NRA Exposed!

The National Rifle Association began as an organization dedicated to preserving hunting and to support target shooting as a wholesome activity for young people. Its origins go back to a time when our nation was largely rural and hunting was more than a sport. It was a way to put food on the family table.

That NRA no longer exists.

Today’s NRA is merely an ideological lobbying group for gun manufacturers. The NRA’s opposition to a proposed international arms treaty is proof. The United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty is designed to control the illicit trade of small arms to international terrorist groups and drug cartels. The text of the proposed treaty reaffirms the right and responsibility of any State to control the transfer of conventional weapons within its territory.

The treaty would have no affect on the sale of guns in the US or our 2nd Amendment right to own guns.

Yet the NRA is vehemently opposed to the treaty. In an attempt to block it, the NRA leadership has lied to its membership, saying the treaty is a “stealth attempt to circumvent the 2nd Amendment.” The NRA claims that it will result in black-shirted thugs breaking in your doors in order to confiscate your guns. According to NRA leaders, the treaty is the first step in allowing the new black Hitler (Obama) to take away all of your freedoms.

You may ask, “Why would the NRA make such outrageous lies?”

The answer is simple. The proposed treaty could conceivably limit the sale of expensive assault weapons around the globe. Of course, that would be bad for the large gun manufacturers that pay the salaries of NRA leadership.

While that may seem cynical, it’s nothing compared to the arms industry following mass murders in the US. Rather than view events such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown as tragedies, the gun industry sees them as opportunities. Each massacre results in dramatic increases in gun sales…particularly for the type of weapons used for the killings.

After Tucson, the sale of 9mm Glock handguns soared. After Aurora, the gun sales in Colorado spiked. And after Newtown, gun sales are off the charts. The makers of high-capacity magazines for AR-15 assault rifles sold 3.5 years worth of clips in just 3 days following the massacre! And in 2012, Ruger broke its annual sales record by early August.

With its sponsors cashing in on every tragedy, is it really any wonder the NRA’s answer to gun violence is for more people to buy guns? With so much money at stake, and so many assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns already in the hands of Americans, any form of common sense gun control will be nothing short of a miracle.

From The Age Of Enlightened Minds To The Age Of Dimwits.

The so-called Tea Party “Patriots” are fond of comparing themselves to the Founding Fathers in order to promote their self-serving, narrow-minded philosophy. Indeed, they named themselves after those courageous souls who dared to stand up to the British at places such as Boston Harbor, Lexington and Concord.

Yet today’s teabaggers couldn’t be more different from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

The Founding Fathers were committed to education, to science and reason. By contrast, the Tea Party is committed to superstition, faith and brutish behavior. The Tea Party believes in slashing funding for education. Its followers dismiss science, and they consider those who are well-educated to be anti-American elitists.

According to Jon Meacham’s wonderful biography Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power, Jefferson was an avid student of history and philosophy. He believed that “…reason, not revelation or unquestioned tradition or superstition, deserved pride of place in human affairs.”

Tea Party adherents, on the other hand, reject reason and cling to an inaccurate version of history in order to make our nation fit their narrow-minded ideology. An ideology based on the Articles of Confederation rather than the Constitution which replaced them, and on a plutocratic interpretation of Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations that seems to reject government intervention in the free market. Yet many scholars reject that interpretation, pointing to the fact that, time and again, Smith warned of the dangers of businesses forming cabals and monopolies in order to fix the highest price “which can be squeezed out of the buyers.”

In order to realize the best possible future for our nation, who are we to follow? George Washington or Eric Cantor? Benjamin Franklin or Sarah Palin? Thomas Jefferson or Michele Bachmann?

You decide.

NRA Living In Fantasy World.

Showing a willful failure to grasp reality, the NRA today called for armed guards at every school in America. It’s an attempt to set the way-back machine to the 19th century – a time when “justice” came from the end of a gun.

It simply doesn’t work in the 21st century.

Armed guards at schools won’t be able to deal with body armor-clad lunatics armed with semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines who have the element of surprise in their favor.

Arming teachers is an even worse idea. Teachers should be focused on one thing: educating our children. Untrained people with guns are more likely to add to the chaos of an attack than to end it. Of course, there’s also the question of access to guns. If the teachers keep guns readily available to use against a potential intruder, the guns are too likely to fall into the hands of inquisitive children. And if the guns are locked away in safes, they will be inaccessible when they’re needed most.

So in answer to Wayne LaPierre and the rest of his cowboy wannabes:  No, the answer to gun violence is not more guns. The only realistic answer is to diminish the paranoia that has led ordinary people to arm themselves against criminals, their neighbors, and their government. We also need to carefully limit access to those weapons that allow the criminally insane to shoot large numbers of innocent people easily and quickly without even having to stop to reload.

Who’s Really Behind Gun Violence?

Certainly the NRA and other gun rights groups deserve a lot of the blame. Over the past 30 years, they’ve evolved from organizations intended to preserve hunting and to promote gun safety into lobbyists for gun manufacturers.

But the real blame for increased violence belongs to those who have fostered paranoia. Paranoia about crime. Paranoia about minorities and immigrants. Paranoia about a potential financial crisis. Paranoia about non-Christians. Paranoia about a world catastrophe. Even paranoia about our own government.

The loudmouths on Fox News Channel and right wing radio have convinced the weak-minded that non-white, welfare-abusing “takers” are out to get them and the fruits of their labor. In their little minds, Democrats and liberals are destroying the United States. They believe that our nation is headed toward bankruptcy and socialism or worse.

The result has been a dramatic spike in sales of “tactical” weapons (aka military-style assault rifles and shotguns) and semi-automatic handguns since 2009. There has also been a six-fold increase in non-Islamic domestic terrorist groups since 2009. And we now have thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of “preppers” who are stashing food, water, weapons and ammunition in preparation for what they consider the inevitable failure of our nation.

Moreover, the vast majority of gun sales and paranoid activity has taken place in the Southern US, mostly since the election of our first black president.

Coincidence? I think not.

With Each Mass Shooting, The NRA Has More Blood On Its Hands.

The National Rifle Association is fond of saying that increased gun ownership reduces gun violence. Indeed, on the day of the Newtown tragedy, the lead story on the NRA website was headed “More Guns, Less Crime in Virginia.” The story quoted statistics from a Virginia Commonwealth professor that show gun sales in Virginia have climbed 73 percent since 2006, while the number of violent crimes involving guns have dropped by 27 percent over the same period.

Assuming those numbers are accurate, they don’t provide a true picture of gun violence in the United States. In 2007, the US ranked number one in gun ownership with 88.8 guns per hundred people. The next closest country was Serbia with 58.2 guns per hundred people. Our closest neighbor, Canada, ranked 13 with only 30.8 per hundred. And Mexico ranked 42nd with 15 guns per hundred people.

If more guns equals less gun violence as the NRA suggests, why then do we rank among the world’s leaders for gun violence, with more gun deaths than every European nation and Canada?

In the last decade approximately 270,000 people were shot and killed in the US. Moreover, according to FBI statistics, 8,583 of 12,664 murder victims in 2011 were killed by firearms.

True, gun deaths in the US have been dropping since the 1980s and 90s when crack cocaine turned our cities into virtual war zones, but the US has few peers when it comes to gun ownership or gun violence.

We have the NRA to thank for that.

Since the 1980s, the NRA has spent millions for lobbyists to liberalize gun laws. It has rewritten conceal and carry laws making it easier to carry a concealed weapon. It helped end the Clinton-era ban on assault weapons. It has mounted legal challenges to every single gun control law. It has fought background checks and gun registration. It has helped promote ever more lethal guns and ammunition. It has even pushed to legalize silencers for “hunting.”

One has to ask the question, who are the NRA members planning on hunting?

Is It Finally Time To Talk About Guns?

Every time there is a mass shooting, the National Rifle Association, Fox News Channel, right wing radio loudmouths and the GOP say, “Now is not the time to talk about gun control.” They claim that doing so would be disrespectful to the victims.

Seriously? Talking about measures to prevent more victims is disrespectful?

Given that we’ve just experienced yet another mass shooting, this time in an elementary school, I think any reasonable person will now admit that the time to talk about guns is finally here! When small children, teachers and school administrators are targeted, we must finally examine the role of guns in a civilized society.

To start the conversation, allow me to make a few observations:

1 – Outside our military, no one in the US needs a military-style assault rifle. These weapons have no purpose other than to kill people.

2 – Almost no one needs to carry a handgun. Handguns are virtually useless as a means of defense. If an attacker is armed, and has his weapon drawn, it’s already too late to draw your own weapon. Moreover, if you’re carrying a handgun, you may be all too tempted to use it; in a fit of anger; in a personal crisis; or in a moment of fear.

3 – Guns in the home are only useful for defense if they are readily accessible. However, if they are easily available for the adults who own them, they are also available to children in the home.

4 – Guns are far too easily obtained by the criminally insane. Any non-felon can walk into a gun shop and purchase as many guns and as much ammunition as he can afford. The only regulation is that the buyer pass a quick background check. Worse yet, anyone can purchase guns and ammunition at one of thousands of gun shows without any restriction at all! (40 percent of guns are purchased this way.) It’s time to change the gun show exemption.

5 – A national registry of the owners of handguns and assault weapons is not a threat to anyone’s freedom, except those intent on causing harm. There are far too many guns in the hands of US citizens for any “black-shirted anti-second amendment thugs” to take them away from us. The benefits of being able to quickly and easily track guns used in the commission of a crime far outweighs any potential inconvenience to the gun owners.

6 – Dramatically reducing the sale of handguns, assault weapons and large capacity magazines will eventually be rewarded with fewer mass shootings. It may take a while, but it will gradually take these weapons of choice out of the hands of the criminally insane.

As important as reducing the availability of weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people is the need to moderate our national paranoia. Despite claims by the far right, the UN is not going to take away our freedoms. And given our enormous military budget, we have no one to fear but ourselves.

Congratulations, Teapublicans. You won…for now.

By threatening to filibuster her nomination, Teapublican Senators John “McNasty” McCain and Lindsey Graham forced UN Ambassador Susan Rice to withdraw her name from consideration as the replacement for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But before you begin your celebration, consider this: Rice isn’t the only one to lose.

Since Rice is the person most qualified to lead US foreign policy, our entire nation loses. Moreover, since she is a woman of color, you have further damaged the Teapublican brand with the very people who cost your candidate the presidency in last month’s elections. You have proven, once again, that you are more interested in partisan politics than fairness and doing what’s best for our country.

So go ahead, Teapublicans. Keep up your bullying. Keep pushing the interests of the wealthy and multinational corporations over those of ordinary people. Keep attacking women, gays and minorities.

You may enjoy a small victory today. But you’re not going to like your party’s future.

Will GOP Lemmings Follow The Tea Party Over The Cliff?

In 2011, the Tea Party led our nation to a fiscal precipice by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to cut so-called “entitlements.” The resulting impasse led to a lowering of our credit rating and widespread uncertainty, causing consumers to curtail spending and businesses to suspend hiring.

Following that debacle and ensuing unsuccessful attempts to reach a budget deal, Congress instituted sequestration cuts beginning in January of 2013 that were intended to be so onerous that neither side would want them to take effect. With negotiations still stalled, we now face massive cuts to the defense budget and social programs unless Republicans can convince their Tea Party members to accept revenue increases (most notably, higher taxes for the wealthy) and fewer budget cuts.

They’re unlikely to be successful.

These Tea Party “Patriots” are willing to collapse the world economy in order to maintain the “purity” of their ideology. An ideology that maintains the federal government’s only purpose should be to protect our shores. They believe that everything else the government does is a waste of money and an intrusion into their personal rights.

Education? That should be left to parents and private or parochial schools. Welfare? It’s everyone for themselves. No matter the circumstances, it’s your fault if you fall on hard times. You need to take personal responsibility. Regulations? Those are just another big government intrusion; corporations and people should be free to do as they please.

These Tea Party buffoons actually believe that our citizens will do better if they don’t have to pay taxes to build schools, roads, railways, and airports. They believe that national parks should be sold to the highest bidder; that pollution is a figment of liberal imaginations; that the Federal Reserve, welfare, unemployment benefits, government pensions, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should be abolished.

They see a future so austere, that millions of government workers will be laid off without benefits. Of course, they fail to understand that such cuts will force thousands of businesses into bankruptcy and tens of thousands of workers into charity soup lines. If they were interested in facts, the Tea Party wouldn’t have to search long to see the effects of such austerity plans.  The economies of Greece, Italy and England are all struggling as the result of much less significant budget cuts. The consequences have been recessions, riots and political upheaval. But none of that matters to Tea Party Patriots. The only things they seem to care about are their absurd ideology and, of course, themselves.

So we are left wondering if President Obama and Democrats can convince John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans to ignore the austerity zealots.

Will Fox News Channel and the loudmouths on hate radio turn off the propaganda machines long enough to let sanity prevail? Or will they simply follow the Tea Party “Patriots” over the fiscal cliff like the small-minded lemmings they appear to be.

GOP Keeps Getting Crazier.

Embittered by their presidential candidate losing the election to President Obama, Teapublicans are having a snit.

They refuse to believe that they lost because of their wacko ideas. Instead, they claim that Obama won only because he promised “to give stuff away” to voters. Adding to the insanity, polls show that 25 percent of Teapublicans now want their states to secede from the Union so they won’t have to be governed by President Obama. Another 19 percent of Teapublicans say that secession would be acceptable to them.

That’s 44 percent of these so-called “patriots” who claim no allegiance to the United States of America!

Another poll shows that 49 percent of Teapublicans believe the election was stolen by ACORN…an organization that no longer exists! (In case you need a refresher, ACORN was blamed for the results of the 2008 election. In 2009, a fraudulent video was played endlessly by Fox News Channel until enough elected officials decided to withdraw funding from the organization causing it to cease operations.)

Here’s my message to these nitwits: Keep blaming everyone else for your failures – the 47 percent, the mainstream media, ACORN, the new Black Panther, minorities, immigrants, women, retirees, imagined voter fraud, misguided GOP campaign strategists, etc., etc., etc.

Keep promoting mental outpatients, such as Michele Bachmann, for president. Keep pushing the ethically challenged, such as Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich. Keep praising intolerant religious zealots such as Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. And, by all means, keep prioritizing the goals of the wealthy and large multinational corporations over the needs of working people.

If you continue to do all of these things, your party will soon end up in the dustbin of history alongside the Whigs.

Believe me, America will be better for it.

Fox News Channel’s Annual Rant About “The War On Christmas.”

Every year, Fox News Channel devotes hours to the so-called “War on Christmas.” It makes a sensational story. It panders to Christians and conservatives. It builds ratings. But it’s simply not true.

There is no such war.

Sure, as a result of the Constitution’s establishment clause, Christians are denied the right to place nativity scenes on the lawns of statehouses, county courthouses and on other public properties. Yes, public schools can no longer have Christmas pageants. Yes, governments and most mainstream media now call decorated evergreens “Holiday Trees.” But signs of Christmas are on display everywhere – at tens of thousands of Christian churches, at Christian schools, and at millions of private homes.

In fact, you could more properly decry a war on Paganism. After all, the tradition of displaying a decorated tree predates Christianity by thousands of years. It was initially a Pagan tradition. And December 25th is not the anniversary of Christ’s birth (according to many religious historians, that actually occurred in Spring). Early Christians likely changed the anniversary to coincide with the Roman Pagan celebration of Saturnalia which ended on December 25th.

All of this aside, isn’t it better that the joyful spirit of the season be non-ecumenical to include everyone, and to allow each religion to share in the holidays without feeling left out? That would be more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus than some phony attempts by a few media pundits to divide us and to create anger toward others.