Saturday, January 15, 2011

More Saturday Stuff

Here is some debunking of the "conventional wisdom" surrounding Jared Lee Loughner, whom all of us, myself included, have spent waaay too much time discussing (And by the way, CNN, can you please remove that disgusting photo of him looking deranged from your home page? I think we've got the picture by now, as they say)...

...and even though they screwed up the Christine O'Donnell thing (it is live TV, after all), I still thought Bill Maher was typically spot-on concerning those teabaggers here...

...addressing many who watch these characters, I'm sure (here)...

...and I think the title of this song is good advice in general (the animation and the sly little jokes were good also).

Saturday Stuff

Or, as someone named Rotwang at Eschaton asked, what exactly is a Reince Priebus (here - what a shame we apparently won't have Mike Steele to kick around any more; as if he really called the shots anyway)...

...and oh yeah, speaking of the new RNC chairman, he got a "Worst" citation here last October - charming words.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Stuff

By the way, remember that supposedly awful lame duck session of Congress with the Dems before the voters threw them out in a hissy fit? You know, the one where "Man Tan" Boehner said the American people would remember this, or something like that?

Well, it turns out Boehner was actually right, they did remember. And 77 percent of those polled here were perfectly happy with the result (kind of wonders what other good things the Dems would have done had they not been booted out...Chris Hayes, sitting in for K.O. tonight, had a good segment on that - I'll put up the video if I can track it down)...

...and he's good enough, he's smart enough...OK, enough of that - the point is that Senator Franken is exactly right here.

The whole "net neutrality" thing reminds me a bit about the worried cries of all of the "good government" types about the mergers of communications companies in the 90s and how that would be a bad thing, but as usual, everybody laughed at the DFHs and it all happened anyway. Now, stuff like public service announcements, community affairs programs, and - God forbid! - news documentaries are relegated to public access cable TV, in between "Jackass" reruns, infomercials for male enhancement products, and on-demand reruns of "Jersey Shore."

Now, that whole scenario is coming around again, only this time, the corpocracy will control those Internet tubes instead of the TV ones (and, for what it's worth, blogs like this very one will probably die, replaced by something that meets the approval of “the United States of Disney”). That is, unless we do what Al says and sign his petition here.

There's a small chance that we might actually win. But we have no chance at all if we do nothing...

...and when I go looking for serious, intelligent commentary on news stories, including President Obama's great speech at the Tucson service (again, not what I would have said, but that's why he's the president and I'm a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger typing this while downing shorts shops shots of Cuervo...hmmmm...), I inevitably turn to Jon Stewart (here)...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Veiled Criticism
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

...and let's hope this song, as spacey as it is, somehow is on the mark.

Friday Mashup (1/14/11)

  • For anyone who wonders whether or not any gun control-related legislation will emerge as a result of the Tucson tragedy, I think we have our answer (from here).

    The billboard advertises a gun show taking place about 13 miles from where the shootings occurred.

    And somewhere in the state of Arizona, the parents of 9-year-old Christina Green weep quietly to themselves.

  • Also related to the shootings in Arizona last weekend, I think Christine Flowers of The Daily News accidentally touched on an important subject here (“accidentally” being the only way she can make a substantive contribution to much of anything)…

    The real reason that (former Phillies manager) Dallas Green's granddaughter was murdered along with five other bright souls is that our mental- health system has created the ripest of conditions for the massacre.
    No, I don’t mean to agree with Flowers’ comical charge that mental health professionals contributed to the carnage. However, I do think she touches on the important issue of funding for mental health treatment, which, anymore, is pretty much left up to the states.

    As noted here, there have been funding cuts in Ohio, Colorado, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Illinois (and this tells us about Kansas, a state which continues to elect astoundingly stupid people to public office). And keeping with that unfortunate trend, we learn the following about the state where last Saturday’s tragedy occurred from here…

    To fill a $1 billion hole in its 2011 budget, Arizona slashed this year’s budget for mental health services by $36 million — a 37 percent cut. As a result, advocates say 3,800 people who do not qualify for Medicaid are at risk of losing services such as counseling and employment preparation. In addition, more than 12,000 adults and 2,000 children will no longer receive the name-brand medications they take to keep their illnesses in check. Other services such as supportive housing and transportation to doctor’s appointments also will be eliminated.

    Arizona has been considered a progressive state because it provides the vast majority of mental health services through cost-effective outpatient community programs. By slashing these programs, experts say the state will force more people to use emergency rooms or end up in the criminal justice system, which will cost the state more.
    And allowing more people to “slip through the cracks,” unfortunately (once more, I’d love to be wrong).

  • Next, I guess I should probably bring back the Area Votes in Congress writeups to keep track of the activities of the dreaded 112th, so here is the first one for the new session (based on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sunday articles, including this one).

    I hope you’ll notice, by the way, that, now that the voters of this country, in their dunderheaded stupidity, have chosen to vote out the adults and let the children run amok in the play pen, the following results are entirely predictable.

    Legislative-branch budget. Voting 408-13, the House endorsed a cut of $35.2 million, or less than 1 percent, in the $4.6 billion legislative-branch budget. The cut amounts to 2.6 percent of the House's $1.37 billion share of that yearly budget. The $35.2 million is to be trimmed from House committee and leadership accounts as well as from members' office allowances. This measure (H Res 22) will be in effect through fiscal 2012.

    A yes vote backed the cuts.

    Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

    Not voting: Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), and Jon Runyan (R., N.J.).
    No sweat – I’m sure Boehner will make that back with a few DC fundraisers (probably including this one).

    112th Congress rules. Voting 238-191, the House adopted GOP-written rule changes for the 112th Congress that require entitlement-spending increases, but not tax cuts, be offset elsewhere in the budget; prevent increases in the national debt limit without record votes; require the 21 standing committees to post members' votes online within 48 hours; set a three-day wait between the time bills are reported out of committee and the time they are debated on the floor; require bills to cite their constitutional authority; require committee hearings and markups to be broadcast over the Internet; and strip the six delegates from nonstates of their limited floor-voting privileges (below). These and other GOP changes were added to the body of standing rules that has governed House procedures since the first Congress in 1789.

    A yes vote was to adopt the Republican rules.

    Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.

    Not voting: Fitzpatrick.
    As noted here, five of the six delegates who lost their privileges were Democrats, including Eleanor Holmes Norton of DC. Also, this tells us more about the intentional idiocy of trying to make entitlement increases deficit neutral but not doing the same thing for the Repugs and their ridiculous tax cuts (intentional so they can try to gut entitlements later, particularly Social Security and Medicare). Finally, this tells us that the moronic stunt of having the Constitution cited for any vote (as a sop to those zany teabaggers of course...guess that rules out the Clean Air and Water Acts and any civil rights legislation for starters) will cost us taxpayers $570 grand.

    Congressional health coverage. Voting 191-238, the House defeated a Democratic bid to require members to publicly disclose whether they will continue to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. There was no floor debate on this attempt to add the disclosure requirement to H Res 5 (above).

    A yes vote was to require disclosure.

    Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.

    Voting no: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Not voting: Fitzpatrick.
    I don’t know whose idea this was, but I applaud it (and isn’t it hilarious that the Repugs, supposedly promising transparency in all things, refused to do so here).

    Delegates' voting rights. Voting 223-188, the House blocked a bid to retain limited voting rights on the House floor for the six delegates representing the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. This preserved a GOP rule in H Res 5 (above) to strip these delegates of their standing to vote when the House is in the Committee of the Whole if the vote is not decisive in passing or defeating a measure. These delegates will continue to cast committee votes in the 112th Congress.

    A yes vote was to strip delegates of voting rights on the House floor.

    Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.

    Not voting: Fitzpatrick.

    Health-care repeal. Voting 236-181, the House approved the parliamentary rule for debating within days a Republican bill (HR 2) to repeal the 2010 health-care law. The procedural step drew the support of all 232 Republicans who voted and was opposed by 181 of the 185 Democrats who voted.

    A yes vote was to advance the bill.

    Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

    Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.
    By the way, Rachel Maddow, among others, noted how utterly ridiculous it is that, for all their caterwauling about “Obama care,” the Repugs could only manage to get four Dems to “cross the aisle” on this one (and this poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, as reported by Dave Weigel, tells us that 21 percent of the public favors expansion of the health reform law, 19 percent want to leave it as is, a quarter want to repeal parts of the law, and 24 percent want the entire law repealed).

    Gee, a whopping 24 percent of those polled by Kaiser want health care completely repealed, huh? And the Repugs are wasting all of this effort on legislation that, even if it somehow made it through the Senate, would be vetoed by the president faster than you could say The Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    Let the overreach begin (and I could care less about that stupid resolution on Sessions and Our Beloved Mikey - as Anthony Weiner said, the Repugs violated the Constitution they profess to love so dearly on their very first day).

    (And speaking of health care, this is even better news.)

  • Finally, this item from Mark Feldstein in the Washington Post today laments the assumed dirty tricks pulled by the Kennedy family that ensured JFK’s election about 50 years ago, alleging a “Watergate-style burglary” of material that documented a payoff between Richard Nixon and financier Howard Hughes.

    Considering that, as noted here, Nixon began his career in elected office by smearing both Congressman Jerry Voorhis and Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas with accusations of being Communist sympathizers (with Nixon famously – and without evidence, of course – claiming that Gahagan Douglas was “Pink right down to her underwear”), leading to many other legendary political theatrics and dirty tricks, I think Feldstein would be better off looking for sympathy somewhere else (particularly when Feldstein himself wrote a book about Nixon's dirty tricks, as noted here).

    And speaking of JFK, let’s not forget this bit of good news (and no, I'm not trying to absolve the Kennedys - all I'm saying is that, if you're looking for the origin of political corruption in this country, you'd probably have to go back to George Washington hiring an “agent” to seize copies of Ye Olde National Enquirer, which alleged a tobacco payoff with the London Virginia Company and included salacious artist renderings of a dalliance with Betsy Ross – and yes, I’m only joking, a bit).
  • Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Thursday Stuff

    Kudos to Patricia Maisch for telling it like it is, she being the woman with tremendous guts who kept Jared Loughner, the alleged Tucson shooter, from loading a second clip before Loughner was wrestled to the ground (Keith Olbermann interviewed her also recently - also have to give Shep Smith some credit for not cutting off her mic; that question he asked her sounds so dumb that I can't believe Smith came up with it himself...more here)...

    ...and oh yeah, here's another "violent, revolutionary" song from John Lennon for Matt Towery to complain about (concerning my earlier post).

    More Wingnut Mania Over Tucson

    Before I say anything else, I should note that, up until now, I had not found an instance of Democrats and/or liberals in general using violent rhetoric against their opponents. Well, I recently came across the following from here…

    Former Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Penn.) on Monday joined a chorus of voices calling for more civilized political discussion in the aftermath of the weekend's devastating shootings in Arizona. Unlike many of those appeals, however, Kanjorski's appears somewhat tainted by a past that shows him to be part of the problem that he is now seeking to rectify.

    In an op-ed in The New York Times, Kanjorski uses his own experience of working through the infamous attack on the House by Puerto Rican nationalists in 1954 to argue that "all Americans" need to take it upon themselves to defuse tensions…
    All well and good, until you discover the following…

    "That [Republican candidate Rick Scott] down there that's running for governor of Florida," Mr. Kanjorski said. "Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he's running for governor of Florida. He's a millionaire and a billionaire. He's no hero. He's a damn crook. It's just we don't prosecute big crooks."
    As noted here, Rick Scott is most definitely one of our lower life forms. However, that does not justify Kanjorski’s violent language, and if he has done apologized as of yet, he should do so at the earliest possible moment.

    Now that that’s out of the way, let’s bring ourselves up to date on the latest developments in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting.

    As noted here, a certain U.S. House Speaker thought it was more important to attend an RNC fundraiser than to participate in anything approximating a show of support for the victims. However, as Matt Taibbi noted in his profile of John Boehner here, The Orange One attends a minimum of one fundraiser per day, so it looks as if he was merely trying to keep up with his quota (removing my tongue from my cheek).

    Also, when stories like the Arizona massacre take place (which, fortunately, isn’t a frequent occasion, though such stories are still too common), I’m always curious about the international perspective on such matters. With that in mind, I recently found this Op-Ed from The Globe and Mail (up north)…

    Tonight, with eloquence and poetry, Barack Obama summoned Americans to unity, and to respect for public service. But he missed an opportunity to tackle the cancer of handgun worship and violence in America – a contagion that afflicts the American body politic and a public health emergency that strikes down tens of thousands of innocent and troubled Americans every year.

    After the ritual denunciations, brazen mass shootings in the U.S. typically prompt two responses in the political mainstream. Many demand more, not less, access to guns. Others suggest minor changes to America's gun laws, and no change to America's gun culture. Mr. Obama could have joined that third, small group of advocates, currently lacking political power, calling for real change.

    Instead, for the moment, he has stuck his head in the sand.

    Handguns and assault rifles are a blight that make the U.S. one of the world's most murderous societies, on a par with South Africa and Colombia. Consider that:

    – Gun violence is the leading cause of death for young African-American men.
    – According to the Brady Campaign, in 2009 there were at least 260 incidents in which at least three people were shot.
    – In 2007, suicide by gun claimed 17,352 people – more than those murdered by guns – and states with high rates of gun ownership have been found to have twice the gun suicide rate compared to states with low gun ownership.

    This is a North America-wide affliction. A large proportion of illegal handguns in Canada come from the U.S., as do the weapons fuelling Mexico's brutal drug trade-related violence.

    A skewed veneration of Second Amendment rights mean reasonable attempts at gun control go nowhere. Federally-mandated background checks are still not applied at gun shows. Many assault rifles, banned in 1994, are now back on the market, legally.

    The Tucson shootings show deficiencies in areas such as mental health and political discourse. And given that the event was a memorial service, Mr. Obama's main role was as mourner and unifier-in-chief.

    But because the target in the killing spree was a U.S. Congresswoman, tonight's event was also political. Otherwise, a mass shooting that kills six is – and this itself ought to be an outrage – below the usual threshold to summon an American president.

    The celebrated master of context and nuance had a simple political task. Mr. Obama could have, at least, uttered two simple lines: “Our worship of weapons designed only to kill humans must end. In the coming weeks, I will offer a detailed response to this epidemic.” A call to rein in America's gun obsession was, sadly, left unsaid.
    Also, to show you how absolutely desperate the wingnutosphere is to escape any hint of blame whatsoever for even remotely giving a provocation to alleged shooter Jared Loughner, someone named Matt Towery of actually tried to blame liberals here for the violence because, well, one of their “patron saints” is guilty of violent rhetoric also (utterly beyond belief – or, as a certain deceased rock star might put it “strange days indeed”)…

    Last month, the media focused on another anniversary of the night John Lennon was shot in 1980 by a deranged and psychotic "fan," Mark David Chapman. He was obsessed with many things, including the book "Catcher in the Rye" -- and John Lennon.

    The brilliant political analyst Charles Krauthammer, who at one time was a young practicing psychiatrist, has made it clear that from all of the confused emails and YouTube postings, plus the observations by acquaintances of the Tucson gunman, Jared Loughner, this was, as with Chapman, the act of a severely mentally ill person. It appears that Loughner had a "nonpartisan" obsession with Rep. Giffords, much as Mark David Chapman was obsessed with Lennon.

    Now, many of the same columnists, commentators and politicians who have moved quickly to conclude that the "heated rhetoric" of politics is likely a partial or root cause of tragedies like the one in Arizona would never have even considered that the yesteryear rhetoric of John Lennon and Yoko Ono might have triggered leftist violence or social unrest.

    There would never have been a case of "the liberal media vs. John Lennon" over his hot criticism of a war and the violent protests it helped spawn. It seems "heightened rhetoric" has no correlation to random violence when the shoe fits the left. But when it can be pinned on the right, there is a direct causal link.
    OWWWW!!! THE STOO-PID!!! IT BURNS US!!!!!!! And assuming Charles Krauthammer is “brilliant” at anything is enough to make me gag.

    (Oh, and by the way, Towery even recalls the Kent State shootings in May 1970 in which, according to these accounts, no warning was ever issued by the Ohio National Guardsmen before they opened fire, killing four students.)

    Oh yes, Towery, please tell me the song written by John Lennon in which he called for political assassination – “I Don’t Want To Be A Ruthless Oppressing Politician”? “(Bury The Pigs In) Steel And Glass”? “#9th Victim”? “Imagine (Nixon Dead)”? And I guess, as far as Towery is concerned, “Give Peace A Chance” and “Happy Xmas/War Is Over” don’t count.

    And allow me to emphasize once and for all that I am not trying to associate Loughner with any ideology; indeed, aside from the fact that he was targeting Congresswoman Giffords for reasons that we may never completely know, a review of his reading material indicates that he was all over the ideological map (as much as you can go by that).

    With all that said, I now have to offer a bit of an apology for what comes next; I honestly had planned not to try and link the Tucson horror to any particular person or political development, but Rand Paul “went there” here, and so I believe I must respond (you would think an elected government official would know better - you would think so anyway).

    I believe that the person in this photo, as a result of all this, has now been harmed almost to the point where her reputation, such as it is, cannot be repaired (with this latest fumbling attempt at motivating her followers standing as perhaps her most transparently hollow act).

    For every time now that Sarah Palin invokes imagery of violence in anything she ever says, that language will automatically be associated with the “bullseye” map she concocted during the prior election targeting 20 Democratic U.S. House members, including Congresswoman Giffords (she, along with Nick Rahall, were the only ones re-elected, which she joyously noted in a “tweet” in which she referred to the map markings as “bullseyes” and not “surveyor’s symbols”...background, as if we need it, is here).

    The Republican Party really didn’t have a clue as to how to put a dent into her popularity and derail her presidential bid. But now, Jared Loughner has done that for them.

    So if the horrific shootings in Tucson end up giving anyone a political advantage, it really would be the Republicans, wouldn’t it?

    A CREW "Cut" On Sessions And Saint Mikey

    I have a bit of catching up to do concerning our PA-08 U.S. House rep, particularly since he’s one of the individuals cited in a complaint today by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), as the Bucks County Courier Times tells us here…

    "Republicans have made strict adherence to the Constitution a hallmark of the new Congress," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said. "Now we will find out if that was just window dressing designed to appease the tea party movement or if they were sincere. Two Republican House members (Fitzpatrick and Pete Sessions) have blatantly violated not only House rules, but federal law and the Constitution. Will they be held accountable, or given a pass?"
    That's a good question (and I got into some of this before here, by the way).

    Also, Mikey The Beloved recently held another town hall on the health care law (another sop to those zany teabaggers, as noted here…and please, J.D. Mullane, remind us once more how important it is that Fitzpatrick is an Eagle Scout – hard to reconcile that with the flood of lies that engulfed last year’s congressional campaign against Patrick Murphy in those ridiculous full-page Courier Times ads, which quite probably were paid for at least in part by the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce)…

    Fitzpatrick left no doubt where he stood. He wants to repeal the law to end what he called "job killing mandates" and replace it with a free market approach that gives small business the same advantages as large corporations, includes malpractice reform, and allows consumers to shop across state lines.

    He also supports keeping the popular portions of the current law, such as keeping young adults on their parents' plans and allowing individuals with pre-existing conditions to maintain their insurance.

    "There's nothing in the bill that dealt with cost containment," Fitzpatrick said. "There's nothing in the bill that dealt with keeping us healthy. + I want more free market principles that make our health care the best in the world."

    Several in the crowd pushed Fitzpatrick on why he's so set on repeal without any replacement legislation.

    One man said Republicans did nothing to fix the system when they had "massive power."

    "Now something is done and you're saying we've got to repeal it."

    (Doylestown Council President Det) Ansinn, who said his company saw its rates go down this year after a decade of increases, asked, "What's this urgency to repeal without developing an alternative?"

    Fitzpatrick said the mandates that force everyone to purchase insurance, increased regulation on businesses and $500 billion in new taxes, make repeal necessary now.
    Concerning that dreaded individual mandate (no word from Mikey of what he thinks of the individual mandate of “Romney-care” in MA, by the way), Ezra Klein tells us the following here…

    But what's the alternative? No one wants an individual mandate. But the folks who spend all their time trying to solve the first problem (of older, poorer and sicker individuals unable to access care, except through emergency rooms) have concluded that you can't do it without an individual mandate. After all, why do people get priced out of insurance? The answer, aside from "they're poor," is that they're bad risks. They're older, or they're sicker, or they've been sicker at some point in the past, or they work at a dangerous job or a job associated with chronic injuries.

    If reform simply forces insurance companies to sell to these people, then prices skyrocket for everyone, as the sicker or the older rush into the market, while the young and the healthy hang back. In that scenario, you've not solved the problem of pricing people out. You've arguably worsened it. If you want to solve the problem of pricing out but you don't want an individual mandate, you need to think of an alternative to it.

    Moreover, it's simply not true…that the people paying the $750 individual mandate penalty get nothing in return. Far from it, in fact. For one thing, they get access to emergency care, as happens now. For another, they get the chance to come back into the system when they actually need insurance. Someone who puts off purchasing coverage and then tries to buy Aetna's plan the first time they collapse unexpectedly will not be sold a plan. Having chosen not to buy insurance when they didn't need care, they can't buy it now that they do need care. They become the priced out or, in some cases, locked out.

    Under reform, these people get the chance to come back into the system when they need coverage. They can't be discriminated against. Indeed, you can argue that these folks, the ones willing to game the system, are the most advantaged of all the groups. It's why the individual mandate should be stronger, not weaker, than it is now.
    And as far as health care reform supposedly being a “job killer,” I give you the following from here…

    Since President Obama signed health care reform into law on March 23, 2010, the economy created 117,000 jobs per month, leading to a total of 935,000 new jobs in the private sector and economists estimate that the savings from health care reform could add even more. That’s because employers respond to rising costs by reducing benefits and lowering wages. But, since firms can’t significantly lower wages for employees at or near minimum wage or workers who are in fixed contracts, rising health care costs also lead to job losses. One study found that every 10% increase in health costs that are above GDP growth leads to 120,000 fewer jobs. Economists predict that reform will lower health care spending (CBO says that reform will reduce average premiums for employers with more than 50 employees by between 0 and 3%) and estimate that it has the potential of creating somewhere between 250,000 and 400,000 jobs — positions which will never be available if the measure is repealed.
    Also, this tells us about the tax credit available to small businesses that will allow these firms to cover their employees for the first time. In addition, this tells us about how health care reform will lower the deficit (and repealing it would expand it), and this tells us that Fitzpatrick’s claim about “$500 billion in new taxes” could be tied to middle and lower-income people registering for the exchanges mandated by the law (can’t find any other sourcing for that remark).

    I expect that Mikey is going to keep me busy for a little while with antics like this. What a shame that he can’t govern like an actual adult instead. But it is his right to do so, I admit.

    Now that he’s officially sworn in. For real this time.

    Update 1 1/14/11: And by the way, on the subject of health care reform, Mikey would do well to pay attention to this exchange.

    Update 2 1/14/11: Also, leave it to Mikey’s PR machine to leap to his defense today (last two paragraphs here).

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Wednesday Stuff

    Oh yeah, Happy Birthday to the OxyContin addict (and the earthquake in Haiti took place a year ago today - this clips ties the two together, infamously when it comes to Flush Limbore)...

    ...and this song has some sunny, scenic imagery (of Las Vegas, I believe) to help us forget about the white stuff for a little while (and a somewhat appropriate title).

    The Speech I Would Give About Tucson

    President Obama is scheduled to speak to the nation about this weekend’s attack in Arizona, as noted here – if were your benevolent dictator, as Atrios puts it (and assuming I could step into Obama's shoes), I would say the following (this is why I'd never be elected, I know)…

    My fellow Americans, I come to you tonight in the wake of another murderous attack in our nation in which a deranged individual is accused of carrying out wholesale slaughter against men, women and children. Police believe that a member of the United States Congress was targeted by this person for reasons that are, only now, becoming clear. It could be legally prejudicial for me to speak further on his possible motives, so I’ll reserve comment for now.

    As your president, part of my duty is to speak to the mood of the country, and the visibility and import granted to be by this office allows me to do this in a way which could potentially influence future events. For this reason, many in politics and the media have requested that I speak in such a fashion as to provide comfort and assurance to the nation. There is a time and place for such language, and indeed, if I were a member of the clergy, I would be speaking in such a vein at this moment, and I have done so in prior occasions.

    However, I do not believe that this is such a time. Yes, the families and the friends of the victims of the slaughter in Tucson deserve no less. But I believe that comfort leads to inaction, and in the face of a grave threat to our safety, it is time to act. And I believe that is the best way to provide support at the moment.

    To begin, I call for the passage of
    the bill sponsored by U.S. House Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York to outlaw high-capacity bullet magazines such as the type used in the Tucson shooting. These types of magazines are not commonly used by law enforcement in this county. Jared Loughner allegedly used a 31-round clip in the Tucson shooting. Reinstating the 1994 assault weapons ban and the requirement of a clip with a 10-round maximum, while not totally removing the threat of gun violence by deranged individuals, would at least limit the destruction of such an attack.

    Also, I call for national legislation that does not allow an individual under the age of 21 to conceal a handgun or semi-automatic weapon on their person. In addition, all states are to update
    the federal background check database within 90 days with the names of any individuals who authorities believe should be prohibited from owning a gun, such as those convicted of criminal offenses and subject to restraining orders. In the event that this is impossible, a designated state representative must officially communicate the reason why to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with a plan to bring their state into compliance.

    Finally, Representative Peter King of New York will introduce
    legislation that would make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of high-profile federal officials. I call for the immediate passage of this legislation.

    I realize that none of these measures will be easy. However,
    one of my predecessors in this office once said we would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” How can we “assure the survival and the success of liberty” if those we charge to represent us in our democratically-elected republic continually face the threat of violence by individuals seeking the most extreme means to impose their will?

    I know we also face the pervasive and engrained mythology of guns and violence in our discourse and our popular culture, and that is an obstacle to action also. Our media glorifies the notion of
    individual self-reliance practiced by a moral individual possessing a firearm. But this can, and has, become twisted in our political discourse, as we saw in our most recent elections. Also, the highest-selling home video product of the moment features extreme depictions of violence carried out to achieve success in a military mission. Our country remains the leader in exporting weaponry throughout the world. Our courts have, to a large degree, enshrined the rights of an individual to own a gun to a greater point now than at any prior time in our history, and this administration has supported the right of a gun owner to transport a firearm on a passenger train and carry one into a national park.

    None of this, however, is an excuse not to act with courage and determination in support of legislation and governmental policy to control the threat of gun violence posed by criminals and other individuals with diminished capacity. We can act to both ensure the freedom of law-abiding sportsmen and protect our citizens from those acting irresponsibly with a firearm. And after the latest attack of gun violence, in which
    only the brave actions of bystanders prevented an even greater slaughter than that which we experienced, the time to do this is now.
    I’m not expecting to hear anything close to this. But it would be nice if we did, wouldn’t it?

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Tuesday Stuff

    (Hopefully back to something like normal posting tomorrow...)

    Rachel Maddow reviews the Tucson shootings (and some of the others in our infamous history) with former ATF agent Edgar Domenech, who was the agent who investigated the Virginia Tech massacre (as I've said many times, the voices that should matter above all others on the gun issue are that of law enforcement and our emergency medical personnel, and her comment on this tonight was good also - haven't found it the way, I'd like to see Maddow and some other commentators note just how much money this country makes selling weapons to the rest of the world; dare I call this "the chickens coming home to roost" a bit? And the lunacy of letting the assault weapons ban expire in 2004 is clearly evident and doesn't need much amplification from me)...

    ...and by the way, if anybody wants to write an "anti-gun" song out of this (or, at the very least, an "anti-acting-stupid-with-a-gun" song), here's a pretty good one to try and imitate (the big finish gets cut off a bit, but you get the idea).

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Monday Stuff

    In other news, as they say, bye bye Bug Man (here)…

    …and yep, it didn’t take long for the ruling House Repug leadership to “walk back” all those claims about saving money from the budget, did it…

    …and on this day six years ago, CBS released that ridiculous “independent” review of a news story involving a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; I thought former CBS News producer Mary Mapes (who produced the segment) had a good response here.

    And given all of that, this clip from 1988 of you-know-who talking to Connie Chung (defending Dan Quayle, who did the same thing Dubya did, only I’m sure Quayle actually showed up for service) is all the more galling, particularly his typically chicken dig at those serving in Vietnam at the end…

    …and I thought for a time that this song was only metaphorical, but after last weekend’s tragic shooting, I’m not so sure.

    Sunday, January 09, 2011

    "Mainstreaming" The Crazy (updates)

    In Matt Taibbi's fine profile of John Boehner in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, we have the following (here, pg. 4)...

    Another Ohio Democrat, Steve Driehaus, clashed repeatedly with Boehner before losing his seat in the midterm elections. After Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, Driehaus "may be a dead man" and "can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati" because "the Catholics will run him out of town," Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house. Driehaus says he approached Boehner on the floor and confronted him.

    "I didn't think it was funny at all," Driehaus says. "I've got three little kids and a wife. I said to him, 'John, this is bullshit, and way out of bounds. For you to say something like that is wildly irresponsible.'"

    Driehaus is quick to point out that he doesn't think Boehner meant to urge anyone to violence. "But it's not about what he intended — it's about how the least rational person in my district takes it. We run into some crazy people in this line of work."

    Driehaus says Boehner was "taken aback" when confronted on the floor, but never actually said he was sorry: "He said something along the lines of, 'You know that's not what I meant.' But he didn't apologize."
    Of course not. Rules and common standards of decent behavior are for the "little people." And Democrats, of course.

    To quote Boehner, it's "chicken crap" to allege that this stuff happens anywhere on "the left." If it does, prove it to me.

    And by the way, here is more on this (and I'd forgotten about Michele Bachmann's role in this, and yes, she has one).

    Update: Not surprising that corporate media pundit David Gergen says that this is "no time for finger-pointing" here.

    Wrong. Armed with concrete facts and evidence, this is exactly the time for finger-pointing.

    Update 1 1/10/11: More from the "accessories after the fact" here...

    Update 2 1/10/11: To get an idea as to the utter depravity of our corporate media (assuming we didn’t know that already), I give you the following from Ross Douthat of the New York Times here…

    …the attempted murder of a Democratic congresswoman is a potential gift to liberalism.
    I cannot imagine how he sleeps at night.

    Also in his column, Douthat says that “(It took conservative bloggers about five minutes to come up with Democratic campaign materials that employed targets and crosshairs against Republican politicians).”

    If you click on the “targets” link in Douthat’s paragraph, it takes you to a map of what I suppose is the congressional district of House Repug Thaddeus McCotter that indeed shows targets (which, to me, are a far cry from the gun sights of Palin’s map…oh, excuse me, I mean “surveyor’s symbols”riiiiight – if you’re going to victimize someone for the symbol on McCotter’s map, then you might as well impugn an entire chain of retail department stores). And I can’t comment on the link from “cross hairs” because it takes you to a You Tube video that I cannot watch at the moment (Update: I watched it later - it shows what could easily pass as a photographer's camera lens photographing J.D. Hayworth of Arizona for a campaign commercial by a Democrat named Harry Mitchell, for all of eight seconds...please).

    Here is more faux equivalency – I did a simple Google search and ended up at the site of someone called Ace of Spades with another video link that I’ll have to watch later (Update 1/11/11: It also showed the Mitchell ad - it is to laugh), and I also ended up reading a blog post from someone called Aaron Goldstein decrying the statement from veep Joe Biden that he wanted to “strangle” the next congressional Republican who wanted to balance the budget – he also chastised Obama for describing the “hand-to-hand combat” of dealing with Republicans. Goldstein also criticized the idiotic stunt of Dem Joe Manchin shooting at something that was supposed to be “cap and trade” legislation…no argument from me that what Manchin did was moronic, but he wasn’t shooting a person, was he?

    There is no equivalency between any of this stuff and the shooting of a Democratic member of Congress who was clearing targeted by a completely-unhinged right-wing nut.

    Update 2 1/10/11: And yes, I’m going to “go there” on the assault weapons ban here (and yes, I will admit that, even with the ban, it’s possible Loughner would have gotten the gun illegally anyway). Also, here is more from kos.

    And by the way, I also give you this from kos…

    More "Old Gray Lady" Wankery Over The Shooting (update)

    Naive, filthy, unkempt liberal blogger that I am, I had seriously hoped that the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and everyone else in Arizona yesterday would bring to a halt, among other things, the "false equivalency" game in our media.

    Yep, silly me all right (here)...

    Democrats have also pointed out cases where Republican candidates seemed to raise the prospect of armed revolt if Washington did not change its ways.

    But many Republicans have noted that they too are subject to threats and abuse, and during the health care fight some suggested Democrats were trying to cut off responsible opposition and paint themselves as victims.
    Proof? Specifics? Names? Dates? Places? Anywhere in sight? Hello?????

    And it gets worse...

    DeAnn Hatch, a co-founder of the Tucson Tea Party, said her group had never staged any rallies against the congresswoman elsewhere, and she did not believe there were any Tea Party protesters at the event Saturday.

    “I want to strongly, strongly say we absolutely do not advocate violence,” she said. “This is just a tragedy to no end.”

    But others said it would be hard to separate this shooting from the ideological clash.

    “At a time like this, it is terrible that we do have to think about politics, but no matter what the shooter’s motivations were, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party movement,” (Judson) Phillips, from Tea Party Nation, said on his Web site.

    “While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing,” he wrote.
    For the record, this member of "the left" does not blame the teabaggers for the shooting; we are still waaay too early into this story to know if the coward responsible for this atrocity (assuming Loughner was the only one involved) was affiliated with any particular group. And I don't have a clue as to what Phillips is taking about concerning the Oklahoma City bombing.

    And I think Phillips doth protest too much on this anyway, seeing as how, as noted here, he called for the defeat of Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison merely because he is a Muslim (yes, I have no evidence that Phillips has supported violence against anyone, but he has certainly polluted what should be meaningful political discourse in this country).

    This isn't a time for Phillips or anyone else to try and score cheap political points (and more fool Times reporters Carl Hulse and Kate Zerinke for letting Phillips get away with it).

    (And as far as Lamar Alexander is concerned here, nothing to see, move along - sigh.)

    Update: And by the way, here is a voice of sanity on this subject…

    “There is a need for some reflection here - what is too far now?”…“What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.”
    Who uttered these sage words? Well, we don’t know – as Politico tells us, they came from “A senior Republican senator, speaking anonymously in order to freely discuss the tragedy…”

    Oh yes, Heaven forbid that a Republican go on the record and say something even remotely confrontational to some of the more extreme elements of his own party, lest he or she be pilloried verbally and victimized by outrageous rhetoric and even more outrageous and theatrical demonstrations against them, to say nothing of threats of “second-amendment remedies.”

    But of course this person can’t tell us who they are. Otherwise, how else could they “freely discuss the tragedy”?

    And just remember, the left is as guilty as the right here. Sure.

    I know this is “apples and oranges,” but I wish the Democratic “leadership” and Number 44 himself showed anywhere near this degree of circumspection when they decide to lambaste the “professional left” who contribute funds, walk precincts and run phone banks for them to help them get elected (here).

    Violence against anyone regardless of political opinion is wrong, but it’s easy to attack the DFHs. But don’t you dare cross the right, who will cry “victimization” faster than you can say “lock and load.”