The shootings in Aurora, Colorado, have reignited a debate about gun control and whether the now-expired federal Assault Weapons ban that would have covered one of the rifles used in the theater could have prevented the tragedy.
On CNN’s State of the Union this Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) explained that while “we need to look at everything,” gun control measures may not prevent mass gun violence:
MCCAIN: We had a ban on assault weapons, it didn’t change the situation at all in my view…. Look, I think that the strongest second amendment rights people would be glad to have a conversation. But to somehow leap to the conclusion that this was somehow caused by the fact that we don’t have more gun control legislation I don’t think has been proved.
But McCain was once a fierce gun control advocate. He served as a spokesman in the early 2000s for Americans for Gun Safety, a campaign that encouraged states to enact stricter regulations. In 2004, McCain broke with his party to vote for the assault weapons ban before it expired. As the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, McCain earned scorn for his moderate gun control positions and his support for closing the so-called gun show loophole.
Joe Hill wrote this one 100 years ago to remind everyone that scabs get no reward from the bosses.
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Johnsburg 3: Bucky Halker, "Mandolin Red" Stiernberg, and Pickles Piekarski perform the 100-year old IWW, labor song by Joe Hill entitled "Casey Jones, the Union Scab." Though executed by a firing squad in Utah in 1915, Hill became a legendary labor songwriter and the model for Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and others who followed.
Former CIA agent John Kiriakou, who the United States government alleges released classified information to journalists that included the identities of a ?covert CIA officer? and details on the role of ?another CIA employee in classified activities,? was[...]
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Here is a short list of some individual Christian women who have worked for social justice. This[...]
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Congressman Keith Ellison, (D-MN)Muslims in the U.S. and around the world are celebrating the month of Ramadan. It is a time of self-examination.
I am not a Muslim, and I proudly join my Muslim brothers and sisters.
Muslim Americans have increasingly become targets of right-wing hate groups.
I know what it is to be a target of hate. I also know how it feels to practice a religious faith that is not considered to be mainstream.
I respect people of all faiths, and most of all I respect my country for having the freedom to practice or not practice a religion as one of the foundations of our democracy.
In the spirit of this time of self-examination I call upon my fellow citizens of goodwill to look into your hearts, and try to imagine being in Congressman Keith Ellison's shoes.
Send a message of thanks to a man who represents the best of what we as a nation stand for. Most importantly I ask that non-Muslims, and people who may not be theists at all, send him Ramadan greetings.
The vile and vicious outpouring of hate and McCarthyism unleashed against Sec. Hillary Clinton's longtime aide Huma Abedin by a right-wing cabal in our Congress spearheaded by Michele Bachmann and joined by Republican Reps. Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland, and crafted out of Frank Gaffney's paranoid propaganda, was immediately responded to by Congressman Ellison.
He sent this letter to Bachmann.
Ellison, a progressive Democrat, advocate of many causes for justice and equality that benefit us all?not just his constituents?had to stand alone each day in Congress as its only Muslim member. Bad enough he has to fight against the rising tide of racism against African-Americans coming from the Right. He is now no longer "the only" since Rep. André Carson (D-IL) has joined him in the isolation of "otherness".
Bachmann, as Hunter reported Friday, has gone even further off the deep end and accused Ellison of Muslim Brotherhood ties.
It was no easy task to be "the first".
It is no easy task to bear the pain, and the hate thrown at fellow Muslims and to remain a person with a gentle and loving spirit embracing people of all faiths and colors.
Ellison receives death threats, yet is always available to his constituents and our causes.
Imagine living daily with your loyalty to our nation being questioned as you live to give service.
Who here at Daily Kos can forget his warm welcome at Netroots Nation?
Who can forget the tears he wept for us all as he testified in Congress about the death of a 9/11 responder?
He has stood up for the environment, opposed war, and fought for health care.
Responding to the tragic shooting in Colorado during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said he would oppose gun control efforts that could be used to “restrict our freedoms” and instead suggested arming “responsible” people to combat “sick, demented individuals who want to do harm.”
Johnson also argued that any additional measures to restrict large gun magazines that carry 100 rounds of ammunition — similar to the high-capacity clip that the alleged Colorado shooter employed — would infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights:
JOHNSON: People will talk about unusually lethal weapons, that could be potentially a discussion you could have. But the fact of the matter is there are 30-round magazines that are just common. You simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals who want to do harm. And when you try to do it, you restrict our freedoms.
Johnson’s statement was in direct opposition to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who came on the program to call for a renewed assault weapons ban. “I believe people use these weapons because they can get them,” she said. “I believe that a revolver, a rifle, a hand gun isn’t going to do the damage. It’s the big clips, a hundred rounds. You can’t get to him to dislodge the gun because he can fire so rapidly and has so many bullets.”
Johnson disagreed and argued that the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004 and banned high-capacity magazines, actually made things worse in the Aurora shooting. “If a responsible individual had been carrying a weapon, maybe, maybe they could have prevented some of those deaths, some of those injuries,” he said.
by Dana Nucitelli, via Skeptical Science
As we know, it is absolutely critical that we reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as much as possible, as soon as possible, to minimize the damage that climate change will do.
Thus the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) endangerment finding – which concluded that GHGs are pollutants as defined by the Clean Air Act and must therefore be regulated – is a critical document. Although there have been steps taken by individual states (i.e. RGGI and California) to regulate GHG emissions, we have had little success in implementing measures to reduce emissions on a national level, other than piecemeal steps like higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards which are often implemented for other non-climate reasons. There are of course many individuals who oppose the EPA endangerment finding for two main reasons, (i) they oppose any steps to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and (ii) they oppose any government regulations.
Unfortunately the American political party environmental policy positions have shifted. In the 1980s, political liberals tended to favor government regulation as the solution to environmental problems, while political conservatives in the Reagan and Bush administrations came up with the concept of cap and trade systems to use the free market to solve them. To the conservatives’ credit, cap and trade systems have worked remarkably well – the up-front costs were much lower than originally predicted, and they have saved Americans tens to hundreds of billions of dollars. Now cap and trade is the favored solution to GHG emissions amongst political liberals in the USA, while the conservatives who originated the concept now generally oppose it, instead choosing to reject climate science and deny the problem exists at all.
Since these conservatives have successfully blocked attempts to implement a cap and trade or other carbon pricing system, we are left with government regulation (via the EPA and its endangerment finding) as the only alternative to reduce GHG emissions from large emitters. Into this scene enter serial data deleter Patrick Michaels and his fossil fuel-funded Cato Institute political think tank, which have released a voluminous report attempting to undermine the endangerment finding, with their misguided efforts of course being promoted by the usual climate denial enablers.
In this post, we will examine some of the key findings in the Cato report and demonstrate how they are flawed, and that Michaels and Cato unwittingly acknowledge that the EPA is correct about the threat of human-caused climate change in the process.
The EPA endangerment finding was based on several major climate science reports, such as the IPCC report and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) report Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The USGCRP report listed 10 key findings which Michaels and Cato have ‘tweaked’ to reflect their own perception of the science. The first key finding of each:
USGCRP: Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.
Cato: Climate change is unequivocal and human activity plays some part in it.
In other words, Michaels and Cato dispute that humans are the primary cause of the 20th Century global warming/climate change. To support this position, they refer to page 16 of their report, which essentially just rehashes the myth that because the 1910-1945 rate of warming was similar to that since 1975, the latter warming may be natural.
“The first warming is not likely to be associated with greenhouse gas changes, and the lack of statistically significant warming since 1996, which is concurrent with the greatest increases in greenhouse gases, is of unknown importance at this time.”
As it so happens, there were significant human GHG emissions in the early 20th Century, which caused atmospheric CO2 levels to rise from 300 to 310 parts per million by volume (ppmv) from 1910 to 1945. This CO2 rise alone would have caused approximately 0.1°C surface warming, which is approximately 20% of the total observed warming during that period.
More importantly, the Cato argument is intellectually lazy, because it fails to actually examine the causes of these warming periods. A number of climate scientists have conducted attribution studies and universally find that while the 1910-1945 warming was predominantly caused by natural effects (i.e. increasing solar activity and an extended period of low volcanic activity), the warming over the past 50 years has been dominated by human GHG emissions (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Net human and natural percent contributions to the observed global surface warming over the past 50-65 years according to Tett et al. 2000 (T00, dark blue), Meehl et al. 2004 (M04, red), Stone et al. 2007 (S07, green), Lean and Rind 2008 (LR08, purple), Huber and Knutti 2011 (HK11, light blue), and Gillett et al. 2012 (G12, orange).
And of course while the warming since 1996 (this date being selected with a juicy cherrypick) may not quite be statistically significant at a 95% confidence level, surface temperatures have most likely warmed approximately 0.2°C over the past 15 years – a fact which Cato and Michaels conveniently neglect to mention.
In short, on this point the USGCRP report and EPA endangerment finding are based on a sound review of all the scientific evidence, while Michaels’ Cato argument is based on two characteristics of scientific denialism – misrepresentation and logical fallacies, and cherrypicking.
In fact, misrepresentation and logical fallacies are the preferred method by which Michaels and Cato dispute the USGCRP report and EPA endangerment finding. For example, in response to the conclusion that climate change will stress water sources, Michaels and Cato argue that water sources have been stressed in the past, and therefore will be stressed in the future “with or without human-induced climate change.” While this is certainly a true statement, it does not follow that we should increase the frequency and magnitude of water resource stress by increasing evaporation, drought frequency, water loss from plants, etc., as the USGCRP report notes will occur as human-induced climate change increases.
Similarly, while the USGCRP report notes that continuing climate change will cause various thresholds to be crossed, leading to large changes in ecosystems, Michaels and Cato respond again by saying that ecosystems will change with or without human-induced climate change. Again, it does not follow that we should increase the frequency and magnitude at which a dangerous event happens just because this type of event will eventually happen naturally.
While this is a glaring logical fallacy, Michaels and Cato follow with perhaps an even greater fallacy, arguing that climate change does not pose a threat because we may be able to adapt to it.
Throughout the report, Michaels takes a similar position as that espoused by his colleague Chip Knappenberger with regards to heat fatalities. In fact, Michaels references the same paper as Knappenberger when making this argument, which the two co-authored with Robert Davis in 2003, which coincidentally was one of the Climate Research ‘pal review’ papers we recently discussed.
The long and short of it is that the EPA endangerment finding is predicated on the fact that human-caused climate change poses a threat to public health and welfare, but Michaels and Cato argue that it’s not a threat because we can adapt to it. As one example (though the Cato report contains many other similar arguments) they point to their Davis et al. (2003) ‘pal review’ paper which argues that heat-related deaths are less common in hotter cities. From this Knappenberger actually argued that more frequent heat waves will actually lead to fewer heat-related deaths, which is another rather glaring logical fallacy, and also not borne out by the data.
However, the most glaring logical fallacy here involves the conclusion that climate change does not pose a threat because we can adapt to it. In reality, if climate change did not pose a threat, we would not need to adapt to it. For example, the only reason people would need to adapt to more frequent heat waves is because they pose a threat to human welfare.
As Lonnie Thompson put it, “The only question is how much we will mitigate, adapt, and suffer” to human-caused climate change. Adaptation has a cost, and a much greater overall cost than mitigation, but the point that Michaels and Cato miss is that the possibility that we may be able to adapt to a threat does not negate the existence of that threat – quite the contrary. We may or may not be able to successfully adapt to those threats, but that question is predicated on the fact that the threats exist, and therefore the EPA endangerment finding is correct.
By arguing that climate change poses threats that we may be able to adapt to, Michaels and Cato have unwittingly acknowledged that the EPA is right to regulate GHG emissions due to the threat they pose to public welfare.
The final USGCRP ‘key finding’ notes that “future climate change and its impacts will depend on choices made today“, effectively echoing the conclusions of the Australian Climate Commission’s The Critical Decade report that we are running out of time to sufficiently reduce our GHG emissions. Michaels and Cato responded by claiming that developed nations’ emissions reductions won’t matter, because our emissions will be dwarfed by those from developing nations like China.
This is of course the CO2 limits will make little difference ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ myth. In reality, developing nations like China are making efforts to limit their GHG emissions growth, because they recognize the threat posed by human-caused climate change. However, developing nations understandably want developed nations – which are responsible for most of the human-caused climate change thus far – to lead the way in emissions reductions. If developed nations like the USA sit on our hands and say “our emissions don’t matter,” then China will have no incentive to reduce their emissions either. This is an example of Tragedy of the Commons whereby everybody looks out for their own best interests at the detriment of the collective best interest.
Every nation can say “our emissions by themselves are too small to matter,” and if everybody takes this approach, nobody will reduce emissions. This is why we need international climate agreements in which all nations commit to reducing their emissions. However, the USA (which should be leading the way as the largest historical emitter) cannot commit to serious emissions reduction goals if groups like Cato are successful in undermining climate legislation on a national level.
It’s an effective Catch-22. Cato argues that US emissions won’t matter because China’s emissions will be too large, China won’t commit to emissions reductions unless the USA leads the way, and the USA can’t lead the way with groups like Cato successfully undermining national climate legislation.
Until US policymakers move beyond the Cato-style climate logical fallacies, the EPA regulation of large GHG emitters via the endangerment finding is the only large-scale emissions reductions effort we have. Instead of using the characteristics of scientific denialism to deny the threat exists, the Cato Institute should return to its conservative roots and support a free market solution to the problem via a carbon pricing mechanism. In the meantime, the climate threat will only continue to grow until it eventually reaches the point where it becomes undeniable – but at that point it may be too late to avoid the suffering Lonnie Thompson has warned us about.
Note: A federal appeals court emphatically upheld the endangerment finding, concluding that the EPA was ?unambiguously correct? that the Clean Air Act requires the federal government to impose limits once it has determined that emissions are causing harm. In a blow to climate contrarians like Michaels and Cato,the judges wrote “This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”
– Dana Nucitelli. This piece was originally published at Skeptical Science and was reprinted with permission.
According to economists and other experts surveyed by the Associated Press, the U.S. poverty rate is on track to hit its highest level since the 1960s. The consensus among those surveyed is that “the official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent.” Just a 0.1 percent increase would put the poverty rate at its highest since 1965.
During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) refused to call for stronger gun control laws in the wake of the tragic movie theater shooting in his state. After saying that a reexamination of Colorado’s gun control laws is “going to happen,” Hickenlooper told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that even if there were stronger restrictions, the alleged shooter would “have found something else” to commit the murders:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does it make you think, at this point, that you need to take another look at Colorado’s gun laws?
HICKENLOOPER: You know, I’m sure that’s going to happen. But I look at this — this wasn’t a Colorado problem, this was a human problem, right, and how we can have such a warped individual and no one around them be aware. I worry that if we got rid of all the guns — certainly, we have so many guns in this country and we do have a lot more gun violence — but even if he didn’t have access to guns, this guy was diabolical, right? He would have found explosives, he would have found something else, some sort of poisonous gas, something to create this horror.
Hickenlooper made similar comments on CNN’s State of the Union. As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Virginia’s Senate candidates also dodged gun control questions.
The weapon used by the alleged shooter would have been covered by the assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004. The high capacity clip used was also covered by the ban. Later during ABC’s show, former Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) said that no citizen should have access to an assault rifle. “No one should have that kind of killing machine,” he said.
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Here we go again. Earlier in the week we had Joe Klien repeating this nonsense. Now it was Chuck Todd filling in for Chris Matthews on his weekend show, making the claim that the Obama campaign is somehow ?Swiftboating? Mitt Romney.
TODD: Dan, we know that this is, it feels right out of the 2004 Karl Rove playbook. In fact I think Charlie Cook wrote earlier this week that Karl Rove ought to get royalties from the Obama campaign on what they're doing. Essentially, they're Swiftboating Romney.
And Dan Rather agreed with him. I don't expect any better out of Gloria Borger or Kathleen Parker who will gladly repeat Republican talking points ad nauseum, but after what the Bush campaign did to him while the Swiftboat attacks were going on against John Kerry, you'd think we'd get a little more honesty out of Rather, and some push back as to why what the Obama campaign is doing with the Bain attacks is not the same as the attacks on Kerry's military record. Instead he was happy to play along and help Todd compare the attack ads to Karl Rove as well.
Kathleen Parker goes on to carry some water for the dishonest so-called ?fact checker? Glenn Kessler over at the Washington Post who lied and claimed there was nothing to the attacks on Bain Capital, even discounting the other reporting from journalists at his same paper. For some background on why no one should be calling him a ?fact checker? on anything, I'd recommend reading Marcy Wheeler's post about him from earlier this week before anyone else holds him up as some ?journalist? who can be counted on to tell the truth: Yesterday?s Some-Sayers Have Become Today?s Fact-Checkers. Just go read the whole thing but she's got a very long list going back to the George W. Bush years on how Kessler's been doing this same sort of thing for a very long time now. All things are not equal when you have one side continually just making stuff up out of whole cloth and the other side attacking you for things that are true.
And all of them on the panel this week were completely dismissive of what a nasty, dishonest, mean spirited presidential campaign Mitt Romney has run from day one, but oh my goodness, don't dare let the Obama campaign run any nasty ads attacking Mitt Romney, or voters might not think he's a nice guy any more and there's going to be blow back. Funny how that only seems to apply to one side with our Villagers in the beltway media.