Saturday, January 8, 2011

Last Call

The nine-year old girl who died in today's shooting in Tuscon was named Christina Taylor Green.

She had been elected to student council at school, and was invited by one of her neighbors to go meet her Representative in Congress.

She was born on September 11, 2001, according to ABC News.  She was featured in a book about children born on the day the Twin Towers fell.

She died on January 8, 2011.

Wrap your head around that if you can.  I'm trying to, and I still can't.  Here we have a child who was born on the most infamous day in the previous decade, and died as a direct result of the events of the most infamous date in this decade...this decade being just over a week old.

Hug your loved ones.  I have no answers about fate, or God, or karma, but even I have to see this as a message to all of us that we have got to knock this crazy shit off.

No more.

Olbermann's special comment for tonight, because he says what I'm trying to say a thousand times better.

The Butcher's Bill For Tea Party Rhetoric

Here's a chilling report from MSNBC with Rep. Giffords after her office in Tuscon was attacked in March by wingers over her vote on HCRA.

"They really do need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, things for example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the things is, the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district.  When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action."

Consequences indeed.  Like someone shooting you in the head, point blank.

No matter what this lunatic's motives were, there is still no excuse for violent rhetoric.  As far as Palin goes, she understands that, hence the efforts to remove these "targeted" references from her site today.  No such luck, Sarah.

Feeling guilty, are we?

But there's no mistaking this guy's target was Gabrielle Giffords.  This was an assassination attempt on a sitting member of Congress.  He killed 5 others to try to escape.  His original target was Giffords, who was apparently shot in the temple at close range.

You cannot say the hateful language of the extreme right did not contribute to this.

Arizona Congresswoman Shot In The Head At Event UPDATED

Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head today at an event at a grocery store in her home district in Tuscon.  NPR is reporting she has been taken to nearby University Medical Center.

The 40-year-old Democrat, who was re-elected to her third term in November, was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

At least nine other people, including members of her staff, were hurt. Giffords was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson. Her condition was not immediately known.

Giffords was talking to a couple when the suspect ran up and fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said.

The suspect ran off and was tackled by a bystander. He was taken into custody. Witnesses described him as in his late teens or early 20s.

More on this tragedy as it unfolds.  Hopefully the Congresswoman and all injured will recover.

[UPDATE]:  AP is reporting that Gabrielle Giffords did not survive her injuries.

[UPDATE 2]:  NPR is reporting that six others were also killed in the shooting.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and six others died after a gunman opened fire at a public event on Saturday, the Pima County, Ariz., sheriff's office confirms.

A terrible day for America.

[UPDATE 3]:  Hotline On-Call's Reid Wilson:

I did a story once on Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut who is scheduled to captain the next shuttle flight.

This is an absolute travesty. 

[UPDATE 4Dave Weigel reminds us that the last Member of Congress to be assassinated was Democratic Rep. Leo Ryan of California, in Jonestown in 1978.

[UPDATE 5Gawker is reporting an eyewitness account identifies one of the victims in the shooting as a ten-year old child.  Jesus, Mary, Sikkar and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  A ten-year old kid.

[UPDATE 6]  MSNBC reporting now that Giffords is not dead, but in critical condition. 

[UPDATE 7]  Congresswoman Giffords remains in very critical condition at Tuscon's University Medical Center, in surgery now to try to save her life.  President Obama calls the assassination attempt "a senseless and terrible act that has no place in a free society."   Once again, at this time, Rep. Giffords is alive and in surgery.

[UPDATE 8]  Talking Points Memo is reporting that one of the victims shot at the event was a federal judge

[UPDATE 9]  The federal judge, Chief Judge John Roll, appointed by Bush Sr., has died. 

[UPDATE 10]  US Capitol Police are putting the toll at 18 shot in total, 6 dead so far including Judge Roll.  Congresswoman Giffords remains in critical condition. 

[UPDATE 11]  AP reports the shooter as one Jared Laughner. 

[UPDATE 12]  Press conference at the medical center, 11 brought in including Giffords, one dead, 5 critical, 5 in surgery, docs "optimistic" Giffords will recover.  The person who died in surgery was the 9-year old girl.  My God.

[UPDATE 13]  President Obama speaking now at the Oval Office, says he's sending FBI Director Mueller to Arizona to assist Gov. Brewer in the investigation.  Confirms that Judge Roll and the 9-year old girl were among the 5 dead so far.  "What Americans do in a time of tragedy is come together."

[UPDATE 14]  Arizona's GOP Gov. Jan Brewer speaking, says "We have disturbed people in our communities who do terrible things" and urges the country to "move on" from this disaster. Very bizarre speech.

Food For Thought

In another troubling sign the global recession is far from over, rising food prices in Algeria has sparked another round of riots in the north African country.

Rioting broke out across Algeria again yesterday, with police deployed around mosques in the capital after days of violent protests against high food prices and unemployment. 

Riot police armed with tear gas and batons maintained a strong presence around mosques in Algiers, while unrest spread outside the capital. The official APS news agency said protesters ransacked government buildings, banks and post offices in several eastern cities overnight, including Constantine, Jijel, Setif and Bouira. In the Belcourt district of the capital, rioting resumed after Friday prayers. Young protesters pelted police with stones and blocked roads.

Hundreds of youths clashed with police in several Algerian cities earlier this week. On Wednesday, riot police used tear gas to disperse youths in the Algiers neighbourhood of Bab el-Oued, where the most violent of the protests occurred. 

The cost of flour and cooking oil has doubled in the past few months.

Unemployment stands at about 10 per cent, the government says. Independent organisations put it closer to 25 per cent. Official data put inflation at 4.2 per cent in November.

Not every country has a Federal Reserve willing to tinker with the margins to kill inflation, either.  The reality is while prices on big ticket items are falling, basic staples and simple commodities are rising worldwide.  It's not going to be pretty, either.

More of this will be coming.  And soon.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Republicans have been irresponsibly characterizing the Affordable Care Act as evil and un-American and despotic for so long now that a group of Wyoming Republican state legislators have come full circle into the abyss and taken the evil, un-American, and despotic act of trying to criminalize implementation of the law as a felony worth up to 5 years in jail.  Ezra Klein:

In the Wyoming state legislature, 10 congressmen and three senators have co-sponsored "The Health Care Choice and Protection Act." The intent? To make it a felony to implement the health-care reform law -- which is, you'll remember, the official law of the land. Here's the relevant bit:
Enforcement of federal laws prohibited; offenses and penalties.
Any official, agent, employee or public servant of the state of Wyoming as defined in W.S. 6-5-101, who enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of this article shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), imprisonment in the county jail for not more than two (2) years, or both.
Any official, agent or employee of the United States government or any employee of a corporation providing services to the United States government that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of this article shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years, a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), or both.

Ezra goes on to point out the legislation wouldn't last any longer than a popsicle in a blast furnace in front of a judge of any stripe.  The larger point, and I agree with him, is that Republican rhetoric on what the Democrats have done over the last two years -- basically classifying everything they don't agree with as something that Americans should rise up against, and that a country governed by Democrats is unconstitutional bordering on tyranny -- has now resulted in the attempted criminalization of representative democracy itself.

This legislation here?  This really is the government trying to throw people in jail for the "crime" of disagreeing with somebody in a democratic state.

That's the difference between the rhetoric and the action.  And Republicans own this idiocy, lock, stock, and barrel.

Don't Throw Me In The Mandate Briar Patch

Slate's Adam Chandler and Luke Norris argue that if the insurance mandate part of the HCRA is struck down as unconstitutional, it should be replaced by the public option.

Conservatives argue that for Congress to require all Americans to buy private health insurance exceeds its regulatory powers under the Constitution's Commerce Clause. Before Judge Hudson, they distinguished the health care law's individual mandate from government programs like Social Security. The Social Security program is designed so that Americans pay taxes directly to the government, which pools the money and disburses future Social Security benefits. In contrast, the novelty of the health care law is that it requires Americans not to pay a tax, but rather to buy their health care insurance privately. The government's involvement is a step removed, and this is what Judge Hudson found to be constitutionally defective.

But here's the catch: If the part of the health care law that's unconstitutional is the part telling people to buy private insurance, an obvious solution is to pass a health care law including a public health plan, which would operate like Social Security and Medicare. In other words, the public option. With a public option as part of the law, people who don't want to buy insurance from a private health care company would pay into a government fund in exchange for an insurance benefit, just as they do with Social Security and Medicare.

Opponents could still argue that any law requiring universal coverage is beyond Congress' reach. But they'd run into a big wall: Supreme Court decisions that place Social Security and Medicare, along with a list of other entitlements, squarely within the constitutional ambit of Congress. Like we said, the public option and Social Security and other entitlements are structurally quite similar—indeed, the public option is essentially a form of Medicare. So to strike down the public option would require reversing a lot of well-established precedent. Courts would have to return to the laissez-faire ideology of a century ago, epitomized by the 1905 Supreme Court case Lochner v. New York. That ruling infamously limited the extent to which the government could intervene in the private sphere, leaving legislatures unable even to set minimum-wage laws, for example. And courts long ago repudiated it.

Now suppose that conservatives succeed with their current, safer legal strategy, and knock out the individual mandate. Because the private-only mandate had been the middle, compromise position, Congress would be left with the two more extreme options on health care—either a plan that includes something like the public option, or the status quo. As costs rise and more Americans go uninsured, will the public really want to roll back reform? When Americans are asked about the current health care law, a majority say they either favor it or wish it were even stronger. Making the public option the only option would fulfill the wish of those wanting a stronger bill

It's a solid argument and one I agree with.  I think the mandate should be dropped and the public option instituted because the public option is a far better solution, not because the mandate is unconstitutional, I don't believe it is and I don't believe it will be found as such.

But hey, hell of a reason to implement a Medicare for all option for all Americans to pay into, yes?

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