Gabrielle Giffords' Progress · Gun Violence

Behind the Scenes with Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly: January 30th 2013

Gabby and Capt. Mark Kelly are the epitome of the term: power couple.  Not in the colloquial version of the term but in the literal interpretation.  This couple intends to have a voice in the gun control debate.  I personally support them and their Americans for Responsible Solutions effort 100%.


Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl Advertisers Release Commercials, Teasers Ahead Of Game Day

Toyota Super Bowl

I hope they’re as entertaining as last year…

The Huffington Post

The Super Bowl isn’t even here yet, but some of the ads airing during the game are already out in their entirety.

In years past, advertisers guarded their commercials for game day with the utmost secrecy. That’s not the case anymore, as several companies — including Volkswagen, Century 21, Taco Bell and Mercedes-Benz — are already out with full-length ads. Other companies, like Gildan, Kraft and Anheuser-Busch, have released teasers to hype up viewers for the Super Bowl.

In fact, about half of the 30 Super Bowl advertisers are expected to have teasers this year, according to the Associated Press. That number is up from 10 in 2012. The online teaser has been one of the top new trends for Super Bowl commercials in recent years.

Paul Chibe, chief marketing officer at Anheuser-Busch, explained the merits of a teaser, saying, “It’s a great way to pique people’s interest.” Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed also said that the goal of releasing a teaser was to make people say, “Shh, shh, shh. Here comes the ad.”

Continue here…

Here are just a few of many scheduled to air on Sunday…

Toyota RAV4 2013 Big Game Commercial

Doritos Express Checkout

Doritos Road Chip

Diner: Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl Commercial Teaser

Jukebox: Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl Commercial Teaser

2013 Hyundai Genesis: “Excited”

Viva Young – 2013 Taco Bell Game Day Commercial

Audi 2013 Big Game Commercial: “Prom”



U.S. Politics

Fear of a Black Gun Owner

I’ve often wondered how the over abundance of illegal handguns always seem to find it’s way into inner city neighborhoods.   Do poor Black kids really have that much clout or are some mysterious, nefarious benefactors “gifting” them (for a hefty price) with the hand guns and other automatic weapons used to kill tens of thousands of Black youth every year?

Without sounding  too much like a conspiracy theorist, lets just say that there might be some interested “high-end” groups that have an interest in Black on Black crime and the results, whether its lessening the Black male population (and many young females as well) in the ghettos or wanting to see arrests and convictions to fill the “for-profit” jails that have popped up all over the country.

Oh, by the way, keep in mind that a prisoner has no rights,  None what so ever,  So essentially, those thoughtless young men who end up in jail have essentially given up every right they were born with.  In essence they are slaves, period.

Here’s an interesting factoid:  There are more Black men in prisons today than there were slaves in 1850!  Also…African Americans make up 13% of the population of the United States, yet…account for 39.4% of prison population in this country.

The Root

Ironically, the NRA used to support gun control — when the Black Panthers started packing.

It may seem hard to believe, but the modern-day gun-rights debate was born from the civil rights era and inspired by the Black Panthers. Equally surprising is that the National Rifle Association — now an aggressive lobbying arm for gun manufacturers — actually once supported, and helped write, federal gun-control laws.

In light of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre that claimed the lives of 20 children as well as escalating violence in cities like Chicago, which saw 500 homicides in 2012 alone, President Barack Obama recently unveiled his plan for stricter gun control. The proposal calls for a universal background check and a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with 23 executive orders. But these efforts — no matter how reasonable — are not without their critics.

In a statement released last week, the NRA expressed its disappointment that “the task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearm owners.” Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) went so far as to threaten impeachment if President Obama used executive action. The conservative entertainment complex — from Fox News and the Drudge Report, which likened gun control to Nazi Germany, to talk-radio host Alex Jones, who invoked the Tea Party insurrection of 1773 — employs propaganda tactics to convince Americans that Obama wants to take away their guns. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the history of this debate is a curious one.

It is ironic that the modern-day argument for citizens to arm themselves against unwarranted government oppression — dominated, as it is, by angry white men — has its roots in the foundation of the 1960s Black Panther movement. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale became inspired by Malcolm X’s admonishment that because government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of African Americans, they ought to defend themselves “by any means necessary.”

UCLA law professor Adam Winkler explores this history in his 2011 book, Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America. “Like many young African-Americans, Newton and Seale were frustrated with the failed promise of the civil-rights movement,” Winkler writes. In their opinion, “the only tangible outcome of the civil-rights movement had been more violence and oppression, much of it committed by the very entity meant to protect the public: the police.” Winkler goes on to say, “Malcolm X and the Panthers described their right to use guns in self-defense in constitutional terms.” Guns became central to the Panthers’ identity, as they taught their early recruits that “the gun is the only thing that will free us — gain us our liberation.”

The Panthers responded to racial violence by patrolling black neighborhoods brandishing guns — in an effort to police the police. The fear of black people with firearms sent shock waves across white communities, and conservative lawmakers immediately responded with gun-control legislation.

Then Gov. Ronald Reagan, now lauded as the patron saint of modern conservatism, told reporters in California that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” Reagan claimed that the Mulford Act, as it became known, “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” The NRA actually helped craft similar legislation in states across the country. Fast-forward to 2013, and it is a white-male dominated NRA, largely made up of Southern conservatives and gun owners from the Midwest and Southwestern states, that argues “do not tread on me” in the gun debate.

Continue here…


Historical Fact:

Before the Civil War ended, State “Slave Codes” prohibited slaves from owning guns. After President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and after the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery was adopted and the Civil War ended in 1865, States persisted in prohibiting blacks, now freemen, from owning guns under laws renamed “Black Codes.” They did so on the basis that blacks were not citizens, and thus did not have the same rights, including the right to keep and bear arms protected in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as whites. This view was specifically articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in its infamous 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford to uphold slavery.

The United States Congress overrode most portions of the Black Codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The legislative histories of both the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as The Special Report of the Anti-Slavery Conference of 1867, are replete with denunciations of those particular statutes that denied blacks equal access to firearms. [Kates, Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment, 82 Mich. L. Rev. 204, 256 (1983)] However, facially neutral disarming through economic means laws remain in effect.

After the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1878, most States turned to “facially neutral” business or transaction taxes on handgun purchases. However, the intention of these laws was not neutral. An article in Virginia’s official university law review called for a “prohibitive tax … on the privilege” of selling handguns as a way of disarming “the son of Ham”, whose “cowardly practice of ‘toting’ guns has been one of the most fruitful sources of crime … .Let a negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights.” [Comment, Carrying Concealed Weapons, 15 Va L. Reg. 391, 391-92 (1909); George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, “Gun Control and Racism,” Stefan Tahmassebi, 1991, p. 75] Thus, many Southern States imposed high taxes or banned inexpensive guns so as to price blacks and poor whites out of the gun market.

In the 1990s, “gun control” laws continue to be enacted so as to have a racist effect if not intent:

  • Police-issued license and permit laws, unless drafted to require issuance to those not prohibited by law from owning guns, are routinely used to prevent lawful gun ownership among “unpopular” populations.
  • Public housing residents, approximately 3 million Americans, are singled out for gun bans.
  • “Gun sweeps” by police in “high crime neighborhoods” whereby vehicles and “pedestrians who meet a specific profile that might indicate they are carrying a weapon” are searched are becoming popular, and are being studied by the U.S. Department of Justice as “Operation Ceasefire.”

1856: Dred Scott v. Sandford – Upheld Individual Rights (to the slave owner.)

The Second Amendment as an individual right was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in its decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1856. With the rights of slaves in question, the nation’s highest court opined on the intent of the Second Amendment for the first time, writing that affording slaves full rights of American citizenship would include the right “to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the majority opinion. Taney ruled that:

  • Any person descended from Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States, according to the Constitution.
  • The Ordinance of 1787 could not confer either freedom or citizenship within the Northwest Territory to non-white individuals.
  • The provisions of the Act of 1820, known as the Missouri Compromise, were voided as a legislative act, since the act exceeded the powers of Congress, insofar as it attempted to exclude slavery and impart freedom and citizenship to non-white persons in the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase.[5]

The Court had ruled that African Americans had no claim to freedom or citizenship. Since they were not citizens, they did not possess the legal standing to bring suit in a federal court. As slaves were private property, Congress did not have the power to regulate slavery in the territories and could not revoke a slave owner’s rights based on where he lived. This decision nullified the essence of the Missouri Compromise, which divided territories into jurisdictions either free or slave. Speaking for the majority, Taney ruled that because Scott was simply considered the private property of his owners, that he was subject to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the taking of property from its owner “without due process”. Ultimately, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution settled the issue of Black citizenship via Section 1 of that Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside…”


Key Clauses of the 14th Amendment

Four principles were asserted in the text of the 14th amendment. They were:

  1. State and federal citizenship for all persons regardless of race both born or naturalized in the United States was reaffirmed.
  2. No state would be allowed to abridge the “privileges and immunities” of citizens.
  3. No person was allowed to be deprived of life, liberty,or property without “due process of law.”
  4. No person could be denied “equal protection of the laws.”

Over time, numerous lawsuits have arisen that have referenced the 14th amendment. The fact that the amendment uses the word state in the Privileges and Immunities clause along with interpretation of the Due Process Clause has meant that state as well as federal power is subject to the Bill of Rights. Further, the courts have interpreted the word “person” to include corporations. Therefore, they too are protected by “due process” along with being granted “equal protection.”

While there were other clauses in the amendment, none were as signficant as these.

Fox News Lower Ratings

Fox News’ plummeting ratings: Why the network is struggling

Many Fox News viewers probably weren't eager to tune into President Obama's inauguration &mdash; which was a ratings bonanza for liberal MSNBC.

The Week

The conservative news outlet is suffering its worst ratings in 12 years

In January, Fox News had its worst primetime ratings since 2001 in the all-important age demographic of 25-54, according to new Nielsen data. Furthermore, its total day ratings for the age group fell to their lowest levels since 2008. The grim news for the conservative cable network was gleefully publicized by liberal rival MSNBC, which boasted a 20 percent boost in the 25-54 demographic from the previous year, and an 11 percent climb in primetime.

What happened? While some liberal commentators would like to see Fox’s decline as evidenceof a leftward shift in public opinion, coinciding with President Obama enjoying his highest favorability ratings in three years, the truth is probably simpler. Conservative viewers in January — participating in a collective version of see no evil, hear no evil — likely passed on watching President Obama’s inauguration, a ratings bonanza for MSNBC. Fox has suffered similar ratings declines during other big Democratic events.

It’s also important to keep the latest development in context. As Katherine Fung and Jack Mirkinson at The Huffington Post note, “Fox News still had nine out of the top 10 programs. It has spent 11 consecutive years as the top-rated news channel. Its 6 a.m. show drew almost double the ratings of CNN’s top-ranking primetime show.”

Ouch. However, while Fox may not feel the need to shake up its lineup a la CNN, the house that Ailes built is making a few changes. Sarah Palin was recently let go as a commentator, while Red State editor Erick Erickson, a recent refugee from CNN, was brought on board.


U.S. Politics

45,800 Ford workers to get record $8,300 profit-sharing checks

So much for the “Let Detroit go bankrupt…” meme in 2008.  Oh, and add another gold star to the Obama greatest hits list

Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.’s record North American profit in 2012 will have a ripple effect on auto communities across the country and especially here in Southeast Michigan.

Roughly 45,800 hourly United Auto Workers members who work at Ford plants in the United States will receive record profit-sharing checks of $8,300 on average in March.

“The expected increase in profit-sharing checks for autoworkers this March is good news for Michigan’s economy,” said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica Bank. “It will help to buffer households from the drag of higher payroll taxes,” which increased 2 percent for all working Americans on Jan. 1.

On average, the $8,300 profit-sharing check will have an economic impact of $20,750 per worker, when factoring a multiplying ripple effect, said David Sowerby, portfolio manager for Loomis Sayles in Bloomfield Hills.

“While we encourage savings for the long term, spending it locally, especially on made-in-Michigan products, is a bigger economic multiplier,” Sowerby said. “It gives us a decent boost.”

Dianne Reichel, a group manager with GreenPath Debt Solutions in Farmington Hills, said her clients are committed to paying down their debt and will use their checks to pay it down more quickly. But people who aren’t on a debt-reduction program will be tempted to spend it immediately.

“We all like that windfall. Because they’ve been struggling so long, and now they have the money at hand to get things, they don’t necessarily think through where the best place is to put that money,” she said.

The $8,300 profit-sharing check is a result of Ford’s profits and the most recent contract between the automaker and the UAW that was signed in 2011.

That dollar figure shatters the previous record for Ford UAW workers, which was $8,000 in 1999. It also breaks the all-time UAW profit-sharing record of $8,100 that Chrysler workers received in 1999, though adjusted for inflation that total would be worth nearly $11,000 today.

Individual profit sharing payments may be higher or lower based on the employee compensated hours.

In the past three years, Ford has doled out an average of $19,500 per worker in profit-sharing checks, rivaling a similar four-year run in the late 1990s, when Ford paid out an average of $25,200 per worker, according to the UAW.

The profit-sharing checks will also mark the fourth consecutive year of profit-sharing checks for Ford workers since the automaker staved off bankruptcy. Prior to that, profit sharing was suspended for four years.

“Fewer autoworkers may mean fewer total profit sharing dollars circulating in the Michigan economy compared to a decade ago,” Dye said. “But it is still good news to see an increase in the size of checks this year.”

Evening News Wrap-up

An Emotional Call to Action on Gun Violence (TFC Evening Wrap-up)

What Gabby Said

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head two years ago this month in a shooting that also left six of her constituents dead, including a nine year-old girl. In the wake of the Newtown gun massacre, Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group that “will encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.”

Today the Senate Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to begin formal work on a gun violence prevention bill in the next month, held a hearing that opened with a statement from Giffords. Giffords told the senators that “the time is now,” they “must act,” and must “be bold.”

Watch Giffords challenge senators to deal with America’s gun violence epidemic:

Giffords’ handwritten testimony:

BOTTOM LINE: Gabby Giffords is right. Americans are counting on our political leaders to summon the courage to take commonsense steps to address the gun violence epidemic that results in 33 Americans being murdered each and every day.

The Progress Report

The study the NRA’s top Washington lobbyist hopes you won’t actually look up.

Teenager who performed at the Inauguration last week was gunned down yesterday in Chicago.

Senator catches the NRA’s top Washington lobbyist in an epic flip-flop on background checks.

GOP senator: people need to arm themselves because GOP-forced budget cuts will mean fewer cops.

Missouri bill would force all first-graders to take NRA-sponsored gun class.

Communism, polygamy, and human cloning are more popular than NRA lobbyists’ position on gun violence.

Republican witness claims mothers need an AR-15 assault rifle to defend their children.

Meet the nine year-old girl who would likely still be alive today if high-capacity magazines were illegal.

Another shooting happened as the Senate held its hearing on gun violence.

Obama Approval Rating

Obama’s Favorability Highest Since First Year In Office – ABC/Washington Post Poll

obama smile

Good news for the POTUS, bad news for Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and their ilk…

Addicting Info

Seems despite every kind of slime, slam, side-swipe, and sucker-punch, Republicans are hitting dry ground in their continued attempts to demonize and marginalize the President. In fact, according to that latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, the President has now garnered the highest favorability ratings he’s had since his first year in office in 2009.

A full sixty percent of Americans polled gave a thumbs-up to Obama, 10 points higher than similar numbers polled in summer, 2012, during the height of the presidential campaign. “Favorability” is differentiated from “job approval,” offering a more emotional response to the President as a person, rather than an assessment of how he’s doing his job. According to ABC, Obama’s favorability numbers trump Bush’s at the start of his second term by 5 points, while trailing Clinton’s by 5 and Reagan’s by 12.

There is also the nuance of how much sentiment is felt and in this poll, Obama did well: more have a “strongly” favorable opinion than a “strongly unfavorable” one, which is the first time the numbers have skewed in that direction since 2010.

As for who likes the President, the groups were broken down as follows:

GROUPS – The president continues to be highly popular within his own party, with 92 percent favorability. Notably, 60 percent of independents see him favorably vs. 36 percent unfavorably, his best since his first year in office. He remains unpopular, however, with 80 percent of Republicans.

Similarly, 87 percent of liberals and 68 percent of moderates view the president positively, dropping to 34 percent of conservatives overall and just a quarter of strong conservatives.

In other groups, Obama’s more popular among women than men by 9 points. And he’s rated favorably by 87 percent of nonwhites, two-thirds of young adults and two-thirds of those in the lower- to middle-income brackets. By contrast, his favorability drops to 45 percent among whites – a group he lost to Mitt Romney by 20 points – and 47 percent of those with household incomes more than $100,000 a year.

Additionally, when asked about their opinion of Obama’s Inaugural address, “broad majorities” of his key constituents – liberals, nonwhites, and, of course, Democrats, highly approved.

In a nutshell, the poll summed it up in a sentence:

President Obama “has advanced to his highest personal popularity since his first year in office, and Americans who’ve formed an opinion of his second inaugural address last week broadly approve of it.”

For full PDF of poll results, click here.




The New Yorker

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, National Rifle Association C.E.O. Wayne LaPierre warned that the N.R.A. would vigorously oppose any legislation that “limits the sale, purchase, or ownership of politicians.”

“Politicians pose no danger to the public if used correctly,” said Mr. LaPierre, who claims to have over two hundred politicians in his personal collection. “Everyone hears about the bad guys in Congress. Well, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a vote is a good guy with a vote. I’m proud to be the owner of many of those guys.”

Mr. LaPierre’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Carol Foyler, a politician-control advocate who has spent the past twelve years lobbying for stricter limits on the sale of politicians.

“Right now, a man like Wayne LaPierre can walk right into Congress and buy any politician he wants,” she said. “There’s no background check, no waiting period. And so hundreds of politicians are falling into the hands of people who are unstable and, quite frankly, dangerous.”

In addition to limiting the sale of politicians, Ms. Foyler said, it is time for society to take a look at the “sheer number” of politicians in the U.S.: “There’s no doubt that we would be safer if there were fewer of them.”

For his part, the N.R.A. leader ended his testimony by serving notice that he would “resist any attempt” to take away the hundreds of elected officials he says are legally his.

As if to illustrate that point, he clutched Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) close to his chest and bellowed, “From my cold, dead hands.”

Gun Violence

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Opening Statement (C-SPAN)

Gabby Gifford’s compelling statement in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on gun violence, today:

Gun Violence

Teenager Who Performed At Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony Is The Latest Victim Of Chicago Gun Violence

Hadiya Pendleton, 15 years old, was killed in Chicago on Tuesday.

Another young life taken over useless gun violence in Chicago…

Think Progress

Less than two weeks ago, Hadiya Pendleton was leading her classmates in the King College Prep School Marching Band down Pennsylvania Avenue on the afternoon of President Obama’s second inauguration. It would be an opportunity of a lifetime for any 15 year old, but for Pendleton, it was her last. On Tuesday, she was gunned down in a park a few blocks from school on the South Side of Chicago, less than a mile from the first family’s home.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Pendleton and another classmate, a 16 year old boy, were both caught in the middle of a gang war. The boy was still in serious condition on Tuesday evening, but Pendleton did not survive:

Friends of the slain girl said King was dismissed early today because of exams, and students went to the park on Oakenwald–something they don’t usually do.

Friends said the girl was a majorette and a volleyball player, a friendly and sweet presence at King, one of the top 10 CPS selective enrollment schools. Pendleton performed with other King College students at President Barack Obama’s inaugural events.

In the last year, Chicago has endured a surge of gun-related murders, more than quadruple the number of homicides in New York City and 58 percent more than the number of U.S. soldiers shot and killed in Afghanistan. During the recent debate over gun control, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has sought to place his city at the front of the push for reform, instructing the city’s pension funds to divest from any gun manufacturer and supporting more gun buyback programs.