Today a gun and hardware store in Nederland, Texas confirmed that their sign read, "We are now closed on Saturday Thanks Obama." A picture surfaced on facebook and at least several local Southeast Texans who recognized the store began to call for an explanation and share their conversations. Multiple sources had similar stories, they were told the economy was slow and the store could not afford to stay open on Saturday...and that it was Obama's fault.
My initial thought was that it was over Obamacare, and when I saw that they also sold guns thought could it be related to recent proposed gun legislation. But then I remembered headlines like, "Barack Obama, Gun Salesman of the Year" from Bloomberg and, "Anti-Gun Debate May Be Best Thing For Firearm Industry Since Obama's Election" from Forbes -- and it just didn't make sense.
I called the store and identified myself as a reporter. After confirming the accuracy of the photo, I was told that both my theory on Obamacare and guns were wrong and someone from management would call if they had further comment. I'm not holding my breath for that phone call and Democrats may not want to hold theirs lest their faces turn blue long before Texas does. Just this month 3 elected officials from Jefferson County have switched parties from Democrat to Republican.
That represents a shift the area has seen over the last few election cycles. In the past the area has been pro-labor and reliably Democrat but never socially progressive. Still, with a growing student population and art community it remains one of the state's of greatest potentials for adding Democratic votes with some training and outreach efforts. I know because I helped to hold the line as Executive Director of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and after I left, I saw several seats over the next couple of cycles change hands to the Republicans. I know the story and I see what grassroots groups are doing online back home to put Texas back on a path to progress.
If you want to make change, putting your money where your mouth is is always a good start. One caller told me when the employee blamed Obama for their store being closed on Saturday that she replied, "well I won't be shopping there Mon - Friday then."
If there is a single politician in Texas who holds the record for eliciting the most rumors, it has to be Governor Rick Perry. Part of it is because he is our state' longest serving governor, but part is because he also seems to revel in unpredictability. So, as far what the Governor will actually announce on Monday regarding his "exciting future plans" no one seems to know for sure, or at least those who do are certainly keeping quiet, and that only leaves one thing -- speculation.
Having grown up around the Capitol with my ear to the ground I tend to get good info early and often but some of the rumors I have heard about Perry's plans are a big stretch even for him. We know from previous statements that he is interested in running for president again, but according to what Perry has insinuated about Monday that is not likely to be a part of the announcement. In fact Perry said that if all goes well he may have another announcement "later in the year, if there's more expansive plans". It seems mostly likely that this later announcement may address his presidential (or vice-presidential?) ambitions.
If the Gov. does have later plans to run for president, that means that whatever new gig he's lined up for himself would likely be played on the national stage. Most of the rumors tend to support this idea of Perry crisscrossing the US raising money for conservative causes, if not candidates.
(Thanks to Jordan and the folks at CREDO for calling out Ted Cruz. His office has already received OVER 5000 faxes. Click the link and add to the pile! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
I was outraged when a few dozen members of the Senate managed to block an up-or-down vote on expanded background checks for gun buyers.
But then my friends at Mayors Against Illegal Guns exposed the donation records of the gun lobby to some of those senators, and it was easy to see what compelled these members of Congress to vote against the vast majority of their constituents: money.
That's why they created this powerful receipt to show how Senator Ted Cruz is bought and paid for by the NRA.
The strengthened background check bill could have saved countless lives. And over 90% of Americans, and 74% of NRA members, supported expanding background checks in this way.1
But because the NRA opposed the plan, these bought and paid for senators helped block an up-or-down vote.2
The 45 members of the Senate who voted against the vast majority of Americans on background checks have accepted over $8 million — just in contributions and independent expenditures — from the NRA and other lobbying groups that act as a front for gun manufacturers.
Putting the NRA's agenda above the will and needs of their constituents is wrong. They need to hear that from constituents like you.
The NRA is in Houston this week. I was supposed to join the Bluebonnet Brigade to protest their presence in Houston, their immoral purchase of politicians, and simply their incoherent arguments. Lo and behold the time conflicted with this show and I figured my commitment to the show must be fulfilled.
Deborah Mowery, one of the participants, will be calling into the show with updates. If she gets her pictures uploaded during the show I will post them.
The second topic I want to cover is more general. It is called America in decline. I just came back from Starbucks where I had a long discussion with a Filipino immigrant with a lot of friends in my area that made the book What's the Matter with Kansas prescient. He could not understand why his very hard work "to attain the American dream" will ultimately fail because of America's new reality.
The NRA is in Houston this weekend for their convention.
That's kind of ironic, because universal background checks for all gun sales are supported by 89 percent of Houstonians and 87 percent of Americans nationwide.
But it's not nearly as ironic as this video featuring Governor Rick Perry in which he is no way overcompensating for anything (...like his...intellect...) in this video that played before he addressed the NRA members gathered in our state.
Guns are big in Texas, but on Saturday the state will be a battleground of sorts in the nation's debate over when "well-regulated" becomes too regulated. The NRA is pumped up after their victory in Congress over background checks which their spokesman called, "an opening battle in what will be a multi-year war,". The House will spend the day dueling over firearm-related bills, while the NRA holds a national convention just hours away in Houston amid protesters.
Among the bills the House will debate are HB 47 by Dan Flynn (R-Canton). The bill reduces the minimum number of hours (from 10 to 6) of the classroom instruction portion required in the handgun proficiency course for a concealed handgun license and removes the limit on the number of instruction hours. You may have seen a preview on The Colbert Report?
The "campus carry" bill, HB 972 (Fletcher/Flynn), would reverse current law and effectively legalize guns on campus across the state by forcing student bodies and faculty to individually adopt written rules or regulations prohibiting concealed handgun license holders from carrying handguns on premises. Testimony on behalf of the bill included representatives from the Tarrant County Republican Party, Texas A&M Student Government Association, Texas state rifle association, and Texas students for concealed carry on campus. Testimony against included representatives from: Texas Gun Sense, Austin Police Department, Texas Suicide Prevention Council, and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.
HB 1349 by Larson (R-San Antonio) would prohibit the Texas Department of Public Safety from requesting or requiring a concealed handgun license applicant or holder to provide their social security number as part of application or renewal.
You can see what other firearm bills will be discussed here, or watch the floor debate live via the Texas Tribune live feed or follow the hashtag "#TxLege" on twitter.
One of the reasons discourse has been caustic, misinformed, and dangerous is because of the practice by many in the main stream media of false equivalencies.
The NRA released an ad in which they target the President by insinuating the President protects his kids with armed security while he does not want the same for the average American kid. Mayor Bloomberg's Demand a Plan initiative released a video in which children appear. The 30-second ad splices together photos of many adorable children, with a child's voiceover that says, "the NRA once supported background checks." Then: a shot of NRA CEO and executive vice president Wayne Lapierre speaking with Congress in 1999 explicitly stating that the NRA supports background checks; a position the NRA no longer support (hypocrisy?). "America can do this for us," says a child's voice, with more pictures of kids playing in the background. "Please." This is a very effective message that the NRA showing the disingenuousness of the NRA.
Today on supposedly liberal MSNBC, Thomas Roberts and the mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed had the following interchange.
MSNBC's Thomas Roberts:
As the policy debate continues, there's been a lot of debate about the use of children. This ad features children's voices yet the NRA was blasted for releasing an ad that mentioned President Obama's daughters. How do you justify the use of children's voices in this ad to score a political point?
Score a political point? Is the massacre of the children from Sandy Hook Elementary school something that should be discussed in terms of a political point? Why would Thomas give credibility to any negative discussion involving using children in an ad begging for action to protect them.
The mayor was ready.
Mayor Kasim Reed
Well Tom I think that is absolute false equivalency. Bringing the president's children who are well known and who have to be protected is fundamentally different than using the voice of a child to echo a horrible tragedy that occurred in Newtown where 20 children were lost. No one was cited as part of this ad. The only thing that occurred is that a child's voice was used to narrate testimony that is completely opposite of the current position of the other side. So to say that the ad that ran during the Super Bowl is comparable to the ad that used the president's children I just think is a case, massive case of false equivalency. They're not the same and we should not be prohibited from using the voice of children when at the end of the day they were the victims who were shot repeatedly, multiple times by that monster at Sandy Hook.
If the spokespeople of good, the spokespeople for policies that support real middle class values would all be as concise as Mayor Reed was in his response to the false equivalency game played by most in the mainstream media, Americans would be much more educated on the realities of today's politics. The massacre at Sandy Hook was horrendous. However it is a massacre that occurs daily with guns. One must not allow false equivalencies, bait and switches, and other techniques to remove focus from the real discussion, from the real societal problems.
It is imperative that going forward, those with the correct message hit back and do not allow the mainstream media that usually carry the torch for the Plutocracy at worst, or at best is so lazy that they allow the perpetrators of bad deeds to add false equivalencies into the discourse to succeed. When Wayne Lapierre gave his initial rebuttal to the massacre in Connecticut, the points he pushed were intended to seed the discourse with false equivalencies. He has been partially successful but many are starting to call it out appropriately.
There was a sham confirmation hearing for Chuck Hagel that covered topics that do not have a material effect of Americans while forgoing important topics substantively like Afghanistan and the effects of the sequester on the military and our economy.
Secretary Clinton gave us her farewell as Senator Kerry became our new secretary of state.
The Gun Control hearing was another sham as the NRA witness used imaginary occurrences to justify mass killing weapons.