Tuesday, January 22, 2013

National and International Coverage of the Inauguration

hat tip-The Obama Diary:

Newspaper Coverage of the Inauguration-Domestic and International.

More from the Inauguration

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pay their respects at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in the Capitol rotunda

Christine King Farris, sister of Martin Luther King, Jr, smiles as President Barack Obama is sworn in on her brother’s bible as she watches from Ebenezer Baptist Church following the 45th Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service in Atlanta, Georgia, January 21

President Obama views a portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama before a church service at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20

--Photo by Pete Souza

Monday, January 21, 2013

The 2013 Inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice-President Biden

Today is the formal SECOND Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States:

Barack Hussein Obama II

I want these buttons..LOL

President Obama memorabilia hangs on the walls at the Hyde Park Hair Salon behind barber Ishmael Coye and three-year-old Bryson White shortly before the President took the oath of office to officially start his second term on January 20. The President would get his hair cut at The Hyde Park Hair Salon, which is near his Chicago home, before he was elected to the White House.

Melissa Harris-Perry had an interview with Myrlie Evers-Williams, who will give the Invocation at the Inauguration- the first woman and first lay person to do so.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Swearing In of Vice-President Biden and President Barack Obama

Because January 20th lands on a Sunday this year, both the Vice -President and President will be sworn in during Private Ceremonies, and then again tomorrow at the formal Inauguration.

Vice President Biden’s Official Swearing-In

Location: Naval Observatory

Start Time: 8:15 AM ET

The President being sworn in on January 20th-location, the Blue Room in the White House.

The 2013 Inauguration Schedule

All times Eastern (click ‘Inauguration Schedule’ second from top on the right sidebar for, well, the Inauguration (weekend) Schedule).


Coverage kicks off on Sunday with a special report on the president’s oath of office at 11:55 am, followed by continuous coverage on Monday from 9:30 am – 5 pm, anchored by Dan Harris along with Olivier Knox. Evening coverage continues with a live feed from both inaugural balls, and ABC News and Yahoo! will stream a post-inaugural show called After: The 2nd Inauguration of President Barack Obama, on Tuesday at 10 am …


Ed Gordon and Cynne Simpson will anchor coverage of the inauguration and celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday from the roof of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., airing live at 11 am Jan. 21. Live coverage of the parade will be featured on the networks starting at 3 pm ….


Scott Pelley will lead CBS News’ live coverage of the inauguration, including the official swearing in at the White House on Sunday, Jan. 20 …

The network’s Inauguration Day coverage on Monday begins with a three-hour CBS This Morning at 7am co-hosted by Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell from the National Mall. Immediately following this, Pelley will begin anchoring CBS News’ daylong inauguration broadcast (10 am – 4pm)….


CNN’s coverage will begin with the private ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 20 …. starting at 10 am and leading up to a primetime special at 8 pm. Inauguration eve special editions of Piers Morgan Tonight and Anderson Cooper 360 will follow.

On Jan. 21, Early Start With John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin and Starting Point With Soledad O’Brien begin CNN’s coverage at 5 am. At 9 am, Wolf Blitzer will be joined by John Berman, Kate Bolduan, Soledad O’Brien and Jessica Yellin, live from the U.S. Capitol West Front, while Anderson Cooper will be on the National Mall with Gloria Borger, David Gergen, John King, Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon….

On Monday, Candy Crowley will report from the inauguration ceremony platform…..


C-SPAN‘s coverage of begins with a look back at his first. On Sunday, Jan. 20, at 10:30 am, the network will look back at his 2009 inaugural address. This is followed by a discussion with former presidential speechwriters about this year’s address and how past inaugural addresses have been crafted. Then, there will be live coverage of the president’s official swearing in by Chief Justice John Roberts at 11:55 am.

On Jan. 21, C-SPAN’s live coverage of the inauguration begins at 7 am….


On Sunday, Jan. 20, Up With Chris Hayes (8 am) and Melissa Harris-Perry (10 am) will start from Washington, D.C. Then, Chuck Todd will anchor live coverage of the private swearing-in ceremony beginning at 11:50 am.

On Monday, Jan. 21, Way too Early and an extended Morning Joe will be live from The Dubliner from 5:30 – 10 am, with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist. Guests will include Colin Powell, Sen. Tim Kaine, David Axelrod, Maureen Dowd – – Mike Barnicle, Michael Steele and Alex Wagner.

MSNBC’s coverage of the inauguration then continues live from 10 am – 4 pm, hosted by Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, with Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed Schultz and Rev. Al Sharpton….

MSNBC’s regularly scheduled programming picks up at 4 pm with Martin Bashir and continues through primetime, with hosts live in Washington.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Abstinence In Your 30's - How Late Should You Wait?

And What Do You Tell Your Dating Partners?

While listening to NPR a couple of weeks back I caught an interesting topic on the program ‘Tell Me More’. The segment covered the subject of abstinence and how the panel of 30-somethings were handling life without sex. For the panel (all women) their reasons were of the typical nature - the desire to meet prince charming, be swept off their feet, get married, have children and live happily ever after. Basically it centered around a moral choice. At least one guest also mentioned the desire to explore a professional career before entering a marriage or family situation. I was a bit surprised that there were other people waiting so late.

You see… I always thought that I was an anomaly. And for the most part I still feel that way, but I am not as odd as I thought. I am 39 and abstinent. Have been all my life. The reasons for me? Well, I would like to say that I have some sort of moral standard that has kept me abstinent, like retired NBA Star A.C. Green. But that’s probably not it. While my morals may be a part of the reason, it isn’t the primary reason for my situation. Believe me, if the right opportunity would have presented itself over the last 20+ years, I would have taken it. But it never materialized.

For me, it’s a combination of things that have kept me abstinent. Mainly it has to do with a lack of access. In other words, I pretty much avoid places like nightclubs, and big social events. Even if I engaged in social activities more often it would not make much of a difference. I have never even asked a woman for a phone number or made an approach to request a date in my adult life. I don’t exude the kind of cockiness, or aggressiveness that men often need to have these days.. (the aggressiveness women say they hate but that many of them really like and see as confidence on a subconscious level). I have always been too cool for that. I have never been in favor of putting myself in a position to get shot down. But I think it’s more of a pride thing. The idea of chasing women gives me a headache... it's just not in my blood.

Well, I must be ugly then? Nope… not the case either. I almost wish it were the case, then I would have a better excuse. But I am an average to maybe a little above average looking man. Although I have always hated the way that I look. I have always wished that I looked like a young Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. But I’m not a bad looking guy. People would often call me Carlton from the 'Fresh Prince' back when that show was on. But I never thought I looked anything like Alfonso Ribeiro (although I wouldn't mind having his money & his women).

I am slightly socially awkward, but it's not too bad for me. I get stressed in social situations where I am around a lot of people who I don’t know. This stresses me out tremendously. This is why certain social situations that would be enjoyable and relaxing to some people, are draining and stressful…basically like work for me. But I am pretty cool though and can navigate my way through anything. I am able to flip a switch that allows me to work a room and flow pretty much like normal. I could at least find a small group of people and flow just fine with them. So basically, if you saw me in a large social situation (mixer), you probably wouldn’t know that I am stressed out or that it is taxing for me to be there unless I told you. I’m better in one on one situations or with small groups of people who I know.

I believe that the main issue is my lack of income. It always seems to go back to that issue. I have had the misfortune of being stuck in a lot of less than stellar jobs. Since men are often defined & rated by women and by society, based on what they do, my work and income situation has been a confidence killer. In the world of dating and relationships… even sex, money drives everything.

Health has something to do with this too… I have always been scared to death of disease. I am a little picky too. I could probably go to some nightclub (I really really hate bars and nightclubs by the way) and pick up a chick….. But she probably wouldn’t be the kind of woman who I would really want. I wouldn’t want someone who would come home with me from a bar or nightclub. Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe I am a little old fashioned. But I would rather be in a steady dating situation first… with someone of a certain standard…who is worthy. I would really prefer a long-term situation. That’s the ideal scenario. But it has been fleeting. (Not that I have been looking hard). For the past 15 years I have not been focused on dating… I have been focused on trying to secure the kind of employment and financial future required to attract a mate. That hasn’t worked out exactly as planned either. So now I’m stuck questioning everything that I have been doing. Meanwhile, I see acquaintances (I don’t even want to call them acquaintances) bragging about how good their sex lives are and how many young women are throwing themselves at them. It’s frustrating because these guys aren’t worth a dime… yet the women line up to be with them. Even my acquaintances and relatives on the higher end of the food chain… have no problem in the dating and intimacy department. So I would be lying if I said this situation doesn’t piss me off. Women are typically looking for buttholes for boyfriends... badboys/thugs, "players", or men who are financially well-off. It's harder to meet women & date when you don't fit into any of these boxes.

But being celibate or abstinent has its benefits. I like the peace of mind of not having to worry about STD’s. I like the freedom of not having to worry about dating anyone right now… I hate the whole dating ritual. Trying to impress someone and watching every little move I make is taxing work.

But then again… I would eventually like a family at some point. Family has its perks and benefits too. When (if) I do reach a point where I can date again (depends on money and job situation…unfortunately this is what it’s all about)… I am not sure what to tell my date. Do I mention the V word? Or do I make up some elaborate story about the women I have been intimate with?

The President Outlines His New Gun Safety Proposals

Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle Obama!!!

& FLOTUS taken at the wedding of Valerie Jarrett's daughter

Today is the 49th Birthday for our First Lady- Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.

Thank you, Mrs. Obama, for your service to our country. I couldn't be more proud to have you as our First Lady if I tried.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Oxygen Axes Minstrel Show "All My Babies' Mamas'"

The Oxygen Network is apparently having second thoughts about airing a new reality series highlighting the worst of black urban culture and showing the worst examples of black men. The show would have highlighted the life of a rapper who has children with 10 different young women - unmarried of course. The program was essentially a modern day minstrel show. After online protests, Oxygen appears to be pulling the plug on this horror .

From The Grio:
Recently there have been conflicting reports that the Oxygen network would be pulling Shawty Lo’s controversial reality special All My Babies’ Mamas from their network lineup before the show even hit the air.

Oxygen has now officially decided to cancel the special.

“As part of our development process, we have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special,” an Oxygen spokesperson said in a statement to theGrio. “We will continue to develop compelling content that resonates with our young female viewers and drives the cultural conversation.”

The program was initially slated for release this spring as a one hour reality special on Oxygen TV. The show would follow Shawty Lo and his 11 children by ten different mothers. According to Oxygen, “Shawty Lo and his family were considered for the show, but other families were being considered as well.”

Teasers for All My Babies’ Mamas first came out in December 2012. The description in the show’s press release read, “As the household grows, sometimes so does the dysfunction, leaving the man of the house to split his affection multiple ways while trying to create order. Will there be a conflict over a family holiday, who needs school supplies and who holds the household finance purse strings, or can these feisty babies’ mamas band together and live peacefully as one family unit?”

The special immediately received intense scrutiny from media watchdog groups, saying it would portray a negative image of the African-American family and glorify the stigma of “the baby mama.”

Earlier this month, The Parents Television Council asked the network to not let the program air, calling it “grotesquely irresponsible and exploitative.” Their involvement came on the heels of Sabrina Lamb, a New York writer who started a petition cancel the show, which already has more than 37,000 supporters on Change.org.

“By pushing these degrading images, your company seeks to profit from the humiliation of girls and women and the blatant stereotyping of African-Americans,” Lamb wrote in the petition.

But who in the Hell thought that this was a good idea in the first place? Someone took it seriously, considering tens of thousands were invested and ultimately wasted on the show’s production. At one time I would have immediately suspected BET as the prime suspect behind a series like this. But now it seems BET has franchised this stupidity to other networks. VH1, MTV, Oxygen, Bravo…and even TLC (and others) have now gotten into the game of perpetuating stereotypes & destroying the image of black folks with low rent programs.

While I blame these networks for spreading these negative stereotypes & making my life harder for profit, I blame those in the so-called “black community” even more for living up to these images & for participating when big business wants to make a mockery of an entire ethnic group. I have grown to hate what modern black culture has become. I hate almost everything about it. Not that there are no positives…. It’s just that the positives are very few. While the black heritage (black historical narrative and contribution) in this country is still rich… the culture of today is dead and empty.

Surprisingly, this program was so grotesque that even majority white organizations jumped into the fray this time and helped to take the lead on fighting this. usually (as was typically the case with the earlier fights with BET & Debra Lee) you don't see predominantly white groups taking the lead on issues primarily concerning the so-called "black community". I didn't really hear much from Civil Rights Inc, the Rev's, the NAACP or the Congressional Black Circus Caucus. They may have been involved in some ancillary role... but I didn't really see them in the mix.

This is an example of why I think being a black guy sucks. This is the reason why - according to societies rules- dating a black guy (particularly in the context of dating out…or dating interracially) is almost always seen as “dating down”, no matter how hard you work or what kind of character you have. It is why decent dating options are few and far between.

But I would really like to know who the women are who sleep with these men. What is going on in their minds when they do this? What made 10 women think that having a child with this clown was a good idea & that it was ok for the world to know about it? I know this is more of a class issue than a race issue… however, I see this more of this with black women. Now they always claim they are really not into the badboy… the thug or criminal. But examples keep mounting up that pretty much shows that this isn’t the case. I think women who make this argument lost that battle a long time ago. I think we have moved to the question of ‘why‘…. not whether it’s happening. (although to this day… when I ask young women of color about this… they don’t want to acknowledge that the problem even exists). I call this the “Beyonce-Rihanna Syndrome”. It’s an example of how pop culture icons have shaped a generation of women (15-35) and have passed on the message that certain negative behaviors are ok, what they should accept from men, and have provided the blueprint for what the ideal mate should be. As we can see… the results of this are wreaking havoc on an entire demographic. Somehow black women (some…not all… but we are talking about what seems to be 2/3rds - 3/5ths) have become pre-disposed to this. It’s as if this crap is in their DNA. How does this get reversed when there are TV programs that reinforce the images and lifestyle - particularly the thug, clown, criminal images of black men - as something that is cool? Remember, this is a network that caters to women.

Violent Crime in Chicago Is Out of Control - Ban Guns?

22 Murders in less than 2 weeks of 2013. Would a gun ban stop the carnage? Nope.

In a city and State that already has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country, having a ban (which it had at one time) would do nothing to stop this madness. The point here is to show that the bad guys are always going to have their guns, no matter how restrictive gun laws are. The same is true for Newark and Camden New Jersey... gun bans and all sorts of restrictions have not worked. Criminals will be criminals. They don't follow laws. That's why they are criminals. Ultimately, bans and restrictions only hurt, restrict, criminalize & stigmatize law abiding gun owners. New York City is giving the public smoke and mirrors when it puts out its crime stats. Yes there has been a reduction in gun crime... but that has more to do with community policing efforts, and the fact that the city's population is so large that it makes the various crime ratings (which are based on population) appear very low.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Miles Just Called

Taken from the Mayer Hawthorne Instagram...

"Please advise" lol

Perpetual Dysfunction: How Republicans Govern

"nothing is unthinkable anymore"

Nice piece by Eugene Robinson

President Obama is set to begin his second term at a moment when the question is not what great things our nation can achieve but whether our government, in Obama’s words, can “stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis.”

The jury is out, but continued dysfunction seems the most likely scenario. Obama’s news conference on Monday—his last scheduled encounter with White House reporters before Inauguration Day—was a tutorial in low expectations. 

Obama devoted his opening remarks to the latest unnecessary crisis: the threat by Republicans in Congress to refuse to raise the federal debt ceiling. Such action, or inaction, would be “a self-inflicted wound on the economy,” Obama said.

That’s an understatement. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would in fact be a catastrophe, putting the faith and credit of the U.S. government in doubt and destabilizing a global financial system in which the dollar is the benchmark currency. 

Congress has a long history of playing politics with the debt ceiling—even Obama once voted against an increase when he was a senator—but there was always the understanding that in the end, the needed increase would be approved. It was unthinkable that the country would actually default on its obligations.

But nothing is unthinkable anymore. House Republicans are threatening to force a default unless the president agrees to further spending cuts. Obama vowed Monday that Republicans “will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.”

Obama flatly ruled out two scenarios that have been proposed as ways for him to raise the debt limit without approval by Congress—invoking an obscure clause in the 14th Amendment, or, more fancifully, minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin. “There are no magic tricks here,” he said. “There are no loopholes. There are no easy outs.”

But he did appear to leave one door slightly ajar. Raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with future spending; it merely provides the funds for expenditures Congress has already approved. Obama noted that if Congress fails to act, it will have given him two conflicting orders: Spend a specific amount of money on specific programs, but do not obtain the funds to make this spending possible. Some scholars have suggested Obama just declare that the instruction to spend outweighs the instruction not to borrow, and then let the Supreme Court eventually sort things out. See full commentary.

It's good that Obama is finally recognizing what the Republicans are trying to do. Unfortunately the President started this effort a little late (talking directly to the American people, educating/informing citizens about the debt ceiling and budget, acknowledging the hostage taking strategy of the Republicans). He should have been engaging in this months back, during the Spring and Fall of 2012. But even with that, he is only acknowledging half of the issue. Yes...the Republicans are holding the country hostage.... but I wish he would delve into why. The fact is, this Congress is motivated by more than just fiscal or political ideology. Race and intolerance is playing some role. Republicans want to create the idea that chaos is what you get when you have a Black President.

Congressman Jim McDermott got to the point on the January 14th edition of The Ed Show when he said that Republicans "want to make the President look as if he can't run the Country... that's the bottom line". (See Video). This is the other half of the issue that Obama has not acknowledged.

Colin Powell Tells The Truth About GOP Racism

 Colin Powell, a Republican, calls out members of his party for "intolerance" on the program 'Meet The Press'.

From ThinkProgress:

Without mentioning names, Powell singled out former Mitt Romney surrogate and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu for calling Obama “lazy” and Sarah Palin, who, Powell charged, used slavery-era terms to describe Obama:
POWELL: There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that?
When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?

 This isn't the only time that Powell or other prominent Republicans have mentioned the intolerance problem. But even with these repeated warnings, I see no signs that the Republican party plans or even wants to change. In fact, the whole motivation behind creating economic chaos with the budget and debt ceiling stems from a political party unable to come to terms with a Black President... especially a Black President who has been re-elected. There is no way you would have this kind of dysfunction and sabotage with a white Democrat as President. It is no coincidence that Republican opposition to working with Obama is primarily centered in the South. They are willing to sabotage the Country if it will mean Obama's second term and his overall Presidency are unsuccessful.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Fontella Bass Passes On At 72 RIP

                                                Fontella Bass
                                July 3, 1940 – December 26, 2012

 St. Louis' Queen of Soul


LA Times Piece 

NY Times Piece

St. Louis Post Dispatch 


Her album "Free" is an underground Masterpiece.

Singles include: Leave It In the Hands of LoveLucky In Love, Everyday I Have To Cry, I'm Leaving The Choice To You, The Soul of a Man, Gee Whiz, Hold On This Time, Don't Mess Up A Good Thing, & Talking About Freedom.

Her gospel work is pretty good too. A class act all the way around. I highlighted her here in July 2012.


A Sensible Middle On Gun Control and the Need To Go Deeper

I was horrified like everyone else by the massacre of 27 people in Newtown, Connecticut. But with everything that has been going on over the last few years, I was honestly not surprised. These events have unfortunately become routine in this society. Unfortunately, the debate on gun control has been dominated by the two, often emotional, extremes on either side. The sensible middle has been mostly absent from the discussion. This is my perspective as a pro-gun Progressive.

The anti-gun crowd points to the abundance of guns as the culprit. That is surely part of the problem, but it’s not the only issue causing the chaos. The lack of mental health services, parental support systems, combined with a cut-throat American style capitalist system where social safety nets are discouraged and those who need them are denigrated and shamed… shares most of the blame. The American system often leads to hopelessness with few, if any, options for getting out; whether its homelessness, joblessness, isolation, exploitation, addiction or mental illness. Federal and State funding for mental health services has seen a long and steady decline, along with other social services.

By all accounts, Nancy Lanza, the mother of the Connecticut shooter, was desperately seeking help and options for her son. By all accounts, she was unable to find that help in time. Why? Because we live in a system that has taken an increasingly “every man for himself” approach to governance and public policy. A nation built on collectivism.. and that has in fact experienced its greatest moments when taking collective action has suddenly suffered a bout of amnesia.

The effort to cut funding to social safety nets, including mental health services, has primarily been led by Republicans in Washington DC and in State legislatures across the country. This is why I found it extremely odd to hear Republicans suddenly supporting mental health services after the Connecticut massacre, when they spent much of the last 2 decades pushing for cuts in funding. It’s hard to take the Republicans seriously on that issue, not unlike the long list of other issues where they flip flop for political expediency.

The anti-gun pundits love to compare the U.S. to other Countries, particularly Canada and those in Europe, when examining gun laws. They fail to mention the differences in Constitutional law and gun culture and the fact that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 million guns in the U.S. But the main point that they seem to miss is that there is a fundamental difference in the cultures, in terms of compassion, collectivism, safety nets, labor systems, etc. There is a fundamental difference in what people & governments from other nations consider important and thus a difference in national priorities. In France, for example, medical wellness visits (to your home) and parental support in child rearing are built into the system. There are certain public policy priorities. Something else that most Americans don’t realize is that several weeks of vacation are mandatory for workers in Europe. We have nothing like this in the United States because the system is different at the core. The fundamental priorities are different. In Europe, public health, wellness of citizens, education, children, and compassion are put at the top. Of course this is not and has not been the case in the United States. You wouldn’t have a mother in Europe unable to find services for her child, (adult child or otherwise). The American system failed Nancy Lanza…and has failed so many other families. So you can’t compare the U.S. with Canada or Europe just on the issue of gun control. I think you have to look at the broader differences in culture, governance, and public policy. This is part of the reason why you would not be able to solve the problems of gun violence in the U.S. simply by changing gun laws. A serious reduction in violence would require far more comprehensive and fundamental changes in American public policy priorities. The American system of ‘sink or swim’ or ’if you fall down…too bad’ just isn’t working. The economic competition, job insecurity, lack of legal employment options, and lack of safety nets leads to high levels of stress, fear and hopelessness in this Country. This often translates into violence, either as part of suicide, or drug gangs creating & maintaining their own economy and fighting for territory in the streets of Detroit, St. Louis, or Chicago. This fundamental difference in national public policy priorities has a way of trickling down. The results of America’s lack of people based, compassion based sensible public policy came trickling down on December 14th,   2012 for the world to see. When you have one system focused on people, compassion, and the collective greater good of society vs. one weighted heavily towards the interests of corporations and the wealthy… it is no wonder that there would be a difference in violence. Not surprising at all.

The lack of employment and social services were cited, at least in part, as motivating factors for the 2008 shooting rampage in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville Tennessee (no I will not mention the shooters name). Karthik Rajaram killed his family and then himself after falling into hopelessness when he couldn’t find employment and was faced with the prospect of not having a place to live. Income insecurity and the lack of a safety net to help him stand on his feet again and fight another day sent him over the edge. The case of Ervin Antonio Lupoe, who killed his entire family in 2009, also comes to mind. No safety net available for them (go read the chilling suicide note). A Texas mother killed her two children and then shot herself to death in a Laredo welfare office in 2011. Although she reportedly had mental and emotional problems, it was a lack of support and rejection of social services that set off her rampage. Despite coming to authorities for help several times and despite family members reaching out to authorities for help, no one could help this distressed mother. Her children fell through the cracks…like so many others have. This is happening all over the country with greater frequency. I am not justifying the actions of these perpetrators. I am pointing out that other factors are often at play in these incidents beyond the availability of weapons and that public policy priorities matter. No one wants to talk about it, but we don’t take care of one another in this country the way that we should. The role of government is also fundamentally different in the U.S. when compared to other western countries. There is a reason why these events are not as common in other industrialized countries… the lack of guns is not the only factor. Other western countries have civilized labor laws…and systems that don’t allow as many people to fall through the cracks and to fall into these black holes of despair and hopelessness. As long as the American capitalist system remains cut throat and as long as society and government puts the well being of big business over people, we will have these incidents, no matter what kind of gun laws are technically on the books.

The Connecticut massacre has unfortunately given rise to the extreme voices on both sides of the gun debate. Anti-gun liberals have been salivating over this…. Seeing the tragedy as an opportunity to push their agenda. On the December 23rd broadcast of the Chris Hayes program on MSNBC, I watched as urban mayors and anti-gun advocates foamed at the mouth about why we needed gun restrictions. See Video.  However, they seemed to miss the fact that there is a huge difference between urban gun violence and what took place in Connecticut. More gun laws for legitimate purchasers will have little impact on the underground gun trade in inner cities. More laws for me won’t make it more difficult for urban terrorists to wreak havoc in big cities. Their theory that banning guns will stop gun violence was put to the test in Washington DC and Chicago… their theory failed miserably in both cases. Gun violence went through the roof as urban terrorists had their way. Camden, New Jersey is another example. In a State (NJ) with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country… you have a city where gun crime is completely out of control. Meanwhile, law abiding citizens have been left vulnerable. Citizens in Chicago had to sue for the right to protect themselves in their own homes. Absolutely ridiculous. Criminals (people who should not have guns anyway) commit most of the gun crimes… not law abiding citizens. Anti-gun advocates love to suggest that law abiding citizens are just as bad as the felons with guns. It’s simply not true.  These mayors should probably spend more time working on fixing the corruption in their cities.

The anti-gun agenda is typically pushed by those who don’t actually know much about guns and have no interest in protecting rights. Hearing terminology misused drives me crazy. The anti-gunners demonstrate their fundamental lack of understanding of guns and public policy at every level. Many anti-gun Democrats may not say it, but there is a certain segment of them who would really like to see an across the board ban on guns. They don’t believe that guns should be in the hands of anyone but members of the military and law enforcement. They don’t truly believe in the Second Amendment at all. This is why it is hard to engage them on any serious discussion related to sensible gun measures. They often put gun regulations on the table that have nothing to do with what happened in Connecticut. The reason is, there are many anti-gun advocates who really want to see an outright ban. They have another agenda. They are not interested in making guns harder to get for criminals while preserving the right of law abiding citizens to keep arms.

Another problem with the anti-gunners is that they suffer from this delusion that new gun laws will magically stop these massacres. This simply isn’t the case. What they (and the media) fail to mention is that any new assault weapons ban will allow existing owners of AR-15 style rifles to keep their weapons. They will be grandfathered in just as they were before. Talk of a ban will also lead to a huge spike in sales. In fact, there has already been a huge spike in gun sales in the days and weeks after the Newtown massacre. So the country will still have a tremendous number of “assault rifles” in the hands of citizens. They also miss the point that an AR-15 is not required for an assailant to cause considerable death and injury. The Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 and injured 17 with two handguns and skill at changing magazines, in what ended up being the deadliest school shooting in American history.

Anti-gun advocates are too fixated on “assault rifles” (which is broadly defined according to them). Ballistically there is no difference between an AR system and a hunting rifle. In fact, most hunting rifles are more powerful in terms of the bullet velocity that they can create as a result of the longer barrels. Both rifles fire in “semi-auto”. It’s often misstated that “assault rifles” are automatic rapid fire weapons. Automatic weapons are not available to the general public… and have not been for years. The difference lies in bullet capacity and magazine design (for those hunting rifles with magazines).

Something else that is annoying is the way that the anti-gun folks make no distinction between legitimate law abiding gun ownership and criminals with guns. Since many of them don’t believe in any form of legitimate gun ownership… they view any civilian with a gun as criminal. It’s no surprise that most of their policy proposals end up targeting legitimate gun owners more than the criminals who wreak most of the havoc. They have also made a serious effort to shame, denigrate and stigmatize legal gun owners.

On the other side of the argument you have another extreme. The far right pro-gun advocates want to arm teachers. Arming teachers is probably not the best idea. Fighting sensible gun regulation is not in the best interest of Conservative card carrying NRA members. Yet the NRA and its supporters still resist common sense measures.

I am an independent Progressive (not a Liberal) who supports the Second Amendment. However, I also support gun regulations that would make sense and that would actually make a dent in the problem. With that said… I enjoy going to the gun range to shoot. I have done so on a number of occasions and will continue to.

I think most of the proposals so far have been knee jerk reactions to the problem. Folks are using the tragedy in Connecticut to push agendas that they have wanted to push for a long time… They are agendas and ideas that don’t have much to do with what happened in Connecticut.

Why should we have the right to keep arms? People should not forget that Connecticut was ironically the State where one of the worst home invasions in American history took place in 2007.  Two men invaded the home of the Petit family and tortured them for 7 hours. The crimes included forcing Mrs. Petit to withdraw money from the bank, tying her and her two daughters to their beds and brutally raping them, beating the father nearly to death, and strangling Mrs. Petit as she begged for her life, finally choking her to death. The suspects then poured gasoline on the daughters (still tied to their beds after being raped) and set them on fire… burning them alive. The father was able to escape. This crime changed gun and death penalty politics in Connecticut (a fact missing from the current debate… no one has raised the issue of local Connecticut events).  People ask why Nancy Lanza had guns in the house… (as if it’s a crime to have guns in your home and that it is unusual). One in three American households have them. In the case of Lanza, in addition to being a gun enthusiast, she wanted to protect her home.

Another reason to have guns is because this is a legitimate sporting hobby that many Americans partake in. Whether it’s hunting or target shooting, this is a positive sporting activity. Anti-gun Democrats attempt to politicize, shame and stigmatize these activities so that fewer people take part in them. But these are largely positive activities.

Thirdly, I want the right to keep arms because I have no faith that the government will or even can protect me or take care of my best interests. Look at the clowns in Washington DC. You have a Congress that cannot even govern. Congress goes from one crisis to the next, and in many cases, it creates the crisis - like with the so called “fiscal cliff”. The inability of Congress to even function leads to things that harm ordinary people, like the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, a drop in the national credit rating (due to gridlock on the debt ceiling), and possibly another recession. Their inability to govern & to take care of their basic responsibilities contributes to economic distress and breakdowns in social order that lead to the need to protect yourself. Why in the hell would anyone want to give up their guns under these circumstances? The founding fathers would tell us that these are exactly the times that they had in mind when they thought about keeping arms (when government ceases to function properly and social order is under threat). The message that Americans have been getting over the last few years is that you can’t count on the government to protect you. You are on your own. It can’t even conduct normal business, let alone look out for your safety, interests & well being. In fact, I would say that they have been doing us harm. They can’t get anything done. Funny thing is, if we were to call something a “war bill” these jackasses in Congress would come together and vote for it. It would get overwhelming bipartisan support. These corporate shills love their wars (that includes the warmongering Democrats in the Obama Administration). So let’s just label everything “war bill”. That can’t be any worse than what we have going on now (nothing).

Hurricane Katrina should have been a wake up call to everyone. The government either won’t or can’t always protect you. When life or death is a matter of seconds, the police are only minutes away. I have been in public safety work for 20 years and work with sworn officers everyday in the same facility. I have mentioned before that in an emergency… there is about a 5-7 minute gap where you are on your own (that would be on a good day). About 2 minutes are lost just dealing with 911 dispatchers. That’s how long it takes them to process your call and get officers rolling to you. While you are desperately needing help, they may not understand the urgency and will ask you a litany of (often irrelevant) questions. It then takes officers 3-5 minutes to get to you. Plenty of time for an intruder to break in, do you harm or kidnap you and get away. If there is a natural disaster such as an earthquake and you need help, all bets are off. Emergency services may not be able to reach you for quite some time. If you want to rely on the government to protect you, feel free. But don’t slam those who want to take responsibility for their own safety or who want peace of mind.

I have recently learned what is contained in the legislation being offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein. There are a few good ideas in her proposal, but unfortunately she overreaches. The Feinstein Bill goes much further than the previous assault weapons ban. Feinstein’s plan would ban hundreds of rifle designs, including rifles used for hunting and competition. The Feinstein Bill would also grandfather current owners of “assault rifles”, however, the legislation would essentially stigmatize and criminalize these gun owners. Meanwhile, there would be little impact on gun crime in places like Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Camden. The Bill goes too far in some areas, and not far enough in others.

With that being said… there are some reasonable steps that could be taken to help reduce the number of incidents (won’t stop all mass shootings):

The following should be Federal Laws and could fix some of the holes left by the patchwork of different State laws.

1. Instead of going after “assault rifles” the focus should be on the capacity of magazines (for the reasons mentioned above). Another “assault rifle” ban would grandfather existing guns of that type, just as the last “assault weapons” bill did. It would not be very effective. A magazine ban could be enforced more efficiently, and would target the actual problem (capacity) without taking rifles from legitimate, law abiding gun owners. This would also allow sport shooters to continue their legitimate activities. There are also long guns that have a dual use, such as the M1A rifle. Some shooters use the M1A both for hunting and for defense/sports shooting. It’s an excellent rifle (military variant is the M14 which is popular with troops for saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan). Some shooters don’t want to buy several rifles… having a hybrid for two purposes makes more sense. Dealing with the magazines is the better choice. This would also take the argument away from the NRA. They would have a harder time arguing against magazines.

A. Limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds for rifles, and keep current manufacturer’s standard for semi-automatic handguns (12 for 45 ACP, 15 for 9mm, etc. Extended handgun magazines would be outlawed).
B. Have a mandatory buy back of older higher capacity rifle magazines.
C. Limit the number of magazines per weapon for both handguns and rifles. (4 seems reasonable). Without this provision, bad guys could simply carry more magazines and multiple weapons, defeating the purpose.

2. As a condition of ownership, guns must be properly secured in the home- The most important provision, which the media talking heads have not mentioned.

A. Guns and ammunition should be locked away, preferably in industry approved safes, with combination locks. GPS and alarm devices could also become part of the standard storage package.

B. Those found to be in violation of this provision -- if there is an accident or children access the weapon or if the violation is discovered during a law enforcement or Fire department inspection of an unrelated matter, the first offense should be a fine ($500-$1000). Second offense should be criminal charges/jail time and loss of gun privileges, perhaps permanently. If there is an incident where anyone other than the gun owner is injured (especially a child) due to the gun not being sufficiently secured, it would be automatic prison time and permanent loss of privileges (even if it’s the first offense).

3. All new gun owners must pass a standard safety course before taking ownership of a weapon. Existing gun owners could be encouraged to do so… but they would be grandfathered in, since most already have some training and experience in safety/proficiency.

4. Develop State-State reciprocity standard for Concealed Carry Permit holders, using the best, most comprehensive training as the benchmark. This would end CCW confusion and would either get rid of “stand your ground” or would make clear what self defense means for CCW holders. This would create a national standard.

5. Require background checks for all gun sales and transfers.
A. Federally Licensed Dealers (FFL’s) should act as middle men for private gun exchanges and should apply the proper gun checks.

6. Toughen laws for straw purchasers and put more funding into fighting this problem. This is actually a bigger problem than the “gun show loophole”.

7. Build on the current NICS system by tying in a mental health database.
A. Allow mental health professionals - psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed social workers and counselors to report (in secret) concerns about an individual to the federal firearms system. The professional should be protected from lawsuits or any other liability for reporting (or for not reporting - this is very important). Without a provision protecting mental health and social service professionals from lawsuits for not reporting, it would create a situation where they would feel obliged to report everything for fear of punishment if a client goes on a rampage. It would create a lot of grief and a lot of false positive alerts.
B. Mental health reporting should be based on a scale of 4 or 5.… with 1 or 2 not requiring action other than closer monitoring. A 1 or 2 could simply be someone who is temporarily taking anti-depressants but who otherwise has not demonstrated that they are a threat. For example, some recently pregnant mothers have to take anti-depressants temporarily. This may not require a loss of gun rights in of itself. Higher levels (based on threat level/ likelihood of violence/competence) would result in reporting to the federal firearms system. Existing gun owners (in extreme cases of mental disturbance) could be required to relinquish guns in their possession. Once a patient is well enough and a doctors review has been conducted, (in some cases) weapons can be returned. Law enforcement and mental health professionals should be responsible for developing such a rating and reporting system, based on the best science.

8. Increase funding for mental health services nationwide.

9. Reintroduce ‘The Terrorist Apprehension and Record Retention Act of 2005’. Tie terrorist watch list information to the gun background check. See what the Act would do (includes street gang affiliation too).  Republicans have fought against similar measures.  However, instead of an automatic denial, I would suggest putting a hold on the sale until further investigation. We know that the terrorist watch list often has innocent people, the wrong person, people mistaken for someone else, etc. Even Ted Kennedy was flagged at one point. Records of gun sales and transfers should also be kept for at least 10 years. A flaw in the Brady Bill allowed the destruction of records (supposedly to protect names going through the system. But names could be protected by making it private, secret, privileged information for law enforcement use only, not public record).

10. Establish a Federal gun registry. Currently there is inconsistency on registration requirements from State to State. In my home state of Missouri, for example, no registration is required. But in Illinois, a 30 minute drive away, they want your DNA (not quite in the literal sense… but the system in Illinois is quite extensive and highly regulated).
A. A Federal gun registry would erase confusion. All States would be able to enter information and have access to the registry. This would make it easier for authorities to track guns stolen from legitimate gun owners.

B. The Gun registry would be open to authorities for official business only. The information would be private, to protect the privacy of gun owners, and to protect their security. A newspaper in New York recently released this information to the public (although already considered public information, which it shouldn’t be).

C. Guns not registered could be confiscated and the owner criminally charged or fined.

11. Increase security at the nations schools.
A. Harden schools. Classrooms must have strong door locks, bullet resistant materials where feasible, and clear lockdown procedures.

B. Place more police, and armed security staff in schools and increase preparedness. This is not meant to be a magic fix…but should be part of a layered system. It should be part of a comprehensive approach to the problem.

12. Require background checks for the purchase of body armor by non-law enforcement, non-security personnel.

13. Limit the number of guns (any combination of handgun/long gun) per individual or household. 4-6 guns seems reasonable. Licensed hunters would be exempt from this provision. Other exemptions could be allowed on a case by case basis (legitimate competition shooters for example could be allowed an exemption).

A. Those with more guns would have to apply for a designation as a “collector”. Those wanting a collectors license would be subject to more scrutiny - an enhanced background check… renewable every 5 years or so.

14. Psychological exam for new gun buyers. There are a number of tests that could be used for this purpose. Tests could be issued by the FFL in the store. Testing could be short - 15-20 minutes. Or a buyer could simply bring a note from a psychologist to the FFL. Test results (even the doctors visit) would be kept secret. This would only apply to those buying guns for the first time.

Even if all of these provisions were implemented, there would still be mass shootings. There would be very little if any impact on big city gun violence.

9 Myths in the Gun Control Debate

Democrats Cave In Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

It seems to me that the Democrats made most of the concessions in the so-called "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations. The Republicans have given up very little while they are making the most demands. It's almost as if the November 6th elections never happened.

Robert Reich makes pretty much the same point here. Michael Hiltzik accurately describes the Fiscal Cliff negotiations as a con game. This deal doesn't do much of anything to help fix the debt/deficit. In fact, as the CBO has reported, the deal would add $4 Trillion to deficits over the next 10 years. The Republicans have been allowed to fool the Country into believing that the Bush Tax cuts were intended to be permanent. That is not the case. It was meant to be a temporary tax measure to stimulate Bush's faltering economy. And even after it went through, it didn't prevent an economic collapse under the watch of Republicans. Yet Republicans want to extend them for everybody.... even for 98 or 99% may be too much. It ties the hands of future policymakers who will now certainly face a Greece like situation. They won't have the flexibility to deal with the problem the way that George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton did, once they saw that reality required a policy change. This will make things worse in the years to come.

Even with all the concessions made by Progressives, the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are still reluctant to support the Senate bill.

I think everyone is missing the larger point. All of the actions from Republicans are, in my view, less about taxes and economic philosophy and more about political revenge and 2016. It's selfishness taken to a new level. If the Republican fiscal hawks were truly concerned with the debt and America's economic future, they would have accepted the earlier big offers from Democrats that put $4 Trillion in deficit reduction on the table.  Republicans refused those offers. Their obstruction is clearly aimed at making Obama's second term as difficult as possible and slowing and (if they can) reversing the economic recovery, just as things were really starting to turn around. There is no other logical conclusion that I can come up with. They know that by creating uncertainty about taxes, debt, social security, medicaid, the debt ceiling, and governance in Washington, there will be a drag on the economy for the foreseeable future. They also know that they may cause yet another credit rating downgrade... causing unthinkable damage to the American economy. They know that the economy was poised to take off in 2013. They did not want to see that happen under any circumstances... not when Obama could take credit for it. Their plan seems to be to keep the country in a constant state of economic crisis. They want these cliff and debt ceiling fights to re-occur every few months to slow the economy and to keep Obama tied up, preventing him from doing some of the other things he wants to do in a second term. They know exactly what they are doing. Treasonous bastards. I don't recall anything remotely this bad, this cynical in modern American political history (post-Civil war).

This is why I get especially annoyed when the media acts as if the Republicans have legitimate concerns and they are really looking out for the Country. Their whole premise is fantasy land. They want the eliminate the debt/deficits (created mostly by Republicans over the last 40 years) with spending cuts alone. No additional revenue through taxes. The vast majority of the top economists in the country have basically dismissed this as a pipe dream... They have repeatedly warned that you cannot fix the debt/deficits through cuts alone... that taxes would have to increase on a good portion of the Country. And this is what Americans voted for last November. So why are we going over this argument again?

It is frustrating to know that these fights will come back up every 6 months or every year. Meanwhile the economy (if Republicans get their way) will stall. The credit rating agencies have already warned that if they don't see more political cooperation and more economic certainty, they will hit the national credit rating again.

I wish Obama would stop the nice Black guy routine and address the nation from the Oval Office and tell Americans exactly what the Republicans are doing. He should tell Americans what the consequences will be for everyone, and call on voters to organize to get the obstructionists out of the way in the next midterm election in 2014. Unfortunately most of the problem Republicans are in safe red districts. But calling attention to the obstruction in a more matter of fact way is overdue.

Another strategy for Obama should be to find 30 or so moderate Republicans in the House of Representatives and work with them. Forget Boehner and Cantor. There is a separate moderate Republican wing (although small)...and many of them have expressed a willingness to work with Democrats. Why Obama hasn't used them to bypass Boehner is a mystery to me. Another sign of failure on the part of strategists on the Democratic side.


Happy New Year from Everyone at MOA!!

Hope you enjoy today with family and friends...and don't forget those blackeyed peas. :)


THE PICTURE of the Obama Presidency.

From The Obama Diary: