Daily Archive: 10/02/2015

Oct 02 2015

They Need to Do More Than Pray

The mass shooting yesterday at a small community college in Roseberg, Oregon, took the lives of nine people and the gunman, despite the fact that there were students in nearby classrooms who were carrying guns themselves. Despite arguments by gun activists, that didn’t deter or stop the shooter until police arrived. This has become routine in the United States to the point that it should be considered an epidemic. This latest mass murder is the 994th since the mass murder of 26 students and teachers in Sandy Hook, Connecticut in December, 2012. There have been nearly 300 shooting that have taken four or more lives, the FBI criteria for a mass shooting, so far in this year alone. In the face of these horrific statistics what have our government representatives done? Nothing except pray and criticize anyone calling for better gun control laws as politicizing the lives of the victims.

It is not just mass shootings that are the problem:

While conservatives are busying trying to shutdown any debate on gun control following the 45th school shooting this year by yelling about Chicago’s murder rates – apparently unaware that Chicago is the third largest city in the country but not even in the top five cities with the highest murder rate per capita – and reflexively decrying any mention of gun control as a “gun grab,” what if we just entertained their wildest conspiracy theories for just a bit?

A 2015 study found that when guns are used to kill people in the United States, they are overwhelmingly used for murder rather than self-defense. That study found that in 2012, there were only 259 justifiable homicides, or what is commonly referred to as self-defense, compared to 8,342 criminal firearm homicides. In 2008-2012, the report says, guns were used in 42,419 criminal homicides and only 1,108 justifiable homicides.

We are told by pundits and politicians that nothing can be done because of the Second Amendment. That is pure nonsense. Laws requiring strict licensing and ban on ownership of certain weapons, such as semi-automatic assault type weapons, have been on the books in cities like New York for years and have withstood court challenges. Tightening the sale of guns at guns shows and by individuals without adequate regulation and background checks of the buyers needs to be made federal law. Requiring a person to demonstrate that they are qualified to own the weapon they are buying by showing that they have attended classes in safety and handling by a certified instructor would go a long way in curbing some of the accidental incidents as well.

The idea pushed by the NRA and gun manufacturers that better and smarter gun laws won’t make a difference is a myth. Just look what Australia did after a mass shooting that took 35 lives in 1996. They passed 12 new gun laws and regulations within days after the shooting:

The National Firearms Agreement and Buyback Program, as the package of legislation was called, prohibited the sale of shotguns as well as semiautomatic and self-loading rifles. Waiting periods and safety courses became mandatory for new gun owners and limits on the sale of ammunition were imposed.

Most importantly, perhaps, the legislation allocated $250 million for a gun buyback program, allowing for newly outlawed rifles and shotgun to be destroyed by the Australian government. Ultimately more than 640,000 firearms were either purchased by the Australian government or voluntarily handed in.

And it worked.

In the years after the Port Arthur massacre, gun-related homicides decreased 7.5 percent per year while suicide by gun dropped by a whopping 80 percent (pdf) until the the risk of dying by gunshot in Australia fell by more than 50 percent in the decade following the attacks.

It didn’t completely stop the incidents but there have only been six people killed in mass shooting since the laws were passed.

America could do the same if we demand it of our elected officials but first end Americas obsession with guns to debunk the myths of the NRA and gun nuts that guns keep us safer. They don’t.

Full disclosure: I am a licensed gun owner.

Oct 02 2015

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

Education Secretary Duncan stepping down

By Caitlin Emma , Allie Grasgreen Ciaramella, and Kimberly Hefling, Politico

10/02/15 03:58 PM EDT

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, an unwavering advocate for low-income and minority students and longtime basketball buddy to President Barack Obama, said Friday he will leave his post in December, ending a contentious tenure in which he moved aggressively to raise the academic bar in U.S. schools.

Duncan, the former Chicago schools head who is one of the last remaining original Cabinet members, has clashed with most camps in the education community since taking the post. He’s supported charter schools, encouraged the use of testing to measure teachers and schools, and championed the divisive Common Core standards. He’s also taken on the higher education establishment by pushing policies to regulate for-profit colleges and make colleges and universities more transparent.

His announcement comes as Congress is the closest it’s been in years to the long-overdue updating of the No Child Left Behind law – something that could be a crucial part of his legacy. His term might also be remembered for his embrace of Race to the Top grants that incentivized many of the controversial ideas he’s long embraced.

Just this week, Duncan said he thought the forthcoming resignation of House Speaker John Boehner would make it more difficult to get the law updated. Before Boehner’s announcement, the odds were “50/50,” Duncan said. “I can only think that our odds of having it pass now are worse, not better, which is really disappointing,” he said.

Former Duncan aide Justin Hamilton said Duncan likely knew in “his heart of hearts that Boehner was a guy who wanted the deal. … The prospects for getting anything done have gone from 50/50 to a snowball’s chance in hell.”

But otherwise, Duncan had “accomplished everything the administration set out to do and he should be proud,” Hamilton said.

“Everything the Administration set out to do.”  Indeed.  Don’t let the door hit you.

Oct 02 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Voodoo Never Dies

So Donald Trump has unveiled his tax plan. It would, it turns out, lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit.

This is in contrast to Jeb Bush’s plan, which would lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit, and Marco Rubio’s plan, which would lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit.

For what it’s worth, it looks as if Trump’s plan would make an even bigger hole in the budget than Jeb’s. Jeb justifies his plan by claiming that it would double America’s rate of growth; The Donald, ahem, trumps this by claiming that he would triple the rate of growth. But really, why sweat the details? It’s all voodoo. The interesting question is why every Republican candidate feels compelled to go down this path.

You might think that there was a defensible economic case for the obsession with cutting taxes on the rich. That is, you might think that if you’d spent the past 20 years in a cave (or a conservative think tank). Otherwise, you’d be aware that tax-cut enthusiasts have a remarkable track record: They’ve been wrong about everything, year after year.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Political Power of Takin’ it to the States

After one government shutdown and a rally cry from the GOP for another, this progressive think tank is bringing progressive policy changes back to the state level.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote in 1932 that US states should serve as “laborator[ies],” where local politicians could try “novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country”-or where, as Esquire‘s Charles Pierce skeptically puts it, “the real work of governmentin’ goes on.” [..]

Unfortunately, progressives historically have not paid enough attention to the state-level governmentin’, and, as usual, Republicans control the majority of state assembly chambers – that’s more power at the state level, in fact, than they’ve enjoyed since the 1920s. Republicans hold both the governorship and a legislative majority in 23 states, while the Democrats control both in just 7.

Gary Young: America’s gun massacre blues seem to play on an endless loop

Within the American polity there is a cyclical requiem in the wake of each mass shooting – a predictable collective lament for a calamity that ostensibly everyone regrets and nobody can resolve. Profiles of the victims emerge as reporters opine in front of police tape, wringing every last detail from tear-stained survivors. Gradually facts about the shooter emerge, followed by endless speculation about his (they are almost always men) motives before the president calls for prayer and healing.

Everybody knows their lines. With 45 mass shootings already this year they have rehearsed them often enough. Indeed, the tragedy lies not only in the trauma of the victims but in the apparent helplessness of the political class and the hopelessness that the deathly cycle might be broken. [..]

To the outside world the solution seems straightforward: less guns, more gun control. With roughly 90 guns for every 100 inhabitants, America has far more guns per capita than any other nation and fewer controls on how many guns you can buy, how you buy them, who can own them. Nowhere else in the world has this kind of problem on this kind of scale. This is one example of American exceptionalism few are keen to emulate.

Sen. Barbara Boxer: A GOP Pattern of Vicious Attacks on Planned Parenthood

Almost 100 years after the founder of Planned Parenthood was arrested for distributing birth control information, Republicans are attacking the group in an unprecedented fashion.

This week, the GOP members of a congressional committee subjected Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, to more than five hours of outrageous accusations — repeatedly interrupting her, grilling her on her salary, disrespecting her and making very clear that their true intent is to turn back the clock on women’s rights and women’s health.

Those Republicans did prove one thing: they are clueless about women’s health.

Republican after Republican badgered Richards about the lack of mammography equipment at Planned Parenthood clinics, even though that is the norm.

Antony Loewenstein: Disaster capitalism is everywhere

A plethora of private companies are profiting from natural or man-made crises – abroad and at home

When an earthquake struck Nepal in April, thousands of locals died in the carnage. But many foreigners had far more luck as members of Global Rescue, a company committed to rescuing its clients from dangerous environments. “Why shouldn’t we be able to hire private armies to ensure our safe return home from vacation?” posed a recent article in Wired, headlined “The tricky ethics of the lucrative disaster rescue business.”

Global Rescue is booming, opening offices in Pakistan, Thailand and beyond. There’s nothing illegal about its operations, and its mandate makes a certain amount of sense: Anybody in the middle of a natural disaster would want to be helped immediately. But the corporation’s interests aren’t humanitarian – they’re profit-driven, with an annual membership costing approximately $700. In Nepal, limited numbers of helicopters were fought over to transport injured foreigners, while the vast majority of Nepalese had no choice but to wait for help from overwhelmed relief services. “It’s beyond our scope” to assist those locals trapped on snowy mountains, said Drew Pache, a Global Rescue employee and former U.S. special forces operative.

Ari Berman: Alabama, Birthplace of the Voting Rights Act, Is Once Again Gutting Voting Rights

It was Alabama that brought the country the Voting Rights Act (VRA) because of its brutality against black citizens in places like Selma. “The Voting Rights Act is Alabama’s gift to our country,” the civil-rights lawyer Debo Adegbile once said.

And it was a county in Alabama-Shelby County-that brought the 2013 challenge that gutted the VRA. As a result of that ruling, those states with the worst histories of voting discrimination, including Alabama, no longer have to approve their voting changes with the federal government.

After the Shelby County decision, Alabama’s strict voter ID law, passed by the GOP legislature in 2011, was allowed to go into effect without federal approval. And now Alabama is making it much tougher to obtain the government-issued ID required to vote by closing 31 DMV locations in the state, many in majority-black counties.

Oct 02 2015

Real Fake News

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

The Onion NEWS IN BRIEF, October 1, 2015, Vol 51 Issue 39    News · Guns · Violence

ROSEBURG, OR-In the hours following a violent rampage in southwestern Oregon in which a lone attacker killed 10 individuals and seriously injured seven others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Thursday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.

“This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Ohio resident Lindsay Bennett, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.”

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the  world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past six years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

Oct 02 2015

The Breakfast Club (If I Could)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Mohandes Gandhi born; President Woodrow Wilson suffers stroke; Thurgood Marshall sworn in as US Supreme Court justice; Rock Hudson dies; Peanuts comic strip debut.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

Mahatma Gandhi

Oct 02 2015

On This Day In History October 2

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 2 is the 275th day of the year (276th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 90 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, “The Twilight Zone” premiered on CBS television.

The Twilight Zone is an American anthology television series created by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. The series consisted of unrelated episodes depicting paranormal, futuristic, dystopian, or simply disturbing events; each show typically featured a surprising plot twist and was usually brought to closure with some sort of message. The series was also notable for featuring both established stars (e.g. Cliff Robertson, Ann Blyth, Jack Klugman) and younger actors who would later became famous (e.g. Robert Redford, William Shatner, Mariette Hartley, Shelley Fabares). Rod Serling served as executive producer and head writer; he wrote or co-wrote 92 of the show’s 156 episodes. He was also the show’s host, delivering on- or off-screen monologues at the beginning and end of each episode. During the first season, except for the season’s final episode, Serling’s narrations were off-camera voiceovers; he only appeared on-camera at the end of each show to promote the next episode (footage that was removed from syndicated versions but restored for DVD release, although some of these promotions exist today only in audio format).

The “twilight zone” itself is not presented as being a tangible plane, but rather a metaphor for the strange circumstances befalling the protagonists. Serling’s opening and closing narrations usually summarized the episode’s events in tones ranging from cryptic to pithy to eloquent to unsympathetic, encapsulating how and why the main character(s) had “entered the Twilight Zone”.

Oct 02 2015

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Sell-Outs and Liars)

Oliver and Colbert have the practiced improviser’s combination of spontaneity, empathy, and perfect timing. It’s probably not fair to Noah to compared him to these two, or their absolute mastery when they’re together: Noah is young and still adjusting to a hosting role very different from his previous efforts as a stand-up comedian.

There was a telling moment near the end, though, where Oliver and Colbert were praising Noah’s maiden voyage. “He’s taking on the impossible,” Oliver said. “You can’t replace the irreplaceable.” Colbert came back with, “I wouldn’t know what that’s like.”

This was, of course, supposed to be a knowing reference to Colbert stepping into David Letterman’s shoes. But as titanic and influential a figure as Letterman proved to be, it’s difficult to imagine a lot of people pining for him the way Jon Stewart fans are still watching “The Daily Show” and waiting for the old bitter spark. Whether they’ll get it – or something satisfying in its own way – is impossible to say at this point. But it became very clear last night that whatever else is going on in the world of late night these days, two of Stewart’s old alums are playing at the very top of their game.

The New Kid

Sensitivity Training

Web exclusive.


Overstuffed Sack of Pus

Trevor’s guest tonight is Ryan Adams.

The New Continuity

L-Dub’s Mindplosions

Tonightly we will be talking about Kim Davis again with panelists Jordan Carlos, Lisa Ling, and Eddie Huang.

The Dancing Man


You can skip Evan.

Hard to believe I ever voted for John Kerry because I hate self-righteous neo-liberal hypocrites now.  I was young and naive and thought any Democrat would be better than W.  I’m older and wiser now.

Stephen’s other guests are Claire Danes, and PewDiePie.

This week’s guests-

Oct 02 2015

Transitions, Transitions

The Big News

As of October 15th our host and the provider of our site software, warecorp, will stop support for our platform, the developed variant of the Perl based Daily Kos 3.0 in Java originally called jscoop by it’s author, pacified, and now known as Soapblox.

Yup.  I am really, really old- 49281, well over 10 years now.  DocuDharma just passed the 8 year mark and was one of the early adopters of Soapblox and there are over 39349 essays, as well as 371167 comments.  Our other site, The Stars Hollow Gazette, started July 4th, 2010 and is 5+ years old and has 13318 diaries and 60718 comments.  TMC and I founded The Stars Hollow Gazette and we have been in sole control of DocuDharma since January 2011 (oh, and I was also a founder of that).

What Does This Mean?

I’m not here to brag, I do that on our anniversaries, I am preparing you for the crisis which we will hopefully make as little fraught as possible.

Warecorp has transitioned the sites to Wordpress, a totally different piece of software, and they have done the best job they could to make it look and feel like our good old Soapblox.  They have also put us in touch with a firm that specializes in customizing Wordpress sites.  I have been studying (online with a Tech Dirt discount) Wordpress, but it has been hard to relate without knowing what warecorp has already done for us.

The bottom line is that we’ll continue on as if nothing is going to change until it does and then we will present what we have at that time.

What Will Change?

It’s difficult to say at the moment.  Our transition sites just went live and we haven’t had time to evaluate them.  One thing we’ve talked about is using Disqus to drive our commenting system.  It’s not peeder Ajax but maybe it’s good enough.

There are things I’d like to do to freshen the sites but they may not be possible.  In any event they’ll be rolled out gradually when things are stable because, as a computer professional, I know you have to limit your variables.  We will always seek to achieve Daily Kos 3.x functionality because to my mind that was the easiest and best blogging system in the world.

Your Stuff

The thing to understand about blogs is that they’re basically an SQL (Structured Query Language) database and the front end, the user interface, is fundamentally a report or a data entry form.

If you have been a contributor of content or comments I totally understand your justifiable concern they might disappear.  Warecorp is providing us with archives of the underlying SQL databases which contain everything you’ve written.

These are the links to download that-

Independent of migration to WordPress Platform we’re sending you full archive of blog database as well as all uploaded files.

Here are downloadable links:

Files are updated daily at midnight CST and will be available at least month after we stop Soapblox hosting.

The Big Wind Up

We are all about continuity and persistence, we’ll work on this until we get it right.  We ask for your indulgence until that happens and will update you as events warrant.