Unless they kill a hell of a lot more people than we already know about.
Hell, maybe having to fill out a lot of Federal paperwork every time they kill someone will make the police a wee tad more reluctant to shoot people when they don't need to.
Unless they kill a hell of a lot more people than we already know about.
Hell, maybe having to fill out a lot of Federal paperwork every time they kill someone will make the police a wee tad more reluctant to shoot people when they don't need to.
Just like the other 31 teams of the NFL, of course.
The reason I mention this is that a banner's been following me around the Web, as such things do, saying, "The Washington Redskins stand for strength, courage, and respect."
This is all about the word "Redskins" in the team name, of course. I might feel differently if I were a Native American, but as someone who isn't, this strikes me as the last war when the next one is already in our face.
According to the NFL's own actuaries, it can be expected that 28% of NFL players will experience brain damage as a result of all those collisions they endure on the playing field.
The NFL, the Redskins, the Cowboys, the Ravens, the Packers, da Bears, the Seahawks, and all the other NFL teams - they all stand for making a buck by mashing the brains of a substantial number of their players into pulp.
That is not an acceptable way to make a buck. Hell, I don't see how anyone can continue to be a football fan, knowing that this is true. Men's brains are being destroyed so that I can have something interesting to watch on TV on Sunday afternoons? I can't be a party to that. Forty-five years of being a football fan came to an end when I realized that this was what I was watching.
Josh Marshall has asked, "didn't we know this all along?" But his own illustrations show that we only knew that football destroyed the body. And the reality in America (and much of the world) is that many people work jobs out of necessity, just to put food on the table and pay the rent, that use up their body by the time they can collect Social Security, leaving them a retirement that they are unable to enjoy. Until that underlying reality is changed, it's hard to criticize football for paying people a lot more money for having their bodies prematurely messed up.
But maybe we ought to think about changing that reality. It's unreasonable, especially in a time where there's plenty of surplus labor, so to speak, that we have to use up the bodies of working men and women in the course of their work. We need to find a way to bring that to an end.
That the Obama Administration is willing to stretch the 2001 AUMF pertaining to Al Qaeda to cover its use of force against ISIS shows just how important it is that no AUMF should be in force forever, without any reauthorization by Congress.
And while we're on the subject of war-related amendments, the notion that we can go to war by a simple majority vote of both houses of Congress has always struck me as absurd. If a 2/3 majority of the Senate is required just to ratify a treaty, then surely a 2/3 majority of both houses should be required to go to war.
So we need a Constitutional amendment that says these things.
Obviously there will be no such amendment anytime soon, but any push for a Constitutional amendment starts off as something aspirational - a way of saying, this is what we're for, this is how things should be.
Then after you've said that for enough years, it either starts to make overwhelming sense to enough people that it becomes possible, or you get to a point where it's clear that it just ain't gonna happen.
So I believe the Dems, or if necessary, a group of more progressive Dems, should start pushing a number of potential amendments to the Constitution. This is one.
First, it would require a 2/3 amendment of both houses to initially authorize the use of force in a given country or conflict.
Second, it would limit such an initial authorization to five years.
Third, it would allow Congress to extend an existing authorization for three years at a time by simple majorities of both houses of Congress, and allow Congress in so doing to restrict the scope of the existing authorization going forward. Expanding the scope would require a fresh AUMF.
So for instance, if this had been in effect when Bush became President, Congress would have had to extend the 2001 AUMF in 2006, 2009, and 2012 for it to remain in effect now. Maybe Congress would have, at each juncture, extended the AUMF as is. Or maybe in 2009, they would have limited it to Afghanistan and Pakistan. But absent actual votes by Congress, the AUMF would eventually end.
Well, no shit, Sherlock. Ferguson is small - 6.2 square miles, 21,000 people. St. Louis County is 524 square miles, and 1,000,000 people. If you live a mile outside of the Ferguson town limits, why would you say, "I don't live in Ferguson - this has nothing to do with me"? The vast majority of people who live within 10 miles of where Mike Brown was killed, don't live in Ferguson.
I haven't commented on Ferguson, because Lord knows I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said repeatedly. But other killings of civilians by police prior to that had put a simple idea in my head: cops who kill or shoot unarmed civilians should be fired. And now seems like an excellent time to propose this plan.
Completely aside from any possible criminal charges, if a law enforcement officer shoots an unarmed person (or kills by other means) except in clear self-defense, that should be the end of his career in law enforcement.
While this would be no substitute for criminal charges, if such a policy were implemented nationwide, it would give police a pretty strong incentive to not shoot people without need.
So let's make it nationwide. Next time we have a Congress that will pass sensible legislation, it should pass a law that:
1) Requires the Department of Justice to maintain a database of all instances where a U.S. law enforcement officer of any kind shoots anyone, or kills or seriously injures anyone by other means than guns, and flags those cases where the person killed or injured was unarmed at the time, giving the names of the officer or officers involved.
2) Requires that any law enforcement agency receiving any Federal aid, directly or indirectly, report all such cases to the DoJ.
3) Requires that any law enforcement agency receiving any Federal aid, directly or indirectly, that employs an officer who is on the list of flagged cases in (1), either demonstrate in an administrative proceeding for that purpose that the preponderance of the evidence shows that the officer was acting in legitimate self-defense, or cease their employment of said officer. Failure to do so would result in loss of Federal aid and the benefits of ongoing coordination with Federal law enforcement agencies. Persons representing the injured person, or the survivors of the deceased, would be permitted to argue and produce evidence to the effect that the killed or injured person had not required the officer to shoot or kill in self-defense.
4) An officer who was exonerated by such a proceeding would no longer be flagged on the DoJ database. An officer who was subject to such a proceeding who was not shown to have acted in appropriate self-defense, would be barred for life from law enforcement work. An officer who shot an unarmed person whose employment was terminated by his police department rather than have to justify his actions in such a proceeding would have go through such a proceeding on his own initiative before being employed by another law enforcement agency.
This would put the burden on the police departments to either get rid of an officer who killed, or demonstrate in a formal proceeding that the officer was acting reasonably. If such a plan were in place, I bet we'd see a significant drop in the number of people killed by police each year.
The minister of hate had just arrived too late to be spared, who cared?
The weaver in the web that he made -
I was listening to this song a lot during the impeachment summer of 1974. It seemed to fit.
Though the song wouldn't be released until the release of the album the following August, Bruce Springsteen finished recording the song "Born to Run" 40 years ago today.
Which brings up the question: did popular music change more between say, September 1963 and September 1975, or between September 1975 and now?
The thought crossed my mind the other day that our job situation was like a game of Musical Chairs. The music plays, and when it stops, everybody tries to sit down, but there aren't enough chairs, so a few people are without seats, and lose.
Conservatives say to the losers, "it's your fault that you didn't get a seat."
Liberals say, "we need more seats."
Jordan Weissman, in a piece titled, "Service Workers Deserve Higher Pay. They Also Desperately Need Some Vacation," which should be enough to tell you that I am totally with him on this, concludes, "if the U.S. does one day join the rest of the developed world and mandate paid vacation days, we ought to make sure part-timers get it too—otherwise we’ll end up making them look even cheaper and easier to abuse in comparison with full-timers."
So if we made paid leave a right, as we damn well should (and I ask, yet one more time, why is the Democratic Party totally MIA on this issue?!), how could we make it applicable to part-timers?
That's easy, actually: just write the law so that workers get at least one hour of paid leave for every X hours of paid work.
For instance, if you want to give every full-time worker two weeks' paid vacation, that's one hour of leave for every 25 hours of work. Scaling up to the year, that's 2000 hours of work and 80 hours of leave, or 50 forty-hour weeks of work and two weeks' vacation.
But if you're a part-timer, working 12 hours one week, 24 hours the next, 18 the next, and so forth, then you would accrue an hour of paid leave every 25th hour you work for a given employer. In the example above, the worker would have accrued her second hour of paid leave 14 hours into Day 3.
The same thing could (and should) be done with sick leave, if we ever write that into the law as well.
Under Section 3 of Article II, the President “may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them…”
I think it would be hilarious if Obama called the House of Representatives back into session, and told them that they would remain in session until they passed a bill addressing the border crisis. No vacation for you, parliament of crazies!
And besides being hilarious, it would be a hell of a good idea. The President would be rubbing in the fact that Congress isn't doing its job, and he's the grownup who is telling them: no, you can't go play outside until you clean up your room! And this would get the sort of play in the news that would help it sink in with the American public that we have a responsible President, and a House of irresponsible children.
The Republicans would play into it perfectly, too, by throwing a huge tantrum.
Do it, Mr. President. Call the House back into session. Do it now.
UPDATE: As it turned out, the House stayed around until Friday night and passed an 'immigration' bill, though a better phrase to describe it would be "deportation bill."
Quote stolen from Paul Simon off the Graceland album. And it pretty much describes this month's jobs numbers. Seasonally adjusted, we added 209,000 jobs from June, and June and May were adjusted upward by 15,000, for a total gain of 224,000. Not bad, but not big either.
But if we add up the last six months, we've gained just shy of 1.5 million jobs since January, which is actually decent job growth even by pre-recession standards. (Not great, but decent. Enough to start making a difference, if we could get another year of this.) We're just about equal with the best period of job growth during the Bush years, though what that really tells you is how anemic job growth had been during the Bush years, even before the Great Recession hit.
So this past month could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse. And maybe, just maybe, we're starting to get some sort of virtuous cycle going here, where enough people are getting back to work and spending money to put more people back to work.
It's way the hell overdue, and it's definitely in spite of the GOP's best efforts to sabotage our economy, but better late than never. I'll be knocking on wood and keeping my fingers crossed.
My wife's cousin and her husband became foster parents a few years ago. The most recent kids that have been placed under their care, two brothers, each needed to be taken to the dentist to get a bridge. At 2 and 3 years old.
Apparently their mother put sweet tea in their bottles at night, and it rotted out their front teeth.
You know, maybe, just maybe, we should be paying for birth control for women such as this.
I don't know whether the mother was too overwhelmed by her life in general to figure out how to become a good mother, or whether she just didn't give a shit. And as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't freakin' matter. These kids shouldn't have been conceived in the first place, so they wouldn't have to be suffering for their mother's mistakes. Even the gorram Old Testament says children shouldn't have to pay the price of their parents' sins.
So screw the #closeyourlegs crowd, who say Hobby Lobby isn't about sex or anti-woman, and then come up with hashtags like those. Those assholes want kids like these to be conceived and born just to suffer, as an object lesson to their 'slutty' mothers.
I'm done with claims that the pro-life movement is really all about the kids. Where are they when mothers like these need help with raising their kids? At that point, they might as well be invisible. Once the baby's born, it's someone else's problem, as far as the pro-life folks are concerned.
I realize there are some individuals who are sincere pro-lifers, people who are against war and capital punishment as well as abortion, and who favor continuing help for raising the kids that they want to see born. I even know some of them.
But to them I would say: the conversation you need to have is not with me, but with your movement. Once you've changed the pro-life movement into something that cares about life after birth, we can talk. Until then, kindly direct your comments elsewhere.
And just for the record, this is no urban legend, no friend-of-a-friend story. I know the foster couple personally; like I said, one of them is a cousin of my wife. She and my wife keep in touch regularly through Facebook, which is how my wife and I found out about this. This really happened.
How about Albert Speer, was he one hell of a guy?
Sure, once it's Hillary v. whoever the GOP nominee is, I'll do whatever's necessary to make sure she wins. But now I really, really want to see her get a strong opponent for the nomination. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, whoever.
But for the Democratic nomination, I am NOT going to support someone who is chummy with war criminals. Fuck that shit. A friend of the devil is no friend of mine.
(This was from her interview on NPR's Morning Edition this morning. Shortly after the part where she says about the Bush Administration, ""We were viewed as being untrustworthy, as violating our moral rules and values." And this differs from Kissinger how?
Here's a link to the audio. It's at the 7:48 mark.)
Yeah right, everybody wants to be a rape victim, it's the cool new thing.
Dear WaPo: isn't it time to finally kick this overly privileged and increasingly senile idiot off your op-ed page?
Reminds you of those days when politicians could get away with comparing homosexuality to kleptomania and the like. Looks like somebody didn't get the memo that times have changed. Most Americans, thank goodness, have realized that being gay isn't a disease, isn't a perversion, isn't anything that needs a 'cure,' especially not one that is snake oil all the way down.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Texas GOP, I realize you're not ready to endorse gay marriage yet, and probably won't be for a while yet. Isn't that being sufficiently behind the times, without reaching back all the way to reparative therapy? The 1990s called, and says to freakin' give it up.
Seems they're having to close a bridge on a major interstate highway in Delaware because of structural problems.
These problems seem to be happening more and more around the country, due to the GOP's aversion to spending money on maintaining our nation's infrastructure because it might help the economy while Obama is President.
So I penned a little ditty, which you can sing to the tune of Pink Floyd's "The Wall":
We don't need no infrastructure
We don't need no highway roads
No bridges spanning all those rivers
Hey! Obama! Leave our roads alone!
All in all, it's time for all the bridges to fall.
And happy birthday, Matt Yglesias!
Easy for me to remember - it's my wife's and my wedding anniversary today as well.
My wife and I are going to drop the kid off at a birthday party, then have a relaxed anniversary lunch at Lemongrass in Annapolis. I'm going to have the Thai green curry and a glass of Singha beer.
That's a feature, not a bug.
In the absence of a genuine scandal, even a really third-rate one from the bowels of the bureaucracy, they've got to pretend that Benghazi! is a real scandal. It's the madness of sheer desperation, but the Republicans just don't know how to let go. Because if they did, they might actually have to talk policy, which would force them to demonstrate their vacuousness.
But the thing we should really, truly be amazed about is just how clean the Obama Administration has been.
Sure, he knew going in that any scandals arising on his watch would be hammered the way Clinton was hammered. Plus he knew he'd get even less slack simply because he's black.
But there's a huge gap between the desire to keep one's Presidency scandal-free, and actually doing it. Especially because so much of what goes on in any Presidential administration is only nominally under the President's control.
Obama has done it. I'm impressed as hell.
And I hope he shares his secret with Hillary. If her Presidency is filled with GOP attempts to revive the scandals of Bill Clinton's presidency due to the absence of any new scandals, even the Fox viewers might get bored and tune out.
It's time to parody this sucker. Alternatively:
Where in the House is Carmen Benghazi?
Stuck Beside Trey Gowdy with the Benghazi Blues Again
Feel free to add your own in comments.
"[O]ur party is all about more jobs and better pay."
I hate to get all 'argument clinic' with you, Mitt, but no, it isn't. Not in this universe, not on this timeline.
I'm glad to hear that you support a minimum wage increase, but your party's not only against a minimum wage increase, but a nontrivial chunk of your party is against the existence of a minimum wage altogether. It wouldn't surprise me if that were the default GOP position in another four years.
And your party's not for more jobs, either. Lord knows they've had plenty of time to do something about jobs, and been given a number of Dem initiatives they could sign onto. To paraphrase Groucho, whatever it is, they're against it.
Seriously, you take a bunch of money away from people who will almost certainly spend every dime. Of course that's going to depress the economy.
And incidentally, it's pretty bad for the would-be beneficiaries of these programs. If there are no jobs, people need unemployment benefits just to live on. And food stamps to buy food. If you don't extend the UI benefits, and cut the food stamps, what the hell are people living on? It's crazy.
Why do Republicans hate Americans?
And why aren't Democrats asking that question every time there's a microphone in front of them?
Open thread. Anyone who's still checking in, say hi. I won't be offended if all I hear are crickets. I've had a lot to say, but little time to say it, but I needed to say this much.
Remember when conservatives used to use the word 'permissive' a lot to describe liberal mores? I think you have to be 'of a certain age,' as they say, to remember that time, but what the hell: I'm just shy of 60, and that certainly qualifies. (Being imminently 60 doesn't bother me in the least; what gets me is that various events of importance in my life happened one hell of a long time ago. But I digress.)
A lot of characteristics of left and right have flipped between the 1960s and now, of course. Now there's a lot more hard-headed realism on the left, and a lot more ivory-tower pseudointellectual bullshit on the right, for instance. And permissiveness is one of these.
Of course, the 'permissiveness' of the 1960s and 1970s was mostly about sex, which didn't really hurt anyone, but upset a lot of people anyway. Conservative permissiveness is a whole 'nother story.
And today's gun culture is Exhibit A. The belief that people can and should carry their guns with them everywhere, that the 'castle doctrine' doesn't just apply to your house but to every inch of your property as well, that you should be able to stand your ground with firepower against any threat, even if you've brought that threat into being by getting into people's faces when any reasonably sensible person would have just walked on by (and all of these things backed by relatively recent changes in the law in many states), seems to be leading to a rash of shootings that appear to have a common thread of: I have the right to shoot this person dead, so I will - often when I'm in no danger at all.
Permissiveness. With lethal consequences.
There are cases like this one, where an Orlando homeowner shoots a guy who had been in his yard but fled, but the intrepid homeowner chased him over a fence and shot him to death on the grounds of a nearby apartment complex.
Or like this one, where the white West Virginia homeowner saw a couple of black men try to get into what he thought - wrongly - was a shed on the corner of his lot, but actually was part of the property next door. So he got out his gun, and shot and killed them both without warning. One of the men killed had just moved in next door, and the other was his brother.
Or like the just-decided Michael Dunn case, where Dunn shot up a car full of black kids, killing one, continuing to shoot at them after they were trying to get the hell out of Dodge. He seemed to think he had the right to pump them full of holes, as long as there was something he could hang a Stand Your Ground on.
Increasingly, gun lovers feel that they have the right, thanks to the expanded reach of pro-gun laws, to shoot to kill in certain situations. Not because they're in any danger, but just because.
On a message board I've been hanging out at since the end of the last millenium, a poster mentioned an incident that happened to her sister and brother-in-law. Some acquaintances of their teenage son heard that he had some nice gamer stuff, so they broke in while nobody was there, but were scared when some burglar alarms went off, got away with almost nothing, and were quickly apprehended. Weeks later, the couple said at a family get-together that they wished they'd been there, so they could have shot the kids dead.
These worthless assholes were disappointed that they blew their chance to legally kill someone.
And that's what it seems to be about: the hope that people like this have that the opportunity will come their way to blow someone away legally. They've changed the gun laws so that such opportunities are more abundant, and it's given these people the impression that the gun laws are even more permissive than they are in this respect.
It's a cultural thing. A culture of permissiveness. Permissiveness about blowing people away, ending their lives.
This isn't rocket science. What the CBO says is that 2 million people will leave the labor force because, now that Obamacare has broken the link between work and availability of insurance, they don't need to work anymore in order to continue being insured.
These people will no longer be in the labor force, and for the best of reasons: they've got enough money already.
The jobs they previously held will be taken by 2 million people who need jobs.
Or that already have jobs, and can grab a better job that's been vacated by the early retirees. But their jobs in turn will become vacant. Ultimately, you've got 2 million new jobs available for people who would otherwise be unemployed.
So this is reducing unemployment by 2 million people. 2 million people who had enough money to quit work, but kept on working because they needed insurance, get replaced by 2 million people who need the money.
That's a win all around. Four million people will live better lives as a result of this alone. And it'll be a boost to the economy, because the 2 million people who are willingly, eagerly leaving the labor force probably won't reduce their spending by much, and the 2 million people who go from unemployed to employed will damn sure spend more money, because they finally can. Their extra spending will create additional jobs, in addition to the 2 million jobs that are being reallocated in a beneficial way.
Conservatives are really having to look at this completely backwards to portray it as a bad thing. But that's how they make a living, I guess.
Matt Yglesias notes that it would directly hurt Palestinians to close the Sodastream plant in the West Bank. But he says it should be closed anyway, in order to try to change the status quo to the Palestinians' long-run benefit.
It would be nice if he explained how this is supposed to work.
Matt compares such actions with sanctions against the South African apartheid regime a generation or so back, which surely made life worse for the black majority at the time. But I think I understand how that did the anti-apartheid cause some good - and I don't see how that would work here.
The idea of sanctions against South Africa was pretty simple. You had a fairly sizable white minority that benefited from apartheid - sizable enough so that if sanctions substantially hurt the South African economy, the ruling white minority couldn't be shielded from the effects of those sanctions.
In the short run, you'd make life even more difficult for the black South Africans, but the point was that you'd also make it difficult for the whites at the same time. Keep this going for long enough, and they'd have reason to negotiate.
The thing about closing a factory in the West Bank is that it hurts the Palestinians who work there, but there's no obvious mechanism by which that has much of an effect on the well-being of the Israelis.
Maybe there's some less-than-obvious way in by which it would hurt Israel if Western companies closed all their plants in the West Bank, but if so, Matt needs to be explicit about what that mechanism is, and how it works. Waving one's hands and saying that this situation is analogous to South Africa, so the same approach we used there will work here, just isn't enough.
Especially when this wouldn't even be the same approach. Sanctions against Israel proper would be the same approach, and those might work. The problem is, it would be far more difficult to get people to go along with sanctions against Israel than it was in the case of South Africa.
Random thought #1: the GOP is trying to fix their nominating process again. The deal is, though, that to fix anything, you've got to have a clear idea of what the problem is.
I'd argue that the biggest problem with the nominating processes of our major parties isn't the four or five months of primary and caucus voting; it's the year before the first primary/caucus vote is cast. During that year, anybody can throw his or her hat into the ring, show up at the interminable cattle-call debates, and be pumped up by one or another segment of the media as the next big thing. And for that year, there's little to no evidence to the contrary. In particular, there's no evidence that allows anyone to gradually winnow the field so that there aren't a dozen candidates in every debate, to shut up pundits that are pushing candidates that don't have a chance, and to allow voters to focus on a reasonable number of possibilities.
My solution would be to move the first four caucuses and primaries into 2015. Iowa's a nice place in June, I'm told (it's one of the few states I've never been to), and I can speak from experience when I say New Hampshire and South Carolina are quite pleasant in September and October, respectively. And I'll bet the Nevada desert isn't too hot or too cold in November.
There's your primary calendar for 2015. It would cause vanity candidates to close shop early on when they failed to get any votes, and if they kept going, it would give debate organizers grounds to exclude them. Heavy hitters, if they wanted, could hold off on declaring their candidacies, and thumb their noses at Iowa and New Hampshire if they desired. (That would be a Good Thing right there.) By November 2015, you'd be down to no more than three or four relatively strong candidates in each party (hell, on the Dem side, it might be down to just Hillary) that the voters in the remaining 46 states would have plenty of time to consider.
Random thought #2: the Chris Christie scandals aren't all that important nationally (other than eliminating what small chance he had for the GOP nomination), but damn, Marx nailed this one: this is Watergate, repeated as small-time farce. (And playing out a good bit faster, too.) 'Watergate' wound up standing for not just a certain "third-rate burglary," but a host of other scandals as well: the burglary of Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office, the dirty-tricks campaign aimed at the Dem primary field, the almost-firebombing of the Brookings Institution, and of course, the cover-up. Seems like the same thing is happening here.
Random thought #3 (well, not random to me): five years ago today, in the baby house in Samara, Russia, my wife and I first met our son. He's now a very lively and intelligent six year old, doing great in first grade, and a lot of fun to be with. I'm a very lucky guy.
So what's up with anyone else? If anyone's still reading this blog, feel free to jump in. And if nobody is, I'll probably keep talking, just because.
As usual, at this time of year, the Southern Baptist church across from our neighborhood has a lawn full of little crosses out by the road.
Funny, I don't recall seeing any crosses on their lawn in December to acknowledge the first anniversary of the Newtown massacre. But those were six year olds, not fetuses.
The point is that here was a specific occasion where a genuinely pro-life group could have publicly mourned the deaths of a group of born children. And the allegedly pro-life organizations pretty much took a pass on it.
And of course, it's not just Newtown. The same politicians that vote against abortion rights - who are allegedly pro-life - overwhelmingly vote against food stamps, Medicaid expansion, unemployment insurance - things that would make a big difference in the lives of children who chose the wrong families to be born into. And these politicians vote that way because large numbers of their constituents feel that way.
The 'pro-life' movement wants conceived children to be born. But after that, screw 'em, the little moochers and takers.
This is not to say there aren't people who are genuinely pro-life across the board. There are people like that, and I count some of them among my closest friends. But they have no political impact; there is no movement that represents their voices. Certainly the movement that calls itself 'pro-life' doesn't. That movement is strictly pro-birth.
Yesterday, a pair of workplace catastrophes - one collapsing building in Omaha, Nebraska, and one exploding building in Madill, Oklahoma - killed four American workers, and injured dozens more.
This is immediately in the wake of the chemical leak in West Virginia that had 300,000 people going without water for five days.
And it's also in the wake of episodes last year like the oil spill in Arkansas, and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
Charles Pierce said it well:
Imagine if there were three terrorist events in two weeks. First, terrorists poison a state's water supply. Then, they rig a building to collapse and rig another one hundreds of miles away to explode. Nervous politicians would be blue-pencilling the Bill of Rights by daybreak. The NSA would throw a parade for itself. Edward Snowden would be hung in effigy, if we couldn't do it in person. Somebody's ass would get droned in Waziristan.
Instead, it's our homegrown corporate/plutocrat class, so nobody of consequence is going to bat an eye.
I keep on waiting for the Democratic Party to get a clue about this: to say after the latest such disaster, "This is why we regulate, goddamnit - this is why we need the regulations, and why we need enough Federal inspectors out in the field to make sure they're followed. Because otherwise, they'll poison our food, dump chemicals in our rivers, steal your wages, and make you work in places that could blow up."
Since I expected this moment to happen after the 1991 chicken processing plant fire in Hamlet, NC that killed 25 workers, and was disappointed then, I haven't exactly been expecting it since. But it's still disappointing when it doesn't happen, when the Dems are too rarely willing to make the global case for regulation, that it protects us from the consequences of corporate rapaciousness.
Kendrick Houston [who was working at the Omaha plant] was brave enough to go back into the fire. Yet too many of our politicians, local and national, don't have the simple stones t[o] stand up to a corporate class that has come to represent nothing but death and pillage.
That sums it up.
"They don't want this [unemployment insurance extension] to pass. What they want to do is ... a campaign issue, this sort of rich versus poor, the same old thing they can do, and avoid Obamacare," said Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
You say the Dems don't want this UI extension to pass? You don't want them to be able to play this 'rich versus poor' card?
I've got an idea. Why doesn't your party just vote for the UI extension? If the Dems don't want it to pass, because they'd rather have the campaign issue than to pass the extension, then that'll call their bluff. They'll be pretty much forced to go along with it. Issue gone. Poof!
And if you really want to undercut them on the whole rich v. poor thing, your party could follow that up by voting to restore food stamp funding levels to what they were last summer, and maybe even pass a minimum wage hike as icing on the cake.
After that, it would be next to impossible for the Dems to frame the next election as being about rich versus poor. Nothing to it - the easiest slam dunk in the world!
Of course, the real problem is that pretty much the entire GOP would almost rather pour gasoline over themselves and light a match than to lift a finger to help people who are struggling to get by. So there's zero likelihood that they'll take advantage of this easy opportunity to deny this issue to the Dems. Which is unfortunate, because the world would be a much better place if they'd do so.
(A too-easy parody of this news item. All I can figure is they must read the Bible in Latin at this guy's parish, assuming he actually goes to church.)
Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone has a warning for Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Christian Trinity.
A major Republican donor, Langone told CNBC in a story published online Monday that wealthy people such as himself might stop giving to charity if Jesus continues to make statements criticizing rich people and income inequality.
Langone described the Lord's comments about rich people being unlikely to enter the Kingdom of God as "exclusionary" statements that may make some of the rich "incapable of feeling compassion for the poor."
Langone, who is leading an effort to raise money for the restoration of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan said he relayed these concerns to Cardinal Timothy Dolan in New York. Specifically, Langone said he told the church leader he spoke to a donor who could give millions of dollars to the cathedral project but was worried about Jesus' "exclusionary" remarks.
"I've told the cardinal, 'Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don't have to deal with. Jesus needs to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don't act the same as rich people in another country,'" said Langone. "Maybe over in Palestine, the rich people there would have a harder time entering the kingdom of God than a camel would have to try to get through the eye of a needle. But applying that to rich people everywhere...Jesus needs to watch what he says."
CNBC also spoke to Dolan, who said he told Langone the unnamed donor's concerns seemed based on "a misunderstanding of the Lord's message."
"Jesus loves poor people. He also loves rich people.' ... So I said, 'Ken, thanks for bringing it to my attention. We've gotta correct to make sure this gentleman understands the Gospel message properly.' And then I think he's gonna say, 'Oh, OK. If that's the case, count me in for St. Patrick's Cathedral,'" Dolan said.
Happy New Year, everyone! Sorry for my absence in December; it was a bear of a month, both at work and at home. But with any luck, 2014 should be better.
We stayed up until about 10:30 with the 6 year old, eating snack food and watching episodes of Gilligan's Island on DVD, then called it a night. How did you spend your evening?
I am going to do my best to resurrect this blog this month. It's been hard lately because of the aforementioned work and home demands. Plus the net-nanny at work still keeps blocking this blog (and only this blog), which makes it hard to keep track of what's going on. But I'm gonna try, if any of you all are still around and paying attention. I expect to do a mix of mostly short quick-reaction Atrios-y sort of posts, with some longer ones mixed in. We'll see if that actually happens.
Anyhow, this is an open thread. What's up with you folks?