Wednesday, January 30, 2013

All cashed up with no where to grow

KDrum and Ezra are mystified. They can't imagine why multinational corporations are hoarding cash in these amounts: "Total liquid assets held by nonfinancial corporations have increased from 7.7 percent of GDP to 11.3 percent of GDP."

Kevin is looking for an answer:
I'm not sure. But for 15 years the people with money to bet have been betting that they'll get better returns investing in financial instruments than they will by investing in expansion of existing products and the invention of new ones. Until we figure out why, we're going to be stuck with a combination of sluggish growth and financial bubbles as far as the eye can see.
The obvious answer is -- pure greed. Almost everybody in that crowd wants instant Bain level returns on their capital. No profit in invention because, Charlie's first rule of economics. The big money is in acquisition and liquidation. The social cost of this branch of cannibal capitalism doesn't even show up on the spreadsheets.

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To tell the truth

This slipped under the radar. WaPo is launching a new fact check feature for it's website -- Truthteller.

The concept is well-intentioned. Watch the vid at the link, it's short but you can't, it basically does fact checks in real time. They have some kind of algorithm that flags phrases and matches them to their archived previous fact checks.

The obvious problem is the WaPo doesn't have that stellar on record on doing fact checks. Lots of dubious "both sides do it" has been passed on by their human "truth tellers" for "balance." And of course, the other big problem is there's still a huge demo that wouldn't believe a fact that conflicts with their world view if their God himself came down and tattooed it on their ass. So I don't have much hope for it.

Nonetheless, it's always good to see the media at least try to keep the record straight. It's a start. [image via wikipedia]

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Well yes, it's the uncertainty

So not exactly spelling doom forever, but troubling to see GDP dropped 0.1 percent in the last quarter of 2012. Part of the reason is cyclical. Fiscal years ends in the third quarter and the Pentagon has to give back whatever they didn't spend. So they go a wild spending spree to protect their funding. And of course they don't spend in the last quarter because they're out of money.

But this time the swing was bigger than usual. I have no doubt this is why:
Another possibility, as Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings told me, is that the Pentagon has been preparing for the sequester budget cuts that had originally been scheduled for January. (They’ve since been pushed back until March.) The Defense Department was facing the prospect of losing money that had already been budgeted over multiple years but hadn’t been spent. That led to a big spending spree in the third quarter, which was followed, inevitably, by a drought in outlays in the October through December.
You'll recall the sequester remained a possibility until the last possible minute in the 112th session because of GOP dithering in the House over taking the economy hostage again. In the weeks leading up to yet another 11th hour dodge, I read at least dozen articles about defense contractors laying off workers in anticipation of the sequester actually happening. Of course they have to prepare for it because no one knows when or if the GOP will be able to control their crackpot caucus.

So yes, Jay Carney rightfully blamed Republicans. Would have been nice if Zeke had mentioned that instead of simply transcribing Boehner's passing the buck.

I would have settled for him asking Boehner's office to name the two bills the GOPers passed with all those alleged "common sense cuts and reforms." Even a link to the bills, if there's no room to recap what's in them would have helped. Of course, it's against the rules of "both sides" journalism to mention the bills did not authorize "common sense cuts and reforms" but in fact were crackpot con jobs designed solely to fool the rubes.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Round and round and round in the circle game

Probably going to rot in hell for taking entirely too much pleasure in watching Fox News flail:
January marked Fox News Channel’s lowest 25-54 demo delivery for Monday-Sunday Primetime and Sales Prime (M-Su 7p-2a) since August 2001.

January was also the worst month ever for FNC’s On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren in the 25-54 demo. It was also Fox's lowest total at 10 pm since July '08.
Photos and more at the link.

That's not the only untoward delight I'm enjoying on this day of great changes. The long past their sell-by date, dueling husband and wife pundits, Carville and Matalin no longer work at CNN and Erick, son of Erick sadly bid adieu as well, as he headed to his new home at Fox News.

The only thing that would have made this day better would have been if George Will suddenly decided to retire to spend more time contemplating the deeper meaning of blue jeans.

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Immigration Nation

I'm not willing to get too excited about this sudden bi-partisan comity on immigration reform just yet. Think I'll wait until we see how many crackpot cons want to sabotage this before I get my hopes up too high. Still, it is rather astounding to see the issue embraced at all, much less being supported by actual Republicans.

Missed the delivery of President Obama's immigration speech live, but he made a strong case. I especially liked the point that this about people, not just policy. And the reminder that we're all immigrants here. I'm first generation myself. I wasn't born here. I arrived as a baby. Carried a green card until I was naturalized as a teenager.

Unfortunately, there also seems to be some serious distance between the Republican and Democratic approach and between the President and Capitol Hill. The major ones being first, Obama wants a crystal clear path to citizenship. Which already has the rabid rightwingers howling about amnesty. Second, and this is the even stickier one, Republicans want reform pinned to border security. Who determines how to define that metric is destined to be a major point of contention. Figure it will end up being the determining factor in whether this turns out to be a successful attempt at bi-partisan governance or just another act in the Beltway kabuki. [Photo via]

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These are the times of their discontent

Conor Friedersdorf is concern trolling over the "Obama/Clinton 60 Minutes interview. Young Conor is very sad that 60 Minutes "diminished their brand" when Steve Kroft failed to ask the tough questions.

To be fair, when it aired on Sunday, my twitter stream was full of White House press bitching about the same thing. Why weren't these two being browbeat over policy, forced to answer for every policy misstep -- real or imagined -- over the last five years? A sentiment that was echoed among the crackpot con punditry who feel so betrayed. Why didn't Kroft bring up every wingnut conspiracy theory? Why didn't he demand medical proof of Hillary's concussion? Why wasn't Kroft willing to take the idiot Benghazi hearings to the next level?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the media conducting tough interviews and demanding answers from our political overlords. But give me a break. This was widely understood to be a goodbye gift to Hillary from Barack, to thank her for the good work she did as SoS. Something that appears to be somewhat unappreciated since she kept such a low profile. It seems people forget how many international crises they dealt with during her tenure.

It was supposed to be a softball interview. And I find it a bit too precious when the same press corps who regularly (without a hint of protest) "report" every half-truth and outright falsehood being spewed into the discourse by Republicans suddenly become so concerned about hard questions. Would be refreshing to see some equal outrage about that.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

RIP Challenger crew

[Photo via SpaceX]

It was 28 years ago. I got up at the crack of dawn to watch the Challenger launch. I witnessed the explosion live. Heard the disbelief and horror in the news anchor's voice as he described a scene gone so terribly off script. It was gruesome... Spent the rest of the day in a near trance, watching the sanitized video loop a thousand times while I struggled with my own shock and grief.

It was also the day I realized video can lie, even on the news. The loop didn't nearly capture the searing violence of that moment. Perhaps for the best that most were spared the memory. It's long been burned in my mind. Even now I can can feel the confusion when the smoke trail goes off course... and the sorrow when what happened became clear.

I don't need to watch the video to relive it. Nor to remember they didn't show most of this in the loop that played over and over and over again.

At that time the editing struck me as devious. In retrospect I'd like to believe their motivation was more merciful and grounded in respect for the privacy of the family members who were caught so publicly in a moment of profound private grief. You don't see that sort of justifiable discretion anymore. Instead, BigTV magnifies private grief and hides public perfidies. Which in so many ways is just as sad as this tragic anniversary.

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Crackpot Congressman of the Day

And the winner is, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) who proffered a "constitutional amendment which would make failure to balance the nation’s budget an impeachable offense." His amendment "calls for a balanced budget within five years, after which time federal spending could not exceed federal revenue." And he's polishing his crackpot bonafides with the stipulation that said budget balancing cannot in any way be accomplished with the raising of revenues. It mandates spending cuts only. Guessing, cuts in military spending would not be acceptable either, considering his committee assignments and major sources of campaign funding come from the defense industry.

Congressman Brooks was elected during the 2010 GOP sweep and has been duly honored with the highly coveted membership in The Young Guns. Which is kind of a funny thing to call a guy who's pushing 60 years old, but that aside, this guy's record is as crackpot con as they come.

And considering his vehement opposition to "illegals," being on record as willing to do anything short of actually murdering them in the street to stop them from entering, I'm pretty sure he won't be a yes vote on this lovely new bi-partisan immigration reform agreement transfixing the interwebs today. Worse, I don't see any sign that he'll be voted out of office any time soon. Guess rabid bigotry and cockamamie economic theory plays well in his little part of Bama. [Image via]

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

And nothing else matters

There's a reason our corporate and political overlords aren't troubled by insanely high unemployment some five years after the crash. Wall Street is doing just fine so, no problem. This from an interview with some financial wizard explains it all:
Q: But unemployment remains high, and there are other troubling signs in the economy.

A: Yes, but it's better when you look at what drives the stock market, and that's corporate earnings. Stocks continue to be priced inexpensively relative to the earnings they generate and we're seeing decent earnings growth. And America's competitiveness is very strong. Natural gas is incredibly cheap, and we've got an efficient and strong labor force. We've had lots of productivity improvements in corporate America and modest wage growth.
Translated from greed speak, "We're making tons of money. Unemployment is good because, profit.

And apparently they've found the long sought certainty. Congressional gridlock don't bother them no more:
I suspect we'll have more last-minute compromises that won't make Republicans or Democrats happy, but will advance the ball a little bit. It doesn't matter much for corporate America, and for the market and average consumers. The economy and the strength of corporate profitability is what really matters.
Think about that for a minute. In their world, "The economy and the strength of corporate profitability is what really matters."

And by average consumer, I'm pretty sure this guy means the little people like the single mother making only $260K a year the Wall Street Journal was so concerned about recently. Anybody much below that rung on the economic ladder is invisible. Nothing more than a single obscure number on a cost/benefit printout analyzing long term trends in spreadsheet capitalism.

[Photo via TEDSARMY.COM]

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The blame game

President Obama did an interview at The New Republic. Best question was about Obama's unfortunate habit of referring to Congress in describing Capitol Hill gridlock, giving the impression he's playing the same "both sides do it" game as the media. The President gave the right answer:
Well, no, let me be clear. There's not a—there's no equivalence there. In fact, that's one of the biggest problems we've got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity. And so the default position for reporting is to say, "A plague on both their houses." On almost every issue, it's, "Well, Democrats and Republicans can't agree"—as opposed to looking at why is it that they can't agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing? [...]

... I think the issue is that we have these institutional barriers that prevent what the American people want from happening. Some of them are internal to Congress, like the filibuster in the Senate. Some of them have to do with our media and what gets attention. Nobody gets on TV saying, "I agree with my colleague from the other party." People get on TV for calling each other names and saying the most outlandish things.
Surprisingly, I took a rare peek at Politico and Dylan Byers took the criticism well. The rest of the elite DC media, not so much. Jake Tapper hit the twitter with this: ‏
@jaketapper: False equivalency is a thing, sure. But so is false "false equivalency."
Several more of the insider club jumped in to agree, +infinity. Meanwhile, Jake almost immediately walked it back: ‏
@jaketapper: maybe too meta. but yes, it was meant to be a joke and also a note that pols don't make the best media critics.
Those Beltway Boys, they have the thinnest skins in politics. In truth, it works both ways. Thanks to "both sides do it" and obsessive horserace journalism, our elite Big Media aren't exactly the best critics of the pols either. Thingis Obama is right on in his critique. Outrage and outrageousness drives traffic. No money in comity. And then there's the news cycle's insatiable maw which demands speed over accuracy. Which leads to brevity and soundbytes over fully fleshed out information. There's simply no room for context in this business model. Which leads to confused viewers and an ill-informed electorate.

Obama also pointed out the obvious:
Until Republicans feel that there's a real price to pay for them just saying no and being obstructionist, you'll probably see at least a number of them arguing that we should keep on doing it. It worked for them in the 2010 election cycle, and I think there are those who believe that it can work again. I disagree with them, and I think the cost to the country has been enormous.
To be fair, media holds much of the blame, but Obama is partly responsible for failing to call out Republicans by name for so long. Every time he blamed Congress generically instead of specifically pointing at Republican obstruction, he contributed to the construction of false equivalency. On the bright side, it appeaars he's figured out if he says it out loud, the media will report it. So there's that...

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Republicans new plot to rig the vote

Their best attempts at voter suppression didn't work in 2012, so the GOP came up with a new scam to steal elections:
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R), who was the chief elections officer when the state experienced massive voting problems in 2004, is planning to lead a national effort to rig the electoral college in favor of the 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
I believe this was supposed to look like a spontaneous uprising in blue states conveniently held at the moment by Republican statehouses, but these two know a great grift when they see one:
Gehrke and Blackwell have been talking to major donors and plan to send a fundraising email to grassroots conservatives early next week. The money would go toward promoting similar plans to apportion electoral votes by congressional district in states across the country, potentially even hiring lobbyists in state capitals.
There's gold in them thar mailing lists folks. All the GOP grifters have been working hard since their trouncing in November to convince the rubes they really are the majority and were robbed -- robbed I tell ya -- at the ballot box by those shiftless inner city voting fraudsters. Now they want to cash in on the discontent.

As a Virginia state senator explained the rural white man's lament, "The last election, constituents were concerned that it didn't matter what they did, that more densely populated areas were going to outvote them."

Apparently in crackpot con world being outvoted is unfair and so unAmerican. Real Murikins don't lose. Ever.

So far there are five states keenly interested in advancing this cheat. Unfortunately, in Michigan Rep. Pete Lund, spilled the GOP's dirty little secret:
"I believe it's more representative of the people — closer to the actual vote," said Lund, who proposed a similar bill in 2012. "It got no traction last year. There were people convinced Romney was going to win and this might take (electoral) votes from him."
So, if you would you please ignore the electoral results accurately reflected the 5 million vote plurality Obama received, rigging the vote would certainly be "more representative" of the GOP's mandate fantasy. And yeah, they built that -- from scratch. And under no circumstances shall we mention Democrats won a plurality of votes nationally that wasn't reflected in the seat allocation on Capitol Hill thanks to shameless GOP gerrymandering of Congressional districts. That's totally fair. As long as they win.

Not clear how far they'll get with this brazen scam. It may be playing well among the crackpots in the statehouses, but the big name national GOPers aren't enthusiastic about this con. Whether they'll be able to shut it down or not is another question. Now that they allowed the crackpots to take over the party, I'm not so sure they can.

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On to the next big grift - Updated

Breaking my embargo one last time to mark the occasion of Sarah Palin's departure from Fox News. Been so long since I paid any attention to Griftzilla of the Frozen North at all, honestly forgot she was still on the teevee.

I see she's spinning it as having turned down the contract renewal offer. Suspect if Ailes really did offer her a re-up, it was at a vastly reduced rate. Imagine she thinks she can do better as a free agent. Certainly, having taken a quick peek at her fan club, that's their story and they're sticking to it. Why now she can go spew her word salad on all the stations as a guest commentator. Also too, 2016! Not sure whether I find that notion more horrifying or amusing.

Sadly, I doubt that she'll just quietly disappear never to be heard from again. Not as long as there's even one rube left to fleece. Thinking she has a future in late night infomercials. I mean, Roger built her that lovely studio so she's all set to go. [photo via eonline]

Update: Suspicion confirmed. Howard Kurtz has the inside dope. He tells us Fox offered her a "vastly reduced rate" to stay on. Meanwhile Ms. Sarah is reduced to giving an exclusive to the slowly failing Breitbrat empire, advising her door is wide open for new offers. Which are apparently not flooding in. (I'll probably rot in hell for taking too much pleasure in seeing her downfall.)

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Friday, January 25, 2013

GOP judges rule in favor of Republican wish list

Ignoring precedent, mitigating circumstance and even common sense, in a breathtaking display of judicial hackery, GOP appointees ruled in favor of GOP obstructionism:
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session - and not in recess - at the time. If the decision stands, it could invalidate hundreds of board decisions made over the past year. [...]

The three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents, flatly rejected arguments from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which claimed the president has discretion to decide that the Senate is unavailable to perform its advice and consent function.
If it's upheld by the higher courts, it would also effectively shut down the NLRB and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In other words, what the GOPers couldn't win on the floor, they could gain in the GOP stacked courts. Considering how the upper court bench is stacked, I'd say their odds are much too good.

And, as Charlie Pierce explains, this is how it happens:
This, children, is what you get when you operate politically under the theory that They're All The Same. You get 20 or 30 years of primarily Republican judges acting primarily as Republicans, drawn from the legal chop-shops in the conservative movement bubble, and doing their partisan duty like performing seals.
This is what I mean when I say every single election is important. The political pageantry between the White House and Capitol Hill is theater. Big power is in the judiciary. You can't vote them out.
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Both Sides, Now

By Capt. Fogg

No, this isn't about Joni Mitchell and I'm not going to talk about bows and flows of angel hair,  just about stunning hypocrisy.  How many ice cream castles have been built upon the idea that a fertilized human egg cell is a human being possessed of  human rights?  It would be hypocritical enow that those rights are allowed by Church doctrine to foetuses when they have been so often denied to adults by religious authorities, but that's not what this is about. It's about, as I said, hypocrisy; about arguing both sides when needed to avoid guilt, or at least to avoid prosecution and penalty.

Catholic Health Initiatives, with assets estimated at around 15 billion dollars, operates a chain of hospitals and as a response to a wrongful death suit involving twin foetuses who died before birth, their attorneys argued that in cases of wrongful death, the term “person” only applies to individuals born alive, and not to those who die in utero, says Raw Story today.

Perhaps that will be a precedent that plagues them in future when they try to argue otherwise according to Roman Catholic doctrine regarding abortion and birth control, but looking at this cloudy argument from both sides now is pretty entertaining, don't you think?  And of course we remember all the adages telling us that when they argue principle, what they mean is money.

Feather canyons everywhere, indeed.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Filibuster reform fail - Updated

I suppose real filibuster reform was always a fool's hope as long as over-long entrenched Senators hold the power. It's not that they didn't pass a bill in the Senate, it's just that it did practically nothing to replace the most broken gear in the system, that being the penalty free silent filibuster.

I suppose some of the bi-partisan besotted punditry will hail it as a huge development since it came in the form of a cozy little backroom deal between Harry and Mitch McConnell. But it's clear we'll never see any meaningful change as long as Harry holds the gavel. Mr. Reid made that very clear today:
“I’m not personally, at this stage, ready to get rid of the 60-vote threshold,” Reid (D-Nev.) told me this morning, referring to the number of votes needed to halt a filibuster. “With the history of the Senate, we have to understand the Senate isn’t and shouldn’t be like the House.”
He's wrong about that too. The Senate is very much like the House, meaning a hot mess, only at this point, by allowing the 60 vote threshold to remain as the norm instead of returning it to the rare exception, the Senate is even more dysfunctional than Boehner's House of Horrors. Disappointing and irritating outcome.

Oh well, there's always next session my fellow believers in functional governance. [Photo via TPM]

Update: Just shoot me. It's not just the insipid pundits who are lauding the imaginary bi-partisan "accomplishment." The too cozy in their seats for too long Senate Dems are lauding the deal as if it actually accomplished something besides barely streamlining some tiny amount of the floor action. And it should be noted that includes (per twitter), "Dems who blocked reform on filibuster: Harry Reid, Max Baucus, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Joe Manchin & Mark Pryor."

I might mention Harry scolded Jeff Merkley, who organized the drive for reform, for naming the names of the Dem saboteurs. Worse yet, twitter tells me "Sens Cardin & King, who backed comprehensive filibuster reform, say there were 51 votes for more than Reid got."

Clearly the will for reform was there and was blocked by the senior members who treasure their power under the present dysfunction. Senate isn't going to change until we change a few more Senators.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Baby on Board

By Capt. Fogg

If all that I read were the sporting goods catalogs that arrive in the mail I would still know something was up.  There are suddenly pages of drum magazines for sale to fit  everything from non-military versions of  long guns to shotguns to semiautomatic pistols.  Drum magazines, you'll remember seeing them on The Untouchables, great round things holding 75 to 100 rounds mounted on the infamous "Chicago Typewriter."   One catalog even features violin and cello cases fitted out to carry them.  Fedora and Zoot Suit sold separately. What you'd need to carry a Glock pistol with a 75 round drum mounted below the grip, I don't know, but it's next to useless as a concealable or even portable weapon. So why this feeding frenzy?  Why just now?  Is there an invasion coming?

Gun shops are getting very crowded again.  There's a large supermarket style one under construction in my area of coastal Florida.  Prices are rising and they can't seem to keep military-looking fake 'assault rifles' on the shelves.  Another catalog features a kit allowing one to bolt together two Ruger 10/22 rifles - the kind of gun some country gentleman might give his son on his 18th birthday into a two barrel, crank operated .22 rimfire Gattling gun, complete with tripod.  Only $397 but you have to supply your own pair of rifles. Their website bears a headline saying they're up to a week behind on shipping orders because of  massive demand.

In barber shops and hardware stores and the Sporting Goods department at the local Wal-Mart, you hear muttering and whispering about "that monkey" and they don't mean Wayne LaPierre.  I heard an octogenarian friend say at dinner the other night "we don't have any freedom any more."  She'd just sold her handgun from the fear that someone would steal it and murder someone and she'd be blamed.  It isn't true of course, I don't think there's any way of tracing guns in Florida, but the fear is on the street and in the retirement homes and the mansions and yachts and trailer parks. That monkey is after our guns.

Yes, it's gun control time again with one side arming themselves for war and the other side howling Gun Control like ragged extras in a  Frankenstein movie.  The President has offered a package of measures designed to calm the hysterical on both sides and  it's not likely to do that, or so I think.  It's the "biggest legislative effort in a generation" says the Huffington Post"a bold and potentially historic attempt to stem the increase in mass gun violence."  Lets see what it looks like after passing through the entrails of Congress. Surely some of the proposals were pinned to the coat-tails of  a tragedy like a rider on an unrelated bill: ban the armor piercing ammunition?  Well it's really not that nor are the hollow points we use for hunting "Cop Killer Bullets" either.  How does one argue for meaningful gun control with all that lying going on?

 Really most of these inflammatory lumps of high velocity hyperbole are just that: attempts to emotionalize and to dupe the uninitiated and succeed in polarizing the attempt to do something useful. To me, much of this heated argument  is corrupted by dishonest coinage, invention and the refusal by both sides to examine  the axioms their arguments rely on. GUN CONTROL! and when I ask "what kind?"  The expression I get from either side is the same -- I must be one of them!

Will banning the millions and millions and millions of  guns and accessories now in 150 million private hands  do anything?  By the time anything like another loophole-ridden, designed-to-fail ban hits the streets, the number of these things buried in back yards and hidden behind paneling in basements will have doubled and the ranks of camo-clad, militiamen and survivalists and preppers will have grown further and short of a house to house search of 100 million private residences and storage lockers and bunkers, very little will be done to reduce their numbers.And nice people, ordinary people, educated people, affluent people are buying guns they would have had no interest in -- because Obama's gonna ban them.   The best way to create demand is to ban something.

And if Congress does do it again, and if they suddenly disappear with a wave of the magic wand, will someone still be able to find the hardware to kill a score of innocents?  Could you get drunk in 1929?  Can you get stoned in 2013? Of course.

Have all the miscellaneous and ballyhooed safety regulations done anything?  Mandatory trigger locks, microstamping of firing pins, loaded chamber indicator and magazine disconnect regulations?  No. Has there been an increase in the murder by firearm rate as is being said?  No. It's lower than it was in the 1950's. The fear is oversold.  Much of what is being proposed can be no more effective in protecting school children than those stupid, yellow Baby on Board signs people put on their cars in the '70s.  It's just there for the "I hate guns" people.

I'm still wondering if there has been an increase in mass gun violence or if the handful in the last few years is a statistical blip and the result of the unrelenting "never forget" emotional media coverage  that promotes repeat performances, but that question will never be settled when opinions on both sides are bolstered by selective facts, when the tenets of faith, the proclamations of activists and politicians and lobbyists are taken as axiomatic without question.  

Whatever happens, I doubt my shotgun will be confiscated, nor my Civil War pistols or my Flintlock Rifle. I'm sure I'll still be able to go to the outdoor shooting range and make holes in targets with a .22 pistol  Top Shot will still be on the History Channel and the Biathlon will still be held and Sarah Palin can still hunt for moose. Floridians will still be able to shoot wild hogs and Burmese pythons and out in the bayou, they'll still be able to hunt 'gators with .22 rifles. The fear is oversold.

Whatever happens, much legislation will be designed by people who know dangerously little about firearms and in a state of near hysteria and much will be sabotaged by their opponents terrified of symbolic emasculation and little will change. No one will bother to mention or discuss or factor in the fact that gun violence is still on the decline and that the level of gun control in any particular state or city does not correlate to that decline. It's a battle of preconceived notions and it's all about irrational fear.

Increased penalties and such won't effect anyone bent on committing  suicide and taking a few dozen innocents with him. Banning an auto-loader with a 15 round magazine when Abraham Lincoln's brass bound Henry repeater will fire 16 rounds in 16 seconds will  not make anyone all that much safer and we'll go on banning all kinds of things to "save the children" and setting the stage for a massive Republican victory in 2016.  America loves guns or we wouldn't own 300 million of them. America loves guns the way it loves trucks and football and beer and that's not going to change.

* Opinions expressed above are the author's alone.


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Sunday, January 20, 2013

GOP plays politics with public safety - Part One

[photo via Greg Fallis]

Employing the classic Republican projection tactic, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz accused President Obama of playing politics with gun safety reforms. In the world according to NRA beholden Republicans, our President and all citizens concerned with the overly easy availability of firearms are hypocrites. And by the way he didn't see anything at all odious about the NRA's hideous pro-gun ad which was definitely not about the President's daughters. Pay no attention to the fact they were referenced in the opening ten seconds of the ad. And we'll just ignore the NRA's ad was premised on a outright lie.

But please let's not trouble Mr. Cruz with those damned librul facts. It would interfere with his false statements made about firearm availability:
"There actually isn't the so-called gun show loophole. It doesn't exist. Any licensed firearm dealer that sells at a gun show has to have a background check," he said.
I guess that's technically half true. I'm reasonably sure the majority of licensed dealers are responsible sellers. But that's not the loophole. The problem is irresponsible private sellers at gun shows like this 70 year old guy with a huge stash of high powered weapons for sale:
Asked who could buy his Uzi semi-automatic weapon with a bundle of 30-round magazines, Norm replied, "Anyone who has $2,000."
And this father/son team anxious to close a single sale:
At Saturday's show, a teenager named Jacob walked the aisles with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder and a "For Sale" sign pinned to his chest. For $1,800, Jacob said, the deal would include magazines of 20 and 30 rounds.

Jacob turned the final stage of the transaction over to his father, Doug, who declined to give his last name.

Told that his would-be buyer lived in California and the weapon was illegal there, Doug said it didn't matter.

"As far as I'm concerned," Doug said. "I'm selling you a DVD player."
Just a little free market capitalism between strangers no doubt to take advantage of the inflated prices caused by gun industry alarmists. Somehow this doesn't shout "taking personal responsibility" to me.

Wanting to shut these dark deals down is not the same as trying to prevent responsible owners from buying firearms. But if the gun hoarders want to call pointing out the insanity of this lax regulation playing politics, well fine. Deal me into the game. I'm playing to win this round.

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A brief moment in bold media leadership

[Image via Bronx Banter]

Never would have expected John Dickerson to write this piece advising President Obama to forget the bipartisan nonsense and do the Hulk Smash on the GOP. John has historically been one of the most tepid, "both sides do it" journalists on the beat. So much so I found this piece to be shocking in its frankness.

Worth a read in full, because it's good advice but this bit about Obama's new resolve was what captured my interest.

He ran for president as a one-term senator with no executive experience. In his first term, he pushed for the biggest overhaul of health care possible because, as he told his aides, he wanted to make history. He may already have made it. There's no question that he is already a president of consequence. But there's no sign he's content to ride out the second half of the game in the Barcalounger. He is approaching gun control, climate change, and immigration with wide and excited eyes. He's not going for caretaker.
I would characterize our President's new attitude as approaching these issues with clear eyes and unshakeable resolve. But that aside, I predicted Obama would do this last November. While seemingly everybody else was relying on the conventional wisdom about second term presidential complacency, I said Obama wouldn't be content to rest on his laurels and would push harder for a more progressive agenda if he was given another term.

I see nothing to suggest I was wrong. This is one time I'm happy to be right.

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Just another lazy Sunday

It's official. President Obama was sworn in for his second term this morning. So that's done.

[Pete Souza/WH photo]

This tweet sums up the moment the best.
‏@ntoddpax: RT @markm1962: Today we celebrate the only job the GOP managed to create in 4 years: Obama's 2nd Term.

Meanwhile, for your Sunday amusement, here's a beautiful timewaster. It's sort of an aerial google street view thingy, where you can take virtual aerial tours of NYC, Paris and other famous cities. Lots of controls to enhance the experience.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Shots fired on gun appreciation day

On this date in history, angry Second Amendment absolutists organized a collective action to show solidarity for their cause -- Gun Appreciation Day. A day to show the world they are many. They are strong. They are armed with cash and high-caliber firearms. And they are not afraid to use them. Shots were literally fired.

So far we know five people were shot accidentally at three different gun shows today. Three of the gunshot victims were at one show, at a safety checkpoint for private sellers. Sounds like something that might happen at a fly-by-night flea market, not so much like a well regulated marketplace for weapons of human destruction.

But enough about the crass commercialism of the day. On the PR side, they also held protests. Tell me the NRA didn't fund this banner.

[BuzzFeed photo Many more at the link.]

I looked at the photos and saw mostly middle class people who are probably not hoarding guns. They're simply panicked by the false rumors flooding their news streams. Guns make them feel safer and they believe the government is trying to take them away from everyone. They're not a danger to society. The problem is those other faces in the crowd who aren't as competent -- or emotionally stable. Weeding that element out is the only way to make all of us safer -- whether we want to carry a gun, or not.

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President Obama takes a stand for D.C.

I imagine there was a good reason for it once, but this is 2013. It feels like it's long past time for the District of Columbia to have fair representation in Congress and unrestricted self-governance. So I was happy to see President Obama put this plate on his president limo.

[Susan Walsh photo/AP]

President Obama’s motorcade sported “Taxation Without Representation” license plates for the first time on Saturday. [...]

The White House decision earlier this week to use the license plates was considered a victory for D.C. statehood advocates. Obama had avoided using the plates during his first term as president.

“President Obama has lived in the District now for four years, and has seen first-hand how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children and pay taxes, without having a vote in Congress,” the White House said in a statement earlier this week.
In fact, "In the financial year 2011, D.C. residents and businesses paid $19.6 billion in federal taxes; more than the taxes collected from 19 states and the highest federal taxes per capita." Yet they have no meaningful say in how it's spent. That's just not right.

Sure the limo license plate is merely symbolic support but it's a first and it's a start.

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Monsignor Meth

Rather refreshing to see a Catholic church sex scandal that isn't about pedophilia. This one is consensual activity between adults all the way. Cross-dressing meth priest liked sex in rectory:
The Catholic priest busted for allegedly dealing crystal meth was suspended after church officials discovered he was a cross-dresser who was having sex in the rectory at Bridgeport's St. Augustine Cathedral. [...]

In his post-priesthood, Wallin, 61, bought an adult specialty and video store in North Haven called Land of Oz that sells sex toys and X-rated DVDs. Investigators believe the shop helped him launder thousands of dollars in weekly profits. [...]

While pastor of St. Augustine's, sources said he often disappeared for days at a time; and rectory personnel became concerned and notified diocese officials when Wallin, sometimes dressed as a woman, would entertain odd-looking men, some who were also dressed in women's clothing and engaging in sex acts.

In addition, diocese officials found bizarre sex toys in Wallin's residence, the sources said.

Diocese officials consulted lawyers about the situation and were assured none of Wallin's behavior appeared illegal.
As far as I know, the Vatican has not issued a statement. However, the Diocese is asking the parishioners to pray for his soul, saying he has "difficult days ahead for him." Possibly the understatement of the year.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

GOP's slow-mo cave on debt ceiling

The GOPers held a little retreat this week and figured out they can't blow up the world economy without dying in the explosion themselves so they came up with a new strategy to save face for John Boehner. Johnny announced today, well okay House will agree to pay the bills for the next 3 months. But it comes with a catch:
Under the bill, Congress would increase the debt limit through mid-April — long enough, House Republicans say, to give both chambers time to pass a budget agreement. Turning up the pressure on the Senate, the measure would withhold Congress’s paychecks if either chamber fails to adopt a budget by April 15.
It's being lauded around the interwebz as some kind of major breakthrough but it still looks like stuck on stupid tactics to me. In what world is it acceptable to agree to a deal that keeps our country and our debt holders in a perpetual state of uncertainty? Leaving aside the fact that it's not even legal to withhold their pay, (more's the pity), passing a budget is a nonsensical waste of time. Budget is just a non-binding political document. The only thing that counts for real in national bookkeeping is appropriations. Hard to believe everyone has forgotten this point.

This is just another attempt to trick the Dems into taking ownership of the GOP's hotly desired cuts to the social safety net programs. On the bright side, this is as clear an admission as we're going to get from the GOPers that all they have is empty threats. So there's that. [graphic via]

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Domestic threats

[photo via Alaska Dispatch]

An organization connected to the West Point Military Academy released a new study showing extreme far-right groups in the United States "while diverse in their causes, are similar in their use of violence" to "draw attention to and emphasize their given ideology."

Unsurprisingly the crackpot conservative contingent on Capitol Hill, as with a previous study done in 2009, is taking it personally.
A Republican congressional staffer who served in the military told The Washington Times: “If [the Defense Department] is looking for places to cut spending, this junk study is ground zero.

“Shouldn’t the Combating Terrorism Center be combating radical Islam around the globe instead of perpetuating the left’s myth that right-wingers are terrorists?” the staffer said. “The $64,000 dollar question is when will the Combating Terrorism Center publish their study on real left-wing terrorists like the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, and the Weather Underground?”
Of course, this organization does generally focus on foreign terrorism threats but in the world according to far right conservatives, even acknowledging that domestic threats exist is apparently a serious affront to God, country and their self-identity.

And never mind that ALF and ELF are mere vandals who only destroy property, (which shouldn't be condoned either), but they don't threaten harm to humans to further their cause. Indeed they make a point to avoid it. Further I can barely recall the last time either of these groups commited a major act of vandalism beyond a vague recollection of ELF blowing up some big piece of construction equipment many years ago. As for the Weathermen, they dissolved about 30 years ago. Which proves that in the fevered imaginations of crackpot conservatives, old lefty villians never die.

In any event, as a proud liberal, I have no problem with violent left-wing extremists being identified and called out for endangering the public safety. If right wing conservatives feel threatened by the extremists on their side being held to the same scrutiny, I'd suggest they either rethink their loyalties or seek professional help in dealing with their own paranoid fantasies of imagined persecution.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Warm hands, cold art

Something in me loves guerrilla street artists.

I regularly constructed such spontaneous street art in my youth, if on a smaller scale.

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GOP boasts cheating to win works very well

[Photo: AP file/J. Scott Applewhite]

Guessing they won't be leading the nightly news with this story. Republicans feel so safe from being held accountable for their vandalism of our government process, they feel free to boast GOP voting district rigging protected their power to enforce their own agenda against the will of the people. In a published report titled "How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013″ they gleefully admit they cheated to win:
Farther down-ballot, aggregated numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.

But, as we see today, that was not the case. Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans. The only analogous election in recent political history in which this aberration has taken place was immediately after reapportionment in 1972, when Democrats held a 50 seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives while losing the presidency and the popular congressional vote by 2.6 million votes.
To be clear, Obama won by 5 million votes, or 51.1% to Romney 47.2% of the total. Which puts President Obama in history as the only sitting President to win twice with over 50% of the vote since Eisenhower. Not that you would know that if you only listen to the GOP caterwauling about their rigged "mandate" in the House.

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Feed an ally, starve a troll

Been saying this for years. Of course nobody listens to me. But now that the Maddow said it on teevee maybe some of the hotshot opinion makers will pay attention:
“Trolling is a key part of the conservative-entertainment/media business model,” she said. “These guys say stuff all the time that they do not intend to be persuasive. They’re not trying to explain something, or bring people along to their way of thinking, they’re just doing something to attract attention, and hopefully condemnation and outrage from the mainstream, and particularly from liberals. They want to offend you. They seek to offend you. That is the point.”…

“Trolls have a purpose in our politics,” Maddow said. “They help niche, unpopular positions and people fund themselves and promote themselves as pseudo-political actors by tricking people who ought to know better into punching down at them.”
Via Anne Laurie who has the vid and more at the link.

Should be noted that neither Rachel or any of us have been totally successful in avoiding falling into that trap. But worth reviewing the rise and fall of some of the most successful right wing trolls, for instance Sarah Palin. When teh left jumped into outrage/mockery mode at her every utterance, the courtier press kept her in play. When we started ignoring her, she slowly drifted out of the news, because she stopped driving interweb traffic. This is the hidden key to disempowering the crackpots.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

President Obama lays down the gun law

[Charles Dharapak photo]

Quite a day at the White House. Our President schooled Congress on how governance is done. Barack Obama showed some breathtaking leadership in a presser on gun policy reform where he made very clear he is tired of trying to reason with high stakes grifters who callously misinform gullible people for their own profit.

Obama even pointedly quoted Ronald Reagan before he laid out his executive actions to reduce gun violence. Think Progress translates the legalese into the real world effects of Obama's executive actions. And provides the best quote:
The President referenced one child’s letter that read, “I know that laws have to be passed by Congress, but I beg you to try very hard.”

“I promise that I will try very hard,” he said.
Don't see how he could be trying any harder than this. Screw the nitpicking about what he didn't do. This is the boldest move towards sensible gun policy I've witnessed in my rather long lifetime. A black President, governing in an impossibly hostile environment, just stood up all alone at a podium and made himself a target for millions of misinformed, angry white guys who are frantically amassing personal arsenals of viciously lethal firearms. If that's not leading from the bully pulpit, then what the hell is?

To quote our darlin' Joe Biden, "This is big fucking deal."

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Not a nation of deadbeats -- yet

President Obama gave a presser today on gun control. But the twitter told me the White House media insiders found it much too boring so the questions were about the dreaded deficit that so consumes what Charlie perfectly named the courtier press.

President actually did well on defining the players and the stakes in the GOP's reckless gamble with their ante of the full faith and credit of the United States. Sadly, he failed on the defining the solution. This compelled Charlie Pierce to evoke his First Law Of Economics:
Fk The Deficit. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money.

The general public seems to think that The Economy is defined by how many people are working and how many people are not. The political elite, including the president, and the courtier press that services that elite, all seem to define the economy through the deficit. The cognitive dissonance in Washington is about how best to deal with an economy defined by the deficit. The cognitive dissonance in the country is about how best to deal with an economy that is being defined at the highest levels of the government in a way that the rest of the country finds odd and inadequate.
And as Atrios adds:
The additional maddening thing is that if you fix the jobs problem you largely fix the deficit problem. The reverse is not true. If you "fix" the deficit you kill the jobs.
Obvious and uncomplicated. Hard to believe that all these Very Serious People don't know this to be a verifiable fact. Which leads to disturbing conclusions about the implicit sociopathic intentions of our ruling class. Not reassuring.

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The centrist solution

It appears the mythical non-partisan problem solvers, a/k/a the Centrasauri, have arrived early this season. I see NoLabels is launching a mighty comeback and now we have Jon Huntsman and Joe Manchin teaming up to bring back civilized political discourse by recruiting a Gang of 24 on Capitol Hill. Their goals are lofty, and familiar:
While in past years members of Congress used to interact regularly with members of the opposite party, today members of Congress interact very little with people from the other party — or even members of their own party in the opposite body. Members’ daily lives are dominated by party caucus, policy and fundraising meetings that are focused on winning elections or destroying the opposing party. There isn’t much time left over to actually govern.
Of course! All we need is a genteel conversation, a bi-partisan consenus on granny starving and other matters of very serious import to the ruling class. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?

[art by Howard Finster]
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Media Malpractice: Politico edition

Under no circumstances should you click on this link to Politico's surrender to pure stenography. It burns the brain cells and it's a waste of precious time you'll never get back. The piece reads like it was delivered full written by the RNC.

Instead, read Steve Benen's takedown of the GOP talking points.
It's unfortunate that the Politico passes along so many of these Republican allegations without scrutiny, but it's worth noting, in case anyone's forgotten, that (a) trashing the full faith and credit of the United States would almost certainly produce catastrophic results; (b) Republicans would get the blame for hurting Americans on purpose; and (c) the $6 trillion in new debt is largely the result of Republican policies.
Steve also kindly provides the important quotes from this sorry excuse for actual journalism.
GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner "may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system," said a top GOP leadership adviser. "We might need to do that for member-management purposes -- so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they're fighting."
Which is kind of like saying we need to let the frat boys get their binge drinking out of their system by giving them full run of the House, hand them the car keys and give them an unlimited line of credit at the liquor store. No where in the piece does Politico mention America is being held hostage in the back seat of the car and there's a damn good chance those drunken vandals will end up veering off the edge and leaving us all in a fiery wreck at the bottom of a cliff.

No, can't mention any highly likely consequences of GOP strategy, but please do carefully transcribe Boehner's lament.
Starting Monday, Boehner will huddle with his leadership team to discuss his preliminary thinking on a spending strategy. A source who attended meetings to prepare for those private talks said GOP leaders are authentically at a loss on how to control members who don't respond to the normal incentives of wanting to help party leaders or of avoiding situations -- like default -- that could be public relations nightmares.
We won't mention Boehner could pass a clean bi-partisan debt limit bill in a New York minute with Democratic votes. Apparently the Hastert Rule also requires media silence. Besides it doesn't mesh with the "both sides do it" model of "reporting." Outsourcing the rest of disgust to the eloquent verdict by Charlie Pierce.
The callous recklessness demonstrated in this piece is demonstrated merely as the pursuit of a tactical advantage, and its effects merely as the ongoing harshing of John Boehner's mellow. Detaching politics from the people — and, thereby, detaching political maneuvering from its real-world consequences — is the worst journalistic malpractice that can be committed in a self-governing republic and, in that, Politico is the Dalkon Shield of American journalism. A class-action suit by citizens wouldn't be out of place at this point.
Sign me up for that suit. And, despite this being a particularly loathsome bit of journalist negligence, we probably need to add more defendants than just Politico.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Trigger happy

David Keene is right about mass panic buying of high caliber guns and high capacity ammo clips happening because gun hoarders are afraid President Obama going to take their guns away. But the NRA President is surely lying when he denies the NRA is actively fostering the fear of everything in service of their bottom line. Their own fundraising pitches make a mockery of that absurd claim.

Fear drives sales. The NRA gained somewhere around 100K memberships post Sandy Hook. And let's not forget the benefits to the rest of the gun industry. Panic buying drove up pricing at least fivefold. Gun shops across America are literally empty. Sold out to the last damn bullet.

Profit. The gun industry is making a killing. Unfortunately, literally in the somewhere around 700 gun deaths just in the weeks since Sandy Hook happened. Some were murders; more often they were tragic accidents. Many of those deaths were children. But the answer for Mr. Keene is certainly not less guns.
Keene dismissed policies that would limit the availability of assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, two proposals that are likely to be included in the recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden’s gun task force. “We don’t think any of those things work,” he said. “You should absolutely be able to compromise on things that accomplish the purpose. Our objection to those things is that they interfere with people’s rights without doing anything to solve the problem.”
Hard to convince a guy whose fortunes depend on accelerating gun sales that sensibly restricting access to his product is the solution to firearms abuse.

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Raise high the debt ceiling, Congresscritters

So Treasury and the Fed shut down the platinum coin frivolity last night by announcing Treasury won't mint it and the Fed wouldn't recognize it as legit if they did. Still don't think this means the coin is actually gone. As I said before, it's already been virtually minted on the interwebz. Everybody knows what is created on the interwebz lives forever. But it was always a last resort defense weapon, not a solution. And it was a smart move, now that it's been created, to take it out of play and put the focus back on the real issue -- the GOP's insane threat to commit economic terrorism over what has been, and should continue to be, a routine bookkeeping matter.

James Fallows distills it down to The Two Sentences That Should Be Part of All Discussion of the Debt Ceiling
Here they are:

1) Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending.

2) For Congress to "decide whether" to raise the debt ceiling, for programs and tax rates it has already voted into law, makes exactly as much sense as it would for a family to "decide whether" to pay a credit-card bill for goods it has already bought.
Simple. Any news organization that uncritically "reports" the GOP's false blathering about "handing President Obama a trillion dollar credit card" without adding these two indisputable facts is commiting journalistic malpractice. Furthermore, if it all goes to shit because they failed to inform the public, then the media is just as much to blame for the aftermath as the GOP.

As PressSec Jay Carney said, "There are only two options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or they can...put the nation into default."

[graphic via]

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Juxtaposition of the Day

How Democrats kiss.

How Republicans kiss.

[Dharapak photo]
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Gun crazy

Honest, I don't want to keep writing about gun nuts but this guy is clearly a menace to society. The good news is, James Yeager lost his state permit.
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has suspended the handgun carry permit of a local man who threatened to "start killing people" to protect his Second Amendment right.

In a statement released Friday officials said they had suspended the handgun carry permit of James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response based on "material likelihood of risk of harm to the public".
The bad news is, that's not nearly enough. All this does is prevent him from legally carrying a loaded gun into his local Waffle House. It doesn't take away his mighty arsenal of weapons, all of which are stored -- fully loaded -- in some warehouse on his property. I mean he's got rocket launchers on hand.

And now having seen this video of Yeager doing an interview with a local TV station where he vainly attempts to mitigate the blowback from the video that went viral, I'm convinced the guy is the most dangerous kind of grifter of all. A batshit crazy mid-level grifter who actually believes in his own whacked out conspiracy theories. Also, having just reviewed Steve M.'s research on Yeager, he clearly has a messiah complex and a serious anger management problem.

The promo video Steve put up from Yeager's training camp is mindblowing. He threatens to shoot his kid's friends in the face (if necessary) and describes his inner circle as a frat house with machine guns. Even his supporters describe him as an asshole. Oh, and a giant bottle of bourbon is one of his important supplies in the field, in case he gets stuck behind enemy lines. Or something.

Yeager is the poster boy for people who shouldn't have guns at all. If this guy cracks, not having a permit isn't going to stop him from an all out massacre of his perceived adversaries. The state needs to shut down that training camp and take away all his weapons in the interests of public safety. But he's a white guy in the south, so not holding my breath.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Is that a trillion dollar coin in your pocket...

I've read more about the platinum coin than any underpaid observer should endure. Here's what I think right now. The platinum coin is serious. It is real. The platinum coin has been virtually minted on the internets. The platinum coin exists in the public imagination just as surely as if it was a real weight in the hand. It would be folly for Obama to publicly endorse it as an option. He doesn't have to show it.

Boehner is useless. McConnell is hamstrung. Harry Reid should put a clean debt limit bill on the floor that raises the ceiling -- as necessary -- to honor the financial obligations of the US government as mandated by previous Congressional appropriations. In perpetuity. That's it. Make the issue so clear even the least informed voter can grasp it. No negotiations. No amendments. Up or down vote. Or else, please proceed with a filibuster GOP...

And when the Republicans hijack the media attention again with their counter offer that can't honestly be described as anything less than a threat of economic terrorism, all President Obama has to do is ignore them and virtually jingle that coin in his pocket. [graphic via]

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You may ask yourself, how did we get here?

I've got ten other things I'd rather talk about but the gun nuts mounted a full assault on sanity today. I can hardly keep up with the incoming barrage of crazy. So I'm just getting to this genius PR move for "gun rights activists."
Larry Ward, chairman of the national Gun Appreciation Day gun rights advocates have planned for the weekend of President Obama's second inauguration...
Brilliant. Prove how reasonable and responsible "gun rights activists" are by holding a mass demonstration featuring angry white guys fondling lethal weapons while a black guy they hate is being sworn in as president. Who averages 30 death threats a day.

But it's not at all about racism, cause the good ole boys are now BFFs for life with that other black guy who also happens to have a national holiday at the same time.
"I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country's founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history," Ward said.
Hell, they should have passed out those guns right from the git-go to those "savages" and made it a fair fight when they were ripped from their homeland to be traded like chattel. And I have this dim recollection that those "negros" did get guns right around the time of the "War of Northern Aggression." Still took them another hundred years to get the right to vote in the South.

But no disrespect intended and they're very sorry if any humor impaired person was offended by their choice of dates for the event. This is totally about the honoring the Constitution and the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile Snipy Wonkette remembers how supportive these folks were when armed black people exercised their 2nd Amendment rights:
Perhaps the 1960s icons the guns uber alles crowd should really be loving on are the Black Panthers, who did indeed dig guns. History reminds us, however, that back when black people loved guns, white people with guns decided they were super into gun control:

Don Mulford, a conservative Republican state assemblyman from Alameda County, which includes Oakland, was determined to end the Panthers’ police patrols. To disarm the Panthers, he proposed a law that would prohibit the carrying of a loaded weapon in any California city…

Republicans in California eagerly supported increased gun control. Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.”
Same as it ever was. Only this time it's about accumulating superior fire power. That the gun lobby profits greatly from the hysteria is purely coincidental.

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Ask us about our AK-47s

Meet the newest poster boys for better gun regulation. Two 22 year old lame-brained gun nuts terrorize a Portland neighborhood by casually strolling the street armed to the teeth. These two idiots are probably just attention whores who wanted to see themselves on the teevee but that doesn't make them any less dangerous to the public safety. But of course they claim the best of intentions.
The men told officers they were hoping to educate the public about gun rights.

"Exercising my rights with a rifle to try to decrease the demonizing of peacefully exercising your rights in public," one of the men told Fox 12. He said his name is Warren, but did not want to provide a last name.

“This happens to open that line of communication, to let people know that you can defend yourself in a time of crisis or any time that you want to,” Boyce added.
Meanwhile, the residents and business owners were sent into panic mode, locking doors and hiding in closets while flooding the police with 9/11 calls. The police mentioned to the dimwitted pair this was wasting law enforcement resources and could interfere with responding to actual threats. They were not impressed.
Warren said he hoped people would approach them and talk to them, instead of calling police.

"What they really should do is observe the person to determine if the person is aggressive," he said of seeing someone with a gun in public. "We're not doing anything threatening to anyone."
Right. Because who among us, when seeing two big, beer-bellied 20 somethings on the street carrying semi-automatic assault rifles doesn't immediately want to run over and ask them about their black guns? Especially in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and the numerous shootings since.

They say it's not the first time they've pulled this stunt. It's not illegal. Maybe we should do something about that.

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An accidental army of paranoid gun nuts

It appears James Yeager isn't ready to give up the limelight just yet. He apparently took down yesterday's crazed video but Yaeger has a new warning today.

If you can't watch the video, here's the basic text:
Now, I don't condone anybody doing anything rash. I do not condone anybody committing any kind of felonies up to and including aggravated assaults or murders. Unless its necessary.

Right now, it is not necessary. I understand that my video was very volatile. You have no idea how many people that sent me emails and texts and call me like 'Right on! My shit's clean. My bag is packed. You tell me when and where.' You have no idea how quickly I accidentally assembled an army. I assure you, a quite formidable army. But now is not the time. It's not time yet.

But, it is time to get ready!
I remind you Yeager runs a training camp for gun nuts and terrified upper middle class people prepping for a breakdown in society that guys like Yeager promise is just over the next horizon. And if necessary, he'll crash civil society himself with "volatile" videos like this. Good for his business don't you see?

I don't know if he's just a shameless grifter looking to promote his product or an actual lunatic. Either way, he probably belongs on locked psyche ward where he can't poison the public discourse with this insanity.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Not a well regulated militia

James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company hawking "weapons and tactical training" apparently wants to cash in on the confiscation paranoia currently surging in the black gun crowd. Yeager posted this video rant to fire up the fear factor to eleventy. You really have to click through and watch him deliver this script:
"Vice President [Joe] Biden is asking the president to bypass Congress and use executive privilege, executive order to ban assault rifles and to impose stricter gun control," Yeager explained in his video message. "Fuck that."

"I'm telling you that if that happens, it's going to spark a civil war, and I'll be glad to fire the first shot. I'm not putting up with it. You shouldn't put up with it. And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you're going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle's clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight."

The CEO concluded: "I'm not fucking putting up with this. I'm not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I'm not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I'm going to start killing people."
Not sure he really meant it. Pretty sure he's just a mid-level grifter who was trying to figure out how to better fleece the rubes. Also guessing alcohol may have been involved in the making of the video. Evidence being, (a) he took the video down quickly and (b) he has something to hide.

Think our would be Commander Yaeger of the New Revolutionary Forces, once sufficiently sober, realized the video might expose that his business model is built on fraud.
On his personal website, Yeager's Corner, Yeager says he's a "TN Department Of Safety Certified Firearms Instructor."

But Dalya Qualls, a spokesperson for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, told TPM that's just not the case.

"I have confirmed with our Handgun Unit that Mr. Yeager is not a Department of Safety and Homeland Security certified handgun instructor and Tactical Response is not a department certified school," Qualls said in an email.
Of course it's also possible our would be Commander Yeager is a brilliant opportunist and a crackpot. Not linking, but I visited his website. This from the FAQs inspires all sorts of confidence in his training methods. And by confidence, I mean horrified disbelief verging on pure terror.
Is lodging REALLY free in Camden?

Well sort of. Our founder and CEO James Yeager has a 2,000 sq ft “Team Room” in the first floor of his home. It has 12 bunks, couches, tables, wireless internet, bath, fridge, coffee maker, microwave, awesome library and DVD collection and unmatched camaraderie with fellow students. It has a “frat house” like atmosphere that some students love and others hate. This is the private residence of James Yeager and is not owned by Tactical Response. This is just a show of kindness and is only for Tactical Response students (not schools we host at our range).
But not to worry. If you're not into the frat boy scene, lots of nice hotels nearby. And the pricing is clearly designed for an upper middle class demo. Like the Sandy Hook shooter's mother. Priciest option appears to be: High Risk Civilian Contractor - CQB (Raids and Rescues) at 5 Days / $1750. But you have to go through a lot of steps to get to that class. Low end for newbies starts with: Basic Fighting Pistol at 1 Day / $100 which qualifies you for the real class: Fighting Pistol at 2 Days/$450.

Oh and he rents firearms for training:
For Camden classes, yes we do.
- Pistol (Glocks 9/40/45): $25/day
- Shotgun (12 ga): $40/day
- Carbine (AK): $40/day
- Precision Rifle: (.308) $50/day

Firearms rental includes magazines and the support gear (sling, holster, mag pouches, etc.) that you need to complete the class. E-mail well ahead of time to reserve yours. Rental does NOT include ammunition (yes we have been asked that). Guns must be returned at the end of each training day.
The big money is in the ammo. Thanks to paranoia induced hoarding, the price has exploded.

This guy isn't the only one running one of these prepper schools. I've read about three other ones just this week. I'm guessing there are thousands of them. Only the "happy frat house" dwellers are preparing for war. They're mostly geared to upper middle class homeowners who want to protect their stuff when the promised hordes of poors storm their estates to take it.

They don't appear to be well regulated.

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Happiness is a warm gun

Deposed Tea Party darling Joe Walsh effectively encouraged treason at a rally this week.
At his most aggressive, he told dozens of supporters to "defy and or break the law and engage in civil disobedience" if faced with federal health care law restrictions or new gun laws.

He paraphrased Thomas Jefferson in saying, "We may have to shed blood every couple hundred years to preserve our freedoms."
That would be the freedom to die with a belly full of lead or lack of preventive health care. Of course, that does not include freedom for persons possessing lady parts to make their own reproductive choices. Nor would it cover freedom to sanctify marriages between choice of life partners unapproved by conservative dictum. Which in this case should really be spelled dickdom. Or should that be dickdumb?

And this is rich:
He insisted the Tea Party makes up a majority of the so-called silent Americans and emphasized a platform based on freedom and personal responsibility manifested in four political aims: to cut taxes; limit the size, scope and influence of government; remove debt and respect the rule of law.
So says the deadbeat who failed to pay $100K in child support payments as ordered under the rule of law. Hard to believe his "silent" majority of Tea Party pals didn't manage to get him re-elected.

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