"Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."
- Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind
In "High Cost of Willfully Misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment" we touched upon the price the American people have paid in lives, injuries and grief, as measured against the extraordinary profits of U.S. small arms manufacturers whose domestic sales of increasingly sophisticated weapons, including the AR-15 and AK-47 styled assault rifles, similar to the one used in the mass shooting in Newton, CT last Friday, climbed to 14 million guns in 2009 alone --- greater than the total number possessed by 21 of the world's standing armies combined.
As the nation reels in the wake of the latest horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it seems a worthwhile task to take a quick look at a partial history of mass shooting events in the U.S., starting with the 1966 University of Texas massacre so that we can take stock of what our nation's strange fascination with guns and ammo has truly wrought --- with increasing frequency since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004...
Merry Christmas from the White House and the NRA...
UPDATES: Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle and others weapons used in mass murder legally purchased and registered; Newtown, CT elementary school shooting 2nd deadliest in U.S. history, most came since NRA helped loosen laws; Tearful President speaks in Brady Press Room, calls for 'meaningful action regardless of politics', fails to offer specifics...
UPDATE 12:14pm PT: According to AP, at this hour, there are 27 dead at the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, including 18 children, most of them kindergarteners, making this the second deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Which means, according to BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski, that "of the 12 deadliest shooting attacks in US history, six have occurred since 2007."
In other words, the six of the most deadly shootings in our history all happened in the years since the NRA was so successful in assuring the Reagan-era assault-weapons ban was ended and other gun laws were loosened and struck down entirely across the country.
As of this week, all 50 states now allow concealed guns to be carried. But, according to the terrorist-enabling NRA and its cowardly supporters, the solution is for still more people to carry guns (the Republican MI legislature approved a new law allowing guns in schools just last night) so we all keep getting safer and safer. Right?
The NRA plan to make America safer: Everyone get a gun. Wait for someone in bullet-proof armor to use a semi-automatic assualt rifle to shoot 60 people in a crowd in 90 seconds or so. Someone try to shoot them. That plan is perfect! No downsides at all.
UPDATE 12:21pm PT: President Obama just spoke in the Brady Press Room, named for Ronald Reagan's Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in the head during the assassination attempt on Reagan, and the man for whom the now expired assault weapons ban, supported by Reagan and signed by George H.W. Bush, was named.
In terse remarks, while fighting back tears, the President said: "We've endured too many of these tragedies these past few years...We are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
He offered no suggestions, at this time, for that "meaningful action".
UPDATE 1:20pm PT: Number of children said killed, among the 27 shot by suspect, increased to 20.
Also, Democratic strategist Julian Epstein on MSNBC says 30 people are killed by guns every day in the U.S. 11,000 per year. "The equivalent of a jumbo jet going down every week in this country."
UPDATE 3:27pm PT:According to NBC News: "Weapons used in shooting were legally purchased and registered to gunman's mother, law enforcement officials tell NBC News ". Thanks for the great work, NRA con-men!
UPDATE 3:40pm PT: Fox "News" confirms weapons used were legally purchased and registered by shooter's mother (who was also killed). They (and CNN) report one weapon was a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle made by Bushmaster. Here's the Bushmaster 2012 catalog. Note the bottom of their website includes two different links to the NRA.
Here's a video of a .223 Bushmaster AR-15, similar to the one reportedly used in the killing of 27 in CT today, firing at 100 yards...
UPDATE 9:51pm PT: There seems to be quiet a bit of confusion, and conflicting information, about the type of weapons used in the mass shooting today. So let's try to clear that up a bit, with what we're able to learn at this hour...
• Whodathunkit? But questions arise about the legitimacy of the claims made by Fox' latest wannabe James O'Keefe, about that video purporting to show an "unprovoked attack" by "union thugs" outside the capital building in Lansing, MI this week. The most amazing part? Someone at The New York Times --- yes, thatNew York Times --- is one of those actually noticing the big honkin' edit in the middle of the video, rather than just reporting it all as unquestioned fact.
• Eric Holder spoke about the need to protect voting rights at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We have more than a few bones to pick about it, but we'll just point you to the actual speech for the moment.
• Finally, for now, the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, the new theatrical film about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, reportedly glorifies the torture that led to his capture and killing, even though no torture whatsoever actually led to his capture and killing.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Massive pipeline explosion melts WV highway; More bad news for wolves, this time courtesy of MI Republicans; Judge lifts Keystone XL pipeline restraining order; PLUS: There they go again: House GOP threatens to hold Hurricane Sandy recovery funds hostage ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): No 'Get-Out-of-Jail-Free' Card on Sea Level; Colorado River water supply to fall short of demand: study; Hundreds rally against PacNW coal trains; Interior Dept. delays fracking rules; UK lifts ban on fracking; Feds open CA lands to fracking development; Is A123 battery sale to China a threat to US security? PLUS: Question posed at AGU: “Is Earth F**ked?”... and much, MUCH more! ...
Now Jon Stewart and The Daily Show have something to say about it all, whether Fox "News" likes it or not. (Note: The video is broken into two parts for some reason, so be sure to watch through to Part 2!)
We covered this briefly during yesterday's Green News Report, but it deserves its own item here. It's a pretty brazen --- but also very affective --- 30-second video that its creators at ExxonHatesYourChildren.com hope you will help fund to see it run over our public television airwaves. Their hope is to help counter the extraordinary amount of propaganda seen paid for every single day on those same airwaves, as funded by the corporate welfare queens otherwise known as the fossil-fuel industry. (Yes, the fossil-fuel industry uses your money to help keep you confused about the massive dangers of their own industry.)
45 Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House are calling on Congressional leadership in both chambers to cut $100 billion from a "bloated nuclear weapons budget" as part of the ongoing so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued a press release citing the letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) and Senators Harry Reid (D) and Mitch McConell (R) charging that "Our oversized nuclear weapons arsenal fails to reflect historic reality" and that "Our spending on radioactive relics of the past requires a reality check" after the successful conclusion of the Cold War.
The 45 House Dems list unnecessary current expenditures for "refurbishing a nuclear bomb that no one wants…a Uranium processing facility we do not need…a nuclear bomber when the ones we have will last for decades."
The letter, (posted in full below) implores leadership:
Cut Minuteman missiles. Do not cut Medicare and Medicaid. Cut nuclear-armed B-52 and B-2 bombers. Do not cut Social Security. Invest in the research and education that will drive our future prosperity, not in weapons for a war we already won.
While the letter from the largely progressive Congressional members appears to be a rational step in the right direction, it raises additional questions. Among them: (1) Given that two nations, the U.S. and Russia, possess 95% of the world’s nuclear arsenals, and given that each nation’s individual arsenal is capable of destroying all life on the planet many times over, does it make sense to simply trim only $100 billion from an estimated $640 billion in nuclear weapons expenditures scheduled over the next ten years? (2) Why not couple the immediate request to trim $100 billion from the nuclear weapons budget with a call for a joint resolution of Congress calling upon the President to initiate negotiations under the auspices of the U.N. for a multilateral Treaty that would entail the eventual dismantling of all nuclear arsenals?...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Crunch time at UN climate talks in Doha; More dire warnings from the Arctic; Pollution regulations really do save lives; PLUS: Exxon hates your children (?!?!) ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): NASA: Climate Models Project Increase In U.S. Wildfires; UN climate may never pass US Senate; Driver still missing in coal ash slurry pond breach; Oil trains on the rise in U.S.; NJ toxic train wreck won't be cleared for a week; Divide over coal trains in Pacific NW; Starving snowy oils flock south to British Columbia ... PLUS: Photos: 60th anniversary of the deadly Great Smog of London ... and much, MUCH more! ...
So, yeah, this is pretty much what it's all come to these days in the Republican Party. Imaginary "voter fraud" and imaginary U.N. tyranny...
BONUS: The Daily Show also had his own take on the Republican dysfunction in the U.S. Senate (discussed by Colbert above) which led to the embarrassing failure to ratify the U.N. treaty for worldwide accommodations for the disabled. The treaty was based on our own, very successful federal bill, the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush twenty years ago.
Part 1 of Jon Stewart's two-parter below is worth watching for the killer John Kerry joke alone...
For the second time in a week, conservative Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) is breaking with his party on a hot button issue.
Last Tuesday, Cole made headlines for disagreeing with House Speaker John Boehner and advising his fellow Republicans to accept President Barack Obama’s offer to immediately extend tax cuts on incomes under $250,000, while negotiating a broader deal involving tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
During a Sunday morning appearance on ABC’s This Week, Cole offered his advice on the other issue that has animated Republicans in the weeks since the election: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s response to the September 11th attacks in Benghazi, and her potential nomination as Secretary of State.
When Dan Senor — the former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority during the Iraq War, and the chief foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney — suggested investigating “whether or not Susan Rice should be blamed” for the Obama administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks, Cole reminded Senor of the Bush administration’s false claims that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
“We saw President Bush out front defending something wasn’t true too,” Cole noted. “Maybe we should ask those guys some questions too.”
In both cases, Cole is not adopting the Democratic position; he opposes raising tax rates for the wealthy, and he does not appear to support Rice (although he did not say whether or not he would vote to confirm her if he were in the Senate.) Instead, Cole seems to be trying to divert his party from embracing hopeless political positions. Just as Cole correctly identified that the White House has all of the leverage in the tax cut debate, so too does he seem to realize that a public battle over Rice could lead to some very uncomfortable questions about the Bush administration’s record — a history that the Republican Party would rather stay buried.
Video of the ABC This Week moment mentioned above, from 12/2/2012, follows below...
There's a reason why most Republican wingnuts don't venture outside of the safe confines of Fox "News" or other venues where they won't have to face actual, reality-based information and questions from outside of their comfortable, fact-free bubble.
My conversation on air Thursday with RW "voter fraud" fraudster, commie-hunter, and fact-challenged Fox fave David Horowitz illustrated that point with crystal clarity once again. The result wasn't pretty. At least for him.
When asked for actual facts to back up his extraordinary claims about "Democratic voter fraud" --- specifically, that caretakers at his brother-in-law's residential care facility "committed fraud" by helping the brother-in-law, and purportedly sixty others at the home, to vote --- Horowitz had nothing.
He was, however, able to call me a "communist wanna be", a "liar" and an "extreme partisan" for having displayed the temerity to ask him for such facts. He was even able to pile on top of all of that by claiming (falsely) that I'd called him all sorts of names and even that I had accused him of committing fraud!
That's why these guys don't leave the Fox Fantasy World bubble.
As I say, it wasn't pretty. But the audio of yesterday's radio "interview", and the background on what happened, all follows below. I think you may enjoy it...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: 2012 set to be one of the hottest years on record; Sea levels rising faster than predicted; Plankton is in trouble; Does air pollution raise the risk of autism?; PLUS: EPA knocks BP out of federal contracting ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Superstorm Sandy to cost $79 Billion; Rising seas to swallow NYC without action; L.A. inks solar deal with Moapa Tribe; 'Buyer beware' on San Diego's desalination plant; How to destroy the planet from the comfort of home; DOE's 'Road to Fuel Effienciency'; Ex-coal executive charged in mine disaster; Jordan fights water shortages ... PLUS: Meet The Climate Denial Machine ... and much, MUCH more! ...