Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Videos

3 Doors Down ("Kryptonite")...

...The Shins ("Australia")...

...Seether ("Truth")...

...and tomorrow is the birthday of Robert Smith of The Cure ("Fascination Street"), so have a good one, dude!

The Day Joe Nacchio Stood Tall

As many of us know, former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio was convicted of insider trading yesterday, with the government making the case that Nacchio knew Qwest would fall short of its revenue targets in 2001 and thus dumped $52 million in Qwest shares between April and May of that year.

(And as I read the quotes from U.S. Attorney Troy Eid after the conviction, I just wonder how much he and the other attorneys have done to keep in Bushco’s good graces after Abu Gonzales fired the eight who weren’t – I know it’s unfair to “paint with a broad brush” like that, but I still can’t help but wonder.)

Well, before we all celebrate the demise of another corporate evildoer too much here, I would ask that we revisit this great Kos post from the Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse about what happened when Nacchio refused to turn over his company’s phone records to the NSA (indeed, the entire post carefully reconstructs the possible – probable? – payback Nacchio suffered as a result, though his lawyers will appeal this verdict).

Update: Besides, though Nacchio was convicted of insider trading, I know a certain President who was accused of the same thing but "walked" by virtue of his last name.

Update 10/11/07: Uh...yep.

Update 3/17/08: Wow...

The Shots Heard 'Round The World

Concerning the 32 murders at Virginia Tech University on Monday, let’s not forget the reaction from around the globe. Many other countries, of course think we are insane for allowing these weapons of death to so thoroughly permeate our country (and let’s not forget that students and instructors from other nations were victims also, as noted here).

Also, I, like you I’m sure, am starting to hear the argument advocated with greater frequency and emphasis that more guns could have prevented the tragedy, not fewer – I touched on this earlier, but I’m coming back to it again.

I’ve never understood this argument. Never. Guns are the only item, apparently, where (as far as some people are concerned) more of them can decrease the problem they pose instead of fewer. To me, that’s like saying the way to combat a flu epidemic is to create more viruses, or the way to cut down on traffic fatalities due to people driving too fast on a congested roadway is to raise the speed limit.

And the information from this link bears out what I just said, from The Journal of Trauma (let’s look at this from the human health and life sciences perspective, OK?). I think this paragraph goes right to the heart of the matter (re: the results of a study pertaining to gun violence conducted in three major U.S. cities)…

…During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.
Any questions?

Harry Hammers The "Wall Of Denial"

Kudos to Harry Reid for providing some “straight talk,” if you will, concerning Iraq.

And while Repug chickenhawks like Mitch McConnell squawk predictably that what Reid said is somehow hurting our troops more than the clueless execution of something approximating a war strategy that has totally failed (and this story, linked to by Atrios yesterday, hammers the last nail into the “we’ll stand down when Iraqis stand up” coffin), the U.S. military continues to wall off portions of Iraq in an effort to stem the violence in the civil war.

Funny, but with all due respect to our service people, this sounds to me like the strategy of MBNA Senator Joe Biden, who proposed partitioning off Iraq by religious and ethnic groups last year (a weak idea, but preferable to what we have now).

Update: mcjoan at The Daily Kos has more.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Videos

A little behind on the videos I know, so here goes...

Steve Wynn And The Miracle 3 ("Amphetamine")...

...Kings Of Leon ("On Call")...

...Happy Birthday to Alan Price of The Animals ("It's My Life" on "Hullabaloo"; again, not Digby's great blog, and I think the emcee was '60s movie actor George Maharis - mounting the heads of the go-go dancers on plaques like that might be the most chauvinistic thing I've ever seen on one of these videos)...

...and happy belated birthday to Maynard James Keenan of Tool ("Sober," yet another really freaky video from these guys).

"Surging" To What?

I thought this column from Paul Campos was interesting; he managed to draw a parallel between the Blacksburg massacre this week and the Iraq War (glad to give him a "prop" after I slapped him down earlier on Al Gore).

I don’t have anything particularly brilliant to add here, but I just wanted to point this out.

Also, thanks to Shaun at Kiko’s House for the photo link.

A "Way Forward" On Tax Reform

Amity Shlaes of Bloomberg News chastised John Edwards today for his proposal to make it easier for many Americans to file their taxes…

A mark of ``F'' goes to John Edwards, who offered his plan (on April 7th) in a pod cast. Edwards suggested that the 50 million families with relatively simple returns be permitted to pass the responsibility of managing those returns to the IRS.

Then the taxpayers would never even have to talk to the IRS, fill out a form, or meet an accountant.

This seems clever. The Democrat Edwards is trying to supplant Republicans in their traditional role of pandering to taxpayer hatred of tax authorities. The plan also has another kind of appeal. Edwards is playing Steve Jobs and trying to make Hillary Clinton look like a cog from IBM.

But the Edwards plan is pernicious because it makes the whole tax process seem all-the-more inevitable. If taxpayers never confront what they owe on a W-2 form, they will never think about what they could have done with that money in terms of investment or invention. The system gives new meaning to the word ``passive.'' Under the Edwards plan, Americans would be so accustomed to the government hand in their pocket they would never even consider the budgetary consequences of, say, Medicare.
When you can figure out what Hillary Clinton, IBM, Steve Jobs and Medicare have to do with filing your taxes, I’d appreciate it if you would let me know, because I have no idea.

Of course, Shlaes just assumes that many people in this country who would be amenable to Form 1 (the centerpiece of the Edwards proposal as noted here) are simply too dumb or lazy to ever seek to file their returns any other way should their circumstances change, and Edwards is also trying to look out for taxpayers who would be burdened with undo paperwork for comparatively simple returns (i.e., low income earners or students out of college; I don’t know if student loan payments can be deducted or by how much or what formula, but for someone just entering the work force, I can’t think of too much more to deal with on a return than that besides wages, interest and standard tax withholding).

Besides, if someone were to receive the Form 1 from the IRS with the tax liability already determined, that person could still compute their tax liability to verify the information on the form.

Speaking for myself, I’ve prepared our taxes on our own and I’ve sought the help of a preparer. And though I think Edwards has a good idea, this would necessitate a much more powerful role and higher funding appropriations for the IRS to prepare “simple” returns in the manner Edwards proposes (even for “simple” returns, the web site Edwards envisions would have to be updated as needed for changes in the tax code; I don’t believe, though, that that’s a “show stopper” under any stretch of the imagination).

But Shlaes and those in the financial services industry in general will no doubt continue to howl over Edwards’ proposal because it would eventually result in money out of their pockets in tax preparation fees and financial reporting; hence the false characterization of Edwards’ plan as “pernicious.”

And speaking of taxes, before you hear of anyone demonizing illegal/undocumented/whatever workers for a variety of reasons, keep in mind that many of them are highly conscientious when it comes to paying taxes (so they embrace the Internal Revenue Service but do all they can to get away from Immigration and Customs Enforcement – and if I were in their shoes, I’d do the very same thing).

And this story notes that most Californians favor a path to citizenship for illegal aliens (this may be the only issue where Dubya has the foggiest clue concerning the right answer…maybe).

Update: I'd forgotten this from a few days ago, but luckily, Flavia Colgan at Citizen Hunter didn't here, and that would be the encouragement from the Edwards campaign for everyone to reduce our "carbon footprints" (more info here).

The Senate Says No To Drugs

As reported in the Boston Globe here, the Senate prevented the Democrats from allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for senior citizens. The 55-42 vote in favor of the measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to take up the measure on the Senate floor.

Here is the vote on the measure, with the usual culprits doing the dirty work (including John Cornyn of Texas who, along with Kay Bailey Hutchison, ignored their constituents and utterly caved in to the pharmaceutical industry).

As the Globe story notes, though, Max Baucus, Senate Finance chairman and the bill's sponsor, said he will reintroduce an identical or similar measure. This isn’t dead yet, people.

And by the way, this seems to be an appropriate story for linking to this AFL-CIO site where you can tell your own stories if you’ve experienced “the health care hustle.”

Perhaps Our Darkest Media Moment? (Updated)

I would like to personally thank Dale Larson, the publisher of the Bucks County Courier Times, for filling up this morning's front page with photos of the lone shooter (as far as we know, hopefully) in the Virginia Tech massacre. This life form is shown in combat poses aiming the guns he used to conduct the worst mass slaughter seen in this country in nearly 80 years.

We have a young child growing up in our house, Mr. Larson. We had to hide the newspaper from his sight so it wouldn't scare him. Doesn't that make you proud?

Of course, the Courier Times is hardly blameless in this matter. CNN and other sites I'm sure have photos plastered all over the place from Cho Seung-Hui that he sent to NBC before he offed himself along with all of the other victims of his crimes on Monday.

When NBC determined what was contained in the package, it should have been sealed and turned over in its entirety to the Virginia State police as evidence in an ongoing murder investigation.

Another lifetime ago as a journalism student at Temple University, I enrolled in a class called "Law and Ethics in Mass Communications." I can't recall back that far to determine what our instructor would say about this now, but at the risk of patting myself on the back, I believe he would echo what I just said.

Of course, there were standards back then, and journalism was respected and practiced as a craft (and this was the rule, not the exception). But in this day and age, I find I must remember to remind myself that maintaining high ratings to generate the highest possible ad revenue easily trumps any standards of decency and common sense.

And no, I'm not going to publicize this murdering animal with a photo accompanying this post.

Update 1: Finally, a person on TV who makes sense on this story!

Update 2: My bad; the New York Times reports the following...

(Upon receiving the package) NBC quickly contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the state police in Virginia. Officials from the New York field office of the F.B.I. went to Rockefeller Center to pick up the originals.
And by the way, Brian Williams, he of this post, is quoted as follows...

“This was a sick business tonight, going on the air with this,” he said.
Yeah, but you went ahead anyway, didn't you? You can't blame bloggers for this one!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Marching Back To The Dark Ages

I knew something like this would come eventually, but its arrival is no less disgusting.

As you can read here, The Supremes overturned a ruling today from the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that found the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban signed into law in 2003 to be unconstitutional.

The ruling majority, including Anthony Kennedy writing for the court, just undercut a woman's right to choose in the severest way possible (and God forbid that a woman in this country has something go catastrophically wrong with her pregnancy, including something affecting her own health, because in their infinite barbarity, Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy said today that she must carry the child to term regardless of the consequences - the ban makes no exception for the health of the mother).

This takes you to an announcement from Planned Parenthood in light of this awful ruling.

That's about it for today - I'm too disgusted to post anything else.

Bushco's Bang-Bang Judge

And of course, leave to the Philadelphia Inquirer to use the Blacksburg, VA massacre to grant a forum to Alan Caruba of something called The National Anxiety Center to claim that more guns would have saved lives, not fewer ones.

Well, at least Caruba didn’t question the courage of the victims as John Derbyshire did as noted by Time’s Ana Marie Cox here (via Atrios).

The only reason – and believe me, I mean when I tell you that the only reason – why I’m giving Caruba even the slightest acknowledgment here is because he uses the horrific verdict in Parker v. District of Columbia, which overturned D.C.’s 30-year-old handgun ban, as a basis for his argument (a ruling which, as acknowledged by Paul Helmke of Handgun Control, Inc. here, ignored all prior case law to reinterpret the Second Amendment – here’s a related New York Times story).

Here is Caruba’s nonsense…

A recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Parker v. District of Columbia restored Second Amendment rights to the citizens of the District and, by extension, to every citizen of these United States. Not since 1976 had residents of the District had the right to defend themselves with force of arms.

Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman (stating the majority opinion) wrote: "In sum, the phrase 'the right of the people,' when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual."
I realized that that name was familiar, though I couldn’t place it immediately; hmmm, Laurence H. Silberman, Laurence H. Silberman…

And then I remembered who he was.

Judge Laurence Silberman, along with former Senator Charles Robb of Virginia, headed the WMD Study Commission in 2004, which was intended to whitewash any negative findings from the 9/11 BakerKean-Hamilton commission for purposes of doing all it could to secure the presidential election and thus continue the Iraq war (Cheney described Silberman’s report as “enormously helpful” according to Bob Woodward in “State of Denial” – I’m not inclined to blame Robb so much the way Woodward recounts what happened).

So, it looks like Judge Laurence H. Silberman will secure a unique place in the history of both American politics and jurisprudence. First he does all he can to perpetuate the utterly and tragically failed Bush-Cheney regime, particularly in Iraq, and then he does all he can to repeal a measure to prevent untold senseless carnage in the District of Columbia in general and our nation’s capital in particular.

It may not be possible to truly measure in any real sense the blood on this man’s hands.

Congratulations, Your Honor. You must be proud.

Spy Until You Die

As I said, posting is going to slow down for a time due to other stuff going on, but I just had to note this story in USA Today yesterday where U.S. National Intelligence Director John Mike McConnell (smirk…no, Negroponte is now Deputy Secretary of State, people) asked Congress to “modify” (read: totally gut and make useless) the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

(And why, I ask you, should we trust Bushco to do ANYTHING right at this point and not oppose this merely by default?).

Short of that, I should note that McConnell asked for the following, as pointed out in the story…

•Permit all forms of "electronic surveillance" and eliminate requirements that restrict monitoring to specific categories such as "radio" and "wire" intercepts.
Doesn’t sound too terrible yet, but it gets better (and you knew it would).

•Allow the FBI, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies to intercept foreign phone calls and e-mails routed through U.S. carriers, even if the senders and recipients are based abroad. Currently, one party must be based in the USA.
Oh, isn’t that just great? The world is pissed off at us enough as it is, but suppose, say, a call was made from England to Canada that we intercepted and wrongly interpreted to mean that a plane was going to be commandeered at Pearson International Airport in Toronto and flown towards the nuclear reactor at Limerick, Pa. and our Strategic Air Command ended up shooting down an unarmed passenger jet under those pretenses. Can you say “extremely ugly diplomatic incident involving possibly the only two nations friendly to us left on earth”?

Apparently, this administration still somehow hasn’t learned the lesson that we must find it in ourselves to play nice with the rest of the world.

Oh, to be governed by grownups again…

•Provide for the first time immunity from lawsuits to communications companies that aid government investigators, retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001.
Now why do you suppose Bushco would want to do this? To do all the data mining it wanted on any person or group it didn’t like, maybe, and reward the companies that allow it?

•Require that legal challenges to foreign surveillance operations be heard by a secret FISA court rather than in an open federal court as is now the case.
More secrecy – God, these people disgust me in the extreme! This and at least one other provision here would never survive a court challenge anyway.

•Give investigators one week rather than the current 48 hours to perform surveillance before seeking approval from a FISA court judge.
See the third bullet about data mining.

•Let investigators keep information unrelated to the reason for the surveillance, provided it was collected "unintentionally" and contains "significant foreign intelligence." Current law requires such information be destroyed.
As Dahlia Lithwick and Julia Turner reported in this Slate article…

Asked at a May (2002) congressional hearing how the DOJ defines "content" when it comes to electronic communications, Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh reported, "We consider non-content to be the 'to' and the 'from.' The subject line is content." Nice that they're paying attention, but it does appear that the DOJ acts as the only check on itself, here.
I submit that “unintentionally” obtained “non-content” is pretty much useless boilerplate language that doesn’t mean anything in this context anyway, based on Dinh’s standard. And now McConnell wants to capture even that.

More importantly, though (as Lithwick and Turner note), McConnell and our intelligence services are left to police themselves absent any and all accountability.

If you think these proposals from McConnell to basically eliminate FISA under the guise of “modifying” it are garbage like I do, contact Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and tell him (of course, this is assuming he’s stopped quaking in his boots as a response to Dubya’s veto threat regarding the Iraq Supplemental – I’m so not filled with confidence on this, but it’s worth a shot).

Why Rudy Will Cave

Paul Krugman's latest in Monday’s New York Times had to do with how "the base," if you will, for the Democrats has been driving the presidential candidates on the Iraq war first and foremost (certainly Obama and Edwards, but maybe not HRC so much among the field) as well as issues such as health care (certainly applicable to Edwards). The Repug candidates, on the other hand, have been busy sucking up to their supporters as well, though they don't constitute the majority of the country (and they never have, really, though they've wielded their clout with the assistance of other Republican constituencies, primarily bona fide fiscal conservatives).

And on Iraq, all of the name Repug presidential contenders are tethered to Dubya at the moment. However, I believe that may change before the 2008 presidential campaign is mercifully over.

This revelation occurred to me a day or so ago, so it probably occurred to at least one other person as well, but I'm going to post it here in an effort to take credit for it, so there (amplified, I think, by this CNN story which shows the Repug field tightening up a bit).

I predict that, in a craven attempt to capture the Repug nomination for President next year, Rudy Giuliani will depart from the other contenders and no longer support Dubya on the Iraq war.

Oh, it's not that Rudy is such an enlightened guy, really, or that he loves our troops so much. It's just that I believe he sees "the handwriting on the wall" whereas the other candidates don't.

I think Giuliani will do this, first and foremost, because he will never win over the fundie zealots who do whatever Dobson, Robertson, Falwell and their ilk tell them to do. And since they're the only ones who still think the Iraq war is a good idea, what good are these people to him?

The person who will get the vote of these life forms is Mitt Romney. And just take all of that talk about how the evangelicals think that the Mormons are pagans and toss it right out the window - they'll tumble for Mitt anyway. And do you know why? Because Romney is the only person in the field who reminds them of The Sainted Ronnie Reagan, that's why (Roger Simon isn't the only one with a "man crush" on this guy). And Romney's positions on Iraq and the economy, for example, echo the hard line "the base" wants to hear.

All Giuliani has to do when it comes to seeing the drag of the Iraq war on a candidate is to look at John McCain. Sure, McCain has done well to cut Giuliani's lead among Republicans by giving that speech at the Virginia Military Institute pledging his undying support for Dubya's Best Iraq War Evah, but Rudy knows that it will be a whole different landscape in the general election if he gets the nomination.

Besides, as Jim Sleeper noted here a little while ago, Giuliani loves big, dramatic moments, No sane person would have ever wished for 9/11, but as long as it occurred, Giuliani made the most of it. And as the mayor of the city that suffered the most on that awful day, his decision to refocus the legitimate war on terror some other way would have a "Nixon Goes To China" quality to it.

(By the way, Big Tent Democrat refutes Sleeper here, particularly on the excerpt below…

“He forced New York, that great capital of “root cause” explanations for every social problem, to get real about remedies that work, at least for now, in the world as we know it.”
I don’t completely understand what Sleeper is getting at here and I don’t even think he’s factually correct, but how his column about Giuliani could actually be seen as an endorsement by some is something I don’t understand.)

So there you have it - Rudy will split with Dubya, and it will allow him to squeak through and win the Repug nomination next year, which, sadly, will be a good move for the campaign against either Obama, Edwards or Hillary.

Remember, you heard it here first. And if I turn out to be wrong, I'll disavow all knowledge of this post :-).

P.S. – Here’s more ammunition for Rudy; he could probably adopt (i.e., steal) some of what is being discussed here, namely, the idea of fighting a single organized enemy (though that might be too difficult for many of his supporters to comprehend).

Update 4/24/07: See?

Update 4/27/07: This only reinforces my argument (h/t Atrios).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Maher On "The Elites"

Good final words the other night involving Monica Goodling, someone I haven't had time to discuss, though others have - enjoy (and yes, that is Scott McClellan looking much more relaxed as he's consoled by Dana Carvey)...

Simple Simon

Local area czar of self-importance Simon Campbell of Lower Makefield, PA, he of the web site Stop Teachers Strikes, spread more disinformation today about Patrick Murphy in the Bucks County Courier Times, alleging that Patrick is completely beholden to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a charge which is flat wrong in addition to being patently stupid (witness Patrick's recent vote against the budget, for example).

I also happened to find out that Campbell, while not busy propagandizing about teachers and unions, has also found time to start a blog (who hasn't these days :-) to advocate for his causes.

I probably shouldn't extend to him the courtesy of a link, but I'm doing so to point out something. Others are more knowledgeable about this sort of thing than I am, but Campbell really should have content with his links. Anybody can link randomly to other news sites, but the trick is to stick your neck out, so to speak, by stating your case and letting people agree or disagree with you, or is not doing so Campbell's own acknowledgement that his cases are really weak?

(By the way, this is my 2,000th post - no fanfare please; well, if you really insist...)

The Wolfie, Shaha and Dubya Show

According to this New York Times article, Shaha Ali Riza, the squeeze of Paul Wolfowitz (now head of the world bank and an architect of our misery in Iraq), was involved in some questionable dealings herself concerning Iraq in 2003 (and this news comes on the heels of the following revelation, as noted in this Times of London story)…

Ms Riza has seen her salary rise by more than $60,000 since her move to the State Department, where she is still paid by the bank and earns more than the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
I mean, hey, I’m by no means Condi’s biggest fan, but how can some state department functionary earn more than the secretary of the department? But then again, that’s Bushco for you.

Anyway, back to 2003…

It seems that Riza, who had worked for the World Bank, was recruited by Wolfie in ’03 to take a job at the Defense Department, where Wolfie was still toiling under Rummy before the former bailed out for the World Bank himself. When she signed on at DoD, it was through the consulting firm SAIC, because, as we know, the federal government can’t do anything right and we must allow private contractors to run the show at all times (fine upstanding folks all, including Halliburton, as we know).

Why did our government want Riza? Well, as Times reporters Steven R. Weisman and David E. Sanger note…

It was not clear why the Pentagon specifically asked for Ms. Riza to travel to Iraq. At the time, however, the World Bank did not have a relationship with Iraq. Normal bank rules do not allow the bank to provide economic assistance to an area under military occupation.

Ms. Riza’s trip raised concerns among some bank officials, who said they did not know under whose auspices she had traveled to Iraq at a time when it was against bank policy for its officials to go there.

Bank officials said, however, that after the ouster of (Saddam) Hussein, the Bush administration tried to get the bank to help assist in the redevelopment of Iraq and that it was trying to involve the United Nations in the occupation to provide a rationale for the bank’s assistance.

“The bank was under a lot of pressure at the time to do something in Iraq very quickly,” said Jean-Louis Sarbib, a former vice president for the Middle East and North Africa at the bank. “Shaha went to Iraq, I believe, with a U.S. delegation to talk to civil society groups and, in particular, women.”
And Sarbib notes later in the story that he didn’t know anything about Riza’s trip.

Gee, Wolfie and Dubya didn’t have to go to so much trouble to try and use Riza to get the U.N. to play a bigger role. All they had to do was allow the U.N. weapons inspectors to continue doing their jobs before the 2003 invasion instead of throwing them out. I’m sure the U.N. would have been just fine with that.

But of course, had they allowed them to stay and find nothing, then that would have removed Bushco’s original pretext for the pre-emptive war. And Wolfie and Dubya, among others, simply could not allow that, right?

Update 4/20/07: This is a neat related video from (hat tip to Atrios - and once again, the "thumbs up" sign in Iraq means "F.U." here).

Then They Came For The Idiot Columnists

This is all sooo last weekend, I know, but I have to put in my two cents on Smerky’s latest assault on respectable journalism here.

I’m chiming in also because of our hero’s little “cowardly critics” jibe, aimed at yours truly I suppose, assuming I’m high enough on the blogger food chain, as it were, which I’ll admit is debatable, but that’s OK. But even if I’m not, Media Matters for America certainly is, and Roger Ailes has an appropriate response here, via Atrios (and no, we’re not talking about that Roger Ailes).

And going after Media Matters for this post is what Smerky is really up to here, make no mistake, though, first, he must note all of his oh so impressive experience in talk radio and tell us every other stinking thing he’s ever done to communicate how much better he thinks he is than us.

Oooo, I’m soooo scared, Smerky! Can’t you just feel me quaking in fear as I type this?

Our esteemed blogger/journalist/columnist/barking radio head/unquestioning shill and lickspittle for the freeper agenda then attempts to respond to the three citations from Media Matters; the first is “the sissification of America,” according to Smerky.

Oh, and political correctness is just absolutely going to lead to the death of America, as we all know. We should just read Smerky’s book and find out the reason why, of course!

And isn’t it funny but yet pathetically sad how Smerky can take it upon himself to speak for Nicholas Berg even though O'Reilly and other winger "fellow travelers" think it's appropriate to berate Berg's father Michael, who advocates the opposite of what they do, of course (though I think Michael Berg and Cindy Sheehan, though fundamentally right, are acting partly out of a grief impulse that I pray I, for one, never have to experience, but is their right to do so).

In the next citation, Smerky says that Muslim men who were observed praying near a food stand at Giants Stadium engaged in “a form of terrorism in itself” (of course, Smerky’s real concern here is that it might make Poppy Bush wait too long to get a soda and a hot dog).

I have a question: just how crazed are we supposed to get in this country in the process of imagining every conceivable threat before we do something stupid against a person we don’t like that ends up being legally actionable? Hey, if worse comes to worst, you notify security and let them handle it.

Finally, we have Smerky’s response to his words that could be interpreted to mean that he’s telling Asian women to stay home instead of educate themselves or else they won’t be able to instill lessons of success in their kids (or something like that..??).

I think our hero here is more guilty of confused thinking than anything else, though a reasonable person could assume that he’s playing to a stereotype. Basically, he just shouldn’t touch this issue unless he’s going to admit the role that the extended families play for people of cultures that don’t share a white Protestant or northern European ethnicity (yes, many of us have extended families also, but it’s different when your ancestry goes back relatively further than many Asian Americans).

Yes, the three Smerky citations weren't as incendiary as the other nonsense cited by Media Matters; Smerky is usually more clever than goons like Michael Savage and Glenn Beck. However, I don't think someone who has said that single-parent families pose a greater threat to our safety than guns and has openly heckled Roger Waters at a concert because Waters objected to the loss of habeas corpus rights suffered by "enemy combatants" is entitled to cry "oh, help me, I'm a rich, white conservative who's being repressed by that bad liberal media again."

Go write another self-pitying book about all of this, Smerky. I’m sure you’ll make lots more money from your gullible admirers.

By the way, on a wholly other note, I can see a point where I might have to slow down blogging activity for a little while - I'm not sure exactly how long. This is due to other stuff going on that I'll try to take care of as soon as I can.

Some Thoughts On The Shootings

The most important consideration now, of course, regarding the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech University is to support the victims and their families and friends as best as we are able. As the investigation and further events unfold, we will know more about anything we may be able to do or not do, whatever the case may be.

However, I could not help but notice the results of the CNN Quick Vote question which asked, “Do you think gun control laws are an effective way to curb violence?,” and 56 percent of those who responded said no. I think that’s pretty sad, because it’s an admission that we’re going to walk away yet again in the face of another abominable tragedy (and indeed, with the shooter’s face plastered on the CNN site, we seem to be in the mode now where we commiserate with each other around the water coolers and coffee machines talking about this dead lunatic before we move onto the latest piece of celebrity trash, noting perhaps near the unique twist here that the shooter is of Asian descent).

Here is what John and Elizabeth Edwards had to say…

We are simply heartbroken by the deaths and injuries suffered at Virginia Tech. We know what an unspeakable, life-changing moment this is for these families and how, in this moment, it is hard to feel anything but overwhelming grief, much less the love and support around you. But the love and support is there. We pray that these families, these students, and the entire Virginia Tech community know that they are being embraced by a nation. There is a Methodist hymn that gave us solace in such a moment as this, and we repeat its final verse here, in hopes it will help these families, as it helped us:

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing, in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Our dearest wish is that this day could start again, with the promise of these young people alive. Knowing that cannot be, our prayer is for God’s grace and whatever measure of peace can be reached on this terrible day.

John and Elizabeth Edwards
Also, I’m not going to use this tragedy as an argument for one-gun-a-month as the law of the land and making “straw” purchases illegal (as you’ll see, Virginia currently has a one-gun-a-month law on handguns on the books). Those should be federal laws currently in place anyway.

However, I did review Virginia’s gun laws based on this from Handgun Control, and I discovered the following (CNN reports that a source familiar with the investigation said that the weapons found were a 22-caliber semi-automatic and a 9 mm Glock, both with the serial numbers filed off).

According to Handgun Control, Virginia is to be commended for performing a state background check on gun buyers in addition to a federal one, and gun owners are held accountable in the event that a gun is accessible to a child under 14 years of age. However, the following are blemishes on the state’s record of gun safety…

- There is no state requirement that gun owners register their firearms.

- State law authorizes that a record be kept of handguns sold by licensed gun dealers for only 12 months.

- There is no requirement that a gun purchaser receive any safety training.

- Police aren’t allowed to limit carrying concealed handguns.

- No background check is required for secondary or private sales.
And of course (and this echoes the sad performance of the PA legislature), cities are not allowed to enact stronger gun laws than the state.

I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing shortly arguments along the lines of, “oh, it looks like handguns were used and they’re already regulated in Virginia, so gun control doesn’t work.”

Uh, no.

After the most important part of this tragedy passes, Virginia should look at the totality of its record concerning gun safety and realize that it has issues that need to be addressed that could prevent further mass killings (or maybe not, but since when did inaction ever solve anything?).

I'm Still Drying Out, Inky

I have to get this out of the way – please indulge me on this if you will.

In this story from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper states that the nor’easter (the weather front that came through this area on Sunday with a deluge of rain) was “not as bad as feared.”

Perhaps not in the immediate Philadelphia area, but New Jersey got socked, as noted in this excerpt…

New Jersey took a bigger hit.

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey declared a state of emergency yesterday as flooding forced more than 1,400 residents from their homes. A man died, trapped by floodwaters in his car in Woodbridge, and a 79-year-old man died in Belleville, apparently from drowning.

In Cumberland County, about 30 families were evacuated from the Cedar Crest mobile home park in Vineland to escape the surging Blackwater Branch Creek and given shelter in an elementary school, said Anthony Gioielli, county public safety director. No injuries were reported.

But South Jersey was "not as severely impacted" as other parts, Codey said. It "will dry out before the rest of the state."
Given this account, let me tell you a bit about my day yesterday.

I drove north on I-95 into New Jersey and traffic slowly started to crawl as I approached Route 1 (and by the time I’d heard a state trooper on the radio say “If you don’t have to travel to Trenton today, don’t,” it was too late). I was unable to exit and Route 1 and head north, so I continued on 95 as it turned into 295 south (and don’t ask how a road that’s labeled north can change to south unless you know something about this area – it is kind of weird, I’ll admit), with a top speed of about 5 mph until I exited as Sloane Avenue and tried to head north from that direction. When I saw that I could not do that because traffic was so hopelessly snarled due to flooding detours, I picked up 295 south again, took a break on the way, and then picked up 73 North towards the Tacony-Palmyra bridge, having given up any hope of getting to work yesterday; at this point, I was merely trying to get out of New Jersey. But 73 was a parking lot also due to flooding, so I exited to 38 East (?) back towards 295, picked that up, then exited at 541 toward the New Jersey Turnpike, drove that route to the PA connector bridge, and finally got out of New Jersey that way before arriving home about a half hour later.

I was on the road for over four hours yesterday. It was the worst driving experience I’d encountered in 13 years, matched only by the time I was stuck on Route 202 in the western suburbs during an ice storm, at which point I was very nearly forced to evacuate my car altogether.

I also heard on the New Jersey traffic yesterday that 50 major highways in that state were impacted to one degree or another by the flooding, so my guess is that there were hundreds of other motorists in the same situation I was.

“Not as bad as feared”? Perhaps. But it was still pretty damn bad anyway.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Just One Bad Day

I had been working on a post that I'd planned to submit earlier after one of the most hellacious driving experiences of my life due to the flooding in New Jersey today, but then I heard of the awful shootings at Virginia Tech University today on CNN (and the generic bubbleheaded brunette anchorperson wondering "where was campus security" while 32 people - latest count - were being slaughtered; I'm sure that campus is enormous, which makes that a particularly stupid concern given the scope of this tragedy).

Update: I apologize for being too rough on the CNN anchor; apparently there were shootings in a dormitory that preceded more shootings elsewhere on the campus by about two hours, and I believe she was asking about that.

So I'm sorry, but in light of this awful event, I don't think it's appropriate to yak about politics and the media today, even though this is going to put me behind on a few topics, including Smerky's latest nonsense.

Let's just keep the victims and all concerned in our thoughts and prayers, if we have that inclination, particularly if we know of anyone who has friends or family members in attendance at the university.