Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Minimum Wage and the Living Wage

by Blueberry T

For months, I’ve had it in mind to write a post about the right to work, as opposed to Right-to-Work laws, and the living wage. The trouble is that I got lost/buried in the topic and couldn’t get anywhere with it. Then, the other day, I saw that Governor Chris Christie – who portrays himself as a pragmatic centrist who represents the interests of his constituents – vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in New Jersey from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour now, and indexed the minimum wage to inflation thereafter. Wow - he cured my writer’s block!

Christie vetoed the bill despite the fact that 82% of New Jersey residents surveyed by Quinnipiac University, including 67% of Republicans, support increasing the minimum wage to $8.50/hr.  

In the interest of full disclosure, Christie sent the bill back to the legislature, saying he would accept a modified bill with an increase of a whopping 25 cents/hr in the minimum wage this year, and increases over the next three years to bring it up to $8.25/hr., but without inflation indexing. He used the excuse that increasing the minimum wage would threaten economic recovery. This is a common argument used to thwart efforts to raise the minimum wage, along with arguments that raising the minimum wage causes job losses.  Here is the conservative Heritage Foundation’s argument along those lines.  Here are articles from Bloomberg, Think Progress and LearnVest refuting these arguments and laying out the strong case for a raise in the minimum wage.

Now, let’s look at this.  Of course, this is an issue not just in New Jersey, but throughout America. For background, here is current information from the Department of Labor on the federal minimum wage law and how it is implemented. States can now enact their own minimum wage; currently the state of Washington has the highest minimum wage at $9.19/hr. Here is a clickable map showing the minimum wage in each state (you can scroll down to compare the data for each state) and a Q&A that covers exemptions and other issues. 

Today, the national minimum wage is $7.25/hour, which equates to $15,080/year for a full-time worker.  Adding insult to injury, minimum wage workers generally do not get health insurance or much else in the way of benefits.  The national minimum wage has fallen so far behind the pace of inflation that it now only provides 68% of the buying power that it had in 1968. According to Wikipedia, “The minimum wage had its highest purchasing value ever in 1968, when it was $1.60 per hour ($10.64 in 2012 dollars). From January 1981 to April 1990, the minimum wage was frozen at $3.35 per hour, then a record-setting wage freeze. From September 1, 1997 through July 23, 2007, the federal minimum wage remained constant at $5.15 per hour, breaking the old record.” In other words, since 1981 there have been two periods of almost a decade each during which the minimum wage did not increase at all. Even the highest minimum wage in the country currently, $9.19/hr, does not keep pace with inflation when compared to the 1968 wage.

Note this map is now out-of-date; I include it for the data on who earns minimum wage; also note the minimum wage did NOT rise to $8.25/hour in 2010 as estimated here.

The fact that the minimum wage is not indexed to inflation is a huge problem, because raising the minimum wage is always a political football and generally falls prey to legislative gridlock or conservative ideological purity tests. This is the case even though several studies indicate that people earning the minimum wage are likely to spend every dollar they earn, thus increasing consumer spending and stimulating the economy. Ironically, in the recent fiscal cliff compromise, the estate tax exemption was indexed to inflation. Got that? If you earn the minimum wage, you don’t get any adjustment each year, but if you are going to inherit more than $5 million, you are in luck not only because of your obvious wealth, but also because the amount not subject to the estate tax will now be increased each year - because it would have been some kind of unfair hardship otherwise, right? Talk about a tax code and economic system that favor the wealthy! If there is one single economic reform that is urgently needed, it is to index (minimum) wages to inflation.

But that is only part of the story.  Most importantly, the minimum wage is not enough to live on, almost anywhere in the country – and certainly a single value does not reflect variations in the cost of living throughout the country, in any case. In most areas, the minimum wage is closer to a poverty wage than a living wage. To help illustrate this, MIT has developed a living wage calculator that shows the wage needed to meet the actual cost of housing and other basic necessities in every city or town in the country.  It’s a tremendously helpful tool that also shows how much money is needed not only for a single adult, but for a 1-2 adults with 1-3 children.  It also shows the estimate for each expense category. 

What becomes immediately apparent, in looking at the MIT living wage calculator, is that not even a single person earning minimum wage can possibly come close to the living wage costs, anywhere in New Jersey (and most other places in America). Living wage is around $10/hr or more everywhere in the state. (Okay, I didn’t check every town, but the lowest living wage I found was close to $10/hr and most were much higher.) Even a couple with no children, both earning minimum wage, would fall short of the living wage. With children, forget it. Impossible. You’d have to work more than two full-time jobs.

In fact, the minimum wage is, in effect, a poverty wage for anyone with one child, and even lower than poverty level for someone with more than one child, as is the case for many single mothers, for example. The result is that there is little hope of ever getting out of poverty for many people consigned to the minimum wage scrapheap of the American economy. This is a far more important economic truth, and far more damaging to the economy and society as a whole, that the weak arguments about raising the minimum wage being detrimental to business. Governor Christie should have to confront these facts and address this issue, rather than basing such an important decision, which affects his constituents' lives so directly, on speculation and the wishes of self-interested businesses.

In this article by Robert Reich in Salon, he reports, among other things, that "almost a quarter of all jobs in America now pay wages below the poverty line for a family of four."  He notes that many of the jobs stemming from economic growth in the coming decade will be low wage. Not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation with the weakening of labor unions. 

Here is more information on the living wage from the Labor Center at UC Berkeley and the Living Wage Action Coalition

The irony is that if people made enough to meet their needs, so many of society’s problems would be lessened or resolved.  This lack of a living wage is a far bigger problem than the deficit, but gets far less attention than it deserves.  

UPDATE: Our friend and reader Nomad (Nomadic Joe) reminded us of the role that ACORN played in campaigning for a living wage; here is his post on the subject.  EbbtideMB pointed out the work that labor unions are doing to promote living wages; here is a resolution referring to living wage ordinances passed in  Michigan and elsewhere. The importance of labor unions in promoting the living wage is key, and the weakening of organized labor is such an important factor in wage stagnation.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fox News Refudiates Pit Bull Sarah Palin - BONUS

by Sunnyjane

That fat slob Ailes misrespected me, so I'm disenfrenching him!  He has misunderestimated THIS mom with a hockey pit bull, er, bull lipstick, er, 
oh whatever!

Sarah Palin has spit in God's eye one too many times, it would seem to me.  Here He's given her -- according to Queen Esther herself -- all these cracks in the door and she has managed to bumble her way through every one of them.  How much can one guy take, after all?

After she gave John McCain considerable assistance in losing the 2008 election, Palin still commanded a following that nubile Hollywood star wannabes and novice politicians would willingly kill for.  With their bare hands.

The Downward Spiral of a Twisted Sister

What?  My hair?  What's wrong with it?
After the election, Republican leaders with no sense whatsoever of the real Sarah Palin were sure she'd go back to Alaska, get down to work repairing her reputation with legislators in the North Star state, and study up on national and international policies and politics.  A rising star, they said.  Pah! 

She quit the governorship in July 2009 and published a work of pure fiction, Going Rogue, in November that was an instant best seller.  Went on a successful book tour.  Signed a contract with Fox in January 2010.  What could possibly go wrong?

Forget the cracks in God's door: the cracks in Sarah Palin began to show up during the first year of her contract.  She didn't maintain the first viewership ratings on Fox.  She had a few successes with the mid-term 2010 elections, but made some grievous endorsements as well.  Then, in January 2011, the solid waste hit the fan.  After Gabby Giffords was gunned down in Tuscon on January 10, Palin felt that she was being persecuted because of the gun sights targeting Democratic candidates on a map that she put on her Facebook page in honor of the 2010 elections -- and kept it up into 2011.  So upset was the ex-governor that she called Ailes and demanded air time to give a defensive statement.  Ailes refused.  The rest is history -- bad history for Palin.  She did the Blood Libel thingy, and Ailes was furious.

By May of 2011, old Roger was obviously rethinking his employment decision, saying behind closed doors according to someone close to the issue, that Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she's stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven't elevated the conservative movement.

Roger Ailes had been anxious to sign Palin.  I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings, he said in November 2011. The ratings and the hot had all but disappeared.

You know you're in trouble when not one of the March 2011 Jeopardy contestants could give the correct response to a question in the Hearts category: Her latest book is titled America by Heart: Reflections on Faith, Family and Flag."   OUCH!

A reality show that failed.  A new book that failed.  Speaking engagements were fewer and fewer.  An embarrassingly stupid tour/vacation of America in the summer of 2011 that went nowhere.  Sarah Palin's appeal was drying up.  Nevertheless, her dwindling base, consisting of fanatical low-to-no information voters, thought she would run in 2012.  She had promised Roger Ailes that she would announce her decision on Fox.  She lied.

In October 2011, Palin sent a letter to conservative radio host Mark Levin, which he read to his listeners and followed up with an interview with the fast-fading star of the Republican Party: Sarah Palin would not run for president in 2012.  Ailes was reportedly so angry with her that he considered refusing to put her on the air again and letting the remainder of her $1 million contract expire in 2013.

Breaking up is not that hard to do.

Ailes obviously decided he has had enough of the Diva.  It's been reported by The Daily Beast that Palin was offered a new contract for less money and decided not to take the offer.  (And no, there's no truth to the rumor that it was for $20.00 a month for two months, April and October!)

Look, let's be honest here.  How difficult can it be to rev up the old home studio equipment and occasionally blather for seven minutes on Fox News with all the other right-wing weenies and talk about how Barack Obama is ruining the country with his Colonial/Kenyan/Communist/Fascist/Nazi/Socialist agenda?  

Piper Diaper could do it, I betcha.

What Now?

Now that Palin has thumbed her nose at Fox, she's reduced to having someone write her Facebook screes and mouthing off about her version of the sanctity of life (or some damn thing like that) at the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network's Award Gala in a couple of months.  You can get your ticket for only $150 by clicking here!

End Note

Sarah Palin does not believe in coincidences; she's said so numerous times.  So it's kind of strange that less than two weeks after the publication of The Rogue: Searching For The Real Sarah Palin by Joe McGinniss, Sarah Palin announced that she wouldn't run for president in the 2012 election.

Remember, McGinniss and Ailes have been friends for many years; had they talked?  AND, McGinniss said of what he wrote: 90 per cent of what I learned is not in the book.


End Note #2

It should be noted by all bloggers and the MSM that Politicalgates' friend Malia Litman was the first to confirm that Fox News had not renewed Sarah Palin's contract.

Grateful H/T to you, Malia.  Job well done!


Bonus (by Patrick):

Let me allow to make an addition to Sunnyjane's wonderful post. First, I would like to quote an excerpt from the excellent and very well researched 2012 book "Boss Rove", written by Craig Unger. 

In the follwing excerpt, Craig Unger examines what I would call the the "unholy triangle" Roger Ailes - Karl Rove - Sarah Palin. There are also other parts in the book which examine the complex relationships between these people, and this excerpt is particularly enlightening (pp. 221, 222):

From a ratings point of view, of course, it made sense for Roger Ailes to keep Sarah Palin on the air as a talent. He had hired her because she was hot. "People are attracted to Fox News in part because that's where they can see Sarah Palin," said Pat Buchanan, who had one played a dual role as a candidate commentator. "So I would think he would want to keep them there."

But politics was a different matter. After a January 2011 shooting rampage by a lunatic gunman in Tucson, Arizona, killed six and severely wounded Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Ailes had advised Palin to lie low. Having just published an electoral map that identified vulnerable Democratic congressional districts, including Gifford's, with rifle crosshairs, Palin was under fire for heated rhetoric that, some said, helped fuel the violence. But instead of following Ailes's advice, Palin responded in a nationally televised speech that blaming her was a "blood libel," a reference to a heinous anti-Semitic accusation. After that, Ailes made no secret that he thought she "was an idiot" who was damaging the conservative movement. But in opting to go for profits and high ratings, Ailes risked losing something much more importantly: namely, the next presidential election.

Enter Karl Rove, who had never had any real fondness for Palin. During the previous election cycle, Rove had aggressively touted Mitt Romney as a stronger choice than Palin for the GOP vice presidential slot. In October 2010, just before the midterms, Rove had taken his first real shot at her, telling the London Telegraph that American voters would not regard Palin, who was about to launch a cable TV show exploring the Alaskan wilderness, as presidential material.

"With all due candor," Rove said, "appearing on your own reality show...I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of 'that helps me see you in the Oval Office.'"

Later, Rove proceeded to mock Palin by imitating her fishing. "Did you see that?" he asked an interviewer when the show began. "Holy crap! That fish bit my thigh. It hurts!"

Palin struck back. "Karl has planted a few other political seeds out there that are quite negative and unnecessary..." she said. "I kind of feel like, why did he feel so threatened and so paranoid? I'm here to help the cause."

Such banter would have been innocuous enough coming from two ordinary talking heads. But that's not what was going on. Palin was a leading contender for the 2012 Republican nomination. Now she was in battle with Rove, who, with two White House wins under his belt and hundreds of million dollars in SuperPAC lucre, was effectively the party boss. In generations past, such intramural political conflicts took place in smoke-filled rooms, but now Fox's biggest stars grappled on air before a gaping audience. Behind the cameras, Ailes was rooting for Rove.

The recent developments certainly confirm Craig Unger's assertion: Ailes is indeed rooting for Rove. Karl Rove stays in, and Sarah Palin has to drop out. That is all what we need to know.

Against the power of Karl Rove, Sarah Palin never stood a chance. We should also remember the fact that Karl Rove openly expressed his criticism about Sarah Palin in such a harsh way that even Fox News themselves had to censor Rove on the air, as I revealed in a post from August 25, 2011.

Craig Unger mentions another smashing quote by Karl Rove, which was reported in March 2012. From page 234 in "Boss Rove":

Immediately after Super Tuesday, Sarah Palin proffered her once-sought-after endorsement to Newt Gingrich, whose campaign was all but dead. Rove carefully assessed its value. "It's not worth snot," he said.

Well said, Karl!

So let's see what Sarah Palin now plans to do with her officially confirmed irrelevancy.

Finally, I would like to point out Nick Broomfield's 2011 documentary "You Betcha" about Sarah Palin has been uploaded to youtube already several months ago. It is well worth watching, and I think that Nick Broomfield did a very good job, considering the difficult subject matter. The documentary was much better done than I expected, having read first the bad reviews which it received back in 2011.

But the criticism is in my view largely unfounded. Nick Broomfield talked to an impressive range of people in Alaska, including Walt Monegan, Lyda Green and "Trooper" Mike Wooten. He sincerely tried to uncover the "real" Sarah Palin, and he managed to expose Sarah Palin's obsession with her public image extremely well. One of the highlights of the film in my opinion is this creepy call which Nick Broomfield receives from Chuck Heath, in which Chuck wants to know whether it was true that Broomfield had spoken to Chuck Heath's enemy Colleen Cottle.  Yes, Broomfield has indeed spoken to Colleen Cottle, who knows Chuck Heath for decades, and conducted a very enlightening interview with her. For Chuck Heath, this was a treacherous act. Too bad, Chuck.


So far virtually anyone who tried to investigate the real Sarah Palin had to endure unfair criticism. Sarah Palin's story is like a huge pile of mud. If you want to get to the bottom of it, you inevitably have to reach right into the dirt, and it is hard to get rid of it afterwards. Joe McGinniss made a similar experience. Writing his book ""The Rogue" was a thankless task as well. 

So will the world now be able to live in peace, undisturbed by the "screechs" of America's least favourite former female politician? There is hope!

In addition, it is worth to watch this interesting interview with Joe McGinniss again from May 2012 (h/t BanditBasheert & Older_Wiser):

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gun Reform Legislation: When the Crazies Come Out to Bray

by Sunnyjane

Of the twenty-three gun control proposals President Obama outlined in his announcement on Wednesday, two deal with mental healthEncouraging mental health providers to get involved and improving state reporting of criminals and the mentally ill I strongly suggest that they start with some of the crazy gun-owning people who are ranting against these proposals – many of whom are state and national legislators.  Of the other whack jobs, they're either paranoid wing-nuts or plain old liars.  Both conditions can be treated by professionals, and it's covered under Obamacare. 

 Arm the teachers!  Arm the principals!  (But no, no, no: We are not extremists!)
Any idiot who believes he can successfully argue this country's history of slavery, the civil rights movement, or the tenets of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Al Sharpton has been skip to my lou-ing through the funky mushroom patch  far too often.

But fools frequently rush in where angels fear to tread, and that's exactly the route Larry Ward took recently.  And just who is Larry Ward?  Damned if I know where he came from; perhaps he's the latest spawn shot out of an AR-15 in the basement of NRA headquarters.  (No, actually he's the CEO at Interactive Media and the President at Political Media, Inc.)  Whatever, Ward is suddenly the NRA pawn and organizer of Gun Appreciation Day, which will be held in Washington on the same day that is nationally recognized as the Martin Luther King Day of Service to honor our greatest civil rights leader.

And what is his basis for a holding a gun-rights rally on this day?  In case you missed this in history class, Dr. King would agree with him that "if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country's founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history." 

Well,  the sonofabitch is right, you know.  If those slaves had just been able to ring those bells and warn the British that -- oops, sorry, wrong idiot.  If those poor kidnapped souls had been presented with guns as they left the slave ships, instead of being beaten and sold into oppression, by golly we'd be a better nation for it.  Makes you wonder why the Colonists didn't think of that, doesn't it?  As Al Sharpton pointed out so succinctly, slaves were not even allowed to name their own children, much less own guns.

Perhaps Larry Ward is getting his civil rights history from his father, Ted Nugent, a board member of the NRA.  (I'm kidding about the father-son relationship -- at least I think I'm kidding.  Nugent has had so many children, in and out of marriage, that one never knows.  He even put two of his children up for adoption.  No, seriously.)

It's pretty obvious that the NRA leadership is not particular about who they seat at their table.  Nugent threatened Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama back in 2007 when they were running for the Democratic nomination.  And in April of last year he made a threatening remark about President Obama by saying If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.   That tirade earned this rill American a little meeting with the Secret Service.

As Media Matters pointed out, the new NRA mantra is that banning assault weapons is just like racial discrimination.  (Hey, folks, I'm just the messenger here; and you remember what you're not suppose to do to the messenger, right?)  So, loyal gunner that he is, Nugent offered up this pearl of wisdomThere will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks, and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed.  Because, you see, owning guns is a civil right -- at least according to the NRA.  A little schooling is called for here, and forgive my yelling it:  OWNING A GUN IS NOT A CIVIL RIGHT!  SITTING ANYWHERE YOU WANT ON A BUS IS A CIVIL RIGHT!  Thank you for your indulgence, readers. 

Now, in his defense (an eye-roll is perfectly acceptable here), Nugent was merely following up on former NRA president Marion Hammer's less-than-brilliant contention that banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago.  But here they are again.  The color of a gun.  The way it looks.  It's just bad politics.

Bless Marion's little heart, but I don't believe that civil rights were ever bestowed upon things.  Or is that like Corporations are people, my friends?  I get confused about these right-wing issues.

Before we leave Teddy-boy, let's remember how excited Gagg Tagg was that Nugent had joined Team Romney:

Ah, an endorsement a presidential candidate can surely be proud of.  And if said presidential candidate is not proud, said endorser just might shoot him.  Because it's a civil right -- or something like that.

David Barton, one of the ickiest human beings alive today, is -- again -- makin' stuff up.  In polite circles he is referred to as a revisionist historian.  In less polite circles, he is called a damn liar.  Because that is what he is.  A book he wrote on Thomas Jefferson was so full of lies that his Christian publishing house had it removed from stores.  Too bad that Thomas Nelson didn't have any decent editors to fact check that sucker before it was printed.  (A personal note: Thomas Jefferson had his faults.  However, to a life-long Virginian, it is not a good idea to lie about the nation's third president.)  

But now the author of the least credible history book in print is pushing back on gun reform legislation and telling tall tales on Glenn Beck's show.  Barton thinks it's a dandy idea to have children armed in schools, and proceeds to give, um, reliable testimony to this stupid-of-the-stupidest notion by relating an uncited story about a bad man who wanted to kill a teacher back in the 1800's wild-west days.  But, gun-toting children to the rescue!  They told the bad man that they liked their teacher and if he killed him/her, they would shoot him.  (No word on what would have taken place had the children not liked their teacher.)

You Can't Make this Stuff Up

As soon as my stomach settles down a bit, I'll do a subsequent post with more idiocy.  In the meantime, here's the latest on that brilliant NRA idea to have armed guards in schools.  A  Michigan charter school thought this was such an important issue that the co-directors hired a retired sheriff's department firearms instructor for that purpose.  It’s a tremendous asset to the safety of our students, the co-directors proudly announced on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, the new "guard" left his hand gun in a student restroom.  It is said that the gun was not loaded, so the county prosecutor chose not to bring charges, declaring it a situation of no harm, no foul.  (Massive head bang here.)

And, what the hell good is an unloaded gun supposed to do?  I don't get it.

End Note: Framing the Narrative

As Kathleen pointed out in a previous post, the President and Vice President have done their part to bring America some semblance of commonsense gun reform.  The NRA is throwing every argument out there that they can think of.  But we can do better.  

It must be reiterated to our legislators that if they don't support practical gun reform, then they support the mass murder of Americans.  It's as simple as that. 


Gun Appreciation Day -- At least five "responsible gun owners" shoot themselves or others during Gun Appreciation Day.  So, how'd that work out for you, folks?

Gun Show Shootings: At Least 5 Hurt In Accidental Incidents In Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina


UPDATE 2 (by Patrick):

I am sure that Sunnyjane will approve the following update: Already in 2009, the City of New York launched the project "Gun Show Undercover." In this project, investigators documented illegal sales during gun shows and thoroughly documented the huge loophole which exists at gun shows, where guns can be sold to anyone without background checks from so-called "private sellers." The City of New York published a detailed report about the investigation, and also published video clips which were secretly recorded at gun shows.

Another website exists with a detailed reported for the "follow-up" 2011 investigation.

The following clip from 2009 shows how any criminal or mentally disturbed person could easily buy guns at gun shows from high volume sellers which miraculously pass as "private sellers." It is particularly shocking to see that many sellers would agree to sell guns even after the buyer had explained to the seller that he "probably wouldn't pass a background check."

More videos can be watched at the youtube channel of the "Gun Show Undercover" project.

The next clip shows how easy it was to buy a Glock 9mm handgun with an extended clip without any background check at a gun show in 2011 in Arizona. This is particularly chilling as the same gun was used just 15 days earlier by shooter Jared Lee Loughner in Arizona during the devastating Tucson shooting.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

President Obama and Vice President Biden Are Doing Their Part Regarding Gun Control And Now Your Voices Need To Be Heard - UPDATE

By Kathleen

Yesterday, one month after the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary schoolPresident Obama in a highly charged press conference revealed his "specific set of proposals" for gun control measures which it is hoped will reduce and deter escalating gun violence in the USA. The President's plan includes calls on Congress to renew the ban on assault weapons, which expired under the Bush government in 2004. Other measures include criminal background checks on gun purchases and a ten bullet limit for gun magazines.

President Obama and Vice President Biden have taken a comprehensive look at gun violence and gun policy in the USA and their efforts and leadership will hopefully be supported by you, the American people, who realise that present gun laws must be extended. Your voices need to be heard by organisations such as the NRA. Such organisations do not represent the American people but gun companies whose biggest sales happen to be assault weapons. Gun manufacturers are not interested in lives but the profits that they can gain for themselves. Enough already.

There are organisations out there that exist for you to express your voice in respect for the need for new gun policies that will reduce the impact of gun violence in the USA. Many of those organisations are working with the White House in order to bring about the change that is needed. I will leave a list of suggested organisations to contact at the end of this post.

Remember, it is no longer a question of IF gun control can become a reality but WHEN. America has passed the tipping point. It may take several years but gun control will be achieved.

Organisations such as the NRA know that a sea of change is heading towards them and that is why it is in full fail propaganda swing. The NRA recently released a TV advertisement campaign which has hindered rather than served its intention because they just had to get that dig in against the President by referencing his children. Gladly, shovelling shit against the tide has proved to be a pointless endeavour by the NRA. They merely succeeded in turning off many thinking people.

Furthermore, the NRA recently boasted that in the wake of proposed legislation from President Obama 100,000 people have joined their organisation in protest against what they think is an attack of their second amendment rights. However, millions of people across the USA support new initiatives for gun control and NOW is the time to join them and show your support for that change and the President's plan.

As I have suggested in a previous post YOU need to contact your elected officials and tell them that you want them to support President Obama's proposals. Now. Silence is no longer an option. You can be part of that sea of change.You can also donate to and join organisations working for gun control in the USA.Money is necessary to defeat the gun lobby and its propagandists. There is power in numbers and that is what really frightens the gun lobby which has had control of the message for far too long. As Ghandi once said "Be the change you want to see in the world".

Organisations working for Gun Control in the USA:

Brady Campaign an organisation which is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in their communities.

Americans for Responsible Solutions an organisation set up be Gabby Giffords, herself a victim of gun violence, and her husband in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Will lobby Congress legislators for gun control measures which she feels are long overdue. 

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence comprises of forty eight national organisations working to reduce gun violence. 

Mayors Against Illegal Guns Most specifically concerned with the criminal use of illegally obtained guns. Illegal guns are not just a question of law and order but life and death. 

National Gun Victims Action Council  is a non-profit network of gun victims, survivors, the faith community and ordinary people leveraging their economic power to change America’s gun laws.

Violence Policy Center states that firearms are the only consumer product not regulated by a federal agency for health and safety. This unique exemption has been exploited by the gun industry as it has moved to embrace increased lethality as the foundation of its design, manufacturing, and marketing efforts in the wake of the long-term decline in household gun ownership. It believes that the answer to reducing gun violence lies in applying the decades-long lessons of consumer product safety regulation and injury prevention to the gun industry and its products.

Sandy Hook Promise a non-profit corporation created by members of the community of Newtown, Connecticut in response to the shooting on December 14, 2012, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which killed 20 children, four teachers and two administrators. Its mission is to work to identify and implement holistic, common sense solutions that will make our community and our country safer from similar acts of violence through education, outreach and grass-roots discussion. SHP believes the time has come to enter into these discussions with equal parts of Love, Compassion, and Common Sense.


UPDATE (by Patrick):

When I today looked at the front-page of Huffington Post, it seemed to me that the "new civil war" finally is about to start. But what could be called "new civil war" does not mean that it will necessarily be a bloody one. Actually, such a thought would be horrendous and seems out of place. But it could be a war, nevertheless. The last stand of the Republicans. The black man is going to take their guns away (they want to make you believe). I guess America has to decide now in which general direction the country will be heading. It is "Game On", as far as I can see.

I would like to add a few bits and pieces to Kathleen's post.

I saw a tweet today by our wonderful reader ProChoiceGrandma in which she mentioned a shocking graphic which was published by the Canadian "National Post" in December 2012. The graphic shows in shocking detail what Aurora shooter James Holmes was wearing during his massacre in Colorado - and that virtually all pieces of his equipment were purchased online. The graphic speaks for itself - no more comment needed. But I still will say this: A country in which a mentally ill person can legally obtain this type of equipment is in deep, deep trouble. Not that we did not know that already.

Click on graphic to see it full-size (also HERE):

I saw another shocking graphic today. How many people in the USA have been killed by gun-shot wounds in the first 31 days after the Newtown massacre? Again, the Canadian National Post investigated and turned the result into a shocking graphic:

919 people have been killed by firearms in the USA during the first 31 days since the Newtown massacre. This number does not include unreported deaths, for example unreported suicides.

Click on graphic for large-size (also HERE):

So, what now? Will the USA change course and start to regulate gun ownership in a much stricter way?

Well, the USA has seen some examples of real gun control in the past, that's for sure! See to the famous words by Ronald Reagan, spoken in 1967:

“There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons ... you don't settle anything by the citizens' taking the law into their own hands."

According to the "NRA standard of 2013", GOP-legend Ronald Reagan would have been an unconstitutional traitor. But Ronald Reagan got really, really scared after being confronted with the tactics by the "Black Panthers":

Having watched the "black man" carrying his guns openly, Ronald Reagan and friends had no hesitation to prohibit the public carrying of loaded firearms with the Californian Mulford Act from 1967. Somehow this was OK with the Second Amendment! Such traitors, these Californians, aren't they!

So this is what happens if angry black people carry their weapons openly in political demonstrations.

But what happens if angry white people do the same, like the supporters of (epically) failed Alaskan GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller, who back in 2010 proudly displayed their assault rifles during a rally for Joe Miller?


The answer: Nothing happens (of course).

I get the impression effective gun control in the USA will only be achieved if black people form their own militias. Call them something like "Angry Black Army Against Wingnuts" or "Obama's Armed Helpers", and you will see strict gun control enacted quicker then you can say "NRA"...!

But in order to get serious again:

You might not have seen this video with pro-gun nut Larry Ward, who was beautifully caught out in this great interview by film maker Annabel Park from December 2012:

Larry Ward is the same guy who seriously claimed just a few days ago on TV that slavery in the USA could have been prevented if the slaves would have been able to own guns:

Slaves....with guns? But, but...(trying to find words, not being able to).

(Isn't this like the Black Panthers having guns, actually...?)

So who is Larry Ward, the man with such great ideas? He is of course not just a "concerned citizen", but he is the CEO and President of "Political Media", a self-described "Republican new media consulting firm." He is an old veteran, as can be seen for example from his LinkedIn page:

Larry Ward brings over a decade and a half of marketing and advertising experience to Political Media, Inc. as its President and CEO.

In 2006, Larry used cutting edge political animations to help pass nine eminent domain initiatives across the country. They were also successful in a number of local, congressional and statewide primary elections.

During the 2004 campaign cycle, Larry harnessed advanced technologies to create a database of over 130 million opt in email addresses.

He also worked on President Bush’s 2004 campaign with several influential PAC’s, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation to help turn out the African American Vote. Additionally, he consulted on five victorious Senate campaigns and fourteen top tier congressional races.

Larry burst onto the political scene in 2002 under the tutelage of world-renowned political consultant, and Fox News commentator Dick Morris. Using Dick’s political savvy and Larry’s online marketing expertise; the two were able to influence several key congressional and gubernatorial races across the country.

Currently, he sits on the Board of Directors of five major internet and direct marketing companies, a social security foundation and is a member of the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity founded by Jack Kemp and Dorcas Hardy.

These days, Larry Ward is apparently working for the NRA.

A very comical thing happened on the website of his company "Political Media" after the protest where he was interviewed by Annabel Park. They published an excerpt from a Breitbart article, which reads:

Man confronts anti-gun protesters, shouting, 'Arm the teachers!'

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 | Tony Lee | Breitbart

A man interrupted and confronted anti-gun demonstrators gathered near the NRA building in Washington, D.C. on Monday by yelling "Arm the teachers! Arm the principals!"

Larry Ward told MyFoxDC that he is a father of two young children; he confronted the protesters on the street and argued kids may be safer if school officials were armed.

"This principal in the school tried to defend the children and was killed for it," Ward said. "But if the principal tried to defend the children with a gun, perhaps (she) could have saved many lives."

Anti-gun activists began campaigns and demonstrations to pressure Washington to adopt stricter gun control laws after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Unfortunately, "Political Media" forgot to tell their readers that this "man", the "father of two children", was actually their own CEO!

Also, in the quoted Breitbart article, there is no mention of the fact that Larry Ward is just a Republican PR-guy - and not a random concerned citizen, despite this impression which is being deliberately created by Breitbart.

Finally, a little piece of humour again - the talented people at "Funny Or Die" already made a parody of the latest insufferable NRA-propaganda clip:

It is difficult to keep the humour when confronted with the fanatics of the NRA, but I think the people at "Funny Or Die" handled it pretty well.

Good night, everyone!