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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for December 2012

NRA CEO Flatly Refuses to Engage in Open Conversation on Gun Violence

On Meet the Press this morning, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre stated plainly that the NRA will not take part in any conversations concerning limiting access to weapons or the types of weapons that are legally available. The NRA will talk about locking up criminals, but will not talk about limiting their access to weapons once they are released.

Mr. LaPierre refused to answer any questions or to provide any comment as to whether or not it was in any way possible to talk about any potential changes to the types of weapons that are generally available for sale, and he refused to give an answer of any type to whether it would be possible to have any form of conversation about requiring anyone to prove they are not a convicted criminal, on the terrorist watch list or in any other way legally restricted from purchasing firearms.

None of us know for certain what could or should be done to address gun violence. Many of us have our opinions. Many of us believe adamantly that we need many more guns, many of us believe adamantly that we should have none. Many, like myself, are deeply conflicted on the topic and – while we have strong opinions in one or several directions – believe we first and foremost have to agree to remove all barriers to conversation and engage openly and honestly with each other.

The 2010 Midterm Elections, and the Black Shift Republican

By: Inoljt,

Republican strategists often refer to the African-American community with a tone of hopelessness. Blacks are just so, so amazingly Democratic. No matter what the Republican Party does, these people think, the black vote inevitably ends up giving Democrats more than 85% of the vote. Even when the Republican candidate himself or herself is African-American, the black community still votes around 80% Democratic. This hopelessness is especially pronounced in the age of Obama, an individual to whom the black vote is uniquely loyal (as the first black president).

It is true that blacks vote very, very Democratic. In other ways, however, they behave quite like other groups of voters.

Take the 2010 midterm elections.

More below.

NRA Warns of High Gun Sales, Urges People to Buy More Guns

In a recent press release from the NRA, gun manufacturers and dealers say that due to the high rate of gun sales people need to buy more guns.

“These things are selling like hot cakes,” said Rand Triggersmith, CEO of AR-10000 maker Happy Firearms, “and you should see some of the people we sell them to. I wouldn’t trust a lot of these people with a hammer.”

Noting that he sells high-powered firearms to questionable people at gun shows across the country, weapons dealer Frank Obliviun cautions Americans to arm themselves. “At every show I go to I sell high-capacity assault weapons to folks I would not want on the same planet with my children. Just yesterday I sold enough firepower to start a small war to a guy who was so twitchy he could barely get his wallet out.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said that his membership are arming “the monsters and the predators of the world” as fast as they can, therfore the only sensible move is for good guys to arm themselves even faster.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Mr. LaPierre said at a news conference Friday morning.

LaPierre went on to suggest that in response to the murder of twenty small children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT a week ago, every school should be guarded with the weapons and ammunition sold by NRA members.

Congress Leaves After Not Voting on Plan B – Hannity: “Punish” American Voters with Fiscal Cliff

The GOP House chose not to vote on Rep. Boehner’s “Plan B” proposal tonight, choosing instead to leave for the holidays with no solution to the fiscal cliff.

Watching a bit of each channel tonight I turned on FOX long enough to watch Sean Hannity, gleeful that the country is now on the verge of going over the fiscal cliff, saying: [sic]”we need to punish American voters for their decision in November”.

In the next hour Newt Gingrich is on, smiling and laughing.

Are they serious? Is it truly the strategy – as much as a party with a speaker who cannot get his own members to even vote on their own bill – to “punish” American voters for exercising their franchise, by turning a 3% Q1 2013 economic growth into a 3.9% economic contraction (as per the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office)?

Consider this a flabergastedly Open Thread.

Stop Blaming Newtown Tragedy On Mental Illness

This is the first time I’ve copied over an entire article of mine, and I’m probably infringing my own copyright, but I think this is an important discussion and I can only join in here.

In the wake of the terrible events of last Friday in Newtown, which left 27 dead-20 of them young schoolchildren-social media such as Twitter and Facebook played a key role in communicating the shocking news and expressing an international sense of outrage and grief. But they also spread misinformation and misapprehensions just as quickly. The gunman was initially misidentified, and his murdered mother was erroneously connected to Sandy Hook Elementray School. But while these errors of fact were soon corrected, a deeper misunderstanding took hold over the following few days as a shattered nation tried to understand an inexplicable tragedy.

Writing is seen on a home in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 17, 2012. The two funerals on Monday ushered in what will be a week of memorial services and burials for the 20 children and six adults massacred when gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last Friday. (Eric Thayer/Reuters, via Landov)

An uncorroborated rumor about the gunman, Adam Lanza, suggested that he suffered from Asperger’s syndrome-a now out-of-use term for a higher-functioning form of autism. By Saturday, a blog post by Lisa Long-“I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America”-had gone viral, been retweeted hundreds of thousands of times, and republished on Gawker, Britain’s Daily Mail, and on the Huffington Post. Long, the mother of a 13-year-old with behavioral problems, argued, “It’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”

Finding Freedom From The Terrible Price of Fear

The price we pay for our fears is greater than the price we would suffer if our fears were realized. The tragedy is that our fears are usually groundless, so we choose to pay endless terrible costs in our minds and with our bodies to protect ourselves from nothing at all. We choose to put aside riches in our lives and instead don shackles that burn our skin and our souls.

We have it in ourselves to be free of these shackles. The cost is infinitely less than nothing, the reward is more than we could ever hope for.

In the wake of the terrible price we just paid for our fears we have, perhaps, an opportunity to choose to stop paying the fees for maintaining our fears. We could, perhaps, find it easily within our grasp to begin addressing the misconceptions which lead to the need to continue paying so dearly.

I posted the following on Facebook yesterday. A number of friends and family joined in the conversation that followed. It was, I think, a very healthy discussion.

The conversation helped me work through my emotions on the broader topic, though in all honesty I have still not managed to think much about the specific tragedy that triggered it. Each of the instances of violence this conversation is about are horrific in the true sense of the word, but what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary is so painful to think about – it inspires such stark horror to imagine – that I am not sure I will ever be capable of encompassing the event itself in my own mind.

If we can find it in ourselves to begin the process of becoming free of the cause of this tragedy, though, the tragedy itself may in time be honored with actions worthy of such an unthinkable cost.

I ask you to begin a similar conversation with yourself. To honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our chance at freedom by having this conversation with those around you. To take the small risk of testing your fears by exposing them to those you love, and perhaps help them save themselves from paying more than they have already.

Having finally read some about the Sandy Hook tragedy there is something I would like to say. This is not about this incident alone, it is not about just the shootings we see too frequently, it is about how we all together come to be living in a world where these things happen far too often.

We need more than better access to mental health care, though I believe we need that. We need more than fewer guns, though I believe we would be better off without them. What we need most is to stop feeding our fears, stop withdrawing, stop thinking the worst of ourselves and others.

The world is not getting worse, it is getting better in almost every way. The people we see around us are not intrinsically evil, they are intrinsically good.

This is the truth. This is what I see around myself. The human race is worthy and wonderful. The future of our species is more full of joy than sorrow. You can trust both those you know and those you do not.

If you are conservative, do not believe that liberals are evil, they are not. If you are liberal do not believe that conservatives are evil, they are not. Do not believe that mankind is a cancer on the earth, it is not. Do not believe that mankind is doomed, we are not. Do not believe that we cannot solve every single challenge we face, we can. Do not believe you have to fear the world, you do not have to.

These beliefs we hold and repeat – across and within political boundaries – are lies. They are untrue. They lead to despair, they lead to violence, and they are false.

The Cost of Pain

This week our nation suffered a tragedy of perhaps unprecedented scale. The age and innocence of the victims leaves us all speechless. While we all try to come to grips with the reality our minds shy away from the pain. Every other instance of similar tragedy in America pales in comparison.

When I heard about the incident yesterday morning my first reaction was “oh god, not another school shooting” and I shunted it aside so I could focus on doing the work I am responsible for. In the evening I finally allowed myself to turn on the television. I could watch the first few minutes with a cap on my emotions, calloused as they are by past experience.

Then the person on the screen said it was a school that only covered children from Kindergarten to the fourth grade. The information caught me off guard, my mind stopped working.

I broke down and wept uncontrollably, face in my hands and wracked with sobbing. Donna came and put her arm around my shoulders while I slowly brought myself under control again.

There is still too much pain in my mind to allow myself to do more than think past the thought, what that really means. I cannot be the father I need to be if I allow myself to look into that pit. This morning I can sit here and write this, wiping tears out of my eyes as the screen blurs, but soon I will move on and decorate the Christmas tree with my children.

I will not watch the news today, and I recommend you do not either. Perhaps I will stop here in my office to talk here with you a few times, perhaps I will not. There is time to think about this together, and the considered pace of the Moose will allow us the opportunity to do that here in a manner that allows the space needed.

The one thought I will provide is that while we may be prompted to fall into the pattern of past conversations regarding gun control, what value can be found in this incredible loss may be another issue. The mental health of the tragic young man who performed this horrible crime.

It may in fact be true that the incredibly unlikely 180 in American gun laws would reduce the instance of such events, but that is not likely to happen. What is going to happen due to the changes made in American healthcare insurance (if I understand the legislation) is that those with mental health concerns may begin to find help within reach. This is something we as a nation might be able to do, to find some small compensation buried in the astounding price we just paid.

Moosedeer and Mistletoe: A Christmas Open Thread

With those dulcet tones gracing the conversation it is time to get right down into the holiday spirit.

Feeling Yuletidian? Fiscalclifftonian? Looking forward to Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve, the beginning of another solar cycle and a Presidential Renogeuration?

Deck the halls with boughs of holly and don your gay marriage apparel, the season is upon us!

Consider this a Ho Ho Hopen thread. Do The Math…So Simple Even a Plumber Can Understand

Recently my wife and I attended Bill McKibben’s “Do the Math” tour, we were both excited, yet a little nervous. Would we understand the math…would we understand the science? Neither of us have abilities to debate the merits of the endless research papers and reports of scientists in white smocks, this is to be argued by people dressed in fancy suits (somewhere plumbers are not found), but we do understand their decisions will affect us and the world in which our 8 year old daughter will live.  Thankfully Bill made it easy for us, we both got it, we understood the urgency, we understood the math.  < img src="your image's URL"> Do The Math…So Easy Even a Plumber Can Understand

Recently my wife and I attended Bill McKibben’s “Do the Math” tour, we were both excited, yet a little nervous. Would we understand the math…would we understand the science? Neither of us have abilities to debate the merits of the endless research papers and reports of scientists in white smocks, this is to be argued by people dressed in fancy suits (somewhere plumbers are not found), but we do understand their decisions will affect us and the world in which our 8 year old daughter will live.

Thankfully Bill made it easy for us, we both got it, we understood the urgency, we understood the math.