While both Brad Friedman and Sue Wilson have written in detail here at The BRAD BLOG about the recent closure of progressive talk radio stations in cities such as Portland and Seattle, along with the FCC's failure to enforce the public interest obligations of the conglomerates that own those stations, there's an interesting development on the other side of the dial, at least in Boston, where the demise of right-wing talk radio --- in a region where the format once dominated --- hints at a downward spiral for a key element of the conservative entertainment complex.
The latest sign of right-wing radio's malaise may be seen in the apparent demise of Boston's WTKK-FM.
Friedman and Wilson have shown conclusively that good progressive radio is not being allowed to succeed --- that the national corporate interests of these large media conglomerates (just as predicted by some media observers decades ago, following the passage of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996) are being placed ahead of the local public interest obligations which broadcast licensees are required to meet in exchange for their use of our public airwaves.
With the challenges now being faced by good progressive talkers facing obstacles stacked against their success, is there anything wrong with enjoying the spectacle of seeing bad right-wing radio fail, as appears to be the case in Boston at year's end?...
We're going to try to take a bit of much-needed down time over the next coupla weeks through the new year holiday. We'll be on the road to spend some much overdue time with family after a particularly grueling year.
Some folks might call this sort of a thing "a vacation". Given my record at accomplishing same over the past many years, however, that word seems a bit of an overstatement. Still, I'm gonna try my best to look the other way for a bit, though I suspect I'll still be checking in (unless I can help it, and I'm gonna try to help it) as news warrants. I'll also be editing, as usual, upcoming pieces from our excellent guest bloggers who will also be making some occasional noise here in my "absence".
So, with all of that vaguery in mind, we'll see ya --- one way or another --- before, during or after the turn of the New Year. Just wanted to let ya know why things may be going quieter here than usual for a bit...
P.S. If you'd like to make a year end contribution to help fill our gas tank --- both figuratively and literally in this case --- it is, as always, greatly appreciated! You may do so easily via the "Donate" button at right --->
1) "20 school children stabbed in China on the same day proves nothing can be done to stop crazy people!"
Nope. Though it does prove that, even without access to guns, crazy people may still try to kill people. But, unlike all of the 20 school children in Newtown, CT, who were shot several times each in a matter of minutes with a legally purchased and registered semi-automatic rifle equipped with high capacity magazines, none of the 20 kids stabbed in the China incident actually died. No wonder the NRA stooges stopped referring to that story within about 24 hours of the Newtown shootings, but it was "fun" while it lasted (and before the wingnuts bothered to read beyond the China story's headline.)
2) "More guns would have stopped it!"
Nope. Despite NRA Con-Man-in-Chief Wayne LaPierre's embarassing argument that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun", armed guards didn't stop the Columbine mass shooting or the Virginia Tech mass shooting (the worse in the nation's shameful history of mass shootings) or even the assassination attempt on President Reagan. But, more to the point, this 2009 ABC News video just destroys the absurd notion that "more guns would have stopped it!"
3) "You just want to take away my guns!"
Nope. But we do, at the very least, agree with the vast majority of NRA members (if not their terrorist-enabling, con-men leadership) who strongly support new gun safety regulations, such as mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, bans on concealed carry permits for violent misdemeanants and domestic abusers, gun safety training requirements for gun owners, and barring those on the "Terror Watch List" from purchasing weapons, just to name a few. Why does the NRA oppose all of those things despite the overwhelming support of them by their own members? Because they don't care about their members, the 2nd Amendment or gun safety, they care only about their real bosses: the U.S. arms industry. Period.
4) "More people die in automobiles, so you must want to ban them too!"
Nope (and we don't want to "ban" all guns, either.) But we'd have no problem with severe safety regulations and oversight on the manufacture, purchase and use of guns, just as we have in effect for the manufacture, purchase and use of automobiles. Seat belt requirements don't prevent everyone from dying in cars, but we still require they are built into every car and used by every driver. The result: the prevention of thousands of deaths and injuries each year. We also have serious licensing requirements for the use of cars, including proficiency tests before anybody is allowed to legally operate one on their own. We have universal speed limit laws, stop lights, and laws that bar drunk driving (which can be enforced before someone gets killed.) We also require that everyone purchase insurance before operating a motor vehicle. Yet few, if any (and certainly not the industry's top promoter, the AAA), cry "Liberty! Freedom!" in response to all of those sensible safety regulations. And, it should be noted, all of those safety regulations are in place for a "tool" that is designed to kill nobody, unlike semi-assault rifles and high-capacity magazines which, when used as designed, are meant to kill as many people as possible and as quickly as possible.
5) "Guns are just a 'tool'! Mental illness is the real problem!"
Nope. There are insane people everywhere, but almost no developed countries with the insanely high rates of gun violence that are found in the U.S. Nonetheless, it's clear that many people involved in violent gun crimes are mentally ill. So, what would you like to do about mental illness then? Spend more federal government money on health care? Sounds good. Require the "jack-booted thugs" of the federal government create "lunatic panels" to judge who is and isn't mentally equipped to operate a firearm before they are allowed to buy one? Would you like publicly available lists of who the Big Government believes to be insane? Or lists of which families have someone judged by the government to be mentally ill living in their households? You "ObamaCare" opponents ought to love all of the above! Doesn't sound intrusive at all!
Of course, this is just a new spin on the old "Gun don't kill people, people kill people" yarn which even folks on the Right don't actually believe. If they did, as Lee Fang recently pointed out, they wouldn't be so upset about the pretend "Fast and Furious" scandal.
6) "If not mental illness, it's video games and Hollywood movies that are the problem!"
Nope. If that was the case, the gun violence rates would be just as high in places like Canada, Great Britian and everywhere else in the world where they enjoy the same video games and Hollywood movies that we do here in the "land of the free and the home of the brave." But it's darling that you want to protect the bastardized version of what you believe the 2nd Amendment says and what the founders created it for, even while not seeming to give a damn about undermining the 1st in the bargain.
7) "'Gun Control' is just another excuse to take away my 'civil liberties'!"
Nope. Oh, and what "civil liberties"? Which ones? Where does the U.S. Constitution guarantee the "civil liberty" of the unlimited purchase and use of semi-automatic assault rifles, ammunition and high-capacity magazines? Even extreme rightwing Justice Antonin Scalia has no problem with the 1934 ban on machines guns. But, regarding that quaint "2nd Amendment Protects Us From Tyranny!" argument, how'd that work out in preventing the very real tyranny of the PATRIOT Act and all of the other civil liberties outrages that followed? Or, were you, like the NRA, one of the folks who didn't seem to care about that type of very real government tyranny, as it swept across our nation, with little or no complaint from folks like you, over the past decade or so?
Of course, if the founders had hoped that guns would be used by the citizenry to rebel against the federal government, one wonders why they expressly barredtreason in the Constitution. It almost seems as if the argument that the 2nd Amendment was meant to allow the people to rebel against the federal government was made up long after the fact in order to dishonestly justify unlimited gun ownership with no regulation whatsoever. And, of course, it was.
Any other really dumb responses to Newtown that we missed?
There has been much debate over the last several weeks over the inaccurate use of scenes of torture in the new film Zero Dark Thirty to suggest that so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" were key to the capture and ultimate killing of Osama Bin Laden. (See "Zero Dark Thirty's Wrong and Dangerous Conclusion" by Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, for example, or Glenn Greenwald's "Zero Dark Thirty: new torture-glorifying film wins raves", which asks "Can a movie that relies on fabrications to generate support for war crimes still be considered great?")
Beyond the question of whether it is appropriate or not to use blatantly false and misleading "dramatic license" in a theatrical film which it's filmmaker describes as employing "almost a journalistic approach to film", there is another troubling issue that seems to be getting lost in the debate.
It is disturbing, if not altogether surprising, to find an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times recently, discussing the film, and its related "debate" amongst Democrats and Republicans on the U.S. Senate Intelligence over "the value of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'"
The topic is one we have covered extensively here at The BRAD BLOG --- coverage that has included a five-part series on the history of CIA torture and a dire warning that the very survival of our Constitutional Democracy could hinge on justified prosecutions of those who previously ordered or engaged in torture.
In early 2009, in "Fixing the Facts and Legal Opinions Around the Torture Policy," I took dead aim at the sophistry employed by President Barack Obama to evade his constitutionally mandated obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The same Harvard Law School-educated President who said that, in torture, America had lost its "moral bearings," suggested we must only look forward, not back. As I noted at the time, it was an "illogical formulation [that] was incompatible with the very essence of the rule of law."
Those prosecutions were not forthcoming, and, as a result, we find two writers at Los Angeles Times discussing the dispute triggered by the movie, Zero Dark Forty, over the efficacy of torture without so much as a passing reference to the fact that torture is a crime under both U.S. and international law.
This woefully deficient "coverage" drew a sharp and very personal response, given my family's history, by way of a Letter to the Editor I wrote to the paper, which they recently edited, and then published...
Regarding the "2nd Amendment protects us from tyranny" argument: Let's think about the so-called Patriot Act. That law isn't some right-wing paranoid fantasy about "Obama will take our guns!" or black helicopters or blue-helmeted UN troops putting us in concentration camps. That law is a REAL infringement on our liberties. Under the still-in-effect Patriot Act, the fed. govt. can, at any time and without having to provide any reason, cry "National Security!" and arrest us without warrant or charges, imprison us indefinitely, hold us incommunicado, deny us legal representation, search our homes, persons, cars, papers, email, phone records, snail mail, etc. in secret and without a warrant, take away our right to Habeas Corpus (the right to go before a judge to contest our imprisonment), send us to foreign nations for "interrogation" by the authorities of said foreign nation (read "torture"), and a host of other liberty-destroying provisions too numerous to list here.
Where was the NRA while the Patriot Act was being passed? Where are they now while it's still in effect?
Most importantly, why didn't our right to bear arms protect us from this drastic, powerful, and seemingly permanent destruction of many of our Constitutional liberties??
Look, if gun owners really and truly want to protect our liberties, they should put down their guns and get politically active. Guns did not protect us and would not have protected us from the Patriot Act. Only active engagement in our political system would have or could still save us from the Patriot Act and/or other infringements of our liberties.
P.S. Forgot to add, I'm a gun owner. But I try (in my very small and limited way) to protect liberty not by carrying my gun everywhere but by being actively engaged in the political process.
We'd add only one other thought for now: Where does the 2nd Amendment, or any other, afford anybody the "civil liberty" of buying and purchasing as many semi-assault rifles, boxes of ammo and high-capacity magazines as they want without restriction or regulation? We can't seem to find that in our copy of the U.S. Constitution and, though we've asked, no one has yet identified for us where that "liberty" is enumerated.
That said, Heller's point above is probably far more important.
The cover for the final print edition of Newsweek was released earlier today via Newsweek's Twitter feed, noting "Newsweek's last print issue before we go all-digital features a hashtag on the cover: #LastPrintIssue!"
Chris Sacca observes in response (also via Twitter, naturally): "Newsweek's last print issue has just a hashtag on the cover. Like using your final breath to ID the killer."
As we noted yesterday, the press conference held by the NRA's Con-Man-In-Chief did not go well. But, of course, as we've been told by many an NRA-stooge commenter long taken in by the NRA racket, we're just "anti-gun nuts", right?
While it's not entirely surprising to see the New York Times editorial board deride LaPierre's proposal yesterday, writing unambiguously that they "we were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant," how about those "anti-gun nuts" over at Rupert Murdoch'sNew York Post today?...
And, just for good measure, here's the review from the not-nearly-as-Rightwing New York Daily News...
So, uh, apparently it's not just us. (For a pleasant change.)
And, by the way, while we have been describing the NRA as a "racket" for some time, even George W. Bush's former White House ethics attorney (yes, they had one!) is calling them the very same thing now, and in the New York Times!
NYU media critic and professor Jay Rosen cut to the chase in his tweet: "Exact quote just now from the NRA press conference. 'This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won't be taking any questions.'"
The only thing that might have made the NRA's post-Newtown "major press conference" this morning --- during which they had promised earlier this week to unveil their "meaningful contributions to help make sure" a mass shooting like the one at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, one week ago today, "never happens again" --- would have been if someone had actually opened fire there.
"To be fair to the NRA," observed Media Matters' Jamison Foser, "YOU try to hold a press conference that doesn’t coincide with a gun killing in America. It ain’t easy."
All the while, LaPierre was instructing the gathered media today that the problems we are facing, the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence, is due to video games, the news media, lack of armed security guards at elementary schools, mental illness, and even Barack Obama. It has, apparently, nothing whatsoever to do with guns in any way, shape or form, if LaPierre's 24 minutes of prepared remarks (full video below) are any indication.
"THIS is the mighty NRA? The group that supposedly rules all of Washington, DC? THESE nut jobs??" quipped Media Matters' Eric Boehlert, adding a few minutes later: "If nut job LaPierre held a 'press conference' every Fri, sweeping gun control would be passed by February"...
[Update: During a disastrous post-Newtown press conference this morning in D.C., exactly one week after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the NRA's CEO and Executive Vice President (and chief liar) Wayne LaPierre said: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." More on that presser now here, but the following article, published prior to the NRA debacle today, goes a long way towards pre-bunking LaPierre's main contention.]
There have been a lot of absurd claims by the folks scammed by the NRA racket into believing that nothing can be done to decrease gun violence following last week's horrific mass shooting in Newtown, CT.
(Our personal favorite was the one that failed the quickest: The claim that the stabbing of 20 school children in China on the very same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre proves that putting responsible limitations on gun and high-capacity magazine ownership won't help stop these types of tragedies. The reason that response failed so quickly? The wingnuts using it apparently failed to read the actual China story to learn that none of the children there were actually killed in that attack.)
The excuse for taking no action in the wake of Newtown which has had the longest shelf life to date, seems to be the notion that if only someone in the school --- or in the movie theater, or in the shopping mall, or in the Sikh temple, etc. --- had been armed, the tragedy would have been averted.
If more law abiding responsible people had concealed carry permits and were able and willing to use their firearms when necessary, how many of you anti-gun nuts really believe he would have gotten off more than one or two shots in a school?
Setting aside his obvious strawman --- folks like us are no more "anti-gun nuts" than the vast majority of NRA members (if not their con-man leadership) who agree we should have increased gun safety regulations --- JPack80's thin argument, and the millions of other wingnuts making the same weak case, is quickly debunked by a few fairly easy to understand points. (There are many more, but we'll stick to two for the moment, since some folks making this case may have trouble counting higher than that.)
First, how many shots did the Fort Hood shooter get off when he opened fire --- killing 13 and wounding 29 others --- in the middle of a U.S. Army base, filled with people carrying loaded weapons and many more with easy access to them? (Answer: About 200 rounds, which also included shoot-outs with two armed officers, the first of which was hit three times before she went down. But, see update below for additional thoughts on this.)
It is also true that both Columbine and Virginia Tech had armed security officers on campus, as little good as that did anybody, during the mass shootings there. Let's also not forget the trained New York City police who attempted to stop a gunman at the Empire State Building over the summer. They ended up shooting nine (9) innocent bystanders in the bargain.
But the more damning response to the foolish point that "more people with guns are the best way to stop mass shootings" is found in this 2009 ABC video showing how people with guns, and training, actually react when confronted by something like a sudden, surprise shooting. Watch the results of the experiment --- using some folks with relatively little gun training as well as some who are trained marksmen --- to see how well that whole "if only someone was armed during these shootings they could have stopped the shooter!" argument holds up...
So, what's your next, dumb, non-solution for these problems, wingnuts?
* * *
UPDATE: Several commenters written to take issue with our description of the Fort Hood shootings having taken place "in the middle of a U.S. Army base, filled with people carrying loaded weapons and many more with easy access to them"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Snow is BACK! Winter returns to parched Midwest; Time's "Person of the Year" promises action on climate change, but can he deliver?; Good and Bad 2012: top environmental stories of the year; PLUS: It's the end of the Mayan Apocalypse Myth as we know it! (And we feel fine) ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): WSJ's climate "dynamite" is a dud; U.S. Electric Grid 2030: 100% renewable, 90% of the time; 333 straight warmer than "normal" months; U.K. dash a test for global fracking; 'Peak Farmland' as a good thing; China to overhaul solar industry; Keystone XL won't use advanced spill equipment; Sea otters vs. commercial fishermen; MoJo's Eco-Doom Headline Generator; To the Moon!: yes we can grow plants in space ... PLUS: We'll 'never run this economy on renewables' --- and why we'll never have to ... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio here in Los Angeles, we dealt with, what, if anything, will now be done in the wake of the latest mass shootings in Newtown, CT, and if the lies and propaganda and bullying of the NRA will finally be overcome --- or not.
Desi Doyen joins us for a brief history of how the NRA changed in 1977 from a 100-year old gun safety organization, to a Republican political operation, as well as for the latest Green News Report.
Plus, we got to a lot of phone callers with opinions on all of this, including an NRA member who says he'll be quitting the group; an NRA instructor who says we're absolutely right about what the NRA has become; a caller disagrees that any more gun laws are needed, because it would "allow the wolf in the door", or some such; and even a surprise call from our pal, the great progressive trouble-maker Cliff Schecter. Enjoy!
We're busy with today's BradCast on KPFK, so, until later, here are a few items that may, or may not, matter to you this afternoon...
• President Obama names Vice-President Biden to head up a task force to work on new gun safety regulations to be submitted to him by January. Press conference transcript here.
• Supreme Court rulings on what gun control measures are allowed by the 2nd Amendment are actually quite narrow and leave a lot of room for further interpretation and rulings. Here's a quick legal analysis of where the court seems to stand at the moment.
• 3 State Dept. officials resign after a report on Benghazi attack finds "grossly inadequate" security measures at the U.S. consulate on the night Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed last September 11th. "We did conclude that certain State Department bureau-level senior officials in critical positions of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of leadership and management ability," said report panelist Adm. Mike Mullen. In response, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton accepted all 29 of the panel's recommendations, while nursing her reported recent concussion that has, to date, kept her from testifying to Congress on the matter.
• Something or other occurred today in regards to the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations, but we couldn't care less what it was. At this point, after Sandy Hook, the "fiscal cliff" stupidity feels a whole lot like the "Summer of Sharks" did, in retrospect, after 9/11. Of course, after Obama's prepared remarks at his presser on guns today, the D.C. press wanted to ask him, almost exclusively, about "fiscal cliff" bullshit. Same as it ever was.