Friday, December 28, 2012

#MaSen redux

by BlueberryT


From 1985-2009, Massachusetts was blessed to have two “liberal lions” of the Senate representing us, and we saw no turnover in our Senate seats.  MA voters first elected Ted Kennedy to the Senate in a special election for his brother Jack’s former seat in 1962. Ted was not old enough to be appointed Senator when Jack was elected President in 1960, so the Kennedy family made a deal with the Governor, who appointed Jack’s former Harvard roommate, Ben Smith, to fill the seat until Ted was old enough.  Ted defeated Republican George Cabot Lodge in 1962, ran again in 1964 for a full term and was reelected 7 times, becoming one of the longest-serving Senators in United States history; he served for 47 years until his death while in office in August 2009.  The seat had been held continuously by Democrats since JFK first won it in 1953. 

The other Mass Senate seat was held continuously by Republicans Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1937-44), Sinclair Weeks (1944-45), Leverett Saltonstall (1945-1967) and Edward Brooke (1967-1979; the first African-American Senator since Reconstruction) - in total, it was in Republican hands for 42 consecutive years, including much of the terms of Democratic Presidents FDR, Truman, local son JFK and LBJ.  I want to stress that the politics that these Republicans practiced bore little or no resemblance to the GOP politics today.  

Paul Tsongas, a former Peace Corps volunteer and strong progressive, finally captured the seat for the Democrats from Brooke in the post-Watergate 1978 election.  Tsongas would easily have won reelection in 1984, but he was battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the time and had to retire from the Senate.  (Tsongas’ widow, Niki, is now a Congresswoman.)  So it was that in 1984, Mike Dukakis's Lt. Governor, John Kerry, ran for and won the Senate seat that he has held ever since - for almost 28 years.  A newly interesting footnote to the 1984 Senate race is that Congressman Ed Markey ran in the Senate primary that year, but withdrew before the nomination.   

(Another interesting historical footnote is that both Kennedys and their brother Bobby, along with Mike Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry and Mitt Romney all ran for President, but only Jack Kennedy won; Lodge ran for VP on Richard Nixon's 1960 ticket and lost.  Something about Massachusetts politicians and national office...) 

Twenty years later, when John Kerry ran for President in 2004, Mitt Romney was Governor.  At the time, the heavily-Democratic state legislature was concerned that Republican Governor Romney would appoint the Senator to finish his term if Kerry were elected President, so they changed state law to leave the seat vacant until a special election could be held to fill the seat for the remainder of the 6-year term.

This change in the law backfired big time, then and now.  Kerry lost, so the change in law proved unnecessary in the first place.  Then, with Ted Kennedy’s terminal illness in 2009, they changed the law again, but instead of reverting to a gubernatorial appointment, they gave the (now-Democratic) governor the power to appoint a replacement to serve for a few months, pending the results of a special election. Note we are now up to two law changes and the result is an interim appointment and  special election.  Of course, they thought the Democratic candidate would be a shoo-in.

This special election took place right after the holidays in 2010, following a tough Democratic primary in which Attorney General Martha Coakley had to spend a lot of time and money to win the nomination in a crowded field.  Thus, during the holidays, she had to focus on fundraising, and few people were paying attention to the fact that little-known then-state Senator Scott Brown was raking in money from outside interests (Koch Brothers, NRA, etc.).  Many Dems, myself included, felt that “Ted Kennedy’s seat” was secure, and we didn’t realize the changing dynamics until after the holidays, when it was too late.  Scott Brown ran and won, reclaiming the seat from the Kennedys/Democrats and becoming “#41” - the vote that allowed Republicans to break the Democratic super-majority and fililbuster.  They have used this tool with a vengeance

So, now where are we?  In 2012, we saw progressive Elizabeth Warren challenge Senator Brown in a very tough battle.  This was one of the most highly contested Senate races in the country, costing more than $68 million.  (I wrote about this race here  and here.)  

Many of us breathed a huge sigh of relief when Elizabeth Warren won, becoming Massachusetts' first woman Senator-elect.  Remarkably, Brown lost even though he held a 57% positive approval rating on election eve.

Now, I know this is a bit petty of me, but I am a bit bummed about Senator Kerry’s appointment as Secretary of State, not because he isn’t the right guy – he is! – but because it means we have to hold another friggin’ #masen election so soon. Apparently the legislature doesn’t have any inclination to change the law back to what it was in the first place.  PolitiFact rated the Massachusetts legislature’s actions as a “flip-flop.” I would just call it a colossal FLOP. 

To give Kerry his due:  he is highly qualified, having served for many years on, and for the past four years as Chairman of, the Foreign Relations Committee.  Those old enough will remember that he first rose to prominence when he testified before this very committee, when he was a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.  This is when he asked his famous question, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”  (The entire testimony is worth re-reading; it is gripping.)

He is of course well-known throughout the country, having been the Democratic nominee for President in 2004.  Thus he has been extensively vetted, as well as subjected to the outrageous “Swift Boat” smear campaign that impugned his Vietnam War service.  His personal and family background, including experience living overseas, also helped prepare him for the job.  His wife, Teresa, provides an even greater international perspective, as she is from Mozambique and has family roots in Portugal, England, Switzerland, Italy, France and Egypt; she also worked as a UN translator prior to her marriage to Senator John Heinz. 

Kerry has signaled his intent to include global warming in the scope of his work as Secretary, which is much needed.  Kerry has strong environmental credentials, second only to Al Gore among recent Presidential contenders, and that bodes well for bringing greater urgency and attention to global warming.  Given how this issue is so closely inter-related to energy policy, I hope that we will see somewhat more progressive policies going forward. 

Kerry has also been very loyal to President Obama.  He fully deserves this honor, and his confirmation is a sure thing, especially after Republicans successfully maneuvered to scuttle the nomination of Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.  That maneuver was ugly enough, but knowing that it was a ploy to allow for Kerry’s seat to open up for a potential comeback by Scott Brown is particularly galling.

But we in Massachusetts will just have to suck it up, because the Massachusetts legislature has “no taste” for changing the Senate succession law again; apparently, they think it might make them look craven (cough, cough) to change the law a third time (back to where it started). So, after two Senate races in the last 3 years, it looks like we will have another special election this year, and then another election for a full-term in 2014.  That is four Senate races in less than 5 years.  Oh, joy.  Thank you, Massachusetts General Court (aka state legislature).  

If Scott Brown runs – and he openly promoted Kerry’s SOS nomination and even in his farewell speech in the Senate signaled that he might be back - he will probably begin as the presumptive favorite.   He still enjoys a majority approval rating.  He would also have the advantage of not running amidst a national election with a charismatic Presidential candidate drawing people to the polls.  He lost this fall because his opponent is such an inspiring progressive voice that she brought a lot of excitement and money into the race, although, as I wrote here, he did himself no favors.  His support for Antonin Scalia as a “model” Supreme Court Justice will likely continue to haunt him.  The same generic argument that Warren used successfully against him – that he would enable further Republican obstructionism – is still perfectly valid, and I’m sure we’ll hear it again.  It's true.

There are a few other Republicans whose names have surfaced, if Brown decides not to run - former Governor William Weld, former state senator and 2010 Lt. Governor candidate Richard Tisei among them.  They would be real long-shots, in my opinion. 

Why wouldn’t Brown run?  Well, he just lost a very tough race, and this race is another temporary position, meaning he would have to run again in 2014.  So, it would put him in the position of running four times in 5 years to win a permanent Senate seat.  His record is 1 and 1 - he might lose again.  If he did, it would really damage him politically, more than the recent loss to Warren did.  Maybe running for Governor in 2014 is more appealing, especially since Mass voters have elected Republican governors often over the past two decades. 

But, if I had to bet today, I would say he’ll run for the Senate seat. 

If so, who will run against him?  I sincerely hope that the Democrats will avoid a protracted and costly primary battle, which helped to undo Martha Coakley’s candidacy.  (Here is an interesting article on that campaign, including some good insights about the candidates.)  Fortunately, a few of the potential candidates are beginning to take themselves out of the running.  We now know that Ted Kennedy Jr. and Ben Affleck – both with instant name recognition – will not run.  Martha Coakley, the state Attorney General who ran against Brown in the 2010 special election, has ruled out a run.  It sounds like Barney Frank won’t run, (“I’m tired”), although he might accept the interim appointment. Vicki Kennedy, Governor Patrick, former Governor Dukakis and others have also been mentioned as possible candidates, but all have disavowed interest in the position.

Who else might run?  Here are a few potential candidates, in no particular order:

Rachel Maddow  – She needs little introduction among our readers!  Maddow is the well-known host of her own program on MSNBC, a very progressive self-described “national security liberal” who holds an undergrad degree in Public Policy from Stanford and doctorate in Politics from Oxford University.  She is also the author of a well-regarded book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power which tackles questions about how America goes to war in the 21st Century.  Interestingly, Scott Brown previously claimed in fundraising appeals that she was likely to run against him in 2012; Maddow said she was not running and demanded that he retract his statement and apologize for using her as a fundraising ploy.  Building on excitement over Tammy Baldwin’s election as the first openly lesbian Senator and Warren as Massachusetts’ first woman Senator, Maddow would provide instant appeal to the gay community and women.  She is not without her detractors and attackers, of course, but she is by far the most media-savvy of the potential candidates, an expert debater, and would be one of the few people with the name recognition and support base who could mount a successful race against Scott Brown, IMO.  I think it's unlikely she will run, but OTOH, she’d be great.

Ed MarkeyCongressman, Mass 7th District; the “Dean” of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, having served since 1976.  Markey is a very smart, very solid progressive, strong on energy policy, also knowledgeable about telecommunications, internet privacy, the pharmaceutical industry and many key issues.  He is also strong on environmental issues and has repeatedly challenged "big oil." I take some small pride in having written to him several times (when he was my Congressman, early in his career) about nuclear power, because he subsequently became one of the most outspoken critics of the nuclear industry.  He declined to run for Senate in 2009, at which time he was the Chairman of a key House committee; however, with the GOP’s House majority seemingly set for years, there is some speculation that he may consider a run.  He is very popular in his District, and relatively well-known statewide.  He would be a great Senator, IMO. 
BREAKING NEWS (THURSDAY NIGHT): Congressman Markey has announced that he will run for Senator Kerry's seat.  More here and his new campaign website is here.  This HuffPo article has the text of his statement announcing the run.  If the Dems unite around Markey quickly, it would make sense for Governor Patrick to appoint him as the interim Senator; this would open up his House seat, of course.  Here is WaPo on this story.
BREAKING NEWS (FRIDAY):  Senator Kerry, along with Vicki Kennedy and the DSCC, have come out in support of Ed Markey as the Democratic candidate for Senate.  

Mike Capuano – Congressman, MA 8th District.  This is the same district once represented by Jack Kennedy, Tip O’Neill and Bobby Kennedy’s son, Joe Kennedy II.  Capuano is the former mayor of Somerville, MA, part of the Boston metropolitan area.  He is a strong progressive with solid credentials in the House, and has the reputation as a scrappy fighter, but in all honesty, I don’t think he has the statewide profile needed to win against Brown (if indeed that is his opponent).  He ran for the Senate seat in the primary against Coakley, but lost.  Thursday night: I doubt he will run, now that Markey has announced.  

Setti Warren –  Mayor of Newton, MA (an affluent suburb of Boston which is largely white; Warren, who is African-American, grew up there) and, jokingly, Elizabeth Warren’s “cousin.”  Setti Warren is a rising star in the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and served in several roles in Bill Clinton’s White House and John Kerry’s campaign and staff.  He was also the New England regional director of FEMA and is a veteran who served in Iraq.  He ran in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat but dropped out early (in September 2011), once the idea of an Elizabeth Warren campaign began to gain momentum.  He later worked on Warren’s campaign and is taking on new leadership roles and speaking out as part of the coalition of Mayors Against Gun Violence.  He seems like a really bright and personable guy, and an up-and-comer.  Still, his candidacy would be a long-shot, and he would not want to lose a bid for the same position twice.  

Benjamin Downing – Downing has expressed interest in the seat.  He is a young, well-liked state senator from Western Massachusetts who previously worked for Congressmen Delahunt, Neal and Olver.  As I understand it, he is a guy who wears a barn jacket and drives a pickup truck in real life, and might peel away some of Brown’s male supporters.  OTOH, he would be a real long shot.  While he is popular in his part of the state, he is an unknown elsewhere and Western Mass has a lot less people than the eastern half of the state.

I sincerely hope that some others mentioned as possible candidates, like Congressman Stephen Lynch or former AG Scott Harshbarger, will decline to run, as in my opinion they would not stand a chance.  I feel the same way about Alan Khazei, the former head of City Year and CEO of Be the Change, who is a good guy but who ran in the primary unsuccessfully twice; the same goes for Marisa deFranco, who ran a spirited campaign against Elizabeth Warren in the primary, but got crushed.  

I personally believe that the candidate needs to already have a strong "identity" and name recognition with the electorate.  There is simply not time to establish that from scratch.  Of course, Scott Brown did not have that when he ran in 2009-10, so I could be proven wrong – if the right mix of circumstances came together.  The Governor could make a big difference with a strategic interim appointment.  Whatever happens, if the legislature will not address the idiocy and expense of having 4 Senate elections in 5 years, I hope the Dems will be "in it to win it," as we were with the Warren campaign.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, everybody!

By Patrick

It is Christmas again. Not a white Christmas for us this time, but it is a very special time, as always. We reflect on the last 12 months, take a deep breath for 2013 and try to enjoy ourselves, surrounded by friends and family. This year, it is impossible not to think particularly about those little children and others who lost their life in such a cruel way just before Christmas, and about their relatives.

I have chosen a few video clips to present to you this Christmas. I do hope that you will enjoy them. Politicalgates is a great community of readers and contributors, and we are very much looking to 2013. We will continue our fight for sanity and progress next year. Kathleen and I wish you all a wonderful and happy Christmas!

Talking about Christmas: The "Scottsdale Gun Club" proved in 2011 that something is seriously wrong with some people in America. Never did this kind of thoughtless "gun worshipping" feel more inappropriate. It is a painful stab in the heart of everyone who suffered from a shooting. I hope that these people feel very embarrassed now. Click on picture to enlarge:

Here are the videos I would like to present to you this year:

A reader from Alaska sent us the link to the following sweet video - Christmas at the outer edge of America, in Shaktoolik, Alaska, population 250. That is what we want to see at Christmas - happy, sweet, smiling children:

"26 Angels" - a very moving song about Sandy Hook:

Haha, Kathleen will hate this - but you just have to love Mr Bean! :-)

J. Rutter, Christmas Lullaby, performed by Cologne Cathedral Choirs:

Excerpt from Johann Sebasian Bach - Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 - with English subtitles:


This is great - Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus:

FINALLY - you might know by now that Kathleen and I are big fans of Rufus Wainwright, and he did some fantastic pieces for Christmas. Here is one of them - "Spotlight on Christmas":

 Have a peaceful and happy Christmas, everybody!



Scenes from our Christmas Eve - with real candles on the tree. In our family, we always eat meat fondue on Christmas Eve, with lots of home-made sauces. Click on pictures to enlarge:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

America Held Hostage by the Gun Lobby

by Sunnyjane

Can we truly say that, as a nation, we are meeting our obligations [to our children]?  The answer is “no.”   
President Barack Obama, December 16, 2012, Newtown, Connecticut

Visions of Sugarplums Shattered Forever

The world did a very convincing imitation of coming to an end on Friday, December 14, when in under ten minutes, twenty first-grade children and six adults were methodically gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The shooter had earlier killed his mother at their home, and he killed himself in the classroom.

The weapon of choice on that horrific morning was a legally purchased Bushmaster .223 Remington SuperLight Carbine Semiautomatic Rifle. Police also found that the shooter had two handguns, a Glock and a Sig Sauer, and numerous rounds of ammunition.

There are Santa Claus surprises hidden away in Newtown basements, attics, and garages that will never take their rightful place under the family Christmas tree.  Packages wrapped in papers depicting Santas, snowmen, or angles, with carefully printed Chase...Olivia...James...Madeline... gift tags attached will never be joyfully opened in the just-dawning hours of December 25, 2012.  
The Enablers: The Supreme Court, the NRA, and the Congress

The Battle for the Ban on Assault Weapons is Joined

In the last thirty years there have been sixty-seven mass murders committed in the U.S.  Of the 147 weapons used in these atrocities, over seventy percent were semi-automatic weapons, including 67 handguns and 35 rifles.  Most were obtained legally. 

After a ten-year ban on semi-automatic weapons was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, there was a decided drop in gun fatalities and 45% fewer assault weapons were found at crime scenes.  When the ban expired in 2004 -- an election year, unfortunately -- chicken-hearted Democrats were reluctant to press for an extension.  Even though President George W. Bush half-hardheartedly said he would sign it if it arrived on his desk, Republicans pretty much ignored the whole thing.  Tom DeLay, then-House Majority Leader, called it feel-good legislation and refused to bring it before the House for a vote.  [In January 2011, DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison for a scheme to influence elections during 2003; he is still free pending appeals.]

As Business Insider recently reported, Since then, killers have used semiautomatics to target victims en masse at Virginia Tech; the Fort Hood military base; an Aurora, Colo. movie theater; a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; and now an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The country must demand life-saving, commonsense legislation that would again ban semi-automatic weapons and the high-capacity magazines that feed them. 

It will not be bloodless battle.

The Far-Right Pushes Back -- Ad Nauseam

Barely had the last shot been fired at Sandy Hook Elementary School when the far-right crawled out from under their moss-covered boulders and began opining obnoxiously as to why this tragedy took place and how it could have been avoided.  You could easily take your regularly prescribed medications by the timing of these people.

The Dodge City Defense: In another blame-the-victims rant, Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas, who obviously has not had his rabies booster shot this year, howled that the only way to prevent mass murder is for more people to carry guns:  Christ, I wish to God she [the principal at Sandy Hook] had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out ... and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.  This is so bogus an argument that it hardly bears discussing.  Like the argument that concealed weapon carriers can prevent violence, it's a Hollywood-made fantasy.  An excellent video on this topic was produced by ABC News titled, Proof that Concealed Carry permit holders live in a dream world.  It effectively destroys the notion that even people with extensive gun training can react sufficiently in a sudden gun situation.  Most of the "concealed weapon holders" are "killed" during the scenarios set up in the film.  [H/T to Kathleen's Facebook friend, Marie.] 

The wrongheaded idea that Everybody outta be packing heat, Sheriff mentality of the Old West is so dangerous that, were it not so serious, it would be outright laughable.  It would be a good idea if Mr. Gohmert and all his gun-totting buddies took part in a similar hands-on exercise and see how many of them could "survive."

The Christianista Cant:  Loud-mouthed Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association's watchdog of all things spew-worthy, let us know that  God did not protect the  Connecticut shooting victims because schools have banned prayers. The always-sensitive Victoria Jackson took great pleasure in quoting her dear friend Jim Riley: Wasn't the Connecticut killer just doing what abortionists do every day? It's a wonder we don't have more 20 year old "dads" doing what women and doctors have been an accomplice to for years in America. When you forget the TEN COMMANDMENTS, people, THIS is what you get."   And, if you're up for it, dear readers, a pastor in Tennessee bleated to his congregation that all mass shootings occur because of government “mind-control centers” that teach “junk about evolution” and “how to be a homo.” Pastor Morris also takes a firm stance against “governmental schools."

You will note that there is not one mention of access to guns in all these ridiculous far-right rants.

The Perils of Sidewalk Psychiatry and Dime-store Diagnoses

Speaking out on why Adam Lanza took the lives of twenty-seven people in the waning days of 2012 is a slippery slope.  We simply don't know and are not qualified to diagnose the actions that brought on such behavior.  Even qualified members of the mental health profession cannot say, because it takes long hours of clinical interaction with a patient to evaluate their mental and emotional health.

Speculating from the street corner is also counterproductive to the issue of gun control.  This is a theme the NRA is just salivating to have introduced during the gun-control discussions because it breathes life into their guns-don't-kill-people-only-people-kill-people mantra.  Shortly after the shootings, on-site media began to report that Adam Lanza had everything from autism, Asperger's syndrome, ADD, ADHD, etc.  

In addition to these diagnoses, we're hearing from an unnamed uncle that Lanza was taking an anti-psychotic medication, and from a plumber who says the twenty-year-old shooter played a violent video game for hours at a time.

While there is no doubt that Adam Lanza had mental or emotional issues, he had access to guns!  That is the bottom line, and that fact should not be allowed to become buried by the gun enthusiasts, Second Amendment groups, gun lobbyists, and politicians who benefit from the largess of the National Rampage Association.  

An Important Lesson From Australia NOT Learned

In June 2012, this post on the massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia, was published on Politicalgates.  In it I wrote:

One of the visitors this day calmly ate his lunch, then took an AR15 semi-automatic assault rifle from his sports bag and, with deadly precision, began indiscriminately shooting men, women, and children. Before the bloodbath ended, thirty-five people in Port Arthur were dead and twenty-one were wounded.  At the time, it was the deadliest mass murder in modern history perpetrated by a lone gunman.

This is the same type of weapon used at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 

Please retweet: America was warned about mass murderers with semiautomatic weapons:


We can make a difference.  Ask all Americans to put a candle in their windows on New Year's Eve to signify our hope -- and our expectation -- for a life-saving gun ban in 2013.  

The time is NOW.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A web-wide moment of silence for the Victims of Sandy Hook

By Kathleen

FRIDAY 9.30 am EST - Politicalgates is observing a National Moment of Silence for the Victims of the Sandy Hook Tragedy

Please do not comment on this post or any other post at Politicalgates between 9.30 am EST and 9.35 am EST but instead spare a moment of thought for the needless loss of lives last Friday. 

Also, please keep the issue of assault gun control ALIVE - do not allow it to die out over the holiday period. We here at Politicalgates are dedicated to keeping this issue at the forefront of our posts during the coming months.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More guns are not the answer: Thirteen people killed in shooting at military base in Fort Hood - when trained and armed bystanders were present! Read the witness report, learn about the confusion, the danger, the fear

By Patrick

The Sandy Hook shooting shocked America deeply, and solutions are needed. Gun control is complicated, and sometimes very unpopular. So why not choose an easy solution? Which could be: More guns. Virtually anyone has a gun, and everything will be fine. The "bad guys" will be killed instantly, surely.

A GOP-lawmaker from Texas called Louie Gohmert thinks that this would have solved the problem at Sandy Hook - from Business Insider:

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, said Sunday that he wished Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, had been armed on Friday with an M-4 assault rifle to counter Adam Lanza, the alleged shooter who killed 20 children and seven other adults.

"I wish to God she had an M-4 in her office locked up — so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands," Gohmert said on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace.

"But she takes him out, takes his head off, before he can kill those precious kids." Gohmert was one of the only pro-gun rights senators to agree to appear on a Sunday talk show. All 31 pro-gun rights senators declined to appear on "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Gohmert urged an "open dialogue about the situation." It's a different approach than lawmakers from President Barack Obama to Democratic Congresspeople, who are advocating stricter gun laws.

According to reports, Hochsprung was killed when she confronted Adam Lanza, the alleged killer.

"Every mass killing of more than three people in recent history has been in a place where guns were prohibited," Gohmert said."... They choose this place. They know no one will be armed."

Give school principals a M4 machine gun for self-defence?

Therefore it is very easy, isn't it? If the principal had had a gun, she would have shot the assassin, she would have "taken him out" and "taken his head off", the children would have been saved, and they all could have gone home for tea and medals. Right?

Well...if it only were that easy!

Our reader KatieAnnieOakley today in the comments drew the attention to the devastating Fort Hood shooting with the following graphic (click to enlarge):

At Wikipedia, we find a good description of this horrible incident: On November 5, 2009, the Islamist Nidal Malik Hasan, an US Army Major and psychiatrist, starting firing with a very advanced and effective semi-automatic pistol, carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Within the time-frame of ten minutes, he killed thirteen people and injured twenty-nine more with his pistol - not in a cinema, not in a public place, but right on the Fort Hood military base, the "most populous U.S. military installation in the world", as Wikipedia knows. He was surrounded by people who had military training - and who were armed.

What exactly happened during these ten minutes? This would really be an interesting question in order to decide whether "armed bystanders" can stop a manic lone shooter. A website published a first-hand witness account on November 8, 2009, giving us a deep insight into what happened on this terrible day. This account provides a good impression about the shock and confusion which this incident caused - and it shows how even military trained and armed people who witness a mass shooting can stop a determined shooter only with great difficulty, and with terrible casualties on their own part. 


I did my SRP last week (Soldier Readiness Processing) but you're supposed to come back a week later to have them look at the smallpox vaccination site (it's this big itchy growth on your shoulder). I am probably alive because I pulled a ---------- and entered the wrong building first (the main SRP building). The Medical SRP building is off to the side. Realizing my mistake I left the main building and walked down the sidewalk to the medical SRP building. As I'm walking up to it the gunshots start. Slow and methodical. But continuous. Two ambulatory wounded came out.

Then two soldiers dragging a third who was covered in blood. Hearing the shots but not seeing the shooter, along with a couple other soldiers I stood in the street and yelled at everyone who came running that it was clear but to "RUN!". I kept motioning people fast. about 6-10 minutes later (the shooting continuous), two cops ran up. one male, one female. we pointed in the direction of the shots. they headed that way (the medical SRP building was about 50 meters away). then a lot more gunfire. a couple minutes later a balding man in ACU's came around the building carrying a pistol and holding it tactically. He started shooting at us and we all dived back to the cars behind us. I don't think he hit the couple other guys who were there. I did see the bullet holes later in the cars. First I went behind a tire and then looked under the body of the car.

I've been trained how to respond to gunfire...but with my own weapon. To have no weapon I don't know how to explain what that felt like. I hadn't run away and stayed because I had thought about the consequences or anything like that. I wasn't thinking anything through. Please understand, there was no intention. I was just staying there because I didn't think about running. It never occurred to me that he might shoot me.

Until he started shooting in my direction and I realized I was unarmed. Then the female cop comes around the corner. He shoots her. (according to the news accounts she got a round into him. I believe it, I just didn't see it. he didn't go down.) She goes down. He starts reloading. He's fiddling with his mags. Weirdly he hasn't dropped the one that was in his weapon. He's holding the fresh one and the old one (you do that on the range when time is not of the essence but in combat you would just let the old mag go).

I see the male cop around the left corner of the building. (I'm about 15-20 meters from the shooter.) I yell at the cop, "He's reloading, he's reloading. Shoot him! Shoot him!) You have to understand, everything was quiet at this point. The cop appears to hear me and comes around the corner and shoots the shooter. He goes down. The cop kicks his weapon further away. I sprint up to the downed female cop. Another captain (I think he was with me behind the cars) comes up as well.

She's bleeding profusely out of her thigh. We take our belts off and tourniquet her just like we've been trained (I hope we did it right...we didn't have any CLS (combat lifesaver) bags with their awesome tourniquets on us, so we worked with what we had). Meanwhile, in the most bizarre moment of the day, a photographer was standing over us taking pictures. I suppose I'll be seeing those tomorrow. Then a soldier came up and identified himself as a medic. I then realized her weapon was lying there unsecured (and on "fire"). I stood over it and when I saw a cop yelled for him to come over and secure her weapon (I would have done so but I was worried someone would mistake me for a bad guy). I then went over to the shooter. He was unconscious.

A Lt Colonel was there and had secured his primary weapon for the time being. He also had a revolver. I couldn't believe he was one of ours. I didn't want to believe it. Then I saw his name and rank and realized this wasn't just some specialist with mental issues. At this point there was a guy there from CID and I asked him if he knew he was the shooter and had him secured. He said he did. I then went over the slaughter house. the medical SRP building. No human should ever have to see what that looked like. and I won't tell you. Just believe me. Please. there was nothing to be done there.

Someone then said there was someone critically wounded around the corner. I ran around (while seeing this floor to ceiling window that someone had jumped through movie style) and saw a large African-American soldier lying on his back with two or three soldiers attending. I ran up and identified two entrance wounds on the right side of his stomach, one exit wound on the left side and one head wound. He was not bleeding externally from the stomach wounds (though almost certainly internally) but was bleeding from the head wound. A soldier was using a shirt to try and stop the head bleeding. He was conscious so I began talking to him to keep him so. He was 42, from North Carolina, he was named something Jr., his son was named something III and he had a daughter as well. His children lived with him. He was divorced. I told him the blubber on his stomach saved his life. He smiled.

From the very detailed Wikipedia account, we learn even more:

At approximately 1:34 pm local time, Hasan entered his workplace, the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, where personnel receive routine medical treatment immediately prior to and on return from deployment. He was armed with the FN Five-seven pistol, which he had fitted with two Lasermax laser sights: one red, and one green. A Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver (an older model) was later found on Hasan's person, but it was not used to shoot any of the victims.

According to eyewitnesses, Hasan had taken a seat at an empty table and bowed his head for several seconds when he suddenly stood up, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" and opened fire. Witnesses said Hasan initially "sprayed bullets at soldiers in a fanlike motion" before taking aim at individual soldiers. Eyewitness Sgt. Michael Davis said: "The rate of fire was pretty much constant shooting. When I initially heard it it sounded like an M16."

Army reserve Captain John Gaffaney attempted to stop Hasan by charging him, but was mortally wounded before he could reach him. Civilian physician assistant Michael Cahill also tried to charge Hasan with a chair, but was shot and killed. Army reserve Specialist Logan Burnett tried to stop Hasan by throwing a folding table at him, but he was shot in the left hip, fell down, and crawled to a nearby cubicle.

According to testimony from witnesses, Hasan passed up several opportunities to shoot civilians, and instead focused on soldiers in uniform. At one point, Hasan reportedly approached a group of five civilians hiding under a desk. He looked at them, swept the dot of his pistol's laser sight over one of the men's faces, and then turned away without firing.

Base civilian police Sergeant Kimberly Munley, who had rushed to the scene in her patrol car, encountered Hasan in the area outside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Hasan fired at Munley, who exchanged shots with him using her 9mm M9 pistol. Munley's hand was hit by shrapnel when one of Hasan's bullets struck a nearby rain gutter, and then two bullets struck Munley: the first bullet hit her thigh, and the second hit her knee.As she began to fall from the first bullet, the second bullet struck her femur, shattering it and knocking her to the ground. Hasan then walked up to Munley and kicked her pistol out of reach.

As the shooting continued outside, nurses and medics entered the building, secured the doors with a belt and rushed to help the wounded. According to the responding nurses, the blood loss inside the building was so heavy they were unable to maintain balance, and had difficulty reaching the wounded to help them. In the area outside the building, Hasan continued to shoot at fleeing soldiers, and civilian police Sergeant Mark Todd arrived and shouted commands at Hasan to surrender. Todd said: "Then he turned and fired a couple of rounds at me. I didn't hear him say a word, he just turned and fired." The two exchanged shots, and Hasan was felled by five shots from Todd, who then kicked his pistol out of his hand and placed him in handcuffs as he fell unconscious.

An investigator later testified that 146 spent shell casings were recovered inside the building. Another 68 casings were collected outside, for a total of 214 rounds fired by the attacker and responding police officers. A medic who treated Hasan said his pockets were full of pistol magazines. When the shooting ended, he was still carrying 177 rounds of unfired ammunition in his pockets, contained in both 20- and 30-round magazines. The incident, which lasted about 10 minutes, resulted in 30 people wounded, and 13 killed—12 soldiers and one civilian; 11 died at the scene, and two died later in a hospital.

While it is apparently a popular fantasy amongst right-wingers that "more guns" will stop shooters quickly, these accounts clearly tell a very different story: If a shooter has a high-powered, fast-shooting gun, it is brave, but also virtually suicidal to attack them, with or without guns - even for soldiers. A shooting can go on for a long time - even on a military base.

There is also something else which we learn from the Fort Hood incident, which is important to note: It is essential for a wannabe "mass shooter" to use a modern gun which allows fast reloading and shooting, and preferably with very large magazines. Such a gun can be turned into a weapon of mass destruction - and the Fort Hood incident proved how deadly such high-tech weapons can be in the hands of a person whose only goal is to kill as many people as fast as possible.

So, could the principal of Sandy Hook have stopped stopped Adam Lanza, who used a semi-automatic assault rifle with a 30-round magazine, if the principal would have been armed with a "M-4 assault rifle", as the Republican Louie Gohmert claimed?

My vote: "No way!" Attacking a fanatic, determined shooter, who also wears a bullet-proof west, is just suicide. It is not like in a computer game. Nobody is mentally prepared for a mass shooting. A teacher will never be skilled enough to kill somebody like Adam Lanza.

On the other hand, if you place a machine-gun in every school, what could happen? What if there is a less dangerous situation, and a teacher decides to "pre-emptively" shoot an attacker or a student who might not even have been a real threat? Could a teacher even make a simple error and completely misjudge a situation, then pulling the trigger and kill totally innocent people? Could students or somebody else steal the machine-gun? I think that Republicans and the pro-NRA crowd might not have considered these possibilities. There could be many other tragic scenarios as well.

Another note on the Fort Hood shooting - look how police later turned up on the scene:

A school principal should not try to play swat-team. It can only go wrong.

In case of a mass shooting, the only sensible thing to do in my opinion is to leave the scene as quickly as possible, take as many people with you as possible, and leave the rest to the professionals.

But as I mentioned above, there is something else which is noteworthy: For a mass shooting, a killer needs guns which allow many people to be killed in a very short amount of time. He needs semi-automatic weapons and large magazines. Ban them completely - make them illegal for civilians! Nobody needs them. "More guns" is not the answer. Reasonable, intelligent gun-control is the answer. Welcome to the real world.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kyle Beus indicted by Federal Prosecutor Karen Loeffler - Download the original full indictment - Will more indictments follow soon in "Sarah Palin's Dairygate?" - UPDATE: Another horrible day for the USA - Take a look at the rifle which the shooter in Newtown, Connecticut used!

By Patrick

Kyle Beus, pictured in spring 2008 

As has been reported already at various places, for example at the "Frontiersman", the "Alaska Dispatch" and the "Anchorage Daily News", Sarah Palin's "Dairygate" scandal finally erupted, and the shockwaves might just have started. The highly experienced U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler indicted Kyle Beus, former manager and co-owner of "Valley Dairy", which operates Matanuska Creamery, on six counts: Three counts of wire fraud and another three counts of making false statements in order to influence the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

See also the exceptional reporting by the Alaskan blogger Andrew Halcro (new summary) , who has been writing countless explosive blog posts about the "Dairygate" scandal since 2007.

We got hold of the original full indictment, and first I would like to make this indictment available to our readers. Interestingly, the indictment leaves some open questions regarding the facts, and in my opinion it also makes it seem possible that more people will be indicted in the near future.

I am planning to add a longer post about the indictment at a later point in the future.

Download the full indictment here.

Alternative download and preview:


UPDATE (by Patrick):

It is impossible to ignore the current events, and we do not want to do that.

Many more people dead in a country where "gun control" really has gotten out of control.

This shooting in Newtown, Connecticut proves even more than the previous terrible shootings that something needs to be done.

Take a look at this tweet:

The information that the tweeter has is apparently correct - from Huffington Post, quoting AP:

"A law enforcement official in Washington said the attacker was a 20-year-old man armed with a .223-caliber rifle."

This is what you find when you search for these rifles:

The search also revealed that these rifles have become very popular - from

Yes, Daddy is crawling around the sofa with an assault rifle these days! Isn't it just wonderful, this NRA-sponsored gun culture, this brave new NRA-world?

The article actually explains why assault rifles become so widespread:

Military-style rifles have always been popular in this country, but since September 11, 2001, the sales of the AR15 and its clones have skyrocketed—just look at how many companies are making them now. There are a number of factors behind this—increased exposure to the weapon system via media, fears of terrorism and the realization of just how fun the darn things are to shoot. Fully 30 percent of the respondents in the NSSF survey purchased their “MSR” in just the last two years.

Therefore it is obvious that not even the "gun-enthusiasts" claim that these rifles are "necessary" - as it was mainly better marketing, fear of "terrorism" and also "fun" which made them popular, according to this article!

Another interesting quote can be found in this article:

While careers have been made arguing over the effectiveness of the FMJ rounds our troops have been required to use in their M16s and M4s, civilians interested in using an AR-style rifle for personal defense don’t have those same limitations on their choice of projectiles. In the last few years, manufacturers have really made a concerted effort to produce ammunition designed for self-defense—not hunting or plinking or target shooting, but rounds specifically created for defense against two-legged predators.

Yes, the "two-legged predators!"

Too bad that nobody had the wits to imagine that these predators could look like this:

So what will the NRA-solution now be? Distribute assault-rifles to schoolchildren?

On a more serious note, this is the comment which I left below:

Kathleen and I feel as sick and tired as all of you about this latest, horrible shooting. What else will it take for people to wake up? Gun control recently has become an even bigger "taboo topic" than Babygate, it seems!

Citizens do not need large magazines which turn hand-guns into weapons of mass destruction as well as assault rifles for self-defence. Also, gun-owners need rigorous background checks, in our opinion. We of course believe that possessing dangerous weapons should be outlawed completely, as it is for example the case in the UK, but we realize that apparently the "American way of life" is different.

As far as I can see, the USA currently is in a deadly trap: According to right-wing propaganda, President Obama is the one who "wants to take the arms" of the people away. If he now approves gun control legislation, many people will believe that such claims were in fact correct. Kathleen and I were shocked that nothing happened after the previous shootings. We have only very little hope that something will happen now.

A very, very sad day for the USA - again.

Our deepest condolences to the relatives of the dead who were killed in such a senseless fashion.



According to CNN, there were three weapons found on the scene. One of them was a semi-automatic .223 Bushmaster - like this model:

It can be bought for example for $ 699. From the description:

"Enjoy great performance and convenience from the Bushmaster .223 Remington SuperLight Carbine Semiautomatic Rifle that features a light-profile barrel. The rifle is designed with a telescoping stock and a red dot sight. Semiautomatic action with a 30-round magazine capacity."

Who the heck needs these assault rifles? A crazy shooter could literally kill hundreds of people with one of them in a single shooting spree! Does such as a horrible thing really need to happen?

Yes, things are truly out of control.



It really is painful to see tweets like this one - from "constitutional conservative" Celia Bigelow:



It has now been confirmed that the .223 Bushmaster Assault Rifle (pictured above) was the "primary weapon" of the killer.

From ABC News:

Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle at close range to kill children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.

"I believe everybody was hit more than once," said Dr. H. Wayne Carver, the state of Connecticut's Chief Medical Examiner.

He said the bullets were uniquely damaging and that Lanza's victims died almost immediately.

"The bullets are designed in such a fashion the energy is deposited in the tissue so the bullet stays in," Carver said. He described the wounds as a "very devastating set of injuries."

Two handguns were also found at the scene, but Carver described the Bushmaster as the killer's primary weapon. A fourth weapon was found nearby. The weapons discovered at the school apparently belonged to a family member, possibly his mother, according to authorities.

Lanza, 20, forced his way into Sandy Hook on Friday morning and killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide. He drove to the school after shooting his mother in the face at their home.

The weapons that police recovered from the scene included a Glock 9-mm handgun, a Sig Sauer 9-mm handgun and a Bushmaster rifle. Police also found .223 shell casings. Lanza was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Only ONE person survived the shooting. Two injured children died in the hospital.

If you get shot by an assault rifle, the chances for survival are apparently close to zero...

The identities of the victims who were killed have been published:

Charlotte Bacon, 6. Daniel Barden, 7. Olivia Engel, 6. Josephine Gay, 7. Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6. Dylan Hockley, 6. Madeleine F. Hsu, 6. Catherine V. Hubbard, 6. Chase Kowalski, 7. Jesse Lewis, 6. James Mattioli, 6. Grace McDonnell, 7. Emilie Parker, 6. Jack Pinto, 6. Noah Pozner, 6. Caroline Previdi, 6. Jessica Rekos, 6. Avielle Richman, 6. Benjamin Wheeler, 6. Allison N. Wyatt, 6, Rachel Davino, 29. Dawn Hochsprung, 47, Anne Marie Murphy, 52. Lauren Rousseau, 30. Mary Sherlach, 56. Victoria Soto, 27.



The 223. rifle, which killed 20 children aged six and seven, as well as several other people in this horrible incident, was originally developed for the US military, as explained by an "expert" website:

223 Remington cartridges: Developed for the US military, the .223 Remington provides the perfect vermin and small deer calibre, particularly if you are prepared to reload.

Like many popular cartridges used in the field, the .223 Remington started life as a military round. This can only be an advantage, as the calibre was exhaustively tested in the US, where it was developed.

Originally the .223 was designed as a low-recoiling mid-range assault cartridge for troops and developed for the AR-15 and later the M16.

The .223 was standardised in 1964 by the military. This was a bold move as it came at a time when larger calibres, such as the 7.62 NATO (.308), were the standard and it pushed a trend towards smaller and more efficient design. Once military approval was given, Remington launched a sporting version of the round on the civilian market as the .223 Remington.

This is what .223 Remington caliber ammunition looks like:

A very good discussion about this type of ammunition and what horrific wounds it causes can be found on the Daily Kos. Such ammunition is designed to tumble and flip over within the body, causing massive internal injuries, and the modern weapons that fire them give the rounds an incredibly high velocity - which causes devastating shockwaves within the body. This type of assault rifle ammunition (virtually identical with 5.56 NATO rounds) was designed to be used for military purposes, where as much destructive power as possible is wanted. They should have never been allowed to be purchased by private citizens.

More information about assault rifles and the US gun laws at this website.