Autumn Old Truck Wallpaper – Congress is More Conservative and Corrupt Than Ever

Autumn Old Truck Wallpaper

Autumn Old Truck Wallpaper

2013, Congress is More Conservative Than Ever, But They Are The Best Congress Money Can Buy

Failed gun control legislation and a fertilizer plant explosion reveal how poisoned by big money our government is.
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship. This piece originally appeared on BillMoyers.com.

If you want to see why the public approval rating of Congress is down in the sub-arctic range — an icy 15 percent by last count — all you have to do is take a quick look at how the House and Senate pay worship at the altar of corporations, banks and other special interests at the expense of public aspirations and need.

Traditionally, political scientists have taught their students that there are two schools of thought about how a legislator should get the job done. One is to vote yay or nay on a bill by following the will of his or her constituency, doing what they say they want. The other is to represent them as that legislator sees fit, acting in the best interest of the voters — whether they like it or not.

But our current Congress — as cranky and inert as an obnoxious old uncle who refuses to move from his easy chair — never went to either of those schools. Its members rarely have the voter in mind at all, unless, of course, that voter’s a cash-laden heavy hitter with the clout to keep an incumbent on the leash and comfortably in office.

How else to explain a Congress that still adamantly refuses to do anything, despite some 90 percent of the American public being in favor of background checks for gun purchases and a healthy majority favoring other gun control measures? Last week, they ignored the pleas of Newtown families and the siege of violence in Boston and yielded once again to the fanatical rants of Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. In just the first three months of this year, as it shoved back against the renewed push for controls, the NRA spent a record $800,000 keeping congressional members in line.

And how else to explain why corporate tax breaks have more than doubled in the last 25 years? Or why the Senate and House recently gutted the STOCK Act requiring disclosure of financial transactions by White House staff and members of Congress and their staffs and prohibiting them from insider trading? It was passed into law and signed by President Obama last year – an election year – with great self-congratulation from all involved. But fears allegedly arose that there might be security risks for some in the executive branch if their financial business was known. That concern was examined by the Columbia Journalism Review, which “consulted four cybersecurity experts from leading think tanks and private security consultancies. Each came to the same conclusion: that Congress’s rationale for scrapping the financial disclosure rules was bogus.” Nonetheless, the House and Senate leapt at the opportunity to eviscerate key sections of the STOCK Act when almost no one was watching. And the president signed it.

Then there’s the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, where last week, fire and explosion killed at least 15 — 11 of them first responders — and injured more than 200. The Reuters news service reported that the factory “had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Why wasn’t Homeland Security on top of this? For one thing, the company was required to tell the department — and didn’t. For another, budget cuts demanded by Congress mean there aren’t enough personnel available for spot inspections.

Same goes for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA. The plant hadn’t been inspected in nearly thirty years, and there are so few OSHA inspectors in Texas that it would take 98 years for them to take a look at each workplace in the state once. According to the non-partisan reform group Public Campaign, “Already only able to conduct 40,000 workplace inspections a year in a country with seven million worksites, OSHA will see its budget cut by an additional 8.2 percent this year on account of the sequester.”

Congress quietly acquiesces as the regulations meant for our safety are whittled away.

Twelve members of Congress want to make a bad situation even worse, sponsoring the industry-backed General Duty Clarification Act; its banal title hiding that, as reported by Tim Murphy at Mother Jones magazine, “The bill is designed to sap the Environmental Protection Agency of its powers to regulate safety and security at major chemical sites, as prescribed by the Clean Air Act.”

“‘We call that the Koch brothers bill,’ Greenpeace legislative director Rick Hind says, because the bill’s sponsor, GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo, represents the conservative megadonors’ home city of Wichita, Kansas. (The sponsor of the sister legislation in the senate, GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, represents the Kochs’ home state of Kansas.) The brothers have huge investments in fertilizer production, and Hind thinks they’ll ultimately get what they want, whether or not the bill becomes law.”

No coincidence, perhaps, that the sponsors of the House bill and Senator Roberts, Public Campaign reports, “have collectively taken over $670,000 from the chemical manufacturing industry over their careers.” Since 2011, the industry has spent $85.1 million lobbying.

Congress quietly acquiesces as the regulations meant for our safety are whittled away. The progressive website ThinkProgress notes that even though food related infections — which kill 3,000 and sicken 48 million Americans each year — rose last year, congressional and White House budget cuts may mean up to 600 fewer food inspectors at meat and poultry plants, leaving it up to the industry to police itself. That rot you’re smelling isn’t just some bad hamburger.

It’s true that ninety-two percent of Americans say, yes, reducing the deficit and spending cuts are important, but all on their own the people have figured out cuts that make more sense than anything Congress and its corporate puppeteers want to hear about. Mattea Kramer, research director at the National Priorities Project, says “a strong majority” — 73 percent of us — want a reduced reliance on fossil fuels, and fifty percent want something done about climate change. A carbon tax would help with both, and raise an estimated $125 billion every year. Response from Congress: crickets.

Fifty eight percent of the U.S., according to Gallup, wants “major cuts in military and defense spending,” the average American favoring a reduction of 18 percent. Good luck — the Pentagon and defense contractors already are bellowing about the puny 1.6 percent reduction called for in the new White House budget.

Mattea Kramer writes that Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 280 organizations, has “identified 10-year budgetary savings of $2.8 trillion simply by limiting or eliminating a plethora of high-income and corporate tax loopholes.” Congress is busily revising the tax code as we speak but how many of those loopholes and other perks like credits and deductions do you bet will go away?

Not many if the lobbying industry has anything to do with it. The House Ways and Means Committee has eleven working groups considering rewrites and according to the congressional newspaper The Hill, they’re quietly meeting with lobbyists and other interests – “deep pocketed players” — all the time. Keep your eye on who’s donating to the re-election campaigns of each of those working group members as we move toward the midterms next year.

Over on the Senate side, The New York Times recently reported those seeking to cut taxes and hang onto their incentives as the code is revised have found one strategy that seems to work – hire firms that employ former aides to Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The Times analyzed lobbying files and found at least 28 of his ex-staffers “have lobbied on tax issues during the Obama administration – more than any other current member of Congress.”

Reporter Eric Lipton writes, “… Many of those lobbyists have already saved their clients millions — in some cases, billions — of dollars after Mr. Baucus backed their requests to extend certain corporate tax perks, provisions that were adopted as part of the so-called fiscal cliff legislation in January.”

Senator Baucus’ spokesman was quick to say that his boss regularly rejects requests as well, but the fact is, he added, “Oftentimes good policy can indirectly benefit someone. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.”

Just so. Which is why, for example, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader who likes to complain about the current tax code’s four million words of red tape – seven times the length of War and Peace — will doubtless support tightening loopholes, right? A January report from Public Campaign Action Fund, found that, “Companies that lobbied against bringing jobs back to America and ending tax breaks for offshoring have given McConnell one million dollars to win his elections and look out for their interests.” In other words: don’t hold your breath.

No wonder the biggest newspaper in his native Kentucky said in a recent editorial that McConnell “has long ceased to serve the state, instead serving the corporate interests he counts on for contributions and leading obstruction that continues to plague Congress.”

Sadly, such is the way of Washington, home of the scheme and the fraud, where the unbreakable chain between money and governance weighs heavy and drags us ever deeper into a sinkhole of inaction and mediocrity.

Bill Moyers is managing editor of the new weekly public affairs program, “Moyers & Company,” airing on public television. Check local airtimes or comment at http://www.BillMoyers.com.

Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos and a senior writer of the new series, Moyers & Company, airing on public television.

The National Security State, Terrorism and The Conservative Logic Hole

Blue Ocean Cliffs wallpaper

Blue Ocean Cliffs wallpaper

 

The last few days, staring with the news of the Bush Library opening and this new report from the WaPo is like having a waking nightmare that is on automatic shuffle. The main theme of the nightmare stays the same, the little details change. CIA pushed to add Boston bomber to terror watch list

The CIA pushed to have one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers placed on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list more than a year before the attacks, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Russian authorities contacted the CIA in the fall of 2011 and raised concerns that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed last week in a confrontation with police, was seen as an increasingly radical Islamist who could be planning to travel overseas.

The CIA request led the National Counterterrorism Center to add Tsarnaev’s name to a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, that is used to feed information to other lists, including the FBI’s main terrorist screening database.

The CIA’s request came months after the FBI had closed a preliminary inquiry into Tsarnaev after getting a similar warning from Russian state security, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The disclosure of the CIA’s involvement suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than it has previously acknowledged to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the United States and investigate him further after a seven-month trip he took to Russia last year.

let’s get to the obvious thing first. The WaPo’s shoddy reporting. We already knew that the FBI had Tsarnaev on their watch-list. He was added to the TIDE list. In a quick scan of a few blogs, one suggested that we have reentered the space-time continuum of blame between the two agencies. That might be, but for those who are following the details, this confusion seems to be largely a problem of individual personnel not being briefed very well and the WaPo relying on what one person said instead of taking five minutes to check Lexus-Nexus. Unlike the rest of us reporters at the WaPo do not have to pay to use it.

“The system pinged when he was leaving the United States,” Napolitano said at a Senate hearing this week. “By the time he returned, all investigations had been closed.” The Washington Post notes that since the CIA became involved later, it’s possible Tsarnaev would have still been on the TIDE list when he reentered the country. “If Customs officials had alerted the FBI to his return, the bureau might have found reason to question him further in the months leading up to the attacks,” the paper reports.

However, that seems fairly unlikely. The CIA and FBI asked the Russians for more information on Tsarnaev several times, but got no response until the manhunt was on in Boston. Therefore, he was just a man two agencies had cleared on a list of hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists. A U.S. intelligence official noted Tsarnaev “did not come anywhere close to being a selectee” for the no-fly list. As for what would have happened if the FBI was aware of his return from Russia, the official said, “Probably nothing.”

Since we’re in time trvael mode let’s go back to the problems the FBI was having when our national security policy was to make everyone in the U.S. a potential terrorist. June 19, 2003, THREATS AND RESPONSES: LAW ENFORCEMENT; False Terrorism Tips to F.B.I. Uproot the Lives of Suspects

Federal agents, facing intense pressure to avoid another terrorist attack, have acted on information from tipsters with questionable backgrounds and motives, touching off needless scares and upending the lives of innocent suspects.

After a wave of criticism, Bush administration officials have been revising their policies for handling terrorist suspects. On Tuesday, President Bush issued guidelines restricting racial profiling in investigations to ”narrow” circumstances linked to stopping potential attacks.

In a report earlier this month, the Justice Department’s inspector general found that in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, many illegal immigrants with no connection to terrorism were detained under harsh conditions.
[  ]…With thousands of tips coming in every week, the F.B.I. was hard pressed in those early days merely to take in the information, officials said, especially since Justice Department orders were that no plausible tip was to be ignored.

In that same report the FBI acknowledge that tipping the FBI off that someone was potential terror suspect became a way for people to take revenge on people they did not like, such as ex-spouses and anyone who looked like they were from the middle-east. Then and now how does the FBI or CIA determine who to watch on an almost continuous basis. That is a lot of resources and manpower focused on someone that might do something. That apparently has not stopped what has become one of the most enormous bureaucracies in the U.S. government from trying to watch everyone, all the time. What happens when you have thousands of people and billions of dollars chasing every tip and every ghost of a suspect, July 19, 2010 – A hidden world, growing beyond control

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation’s other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

This is one of the reason to be both concerned and laugh at what national security has become. Because so much of the funding is simply bundled for national security, the details of how it is spent are known to hand full of people and they can only tell Congress in secret meetings about the specifics of how it was spent. basically two lone wackos just went off one day. How is it that anyone can see that coming and take legal action. The FBI could do what they did after 9-11 and simply take people off the street. That will work until someone who thinks abortion is murder, or women should not be allowed to take contraceptives, or someone who thinks vaccines are part of a nefarious government plot, or someone thinks Obama must be taken out because he heard Obama does not have a real birth certificate….is put in a cell without the right to counsel. Why didn’t the FBI pick up on signals from this guy, just because he is white, male and likely list his religion as Christian, Illinois shootings: Suspect helped wounded girl after killing 5

After he shot his way into a home in the small town of Manchester, police say Rick Odell Smith gunned down a great-grandmother, a young couple and three young children. Then he did something that puzzled authorities.

He scooped up one of the children, a 6-year-old girl who was still alive, and carried her to a neighbor’s home. Then he jumped into his white Chevy Lumina and sped off. Police caught up with him hours later and he died in a gunfight with officers.

So a Caucasian male murders one more person than the Boston marathon terrorists: it is not called terrorism. There is no call to stop letting whites immigrate to the U.S. There is no blame game by politicians. There is no wacky conspiracy theories from Glenn Beck – Beck: ‘If You Want to Continue to Discredit Me, You Will Only Discredit Yourself’. Somehow, and being anti-science and anti-rationalism it makes sense, conservatives have come to belive that if you’re murdered by a non-Chritian you’re more dead and your death matters more if you’re murdered by a while male Christian. Another trip down memory lane when conservatives were complaining about national security overreach, “You Don’t Have Any Civil Liberties If You’re Dead” (2010)

Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it. So it is with the uproar from disingenuous conservatives trying to capitalize on the public outcry over the TSA’s airport body scans and aggressive pat-downs. While Charles Krauthammer now spouts “don’t touch my junk” and Rush Limbaugh declares, “Keep your hands off my tea bag, Mr. President,” five years ago the right-wing echo chamber applauded President Bush’s regime of illegal domestic surveillance by the NSA. After all, they insisted then, you don’t have civil liberties when you’re dead.

That stunning defense of anti-terrorism over-reach became a Republican staple in December 2005. After the New York Times revealed the Bush administration’s campaign of warrantless wiretapping, Senator John Cornyn debuted the now famous GOP talking point. The former Texas Supreme Court Justice announced:

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.”

(With no sense of irony, Cornyn in August 2009 accused President Obama of instituting a “data collection program” in support of health care reform.)

Soon, Republican leaders were singing from the same hymnal. On February 3rd, 2006, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who has stonewalled the Phase II investigation into the misuses of pre-Iraq war intelligence, similarly claimed:

“You really don’t have any civil liberties if you’re dead.”

Just days later, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) joined his colleagues in blessing President Bush’s unilateral abrogation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Constitution. The failed federal judge insisted that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, anything goes:

“Over 3,000 Americans have no civil rights because they are no longer with us.”

Of course, Republicans aren’t merely seizing on the TSA passenger imbroglio to embarrass President Obama. As it turns out, the dust-up is another chance for Republicans to further some of their most cherished goals.

Like more, not fewer, violations of Americans’ civil liberties. While Florida Congressman John Mica is pushing for U.S. airports to turn passenger security over to private contractors, Representatives Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have called for profiling of passengers. “Sure, profiling is okay,” Hoekstra explained, adding, “You know, you do it everywhere in life – it only makes sense.”

Charles Krauthammer couldn’t agree more. Krauthammer is only too willing to sacrifice other peoples’ rights in order to keep the government out of his junkyard:

“The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.”

So much for the threat from terror babies.

So profiling and trashing every American’s constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties is OK, but limiting the size of gun magazines is too intrusive. Profiling prevents Americans from being killed? Tell that to those five people murdered in Illinois. Or the families in Newtown. Remember that Adam Lanza’s mother was a conservative gun collector who thought civilization was going to crumple. And in every forum on the internet the gun fetishists claim that no gun safety laws will ever prevent a murder, but throwing all olive skinned, possibly middle-eastern “looking” folks in preventative detention will. It all sounds like something out of a very surreal graphic novel, but it is the reality we all live in. Just in time to prove my point, O’Reilly Demands To Know Why Obama Didn’t Condemn Islam Immediately After Boston Bombing

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly chose on Tuesday night to slam President Obama for failing to condemn Islam in the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings and claimed that American Muslims aren’t doing enough to stand up against jihad.

During his “Talking Point Commentary” segment, O’Reilly called the President “seriously wrong” for urging the country on Friday to not to jump to conclusions about the bombing suspects’ motivations.

“It’s all about motivation and it’s all about a specific group of people,” O’Reilly declared, referring to Muslims. He then went on to say that suspected Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his deceased brother Tamerlan were definitively jihadists, stating that “only radical Islam allows terror murder.”

April is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings by two white Christian conservatives. Maybe Obama didn’t condemn all of Islam for the same reason Bill Clinton did not use Oklahoma City to condemn conservationism and right-wing Christians. Maybe to do so is a tad too sweeping an indictment. O’Reilly is a good example of the kind of lazy knee jerk thinking which permeates the conservative movement. They always get caught on the absurdity, the contradictions, the lack of facts and the hypocrisy. Yet, like mindless zombies they don’t skip a beat they keep clawing at the wall. O’Reilly makes millions for being wrong, for spreading deeply unAmericans values, for twisting and distorting the simplest bits of information. There is no incentive for him to become less morally corrupt. Malignity pays.

Bonus links: Bush’s Library Dedication Reminds America Of 50 Reasons George W. Bush Should have Been Tried For Sedition.

STUDY: Media Overlooked Keystone XL Risks Even After Arkansas Spill

Bass and Sax Jazz wallpaper – How Fast Food Corporations Degrade Workers and Capitalism

Bass and Sax Jazz wallpaper

Bass and Sax Jazz wallpaper

 

How America’s Fast Food Industry Makes a Quick Buck

One of the catch phrases used by striking workers was “we cannot survive on seven twenty-five,” a reference to the insulting $7.25 average hourly wage most fast food workers in New York get paid. This paltry sum, which adds up to less than $300 pre tax for a 40-hour week, would not amount to a living wage anywhere in the country, and doesn’t even come close in New York, one of the most expensive of cities in the US to live in. That is the federal minimum wage, however – and it’s not hard to imagine that employees would be paid even less than $7.25 an hour if their bosses could get away with it.

One striking worker, Joseph Barrera, who works for TacoBell, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that when he started working at the chain, at the age of 15, he was paid $7.15 an hour. Six years later, as a supervisor, his pay has increased to $7.25 an hour, a ten cents raise. If you’re finding it hard to imagine how Barrera makes it through the month on such meager wages, that’s because he can’t. He says he often has to skip meals or walk to work because he can’t afford the subway fare and he hasn’t bought clothes in years. He’d like to be able to get married and start a family, but doing so on his full-time supervisor’s salary is impossible.

Treating an employee this badly might be excusable if the company that hired him was struggling for survival, but this is far from the case. Yum Brands Inc, which owns Taco Bell, as well as KFC and Pizza Hut, proudly boasts on its website an EPS growth of 13% in 2012, an increased dividend for shareholders of 18%, and a net income of $1.6bn. Rival fast food companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are all doing similarly well: according to Business Wire, fast food is one of the fastest growing industries, thanks to a competitive cost advantage.

If someone was feeding their pet just barely enough to survive most people would be outraged, yet if a similar standard is applied to a working human being, the outrage in some quarters goes the opposite way. Corporate cronies and their apologists star yelling about capitalism and free markets if workers insist on a living wage. Or enough pay to have decent shelter, food, clothing, utilities and other basic needs. M’s Walshe uses New York as her example, but I live in what the U.S. census describes as one of the average median income areas of the country and you cannot live on your own on $10 an hour, much less $7.25. let’s get to the two most common arguments the pro corporate cronyism crowd makes. They’ll lose money or will not be able to compete. It is true that corporate executives, grossly overpaid, would need to take a pay cut, but they would still have massive incomes and their companies would still make ridiculous level profits.

Treating an employee this badly might be excusable if the company that hired him was struggling for survival, but this is far from the case. Yum Brands Inc, which owns Taco Bell, as well as KFC and Pizza Hut, proudly boasts on its website an EPS growth of 13% in 2012, an increased dividend for shareholders of 18%, and a net income of $1.6bn. Rival fast food companies like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are all doing similarly well: according to Business Wire, fast food is one of the fastest growing industries, thanks to a competitive cost advantage.

[  ]…In general, CEOs in the US earn 380 times what their average employee earns. That rather shocking disparity starts to look almost modest, however, when compared with the fast food world. In 2011, the CEO of McDonalds earned over $20m, which means he was paid nearly 1,333 times more than the average crew member or cashier, who earns around $8 an hour or less. Even if those employees were to get their wish of earning $15 an hour, the CEO would still be earning 640 times more than them.

How is it that the CEO of McD earns more than say $200k a year, about what the average top level M.D. General Practitioner makes. And maybe that CEO makes a little more with a bonus tied to, not just profit, but a list of goals that includes employee and customer satisfaction, recycling and contribution to the health and well-being of the communities where they have stores.

This apparently has only happened once before in recent history, the President allowing someone else to make the weekly presidential address, Weekly Address: Sandy Hook Victim’s Mother Calls for Commonsense Gun Responsibility Reforms. Anything that smacks of the mildest form of regulation brings out the gun lunatics. When I say lunatics I’m not talking about someone who owns a gun and is against a complete ban on guns – myself and other Democrats would join in the protest against any such measures. The commenters on that Address are, well in their own words ye shall know them as it were,

JayHog7179
Can anyone name me a piece of legislation being proposed that would have prevented the sick, disturbing tragedy of Sandy Hook?

“No free man shall ever? be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

– Thomas Jefferson

”Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Glad you asked Mr Hog. First you should have a clue before making a comment which suggests someone is banning the possession of guns. No one has proposed that. Old slaveholder Jefferson’s quote is meaningless when used against a threat to your rights that does not exists. The Ben Franklin quote is misplaced. Gun lunatics would sell all our rights down the river in exchange for completely unregulated gun sales and possession – that would in fact be selling liberty in exchange for some delusional ideal of security. Connecticut just passed some new gun legislation that might well prevent another Newtown or maybe make for fewer casualties,

Here’s what you need to know about the law:

1. It has bipartisan support. Certainly more Democrats than Republicans supported the bill, but the vote in the state House was 105 to 44, with 40 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats voting for it. Earlier, the Senate voted with only 2 of the 22 Democrats opposing the law. Nearly half of Connecticut Senate Republicans voted for the measure.

2. It expands the state’s assault weapons ban. Connecticut already has an Assault Weapons Ban in place, but the new law will add over 100 new types of guns to the banned list. Among these is the Bushmaster AR-15 gun, which is what the Sandy Hook gunman used in his horrific killing spree. People who already own such weapons will be permitted to keep them, but must comply with new registration standards.

3. Magazine clips will be limited to 10 rounds. Connecticut’s new law will immediately ban the sale of any large-capacity magazine clips that hold more than 10 rounds. Gun owners who’ve already purchased high-capacity clips will be grandfathered in, but they register any extended clips they have, if they plan to keep them. And they can’t bring those bigger clips around with them; the new law requires that any extended magazines still on the market be used only in a private home or at a shooting range.

4. All gun and ammunition sales will require a background check. Effective immediately, every single sale of a gun or of bullets in the state of Connecticut must include a background check. Universal background checks are probably the most widely supported measure in Connecticut’s new gun law; nationally, background checks have 92 percent support.

5. Mental health isn’t left out of the equation. Not every measure in the new law intends to regulate firearms; the bill also includes expanded funding for mental health research, and allows for greater training on mental health issues for Connecticut’s teachers. The bill also creates a council in the state with the express purpose of determining how schools can be more safe, and when mental health records should block someone from being able to purchase a firearm.

If Hog or the other commenters think they must have an assault rifle and a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, might want to see a mental health professional. Just a few more comments from people who imagine themselves under siege (my comments in parenthesis),

kmain0 –   there were bodies? hard for me to say for sure as we can’t even get a? picture of Lanza in full setup entering school through the security gate.

TheGuerillapatriot –  The Bill of Rights forbade Congress from this type of legislation. In other words what the President pursues is lawlessness. I? am so sorry those kids where killed but legislation condemns my entire family to a fate far worse than on of us being hit by lighting or attacked by a madman. ( The Bill of Rights says no such thing. As a matter of fact it says in the 2nd Amendment ” well-regulated militia”).

XmXFLUXmX2 –  This is why we shouldn’t let victims and women dictate? policy. They will drive us right in to the arms of totalitarianism. ( Would that be the same totalitarianism we had from 1994 to 2004 when the Assault Weapons Ban was part of the law).

NormanSteeltheBrony –  MUH FEELINGS MUH FEELINGS! Fuck’s sake. I wish Obama? would stop using emotional propaganda and start using actual facts. ( We all wish for things. I wish you knew what a fact was and had some basic human decency)

snozzcumbers – People like her are the problem with the world, I wish death on her and all people like her.? If logical fallacies are all you can use to advance you agenda then you are bad for the world.

That gives you a fair idea of how a gun lunatic reacts to some modest gun safety legislation.

The Bombastic Ted Cruz – Coulter Constitution Delusions

Classic Chevy wallpaper

Classic Chevy wallpaper

When you combine Mediate’s spin with conservative Ann Coulter’s spin, you get a tsunami of delusional bombast, Coulter Destroys Feinstein Over Cruz Debate On Hannity: ‘Liberal Women Should Not Be Able To Hold Office’

Sean Hannity invited Ann Coulter on his Thursday night Fox News show to get her take on this morning’s Senate showdown between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Coulter immediately started slamming Feinstein’s response to Cruz, in which she told the younger Senator that she’s “not sixth-grader” and didn’t need a “lecture on the Constitution.”

Comparing Feinstein to another “I am woman, hear me roar” Democrat, Hillary Clinton, Coulter said “as soon as they get a question they don’t like, they start crying.” She called Feinstein’s Constitutional arguments “preposterous” and proclaimed that Sen. Cruz “nailed her so she said ‘I’m offended.’”

As far as perception of personalities go, Cruz looked like an obnoxious creep and Sen. Feinstein like the statesman. To “nail” someone in this context means to have all the facts on one’s side. Cruz seemed out of his depth. Utterly clueless as to what the Constitution actually says, former rulings by even conservatives on the SCOTUS and that a president named Bush signed the previous assault weapons ban into law. Senators Destroy Clueless Ted Cruz(R-TX) Argument Against The Assault Weapons Ban

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) battered Democrats with questions about whether they would support restrictions on the First or Fourth Amendments he claimed were similar to those an assault weapons ban would impose on the Second:

I pose to the senator from California [Sen. Diane Feinstein], would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment, namely, would she consider it constitutional for congress to specify that the first amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?

But Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) obliterated his argument by noting the analogous actual restrictions on the actual First Amendment:

In reference to the question my colleague from Texas asked, would you limit books? Would you name specific books? Yeah. It’s constitutional within the ambit of the First Amendment to eliminate child pornography. And we have lots of laws that are very explicit about that. Very explicit. That are constitutional, that have been upheld as constitutional. Similarly, you can’t falsely scream fire in a crowded theater. Similarly, we have libel laws. Every one of these is an impingement on the sacred First Amendment, upheld as constitutional. There are reasonable limits on each amendment, and I think it is anomalous, to put it kindly, for either side to interpret one amendment so expansively and another amendment so narrowly that it just doesn’t add up because your interpretation of the Constitution should be consistent.

Let’s go to the text of the 2nd Amendment: As passed by the Congress:

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.

In 2008 and 2010 – with a majority of conservative extremists on the court they ruled that gun ownership did not require participation in a militia. Let’s say you like that ruling. Let’s concede that what the court did was interpret the original 2nd amendment in way that they think had implicit meaning, rather than the explicit meaning of the text – individuals could only have guns in the context of membership in a regulated militia.  Cruz and Coulter might want to grab a dictionary and look up the three simple words that begin that amendment – “A well Regulated”. While the court ruled that the right to bear arms extends to almost everyone – the court did not rule out the well regulated clause. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough is a conservative and he knows as much about economics as a tree stump, but even he get how ridiculous Cruz and his defender M’s Coulter, are –

SCARBOROUGH: Did they teach Ted Cruz to read what the Supreme Court said? Especially in the landmark, the landmark decision regarding Second Amendment rights over 200 years was written in 2008? I’m just wondering why would he use his seat on the Judiciary Committee if he went to Harvard to — to — to put forward a willfully ignorant statement about this bill violating the Second Amendment, because it does not. And Ted Cruz knows it does not. So who is he playing for? Is he playing for — for — for people who can’t read, for illiterates? I don’t understand…. When you’re condescending and you don’t even have the facts right. When you’re misstating what the Second Amendment says as interpreted by the conservative court, by Scalia. I have a problem with that.

Indeed, to quote Justice Scalia’s decision in the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or 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.” The ruling also allows limitations on ownership of “dangerous and unusual” weapons that are not in “common use” — like, for example, assault weapons.

This is a summary of the assault weapons ban that Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is sponsoring. Senator  Feinstein (D) is a trained/licensed gun owner.

After a militant anti-capitalist group called the New World Liberation Front unsuccessfully tried to bomb her house in the 1970s, Feinstein trained to use one.

“I know the urge to arm yourself, because that’s what I did,” she told Senate colleagues in 1995. “I made the determination that if somebody was going to try to take me out, I was going to take them with me.”

To Feinstein, the battle is about keeping what she considers weapons of war out of the hands of those who intend to massacre innocent people. Her personal experience isn’t all that impels her to wage it.

Before the December shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, there was the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton in January 1989. A 26-year-old man opened fire on a group of children with an AK-47, killing five and wounding more than 30 before taking his own life.

Before the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., last July that resulted in 12 deaths and injuries to 58 others, there was the office tower shooting at 101 California Street in San Francisco in July 1993. A gunman with a grudge against a law firm shot and killed eight people before killing himself.

As time has passed, the tragedies have faded from public memory. But Feinstein has not forgotten.

“This is something I’m deeply passionate about, and I believe it saves lives,” she said. “I don’t intend to stop.”

Intelligent, capable, accomplished women like Sen. Feinstein are just the kind of women that make Coulter go off the rails,

Taking her outrage one step further, Coulter said, “I used to think women should not be able to vote and now I think liberal women should not be able to hold office.”

Like her ideological cousin, Jennifer Rubin at the WaPO, Coulter’s analyses and points of view are located somewhere between 1850 and deranged. The only difference might be is that Rubin wants to be taken seriously as an opinion journalist, while Coulter will seemly say anything to get attention and fatten her bank account.

H/t to Mike for this find, Austrians Should Read their Mises

One thing more must be noted. If within a society based on private ownership of the means of production some of these means are publicly owned and operated, this still does not make for a mixed system which would combine socialism and private property. As long as only certain individual enterprises are publicly owned, the remaining being privately owned, the characteristics of the market economy which determine economic activity remain essentially unimpaired. The publicly owned enterprises, too, as buyers of raw materials, semi-finished goods, and labor, and as sellers of goods and services, must fit into the mechanism of the market economy; they are subject to the same laws of the market. In order to maintain their position they, too, have to strive after profits or at least to avoid losses.” (Mises 1998: 5)

It is quite surprising how much Mises was prepared to concede: an economy with some limited nationalised industry (although run on the principle of profit and loss) where the majority of capital goods are private owned is still a “market economy” with its fundamental characteristics “essentially unimpaired.”

For those not familiar with the term,  Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan (R-WI), Mitt Romney and most of the conservative and libertarian movement are Austrians – followers of the Mises school. As compared to Keynesian – and variations of Keynesian – which most Democrats are. The Austrians are not real big on arithmetic. They like to throw some numbers out there that PowerPoint fans will be able to use as justification for continuing to believe in economic pixie dust, Paul Ryan’s $5.7 Trillion Magic Trick

But I was right about the big story: this magic asterisk is worth about $1 trillion more than before. Ryan keeps the same tax cuts he had last year, but he assumes these same cuts will raise an extra 0.5 percent of GDP in revenue. In other words, it’s the same magical budgeting we’ve come to know from Ryan — but now with even more magic!

…Who would pay more under the Ryan plan? Probably the upper-middle class. The Tax Policy Center hasn’t finished updating its distributional analyses of all the different tax expenditures, but the trend is generally the same: households in the $75,000 to $200,000 range take a good amount of deductions. Their tax cuts under the Ryan plan are small enough that they easily could end up paying more if he zeroed out big deductions, like home mortgage-interest.

Of course, Ryan might find that he prefers magic to math — that if it’s a choice between not paying for his tax cuts, and not getting them, he’ll choose to not pay for them. In other words, his $5.7 trillion magic asterisk might just turn out to be $5.7 trillion of red ink.

Hmmm. Budget-busting tax cuts heavily tilted towards the rich? That’s not even a new trick.

Roy Bean, the self-proclaimed “law west of the Pecos,” dies in Langtry, Texas Mar 16, 1903.

A saloonkeeper and adventurer, Bean’s claim to fame rested on the often humorous and sometimes-bizarre rulings he meted out as a justice of the peace in western Texas during the late 19th century. By then, Bean was in his 50s and had already lived a life full of rough adventures.

Born in Kentucky some time during the 1820s, Bean began getting into trouble at an early age. He left home in 1847 with his brother Sam and lived a rogue’s life in Mexico until he shot a man in a barroom fight and had to flee.

…For about 16 years, Bean lived a prosperous and relatively legitimate life as a San Antonio businessman. In 1882, he moved to southwest Texas, where he built his famous saloon, the Jersey Lilly, and founded the hamlet of Langtry. Saloon and town alike were named for the famous English actress, Lillie Langtry.

Judge Roy Bean Saloon & Justice Court, Langtry, Val Verde County, TX
This photo is from 1900. The man sitting behind the table – big hat, beard – is bean. He is trying a horse thief and his friends.
Lillie Langtry as Cleopatra
Actress Lillie Langtry as Cleopatra. London, c1891. Bean never got to meet Langtry while he was alive, but she did visit Langtry after he died.

Bean makes for a very colorful legend. Paul Newman was a in pretty good comedy-western-satire about Bean called The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) . It does not pretend to be a factual biography – just a starting point to tell the kind of fable rich stories we often hear about the Old West.

Boston Night Skyline wallpaper – Conservatives See a Future America as a Violent Dystopia

Boston Night Skyline wallpaper

Boston Night Skyline wallpaper

I’m not sure how successful extreme Righty conservatives are being at shifting the conversation about some relatively modest gun safety regulation, including bringing back Bush 41’s assault weapon’s ban – not very according to this poll – though they do keep trying. Wing-Nut welfare recipient Gayle Trotter from the conservative Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) claims that women cannot make do with a pump action 12 gauge, a .38 magnum or a Clock ( the Right loved this recent report about awoman who managed to make do with a 38 to kill an intruder), they have to have some big assault weapons for personal safety. Nothing else will do,

At Senate Judiciary Hearing on gun violence, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked IWF’s Gayle Trotter, who also writes for The Daily Caller, if it would “disproportionately burden women” to ban assault rifles like the Bushmaster AR-15 used to slaughter 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Young women are speaking out as to why AR-15 weapons are their weapon of choice,” Trotter explained. “The guns are accurate. They have good handling. They’re light. They’re easy for women to hold.”

She added: “And most importantly, their appearance. An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon, and the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened, violent criminals.”

“And if we ban these types of assault weapons, you are putting women at a great disadvantage, more so than men, because they do not have the same type of physical strength and opportunity to defend themselves in a hand-to-hand struggle. They’re not criminals, they’re moms, they’re young women. And they’re not used to violence confrontations.”

None of that sounds particularly reality based and she sure could have the last word on Republicans and Democrats who support bringing back the assault weapons ban, if she could site some empirical study that showed she was right. Trotter’s concerns for women seems to ebb and flow with the tides. She has previously urged legislators not to renew the Violence Against Women Act. No study in hand showing that women are always running into these five against one gun fights involving women versus outcomes with five armed men against one armed man, but is sure that women do not need the Violence Against Women Act because women are always lying about being assaulted to get all the goodies that come with filing false reports,

The law would also embolden “false accusers,” who would take “needed resources like shelters and legal aid … denying real victims of abuse access to these supports,” she wrote. Trotter and the forum characterized VAWA as “reckless demagoguery.”

Trotter seems to be a veritable gold fountain of inside information about all women and their fire power needs and their propensity to lie all the time about being raped. Think of all the money Congress could save by stopping the commission of all rational empirical studies and just giving Trotter a call. Though as dark and sinister as America’s future sounds via M’S Trotter, she is practically a beacon of good news compared to the violent dystopian future which Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sees in his crystal ball, Lindsey Graham: GOP-Forced Budget Cuts Will Mean Fewer Cops, So People Need To Arm Themselves

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has been among the Senate’s most vocal backers of draconian budget cuts and has opposed increasing funds to put more police officers on the streets, said Wednesday that he will oppose gun violence prevention legislation because budget cuts will mean inadequate police forces to protect the public.

Graham told Baltimore Chief of Police James Johnson and former naval Captain Mark Kelly (husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords) that he planned to oppose the gun violence measures because people will need high-capacity magazines to compensate for the police response times these austerity measures will force..

So the good senator from South Carolina tacitly admits or at least thinks America’s future is filled with shoot-outs because of the legislation he voted against. A recent look at how professional law enforcement – supposedly professionally trained with guns and tactics have a difficult time hitting the bad guys – Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts – that does not speak well for people with no to minimal training, or even occasional retraining armed with the latest assault rifle with a large capacity clip. So wacky Lindsay Graham is going to have people with little to no training with semi-automatic assault weapons spraying their neighborhoods with bullets to keep safe. By all means have a safely stored gun for self protection, but why this crazed overzealous reaction to reasonable gun safety regulation coupled with the absolute certainty that cutting funds for law enforcement is a swell idea.

This is the kind of culturally regressive trash that Americans read about in history books, the ones that have not been watered down, and find embarrassing, Tennessee “Don’t Say Gay” bill would require teachers to out their students.

If you thought that you’d heard the last of Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill after state lawmakers abandoned the legislation last year, think again.

It’s back. And it’s awful.

The measure still prohibits elementary and middle school teachers from discussing sexual activity that is not related to “natural human reproduction” or even acknowledging that homosexuality exists, but new language in the bill would require teachers to tell parents when students are — or might be — gay:

So this state can find funds to counsel out the gayness in kids, but not the funds for more police. Or after school programs proven to lower juvenile crime, or art and music programs which are known to improve academic performance. I came across this article just yesterday that reminds me of the less than agile mindset of Tennessee conservatives, “Pestilent stuff”: The New York Tribune’s Dime Novel War of 1884

The Tribune’s attack, “Dime Novel Work” (March 10, 1884) – available here – certainly begins arrestingly, and in a way that echoes contemporary terrors rather uncomfortably:

“The work of the dime novel is being performed with even more than usual success. The other day three boys robbed their parents and started off for the boundless West. More recently a lad in a Philadelphia public school drew a revolver on his teacher, and examination showed that seven other boys present were armed with revolvers and bowie-knives […] The class of literature which is mainly responsible for all this folly is distributed all over the country in immense quantities, and it is distinctly evil in its teachings and tendencies.”

Obviously it is not the ominous threat that gayness or suspicious of gayness that we should be on guard against it is cheap dime novels, tales of action and adventure that are ruining the minds of impressionable youth.

Conservatives are also obsessed with taxing the working poor and lower middle-class, ‘Fundamentally Unfair’: How States Tax The Richest 1 Percent At Half The Rate Of The Poor

When state, local, property, and sales taxes are taken into account, the poorest 20 percent of Americans pay an average effective tax rate of 11.1 percent, the report found. The middle 20 percent pays a 9.4 percent rate, while the rate for the top 1 percent is just 5.6 percent. The lack of progressive income taxes and an over-reliance on consumption taxes are the primary culprit, the report says.

In the 10 most regressive states, the poorest 20 percent pay a rate as much as six times as high as the rate for the richest 1 percent.

At what point can we conclude that conservatives are absolutely engaged in class warfare and they seem to hate working class Americans. Conservatives seem to see the wealthy as America’s royalty, and much like those who worshiped the old world European royalty, those who are closest to God by way of their wealth, should be protected from paying their fair share of the cost of a civilized society.

“Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”
Reportedly said by Holmes in a speech in 1904. Alternately phrased as “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure”, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion (21 November 1927). The first variation is quoted by the IRS above the entrance to their headquarters at 1111 Constitution Avenue.

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