Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Last Call

Sully for the win.

The right and the left both have intemperate voices. But here's the key: only the conservative movement counts the most vile blowhards as leading lights, embraced by the leadership. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin: these are among the most popular conservatives in America. Who are the folks on the left with equivalent popularity and influence?

Which is the point I made yesterday.  When random jagoffs from the progressive left (and there are plenty of those, myself included some days) have the same level of media influence that Rush, Beck, Palin and BillO do, wake me up. I'd like to know where my big fat contract is so I have enough money to be eccentric rather than just kinda weird.

The two are not equal.  When TBogg or John Cole or the Rumpies end up controlling vast amounts of power in the Democratic party and the media from a position of unofficial leadership and can make or break a candidate for office in the party singlehandedly, then you have an argument.

Meanwhile, El Rushbo is saying crap like this:

What Mr. Loughner knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country.

And nobody bats a friggin' eyelash, he makes millions a year, and enjoys dozens of sponsors.  Couldn't make my point any better there for me.

And finally, some Bonus The Stupid for your late night edification:

CNN's Erick Erickson is upset with what people aren't saying about the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:
Through it all though, well meaning people on both sides of the ideological and partisan divide are not talking about the one thing that should be talked about — a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
For the record: Rep. Giffords is Jewish, so "a saving faith in Jesus Christ" might not be "the one thing that should be talked about."


A Loaded Question, Part 2

Dave Weigel notes that Arizona Republicans like State Sen. Jack Harper have no compunction against immediately expanding gun rights in the state.

In Arizona, gun-rights groups don't have to worry about the "anti-freedom bigots" at all. Harper and Pearce are right; they began this year with the votes to expand gun rights, picking up right where they left off last year. They passed a "Constitutional Carry Act" that expanded the right to carry weapons in public—the right Arthur Olivas was enjoying today—and limited what local authorities can do to regulate firearms. They made Arizona the sixth state to pass a "Firearms Freedom Act," exempting any firearms made and used in the state from federal regulations.

The point of all this is that there's very little gun-control activists can do in Arizona in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting. They can point out that Loughner had shown signs of mental problems before he was sold a Glock 19 at the Tucson Sportsman's Warehouse, or bullets at a local Wal-Mart. But the state prohibits any coordination of mental health records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

So Arizona's response—the most likely legislative response—is going to be expanded gun rights. Heller told me on Monday that the Arizona Citizens Defense League has drafted legislation that would allow the state to train members of Congress and their staffs in firearms, and give them access to firearms they could carry in their districts.

"I don't think having a firearm on her would have done Congresswoman Giffords any good," Heller admitted. "However, if it was known that members of her staff were well armed, that very well could have dissuaded [the shooter]."

Yes, more guns might have stopped anyone from getting hurt, especially the crazed, illogical stalker guy willing to shoot somebody because he was running around with a couple bolts loose up top.  We're really now saying that the problem last Saturday was there weren't enough people with guns in the area, and that guns in Arizona are too difficult for normal citizens to obtain?

You can already carry a gun openly in the state.  The state refuses to obey or implement any federal laws on guns either.  The next step is what, making it mandatory for all government employees to be trained to carry and to carry a firearm?

Look, no matter what your position on firearms control is (and we've had some good arguments both ways earlier today on the subject) is it really appropriate to train political staff and provide weapons for them at this juncture?

This ain't Shadowrun, folks.

The New Don't Ask, Don't Tell

President Obama will be in Tuscon tomorrow, and the Pima County Arizona GOP chair wants the president to show leadership and "stop the blame".

With President Obama reportedly set to visit this divided and mourning Arizona city Wednesday, the chair of the county Republican Party is calling on the president to help put an end to what he calls "assigning blame" in the wake of Saturday's shooting at a constituent event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) that left six dead and the congresswoman gravely wounded.

Brian Miller called on Obama to "lead the effort to stop the blame" after the shooting, responsibility for which he says has been unfairly placed on the shoulders of Republicans and the right.

Miller said "of course we welcome the president" to Tucson and hopes Obama will help put an end to the deep partisan divisions in this city that have continued unabated in the aftermath of the multiple homicide Saturday morning.

"I understand [the national reaction] is political," Miller said. "But there will be plenty of time for that."

It's funny.  A Democratic politician is in the ICU from a bullet to the brain, but asking political questions about the assassination attempt, well the time for that is later as far as Republicans go.

Can't ask about guns, can't ask about rhetoric, can't ask about politics, can't ask about why Democrats keep ending up with bullets in them.

It's the new "Don't ask, don't tell."

Oh Archie!

Click this link to read an account of Obama and Palin duking it out in Riverdale!

I'm an old Archie fan, and I found it amusing.  Enjoy!

Follow Up: Ted Williams Story Gets Better

CNN Video shows an update on Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice.  While it is a bit hammy in places, it gives us a glimpse of a real person going through real problems.  I think the reason Ted's video went viral was because so many people can identify with him.  A little rough around the edges, Ted Williams has captured our attention, and in some cases our hearts.  Supporters have arranged for work for Ted, including a voice-over for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

The video above shows snippets of different interviews.  Ted's mother joins him after nearly ten years of separation.  She is blunt about her concerns that he will fall in with the wrong people and make similar mistakes.  A take-no-crap-outta-anybody church lady, she is fearless and unwavering in her love for her son and her principles.

Williams does not have an easy road ahead.  But we'll be watching, because you just can't help but root for the underdog.  We all love to see a good person beat the odds and get a real chance at making it.  For his sake and ours, I hope this opportunity leads to something bigger and better, and gives all of us a little bit of hope.  And for his sake, I hope he doesn't make Mama mad.

From The "We Totally Saw That Coming" Files

The government is moving to head off a growing problem with its reverse mortgage program. Large numbers of elderly borrowers--perhaps thousands--face possible evictions from their homes because they've stopped making property tax and home insurance payments. While homeowners with reverse mortgages are freed from mortgage payments after taking out the loans, they remain liable for property tax, home insurance, and maintenance expenses. Failure to make these payments can trigger foreclosure and possible eviction.
 This was questionable practice to begin with, but already we have several of elderly citizens circling the drain, and no break in sight.  In fact, according to many, times are only going to get worse.  HUD has demanded the reverse mortgage industry to provide detailed reports on how many and how severely delinquent these accounts are, and there is no such thing as a good outcome.  Unverified reports estimate that as many as 20% of accounts are delinquent to some degree.

This is one of many markers showing a new fear for my generation.  In fact, more than one article has printed discussing women from working class up to the top of the chain (Katie Couric, for example) who fear that their financial security will disappear, and they will live day to day, or like a bag lady.  While women have taken a relatively new role in the workplace, it's already been pointed out that equal pay and benefits are not a reality for most workers.  In fact, women still work harder and longer hours for less pay.  This fear is a valid one, and no solution is on the table.

We have a long row to hoe, ladies and gentlemen.  But the longer we take to work towards a solution, the longer it will take for us to climb out of the hole we are digging for ourselves.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Pima County Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik dared to voice the opinion that eliminationist rhetoric from the right is a problem in this country.  How do the eliminationists respond?  48 hours later, the right is holding Dupnik responsible for the shooting.  Hot Air:

Any cop can tell you whodunnit but it takes a supercop to tell you What It All Means about our political culture. A nagging question: Should supercop maybe have figured out that Loughner was a menace before he gunned down six people outside a Safeway? Remember, this is a guy who was so palpably disturbed that more than one of his classmates told their professor that they feared for their lives. He had five separate run-ins with the campus police at his community college, and as Moe Lane helpfully notes, at some point Dupnik himself learned that Loughner had made death threats — and they weren’t threats to Gabby Giffords. When he learned of those threats (perhaps only after the shootings?) and whether they fell under his jurisdiction are the subjects of inquiry going forward, provided any reporter can tear himself away from worrying about tea partiers to look into this.

In that vein, we’re getting lots of e-mails about this post, but I’m unfamiliar with the site and can’t vouch for its credibility. Under those circumstances I’d normally pass on it, but since America’s new standard of journalism requires no supporting evidence whatsoever before tossing an assertion into the news stream, here you go. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. The important thing is, does it serve your political agenda?

It's Loughner's fault, it's Sheriff Dupnik's fault, it's Arizona's mental health system's fault, it's the community college's fault, it's the media's fault, it's liberalism's fault, it's Obama's fault, it's everyone else's fault...everyone but the right.

But if you point out the eliminationist rhetoric, then Saturday's tragedy becomes your fault, as Sheriff Dupnik is finding out.

Maybe Arizona shouldn't have trimmed $50 million from the state's mental health budget then.  Cutting back on government services has consequences.

Dupnick, for his part, isn't backing down. Hell, he went for the brass ring.

"The kind of rhetoric that flows from people like Rush Limbaugh, in my judgment he is irresponsible, uses partial information, sometimes wrong information," Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said today. "[Limbaugh] attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not without consequences." 

Amen to that, Sheriff. 

From Dancing With The Stars To Serving Behind Bars

Former GOP House majority leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay will be getting some new substandard federal housing soon.

Judge Pat Priest gave DeLay three years on charges that he conspired to launder corporate money for use in political races. On a separate money laundering charge, the former Speaker was sentenced to five years, but that sentence was suspended in favor of 10 years of probation.

The judge said that he agreed with the jury's guilty verdict, and that there is no higher principle than those who write the laws should also follow it.

DeLay was immediately taken into custody, but was expected to be released after posting appeals bond.

The Statesman reported that the judge cleared the courtroom so that an unrepentant DeLay could speak.
"I fought the fight. I ran the race. I kept the faith," he reportedly said.

I believe that goes "I fought the fight, I ran the race, I kept the faith, I lost the case."

Of course, DeLay will be out on appeal soon and probably won't be actually serving his time anytime in the near future.  Men like DeLay simply don't go to jail, you see.

Convicted felon has a nice ring to it however.

A Loaded Question

I see people asking about Jared Lee Loughner's politics, his state of mental well-being, his philosophy on life, his history growing up as child, his words and his Youtube videos, but the question I don't see people ask is "How did Jared Lee Loughner get a handgun with an extended magazine?"  Politico finds that Congress doesn't want to ask that question either.  The NRA has all but won the issue completely, saying that any discussion of gun control laws would not be appropriate:

The message is clear, and it’s one that most lawmakers seem to have absorbed: Not only is access to guns irrelevant to this discussion; bringing it up would be downright insensitive.

USA Today's Joel Pett sums it up:

Can't even consider how Loughner got a handgun, and extended magazine or two, and ammo.   Congress is only tinkering around the margins at best.

The signal piece of gun legislation to come out of the Arizona shooting looks to be a bill that Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) plans to bring up as soon as this week. It would ban the manufacture and sale of high-capacity magazines such as the one Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s would-be assassin, Jared Lee Loughner, attached to his Glock 19, allowing him to fire off 33 bullets without reloading, rather than the 10 or so in a typical clip.

“The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who plans to introduce McCarthy’s legislation in the Senate, said in a statement. “These high-capacity clips simply should not be on the market.”

But McCarthy and Lautenberg are up against a political consensus that has only hardened in recent years as Democrats made inroads into Republican territory largely on their ability to neutralize the gun issue. Some of their red-state victories were with pro-gun candidates such as Montana Sen. Jon Tester and Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

“The battle over gun control is over in the sense that it’s decided that you’re allowed to have guns in this country,” former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, a pro-gun Democrat elected governor of Vermont with the endorsement of the NRA, told POLITICO in an interview.

What needs to be reopened, he said, is a debate on “common sense” measures such as whether people can buy weapons without background checks at gun shows, where and how firearms can be carried, and bans on certain types of weaponry.

He pointed to recent initiatives, such as New Hampshire’s party-line vote to allow guns to be carried in the halls of the state Legislature, as extreme measures that may provoke a backlash. “I come from a hunting state. Vermonters are very practical,” he said. “Last time I checked, there were no deer in the New Hampshire statehouse.”

Gun-control advocates hope that, because one of its own has become a victim, Congress will see things differently. But with a new, solidly pro-gun Republican majority in the House and a Senate stocked with red-state Democrats up for reelection, there are few indications of widespread conversion on the issue. 

And so it goes.  Not even a law banning extended magazines has any chance of passage, even after the attempted assassination of a Congresswoman and six dead around her.   It's a question that won't even be asked anymore as we wonder why and how this tragedy occurred.

Not even one of Saturday's heroes will be heeded.

This evening on the Situation Room, Blitzer had on retired Army Colonel Bill Badger, in order to tell the story of his part in the takedown of Jared Loughner.  I can't find any video of it, but Badger's composure and recall of detail in retelling the story makes the segment worthwhile on its own.  As the interview is wrapping up, the Colonel makes use of his brief moment of fame to actually try and make something good come out of this travesty:

BLITZER: Colonel, do you own or carry a gun? 
I have got a 21-year-old son. And when he was born, my wife made me get rid of .38. I had one up until that time.
But, you know, if I could say something right now, that something is drastically wrong with what's going on in our United States right now. And when an individual is turned down to get into the military and then can be -- is able to go out and buy a .9-millimeter Glock pistol, and he had one of the -- or his clips were the extended clips that were limited to law enforcement only, and, you know, that -- or somebody has to put a stop to that.

But we won't even ask.


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