Saturday, January 15, 2011

Headlines - Saturday January 15

Off sailing for three weeks. Talk amongst yourselves!
Dr. King was born on this day in 1929.

What Dr. King accomplished in his relatively short time in this world need not be related here.

You will still find, however, many Americans who regard Dr. King as a "communist agitator" because he stood up and spoke for those denied opportunities for education, employment and advancement because of the color of their skin. You will still find those who excoriate Dr. King because he spoke out against the Vietnam War.* More commonly, you will hear and read the statements this weekend of politicians who will praise the memory of Dr King, praise what he accomplished and then those same politicians will go back to work to do everything they can to increase the power of corporations, to increase income disparity and to crush the lives of the middle class and the poor. You will find politicians who claim that the GOP is the party King would side with, while deliberately ignoring that it was Richard Nixon who allied the GOP with the racists who bolted the Democratic Party after President Johnson pushed through and signed the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1968.

You should not pay those folk any heed.

Did I mention that I'm going to be off sailing for three weeks? 
Funny MLK Day Ecard: Sorry in advance for whatever Sarah Palin has to say about MLK Day.
Vatican To Beatify Pope John Paul II

Emperor Palpatine has waived the traditional five year post-death waiting period and is moving to have Pope John Paul II named a saint. Because he was a miracle worker. Literally.
The pope on Friday signed off on the miracle needed to beatify Pope John Paul II, and set May 1 as the date to honor one of the most beloved popes of all times as a model of saintliness for the church. Pope Benedict XVI said in a decree that a French nun's recovery from Parkinson's disease was miraculous, the last step needed for beatification. A second miracle is needed for the Polish-born John Paul to be made a saint. The May 1 ceremony, which Benedict himself will celebrate, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Rome — a major morale boost for a church reeling from a wave of violence against Christians and fallout from the clerical sex abuse scandal.
Victims of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy are denouncing the beatification, noting that thousands of incidents of child molestation were covered up by Catholic authorities during John Paul's reign.


The one guiding principle I use whenever I try to understand any kind of socio-political event, trend or phenomenon is to simply follow the money. Ask yourself who profits from this and you'll usually understand things more clearly. Esquire's blog uses this same approach in trying to comprehend political violence.


Wisco: Moving toward a more pleasant lie.


American Family Association: Satan Is Making People Criticize Sarah Palin

"The hatred directed at her is mindless, it is baseless, it is utterly irrational, and it is disturbing to an alarming degree. When we look into the face of the unvarnished and seething meanness focused on Ms. Palin, we are looking into the face of evil. We are looking into the face of Satan himself, who is the ultimate source of this vitriol and toxic hate." - American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer.





Cops Find Photos Of AZ Shooter Posing With Gun While Wearing Red G-String

Investigators today said that they've received a bizarre series of photos of mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner. The photos show Loughner wearing a red g-string with a Glock pistol next to his naked buttocks.
The photos were turned over to the police by Walgreens, where Mr. Loughner had taken the 35-mm film to be developed on Jan. 7, the day before the shooting. In some of the photos he is holding the gun near his crotch, and in others, presumably shot in a mirror, he is holding the gun next to his buttocks, the police said. It was not yet clear when the photos were taken. According to a detailed timeline released by the Pima County Sherriff's Department on Friday, Mr. Loughner posted one of the photos and a bulletin saying, "Goodbye friends," on MySpace early Saturday morning.


The religious right is lining up behind Rep. Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann's possible plan to run for president in 2012, which she said she'll do only upon direct orders from God.


The Palin clown car rolls on

Excellent optics.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin recently announced plans to deliver a keynote speech later this month at a marquee gun rights event in Reno, Nevada.

Palin is set to speak at a Safari Club International convention on January 29, a gathering put on by a group that calls itself "the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and promoting wildlife conservation worldwide."

Goddamn. Please, pleeeeeease let her run for president.

Imagine a major political figure appearing at, say, a box cutter convention the week after September 11.


Mario: For 200 Jeopardy Points: Who Is Watson, aka DeepQA?


Palin - victim or melting iceberg? 

There's been a ton of criticism over Palin's 'they're-attacking-poor-little-me' video she chose to release on Wednesday – the same day they held the memorial for the Tucson shooting victims, the same day President Obama gave one of the best speeches of his career.  The overriding sentiment can be summed up by this piece from First Read:

While Obama tried to uplift, Palin tried to settle scores. While the president called for more civility, the former Alaska governor talked about duels and "blood libel." And while Obama's message was, well, presidential, Palin's was not. We'll say this: If Palin has ambitions for the White House — and we're still not sure she does — then her tone, message, and timing from her eight-minute video was a serious miscalculation.

Ah yes, and what about those presidential ambitions?  David Frum nails it with this this.

"She's like a big melting iceberg in warm water, and I think a big chunk of ice just slipped off the side."

See?  There is some positive effect to global warming.


"The Editors" at Esquire correctly assess the chances of civility:

... [T]he most remarkable thing about what happened in Oklahoma City is how little it matters today. The president of the United States gave a fine speech Wednesday night in Tucson at the memorial for the people Jared Loughner shot. The only mention of Oklahoma City in connection with the president's speech was to compare it with the speech that another Democratic president had given in the aftermath of the memorial service for the 168 people that Timothy McVeigh murdered in 1995.

People mostly remembered that Bill Clinton once had made a passing mention of what he called "the purveyors of hatred and division… the promoters of paranoia" on the airwaves. (At the actual memorial service, Clinton quoted Scripture and talked about healing.) This time, many people struck pre-emptively; Rush Limbaugh may be self-medicating his wounded ego for the rest of his life over what he imagines Clinton said about him. There was a lot of what was called "defensiveness" on the activist Right, but it was nothing of the sort. They were on offense, just the way they have been since they took that heat in 1995. They abide by the order Stalin gave to the Red Army when the Germans invaded in 1942: Ni shagu nazad.

Not a step back.

The activist Right wants this rhetoric for 2012. It wants the same dark energies that helped it win the House last fall. It wants to be able to say the same things with impunity that it's been saying since 2009, as though Tucson never happened. Oklahoma City might as well have happened to the Hittites.

Which is how nothing ever changed. Which is why Oklahoma City wasn't enough.

The political culture is not what it was in 1996. It's worse. The wild-assed, Clinton-centric conspiracies — death lists! Vince Foster! Mena airport! — look positively quaint compared to the grand paranoid delusions spouted on television and on radio these days. And the casual mainstreaming of vicious mendacity isn't the property talk radio alone; we have just seen installed a Congress full of thunderous
loons. Against all odds — and, arguably, against all decency — what Bill Clinton so carefully criticized has degenerated into a time in which the governors of major states talk glibly about secession, and automatic weapons are casual accessories at political rallies….

(Perhaps the crowning irony is the fact that, of all the repercussions from the Oklahoma City bombing, the most lasting is probably those provisions of Clinton's own 1996 antiterrorism act that were strengthened and codified five years later into what became the constitutional nightmare that is the USA PATRIOT Act.)


Jill: Meet your new RNC Chairman 


Every cocktail party must end eventually

House GOP pretending they can repeal health care to honor Giffords

Local man receives mind-controlling vaccine.

John Boehner and House Republicans have enjoyed their assassination vacation, but they don't have time to try out the titles of any other Sarah Vowell books, because they have to spend next week performing their most important legislative achievement of the next two years: pretending they can repeal Obamacare. This is what Gabrielle Giffords would want, after all. She put her life on the line every day, especially when meeting her violent constituents, because she believed she was doing important work, like these pointless exercises. If only that dead nine-year-old could have lived to see this, eh? If only. She would be so proud of her country. READ MORE »


The dangers of texting.


Paul Krugman nails what President Obama fundamentally misunderstands about republicans:

For the great divide in our politics isn't really about pragmatic issues, about which policies work best; it's about differences in those very moral imaginations Mr. Obama urges us to expand, about divergent beliefs over what constitutes justice.


One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state - a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society's winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net - morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It's only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That's what lies behind the modern right's fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

There's no middle ground between these views. One side saw health reform, with its subsidized extension of coverage to the uninsured, as fulfilling a moral imperative: wealthy nations, it believed, have an obligation to provide all their citizens with essential care. The other side saw the same reform as a moral outrage, an assault on the right of Americans to spend their money as they choose.

This deep divide in American political morality - for that's what it amounts to - is a relatively recent development. Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it. As many analysts have noted, the Obama health reform - whose passage was met with vandalism and death threats against members of Congress - was modeled on Republican plans from the 1990s.

But that was then. Today's G.O.P. sees much of what the modern federal government does as illegitimate; today's Democratic Party does not. When people talk about partisan differences, they often seem to be implying that these differences are petty, matters that could be resolved with a bit of good will. But what we're talking about here is a fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government.

Read the whole thing.


Like we keep telling you, religion is dangerous to your health. "At least 64 pilgrims have been killed in a stampede at a religious festival in the southern Indian state of Kerala, officials say. Scores more have been injured in the crush, which was reportedly triggered by a road accident. The pilgrims were returning from the Hindu shrine of Sabarimala, which is in a remote, mountainous, densely-forested area. The authorities say the death toll could rise."
Hooray, the super rich have totally recovered from the collapse!

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns When they all come down and did tricks for you You never understood that it ain't no good You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you

Have you been worried that maybe the super rich global elite has been suffering since the economic meltdown began three years ago? Well thanks for worrying, but they are doing just fine. Sure, there was a bit of turbulence in their NetJets charter over some of the poorer parts of America and the larger world — you try going from $1 billion a year to, say, $650 million! — but it's smooth flying from here on out. It turns out that no matter how unemployed or cash strapped or stressed out all the non decamillionaires and hectomillionaires and cold straight billionaires might be today (and forever, until the invisible hand of death finally relieves them/us of the banal Sisyphean struggle of modern existence), the poors continues to help the super rich stay super rich. READ MORE »


Brownback is determined to make Kansas the Mississippi of the Midwest He has proposed balancing the state's budget by zeroing out all funding for public broadcasting, and he wants to close the state mental hospital (right after a mental patient went on a murdering rampage). The Kansas Neurological Institute serves about 160 patients with severe mental deficits. Only about 1/3 are ambulatory, and only about 1/5 can speak. But Sam "Compassionate Conservative"Brownback wants to close the place down by 2014, putting the patients out on the streets or back with families that are ill-equipped to take care of them.
What the bloody hell is wrong with these people?
At this point I have no choice but to believe that the choice, on the part of prominent republicans, to attempt to co-opt and cloak themselves in the language of genocide is deliberate. Sarah Palin is stupid enough to misuse the term "Blood Libel" but when the Washington Times, rushing to defend her, condemns those who were rightly offended by her banal and evil utterance, not by chiding "political correctness" but by doubling down:

THis is simply the latest round of an ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers. The last two years have seen a proliferation of similar baseless charges of racism, sexism, bigotry, Islamophobia and inciting violence against those on the right who have presented ideas at odds with the establishment's liberal orthodoxy.

POGROM??? Was the deliberate, inflamatory use of at word employed to make us so pissed off that we would overlook the word "baseless" in the next sentence? Because charges of racism, sexism, bigotry, Islamophobia and inciting violence are not baseless.

But still...pogrom?

That word has a very definite meaning. It conjures images of gulags and forced expulsions and genocide and Jews standing at the edge of mass graves they had been forced to dig themselves, waiting for the firing squad that would extinguish their lives...they hoped. Since they were being buried anyway. It conjurs images of hundreds of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced.

I don't believe for a second that the term was used "inadvertently." Instead it was deliberately calculated to inspire maximum offense, upping the ante on "blood libel" as it does, at least to those who know what the terms mean and have a genetic memory of genocide. Blood Libels were primarily carried out at the local and community level. Pogroms were government sanctioned and carried out under color of law, and were aimed at all the Jews of an entire country, rather than isolated to specific communities.

Even as the right wingattempts to lay claim to the mantle of "real America" and assert that the majority of the nation agrees with them, they simultaneously project an image of being persecuted and downtrodden for their beliefs, and all it takes to offend them is to acknowledge that other people believe differently, and some of us believe not at all.

I don't know what is wrong with these people, probaly a lot of stuff. And I'm sure that part of it is cognitive dissonance, and another part of it is just ordinary, garden-variety deliberate, spiteful meanness.  


The next time a wingnut snorts something about dead people voting for Democrats, point out that dead people also give scads of money to tea party front groups. "The California-based Tea Party Express has been getting donations from a dead woman for more than two years, records released Friday showed. ... Joan Snyder Holmes died of cancer on Feb. 1, 2007, but gave the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, the group's political action committee, donations totaling $2,500 in 2009, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. ... In Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, the PAC reported receiving an additional lump sum donation of $5,000 in September. ... The FEC has no record of Joan Holmes making any reportable contributions to campaigns or political committees prior to her death."


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