the home increases the chances of gun-related violence there: suicides, accidental shootings, domestic disagreements, and home invaders’ taking the guns. Of the 11,000 homicides in 2012, only 269—three-fourths with handguns—were justifiable, meaning self-defense. Each of these justifiable homicides was matched with 78 gun homicides, and two accidental gun deaths. A detailed report, “Firearms Training and Self-Defense,” shows that few criminals are shot in homes. Guns in homes are typically used to intimidate people they know in the home, including spouses, other family members, and people invited into the home.

The presence of guns in the home leads to violence. Too many unstable people own guns because 22 million people in the nation—8.9 percent of the adult population—have impulsive anger issues and easy access to guns. Few of these people are subject to current mental-health care restrictions, and 3.7 million of the 22 million carry their guns in public. Research shows that the more guns people have, the more likely they are to carry them in public and have a history of anger issues. Then sudden fear responses cause serious injury or death.

“Good people” with guns will not always defeat “bad people” with guns. Researchers studying the NRA belief in the contrary found the “good guns with guns” myth to be a dangerous vigilante fantasy. Most people with guns aren’t trained to be effective law officers. They don’t know how to confront unstable people; they don’t have the physical stamina to be in a potential life-or-death fight; and they don’t possess the self-control to stop themselves from firing indiscriminately. The result is injuries or death to themselves, bystanders, or both. The report stated:

“The lack of quality initial training and repeat training over time is potentially a disaster waiting to happen.”

More guns lead to more crime and violence. Research by a team of Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University researchers found in 2014:

“Our analysis of the year-by-year impact of RTC [right to carry] laws also suggests that RTC laws increase aggravated assaults. Our analysis of admittedly imperfect gun aggravated assaults provides suggestive evidence that RTC laws may be associated with large increases in this crime, perhaps increasing such gun assaults by almost 33 percent.”

The study also found “evidence that RTC laws increase rape and robbery.”

The deadliest weapons are very profitable.  Gun manufacturers and the NRA fan the fears of terrorism and government takeover because they make money from selling firearms—especially sem-automatic weapons that use more ammunition. Bullets accounted for almost one-third the profits–$4.6 billion sales in 2013 compared to 26 percent in 2008.

The gun culture promoted by the NRA and gun manufactures kills children.  The presence of a gun makes children less safe, programs such as Eddie Eagle are insufficient, and use of gun safes and smart guns could reduce the death toll. The presence of guns also directly increases the risk of youth homicide and suicide. Children between 5 and 14 in the U.S. are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations. In the developed world, 87 percent of children younger than 14 killed by firearms live in the United States. In the U.S., more children and teenagers died from gunfire in 2010—a single year—than U.S. troops in Afghanistan since 2001. Yet to people who oppose gun safety laws, mass shootings of children are horrific while “accidental” killings of children in the home—sometime by other young children—are sad but business as usual.

Children from states where firearms are prevalent suffer from significantly higher rates of homicide, even after accounting for poverty, education, and urbanization. For example, most of firearm deaths in North Carolina youth were caused by legally purchased handguns. Easy access to firearms doubles the risk of homicide and triples the risk for suicide among all household members. Family violence is also much more likely to be lethal in homes where a firearm is present, placing children especially in danger. Murder-suicides are another major risk to children and are most likely to be committed with a gun.

These deaths are not offset by defensive gun use. For every time a gun is used legally in self-defense at home, there are “four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” A study of adolescents in California found that there were 13 times as many threatening as self-defensive uses of guns. Many of the defensive encounters came from confrontations that became hostile because of the presence of a firearm.

Children living in states with higher levels of firearm availability also suffer from significantly higher rates of unintentional gun deaths. The vast majority of these shootings involve either family or friends. Accidental killings are significantly underreported in the official data, often being classified as homicides or suicides rather than accidents. Several states have twice as many accidental gun deaths than the official record indicated.

Many gun owners are unaware that children have handled their guns; therefore the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates not having a gun in the home for safety. The NRA ignores this evidence and continues to push laws forbidding pediatricians from talking to parents about guns and safety measures. If people insist on having guns in homes with children, laws holding gun owners responsible for the safe storage of firearms reduced unintentional shooting deaths among children by 23 percent. States where gun owners are more likely to store loaded guns, especially if they are not locked up, have a much larger share of intentional firearm deaths.

Smart guns, which can be fired only by the owner, drastically reduces the risk of accidental shootings and teenage suicides. Extreme gun advocates have fought against their sales, going as far as sending death threats for offering smart guns. A campaign spreading lies about the failure rates of smart guns has stopped the use of this effective technology that could prevent deaths. Toy guns have regulations to reduce the risk of fatal accidents, but real guns have zero federal safety standards regulating their designs.

The NRA and extreme gun advocates perpetuate a culture of fear and violence, teaching children that guns are a solution. Bullied students are bringing thousands of guns to schools, and the number of school shootings has drastically increased since Sandy Hook. Exposure to firearm violence doubles the risk that an adolescent will then in turn commit violent acts over the next two years.

Conservatives have used the mass shooting in San Bernardino to avoid the serious problem of gun violence. After every mass shooting in the U.S. by a white man following the Christian religion, conservatives leap onto the “let’s not politicize the event,” “mental illness,” “lone wolf” memes. When two Muslims go out on their own to kill people—quite successfully because guns are easy to obtain—conservatives cry out for higher media surveilling, closing down the internet, building walls around the country, and stopping all Muslims at the border from entering the nation. A man kills three people in Colorado in the name of Christianity, and he’s simply deranged. A married couple kill 14 people in the name of Islam, and they are the devil incarnate.

Extremist people in the United States are so obsessed with their guns that they will do anything to keep them. As Larry Wilmore said in his segment about this lunacy, “See something, shoot something.” That’s what every obsessive gun owner believes no matter how many people are killed—as long as the shooter isn’t a Muslim.

December 14, 2015

GOP Killing People with Inaction

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Liberty isn’t just about having any gun you want, any time you want it. Liberty has got to also be about the right to be free from indiscriminate violence.”

This statement is part of the first speech that Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) made on that chamber’s floor in April 2013. Three years ago today, Murphy was a newly-elected U.S. senator. Three years today, a young man killed his mother and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he killed 26 more people—20 of them children—before he killed himself. The last thing he did was to kill himself. During that three years, one child has died from gun violence every other day.

Almost 20 years ago, a local scoutmaster in a small Scottish school killed 16 children and their teacher before killing himself. The government took swift action to stop more mass shootings. Since then, there has been one “mass shooting” in which a man killed 12 people in various locations. Since 1996, the UK has had no school shootings; the U.S. has had 142 school shootings in the three years since Sandy Hook.

homicide rate chart

Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote:

“In what has become a tradition in the nation’s capital, the United States Congress on Monday notched the third anniversary of doing nothing in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“As on the first and second anniversaries of the tragedy, lawmakers took up no new measures to prevent future mass shootings in the United States, and instead chose to mark Newtown’s third anniversary with a day of inaction. In that respect, the third anniversary of Newtown resembles the thousand-plus days that came before it, during which Congress took no action on guns except to periodically vote down expanded background checks.”

Earlier this month, the NRA ordered the GOP senators to vote against an amendment to keep people on the no-fly list from buying guns. According to the FBI, 2,233 background checks for purchasing guns or explosives resulted in 190 denials. Attorney General John Ashcroft had ordered permission for people on the terrorist no-fly list to purchase guns after 9/11, and the order has not been repealed in the past 14 years, despite cries to stop foreign terrorists from killing.

The NRA ordered GOP senators to vote against closing loopholes in the federal background checks allowing unlicensed dealers to sell huge numbers of guns in private sales with no checks. An Al Qaeda video encourages jihadists to exploit these lax laws to attack people in the United States. The GOP senators voted according to the NRA orders, and suspected terrorists may buy as many guns as they wish.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against the bills because people on the no-fly list might not be terrorists. That situation can be fixed; selling guns to terrorists can’t without a congressional vote.

Even with guns leaking over from states with more lax gun laws, states with background checks for all handgun sales have 52 percent fewer mass shootings than other states. There are “63 percent fewer mass shootings committed by people prohibited from possessing firearms in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in those that do not,“ according to a study. In states with these background checks, 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns.

fewer mass shootings

Another “nothing” action from the GOP is their refusal to re-fund research on gun violence. Almost two decades ago, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR) introduced the NRA-authored legislation to ban the Centers for Disease Control from studying gun violence and ways to prevent it. Since then, the United States has seen about 2 million dead and injured people from gun violence. The year before the massacres at Sandy Hook and Aurora (CO), Congress extended the ban to the National Institutes of Health to keep it from researching a serious health issue.

Dickey now regrets what he did, calling it one of the biggest mistakes of his political office that ended in 2000:

“Research could have been continued on gun violence without infringing on the rights of gun owners, in the same fashion that the highway industry continued its research without eliminating the automobile.”

A coalition of over 2,000 physicians recently called on Congress to lift its ban on research, and nine medical associations urged Congress to overturn the Dickey Amendment. Dr. Alice Chen, executive director of Doctors for America, said, “Gun violence is a public health problem that kills 90 Americans a day.” Last month dozens of House Democrats called for renewal of federal research on gun violence, writing:

“We dedicate $240 million a year on traffic safety research, more than $233 million a year on food safety, and $331 million a year on the effects of tobacco, but almost nothing on firearms that kill 33,000 Americans annually.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) has submitted a bill called the Gun Violence Research Act with the express purpose of “helping identify and treat those prone to committing mass shootings.” President Obama asked for $10 million for this research in each of his last two budgets. Both times, the GOP eliminated the request. The GOP Congress is also refusing to fund any research about gun violence that costs the United States a staggering $229 billion every year.

The GOP is actually taking some action regarding gun laws. Republicans have started a process to send more guns into Washington, DC, the only city that Congress completely controls. After the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sped up a bill to repeal gun restrictions in the nation’s capital by skipping over the committee process. Gun violence has increased in the city because lax gun laws in the state of Virginia allow a glut of guns in DC.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced a bill to repeal Washington’s ban on semiautomatic guns, remove criminal penalties for unregistered firearms, repeal a gun-offender registry, revoke the federal ban on interstate handgun transfers, restore the right of self-defense in the home, and require D.C. to issue and honor concealed carry firearms permits for residents and non-residents. In addition, he wants guns allowed in “public, non-sensitive areas of federal property”—in the nation’s capital. Earlier this year, Rubio raised his NRA rating from a B+ to an A with a similar bill.

Concealed carry of guns is allowed in bars in 16 states, in churches in 25 states, and schools in 28 states. States have prohibited authorities from seizing guns during emergencies, moved to ban the use of taxpayer funding for government gun buyback programs, and banned the destruction of firearms seized by law enforcement. Some states have pre-empted local governments’ ability to pass stricter firearms laws. The year following Sandy Hook, 26 states passed 63 laws allowing people to more easily carry guns in public.  For example:

  • Kansas: Gun owners don’t need a licensed for carrying concealed weapons.
  • Texas: Permits will allow open carry in holsters and concealed weapons in college classrooms.
  • Arkansas: People can carry guns into polling places.
  • Georgia: People can carry guns in bars and churches. 
  • Wisconsin: People no longer have a 48-hour waiting period to buy guns.

Every widely-publicized mass shooting brings GOP members to their knees. They pray for the victims and survivors while following the NRA directives. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote:

“Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing–again.”

As NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said about guns, “I have no faith in the Congress of the United States.” The GOP goes farther than doing nothing: they kill people by their lack of action in a crisis of gun violence and proliferation of even more lax gun laws.

December 10, 2015

GOP Celebrates Xenophobia on Human Rights Day

Conservatives claim that members of a religious group are stockpiling weapons for a takeover of the United States and make them subjects of discrimination and violence, arson and protests. Muslims experience this persecution now, but Catholic Americans endured the same persecution a century ago when they lived in fear, many of them lynched. Formed by white supremacists after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan was declared a “terrorist organization” by 1870, but by the 1920s, the group persecuted Jews and Catholics.

The United States has a long history of xenophobia: anyone who isn’t white and Christian can be the subject of ethnic and religious discrimination.

Europeans began their xenophobic march across the United States in the 17th century when they began their elimination of the indigenous peoples. By the time they finished, they had eradicated 95 percent of the native population and deported survivors to the most undesirable land they could find. Most Native Americans were denied U.S. citizenship until 1924, but not until 1940 were all the indigenous peoples of the U.S. considered citizens. Not all “Indians” were permitted to vote until 1948.

Anti-Jewish sentiment has existed in the U.S. since the 17th century, peaking in the years between the two world wars. Restrictions in the 1700s included bans from practicing law, medicine, etc. States had religious tests for public office, and some states prevented Jews from voting until the late 1800s. During the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant issued an order—immediately rescinded by President Abraham Lincoln—that expelled Jews from the areas in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi under his control. During the first half of the 20th century, Jews were excluded from “white Christian” jobs, social clubs, resort areas, and colleges.

As people in the America expanded, they brought black immigrants—legally until 1808 and illegally thereafter—to be unpaid labor. Initially, most people believed that these violent, amoral savages could be reformed only through Christian belief, and many still hold the same position.

Irish immigrating to the U.S. in the mid-19th century were called “white Negroes” and stereotyped as alcoholics, depicted like apes to insinuate that they were an “inferior race.” They were Catholics, but Protestants labeled them as pagans—immoral and demonic.

The railroad across much of the United States was built by Chinese labor, but later the nation passed the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to keep out these laborers. The law stated that Chinese immigration “endangers the good order of certain localities” and led to California’s tax on the hiring of Chinese-American laborers and Oregon’s Chinese Massacre of 1887 in which an angry white mob killed 31 Chinese Americans.

Italian-American immigrants were seen as members of the Mafia. New Orleans acquitted 19 immigrants in 1890 after the police chief was killed, but a white mob attacked and killed 11 of the freed men. World War II led to arrests, interments, and travel restrictions against thousands of law-abiding Italian Americans.

The Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924 was passed to limit immigration from “non-white” countries.

Early drug laws were based on xenophobic beliefs. During the early 20th century, San Francisco banned opium smoking because of its popularity within the Chinese community, and El Paso (TX) made marijuana illegal as an excuse to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants. Although restricted, other drugs such as heroin and cocaine have remained legal in the U.S.

California passed a law in 1913 to prevent Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Korean immigrant farmers from owning land. Directed toward Japanese Americans, the law was supported by two Supreme Court cases and wasn’t lifted until for almost 40 years in 1952. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a 1942 executive order interred at least 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, 62 percent of whom were U.S. citizens. Three Supreme Court cases upheld this order.

In Minoru Yasui v. U.S., Yasui fought a ruling that he was no longer a citizen because he had worked for the Japanese Consulate and learned the Japanese language. The Supreme Court case reinstated his citizenship, but Yasui was sent to an internment camp in Idaho. Gordon Hirabayashi was jailed for two years for missing curfew and failing to report to an internment camp. Fred Korematsu refused to go to an internment camp because he didn’t want to leave his Italian-American girlfriend. In his case the Supreme Court ruled that race did not factor into the internment of Japanese Americans.

Four decades later, legal historian Peter Irons found evidence that government officials had withheld documents from the Supreme Court stating that Japanese Americans posed no military threat to the U.S. In 1983, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Korematsu’s conviction, one year before Yasui’s conviction was overturned, and three years before Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned. In 1988, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act, apologizing for the internment and paying $20,000 to each internment survivor. That act was 44 years after the Supreme Court struck down Jim Crow laws in the South, ruling that the policy of “separate but equal” violated the Constitution.

Although German Americans comprise the largest identified ethnic group in the United States today, the two world wars brought out xenophobia with state laws against speaking German and the indefinite detention of 11,000 German Americans by executive order without trials or due process protections.

The 21st century has seen the targeting of Latinos by police who racially profile, harass, and brutalize Hispanics because of the growing fear of undocumented immigrants. In Maricopa County (AZ), for example, Latino drivers are stopped from four to nine times more than other drivers and detained for longer periods of time. County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, also consistently failed to investigate cases of sexual assault against Hispanic women.

Korematsu v. United States (1944) ruled that individual rights are not absolute and may be suppressed at will during wartime. The conservatives have created a permanent war for the United States, and, by so doing, destroying human rights. Xenophobia: Fear or prejudice against people, culture, ideologies, etc. from foreign lands. That’s the legacy of the United States; Donald Trump is building on that legacy with the support of Republicans who either outright support his xenophobic statements or say that they will support him for the GOP presidential candidate.

The Frankenstein party has been developing its monster of xenophobic members for decades as it developed their “Southern Strategy.” Until now, they have used coded language to appeal to their increasingly angry base, but Donald Trump discovered that he doesn’t need to use code in spewing his hate.

For decades, the GOP has played on the fear and anxiety of its white, evangelical, working-class base. Republicans shipped jobs overseas and made sure that wages stagnated before they decried the loss of the American Dream. The GOP succeeds by turning people against each other instead of fighting the real enemy—the profiteers of the top 1 percent. Only through a system of “divide and conquer” of racism, sexism, homophobia, class-prejudice, and xenophobia can the corporations and wealthy maintain their power.

The Koch brothers, along with other wealthy people, understand the success of fear. The tragedy of 9/11 by 19 people—15 of them from Saudi Arabia—started a war on the Muslims in the U.S., part of its culture since the 17th century. An important component of this war is the distribution of 28 million anti-Muslim CDs, costing over $15 million—funded by a shadow group funded by the Koch brothers.

The media promotes the fear of a Muslim terrorist-inspired mass shooting. This visual of this year’s mass shootings demonstrates how lacking in credibility this fear is.

mass shooting

The Christian-inspired killing of three people at a Planned Parenthood two weeks before the San Bernardino shooting has largely disappeared from the media, not because fewer people were killed but because it was not by a Muslim.

Frankenstein’s monster is now calling for ethnic cleansing—“the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another.” The conservatives started targeting Latinos as aliens, rapists, and criminals and then moved on to describe all members of the largest religion in the world as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.

It’s like working for a large corporation. People who don’t fit into companies are likely to be isolated or fired so people can’t speak out against bullying and sexism. The answer to any resisters is that these are exceptional times and people will be forced to do extraordinary things to be safe.

The question is how far the GOP will let Trump go. He has started threatening to leave them if they aren’t “nice” to him. They need to hang on until he can no longer qualify as an independent candidate in many states. Meantime, the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are increasing in number and openly praising Trump.

William Daniel Johnson, chairman of the white supremacy group the American Freedom Party, called Trump “the real deal.” He claims that “virtually all pro-white nationalists are at least somewhat supportive of Donald Trump and most are even enthusiastic. …European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view.” The term “European Americans” is code for “white Christianity.” Trump is delivering the message of xenophobia to millions of people in the U.S., and other GOP politicians are supporting him.

Today is International Human Rights Day; its them is “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” Today Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), GOP presidential candidate, voted with three other Republicans—Jim Sessions (AL), Thom Tillis (NC), and David Vitter (LA) against a proposal that would oppose using religious beliefs to deny people entry into the United States. Cruz’s vote is stronger than Trump’s rhetoric, but only Trump receives public disgust. Trump is not worse than the other candidates: he’s just noisier.

December 5, 2015

‘Seasonal’ Facts about Guns in the U.S.

‘Tis the season for more mass shootings although they seem to fit into every season. Although conservatives cut off funding for tracking gun violence several years ago, Mass Tracker is watching the prevalence of mass shootings, defined as a single shooting which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.

The killing spree in San Bernardino was the 353th mass shooting in 2015 on the 336th day of the year. At least 20 days of 2015 had four or more mass shootings in a single day.

shooting calendar

Sixty-two of these 353 shootings were at schools, bringing the total to 161 in the three years since the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre on December 14, 2012.

Overall, 12,223 people have been killed in gun “incidents”—not counting suicides and “accidental shootings”–this year in the U.S. Another 24,722 people have been deliberately injured by guns.

The number of per capita gun murders in the US in 2012–the most recent year for comparable statistics–was almost 30 times that in the UK, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with just 0.1. Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK.

More people died from gunfire in the U.S. since 1968 than in all the wars fought by the U.S. The 1,516,863 gun-related deaths in that time period are nine percent more than the 1,396,733 million U.S. deaths in every conflict between the Revolutionary War and the Iraq war.

The number of deaths in mass shootings is up from last year, currently 447 people compared to the 383 people who died from gun violence in 2014. The number of injured has also gone up from 1,239 to 1,292—and the year isn’t over yet.

This year saw fewer days between mass shootings that killed at least four people. On average these occurred every 200 days between 1982 and 2011, increasing to 64 days.

At least half of the 12 deadliest shootings in the U.S. happened in the last eight years.

Five percent of the global population lives in the United States, but 31 percent of the world’s mass shootings occurs in this nation.

The U.S. has 4.4% of the world’s population, but 42% of civilian-owned guns.

States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence, and areas with more guns have more homicides. States with the lowest death rates from firearms–Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Hawaii—are the same states with the most restrictive laws. Death rate of 2.6 per 100,000 residents in Massachusetts is almost eight times less than the death rate from gun violence in Alaska. Other states without gun restrictions—Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Wyoming—also have the highest number of gun deaths.

The United States spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism which killed an average of 31 people a year between 2002 and 2011. During the same time, an average of 11,385 people died in the U.S. from gun “incidents” not related to suicides and “accidents.”

Australia took steps almost two decades ago to stem gun violence and now takes notice of the growing problem in the United States. Tim Fischer, former prime minister, is calling for travel warnings to the United States because of the increasing gun violence in the U.S. Australia’s firearm mortality rate is one per 100,000, ten times less that the U.S. statistic of 10 per 100,000.

A 1996 mass shooting in Australia that killed 35 people turned around the country’s gun legislation. The conservative-run government ran a mandatory buyback of 700,000 newly illegal guns and passed other laws controlling the purchase and ownership of guns and ammunition. People are prohibited from private sales, and each gun must be registered to its owner for a “genuine reason.” Self-defense is not one of those reasons. A person can be refused a license because of “reliable evidence of a mental or physical condition which would render the applicant unsuitable for owning, possessing or using a firearm.”  Gun license applicants are required to take a safety course before owning a gun. New measures banned the sale and possession of all automatic and semiautomatic rifles and pump shotguns as well as making storage and inspection requirements. Laws created a 28-day waiting period gun purchases and a national gun registry.

Results of change in legislation:

  • Intentional gun deaths dropped by half in the first decade while the population increased by 14 percent.
  • During the following 11 years, gun related homicides dropped 59 percent with no increase in any other homicide related deaths.
  • In 2013, the 200 gun-related deaths, a rate of .87 per 100,000 people, was almost one-third of the 2.71 deaths per 100,000 residents in 1996 before the laws took effect.
  • Suicides fell 65 percent.
  • In the homicide rate of 1.1 per 100,000 in 2012, only ten percent involved a gun—below 50 victims annually during the past decade. Adjusting by population, that would mean about 750 victims in the U.S. instead of the existing 12,223 thus far this year. The U.S. rate of homicides is about four times that of Australia at 4.5 per 100,000.
  • Robberies occur at half the rate of the U.S. (58 compared to our country’s 113.1 per 100,000 in 2012). There has been no increase in home invasion.

Before the new legislation, Australia had 11 mass shootings killing at least five people each in the prior ten years; since the laws were enacted, Australia has had not one mass shooting like those.

People opposing gun restrictions in the U.S. take pride in their rugged individualism. This philosophy, however, is very similar to the Australian culture that also expounds “freedom and liberty.” The conservative man behind the shift in gun laws, then Prime Minister John Howard, was a good friend of George W. Bush, but he spoke up after the mass shooting in Aurora (CO) which left 12 dead and 70 injured:

“The Second Amendment, crafted in the immediate post-revolutionary years, is more than 200 years old and was designed to protect the right of local communities to raise and maintain militia for use against external threats (including the newly formed national government!). It bears no relationship at all to the circumstances of everyday life in America today. Yet there is a near religious fervour about protecting the right of Americans to have their guns—and plenty of them. It remains to be seen … how much carnage a society is willing to take.”

Even President Ronald Reagan supported gun restrictions.

After a mass shooting in the UK killing 18 people, including 16 children, a conservative party member decided that they must “take this as a warning that we are becoming like America and act before it is too late.” Gun-related offenses had surged in the early 2000s, but new laws began seven years of successive drops in gun crimes.

People need guns to be safe, cry the NRA supporters. The victim did not use a gun for defense in 99.2% of violent crimes in a country with 357 million guns in civilian hands, a 50-percent increase in the past two decades. And that’s just a guess because the government is not allowed to keep records.

An Atlanta study of 198 cases of unwanted entry into occupied single-family dwellings found that the invader was twice as likely to obtain the victim’s gun than to have the victim use a firearm in self-defense.

Conservatives claim that they want to control killings by reforming mental illness. In Germany, people under 25 who want to buy a gun must pass a psychiatric evaluation. Conservatives claim that it’s too easy for criminals to get guns—and they are right because many criminals purchase guns. In Italy, people wanting to possess a gun must pass a background check considering both criminal and mental health records. Conservatives reject these laws.

Australia was may have been successful in reducing gun violence not only because of the change in the laws but also because of a shift in culture. When the people acted on their shock of the Port Arthur massacre, they removed the ready availability of guns, and mentally troubled people were not constantly told that guns are the best way to address any grievances, whether against other people, organizations, or the government.

The U.S. culture rewards the man who killed people at Planned Parenthood because of the constant attention to false videos. Even so-called Muslim terrorists are following the U.S. culture that keeps guns in order to overturn the U.S. government. If Christians believe this, why shouldn’t Muslims? People–mostly males and mostly white–parade their guns, not for safety but as a demonstration that their “freedom” is far more important than human lives.

Research shows that gun restrictions save lives. The Constitution places limits on all rights when they threaten others—religion doesn’t allow human sacrifice, and free speech doesn’t permit incitement, conspiracy, and libel. The Supreme Court has declared that government can put reasonable restrictions on gun ownership. In all other areas, people in the U.S. are willing to exchange “pure” freedom for safety; guy ownership should be no different.

Next Page »

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily 60 Second News Bites

Transformational News In 60 Seconds; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: