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“Gun Lobby Propaganda”: The NRA And The Myth Of The 20-Minute Police Response Time At Sandy Hook

Appearing on Fox News Sunday this week, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre was pressed about the controversial ad the group created in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre that referenced the armed protection President Obama’s daughters receive.

Even as host Chris Wallace belittled as “ridiculous” the ad’s premise that all children deserve the same kind of protection that the president’s children have, LaPierre defended the ad and said, “Tell that to the people of Newtown.”

“So they should have Secret Service”? Wallace asked.

In response, LaPierre propagated a favorite falsehood of the pro-gun media lobby [emphasis added]:

LAPIERRE: No, but what they should have is police officers or certified armed security in those schools to keep people safe. If something happens, the police time — despite all their good intentions, is 15 to 20 minutes. It’s too long. It’s not going to help those kids.

In the wake of the Newtown shooting, LaPierre bemoaned the fact kids aren’t safe at school, in part because it takes police 15 to 20 minutes to respond to a deadly shooting like the one in Connecticut.

But that’s not true and it’s time the news media start calling out anti-gun control extremists like LaPierre and Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, among others, who keep peddling the obvious falsehood in the press.

Fact: The Newtown police station is located approximately two miles from the Sandy Hook Elementary School. There’s no way it would have taken law enforcement 20 minutes to respond to the first 911 calls reporting gunfire at the school. (Local cops could have run from the station and been at the school in less than 20 minutes.)

Fast-acting Newtown officers “made it in under three minutes, arriving in the parking lot while gunfire could still be heard,” according to New York Times interviews with the first responders that day.

But if you listen to LaPierre as well as other anti-gun control advocates who are making the media rounds, you’re led to believe gunman Adam Lanza roamed the hallways of Sandy Hook for nearly half an hour, killing people at will before law enforcement finally arrived; that terrified teachers and students were “waiting 20 minutes for the cops to show up,” as one pro-gun blogger claimed.

It’s not true. The claim is pure gun lobby propaganda.

The frightening specter of defenselessness is projected to boost the NRA’s claim that the only way to combat gun violence in school is not to control the sale and distribution of guns, but to put armed policemen in 98,000 schools in America. Other gun advocates use the phony 20-minute premise to bolster calls for allowing concealed weapons in schools.

Since the December 14 massacre, the 20-minute myth has been widely repeated among right-wing media outlets:

“It took the police 20 minutes to arrive at Sandy Hook. By the time they got there, it was over. [National Review Online]

“In the short run, stopping the next Sandy Hook means ending the deadly policy which gave the killer 20 minutes (until people with guns, the police, finally arrived) to fire 150 shots and repeatedly change magazines, murdering at leisure.” []

Unfortunately, the 20-minute myth got an early boost from, which posted an inaccurate timeline of the school massacre. CNN’s faulty claim that first responders arrived at Sandy Hook “about twenty minutes after the first” 911 calls was quickly embraced by right-wing bloggers who mocked the police’s slow response time.

But that single, erroneous report certainly can’t justify the continued misuse of the 20-minute myth, since the vast majority of Newtown reports got the facts right. Contrary to CNN timeline, it was widely reported last December that police and first responders arrived at the Newtown crime scene “instantaneously,” “within minutes” of the first 911 call, and “minutes after the assassin began his rampage.”

And two days after the shooting rampage, audio from Newtown police scanners was made public. It confirmed that officers were reporting back from the school just a few minutes after the first school calls came into the dispatcher that day.

Still, the 20-minute myth serves a political purpose, so people like factually challenged gun extremist Larry Pratt have used the concocted claim repeatedly in the media:

“The solution is for people to be able to defend themselves at the point of the crime and not wait for 20 minutes for the police come after everybody is dead.” [Dec. 18, CNN]

“And Newtown was the same, a school where nobody was able to have a gun, even if they had a concealed carry permit, which you can get in Connecticut. Nobody was able to shoot back. They had to wait some 20 minutes for the police to get there. That’s unacceptable.” [Dec. 28, Fox]

“Especially if you’re telling the potential victim you can’t be armed. You have to wait for the Cavalry to get here five, 10 or in the case of Newtown 20 minutes later. I find that unconscionable.” [Jan. 12, CNN]

“Well, the armed teacher is going to have a lot more chance stopping a mass murderer than the police who take 20 minutes to get there, as they did in Newtown, and that’s not an extraordinarily long response time.” [Jan. 17, Australia Broadcasting Corporation]

Pratt’s sinister assertion is pure fabrication. If gun advocates continue to peddle the lie, it’s up to journalists to call them on it. The falsehood purposefully hinders attempts to debate the pressing issue of gun violence, and serves an insult to the Newtown police officers on duty that dark day in December.


By: Eric Boehlert, The Huffington Post Blog, Crossed Posted at County Fair, a Media Matters For America Blog, February 5, 2013

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Playing The Fools Against The Marks”: Why Fox News Finally Dumped Dick Morris

I suppose I should have weighed in on this already, given that it’s been an entire day, but in case you were wondering, here’s what I think about Fox News’ decision to finally give Dick Morris the boot. Erik Wemple probably spoke for many people when he said, “this is a time to celebrate Fox News. It has seen the lunacy of Dick Morris, and it’s taking the appropriate step to inoculate itself against the ravages.” This comes fast on the heels of Sarah Palin being shown the door, some post-election house-cleaning that thankfully has left sage contributors like Karl Rove standing.

So what does this show? It doesn’t, alas, indicate that real accountability is coming to the pundit industry. I’ve always thought it’s too simplistic to view Fox News as nothing more than a partisan organization, as many people on the left do. Since he started the network in 1996, Roger Ailes’ genius has lied in a careful melding of business and ideology, in which neither one ever moves too far ahead of the other and each serves the other’s needs. Fox is extremely valuable to the Republican party and the conservative movement, and it’s also a huge money-maker for Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Anyone who appears on the channel has to satisfy both strands of that ideological/financial double helix.

And as Morris shows, satisfying the ideological needs of Fox’s viewers is more complicated than just telling them what you think they want to hear. Morris was so laughably wrong in almost everything he said that even many die-hard conservatives no doubt found him to be a buffoon. When he tells you over and over again that there’s no way your side can lose, and then they do, his credibility suffers even with people who want to believe him. But what really did him in, I think, was when it came out in December that he was, in all probability, running a scam on the Fox News viewers whom he implored to contribute to his super PAC to defeat Barack Obama. None of the money went to that cause, instead probably finding its way back into Morris’s pocket. It’s one thing to treat Fox viewers like fools—most of the network’s personalities do that every day. But it’s quite another to treat them like marks. If you do it as blatantly as Morris did, the entire brand is threatened.

In the end, it became too obvious that Dick Morris wasn’t working for the betterment of the conservative movement, or the Republican party, or Fox News. He was working for the betterment of Dick Morris. Once that became all too obvious, I’m sure Ailes had no qualms about showing him the door. After all, there’s plenty more where he came from.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, February 6, 2013

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wrong Questions, Wrong Issues”: Are Republicans Rebranding Or Rethinking?

Rebranding is trendy in the Republican Party.

Rep. Eric Cantor gave a major speech Tuesday to advance the effort. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wants the GOP to stop being the “stupid party.” Karl Rove is setting up a political action committee (it’s what he does these days) to defeat right-wing crazies who cost the party Senate seats.

But there’s a big difference between rebranding and pursuing a different approach to governing.

The good news is that some Republicans have decided that the party moved too far to the right and are backing off long-standing positions on tax increases, guns and immigration. Their new flexibility, combined with President Obama’s new post-election aggressiveness, is producing a quiet revolution in Washington. The place is becoming less dysfunctional.

Congress has already passed a substantial tax increase, Republicans avoided a debt ceiling fight, and the ice is breaking on guns and immigration.

The mixed news: A lot of the rebranding efforts are superficial yet nonetheless reflect an awareness that the party has been asking the wrong questions, talking about the wrong issues and limiting the range of voters it’s been addressing.

This is why Cantor’s speech was more important than the policies he outlined, which were primarily conservative retreads. His intervention proved that Obama and progressives are changing the terms of the debate, much as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

Cantor wasn’t making the case for smaller government or tax cuts for the “job creators.” He was asking what government could do for the middle class — “to provide relief to so many millions of Americans who just want their life to work again.”

No wonder Sen. Charles Schumer, one of the Democrats’ most subtle strategists, jumped at the chance to praise Cantor for taking “the first step toward finding common ground in agreeing on the problem you are trying to solve.” If the debate is about who will be nicer to business or who will cut taxes, Republicans win. What Schumer understands is that if the issue is providing relief for the middle class (and for workers, immigrants and low-income children), Republicans are competing over questions on which progressives have the advantage.

The bad news: In some states where Republicans control all the levers of power, they are rushing ahead with astonishingly right-wing programs to eviscerate government while shifting the tax burden toward the middle class and the poor and away from the wealthy. In trying to build the Koch brothers’ dystopias, they are turning states in laboratories of reaction.

As Neil King Jr. and Mark Peters reported in a Wall Street Journal article on the “Red State model,” Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has slashed both income taxes and spending. This drew fire from moderate and moderately conservative Republican legislators, whom he then helped purge in primaries. Jindal is talking about ending Louisiana’s personal and corporate income taxes and replacing the revenue with sales tax increases — a stunningly naked transfer of resources from the poor and the middle class to the rich.

This deeply anti-majoritarian, anti-populist approach explains the really bad news: Some Republicans show signs of not worrying about winning majorities at all. Gerrymandering helped their party win a majority in the House (no longer so representative) in November while losing the popular vote overall by nearly $1.4 million. Some are trying to rig the electoral college in a way that would have let Mitt Romney win the presidency even as he lost by about 5 million popular votes.

And they are willing to use the Senate’s arcane rules and right-wing courts in tandem to foil the policy wishes of a majority of Congress and the president — witness the precedent-less U.S. Court of Appeals ruling voiding Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. The president took this course because intransigent Republican senators blocked the nominations. There should be a greater outcry against such an anti-democratic power play.

What’s the overall balance sheet? Level Republican heads seem to be pushing against the electoral college rigging effort. The “Red State model” is likely to take hold in only a few states — and may provoke a backlash. The larger lesson may be the one Cantor offered: Republicans are slowly realizing that the nation’s priorities are not the GOP’s traditional priorities. If Republicans really do start asking better questions, they will come up with better — and less extreme — answers.


By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, February 6, 2013

February 7, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Radical Views”: Republican Senators Who Think The Violence Against Women Act Is Unconstitutional

Since then-Delaware Senator Joe Biden first authored the law in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has earned bipartisan praise for providing vital protections against domestic violence and assistance to victims. But of the eight Senators — all Republicans — who voted Monday against even considering VAWA renewal, at least four apparently did so because they believe the bill is unconstitutional.

Several of these senators have expressed similarly radical views about the constitutional role of the federal government in other contexts. Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) claimed that national child labor laws, Social Security and Medicare violate the Tenth Amendment, for example; and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) once led a Tenth Amendment project at a conservative think tank and co-authored a paper proposing an unconstitutional process to nullify the Affordable Care Act. The four senators who claim that the Violence Against Women Act is unconstitutional are:

1. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID): In a statement, Risch explained: “It is at the state and local level where I believe enforcement and prosecution must remain. The federal government does not need to add another layer of bureaucracy to acts of violence that are being handled at the state and local level. In addition to my 10th Amendment concerns, this legislation raises additional constitutional questions regarding double jeopardy and due process. I opposed this legislation, however well intended it was, because it is another effort of the federal government extending its reach into the affairs of state and local jurisdictions.”

2. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): In a 2012 letter explaining his opposition to last year’s VAWA re-authorization attempt, Paul wrote: “Under our Constitution, states are given the responsibility for prosecution of those violent crimes. They don’t need Washington telling them how to provide services and prosecute criminals in these cases. Under the Constitution, states are responsible for enacting and enforcing criminal law. As written, S. 1925 muddles the lines between federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement.”

3. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): In 2012, Lee claimed VAWA “oversteps the Constitution’s rightful limits on federal power. Violent crimes are regulated and enforced almost exclusively by state governments. In fact, domestic violence is one of the few activities that the Supreme Court of the United States has specifically said Congress may not regulate under the Commerce Clause. As a matter of constitutional policy, Congress should not seek to impose rules and standards as conditions for federal funding in areas where the federal government lacks constitutional authority to regulate directly.”

4. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): A Cruz spokeswoman told ThinkProgress: “For many years, Senator Cruz has worked in law enforcement, helping lead the fight to ensure that violent criminals—and especially sexual predators who target women and children—should face the very strictest punishment. However, stopping and punishing violent criminals is primarily a state responsibility, and the federal government does not need to be dictating state criminal law.” While the statement does not explicitly call VAWA unconstitutional, his previous comments leave little doubt that that is what he means.

These senators’ apparent belief that the federal government cannot constitutionally play a role in preventing violence against women is not even shared by most Republican members of Congress. 216 House Republicans agreed just last year that the Constitution does not prohibit a version of the Violence Against Women Act. The Supreme Court did strike down one piece of VAWA in 2000, but it left most of the law intact.

While the other four Senators who voted against the “motion to proceed” did not respond to a request for an explanation of their votes, Sen. Tim Scott (R) voted for the watered-down House version of VAWA last year and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) claims he supports a scaled-back version of the legislation.


By: Josh Israel, Think Progress, February 2, 2013

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Constitution, Domestic Violence | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“American Born Terrorists Are Not Excused”: The Alternatives To Drone Strikes Are Worse

America’s drone policy makes everyone uncomfortable. The alternatives are worse. Attacking enemy combatants from the air is part of warfare. Combatants who wear civilian clothing or who operate from sanctuaries are not excused from risk. Compare drone strikes to the feckless 1998 cruise missile attack on bin Laden. Drone strikes work; that is why our opponents object to them. If the host governments are cognizant and accepting (even if this is not public), if the laws of armed conflict limiting egregious attacks on civilians are observed, drone strikes are an acceptable use of force.

The more difficult issue involves targeting belligerents who also hold American citizenship. If you think about it, every confederate killed by U.S. forces in the Civil War was an American citizen. Germans with dual citizenship, both civilians and soldiers, were killed in combat or in aerial bombings during World War II. There were probably a few citizens among Chinese forces in Korea. Killing Americans participating in hostilities in an armed conflict against the United States, while disturbing, is not automatically precluded.

Arrest and trial is the preferred approach for dealing with Americans who threaten to kill their fellow citizens. What do we do if arrest is not an option? We could wait for a moment when they can be caught, but that runs the risk that while we wait, there will be another 9/11 or a successful airline bomber. The struggles against global jihad do not fit neatly with existing rules for conflict, and a pragmatic approach that puts public safety first faces difficult choices in balancing risk and rights.

The most difficult choice involves setting bounds for the use of lethal force against Americans. The administration has three rules: A senior U.S. official must determine there is an “imminent” threat of violent attack; capture is not possible; and attacks must be consistent with the laws of war (meaning an effort to avoid collateral damage and innocent causalities). The rules could be clearer in saying targets must be combatants engaged in armed struggle, and the administration uses an elastic definition of “imminent,” but these rules are sufficient for what should be a rare and infrequent event—if drone attacks on U.S. citizens are not rare and infrequent, something is dangerously wrong. It would be better if we did not have to do this and there will be a time when these rules can be abolished, but that time is not now.

By: James Lewis, U. S. News and World Report, February 6, 2013

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Citizenship, National Security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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