Sunday, July 22, 2012

Last Call

Nothing will happen after Aurora.  Nothing.  No laws will be passed, no regulations enforced, nothing.  And the next massacre will happen a few weeks or months from now, or hours if we're talking about the often forgotten urban centers of America where the victims are inner city minorities neck deep in gang violence.

Meanwhile our village betters keep telling us we can never have gun control.

Conservative columnist George Will said Sunday that the Aurora, Colo. shootings have little to do with the nation’s gun laws, describing it as the product of an isolated, deranged individual.

“That’s what the problem is – an individual’s twisted mind,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” roundtable. “There is a human itch in the modern age to commit sociology as soon as this happens and to piggy-back various political agendas on a tragedy. And I just think we ought to resist that. … There are deranged people in the world.”

We can never have gun control because Crazy People.

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, also appearing on the roundtable, similarly argued that the tragedy didn’t have much to do with gun laws. She said the more relevant issue is mental health.

You know, mental health programs that Republicans say we have to cut if not eliminate entirely because we can't afford them, and we have to give tax cuts to corporations and the job creators and more money to the Pentagon for better, deadlier weapons to kill people with.

After all it's the stupid victims' fault for being shot and not packing heat to defend themselves with.

Former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce wrote a missive Saturday highlighting the collective failure of the victims of the Aurora, Colo. massacre to stop the shooter who left 12 people dead and nearly 60 wounded in a movie theater.

The outspoken conservative — known for his ardent pro-gun and anti-illegal-immigration views — later sought to clarify that he was merely blaming gun control laws.

Early Saturday morning, the former Republican lawmaker took to Facebook to mourn the victims. He then wondered why none were “[b]rave” enough to stop the atrocity.

“Where were the men of flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man,” he wrote. “…All that was needed is one Courages/Brave man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done.”

Only more guns can solve America's gun problem, just like only more tax cuts can solve America's tax revenue problems.

Today In Village Idiocy

Jay Rosen, journalism professor at NYU and media critic at large, has a term for that obnoxious Village tendency to compare two sides in an argument (liberals and conservatives especially) and lazily declare both sides to be equivalent in their partisan transgressions while the Villagers pretend to stay above the fray.  He calls it the View from Nowhere:

In pro journalism, American style, the View from Nowhere is a bid for trust that advertises the viewlessness of the news producer. Frequently it places the journalist between polarized extremes, and calls that neither-nor position “impartial.” Second, it’s a means of defense against a style of criticism that is fully anticipated: charges of bias originating in partisan politics and the two-party system. Third: it’s an attempt to secure a kind of universal legitimacy that is implicitly denied to those who stake out positions or betray a point of view. American journalists have almost a lust for the View from Nowhere because they think it has more authority than any other possible stance.

Rosen's been on to this tendency since the early Dubya years, nearly a decade now.  He's certainly nailed the process and the why:  It's used to suck all the legitimacy out of either side in a political argument and bestow it on the writer.

A perfect example of that is this Mark Fisher piece in the Washington Post equating Romney's tax returns guessed it, President Obama's boirth certificate.  Fisher is careful to keep his View from Nowhere intact as he compares the two and throws up his hands, blaming both sides for the "lack of trust" in our politics.

When Obama’s birth certificate, passport records and medical files remain an issue for some voters through his presidency, it means that some people are still trying to resolve doubts about his exotic background — his role as a racial pioneer and his biography as the child of a father from Africa and a mother who took her son across the globe.

And when Romney’s tax records become a political albatross, that dispute is not so much about the merits of running a transparent campaign as about the discomfort some voters feel toward the candidate’s wealth and whether he understands the lives of those who have less.

Document battles — whether trumped-up election-season kerfuffles or genuine quests for important information — have been a mainstay of every national campaign since 2000. That should tell us that the hunger for proof stems from something much deeper than our search for the immaculate candidate. It’s part of our larger national neurosis, the corrosion of the sense that whatever our political leanings, we all share a common fact base. The fraying of that consensus has led increasingly to an entrenched popular skepticism, a stance toward politicians and institutions of all kinds that’s not just an arched-eyebrow “Show me,” but an obstinate and insistent “I don’t believe you.”

Not only do Americans increasingly segregate themselves in information silos arranged by political ideology, but even when we’re ensconced in the comforting echo chamber of Fox/Drudge World or MSNBC/NPR Land, we’re cynical about the very nature of facts.

Obama's birth certificate and Romney's tax returns are the same!  Both should be dismissed as things you shouldn't believe in.  The controversies surrounding them are just ginned up, because FOX and Drudge are the same as MSNBC and NPR.  Only the Village stands above it all.

And this is how our press will deal with the Romney tax returns issue now.  "It's the same as the Obama birth certificate thing, it's all nonsense, both sides do it.  We'll tell you what you really need to know about the candidates.  Stay tuned!"

Our press is trying to get you away from anything that would sink Romney and leave the campaign season meaningless.  They'd be out millions in political ad revenue if the race wasn't close, and more importantly nobody would ask them what they should be thinking about the candidates.

We're "cynical about the nature of facts" alright.  Especially with this press.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Bill Moyers gives us this staggeringly important interview with author Chris Hedges, who describes America of the Great Recession, an America completely subservient to corporate interests in both parties, those corporate interests bleeding out American cities and regions in the name of Almighty Profit.

Hedges calls these areas "Sacrifice Zones" in his new book.  He's absolutely right.

Hedges was particularly eloquent in describing the coal-mining areas of West Virginia, which “in terms of national resources is one of the richest areas of the United States [but] harbor the poorest pockets of community, the poorest communities in the United States. Because those resources are extracted, and that money is not funneled back into the communities.”

“Not only that,” he continued, “but they’re extracted in such a way that the communities themselves are destroyed. … They no longer want to dig down for the coal, and so they’re blowing the top 400 feet off of mountains poisoning the air, poisoning the soil, poisoning the water. … You are rendering the area moonscape. It becomes uninhabitable. … It’s all destroyed and it’s not coming back.”

Hedges went on to talk about Camden, New Jersey, which since the disappearance of manufacturing has become the poorest city in the United States and one of the most dangerous. “It’s a dead city,” he said. “There’s nothing left. There is no employment. Whole blocks are abandoned. The only thing functioning are open-air drug markets, of which there are about a hundred. And you’re talking third or fourth generation of people trapped in these internal colonies. They can’t get out.”

He spoke also about the Pine Ridge Reservation and migrant workers in Florida, saying, ” It’s greed over human life. … We, in that biblical term, we forgot our neighbor. And because we forgot our neighbor in Pine Ridge, because we forgot our neighbor in Camden, in Southern West Virginia, in the produce fields, these forces have now turned on us. They went first, and we’re next.”

“These corporations know only one word, and that’s more,” Hedges went on. “And because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from the creating, essentially, a corporate oligarchic state.”

Watch the interview:

Devastating.  This is happening here, now.  And at every turn Republicans (and some Democrats) will make sure more and more Americans are sacrificed for corporate profit.  The GOP future of the United States is to simply keep jettisoning the weak and broken into the abyss until everything belongs to the one percent.

We're not too far off from that point now, a decade at most.

48 Hours Remembers Unsolved MO Murder

I remember when this happened, mostly because they made such a big deal about self-defense classes and how this woman was a green belt and was still beaten brutally.  And though it sounds hopelessly naive, that sort of stuff really never did happen around here.  Until then, at least.  48 Hours has investigated to bring new attention to the case.

"This is small town USA. A lot of stuff like this just doesn't happen," Walter said of the brutal murder.

Police documented the grisly scene using blood evidence to reconstruct Mischelle's final, terrifying moments.

"I believe she got out of the vehicle, and I think there was an argument," Walter explained. "She ended up over the guardrail and down the bottom of the slope. A very violent altercation took place. I believe she was beat at the bottom and knocked unconscious. There was a lot of blood…"

There was also blood under Mischelle's fingernails and marks on her right hand and wrist suggesting she had fought her assailants. 

"I think that she was fighting for her life. I think she was fighting more than one person," Walter said. "There was a blood trail going back up the hill. They carry her across the guardrail. They put her back in the car."

It wasn't until investigators searched her car and found three spent shell casings from a .380 caliber handgun that they realized Mischelle had been shot, too.

"I think after she got back in the car, I think that's when she regained conscious and somebody reached through the window…shot her point blank in the face; shot her in the back of the head. And then one more time in the back," Walter said, pausing. "I can't imagine what she went through that night."

She fought hard for her life, and lost.  It's unlikely anyone will ever come forward with information that will break the case open.  Her story is an important one for the area, though it's not enough to get a blip on coastal or major city news.  We were shocked and were forced to think about what we might do if faced with such a situation.

Besides the "Three Missing Women" case, this is probably the most famous unsolved case to haunt Missouri.


An obsessed lover built a hideout inside his ex-partner's house and used it to spy on her.
The 25-year-old man - who has name suppression - spent many hours in the hidden cavity, under a flight of stairs, and stocked it with clothes, bedding, food, candles, torches - and an arsenal of weapons.
He also cut holes in the plasterboard of the hideout and created trapdoors, giving him access to the whole house.
He was caught after he emerged from the hiding spot and lashed out with a spade when another man visited his former partner at the Lower Hutt home about 3am on April 1.
I cannot imagine what it would be like for a man to come bursting out of nowhere, wielding a weapon and speaking in Crazy.  I believe this may be the strangest booty call in the history of booty calls.

Not much is known about the man, except that his father surely contributed to his state.  In complete denial, his father calls it a "one-off" and suggests his son may have set this up over one night.   Trapdoors, bedding, weapons and all.  Somehow, in dear old Dad's mind, this means his son isn't as crazy as they believe.

But he's still crazy.  How do I know?  Sane people don't have a weapons cache in the room they use to spy on their ex.

Thank goodness this didn't end with someone getting killed.  They got to this one in time.

The Pain In Spain Continues, Part 2

The most recent Spanish austerity measures announced last week have now fomented major protests in the capital of Madrid as unemployed young Spaniards are descending on the the city in droves to rally against the Rajoy government.

Thousands of jobless Spaniards marched through Madrid Saturday in the latest angry demonstrations against economic crisis cuts, as fears rose for the country’s financial stability.

Young people thrown out of work by the recession converged on the capital, many of them having hiked hundreds of miles from around Spain, and walked through the city’s central avenues, waving banners and whistling.

“Hands up, this is a robbery!” they yelled, their regular refrain over recent days of protests. “Everyone get up and fight!”

It was the latest in a string of protests that have erupted since Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced 65 billion euros ($80 billion) in fresh austerity measures on July 11, including cuts to pay and unemployment benefits.

“I am very disappointed and angry,” said Alba Sanchez, 25, who had come by car from the northeastern region of Catalonia to join the demonstration.

“People cannot allow all these cuts by this government that hates us.”

The crowd marched peacefully to the sound of drums and trumpets and stopped at the Puerta del Sol square, the symbolic hub of numerous social protests, where demonstrators sat down and held a popular assembly.

On Thursday hundreds of thousands of demonstrators massed there after a mostly peaceful protest march that ended with police firing rubber bullets to disperse small groups of protestors.

Spain's population is only 46 million or so.  Protests involving hundreds of thousands would be the equivalent of a million plus here in the states.  Austerity there is failing, miserably.  The country's unemployment rate is almost 25% and things are only getting worse.

And when Spain goes down in flames, Europe will too.
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