(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.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' new organization calling for sensible gun policies will have strong ties to Texas. Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, formed Americans for Responsible Solutions on the two-year anniversary of the shooting in Tucson that wounded her and killed six. Giffords named Texas attorney Steve Mostyn treasurer of the Super PAC, which has a goal of raising $20 million by the 2014 elections. Mostyn has already contributed $1 million towards the goal.
Mostyn told Politico that he met Kelly when the former astronaut was based in Houston, and that they reconnected after the horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Americans for Responsible Solutions is planning to go toe-to-toe with the NRA in campaign spending in the 2014 cycle. The group will also advocate for universal background checks and a close of the gun show loophole, as well as a pan on high-capacity magazines.
Giffords and Kelly announced the group in a pointed op-ed in USA Today that's worth a read. They write:
Special interests purporting to represent gun owners but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission. Rather than working to find the balance between our rights and the regulation of a dangerous product, these groups have cast simple protections for our communities as existential threats to individual liberties. Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction.
As a result, we are more vulnerable to gun violence. Weapons designed for the battlefield have a home in our streets. Criminals and the mentally ill can easily purchase guns by avoiding background checks. Firearm accessories designed for killing at a high rate are legal and widely available. And gun owners are less responsible for the misuse of their weapons than they are for their automobiles.
Mostyn's a great choice for treasurer, since he's not only a prominent donor, but also a gun owner who can speak credibly on the need for sensible reforms that won't impede hunting and rifle sports. As Mostyn told Politico, "I'm a gun-owner, but I'm also a father of a five-year-old who I take to school everyday. We aren't anti-gun, but we also aren't anti-common sense."
There's definitely a need for a broad range of organizations calling for measures to prevent gun violence. It's great to see one of Texas's most prominent donors step up and lead the most significant of these efforts to emerge in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.
Rachel Maddow added some reality based journalism to the discourse yesterday. In her segment, she successfully debunked the fallacy of the true electoral clout of the NRA.
Make no mistake; the political clout of the NRA is immense. They control many politicians and continue to instill the fear in them by using the inexhaustible supply of funds they have access to.
What Ms. Maddow was able to do, is dispel the notion that the political clout of the NRA is based on their electoral prowess. This prowess is not based on the numbers. It is simply not based on facts. They are however powerful because of something every middle class American should become aware of. Just like corporations have preferred stock and common stock, there are preferred voters and then the rest.
Every politician on Capitol Hill knows the facts. This is only news to the lay person. It should be no surprise however. Did Americans not re-elect President Obama on the premise that tax rates would be increased for the 2% that benefitted the most from the 30 year pilfer of the middle class? Yet, the Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to acquiesce even as they lost the popular vote (they held on to the House because of gerrymandering not because of popular consent).
Inasmuch as all of Rachel's numbers are correct and the NRA is really not as powerful as the media would have one believe, Americans must be educated on the realities and not politically driven journalism. That is the only way the middle class and poor can realistically join the governance of this country.