Yes, Washington D.C. and the corporate media which cover it, are spending a whole lot of time and resources playing into what amounts to a massive presentation of kabuki theater, and its not one that actually helps us with the addition of new jobs or economic growth in any real way whatsoever. Arguably, as Spross explains, it may well accomplish just the opposite.
It's difficult to select just the key passages from the piece, as mentioned, since it's chock full of smart analysis throughout. But, for those without the patience to read the whole thing, here are a few of the central thoughts that you should educate yourself about...
One wonders whether the synapses simply fail to connect in the minds of zealots.
First we get a zealot like Scott Roeder who was so consumed with the "right to life" that he murdered Dr. George Tiller.
Then there’s the more recent case of the infamous ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who told his captive, Jim Reynolds, that he had gone on his murderous rampage because he wanted to clear his name.
Now comes the case of 45-year old Everett Basham, who was so upset with the injustice of new gun safety legislation that he allegedly sent an email to California State Senator Leland Yee (D) threatening to kill him unless Yee "stopped pushing legislation to ban so-called 'bullet buttons,' devices that permit swift reloading of military-style assault weapons by allowing for rapid exchange of ammunition magazines."
"The author of the email specifically stated that if I did not cease our legislative efforts to stop gun violence that he would assassinate me in or around the Capitol," Yee said in a statement last week. "He stated that he was a trained sniper and his email detailed certain weapons he possessed."
Then, again, perhaps Basham, the alleged author of the email, will claim that he was simply following the advice of James Yeager, the CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that specializes in weapons and tactical training. Yeager posted a video on YouTube in January in which he threatened to "start killing people" if President Obama continued to advance a gun safety agenda.
Prosecutors in Santa Clara County have charged Basham with ten felonies, including illegal possession of assault weapons, illegal possession of a destructive device and bomb making materials, criminal threats and the forging and possession of a fake driver's license. There's been no indication, as yet, that Tennessee authorities have undertaken to charge Yeager in connection with his terrorist threat, though his concealed carry permit was quickly suspended following his video-taped threat.
A few seemingly remarkable items coming in via our Twitter feed today, all fueled by folks on the Right who are hoaxed into giving their hard-earned dollars to con-men...
• The crew at the pretend "news" site, Breitbart.com (specifically, Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro) have successfully pushed a story about "Friends of Hamas" supporting SecDef-nominee, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) somehow into the mainstream Rightwing media. The problem with the story --- which is meant to help target the first Presidential cabinet nominee in history to ever be filibustered (much less by his own party!) --- is that "Friends of Hamas", the "scary-sounding pro-Hagel group", doesn't actually seem to exist, according to Slate's Dave Weigel.
• George Zimmerman, the Florida "hero" who claimed that he was just "standing his ground" after having stalked and shot unarmed African-American teen Trayvon Martin last year has a) Reportedly burned through $300,000 in donated legal defense funds and is now considering asking the court to declare him "indigent", so the state would have to pay for his defense and b) Gained some 105 pounds since his arrest last year, according to ThinkProgress today. (Yes, that is what Zimmerman looks like now, at the top of this article.)
• But the most bizarre story of the day must surely be David Corn's at Mother Jones, where his latest investigative report into the profiteering "non-profit" racket called FreedomWorks (one of the nation's largest and most powerful so-called "Tea Party" groups) documents a video said to have been created by the group, but never shown publicly, which "included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton." As Corn himself felt necessary to mention in an Author's note: "The previous sentence contains no typos."
Keep sending in those bucks to the Rightwing scam-artists, wingnuts! No, you're not being played for suckers in the least!
Suffice to say, she was more optimistic about all of the above than I was.
In most of the second half of the show, we focused on the many environmental issues raised in Obama's State of the Union with the Green News Report's Desi Doyen. I'm not sure who was more (or less) optimistic in that half of the show.
Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation --- now in our TENTH YEAR! --- with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...
The still unfolding events surrounding the murderous rampage that has allegedly been carried out by Christopher Jordan Dorner, a former LAPD officer who has vowed to take revenge for his 2009 job loss by killing other officers and their families, while tragic, provide a teachable moment.
The notion advanced by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that safety can be insured if law abiding citizens simply take up arms or by adding armed police inside our schools is nothing more than dangerous nonsense.
In this instance, as two people who had nothing to do with Dorner's rampage were mistakenly shot at dozens of times by police officers wrapped up in the manhunt, we saw what can happen when fear is added to the equation...
During testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 1999, after the mass shooting at Columbine, the National Rifle Association's CEO Wayne LaPierre stated plainly:
LAPIERRE: We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.
The NRA even went as far as to take out an ad [PDF] that included LaPierre's full testimony from his U.S. House Judiciary Committee appearance that day.
But that was then.
Today, testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in the wake of the mass shooting at Newtown, LaPierre has completely reversed his position on background checks, as highlighted during this exchange with the Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)...
In short, despite tens of thousands of criminals prevented from buying guns at licensed dealers and pawn shops, thanks to instant background checks --- LaPierre pegged the number at 76,000 people who "have been denied under the present law" --- the NRA mouthpiece is now against closing the loophole that allows unlimited gun sales at trade shows with no background checks whatsoever, even though 40% of weapons in the country are purchased at such shows.
A federal lawsuit filed by the Calvary Chapel of Thousand Oaks seeks to test the legal line drawn by California regarding the boundaries of church and state.
Under the Golden State's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), churches are permitted to discriminate in hiring practices based on their religious beliefs only within the confines of non-profit institutions --- a line that recognizes that government has no role in a religious institution's selection of a priest, minister, rabbi or imam. Thus, for example, laws banning discrimination on the basis of gender do not prevent the Catholic Church from limiting the priesthood to adult males.
But the Calvary Chapel now seeks to obliterate the line drawn by the state FEHA law. It purchased the Little Oaks School of Thousand Oaks, a for-profit, previously non-sectarian private school and subsequently fired two teachers who refused to make statements of faith and obtain references from a pastor. The teachers' objections, one of whom had been the director of Little Oaks' preschool, were on religious freedom grounds.
Facing a likely legal challenge under state law, the church filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the teachers and their attorneys as a preemptive strike in hopes of preventing the teachers from seeking redress in state court under FEHA.
Both parties in the suit are using "religious freedom" as the basis of their argument. The church seeks "religious freedom" in its discriminatory hiring practices. The teachers seek freedom from religion in their right to maintain their jobs...
The headline at Think Progress, "5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day" was too perfect not to re-use in this case.
CNN describes yesterday's "Gun Appreciation Day" festivities this way today...
At least five people --- three in North Carolina, one in Indiana and one in Ohio --- were injured after weapons went off at gun shows Saturday, officials said, at a time when there's been renewed discussion about private gun sales at such shows.
The most casualties came at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, North Carolina, where attendees bolted --- with at least one woman wiping out in the frenetic scene --- when gunfire rang out around 1 p.m., as seen on video captured by CNN affiliate WRAL.
Here's video from the NC gun show revealing the freedom fighters there scrambling after a 12-guage shotgun "accidentally discharged", injuring three people...
In Ohio, one man is hospitalized in stable condition today "after being shot by his business partner at a gun show" in the northern part of the state yesterday. It seems the owner of the Taurus semi-automatic 9mm handgun "brought the firearm into the show fully loaded," despite a policy barring loaded weapons.
Why, since NRA stooges tell us that "guns make us safer", are they not allowed to carry loaded weapons at gun shows, of all places? Seems, I dunno, hypocritical.
"In Indianapolis," the CNN report continues describing the third incident yesterday, "a man walking out of the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show shot himself in the hand as he was loading his .45-caliber semi-automatic firearm, Indiana State Police said in a statement."
In a less amusing incident Saturday, also on "Gun Appreciation Day", tragedy struck in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, when a 14-year old boy playing with his 15-year old brother and a friend spending the night, got access to his mother's unloaded gun, loaded the weapon, pointed it at the older brother and "accidentally" killed him.
As journalist Brooke Jarvis tweeted yesterday, appropriately enough, a 1998 study on guns in homes found that "For every use in self defense, there were 4 accidental shootings, 7 assaults/homicides, & 11 suicide attempts."
But, ya know, guns don't kill people. Gunshot wounds from guns in people's houses kill people.
* * *
UPDATE 1/21/12: "Gun Appreciation Day" had an even darker ending in New Mexico, with yet another 15-year old involved, as Albuquerque Journal reports...
It was a “horrific” crime scene that confronted deputies Saturday night: Former Calvary church Pastor Greg Griego; his wife, Sarah; and their three youngest children dead — fatally shot multiple times with a “military-style” assault rifle and other weapons — at their South Valley home.
The suspect in custody is the couple’s 15-year-old son, Nehemiah Griego, who neighbors said often wore “nothing but camouflage” and wanted to be in the army.
“I’ve never seen a scene quite like this,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said at a news conference Sunday morning.
The teen is accused of using several weapons, including a “military style” assault rifle, according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, to kill his parents and three youngest siblings.
Nehemiah told neighbors he wanted to be a soldier. He always wore army clothing and camouflage, but he wasn’t allowed to play violent video games, according to one neighbor, since the boy’s parents didn’t allow anything “dirty or violent” and limited TV watching.
This still photo depicts actor Mark Wahlberg using the powerful .50 BMG Barrett M82A1M to shoot down an approaching helicopter at the outset of the 2007 motion picture, Shooter. Later, in the same film, what appears to be a Barrett M82A1 mounted atop a computer-operated weapon platform, is remotely accessed to carry out the long-distance assassination of an Archbishop who is standing next to the President.
On a segment of Thursday night's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, the host addressed the fact that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is funded and controlled by those who are making obscene profits off the very weaponry used to carry out mass murders of civilians in the U.S. O'Donnell pointed out that, since 2005, when former Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID), now an NRA Board member, pushed a bill through Congress which immunized weapons manufacturers from civil liability for the carnage wrought by the weapons they unload on the public, the NRA has received over $38 million in contributions from weapons manufacturers.
O'Donnell's list of NRA Board members included George Kollitides of the Freedom Group, owner of multiple weapons manufacturers, including Remington and Bushmaster. Kollitides' company manufactured the AR-15 that was used to murder 20 children and 6 educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last month. Another one of his companies, Advanced Armaments, manufactures silencers, that, according to its web site, are legal in 39 states. Who inside this country, aside from mob hit men, need silencers?
The truly disturbing revelation, however, was that the military grade weapon, the Barrett M82 (see narrated video below), akin to the one seen in the still photo above, is being sold to the general public by Ronnie Barrett, yet another wealthy member of the NRA's Board of Directors.
The Barrett M82 semi-automatic sniper rifle chambers a powerful 12.7×99 mm NATO (.50BMG) armor piercing round. Known as the "Barrett Light Fifty," it was used by the IRA to conduct a sniper campaign against British armed forces in Northern Ireland. It has been sold to the armed forces of some 40 nations. During the First Gulf War, the U.S. military used the Barrett M82 to disable Iraqi armored personnel carriers.
It is difficult to imagine what possible legitimate function the M82 would have in any civilian setting --- that is unless one considers assassinations and shooting down helicopters to be a constitutionally protected sporting event. Yet, lighter variations of the M82, like the more advanced M107, are readily available to civilians in every state except California. When California banned civilian purchases of these insanely deadly weapons, Barrett retaliated by suspending sales to all of the Golden State's law enforcement agencies. Frankly, the following narrated video suggests that this powerful weapon should not be in the hands of law enforcement agencies either, let alone civilians.
One can't help but think of the words Martin Luther King presented during his moving "Beyond Vietnam" speech: "Somehow this madness must cease"...
In other words Stewart focused on those who are willing to beclown themselves by insisting that the President's rather tepid --- rather non-controversial if you bother to read them --- 23 executive actions and 9 recommendations to Congress to improve gun safety in this nation were nothing short of TYRANNY!!!!
As Stewart observes in the very funny segment posted below, it seems these folks are "confusing tyranny with the unpleasant burning sensation of losing democratic elections."
He ultimately concludes: "I guess it can be summed up by the old homily: 'First they came for the guns, and I said nothing, because...they really didn't."
The segment is split into two parts, both below, but it's really just one segment...
Tyranny! No, wait! Freedom and liberty! No, wait! Obama puts the 'O' in Ompeachment!
Oh, this dictatorship stuff is all so confusing. But not nearly as confused as today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio listeners may have been. Don't believe me? Give a listen to today's BradCast posted below. Tons and tons of callers, and we didn't even get to half of the callers who were waiting on hold to be heard over their public airwaves...
So, for the record, courtesy of comrade Rick Ungar at leftist rag Forbes magazine, here are the 23 scandalous, shocking, outrageous, gun-grabbing, tyrannical, impeachment-worthy executive actions --- and freedoms lost --- that Dictator Obama signed today...
A federal judge approved a settlement resolving the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of demonstrators who were pepper-sprayed at UC Davis in 2011.
U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez on Wednesday gave the final approval for the $1 million settlement, initially filed in September.
As part of the settlement, the university has agreed to pay $30,000 to each of the 21 plaintiffs, a total of $250,000 to their attorneys and a total of $100,000 to 15 other claimants.
The settlement also stipulates that UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi issue a formal written apology to the students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed. It also calls for the university to develop new policies regarding student demonstrations and use of force.
In the very same week...
• A military judge agreed that U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning's pre-trial confinement, for having allegedly leaked classified diplomatic cables, was excessively harsh, but refused to dismiss the charges against him. Instead, the judge reduced 4 months from Manning's potential life sentence that he hasn't even received yet while being jailed for 2 years and 8 months, so far, waiting for his day in military court. The judge also delayed the start of his trial for another 3 months in the bargain.
• Britain's largest bank, HSBC, was slapped on the wrist with a $1.9 billion settlement (a few weeks of profit) for having knowingly laundered billions of dollars for drug cartels and terrorist organizations and rogue states after federal prosecutors in the U.S. decided that any harsher punishment --- such as larger fines or taking them to court or, God forbid, sending any single one of their employees or board members to prison for even a day --- would potentially result in bankruptcy for the "too big to jail" international bank.
And, a few weeks before that...
• Oil giant BPpleaded guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter and other criminal charges related to the massive oil spill and deaths of 11 men on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. They agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines (they made more than that in profit alone in the third quarter of 2012) over a five year period. Nobody would face any jail time in the settlement.
Yet, all the while...
• NRA stooges continued to pretend that their big bad assault weapons are responsible for keeping this country safe from big government tyranny.
What the fuck is wrong with this picture, those people, this Administration, our Dept. of Justice, and this country?