The above video is an ad that you'll see during the Super Bowl: "Demand a Plan" is a campaign of Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- a national, bipartisan coalition of mayors working to make America’s communities safer by keeping illegal guns out of dangerous hands. Co-founded in 2006 by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, the coalition has grown from a committed group of 15 members to more than 850 mayors, including Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, from major cities and small towns around the country. The group has more than 1.2 million grassroots supporters, making it the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country.
Our efforts cannot bring back the 20 innocent children murdered in Newtown, CT -- or the 33 people murdered with guns every day in America. But we can prevent future tragedies by passing common sense legislation that will:
Require a criminal background check for every gun sold in America
Ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines
Make gun trafficking a federal crime, with real penalties for “straw purchasers”
Demand that your members of Congress support these legislative priorities.
If you so desire, you can also sign their petition that calls upon Congress to come up with a plan to end gun violence.
Republican Representative Paul Ryan made a campaign stop at East Carolina University on Labor Day, and spoke along the theme set in Mitt Romney's nomination speech attacking President Obama on what the GOP considers his biggest vulnerability, by asking the question: “Are you better off?”
The “are you better off” question may have been an indictment of Jimmy Carter, but Republican hopes notwithstanding, 2012 isn’t 1980. The economy isn’t as bad, and most importantly, the public still remembers that day four years ago when Obama took office during the worst economic environment since the Great Depression.
On Inauguration Day 2009, the economy had lost nearly 4 million jobs and was still hemorraging at an unprecedented rate.
Now with approximately 150,000 new jobs per month and GDP growth of 1.7 percent, there’s no question that "yes," we’re better off today than when Barack Obama took office. It’s also true that current conditions are on the bad side of "meh." So, Romney-Ryan are going to have to not just ask "Are you better off?" they're going to have to convince voters that they would do better. And remember, Moody's has reported that regardless of who has the keys to the White House in November, economists expect 12 million new jobs in the next four years.
Lies and damned lies are not going to win the White House for Romney-Ryan. Not that they won't continue to go that route.
As Ryan spoke to supporters in North Carolina Monday, he cited bankruptcy numbers to make the point that failing businesses mean fewer jobs. “In 1980 under Jimmy Carter, 330,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy,” he said. “Last year, under President Obama’s failed leadership, 1.4 million businesses filed for bankruptcy.”
But Ryan's math gets fuzzy here. It seems he lumped business bankruptcies and much more numerous personal bankruptcies together. Of the 331,264 bankruptcies in 1980, only 43,694 were for businesses, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.
Of the 1,410,653 total bankruptcy filings last year, 47,806 were business bankruptcies, according to the institute. And, again, the numbers are falling. In 2009, there were 60,837 business bankruptcies. In July, the latest month with complete statistics, business bankruptcies were 22 percent lower than a year earlier, and personal bankruptcies were down 11 percent.
Far more appropriate than "Are you better off?" should be "Why should anyone trust Romney-Ryan to do what's best for the majority of Americans?"
What can I say about Ryan's speech? There's some fear-mongering from the get-go. We're all dooooomed unless we give him and Mittens the keys to the White House, he says.
Then Ryan goes on to tell us that President Obama is too government centered. "If you have a small business, You. Did. Build. That."
That's a reference to a speech Obama gave in July. Here's the full quote from Obama:
"If you are successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."
President Barack Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina released the following statement as Romney was speaking Saturday, reacting to Romney's choice of Ryan as his running mate.
“In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes.”
Ryan finished his speech, saying "I'm excited for what lies ahead and I'm thrilled to be a part of America's Comeback Team. And together, we will unite America and get this done."
Romney's usual campaign song, Kid Rock's "Born Free," began blasting as the crowd cheered.
The two candidates' families joined them on stage.
Police radio transmissions from Aurora, Colorado, depict the shooting tragedy as it unfolded early Friday morning. The audio is used under a creative common license from Radioreference.com
The following are some of the transmissions, and I caution you that the audio is very disturbing to hear, if you choose to listen, there are graphic descriptions of the scene inside the theater. The dispatcher who handled these calls deserves some sort of award for keeping it together, as do the rescue workers.
"They're saying somebody's shooting in the auditorium."
"They're saying there's just hundreds of people running around."
"Somebody's spraying gas in there, too."
"Need more officers inside theater nine."
"We got another person outside shot in the leg, a female. I got people running out of the theater ..."
"We need gas masks."
"I'm being told that he's in theater nine."
"Get out some damn gas masks for theater nine. We can't get in it."
"I need at least three or four ambulances brought in here."
"We need rescue inside the auditorium. Multiple victims."
"Notify all the hospitals. We have people coming in."
"Everybody inside: realize that behind the screens, those are open ... so you need to check behind those screens also."
Ten people were killed inside the Aurora theater while two others died at area hospitals. By Friday night, the bodies were removed from the theater and authorities started "the agonizing process" of notifying families, according to Police Chief Dan Oates.
The youngest of the injured, a 4-month-old boy, was treated and released from a hospital, the child's mother said.
As of Friday, 30 people remained hospitalized, 11 of them in critical condition, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.
The wounded were being treated at five medical centers. Hospitals gave these accounts Friday afternoon:
-- University of Colorado Hospital had 23 patients, nine remaining in critical condition. Ten patients were treated and released.
-- Denver Health Medical Center received six patients. Three remained in fair condition and three were released. A patient was transported to the hospital later and was in fair condition.
-- Children's Hospital Colorado said it had six injured, ranging from critical to good condition. One patient had passed away.
-- Swedish Medical Center had three patients in fair condition. A 19-year-old man was treated and released.
-- Parker Adventist Hospital treated and released two patients.
Friday evening, the names of only two people who were killed were confirmed by CBS4. One was a male named Alex Sullivan, 27, of Aurora, and another was a Metro State University of Denver named Jessica Ghawi.
The U.S. Department of Defense says three members of the U.S. Armed Forces were wounded in a movie theater shooting in Colorado and one is unaccounted for.
The agency says a Navy sailor was injured and a male sailor who was at the theater early Friday morning cannot be located. The sailors are part of a Navy Cyber Command unit at Buckley Air Force base in Aurora.
Two Air Force airmen based at Buckley were also wounded, but their specific unit hasn’t been released.
The names of the deceased are expected to be released after their families have been officially notified by authorities.
Classmates: Holmes Was a ‘Loner’
Students at the University of Colorado Denver’s campus in Aurora are describing accused killer James Holmes as “quiet” and “a loner.” Holmes, a Ph.D. student who was studying neuroscience, is suspected of killing 12 and injuring dozens more at a screening of the latest Batman installment, The Dark Knight Rises. His high-school lab partner told reporters he was “a smart kid,” adding, “I never figured he'd do anything like this.” Neighbors in his university-managed building described him as unfriendly and quiet.
A crowd of protesters gathered outside the main entrance to the Toledo Club in Ohio where Republican candidate Mitt Romney held a $50,000 per plate fundraiser luncheon.
The event was not open to the media, and guests were restricted.
Some of the protesters were part of a group called "Our Fight for a Fair Economy." They protested Romney's visit to northwest Ohio alongside community and labor groups. Even an airplane flew overhead with a sign that read, "Tricky Mitt, what are you hiding?"
Local news media estimated the number of protesters at around 36, however by my count there was near 50 in just one of multiple protest groups present.
"We are a union town primarily union strong and we want him aware of that. We're going to fight for our union brothers and sisters but also rights of other people," said protester Nancy Bacon.
Marcia Young was among those outside the club. As a 27-year veteran at Toledo Jeep, she wanted to remind Romney of what President Obama did for local auto workers.
"Because of him I have a job. If Romney would have had his way I wouldn't be standing here, I wouldn't have a job, my son wouldn't have a job," said Young. "I probably would have been on the street on the unemployment lines looking for a job and at my age, the picking isn't great."
Protesters called for Romney to release his tax returns to reveal his involvement with Bain Capital.
"If he's not hiding anything then he needs to put it forth. I mean, [it's] as simple as that," said Obama supporter Joann Schiavone.
The Toledo Club features an in-house barber and tailor, two massage therapists, a licensed leather and shoe shine specialist, and weekday baby-sitting services come with the $500 initiation fee and $130 in monthly dues for members between 31 and 35.
Older members pay more. Younger members pay less.
After a controversial incident in 1995 when exotic dancers performed a lingerie show at the annual men's dinner, women members found it easier to eat in the previously segregated grill room, informally still called the men's grill by some.
Romney's schedule was delayed today by several aerosol cans bound with black tape discovered along one of his possible travel routes. The Toledo Bomb Squad was called in and they detonated the cans with a water canon shortly before noon.
So Mitt Romney went to the NAACP to give a speech and received a "unpleasant" response. Later that evening he lashed out at them, accusing them of wanting handouts. Then this cat got disgusted and made a video response, that was then posted on Upworthy.
Heroes In Action, a toy company that produces monster figurines based on presidents and other politicians, used its booth at the conference to unveil a prototype of its latest action figure: Romney the Robot.
Mocking the Republican presidential candidate’s stiff demeanor and wealth, the figurine features Romney’s head atop a body encased in a gold robot suit. An ATM machine inset on the torso bears the legend “For Deposit Only.” A gold dollar sign protrudes from either side of its helmet.
Mark Huckabone, president of Heroes In Action, said the finished model will likely bear two bumper stickers on its back: “I Brake for Mormons” and “I [Heart] Money.” But, Huckabone added, “I don’t know how far I want to push it.”
You'll have to dig a little deeper into your wallet to purchase Romney the Robot, however. While Heroes In Action usually charges $24.99 for their toys, because of Romney's large ATM, the price will be $30.00. The company anticipates having the toys ready for sale to the public by October.
Talk show host Nancy Grace has delivered her warped sense of "justice" and claimed yet another victim. Toni Medrano, 29, of Minnesota, set herself afire and died just weeks after being ridiculed as "vodka mom" on national television for drunkenly rolling onto and asphyxiating her three-week-old son in November.
About a week after she was charged, flame-throwing CNN talk-show host Nancy Grace featured the case on her show. (See the video above.) Grace held up a fifth of cheap vodka and said she was going to see how many glasses she could get out of the bottle.
She poured at least nine as the words "vodka mom" appeared on the screen.
Grace said during the show that she had attempted to contact Medrano at her house. She then spoke to a reporter from her show and two officials unfamiliar with the case as she theorized that Medrano had been sleeping on her child for hours. "There was a long period of time that baby's life could have been saved," Grace said.
She said the baby was purple and one guest theorized that was from a "pooling of blood" because he had been dead for so long. "Why no murder one charges?" Grace asked, referring to the charge for premeditated murder.
Medrano's younger sister described Toni as being visibly shaken as she watched Grace's show discussing her case. Toni then told her sister that "life wasn't worth living," and that she "couldn't live with herself."
This should not be construed as an effort to excuse Medrano's actions leading to her child's death in any way. I simply despise Nancy Grace's efforts to sensationalize tragedies for entertainment and ratings purposes, and setting herself up in the role of television studio judge, prosecutor, and jury to do so. These are people's lives she is using to make a fast buck, consequences be damned.
Grace's previous victim, Melinda Duckett, the 21-year old mother of a missing two-year old son, Trenton, fatally shot herself after being battered by tough questions from the talk-show host in 2006.
Grace accused Duckett of hiding something, apparently because of her vague answers and unwillingness to take a lie-detector test. Police later named Duckett the prime suspect in the boy's disappearance.
Duckett committed suicide the day the taped interview was scheduled to air, Sept. 8, 2006. Soon after, her family filed a lawsuit charging Grace with the wrongful death of Duckett.
"Nancy Grace and the others, they just bashed her to the end," Duckett's grandfather, Bill Eubank, said following her death.
After Melinda Duckett's suicide, Grace told her viewers that "guilt" had driven the young woman to take her own life.
The lawsuit filed by Duckett's family against Grace and CNN was settled in 2010 for $200,000.
Probably needless to say, but calls and emails to Nancy Grace and her network went unanswered.
Update: U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) has resigned. Politicoreports:
From his statement:
Today I have resigned from the office of United States Representative for Michigan's 11th Congressional District.
After nearly 26 years in elected office, this past nightmarish month and a half have, for the first time, severed the necessary harmony between the needs of my constituency and of my family. As this harmony is required to serve, its absence requires I leave.
Does the Republican party just let anyone run for president? After U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter's brief foray as a Republican candidate for president ended last year, but before he ended his efforts last month to win back his Michigan seat as a write-in candidate after fraud allegations, it seems he decided to try his hand at "writing" for television.
"Bumper Sticker: Made On Motown" starred McCotter hosting a crude variety show cast with characters bearing the nicknames of his congressional staffers, his brother and a drunk, perverted "Black Santa." They take pot shots about McCotter's ill-fated bid for the White House while spewing banter about drinking, sex, race, flatulence, puking and women's anatomy. It features a cartoon intro and closing snippet with an Oldsmobile careening through Detroit and knocking over the city's landmarks. The double-finned car has a Michigan license plate reading: "Made on MoTown."
The News obtained a copy of the script from a former staffer who offered it as evidence of what the five-term congressman was pitching while in elected office and the tawdry humor unbecoming of a public official who had become disinterested in serving the 11th Congressional District.
But wait, there's so much more:
Some congressional staffers included in his 42-minute pilot episode dated Oct. 17, 2011, were the same longtime employees who handled the collection of petition signatures that botched his chances of getting on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. The character named "Wardo," the nickname others acknowledge is used for District Director Paul Seewald, dresses in a matador costume, gets drunk on a whisky-laced Slurpee and runs off stage after puking.
"Chowsers," the nickname for Deputy District Director Don Yowchuang, leers at women's body parts and snaps cell phone pictures of them, goes "cougar hunting" and repeats the line "I'm Thai."
Seewald and Yowchuang received substantial pay increases in the first quarter of this year—19 percent and 32 percent, respectively, compared with previous quarters, according to records from Legistorm.
In "Bumper Sticker," conservative commentator S.E. Cupp is cast as guest on the pilot. Cupp, a regular guest on cable political shows, also has appeared on "Red Eye" and co-hosts MSNBC's "The Cycle."
McCotter tries to ask serious questions of the columnist, while his sidekicks chime in by asking how she "keeps that great stripper bod?" and whether "D-Cupp" is dating anyone. In the script, Cupp is disgusted by the "train wreck" of the show.
It's unclear whether Cupp knew of her role in the pilot. Reached by e-mail, she didn't want to talk about McCotter.
McCotter said that the variety show is his outlet to deal with the "destructive" environment in Washington. What, by contributing to it?
An aside to my fellow Michiganders, if you see any of your Republican congress critters drinking Slurpees this Summer, you might want to remind them not to drink and drive. Please!