Friday, February 23, 2018

The Town Hall We Won't Have

In a metaphor Dana Loesch especially should understand, criticizing Dana Loesch's comment at the NRA-sponsored Conservative Political Action Conference is like shooting fish in a barrel. Nonetheless (or because)

Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. Now I'm not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media. And notice I said 'crying white mothers' because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend, and you don't see town halls for the, do you? Where's the CNN town hall for Chicago? Where's the CNN town hall for sanctuary cities?

It would be easier to forgive Loesch for playing the race card if she were a noted civil rights activist or someone who had ever done anything for  grieving black mothers other than flacking for an organization determined that enough weapons are in enough hands to create more grieving black mothers.

Obviously, race is what she was talking about, given the reference to "thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend." If there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend, we have a bigger problem than imagined by anyone, even by the Trumpists who envision "Chicago" as "the place with lots of black thugs including that black president."

If Loesch wants to have town halls for everything, perhaps we can have a town hall for the actual thousands harmed by Medicaid cuts in the GOP budget. But a question more relevant to the  town hall Loesch participated in and slammed, however, would be "where is  the CNN town hall for the NRA's investment in death by firearm?"

In December, 2015 The Intercept's Lee Fang revealed

The Intercept reviewed investor transcripts for gun companies, ammunition manufacturers, and sporting stores, and found many instances of industry executives discussing mass shooting incidents and the resulting political dynamics as lucrative.

Here’s how it works. Following a mass shooting, there is talk of gun control, which the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates attack as an assault on the Second Amendment. Notably, gun and ammunition manufacturers often donate, either directly or as a portion of each sale, to the NRA. The fear of losing gun rights leads to panic buying, which brings greater profits to gun retailers, gun companies and their investors.

After Loesch's remarks, Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts (not this Robin Roberts) responded "Powerful statements but wrong statements. We do not do this for ratings.” Further, it seems the mainstream media is far less pleased with mass shootings than the industry which subsidizes the NRA, and for which it speaks. Fang noted

James Holmes killed 12 people and injured more than 70 others after opening fire in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012.

In 2011, Jim Barrett, a financial analyst, asked Ruger’s Fifer during a call with investors if the “recent shooting incident in Tucson” — referring to the shooting that year of Rep. Gabby Giffords — “has stirred gun owners and prospective gun owners to go visit the stores?”

Bob Sales, another analyst, asked Fifer how his company was preparing for future gun sales, given that “a combination of the election in 2012 and the Sandy Hook incident … spurred a massive binge of gun buying.”

On a conference call with investors, Millner, the chief executive of Cabela’s, fielded a question about the Aurora mass shooting from an analyst with Imperial Capital, who asked him if the incident had “any impact on your business.” Millner responded, “I would say that the trends that you read about in the press, we are experiencing at least thus far since the incident.”

On a more superficial level, why term the fact-based, time tested media, as the "legacy media?" Sarah Palin's term "lamestream media" was more rhythmic- and at least she looked like Tina Fey.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pitiful Conservatives

The cowardice continues, though isometimes paired with something else.  On Tuesday, controversial wingnut and former Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke tweeted (emphasis his)

The well ORGANIZED effort by Florida school students demanding gun control has GEORGE SOROS’ FINGERPRINTS all over it. It is similar to how he hijacked and exploited black people’s emotion regarding police use of force incidents into the COP HATING Black Lives Matter movement.

Clarke is black, but obviously has equally little respect for both blacks and student activists, believing that both groups are easily manipulated.  On a positive note, at least Clarke does not appear frightened. By contrast, on his Trump TV program Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson argued that "organized anti-gun groups"

are using these kids in a kind of moral blackmail, where you are not allowed to disagree or you are attacking the child -- which is, of course -- I can speak for myself, the last thing that I would ever do as a father of four. You would never attack the kid. You can disagree with other people's opinions without attacking them, but the press is conflating that, and making it like you're not allowed to disagree, or you're a bad person.

Most of us are not saying Tucker is not allowed to disagree or even that he's a bad person. One can be frightened without being a bad person.  When Carlson stated "the allegation has been that they are in some way in contact with organized anti-gun groups,"  he is presumably included but without specific acknowledgment.. The "people who have suggested that," he continued,"have  been denounced as immoral, and heartless, and "How how dare you question these kids or attack them?" Which, for the record, I am certainly not doing --"

For the record, "don't blame me. It's not what I have been doing. Why would I, and be denounced?" Such a conservative snowflake. But Carlson's fearfulness is matched only by that of Snowflake Blowhard Rush Limbaugh, who maintained

And I made the point that I could not believe how mature and composed-  this particular student’s name was Addison Jost, and I don’t know if she’s a junior or senior, but I saw her being interviewed and she was epitome of composed and poised. And I had made supportive comment after supportive comment talking about the trauma these kids were experiencing, the shock, they’d been shot at and so forth. And I noted how impressed I was with their maturity and their ability to speak off the cuff in answering questions that dealt with the emotions they were facing.

I never once insulted any of these students. I never have mentioned a student at this school by name, other than Addison Jost in a praiseworthy way. I have commented on some of the sloganeering and the agenda that is being used here. 

Uncharacteristically on the defensive, Limbaugh implores that he "made supportive comment after supportive comment" and "never once insulted any of these students." But as cowardly as Tucker Carlson, Limbaugh added

And it is straight out of the Democrat Party, and I’ve made the point that the left gets away with this quite easily by taking these kids or any group of people that happen to be activists advancing the Democrat Party agenda, and they immediately proclaim them as not political. The media does. And the students themselves did.

Don't blame me, Limbaugh is pleading- would I say anything bad about young people?   No, it's the Democratic Party and the media, the monster under the bed, the outside agitator. The devil made them do it.

As usual, the right  is filled  with cowards afraid of criticism.  We don't know how any of this will end but there is one posiive sign. It  is apparent that, contrary to norm, some conservatives are scared. Very scared.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Shrinking Violets

The right wing has begun to mobilize in opposition to the activism for gun control among Parkland, Florida students. While acknowledging a couple of exceptions, Steve M. observes a "common thread" among the critics in that

The smear merchants are avoiding direct attacks on the students. The sinister plots all involve outside agents who are using the students for their own nefarious ends.

As soon as I started watching videos of Emma Gonzalez's weekend speech and other media appearances by the teenage survivors, I assumed they'd be attacked by the right -- we all remember how opponents of children's health insurance funding smeared the family of Graeme Frost, a seventh grader who spoke up in favor of the funding, in 2007.

But the attacks on the shooting survivors aren't direct -- not even on Gonzalez, whose buzz cut I was sure would be the subject of endless ridicule on the right.

SM noted at least three examples. They included a tweet, retweeted by One America News Network and True Pundit, and liked by Donald Trump, Jr. in which Gateway Pundit's Lucian Wintrich claimed "EXPOSED: School Shooting Surviver Turned Activist David Hogg's Father in FBI, Appears To Have Been Coached On Anti-Trump Lines (Video)."

Ex-Representative (R-GA) Jack Kingston, SM claimed "sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda.... Do we really think 17-year-old on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally? ... Organized groups that are out there, like George Soros, are always ready to take up the charge, and it's kind of like instant rally."

Most comprehensive was Fox News" Todd Starnes, who manages to blame the "mainstream media," Saul Alinsky,"liberals," "indoctrination camps," public schools, and government (sort of a double trifecta) when he rants

The mainstream media is cynically using a lot of traumatized teens from Parkland, Fla., in their latest shameful attack on President Trump and the National Rifle Association.

It's right out of the pages of "Rules for Radicals" -- turning innocent children into propaganda pawns to peddle a fake news narrative....

Honestly, we can't fault the kids. They have been through an unimaginable ordeal, and long before that, their minds were poisoned by liberals who believe there's something wrong with the Second Amendment.

So when you hear the youngsters spouting off about how the NRA should be destroyed and how NRA members are child killers -- take a deep breath and understand they have been brainwashed by government-funded indoctrination camps - pardon me - public schools.

Others could have been cited, such as Dan McLaughlin, "The Baseball Crank," who wrote in National Review “if you have ever been, or known, a teenager, you know that even comparatively well-informed teens are almost always just advancing arguments they’ve heard from adults.”

This approach seems to have been ripped from an old playbook. The right has employed this tact for years in legislating against reproductive choice.

Slate's William Saletan found that in the days after candidate Donald Trump slipped and stated "there has to be some form of punishment" for a woman who procures an illegal abortion (a statement he later retracted)

 “Women who choose abortion often do so in desperation and then deeply regret such a decision,” said March for Life, which organizes the annual rally of pro-life organizations. “We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.” Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said many women turn to abortion as “an escape route from a life of unbearable shame, secrecy, and hardship.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, another pro-life group, said punishment should be reserved “for the abortionist who profits” from the transaction, not for the woman whose male companion “drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.” Charles Camosy, a pro-life scholar and author of Beyond the Abortion Wars, added that even in the absence of explicit male pressure, women should be spared punishment because they’re “coerced into having an abortion as a means of having social equality.” Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, said Trump was wrong because “women who have had abortions are already in a prison of guilt and shame.”

It could be called hypocrisy or cowardice. Some opponents of gun safety legislation have in recent days avoided blaming outside forces for the activism of students urging control of firearms. But those who have succumbed to shifting responsibility are frightened at the backlash which ensue upon criticism of young people, particularly of individuals whose friends were cut down by gun violence.
Like the vast majority of opponents of reproductive choice, these persons lack not only good sense, but the simple courage to identify their adversaries honestly.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Big Reason The Tax Returns Matter

Blake Hounshell, editor in chief of Politico Magazine recognizes  that Russia interfered in the USA's 2016 presidential election as directed by Vladimir Putin, who wanted Donald Trump to be elected. He acknowldges that Special Counsel Robert Muelller hasn't spoken yet about the hacked emails of the DNC and of Clinton campaign chairperson John Podesta.  He admits even that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has denied only that there is no collusion between the Trump campaign alleged in the indictment announced last week, and that the President's comments about all this are inaccurate and intenitionally misleading.

Still, he believes

So much damaging information poured out of Trump Tower that it’s hard to believe a conspiracy to collude with Moscow to win the election never went public. If there was such a conspiracy, it must have been a very closely guarded secret.

And he argues

If Trump had cooked up a scheme to provide some favor to Putin in exchange for his election, wouldn’t he be tempted to boast about it to someone?.. I’m still waiting for a smoking gun—and the special counsel hasn’t shown us one yet, assuming he ever will.

This assumes that the most damning evidence about Donald Trump- were it to exist- would be his knowing involvement in a conspiracy with foreign actors to defeat Hillary Clinton.  It appears Jonathan Chait would beg to differ:

.... imagining Trump paying prostitutes to pee on a bed Obama used as a primitive revenge ritual, and Russians taping the episode, is perfectly consistent with what we know about both parties. That exact scenario may not have happened. Indeed, sex is not the only kind of secret Trump harbors. He endured months of criticism first from Republican candidates, then Democrats, and all along from the media, for refusing to disclose his tax returns. Trump clearly feels protective of his financial information. Some of that information is in the hands of his business partners, many of whom are associated with Russia or are unsavory in some other way. All in all, the odds are disconcertingly high that Russia, or somebody, has blackmail leverage over the president of the United States.

It would be unwise to assume, as Hounshell seems to do, that the worst behavior the Special Counsel will unearth in his investigation is collusion, or conspiracy, with Russia.  Two maxims are at play. One is "when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me," as dramatized by Felix Unger/Tony Randall. Even more important is "follow the money."

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Bad Job

In light of credible accusations of sexual misbehavior against numerous men as well as the repercussions some have faced, Jill Abramson considers anew the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearing of 1991. Co-author with Jane Mayer of the 1994 "Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas," Abramson recently recalled that in the course of their investigation

Among the corroborative stories — the potential #MeToos — that (Senate Judiciary Committee chairperson Joe) Biden knew about but was unwilling to use: those of Angela Wright; Rose Jourdain, another EEOC worker in whom Wright confided; and Sukari Hardnett, still another EEOC worker with relevant evidence. (“If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive and worked directly for Clarence Thomas, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female,” Hardnett wrote in a letter to the Judiciary Committee, contradicting Thomas’s claim “I do not and did not commingle my personal life with my work life” and supporting McEwen’s 2010 assertion that he “was always actively watching the women he worked with to see if they could be potential partners” as “a hobby of his.”) Kaye Savage, a friend of Thomas’s and Hill’s, knew of his extensive collection of Playboy magazines; Fred Cooke, a Washington attorney, saw Thomas renting porn videos that match Hill’s descriptions, as did Barry Maddox, the owner of the video store that Thomas frequented. And at least some members of Biden’s staff would have known Lillian McEwen had relevant information.

Late last year, Abramson learned through a Washington lawyer of Nancy Montwieler, who covered the EEOC for BNA’s Daily Labor Report. She "confided that Thomas had also made weird, sexual comments to her, including describing porn and other things he found sexually enticing."

Even in 1991, Abramson recognizes, "The evidence that Thomas had perjured himself during the hearing was overwhelming." Nonetheless

Chairman Biden was outmaneuvered and bluffed by the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. He had plenty of witnesses who could have testified about Thomas’s inappropriate sexualized office behavior and easily proven interest in the kind of porn Hill referenced in her testimony, but had made a bargain with his Republican colleagues that sealed Hill’s fate: He agreed only to call witnesses who had information about Thomas’s workplace behavior. Thomas’s “private life,” especially his taste for porn — then considered more outrĂ© than it might be now — would be out of bounds, despite the fact that information confirming his habit of talking about it would have cast extreme doubt on Thomas’s denials.

Senator Biden's performance as chairperson has had devastating consequences, far beyond the scope of Abramson's article. Unfortunately, Thomas is will not be impeached and removed from the Supreme Court, nor will he fade into obscurity.

Clarence Thomas is not going anywhere, which cannot definitively be stated of former Vice-President Biden.  And so it is with some significance that Abramson believes

Late last year, in an interview with Teen Vogue, Biden finally apologized to Hill after all these years, admitting that he had not done enough to protect her interests during the hearings. He said he believed Hill at the time: “And my one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends. ”

Linking to that December piece by Britney Mcnamara, she writes

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Biden said that he believed Hill at the time. “And my one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends. I mean, they really went after her,” he said. “As much as I tried to intervene, I did not have the power to gavel them out of order. I tried to be like a judge and only allow a question that would be relevant to ask.

Biden continued "I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill. I owe her an apology," which may be the basis for Abramson's assumption of Biden's good intentions. However, a statement that one owes someone an apology does not in and of itself constitute an apology.  When coupled with "I wish I had been able to do more" he is claiming his hands were tied, which dovetails neatly with "I wasn't able to tone down the attacks..."

He was powerless, Biden pleads, because he "did not have the power to gavel them out of order," a questionable claim and, as Abramson's analysis suggests, nearly irrelevant.  He does not argue the attacks, made "by some of my Republican friends," were illegitimate.

There should be little fear that Biden is unsympathetic generally toward women's issues, and far less that he isn't sympathetic with the "Me Too" movement.  Instead, there must be serious doubt in an age in which Republicans stand stubbornly against  anything Democratic or even potentially bipartisan, that Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a backbone. That he served eight years as President Obama's sidekick and cheerleader should only deepen the doubts.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Laura Ingraham Minstrel Show

Writer Nick Greene explains that on Thursday night Trump TV's Laura Ingraham was

disparaging LeBron James’ “barely intelligible, not to mention ungrammatical, take on President Trump.” Ingraham cued up a short clip from a video James, Kevin Durant, and Cari Champion made for the James-owned media platform Uninterrupted, a venture Ingraham dismissively referred to as an “ESPN podcast” despite it not being on ESPN and not being a podcast. In that clip, James says Trump “doesn’t understand the people, and really don’t give a fuck about the people,” while Durant adds that “our team, as a country, is not ran by a great coach.”

Greene  observes "if you’re offended by their words then you should probably look for one of those safe spaces that Fox News is always talking about." Mocking the athletes, Ingraham had begun

"I'm 'numb' to this commentary, 'like' must they run their mouths like that? She added

Unfortunately, a lot of kids, and some adults, take their ignorant comments seriously.  Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in Lebron for kids. This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA and it's always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100,000,000 a year to bounce a ball.

LeBron James is not paid $100,000,000 a year to "bounce a ball" (or that much per year).  There are millions of youngsters- let alone NBA players paid at the league's minimum salary- who can "bounce a ball."  There may be 2 or 3 individuals in world history who can bounce a ball so well while playing at the level LeBron James does, and has done.

It got worse, however, as Ingraham continued "Oh, and Lebron and Kevin, no one voted for you.  They voted for President Trump to be their coach."

Ingraham began by claiming "here's a barely intelligilble, not to mention ungrammatical, take on President Trump," a curious remark from someone unaware that "here's" is not a proper contraction. The phrase is "here is," which would be unremarkable from anyone not slamming a couple of guys for an "ungrammatical" take.

But that's not the only error from someone concerned about the mastery of English grammer of Mr.James and Mr. Durant. No one voted for President Trump, though some people will if he's still around in November, 2020. They voted for Donald J. Trump or corrupt business tycoon Donald J. Trump, for there was no President Trump at the time.

And of course the American people didn't elect Donald J. Trump. The electoral college selected him, no small distinction for someone unpopular at the time, unpopular now, and who himself kept arguing the election was "rigged."  (Ironically, Trump had a point given the intervention by the FBI and the Kremlin against his opponent, though the election was not quite "rigged.")

Denying any "racial intent," Ingraham issued a statement which read in part

In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called “Shut Up & Sing,” in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks & Barbra Streisand who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics. I’ve told Robert DeNiro to “Shut Up & Act,” Jimmy Kimmel to “Shut Up & Make Us Laugh,” and just this week told the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to “Shut up & Coach.

She doesn't believe it's possible for a guy who has won five championship rings as a coach to assert his First Amendment right while coaching reasonably successfully. Oddly, among the celebrities Ingraham doesn't believe should "shut up" is Ted "Obama, he's a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun" Nugent. She should, however, tell the one-hit wonder to "shut up and sing." (On second thought, please spare us.)

Ingraham concludes by lecturing James and Durant to "keep the political commmentary to yourself or as someone once said 'shut up and dribble,'"   likely provoking Durant's response "to me, it was racist." That might be a little harsh for someone who merely wants to be entertained, who may be nostalgic for some predominantly southern, but clasically American, pre-1960 song-and-dance:

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Integrity, In A Manner Of Speaking

On Valentine's Day, Rubio (R-NRA) said on Trump TV

I think it's important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there was some law that we could have passed that would have prevented it. And there may be, but shouldn't we at least know the facts?

And we know it took fewer than 24 hours for Marco Rubio, Psy.D. to "know the facts" because

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said no gun laws would have prevented the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

As part of comments made in an interview with WPBF, Rubio said "it just takes one individual with a deranged mindset that could lead to violence on a mass scale."

He may- as he suggests- be an elected official, a United States senator, with no responsibility to help prevent violence on a mass scale. But as a licensed clinical psychologist, he just knows that Nikolas Cruz possessed "a dangerous mindset"- and one that could lead to mass violence.

And  as Senator, Rubio is an excellent- even psychic- clinical psychologist.  Still, on Thursday he also

said that "people still don't know how" the shooting occurred, or how the 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, obtained the weapon he used to kill 17 people in the Broward County school. 

We now have details about the shooting, and also know how that Cruz bought the weapon legally from Sunrise Tactical Supply in Coral Springs, Florida. That's critical- even the weapon had been obtained illegally, there would have been a reprise of the gun fanatics' old siren song:  "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."

Senator Rubio should acquaint himself with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Reality), who if heeded, probably would have prevented the murder of sixteen children and school employees in Parkland. Don't take it from me-:take it from the National Rifle Association, which reported that on November 8, 2017 she

introduced S. 2095, which she is calling the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017. The 125-page firearm prohibition fever dream is perhaps the most far-reaching gun ban ever introduced in Congress.

Subject to an exception for “grandfathered” firearms, the bill would prohibit AR-15s and dozens of other semi-automatic rifles by name (as well as their “variants” or “altered facsimiles”), and any semi-automatic rifle that could accept a detachable magazine and be equipped with a pistol grip, an adjustable or detachable stock, or a barrel shroud. And that’s just a partial list...

Feinstein's proposal never came to a vote and inasmuch as there was no GOP co-sponsor, it's rather unlikely that Senator Rubio (R-NRA) co-sponsored (or came out in favor of) it. Fortunately, the Florida senator will have another chance to propel forward a bill which likely would have saved quite a few lives in his home state because Senator Feinstein

said on Friday that she will introduce legislation to raise the minimum legal age to buy rifles in the wake of a school shooting in Florida.

Feinstein said the legislation would require anyone buying a firearm from a gun dealer to be at least 21 years old.

“Under current law, licensed gun dealers cannot sell a handgun to anyone under 21, but they are allowed to sell assault rifles like the AR-15 to anyone over 18. This policy is dangerous and makes absolutely no sense," Feinstein said.

Regrettably, the GOP will not vote for legislation which would revoke a policy which is dangerous and makes absolutely no sense (video below from March, 2014).. However, Senator Rubio- who claimed there "was (no) law that we could have passed that would have prevented it," at least has a chance to show that he would like to prevent another atrocity as occurred in Parkland, Florida.

He won't, of course. He won't because he has recieved $3,303,355 from pro-gun groups over the course of his career, $90,205 in the 2015-2016 election cycle, after which he earned his A+ rating from the NRA. And he won't because he has integrity. When Marco Rubio is bought, he stays bought.

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The Town Hall We Won't Have

In a metaphor Dana Loesch especially should understand, criticizing Dana Loesch's comment at the NRA-sponsored Conservative Polit...