Gun Research Limited by NRA


back-fGun Research Limited by NRA Sympathetic Legislators

From the New York Times:

The amount of money available today for studying the impact of firearms is a fraction of what it was in the mid-1990s, and the number of scientists toiling in the field has dwindled to just a handful as a result, researchers say.

The dearth of money can be traced in large measure to a clash between public health scientists and the N.R.A. in the mid-1990s. At the time, Dr. Rosenberg and others at the C.D.C. were becoming increasingly assertive about the importance of studying gun-related injuries and deaths as a public health phenomenon, financing studies that found, for example, having a gun in the house, rather than conferring protection, significantly increased the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.

Alarmed, the N.R.A. and its allies on Capitol Hill fought back. The injury center was guilty of “putting out papers that were really political opinion masquerading as medical science,” said Mr. Cox, who also worked on this issue for the N.R.A. more than a decade ago.

Initially, pro-gun lawmakers sought to eliminate the injury center completely, arguing that its work was “redundant” and reflected a political agenda. When that failed, they turned to the appropriations process. In 1996, Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, succeeded in pushing through an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the disease control centers’ budget, the very amount it had spent on firearms-related research the year before.

One of the ways industry protects itself is by destroying or limiting research. The gun industry uses its political clout to make sure that evidence that it might find offensive is never done. This is very similar to using the government to eliminate competition or gain subsidies. Are any of these ethical? It depends on the circumstances. All over the world, trains (public transportation) are subsidized because of the many benefits they provide to society. And I could go on. But it seems unlikely that the kind of research that this legislation killed was inaccurate or unfair.

At a time when we need accurate information about the effects of guns in our society, one of the chief players in the controversy has worked hard to take facts off of the table. Gun research is a legitimate field of inquiry by the CDC. It is a public health crisis. It will continue to be.

James Pilant

Some fascinating quotes from around the web –

This is from the web site, Fundamentally Connie! (This is a very fine article and I strongly recommend it.)

Only modestly mentioned in weekend media coverage is attention to the effect of a tragedy such as this upon emergency responders. This is PTSD at its worst. I am a teacher; a researcher by choice; a parent, grandparent, a spouse, and with enough experience to clearly envision the horror they came upon; the classroom scene, the aftermath of devastation suffered by those whose call was answered. Few have mentioned the unimaginable job of the veteran Medical Examiner, working through the long and difficult night to categorize, identify, and document the extent of catastrophic bullet wounds suffered by tiny, innocent sons and daughters, grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters; playmates silenced forever and removed quietly; …”attired in cute children’s clothing”, he noted, when asked.

From digiphile

My Facebook feed is full of people offering prayers, voicing anger and frustration, and, happily sharing pictures of their own children. One of my friends announced the birth of his first child. Amidst grieving, new life and joy.

As the reality of this tragedy settles in, this moment may still be too raw to decide exactly what the way forward should be. In the wake of dozens of mass shootings in the past several years, there’s more interest in doing something to prevent them.

What, exactly, we should do to prevent more mass killings should be up for debate, but losing 18 children like this is unbearable. What science says about gun control and killings is not clear, though the literature should inform the debate.

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Looking for Alternatives after the Wisconsin Vote


Political Animal – Could Climate Hawks Replace Labor?

The big discussion today is the long, seemingly unstoppable death of the labor movement. We seem to be faced with an insurmountable concentration of influence in corporations and the very wealthy. Plutocrats use their influence to swing elections, and then use the power there obtained to further eviscerate countervailing interest groups, so they can strip even more of the country’s wealth into their own pockets. Rinse and repeat. Ordinary middle class non-unionized workers seem to resent public sector unions and covet their benefits, instead of realizing that their lives could be easier if they were so organized. (I also think it’s important to recognize that public unions played no small part in their own downfall through greed and overreach.)

In any case, it seems unlikely that labor is going to rise from the dead. It took the Great Depression to break the power of the plutocratic elite last time around, and with this financial crisis elites have managed to keep the system from completely collapsing, though only just.

Political Animal – Could Climate Hawks Replace Labor?

The attacks on labor unions over the past decades has proven successful in public opinion, in law and in the courts. If progressive politics is to survive, one method would be to find new allies and new terrain to fight on. This isn’t a bad idea but environmentalists are currently under the same kinds of attacks that have impaired labor unions. An alternative media is necessary to put out progressive ideas but more important we need a new generation of progressive thought and investment in think tanks and other organizations to develop long terms plans for the decades. Planning needs to be long term to be effective.

James Pilant

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The Banking Industry Gives Obama the Squeeze


President Barack Obama addresses reporters abo...

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Big banks have picked their candidate, and it’s Romney – from McClatchy

“We’ve seen a massive shift from Obama to the Republican candidates on the part of the financial industry,” said Carmen Balber of Consumer Watchdog, a California nonprofit that advocates for taxpayers and consumers. “Obviously, part of that has to do with a competitive primary. But we’ve definitely seen the financial services industry publicly chastise the president for going after financial reform.”

Big banks have picked their candidate, and it’s Romney | McClatchy

Isn’t this sweet? Barack Obama bails out the banks, protects them from prosecution for their crimes, installs banking industry figures in virtually every possible position in the government, pretended that the mortgage crisis wasn’t happening and was careful to give only the most measured criticism of the financial industry and the 1% – and his reward is massive contributions to this likely opponent.

For all of his compromise, for all of his favoritism, for all of his abandonment of the goals of justice and accountability, the President got less than nothing.

This was hardly unpredictable. The dramatic reactions of the wealthy investment to class to Obama’s mile criticism, the weak legislation of Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and the Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrated that Wall Street’s sense of entitlement and worthiness is fragile at the very least.

Only the most slavish devotion, only agreement on every point and only an acceptance of the financial industry as worthy, doing God’s Work, is adequate for the malefactors of great wealth.

The President should have realized this.

James Pilant

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The 1% Hit Back


The knives are out. The corporations, the wealthy and their well paid minions (think of a crowd of Igors in an old Frankenstein movies) are going to portray the Occupy movement as anarchists and Marxists. An even casual reading of the news stories shows that as a lie. Can you find anarchists and Marxist in the movement? Of course you can; the same as you can find Klansmen and Christian Reconstructionists in the Tea Party and the Republican Party.

The question isn’t whether there are unpopular political beliefs in some participants of the movement but do they run it or is their influence the deciding factor in decisions. Neither of those things are true. I have no doubt that the primary motivations of Occupy Wall Street movement is the predominant influence the financial sector has in the government. There are also concerns for the decline of the middle class and the lack of penalties for those on Wall Street who did so much harm to the world economy.

Those are legitimate complaints held by millions of American. Take a look at this poll, this poll or this poll.

Does this new documentary wish to identify millions and millions of Americans as closet Marxists?

The hit job on the movement is expected. All criticism of the 1% is answered immediately, often borderline slander and almost always lies. The crude right wing message machine will say anything to keep Americans divided and powerless.

We can do better.

James Pilant

Right-wing documentary targets Occupy

Citizens United, which specializes in making documentaries with strong right-wing messages, is currently in production for a film about the Occupy movement, a spokesman for the group confirms to Salon.

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Rick Perry Discovers Populism?


This is startling. Okay, maybe shocking is a better word. I prefer my candidates to be consistent. It makes writing about them simple. The things I said yesterday are accurate today. Columns just write themselves.

But look at this. He sorta, kinda joins my side of the argument. I thought that in all of thinking down the most casual, simple basic thoughts that we had nothing in common. My world is shaken.

Now I have faith that he will never utter such things again. But what if I’m wrong and he’s actually changing? That’ll rattle me good. Is that even possible?

Well, let’s see how the vultures and the Republican stalwarts react.

I bet they’re more surprised than me.

James Pilant

Perry Says Romney and Bain Capital are Vultures

Rick Perry (from the Governors Web Site)

During a town hall event in Fort Mill, S.C, the Texas governor amplified an attack on Romney that’s being made by a super PAC which supports former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The Super PAC’s film “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” accuses the Republican frontrunner of “looting” companies during his time as the head of Bain Capital.

“I will suggest they’re just vultures,” Perry told supporters, according to Politico. “They’re vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb, waiting for a company to get sick. And then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that and they leave the skeleton.”

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Is there Hope for the 99%, Can Individuals Still Make a Difference in a Nation Dominated by the 1%?


I had the pleasure of reading the article quoted below. It’s written by Erica K. in Open Salon. It’s entitled –

Requiem for the Jerry Springer Nation

(An excerpt from the article) –

Then came the Occupy movement, people from all walks of life banding together for a common cause, with good intentions, fighting for the least of their brothers and sisters, not the wealthiest and slimiest. It filled me and many with hope, and others with disdain, but it was something. A something that spread from Wall Street across the nation and into other parts of the world. Something is better than nothing.

I, too, have wondered if change was possible. Sometimes, the Obama’s servitude to the great economic interests particularly financial institutions, has driven me to rage. The Democratic and Republican seem interested in the 99% only the most unusual circumstance. Generally speaking, either party can be counted on to be obedient to corporate money.

So, the current political situation is hopeless. It is virtually impossible in most states to find a candidate who has any degree of fidelity to the middle class, the people that actually make America work.

I am a member of the 99%, and I know what to do. It’s been done many times before.

We take over a political party. I don’t care which one.

History shows successful takeovers by Progressives at the turn of the Twentieth century and the liberals in the 1930’s.

Please understand, you don’t influence politicians by editorials and tough words in meetings, you beat them in elections. They have to be humiliated, vilified, driven from electoral politics.

No prisoners.

When some Democratic says the phrase, “What I’m doing is tough for you, but think what the Republicans would do.” That person is an enemy. You dry up his money. You pound him with criticism and ridicule at every turn, and then you beat him at the polls. You knock him down so that he never enters politics again. Every time, a candidate who believes wholeheartedly in defending and restoring the middle class wins, you win. Every time a compromising, corporate dependent candidate with some generally sympathetic views wins, you have suffered a humiliating defeat. If you compromise, you will be sold. Corporate contributions demand that result and they get that result.

For more than three decades, Liberals, Progressives and Unions have voted for the more liberal of the candidates in lock step. The result is that those candidates can ignore their interests moving to the right year by year to pander to corporate interests. Time after time, I hear the phrases, “We have to settle for what we can get, we have to face reality, we can only do what’s possible.” These are the words of compromise and slow, agonizing defeat. And for thirty years, the nation has moved to the right.

The left got what it deserved for its compromised: millions of jobs shifted overseas, workers rights stomped into insignificance, financial interest freed to speculate with public money, tax breaks and subsidies for countless industries, and, last but certainly not least, well organized, well financed attacks on Social Security.  This has been the result of compromising, of settling for what was “possible.”

The Republicans openly declare their fealty to the one percent and the Democrats are so toothless, weak and doctrineless that voting is almost pointless.

Occupy Wall Street has brought me hope. Maybe there is chance that this country can be run by its citizens, not as an oligarchy but as a democracy.

James Pilant

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Super PACs Worry Even Republicans


The United States Supreme Court.

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Super PAC Disclosure Requirements Hot Topic Of Conversation Among GOP Candidates

“What is happening now is what I predicted,” McCain told CBS. “The United States Supreme Court — in what I think is one of the worst decisions in history — struck down the restrictions in the so-called McCain-Feingold Law, and a lot of people don’t agree with that, but I predicted when the United States Supreme Court, with their absolute ignorance of what happens in politics, struck down that law, that there would be a flood of money into campaigns, not transparent, unaccounted for, and this is exactly what is happening.”

Super PAC Disclosure Requirements Hot Topic Of Conversation Among GOP Candidates

There is probably an advantage for many Republicans in the lack of limits of corporate campaign contribution. However, with the destruction of Newt Gringrich in the Iowa caucuses after a pummeling by a Super PAC sympathetic to Romney, there is some concern in the ranks of the party, as you can see from the article linked to above.

That we should at least know who is funding these Monster Super PACs would seem to be simple intelligence. Otherwise, we have licensed the wealthy to do advertising hit jobs on any candidate they wish with no accountability whatever. Of course, our Supreme Court composed of members whose connection with the 99% is tenuous at best, may find political hit jobs to be a legitimate form of political speech since that is one way in which corporations and the rich like to communicate.

James Pilant

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We are the People – Who the Hell are You? | Crooks and Liars


Occupy Wall Street - Anonymous 2011 Shankbone

Occupy Wall Street has a message and I like it.

James Alan Pilant

You hear that, Herman Cain? It’s against the law to ban mosques in America. You hear that, Christine O’Donnell? It’s against the law to teach creationism in public schools. You hear that, Bill Haslam? It’s against the law to impose curfews in an attempt to stifle the right of the people to peaceably assemble. You hear that, Bank of America? Goldman Sachs? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? We’re done meekly allowing you to rape, plunder and pillage the 99 percent for the benefit of the 1 percent. Can you hear us, all you bought-and-paid-for Republicans and Democrats alike, telling you we’ve had enough from you both, consider this our petition for a redress of grievances.

We are the People – Who the Hell are You? | Crooks and Liars

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North Carolina Sold to Wealthy Conservative Activist? Could your state be next?


“State for Sale” reads the lead story on the Huffington Post this morning. It’s a very sad story –  how one man freed by the Citizen’s United Supreme Court to spend as much as he wants can essentially buy a state legislature.

That state legislature has now redistricted to favor conservative candidates and passed voter id laws to restrict the poor, college students and minorities from voting.

Is your state next? Of course, it is. All you need is one of the country’s wealthy “elite” and a little political ambition. Most state campaigns are only a few thousand dollars. Spend two or three times that much and the legislature will fall into your lap like a ripe apple.

What will the new legislature do? Cut university funding and repeal taxes? You bet!

This is the brave new world of Citizens United. Aren’t you glad you’ve lived to see the day when corporate personhood become the law of the land? It arms every wealthy conservative activist with the tool for victory – the power to use as much money as he wants.

James Pilant

A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina, one of 2012’s top battleground

Even some North Carolinians associated with Jesse Helms think that Pope has gone too far. Jim Goodmon, the president and C.E.O. of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns the CBS and Fox television affiliates in Raleigh, says, “I was a Republican, but I’m embarrassed to be one in North Carolina because of Art Pope.” Goodmon’s grandfather A. J. Fletcher was among Helms’s biggest backers, having launched him as a radio and television commentator. Goodmon describes Pope’s forces as “anti-community,” adding, “The way they’ve come to power is to say that government is bad. Their only answer is to cut taxes.” Goodmon believes that Pope’s agenda is not even good for business, because the education cuts he’s helped bring about will undermine the workforce. “If you want to create good jobs, you need good schools,” he says. “We’re close to the bottom out of the fifty states in education spending, and if they could take it down further they would.” He says of Pope, “It’s never about making things better. It’s all about tearing the other side down.”

The article is written by Jane Mayer.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/10/111010fa_fact_mayer#ixzz1ZjeqYjyI

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Fault Lines: The Top 1% (via THE INTERNET POST)


Exactly. The distribution of income is this country is a great moral and ethical problem. If the money were allocated according to ability and work ethic, that might make some sense but walk around in this country and look at the hard working men and women reduced to penury by law that favor financial “innovation” over hard work and productivity.

James Pilant

The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country's income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth. Inequality in the US is more extreme than it's been in almost a century — and the gap between the super rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years. Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US' 14.3 trillion dollar debt is u … Read More

via THE INTERNET POST