From the January 17 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
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The New York Times editorial board called for stronger state and federal gun laws after highlighting "shortcomings" that in many cases allow domestic abusers to acquire a firearm even after being determined to be a threat by a court.
Noting that in 2013 61 percent of women killed by gun violence were killed by former or current intimate partners, The Times explained "people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking."
The editorial also noted that current federal law does not require so-called "private sellers" of firearms to run background checks on customers, creating another avenue for domestic abusers to obtain firearms.
From The Times January 16 editorial:
While the gun violence debate often focuses on mass shootings of strangers, hundreds of Americans are fatally shot every year by spouses or partners. In 2013, 61 percent of women killed with guns were killed by husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. And in 57 percent of shootings in which four or more people were killed, one of the victims was the shooter's partner or family member, according to an analysis by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Yet shortcomings in federal and state law allow many domestic abusers to have access to firearms, even after courts have determined that the abusers pose a threat to their partners.
Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of any felony, or of misdemeanor domestic violence against a spouse, from owning a gun. People subject to a domestic violence restraining order issued after a hearing (not a temporary order issued before a hearing can take place) are also prohibited from owning guns. But people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representatives Debbie Dingell and Robert Dold have introduced bills to close these loopholes, but the bills have gained little traction.
Some states, like California and Connecticut, allow police to confiscate guns from someone who is determined by a court to be a threat to a partner, even if a domestic violence restraining order is not in place.
State and federal lawmakers need to follow the example of states that have closed loopholes and enacted surrender laws to prevent the dangerous from possessing deadly weapons.
A CNN report on a federal lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) repeated the debunked smear that a series of undercover videos released by CMP show Planned Parenthood officials "discussing the sale of fetal tissue." In fact, the officials were discussing reimbursement costs for tissue donation, and multiple state and federal inquiries into that allegation have shown it to be without merit.
It's true: campaign finance law is absurdly difficult for media to explain to American voters. The numbers are abstractly large, the rules are complicated, and everyone wonders if American voters actually care.
The polls certainly seem to say Americans are concerned. Across the political spectrum, voters consistently tell the media the tidal wave of money in politics is a grave problem and the case that opened the flood gates -- Citizens United -- should be overturned. Whether it's Republicans complaining about the "special interests" of Washington, D.C. or Democrats warning about the billionaires running our campaigns, the message is clear: clean elections matter.
The editorial boards and television pundits seem to agree. Like clockwork, with every new discouraging development handed down by the courts on campaign finance law, every new revelation of the monied power brokers pulling politicians' strings, every new failure to effectively enforce the election regulations on the books, solemn editorials are written and monologues are delivered warning American voters that the system has become at-risk to rampant corruption and conflicts of interest.
And yet here we are: live on Fox Business Network during their televised presidential debate, under questioning from FBN's Maria Bartiromo, a major presidential candidate just admitted he violated a basic campaign finance transparency rule in a fashion that runs antithetical to his core political image and he seems to think no one cares. He certainly doesn't seem to be afraid of the media calling him out, although some are trying. How else do we describe the embarrassing image of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), ostensibly one of the most intelligent legislators in Congress, brazenly admitting in a live presidential debate he broke the law as a senatorial candidate by taking a roughly million dollar campaign loan from Goldman Sachs and Citibank without properly disclosing the sources to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)?
Maybe the reason Bartiromo didn't follow up her original question with anything more than a "thank you" was that she was as stunned as the rest of us.
Yes, the candidate also misled about the details of his election violation on national television and media fact checkers duly called out the bait-and-switch after. Disclosing the possible conflict of interest in receiving a million dollars from Goldman Sachs (this Goldman Sachs) and Citibank while you're campaigning as a man of the people railing against the big bad establishment is not the same thing as disclosing the possible conflict of interest after you've been elected, a conflation the candidate nevertheless attempted to sell with a straight face during the debate. That's like a voter explaining they didn't properly register before they cast a ballot but did so afterwards, so it's all good.
That's not how it works.
Election disclosure laws are supposed to inform Americans before they vote so they can make an educated decision. In fact, this principle of mandated disclosure may have been the only reason Citizens United was allowed in the first place -- as a counterbalance to the obvious conflicts of interest the Supreme Court was about to tempt politicians with. The entire point behind the legal argument that led the conservatives on the Supreme Court to allow the 1% more unfiltered access to campaigning politicians was the idea that at least Americans would know who was potentially buying influence. In the case of Cruz, who rails against big money and the elite as a point of pride, such information may have been particularly interesting to the Tea Partiers who voted for him.
But again, here we are. A major presidential candidate seems to think either voters are idiots, or the media are.
So it's a challenge. The number is a cool million, easy for the typical news consumer to grasp. The case law and implementing disclosure regulations are cut and dry -- if you take money from a bank for your campaign, you have to identify the bank to the FEC. It boils down to the third problem of campaign finance reporting -- does the American public care? They say they do, over and over again, and the media keeps telling us this is an important part of American democracy, so what's the disconnect, if any?
With this ridiculously clear campaign finance violation on display for all to see, we're about to find out.
If media can't get the American public to understand why this sort of behavior, certainly not unique to Cruz, is a big problem, it's no longer the fault of the American public. They aren't the experts. It's the media's job to provide the expertise. But if the media can't effectively explain this one to its audience -- it's time to rethink how campaign finance reporting is done.
After all, Cruz is basically daring you.
The National Rifle Association is claiming that CNN's recent "Guns in America" town hall event was "staged" by President Obama as it attempts to explain why NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre declined to participate in the event, but then days later challenged Obama to a TV debate.
The NRA leveled several accusations against the Obama administration and CNN in a January 15 article, including that Obama was able to see questions in advance, that Obama "personally selected" the anchor of the event, and that the White House "personally selected" questioners for the event.
On January 7, CNN hosted an hour-long primetime program on gun violence. During the broadcast Obama answered questions about guns posed by CNN host Anderson Cooper and eight audience members who were split along ideological lines. CNN conceived the event and invited President Obama and the NRA to participate in the event. Obama accepted CNN's offer and the NRA declined. In declining to participate, the NRA claimed the event was "orchestrated by the White House," a false claim that was corrected by CNN in a January 6 article.
Then on January 13, days after skipping his chance to go face-to-face with Obama on national television before millions of viewers, LaPierre released a video challenging Obama to "a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it."
In order to deflect from questions about why the NRA did not participate in the CNN event, the gun group has become increasingly brazen in promoting a conspiracy theory that the event was not CNN's doing, but rather was organized by the Obama administration.
A January 15 article in the NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom leveled several allegations against the White House and CNN:
From the January 14 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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The image used by NRA Family to illustrate its version of Little Red Riding Hood
A new series from "NRA Family" reimagines children's fairy tales with a pro-gun message.
In the January 14 series debut -- Little Red Riding Hood -- NRA Family's editor asked, "Have you ever wondered what those same fairy tales might sound like if the hapless Red Riding Hoods, Hansels and Gretels had been taught about gun safety and how to use firearms?"
What followed was a gun-heavy version of Little Red Riding Hood that culminates with the protagonist and her grandmother holding the wolf at gunpoint until he is taken away by a "huntsman."
Here are some excerpts showing the role firearms play in the NRA's Little Red Riding Hood:
One birthday not long ago, Red was given her very own rifle and lessons on how to use it--just in case--to be sure that she would always be safe. So, with a kiss from her mother, rifle over her shoulder and a basket for her Grandmother in her hands, Red took a deep breath and entered the woods.
Red felt the reassuring weight of the rifle on her shoulder and continued down the path, scanning the trees, knowing that their shadows could provide a hiding place.
This was the biggest, baddest wolf Red had ever seen. His wolfish smile disappeared for a moment when his eyes fell on her rifle.
The wolf followed along, staying in the shelter of the trees, trying to get Red to respond. As she grew increasingly uncomfortable, she shifted her rifle so that it was in her hands and at the ready. The wolf became frightened and ran away.
The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun's safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him. He realized that Grandmother hadn't been backing away from him; she had been moving towards her shotgun to protect herself and her home.
"I don't think I'll be eaten today," said Grandma, "and you won't be eating anyone again." Grandma kept her gun trained on the wolf, who was too scared to move. Before long, he heard a familiar voice call "Grandmother, I'm here!" Red peeked her head in the door. The wolf couldn't believe his luck--he had come across two capable ladies in the same day, and they were related! Oh, how he hated when families learned how to protect themselves.
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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After skipping his chance to go face-to-face with President Obama during CNN's January 7 "Guns in America" town hall, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has released a video challenging Obama to a nationally televised one hour debate.
While it might make an interesting spectacle to watch LaPierre confront Obama with his signature paranoid gun confiscation fantasies, what would be truly remarkable is a debate between 2016 Wayne LaPierre and adamant background check supporter 1999 Wayne LaPierre.
The NRA has gone apoplectic since Obama's January 5 announcement of executive actions on gun violence, a key component of which expands background checks on gun sales.
Having already positioned itself as a virulent opponent of expanding background checks following legislative battles in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, the NRA turned its rhetoric up even higher leading up to Obama's announcement, labeling the president "our biggest threat to national security" in a January 4 video posted to its NRA News website.
In a follow-up released on January 6, LaPierre strongly attacked the notion of expanded background checks, claiming in a video called "The Truth About Background Checks" that "the only thing the average American has heard about background checks is the absolute fallacy that what we need is more."
Now LaPierre has issued a challenge to Obama, stating in a January 13 video, "I'll tell you what. I'll meet you for a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it. No pre-screened questions and no gas-bag answers."
Before LaPierre debates Obama, he may want to reconcile his organization's January 2016 position with what the NRA advocated for in 1999. During a May 28, 1999, appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, LaPierre represented the NRA and said, "Let's talk about what's reasonable and what's not. We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale, at every gun show no loopholes anywhere for anyone."
So are more background checks "reasonable" or are calls for more checks an "absolute fallacy"?
Also significant to LaPierre's debate challenge is that he already had the opportunity last week to confront Obama live, before millions of viewers. In trying to create cover for this telling fact, LaPierre and the NRA have repeatedly lied about the nature of CNN's town hall event on gun violence.
First, in declining to participate in the event, the NRA claimed the town hall was "orchestrated by the White House." That wasn't true; the event was conceived by CNN, which invited both Obama and the NRA. Only Obama accepted.
Then the NRA repeatedly advanced the notion that questions during the town hall were screened by the White House.
During a Fox News appearance that immediately preceded the end of the town hall, top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox attempted to explain the NRA's refusal to participate by telling Fox News host Megyn Kelly, "I know that you don't send your questions over to the White House so I would rather have a conversation with you that's intellectually honest than sit through a lecture and get one opportunity to ask a pre-screened question." At the time, Cox scoffed at the notion of the NRA meeting with the president to have a serious conversation about gun violence, saying, "So what are we going to talk about, basketball?"
The notion that the CNN event was stacked against the NRA also surfaced in LaPierre's January 13 video, where he claimed the NRA "won't get suckered into any of Obama's fixed fights" where "pre-screened questions that lead to [Obama's] long-winded answers are anything but an honest dialogue."
But for the NRA, the notion that CNN's event was "fixed" was debunked by a guest on their own NRA News program Cam & Company. The day after the event, NRA News hosted Kimberly Corban, a pro-gun sexual assault survivor, who unlike the NRA, did have the courage to challenge Obama with a question during CNN's town hall.
As Corban explained, the questions were screened by CNN (not the White House) and because the event was live she could have said whatever she wanted to the president. Host Cam Edwards asked Corban, "[CNN] said, 'Come up with a couple questions and we'll tell you which one we want you to use?" She replied: "Yup. Which isn't - to a point I was able to at least craft those questions on my own, those are my own words, and I could have gone as much off script as I wanted to as the event was live, but they knew basically what I was going to ask."
The first set of amicus briefs for Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, a Supreme Court case that will determine the constitutionality of a Texas anti-choice law that severely limits women's access to abortion and broader medical care, has recently been filed. Many of these briefs respond to Justice Anthony Kennedy's past invocation of "post-abortion regret" and the "severe depression" that supposedly follows, an "antiabortion shibboleth" repeated in right-wing media's long-standing effort to stigmatize women who have had abortions.
From the January 10 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the January 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co. Fox News Sunday:
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A commentary video from the National Rifle Association claimed that President Obama stood in front of "the wrong people" when delivering a speech about gun violence before gun violence survivors, and that instead he should have stood before "the groups he is really helping: gang members, felons, and repeat offenders."
On January 5, Obama announced during a speech from the White House that his administration is taking executive action to address gun violence in light of Congress' inaction following several high-profile mass shootings. During his remarks, Obama stood in front of several survivors of gun violence. He was introduced by Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel during the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.
The NRA lashed out at Obama for speaking before victims of gun violence in a January 8 video narrated by NRA News commentator Dana Loesch, who is also a conservative radio host for Glenn Beck's The Blaze. In the video, Loesch called the gun violence survivors present at Obama's speech "the wrong people":
LOESCH: On January 5, 2016, the president held a press conference and shared the stage with survivors of gun violence and family members of the affected. The problem is he is dishonest. He stood in front of the wrong people. He pledges to help those affected by illegally possessed and used firearms, but actions speak louder than words. If the president wanted to stand in front of a group of people so as to claim that he is helping them, he should surround himself with -- and stand in front of -- the groups he is really helping: gang members, felons, and repeat offenders.
Loesch went on to argue that when it comes to crime in the United States, Obama is on the side of criminals rather than the victims of crimes. This claim echoes an oft-stated falsehood by the NRA that Obama refuses to enforce existing gun laws.
In fact, if there is any entity that frustrates the enforcement of federal gun laws the most, it is clearly the NRA, which has for decades attempted to hinder the operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws. Furthermore, included in Obama's executive actions are several measures to ensure that current gun laws are being enforced in an effective manner.
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called for an end to "gun-free zones," parroting a prominent right-wing media claim that more civilians carrying guns would prevent mass shootings. However, there is no evidence the claim is true and research instead shows more guns are linked to higher levels of violence. This instance is just the latest example of Trump parroting right-wing media myths in his talking points.
A video from National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre offered a false history of the passage of the 1993 Brady background check bill in order to attack President Obama's recently released executive actions on gun violence.
In the video, the NRA attempts to position itself as the heroic creator of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), when in reality the gun group fiercely fought the passage of the Brady bill and then later attempted to have the Supreme Court invalidate the entire law.
On January 5, Obama announced during a speech from the White House that his administration is taking executive action to address gun violence in light of Congress' inaction following several high-profile mass shootings.
A large share of media coverage on Obama's move focused on the president's plan to expand background checks by clarifying what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms, although the plan also includes provisions addressing effective enforcement of existing gun laws, funding for mental health treatment, and developing gun safety technology.
In a January 6 response video, the NRA attempted to cast itself as the actual authority on background checks. In purporting to tell a history of the Brady bill, the legislation that was responsible for the creation of the national background check system for gun purchases, LaPierre falsely claimed, "The best-kept secret is that the National Instant Check System wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for the NRA":
LAPIERRE: The best-kept secret is that the National Instant Check System wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for the NRA. It's true. Back in the '90s, President Clinton forced passage of a mandatory waiting period on every handgun purchase in America. Not a background check. A wait.
But NRA said as soon as the technology was available, their wait had to be replaced by an instant background check, done by the dealer, at the point of sale. NRA supported it, NRA got the votes and NRA got it passed.
The NRA's claim is false for several reasons, many of which can be found in a legislative history of the bill's passage in UCLA law professor Adam Winkler's 2013 book Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms In America.