Nel's New Day

January 2, 2014

Right-Wing Heroes of 2013

A common complaint from the far right is the so-called “liberal media.” Looking at the guests on Sunday political talk shows, however, gives a different picture. Republicans dominate such shows as Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, State of the Union, and, of course, Fox News Sunday. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) topped the list of those who made ten or more Sunday show appearances in 2013; he was on 27 different times, averaging one appearance every 1.9 weeks. Sen. John McCain increased his 21 appearances in 2012 to come in second at 24 times this year. As the chart shows, only three of the top 13 are Democrats. Six of the top seven are Republicans.

Sunday Show Guests

During Rogers’ appearance last Sunday on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked him what the New York Times got wrong in its investigation on Benghazi—definitely not a “fair and balanced” question. Rogers was offended that the NYT reported “that Al-Quaeda was not involved in this.” He was also upset that the article questioned GOP claims that an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S. had nothing to do with the attack.

Who are other potential far-right heroes?

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) may be the finest example of GOP extremist wingnuts at the national level. After he decided to run against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) this year, he received more publicity, but his has a rich history of far-right positions since he was sporadically elected since his first bid for the House in 1990:

  • Wants to impeach President Obama to keep him from passing any gun-related legislation, providing every House member with a copy of Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office.
  • Compares President Obama and Saddam Hussein based on the presence of children at the president’s announcement pushing for new gun legislation  like Saddam Hussein using children as human shields during the Gulf War.
  • Claims that President Obama’s support for gun safety shows that he has “no sympathy for unarmed women raped by criminals.”
  • Views climate change as “the new fad thing that’s going through America and around the world.”
  • Tweets, “The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.”
  • Also tweets that the Boston bomber “thought he could escape in backyard boat after hearing Gore speak on global warming.”
  • Defends the Young Conservatives of Texas group at the University of Texas for its “game” called  “Catch an Illegal Immigrant.”
  • Invites the rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask in the Missouri rodeo to perform in his home state of Texas.
  • Sells this campaign bumper sticker: “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.”
  • Raffled off an AR-15, the same weapon type used in the Newtown (CT) massacre, leading to condemnations of “outrageous” and “insensitive” even from GOP colleagues.
  • Used the term “fag” while talking to a reporter.

 

Food stamps are unnecessary, according to Stockman; his aide accused Democrats trying to live on food stamps were “intentionally buying overpriced food and shopping at high-priced chains to make it appear the cuts go too far.” Salon.com named Stockman  “the new Michele Bachman,” and he was one of two House members to oppose Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) reappointment.

Frustrated because the NRA endorsed Cornyn for the senate in the upcoming primary, Stockman used his endorsement for the House in the last election for his Senate campaign website, “Endorsed by the National Rifle Association.” Recently he tweeted a photo of “liberal tears” as being “the best gun lubricant around. He also takes the position that God granted people “the right to keep and bear arms.”

Liberal tears guns

Elected in 2012 to Ron Paul’s district after a 16-year hiatus from the House, Stockman failed to disclose 17 business affiliations in four states and the British Virgin Islands as mandated by law and gave no details about his personal business. Somehow, $350,000 is unaccounted for, a matter that the House Ethics Committee is addressing.

Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt (R–Kalama) has potential to be another national far-right hero with his statement that bicycle riders are worse polluters than people who drive cars because they produce more carbon than cars do. It’s all because of the “increased heart rate and respiration” that bicycle riders have. His statements were made in a defense of the proposed 5-percent bicycle tax on bikes that cost more than $500. He lost some of his right-wing cred, however, when he apologized for his comments. The bicycle tax didn’t pass.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), aTexas wingnut like Stockman, has been at the top of the extremists’ popularity poll, but he may struggle in the coming year. After bragging for the government shutdown almost three months ago, he reversed his opinion when he blamed President Obama and Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV), calling it a mistake for them “to force a government shutdown.” He got a lot of cred from shutting down the government; now he’s saying that he didn’t do it. Stockman could make Cruz look like a minor player.

What’s wrong with an honorary and unpaid science laureate to travel the country and inspire children, especially girls and minorities, to be scientists? Larry Hart, a former GOP congressional aide and the legislative director of the American Conservative Union, warned that the position could teach people about climate change. More than half the GOP members of the House and 65 percent of GOP in the Senate deny the existence of climate change or oppose any action connected with it. The position was not approved.

Laura Dimon, daughter of financial criminal and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, wants criminals such as Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman, doing hard time, but her list of “6 Most Notorious Criminals [Who] Aren’t Facing the Justice They Deserve” exempts her father. His actions, capitalizing on the subprime mortgage crisis and the rampant foreclosure fraud, negatively affected millions of lives. His bank managed profits in the billions of dollars by forging signatures to force people out of their homes. The financial crisis, which Dimon manipulated and exacerbated as Chase Bank’s CEO, led to at least 5,000 suicides, far worse than the Boston Marathon bombing.

In the “London Whale” scam, Dimon’s bank admitted that it violated securities laws, and Dimon himself admitted that he violated the law by guaranteeing that all information in the SEC filings is accurate. His penalty would have been a $5 million fine and up to 20 years in prison if he had been indicted and convicted. No one went to prison, and taxpayers will pay $7 billion of the $13 billion settlement.

Billionaire founder of Home Depot Ken Langone can be representative of many wealthy people in this country. He’s trying to raise $180 million to restore New York’s St Patrick’s Cathedral and thinks that Pope Francis’s criticism of capitalism and wealth might discourage donors. Langone has said:

“I’ve told the cardinal [Timothy Dolan], ‘Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don’t have to deal with. You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country. You get more with honey than with vinegar.”

Dolan will also be revered by the right wing for his comment that the pope “also loves rich people” and that the wealthy donor misunderstood Francis’ message. Langone agrees, explaining that capitalism in Argentina is different than in the United States. He missed the point that as of 2011, inequality of income was far greater in the U.S. and in Egypt—and it’s only gotten worse in this country during the past two years.

Along with the beloved right-wing people is the corporation, McDonalds. Its website is now gone, but these insults toward its poorly-paid employees will remain on the Internet for long into the future. Although intended to be helpful advice for its employees because some of them could not survive on the minimum wage paid by the company, recommendations from the McResource Line showed the tremendous gap between the wealthy and the rest of the people in the United States:

  • A budget plan allowing for a whopping $20 per month in health insurance and $0 for heating; totaling both car and homeowner’s/renter’s insurance for $100 per month; and requiring a second income, such as another job.
  • Seeking government assistance at a time when the GOP is blocking any safety net and the unlivable pay at fast-food industries costs taxpayers $7.7 billion per year.
  • Cutting food into small pieces to reduce workers’ hunger.
  • Selling Christmas gifts on eBay for additional income.
  • Advice on tipping people like dog walkers, personal trainers, housekeepers, pool workers, caddies, and au pairs, among others, including how to give gifts as tips.

The tipping point in the decision to drop the website may have been the recommendation for healthy eating.

mcdonalds_food

In this case, the hypocrisy was double-headed: the advice pointed out that the company’s own food is not healthy. Instead, of getting a McDonalds cheeseburger, fries, and drink, Resource Line recommended something like Subway food—a sandwich, salad, and water. I will miss the website, but the tragedy will remain .

May 27, 2013

Memorialize Deaths from Gun Violence

Memorial Day is dedicated to those who fell during wars. But nowhere is the day to mourn those who have fallen because, after almost two centuries of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment came to mean that anyone in the country could freely own lethal firearms.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” For two centuries, courts interpreted the amendment, divided into two ungrammatical clauses, as the right of state militias—not individuals—to own and carry weapons. The “militia clause” trumped the “bear arms.”

The reinterpretation came in the 1980s, thanks to President Ronald Reagan, Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), and the NRA, and the new theory became the law of the land. Not until the 21st century did the Supreme Court reverse the original position that the Second Amendment applied to state militias, and that decision was made by an extremist far-right court.

Even that court gave limits. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia  recognized that the right of the individual to own guns didn’t include all weapons:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose… We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

The court also recognized that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding … laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” According to a footnote,

“We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.”

The court concluded:

“Apart from the usual prohibitions of gun ownership by children, felons, illegal aliens, lunatics, and in sensitive places such as public schools, the propriety of which was not questioned in Heller, some states sensibly require that an applicant for a handgun permit establish his competence in handling firearms. A person who carries a gun in public but is not well trained in the use of firearms is a menace to himself and others.”

Gun obsession pervades the United States:

Adam Kokesh, who plans to lead 1,000 armed protesters into Washington, D. C. on July 4 in violation of the law, compares himself to Mahatma Gandhi who practiced nonviolent resistance to British rule in India. Kokesh has said that his march will be violent if “the government chooses to make it violent.”

Living Social offers experiences that mix alcohol and guns, some of them the type of assault rifle used to kill children in Newtown (CT) to kill children. Many of the deals include transportation on a party bus, and some have a meet-up points at restaurants that offer beer and burgers, giving buyers the chance to drink before the event begins. Living Social has claimed that it doesn’t intentionally promote drinking while shooting and they plan to be careful.

Starbucks might want to consider its willingness to allow concealed weapons. In 2011, a teenage girl in Cheyenne (WY) dropped her purse, causing her gun to discharge and the bullet to miss 43-year-old John Basile by about 12 inches. She had no training, including gun safety, but her mother encouraged her to point the gun at a “bad person.” This last week in St. Petersburg (FL) another woman dropped her purse and shot a customer in the leg. She said she forgot that she had it. Starbucks issued this statement:

“At Tyrone Square Mall, our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and store employees, and we are thankful that the injuries sustained are reported to be non-life threatening.”

Aurora (CO), the same place as the horrific movie theater shooting, was the site of an accidental shooting when an employee at Rangeview High School accidentally shot a student who was getting a ride with him. Missouri passed a law allowing school employees to carry guns as voluntary “protection officers,” but Gov. Jay Nixon has promised to veto the bill.

Showing off her brand-new assault rifle in Federal Heights (CO), 22-year-old Anastasia Adair fell. Her gun went off, the bullet hitting her in the head and killing her. In Florida, a three-year-old boy accidentally killed himself with a 9mm handgun that his uncle owned.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) is raising campaign funds through a gun raffle: “Enter the drawing to win a FREE Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, almost impossible to find in stores and the number one firearm on the gun banners’ wish list!” The winner will be announced on July 4, perhaps in time to carry it in the Washington, D.C. protest

Under the “what were they thinking category,” a Missouri theater hired actors to portray gunmen at the Iron Man 3 premier. People screamed and called the police. Manager Bob Wilkins said he was worried about safety but didn’t see anything wrong with the publicity stunt.

About District of Columbia v. Heller, former Justice John Paul Stevens said:

“While the post-decision commentary by historians and other scholars has reinforced my conviction that the Court’s decision to expand the coverage of the Second Amendment was incorrect, good things about the Court’s opinion merit special comment…. Even as generously construed in Heller, the Second Amendment provides no obstacle to regulations prohibiting the ownership or use of the sorts of automatic weapons used in the tragic multiple killings in Virginia, Colorado, and Arizona in recent years. The failure of Congress to take any action to minimize the risk of similar tragedies in the future cannot be blamed on the Court’s decision in Heller.”

The majority of people in the country support gun controls.

background check polls

They know they are not safer with the current situation of unlimited gun purchases. Countries with fewer guns, Australia for example, have less gun violence. There is a correlation between strong gun laws and lack of gun violence.

correlation gun violence and law

Forty percent of people in the United States want guns to “protect” themselves against the government. Corporations have pushed this idea in order to make money through selling weapons and ammunition. For example, the corporation-controlled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is pushing a bill in Nevada to allow the purchase of machine guns.   http://www.prwatch.org/node/12100

US-POLITICS-GUNS-NRALosing sales to adults, gun manufacturers are push sales to small children.   At the recent NRA conference, 3-year-old Elaih Wagan became the youngest member because of her grandfather’s $1,000 birthday gift for a lifetime membership. U.S. Practical Shooting Association’s magazine Junior Shooters is aimed at kids age eight and up.

cartoon adsGun makers produce child-sized guns and then market them to smaller children with cartoon ads, like this Crickett style that a five-year-old used to kill his two-year-old sister.

 

shooting rangeThe January 2013 NRA publication Insights, a magazine for children, gives directions on building BB gun shooting ranges inside their homes for fun during long winters. It recommends hanging targets. BB guns send 22,000 people to the hospital each year, they create fatalities, and they can be indistinguishable from other guns for young children.

Stricter gun control could have saved many of the 851 children killed last year in the United States.

Extremists want no background checks, no waiting periods, no required liability insurance, no age limits, no training. Voting is a constitutional right, yet conservatives support hundreds of laws for waiting periods, registration, photo IDs, restrictive limits on voting times, etc. Voting has age limits. But extremists read the Second Amendment as unlimited rights to wreak havoc.

There were approximately 4,385 gun deaths between December 14, 2012 (Sandy Hook Elementary School) and April 17, 2013.  I use the term “approximately” because conservatives have prevented the government from keeping any statistics on gun violence. About 300 of these were kids.

End Note: In the week leading up to Memorial Day, TSA agents confiscated a record 65 guns from passengers at security checkpoints, 54 of which were loaded. The previous record was 50 guns (45 loaded) the week before May 10. These 65 guns were in addition to three hand grenades, 12 stun guns, two razor blades (one hidden in a shoe and the other in underwear), two joke-bombs, and other stuff such as “firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things.” I appreciate the TSA!

 

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