Thursday, January 20, 2011

Last Call

They keep telling me there no reason to believe conservative commentators had anything to do with the Tusc...what's that you say, Lassie?

"I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don't. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep's clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.

"You've been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You're going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.

"They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they're revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.

"Here is my advice when you're dealing with people who believe in something that strongly — you take them seriously. You listen to their words and you believe that they will follow up with what they say."

Huh.  Now, I wonder which irreposible knucklehead said that?

Oh, it was Glenn Beck last June.

I wonder if somebody took him seriously.  I wonder if somebody who believed in Beck's words that strongly, took Glenn Beck seriously, listened to his words, and believed they needed to follow up before the "Communist Democrats" in Washington destroyed America first.

The odds of this being the exact incident that made Jared Loughner shoot Gabby Giffords in the head seven months later?  Astronomically low.  But how many weeks and months and years has Glenn Beck said things like this about Democrats?  He gets paid to say stuff like this about Democrats, and he says them to millions of listeners and viewers every week.  And he's far from the only one.

So how many times does Glenn Beck need to tell people to shoot Democrats in the head before a Democrat gets shot in the head?

That's maybe a question somebody should have asked Glenn Beck before January 8th.

Just saying.

Then again, we still need to ask the question now.

Police in Arlington, MA this week seized a “large amount” of weapons and ammunition from local businessman Travis Corcoran after he wrote a blog post threatening U.S. lawmakers in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). In a post on his blog (which has since been removed) titled “1 down and 534 to go” — 1 referring to Giffords and 534 referring to the rest of the House of Representatives and the Senate — Corcoran applauded the shooting of Giffords and justified the assassination of lawmakers because he argued the federal government has grown far beyond its constitutional limits. “It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot indiscriminately. Target only politicians and their staff and leave regular citizens alone,” he wrote in the post.

But we don't have a domestic terror problem in the US assisted by a climate of irresponsible eliminationist rhetoric.

And the wingers will be proclaiming this right up until the next astronomically low coincidence where people get hurt or killed happens.  Then they will go after anyone who points out it may be a coincidence and browbeat the media into silence again.

The cycle will then repeat.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Tbogg flags down the wingers blaming an increase of pedestrian deaths on...wait for it...I SAID WAIT FOR IT...

...on Michelle Obama wanting you to walk more.

No, really.

The Governors Highway Safety Association says pedestrian deaths increased in the first half of 2010 and the First Lady's program to get Americans to be more active could be partly responsible.

Governors Highway Safety Administration spokesman Jonathan Adkins told 630 WMAL that Michelle Obama is "trying to get us to walk to work and exercise a little bit more.  While that's good, it also increases our exposure to risk."

Apparently Michelle Obama wanting Americans to eat healthier is responsible for a rash of choking on baby carrots, her asking Americans to cut down on smoking has in turn caused a unchecked growth in tobacco plant monsters rampaging around the Carolina hills murdering people, and wanting kids to eat better school lunches has caused a dangerous overflow in our country's storage capacity for little rectangular pizzas, causing spontaneous grease fire combustion across the country.

This isn't "one plus one equals two" it's "one plus one equals Dostoevsky and sulfuric acid pie with extra purple."  This is literally the definition of the phrase "correlation does not equal causation".

Of course, Jim Hoft totally believes this anyway.

Haters Gotta Hate, Moose Gotta...Moose

Jim Taranto over at the WSJ believes he has figured out the "irrational hatred" of Sarah Palin by the left, and does a spectacularly irrational job of it by pinning it on "liberal feminist women".

We'd say this goes beyond mere jealousy. For many liberal women, Palin threatens their sexual identity, which is bound up with their politics in a way that it is not for any other group (possibly excepting gays, though that is unrelated to today's topic).

An important strand of contemporary liberalism is feminism. As a label, "feminist" is passé; outside the academic fever swamps, you will find few women below Social Security age who embrace it.

That is because what used to be called feminism--the proposition that women deserve equality before the law and protection from discrimination--is almost universally accepted today. Politically speaking, a woman is the equal of a man. No woman in public life better symbolizes this than Sarah Palin--especially not Hillary Clinton, the left's favorite icon. No one can deny Mrs. Clinton's accomplishments, but neither can one escape crediting them in substantial part to her role as the wife of a powerful man.

It's pretty impressive saying Sarah Palin proves women are equal politically and then in the same paragraph saying Hillary Clinton's political power derives from being Bill Clinton's wife.  That would imply that women are not politically equal, particularly at the highest levels of American government.  But back to how Palin somehow threatens sexual identity of irrational liberal women...

But there is more to feminism than political and legal equality. Men and women are intrinsically unequal in ways that are ultimately beyond the power of government to remediate. That is because nature is unfair. Sexual reproduction is far more demanding, both physically and temporally, for women than for men. Men simply do not face the sort of children-or-career conundrums that vex women in an era of workplace equality.

Except for the small minority of women with no interest in having children, this is an inescapable problem, one that cannot be obviated by political means. Aspects of it can, however, be ameliorated by technology--most notably contraception, which at least gives women considerable control over the timing of reproduction.

As a political matter, contraception is essentially uncontroversial today, which is to say that any suggestion that adult women be legally prevented from using birth control is outside the realm of serious debate. The same cannot be said of abortion, and that is at the root of Palinoia.

To the extent that "feminism" remains controversial, it is because of the position it takes on abortion: not just that a woman should have the "right to choose," but that this is a matter over which reasonable people cannot disagree--that to favor any limitations on the right to abortion, or even to acknowledge that abortion is morally problematic, is to deny the basic dignity of women.

So government cannot fix the intrinsic workplace inequality that Taranto says exists between men and women, but that a government solution to the morally problematic question of abortion is needed.  Government cannot legislate equality in the workplace, but it must legislate the reproductive choices of women.  Maybe Taranto believes the former is because of the latter, I don't know.

The fact that Sarah Palin wants the government to tell other women what they can and cannot do with their uterus makes the dislike women have for Palin who are opposed to that "irrational"?

What's "irrational" is one one side of their mouths conservatives who scream that buying health insurance is fascism, but that banning abortion is a proper use of government authority.   I guess it hasn't occurred to Jim that these fears of government overreach by the new GOP House leadership on abortion may not be "irrational".

What the GOP is doing with H.R. 3 is something entirely different. They’re not only placing new restrictions on abortion services but also expanding the role of government in private life. As CAP’s Jessica Arons put it, “H.R. 3 would redefine the concept of government funding far beyond the current common understanding. Rather than simply prohibiting the use of federal funds to directly pay for abortion, H.R. 3 would insert itself into every crevice of government activity and prohibit even private and non-federal government funds from being spent on any activity related to the provision of abortion any time federal money is involved in funding or subsidizing other, non-abortion-related activities.

It's all so...irrational...if you think about it.

The Most Trusted Name In News

...and it's not FOX, as Tom Jensen and the gang at Public Policy Polling reveal:

PPP's annual look at the public's trust in various TV news outlets finds that Fox News' credibility is on the decline, that the traditional networks are seeing an up tick in their numbers, and that PBS is at the top of the heap.

Here's how they stack up from highest net trust to worst:

2010 Numbers
Shift from 2010
Not Included
Not Applicable
35/44 (-9)
39/41 (-2)
Fox News
49/37 (+12)
32/46 (-14)
31/46 (-15)

-A year ago a plurality of Americans said they trusted Fox News. Now a plurality of them don't. Conservatives haven't moved all that much- 75% said they trusted it last year and 72% still do this time around. But moderates and liberals have both had a strong increase in their level of distrust for the network- a 12 point gain from 48% to 60% for moderates and a 16 point gain from 66% to 82% for liberals. Voters between left and center tend to be more trusting of the media across the board, which is why a fair number of them were still rating Fox favorably even a year ago at this time. But it looks like with a lot of those folks it has finally crossed the line to being too political to trust.

 Took only a year, I see.  Other important findings:

African-Americans overwhelming trust all the news sources in the poll...except for FOX at just 25%.   Hispanics are pretty blase' about the news, and Whites don't trust anything but FOX and PBS...and even that's just 46%.

There are a lot of folks in the "Not Sure" category, ranging anywhere from 12 to 20+%, meaning that the news networks do have "swing votes" to work with on earning back trust.  This was true whether you divided by political philosophy, party affiliation, age, race, or gender.

Independents don't trust anyone, it seems.  Conservatives only trust FOX, liberals everyone but.

Women are far more trusting of news networks than men...except for a general slight dislike of FOX by both.

Seems rather interesting, especially the fact that African-Americans trust news far more than other Americans.

Privacy, Who Needs Privacy? Part III

(CNN) -- Facebook wants your address and mobile phone number.  But it's not sure exactly how to ask.

It's a complicated digital courtship, particularly because Facebook doesn't just want this data for itself -- it wants to "share" this info with all of its friends, which in this case happens to be app developers (think FarmVille, Compare People and Where I've Been -- all that non-Facebook stuff that pops up in your news feed).
 We have two problems here, folks.  One is that this is a clear case of selling out privacy for convenience, and the second is how shady Facebook was about telling people this was going to happen.  As the article above states, the update was released so late Friday night that they were accused of burying the release, and when the statement was released, it was far from clear:

"... that it was making "user's address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object."
Facebook doesn't need another black eye, and as a regular user I don't need another hoop to jump through for simple minimum privacy.  There is a convenience factor to log in to certain apps or services, but it's a small benefit when compared to the cost of your contact information and old childhood stories to be released to the world.  Regular users are becoming wary of Facebook, which means they should work to improve their customer relationships and avoid destroying any remaining trust with lame announcements and even worse excuses when the truth catches up to them.

For those who harbor any doubt as to what this could mean:

The blog Inside Facebook writes:

"Most critics have immediately focused on how greedy developers will request the data in order to spam users, which is a valid concern. But the access will also enable the creation of apps that keep friends connected via SMS and facilitate e-commerce by pre-populating delivery details.  Though the risks are high, Facebook should not impede innovation for fear of spammers, but instead push forward while minimizing negative outcomes by helping users make more informed decision(s)."

Which, of course, is exactly why they announced it in the most confusing way possible, and decided to "push forward" to so we don't have to suffer the indignity of providing a secure username and password at the sites we use.  For a final touching kiss, they blame those goshdarned critics for bringing up a valid concern and tell you the risks are high but e-commerce (theirs) is more important.

I'm Sorry, We're Fresh Out Of Basic Humanity

A 66-year-old woman froze to death while neighbors listened to her scream in distress.  She suffered from Alzheimer's and nobody knows how she got outside or why she was confused.  But neighbors heard her crying out and nobody bothered to call 911. 

Who are we if we don't offer that basic minimum protection for our fellow man?  I am sick at the idea of listening to someone cry, hearing those cries fade off as the woman froze to death, and not bothering to reach for a phone inside my warm, comfy home.  What lessons did parents teach their children?  What are they going to say to this woman's family? 

This isn't an isolated problem.  There was Ebony Garcia, only 21 years old when her boyfriend stabbed her.  A neighbor heard her scream that he had stabbed her in the neck, but dind't actually respond.  It isn't a new problem, either.  Kitty Genovese was raped and stabbed multiple times while her neighbors listened.  Her attacker was so bold that he ran and came back to finish the job when nobody checked out her screams.

We should be ashamed, collectively, for the ignorance and stupidity that led to this death.  It was horrifying, painful, and completely preventable.  Anyone who has been that cold knows how the nerves scream and there is no relief.  My thoughts go out to her family, and I pray her suffering was as short-lived as possible.

A. Weiner Is You At Drinking Games

Alan Grayson may be gone, but Rep. Anthony Weiner is still around and entirely unafraid to call out the House GOP.

During the House debate on repeal of health care reform today, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) reprised his famous (or infamous) rant against Republicans: "You know, I want to just advise people watching at home playing that now popular drinking game of 'you take a shot whenever Republicans say something that's not true.' Please assign a designated driver. This is going to be a long afternoon."

A. Weiner and still champion indeed.  He's done enough of these to earn his own tag, methinks.

If It's Thursday...

New jobless claims down significantly from 441k to 404k.  Continuing claims also down to 3.86 million.  Things are improving but...very slowly.

The bad news is of course at the end:

However, the total number of Americans on benefit rolls, including extended benefits under emergency government programs, jumped to 9.6 million in the week ended Jan. 1 from 9.2 million the prior week. 

Still a long way to go.

Spiked Out Of Spite

Yesterday I asked about the missing Village media coverage of Monday's attempted terrorist bombing of a Spokane, Washington MLK Day parade.

Why this wasn't wall-to-wall national news Monday I have no clue.  This was clearly a domestic terror attack, set by somebody on MLK Day, at an MLK Day parade.   No clue on the suspect or their motives, but the intended target and timing says a hell of a lot.

I'm not the only person to have noticed that the Village media has all but completely ignored this story, either.  Will Bunch explores the lack of coverage from Drudge to the NY Times.

When it emerged that alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner was an almost certainly mentally ill 22-year-old who seemed to follow some bizarre conspiracy theories but not the political rhetoric of Palin or the Tea Party, there was massive pushback from conservatives who accused the mainstream media of jumping to unfair conclusions. Most famously, Palin herself emerged to call this a "blood libel." The former GOP veep nominee was savaged for using that charged term, but you have to wonder now if the pushback from Palin is actually a case of "mission accomplished."

That's because with this new episode in Spokane, not only have the pillars of the mainstream media not raced to any conclusions, but they seem to be in a competition as to who can most ignore the story altogether. But there's no need to jump to unwarranted conclusions here; the actual facts have been laid out by the nation's preeminent law enforcement agency, the FBI -- that we are dealing with a case of "domestic terrorism," that the sophisticated device along the King Day parade route was capable of causing mass casualties, and the target was American citizens celebrating an icon of the progressive movement, Dr. King.

Maybe the implications are just a little too frightening for the mainstream media to want to deal with. But this episode seems to clarify what some of us have been reporting and writing about for the last two years, that there is an escalating tide of political violence in this country, and the majority of perpetrators or incidents involve the targets of eliminationist rhetoric from the right wing. This is a major issue for America -- on a par, in my opinion, with U.S.-China relations or the future of health care reform -- and the media is dropping the ball here, big-time. It's not too late to pick it up.

I'm sincerely hoping some additional information on the case and/or the arrest of a suspect or suspects will put this story back into the national limelight, because right now it's looking like yet another major domestic terror story is being spiked in the wake of right-wing whinging that there is no domestic terror problem in this country.  Some more info has come to light in the last 24 hours:

The bomb, which was defused without incident on Monday, was the most potentially destructive he had ever seen, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release information about the investigation.

They haven’t seen anything like this in this country,” the official said. “This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I’ve ever seen.”

That right there should give all of us pause. If an official with the investigation is saying that this is a lot more than just a simple pipe bomb or IED, then we should all be concerned. And yet...this story is not news, apparently

Compare the coverage of this story to the Times Square bombing attempt last year or the Christmas 2009 underwear bomber story, and you're beginning to see the similarities and the major difference so far in how this story has been handled.

If there was an inkling of a possible Muslim suspect in this attack, there's no doubt in my mind that this story would have dominated cable news for several days now.  Your garden variety racist/white supremacist wanting to blow up a Martin Luther King Day parade doesn't count as terrorism news, apparently...even when the FBI admits that race must have played a factor in the attempt.

Repeal And Replace With...Single Payer?

Vermont has the right idea as state lawmakers are putting in place the means to skip Obamacare and go straight to the Holy Grail of single payer...but it's still years off.

Vermont officials are beginning what promises to be a provocative push for a statewide single-payer health insurance system that would take the place of President Barack Obama's signature health care law, the state's lone congressman said Wednesday.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) told The Huffington Post that his state's local and national lawmakers were "looking to get a waiver" so as to formally opt out of the federal system. Conversations have begun as to how an alternate health care policy might look like should the waiver be granted, Welch said.

"Vermont is very supportive of moving towards single-payer, you have the entire congressional delegation you have the governor who ran on the platform of single-payer and the legislature is very sympathetic to single-payer," he said.

According to Welch, the state's governor, Democrat Peter Shumlin, was receiving a report on Wednesday from one of the architects of Taiwan's single-payer system, which would help inform a proposal tailored for Vermont.

Under the current law, however, Vermont would have to wait until 2017 to get the waiver that would allow the state to set up its own system.

"It doesn't make sense to have it be 2017 because by then the federal law has gone into effect," Welch said. "You are setting up the exchanges and what you end up doing is having states that want to innovate -- in our case single-payer -- have to unwind what we put in place."

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) have introduced legislation to move the opt-out date up to 2014 -- an amendment that both Welch and, it appears, House Democratic leaders support. 

Like I've said before, if there are state plans out there that can do a better job than the PPACA, let's see your cards.  Vermont's looking to put its money where its mouth is and if they can prove it works and works well, other states could join in.

More power to them.


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