Things continue to be a little crazy around the kathouse but every time I read political news I feel as though the crazy contagion started from politicians and the media that obsess on them. We’re getting close to the first Democratic Presidential Debate so candidates and their proxies are dialing it up to 11.
Former Congressman Barney Frank is on the trail for Hillary Clinton. He penned an op-ed at Politico at Politico in July in which he said progressives supporting Sanders are basically helping the GOP win. He also questioned a return to Glass Steagall, as supported by Elizabeth Warren.
In the post, titled “Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie,” the former Massachusetts congressman urged Democratic primary voters to steer clear of his fellow New Englander, warning “wishful thinking won’t win the White House.”
Frank pointed to the gleeful cheerleading of Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton from neoconservatives like Bill Kristol to argue that Sanders only serves to weaken Clinton before her general election match-up. According to Frank, a Sanders candidacy — with his poll number steadily gaining on Clinton’s lead — would only distract from the circus that is the 15-person Republican primary.
You can find this quote and the rest of the article at Politico.
I believe strongly that the most effective thing liberals and progressives can do to advance our public policy goals — on health care, immigration, financial regulation, reducing income inequality, completing the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination, protecting women’s autonomy in choices about reproduction and other critical matters on which the Democratic and Republican candidates for president will be sharply divided — is to help Clinton win our nomination early in the year. That way, she can focus on what we know will be a tough job: combating the flood of post- Citizens United right-wing money, in an atmosphere in which public skepticism about the effectiveness of public policy is high.
I realize that before explaining why I am convinced that a prolonged prenomination debate about the authenticity of Clinton’s support for progressive policy stances will do us more harm than good, that very point must be addressed. Without any substance, some argue that she has been insufficiently committed to economic and social reform — for example, that she is too close to Wall Street, and consequently soft on financial regulation, and unwilling to support higher taxation on the super-rich. This is wholly without basis. Well before the Sanders candidacy began to draw attention, she spoke out promptly in criticism of the appropriations rider that responded to the big banks’ wish list on derivative trading. She has spoken thoughtfully about further steps against abuses and in favor of taxing hedge funds at a fairer, i.e., higher, rate.
This is reflective of her role in the 1990s, when she was a consistent force for progressive policies in her husband’s administration. And as Paul Krugman documented throughout the 2008 nomination campaign, she was, on the whole, to Barack Obama’s left on domestic issues.
On Wednesday, Politico published an article by Zachary Warmbrodt that describes how Frank is advising Hillary on her plan for dealing with Wall Street.
Frank told POLITICO on Wednesday that he has been working with campaign staff including Gary Gensler — a key ally in the eyes of Dodd-Frank supporters and often a foe of big banks during his time as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates derivatives markets.
“He was a major formulator in this plan,” Frank said of Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs partner and a Treasury Department official during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
The input of Frank and Gensler could help Clinton’s standing among Democrats aligned with Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, and allay any lingering concerns that Clinton would go easy on a sector that her husband helped deregulate before the 2007-09 crisis that prompted the passage of Dodd-Frank.
Frank had more to say about the notion of bringing back Glass-Steagall.
In Iowa on Tuesday, Clinton gave a brief preview of the direction of the plan, which she said would be released “in the next week.” Clinton was responding to a question about whether she would try to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banking activities — an idea backed by Warren and Clinton’s Democratic primary competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Clinton said, “Big banks are not the only things we have to worry about.” She said she also wants to target risks among insurance companies, hedge funds and other entities in the so-called shadow banking sector. Clinton added that she was willing to work to change the law to make sure individuals are held accountable for financial wrongdoing.
“What she has proposed is in the spirit of Glass-Steagall but in contemporary terms,” Frank said. “The Glass-Steagall debate is an artificial debate at this point. It’s 85 years old. Most people can see if we had it in effect, it wouldn’t have stopped AIG. It wouldn’t stop subprime mortgages that shouldn’t have been granted.”
Hillary Clinton has often stood accused of pandering or shaping policy proposals for political purposes, but her proposals for improving regulation of the financial system show her doing exactly the opposite — tackling the issue of mega-bank risk in a thoughtful way that is likely to prove politically thankless.
Her idea — not exactly optimized for a 15-second television spot — is to “charge a graduated risk fee every year on the liabilities of banks with more than $50 billion in assets and other financial institutions that are designed by regulators for enhanced oversight,” with fees scaled to be “higher for firms with greater amounts of debt and riskier, short-term forms of debt.”
It’s a mouthful. Banks will hate it. It doesn’t feature a crowd-pleasing, populist applause line. And it’s a pretty great idea.
Hillary Clinton’s risk fee, explained
The problem Clinton is trying to address here is that when a big bank goes bankrupt, it creates huge problems for the broader economy. Because of that, governments have a tendency to prevent big banks from going bankrupt.
And because of that, big banks have a tendency to engage in a riskier pattern of business than you see from other kinds of companies. All companies spend money to make money, but banks finance a much larger share of their spending with borrowed money (as opposed to retained profits) than you see from non-banks. And many banks rely very heavily on short-term borrowing, and fund ongoing operations by counting on their ability to get new short-term loans tomorrow. Financing investments with debt magnifies profits when your bets pay off, but it also magnifies losses when they don’t. Using short-term debt rather than long-term debt lets you pay lower interest rates, but also exposes you to the possibility of unexpectedly finding yourself unable to get the money you need in an emergency situation. Both tendencies magnify risk.
Clinton is proposing to clamp down on those risks by imposing a tax on bank debt.
That compensates the public for the financial cost of bailouts and the social cost of bank failures, while also creating new incentives for banks to manage their affairs in a less risky manner.
Read the rest at the link for more wonky goodness.
Hillary’s plans for Wall Street demonstrate the progressive values she has always had. If you watched TV last night, you probably saw the talking heads carrying on about Hillary’s so-called flip-flops on the Keystone Pipeline and the TPP. The problems these folks have is that they have assume that Hillary and Bill are basically the same person with the same political views. They also refuse to understand that when Hillary was Secretary of State she was working for Obama and had to carry out his policies. Now she’s on her own, and she’s expressing her own views–not Bill Clinton’s or Obama’s.
There’s a great post by Peter Daou at Hillary Men about this: TPP to KXL to WTF! Heads Explode as Hillary Goes Progressive. I hope you’ll read the whole thing. It is a wonderful reflection on how Daou came to be such a strong Hillary supporter and how he came to understand that she is a true progressive. Here’s the conclusion:
In the years I worked for her and in the time since, nothing I saw or heard dissuaded me from my first impression: Hillary is a progressive at heart. I’m perfectly aware that anything she does and any position she takes will get savaged by her detractors, but as a lifelong progressive, I know I’m supporting the candidate who is the most capable of anyone in America to advance the things I care most deeply about. Not Bernie Sanders, who I admire greatly; not Joe Biden, who I also like and respect. Certainly none of the out-of-touch and dangerously narrow-minded Republicans. For that matter, not Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.
Hillary will make an exceptional president. On women’s rights alone, her impact will be history-changing. As the father of a young girl (born during the 2008 campaign), nothing matters more to me.
I’ll conclude with a pithy observation from Lane Hudson, another blogger friend from the early days:
The same people criticizing Hillary for taking a position opposing Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal are the same people who wanted a Warren or Sanders challenge to pull her to the Left.
It’s going to be fun watching the Villagers’ heads explode as Hillary reveals more and more of her true, liberal self.
Yesterday J.J. posted an article from Vox by Andrew Prokop that discussed the Politico article about Joe Biden that I blogged about on Tuesday and the idiotic obsession the media has with politicians and authenticity.
Since Joe Biden has been weighing a run for president, members of the press have repeatedly praised him for his “authenticity.” This has largely been in contrast to Hillary Clinton, who is frequently pilloried by the media as secretive and calculating, and has its members yearning for a more natural candidate. “With Joe Biden, what you see is what you get,” Mike Barnicle wrote for the Daily Beast.
Even the anecdotes about Biden’s political calculations have portrayed him as a conflicted, grieving father. On August 1, New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd narrated a heart-wrenching private moment that occurred among the Biden family. Dowd wrote that the vice president’s dying son Beau, his face “partially paralyzed,” sat down with his “anguished” father and urged him to run for president — “arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
Now it turns out that her source — according to a report by Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere today — was Joe Biden himself.
As Prokop points out, if Hillary had done this, she would be “ripped to shreds.” But Prokop’s main point is that all politicians are inherently calculating, trying to present themselves to the public in the best light.
Some politicians — like Biden and John McCain (particularly in 2000) — are deemed to be genuine individuals, while others — Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Mitt Romney — are viewed as calculating, contrived phonies.
The rationale for these judgments differs from candidate to candidate. They could involve flip-flops on issues, real or perceived dishonesty, or even just wooden campaign styles.
But frequently, “authenticity” seems to be a synonym for “better at working the press” or “more fun to cover.” The candidates who are more extroverted and freewheeling and less scripted — and those who joke with the press and give them lots of access — tend to get that label.
It’s an odd construct. The campaign trail is not in any sense a “natural” environment, and presidential contenders’ words could have very real consequences — it makes sense for a candidate to be guarded and careful about what he or she says. But reporters get bored covering candidates who give the same stump speech all the time, and yearn for more excitement in their lives.
Importantly, once a candidate gets the “authentic” label, his (it’s usually “his”) flip-flops, calculations and strategic acts are excused, or at least viewed as unrelated to his true character.
Prokop refers to an October 1 column by Brian Nyhan: Hillary Clinton’s Authenticity Problem, and Ours.
Is Hillary Rodham Clintonnot presenting her true self to voters? As with candidates like Mitt Romney and Al Gore, claims that she is inauthentic have fueled endless cycles of negative coverage of her campaign.
The refrain that Mrs. Clinton is calculating and inauthentic has recurred throughout her political career. During this campaign cycle, reporters and columnists have already questioned who the “Real Hillary” is, said that she “wrestles with the authenticity issue,” and described just being herself on the campaign trail as “a tricky proposition.” The Daily Beast’s Mike Barnicle reflected the conventional wisdom in writing that the “nagging question” that “won’t go away” is “Who is she? Really, who is she?”
Nyhan also points out that once the media has labeled a politician as either “authentic” or “inauthentic,” this perception is set in stone and can never be altered.
Once these narratives develop, candidates like Mrs. Clinton can get stuck in what I’ve called the authenticity doom loop — the same fate that plagued Mr. Gore and Mr. Romney. In this phase, candidates are criticized for not being sufficiently authentic and urged to reveal their true selves. But any efforts to demonstrate authenticity prompt the news media to point out that the candidate is acting strategically and is therefore actually still inauthentic. This coverage in turn motivates further efforts to reveal the “real” person, and the pattern then repeats.
Mrs. Clinton has gone through this cycle many times, which leads to headlines like “The Making of Hillary 5.0” and “Re-re-re-introducing Hillary Clinton.” Consider, for instance, a recent column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who criticized her for “the latest of many warm-and-fuzzy makeovers — perhaps the most transparent phoniness since Al Gore discovered earth tones.” He calls for Mrs. Clinton to “shed those who orchestrate these constant makeovers” so she can “be spontaneous — and regain some semblance of her authentic self.”
I think it’s a bit much to compare Hillary with Mitt Romney or Al Gore. She’s not “wooden” except to people who already hate her and just accept the decisions of the pundits. Hillary comes across as genuine to people who have open minds. I saw this happen in 2008 in New Hampshire and in a number of important swing states. I think it’s mainly the media who hold onto this perception of her. She is just going to have to be tough and fight through it–expecting nothing but negativity from most of the media.
Fortunately, there are some writers who know Hillary well and view her in a positive light. Here’s Gene Lyons on the recent admission by Rep. Kevin McCarthy that the Benghazi select committee has never been anything except a way to lower Hillary’s poll numbers.
To hardly anybody’s surprise, it turns out that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” has been right in front of our eyes. Always was, actually, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s politically disastrous on-air admission made plain. Or maybe you thought a seventh Benghazi investigation lasting as long as the Pearl Harbor and JFK assassination probes combined was exactly what America needed.
Hillary has already released an ad in response to McCarthy’s admission.
She has also agreed to testify before the committee this month. If she does testify, Lyons warns the committee’s chairman Trey Gowdy that he’s not likely to get what he wants from her.
Chairman Gowdy would be well advised to invest in a pair of super-absorbent Depends when Hillary testifies before his committee on October 22. All he’s got is a handful of long-disproved conspiracy theories and selectively edited witness transcripts leaked to the news media to create a false impression.
So he’s an ex-federal prosecutor. Whoop-de-doo. Arkansas was overrun with them during the late Whitewater investigation….
As the Washington Post‘s GOP-oriented columnist Kathleen Parker points out, Rep. McCarthy has “tried to cram the bad genie back into the bottle, but the damage has been done and can’t be undone….any previous suspicions that Republicans were just out to get Clinton have cleared the bar of reasonable doubt.”
Meanwhile, if Trey Gowdy doesn’t already know that Hillary Clinton’s a lot smarter and tougher than he is, he’s about to find out. Truthfully, they’d be better advised to fold the committee and file some weasel-worded report.
Lyons has a few choice words for the media too:
Then there’s our esteemed national news media, repeatedly burned by inaccurate leaks from Gowdy’s committee. The New York Times has run one phony exclusive after another. First, her famous emails were illegal, except they’re not. Then they were contrary to regulations enacted, oops, 18 months after she left office. Next Hillary was the subject of an FBI criminal probe. Except that too turned out to be false. Now they’re making a big deal out of the exact date she changed email addresses. Seriously.
And why? Because as Bill Clinton recently explained to Fareed Zakaria, they’re essentially fops and courtiers, “people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns of rural America.”
Let the Villagers call Hillary “inauthentic.” They’ve been doing it since Bill Clinton first ran for President, and they’re not going to stop. She just has to go out and talk directly to voters and let them judge whether she’s a real, genuine individual. I believe she can win this thing despite the tired old media narratives.
A few more headlines:
It looks like Jeb Bush has been dubbed “inauthentic” by the media too. From Politico: Jeb Bush’s identity crisis.
Here’s an old Politico story on Biden that I got from the Vox piece on authenticity: Ex-Biden aide pens angry tell-all.
Have you heard? Hillary has a close circle of friends and advisers who will ruin her chances to be President. Vanity Fair: How Hillary Clinton’s Loyal Confidants Could Cost Her the Election
Here’s something from AbeBooks for J.J., Beata, and anyone else who loves vintage Hollywood photos.
An important, heartbreaking article from The Guardian about Amanda Kimbrough, the woman in Alabama who has been imprisoned for having a stillbirth: Alone in Alabama: dispatches from an inmate jailed for her son’s stillbirth.
George Zornick at The Nation: Hillary Clinton Just Made Passage of the TPP Much More Difficult.
Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair: Why Donald Trump Will Always Be a “Short-Fingered Vulgarian.”
Ben Carson had a gun stuck in his ribs at Popeye’s, according to The Hill: Carson: I faced a gunman.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.
Isn’t she beautiful?
What is it about old Cubano ladies smoking some big ass cigars?
Let’s start with the political bullshit:
The Blount County Commission has a full agenda planned at its meeting tonight: Deal with budget issues. Restructure committees. Approve a resolution condemning judicial tyranny.
And petition God’s mercy.
Apparently some in Blount — a county of 122,00 people, just south of Knoxville — still aren’t happy about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this summer that legalized same sex marriage nationwide.
So, Commissioner Karen Miller has sponsored a resolution that both slams the Supreme Court and begs for God to spare the county when He eventually, goes the reasoning of the resolution, destroys America over same sex marriage.
I guess that bullshit should be spelled with a capital “B”?
Apparently no one in Blount County government is going the Kim Davis route and actively trying to stop same-sex marriages from taking place. But the resolution makes clear that some in the county feel they’re being forced to go along with something that’s sinful.
Since the 1980s, forensic investigators have found examples of mass killers emulating their most famous predecessors. Now, there is growing evidence that the copycat problem is far more serious than is generally understood. Ever since the 1999 massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been studying what motivates people to carry out these crimes. Earlier this year, I met with supervisory special agent Andre Simons, who until recently led a team of agents and psychology experts who assist local authorities in heading off violent attacks around the country, using a strategy known as threat assessment. Since 2012, according to Simons, the FBI’s unit has taken on more than 400 cases—and has found evidence of the copycat effect rippling through many of them.
Evidence amassed by the FBI and other threat assessment experts shows that perpetrators and plotters look to past attacks both for inspiration and operational details, in hopes of causing even greater carnage. Would-be attackers frequently emulate the Columbine massacre; one high-level law enforcement agent told me that he’s encountered dozens of students around the country who say they admire the Columbine killers. “Some of these kids now weren’t even born when that happened,” he said. The 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech and other attacks that generated major publicity have also spawned many copycats, according to several law enforcement officials….
Very interesting indeed. Please give that a full read. Makes me think of the old west, in a way…the gunfighters, who would have younger guns always gunning after them to outdo them, to get that renowned price on their head. Notoriety. Become a legend. Get their names in the papers…get their faces printed on a wanted poster.
Or, in the case of batshit crazy politicians, Florida Senate candidate admits to sacrificing goat, drinking its blood – Orlando Sentinel I really don’t know what the hell they want to gain from admitting to something like that.
Two years ago, Augustus Sol Invictus walked from central Florida to the Mojave Desert and spent a week fasting and praying, at times thinking he wouldn’t survive. In a pagan ritual to give thanks when he returned home, he killed a goat and drank its blood.
Now that he’s a candidate for U.S. Senate, the story is coming back to bite him.
The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida has resigned to call attention to Invictus’ candidacy in hopes that other party leaders will denounce him. Adrian Wyllie, who was the Libertarian candidate for governor last year, says Invictus wants to lead a civil war, is trying to recruit neo-Nazis to the party and brutally and sadistically dismembered a goat.
It’s an awkward situation for the small party that’s trying to gain clout.
“He is the absolute exact opposite of a Libertarian. He’s a self-proclaimed fascist. He’s promoting a second civil war,” Wyllie said. “It’s absolute insanity. We must explain to people this is the opposite of Libertarians. This guy has no place in the Libertarian Party.”
Invictus, a 32-year-old lawyer who changed his given name — which he declines to reveal — to a Latin phrase that means “majestic unconquered sun,” says Wyllie is just running a smear campaign and is twisting his words into lies. No, he says, he’s not a white supremacist, pointing out his four children are Hispanic — though he acknowledges that some white supremacists support his campaign. No, he says he isn’t trying to start a civil war, but he says the government already is at war with its citizens and that it’s certain to escalate.
Okay, more bullshit:
Oath Keepers are calling for a boycott of Waffle House over its ban on guns.
The boycott was prompted when employees at a Kentucky franchise asked a uniformed National Guard member to leave his weapon outside after employees recognized him as a participant in a fight inside the eatery.
“I don’t feel comfortable taking my firearm away from me,” guardsman Billy Welch told WLEX-TV. “I always keep it with me and they said, ‘It’s one of our policies.’”
Welch said he wouldn’t eat there without his gun, so he left — and a witness described the incident in a viral Facebook post.
The restaurant owner said the gun ban had been in place for years, and he believes the policy keeps his customers safe, but he said the ban is loosely enforced for military members.
The Oath Keepers, however, don’t feel safe at any Waffle House without their guns, so they want to make an example out of the restaurant chain in hopes of forcing other businesses to let them carry their guns.
“Waffle House would actually be a great candidate to single out and make an example of,” said David Codrea, an Oath Keeper and pro-gun blogger. “If they dig their heels in and go belly-up, who cares? And if they end up doing the right thing, it will be an in-your-face victory that’ll cause a very public Demanding MILM hysterical meltdown.”
MILM is an acronym for “mother I’d like to meet,” which is apparently a slightly less sexualized “MILF” reference to the anti-gun group Moms Demand Action — which Codrea frequently targets with complaints.
Now, these assholes want to boycott Waffle House. Like that is going to bring down this restaurant chain?
The Waffle House Index is an informal metric used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine the impact of a storm and the likely scale of assistance required for disaster recovery. The measure is based on the reputation of the Waffle House restaurant chain for staying open during extreme weather and for reopening quickly, albeit sometimes with a limited menu, after very severe weather events such as tornados or hurricanes. The term was coined by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in May 2011, following the 2011 Joplin tornado; the two Waffle House restaurants in Joplin remained open after the EF5multiple-vortex tornado struck the city on May 22. According to Fugate, “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”
The Index has three levels, based on the extent of operations and service at the restaurant following a storm:
- Green: the restaurant is serving a full menu, indicating the restaurant has power and damage is limited.
- Yellow: the restaurant is serving a limited menu, indicating there may be no power or only power from a generator or food supplies may be low.
- Red: the restaurant is closed, indicating severe damage.
It was even used recently in South Carolina: Measuring the Charleston storm by the Waffle House Index | Eat | Charleston City Paper
Many metrics will be tossed around in the next week measuring the damages Charleston’s weekend storm produced, but the one we’re interested in here on the Cuisine blog is the Waffle House Index. Yes, that’s a real thing.
There was no answer at the FEMA news desk, so we cut to the chase and contacted Wilson White, the district manager for Charleston’s Waffle Houses to see how we fared. The Lowcountry, he says, was a level green.
“We have 24 Waffle Houses in our district — that’s from Beaufort to Sumter — and I think only one closed due to a little flooding,” says White. According to White, the Waffle House in Ladson saw the flooding, but got back up and running fast.
In order to stay operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, White says Waffle House has Jump Teams or groups of employees who will come from another area to help staff up. In the case of the storm this weekend, 17 employees came up from Savannah to Charleston, 16 employees traveled from Atlanta to Columbia, and 36 senior vice presidents in Atlanta for a corporate meeting are flying into Columbia today to help out.
“One of the things we explain to interviewees is that we do our best to serve customers year round. We work every holiday. We’re always open,” says White. Sometimes that means getting employees hotel rooms during severe weather, “so they can sleep, then come back to work,” he says, or having managers give workers rides to work.
“We always make sure it’s safe,” White adds. “Our goal is to serve our community when they have no place else to eat.”
Colbert had a segment on The Waffle House Index:
Waffle House becomes FEMA’s syrup-smothered canary in a coalmine, which is also available on their menu. (3:53)
More crazy now, let us look more at these stories:
I also read somewhere that she is a Trump supporter. (I will find the link.)
Wait, back to the news links:
From political bullshit to science stuff:
I asked a horse if he had a dollar. He said “no, but I have fore quarters.”
This is an open thread.
I’ve been so busy helping my Mom for the past few days that I haven’t been able to keep up with the news as much as I usually do. Fortunately Mom is doing well, and I plan to get back home before Halloween. I did have jury duty scheduled on October 20, but I was able to postpone it until next May. I want to avoid having it fall during a snowstorm or when the roads are really bad. I really hope the coming winter won’t be as bad in Boston as it was last year, but you never know.
Look at what’s going on down in South Carolina. The Washington Post has a helpful explanatory article on it: The meteorology behind South Carolina’s catastrophic, 1,000-year rainfall event.
The rains are tapering off in South Carolina after a disastrous weekend that brought over two feet of rain and catastrophic flooding. Dams have been breached, rivers are at record flood stage, homes and cars are filled with water and multiple people have been reported dead in the disaster.
Authorities in South Carolina on Monday urged people to stay home if it was safe to do so, saying that flooding was expected to continue in more than half the state for several days. On Sunday, authorities responded to hundreds of reports of trees in roadways and hundreds of reports of flooded roads. Tens of thousands of sandbags were used by state and local agencies, while a stretch of Interstate 95 was shut down and traffic rerouted. Overnight, several cities and counties declared curfews, while others have declared states of emergency….
According to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, South Carolina’s torrential weekend rain has well surpassed a 1,000-year rainfall event — one that, on average, we would expect to see about every 1,000 years. A three-day, 1,000-year rainfall event for Charleston County would have been 17.1 inches. A four-day, 1,000-year event would have been 17.5 inches. Boones Farm Plantation, just north of Mount Pleasant, in Charleston County, reported more than 24 inches of rain through Sunday morning, which essentially blows NOAA’s 1,000-year events scale out of the water.
So this must have been caused by Hurricane Joaquin, right?
Hurricane Joaquin did play an indirect role in South Carolina’s weekend deluge, but there’s much more to this meteorological story.
As Hurricane Joaquin tracked north, well east of the coast, a separate, non-tropical low pressure system was setting up shop over the Southeast late last week. This system drew in a deep, tropical plume of water vapor off the tropical Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, this upper-level low pressure system tapped into the moist outflow of Hurricane Joaquin.
The moisture pipeline fed directly into a pocket of intense uplift on the northern side of the non-tropical vortex. Within this dynamic “sweet spot,” thunderstorms established a training pattern, passing repeatedly over the same location and creating a narrow corridor of torrential rain stretching from Charleston to the southern Appalachians.
The remarkable thing about this process is that it was sustained for three days.
Read much more at the link. Gee, you don’t suppose this has anything to do with global climate change, do you? Naaaaah.
The U.S. military and the Obama administration are having a hard time explaining why they bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan over the weekend. The Washington Post reports:
A heavily-armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend, Pentagon officials said Monday.
The attack occurred in the middle of the night Saturday, when Afghan troops—together with a U.S. special forces team training and advising them—were on the ground near the hospital in Kunduz, the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began in 2001. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Monday the airstrike was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire, contradicting earlier statements from Pentagon officials that the strike was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.
The new details of the attack, and the continuing dispute over what exactly happened, heightened the controversy over the strike. In the two days since the incident, U.S. officials have struggled to explain how a U.S. aircraft wound up attacking a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. On Monday, the medical humanitarian group said the United States was squarely responsible.
“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” Doctors Without Borders’ general director Christopher Stokes said in a statement. “With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”
The weekend’s disastrous airstrike reinforces doubts about how effectively a limited U.S. force in Afghanistan can work with Afghan troops to repel the Taliban, which has been newly emboldened as the United States draws down its presence.
The strike also comes as the Obama administration is currently weighing whether to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2015, according to senior officials. Obama has not made a final decision on the proposal, but the recent advances by the Taliban have certainly complicated the president’s calculus.
The truth is that US forces have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East, but most of them didn’t have the cachet and the ability to engage the media that Doctors Without Borders does. Unfortunately, the administration’s explanations for the strike on the hospital have been all over the place. Also well worth reading is Amy Davidson’s column at The New Yorker: Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz.
Dakinikat had a great post on guns and gun control yesterday. I didn’t have time to read it carefully until this morning, so naturally gun stories caught my eye when I started to look at today’s news. There’s never any shortage of tragic stories involving guns. The worst ones are incidents in which children kill children.
An 11-year-old Tennessee boy was charged with shooting an 8-year-old girl to death with a 12-gauge shotgun after an argument over puppies Saturday, NBC affiliate WBIR reported.
A neighbor told the station that the girl, MaKayla Dyer, had been playing with neighbors on Saturday night in White Pine, outside Knoxville.
She started talking with the boy, who has not been identified, through an open window at his home.
“He asked the little girl to see her puppies,” the neighbor, Chasity Atwood, told WBID. “She said no and laughed and then turned around, looked at her friend and said, ‘Let’s go get the — ‘ and never got ‘puppies’ out.”
The boy had already shot her in the chest.
Dyer was transported to Morristown-Hamblen Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The boy is being held in juvenile court on charges of first-degree murder.
This kid had access to a loaded shotgun in his home? What the hell is wrong with his parents?
In Ohio, an 11-year-old South Carolina boy accidentally shot and killed his 12-year old brother. CantonRep.com reports:
A 12-year-old South Carolina boy was fatally shot Friday in what authorities say was an accident during a target-shooting outing.
The victim was identified as Joseph Baily of More, South Carolina. The shooting occurred in the 8400 block of Bay Road in Carroll County’s Lee Township, southeast of Carrollton.
“It was an accident,” county Sheriff Dale Williams said Monday. “It (shooter) was a juvenile. It was a brother. His brother was 11 years old.” ….
“They were actually target shooting,” Carroll County Coroner Mandal Haas said. “They were visiting a friend they knew here in Ohio. This was real ammunition. It was a head wound.”
The weapon was a handgun.
“The 11-year-old picked up a weapon off of a picnic table,” Sheriff Williams said. “He accidentally shot it.”
While the shooting was accidental, Carroll County authorities, however, could file criminal charges. Those charges could be filed against who ever failed to secure the weapon.
Too little, too late. And check this one out from Georgia. CBS46.com Atlanta: Road rage suspect points gun at car, police let him go free.
A motorcycle driver who was caught on camera pulling out a gun and pointing it at another driver Sunday was allowed to go free, and a witness wants to know why.
It happened on State Highway 54 in Coweta County near the Fayette County line. To the man who captured the incident on his private dashboard camera, it looked like an incident of road rage, plain and simple.
The witness who recorded the video is a former Georgia police officer. CBS46 News is protecting his identity because of the nature of his current work. He said it’s his opinion that the motorcycle driver put everyone near him in danger. If the rider felt threatened, it appeared he had the power to get away from the situation, the witness said.
“Drawing a firearm, in just about every case, should be an absolute last resort. It seems like it was this guy’s first resort,” said the witness.
The witness followed the motorcycle while on the phone with 911 and helped police catch up with him. The rider was put in handcuffs, but in a surprise move, Coweta County Sheriff’s deputies decided to let him go.
“This guy is college-age. We know what just happened in Oregon. How do you not take a firearm out of the hand of a guy who’s going to behave this way- who’s going to act this reckless?” asked the witness.
So what was their reason for not arresting him? The witness said deputies told him they didn’t think the people in the black car would be in town to testify at the first appearance in court. It’s an excuse the former police officer said he’s not buying.
Nice. The guy who got off scot-free could be the next mass murderer.
But what about when gun victims are shot by the police? Ordinarily, I don’t agree with Connor Friedersdorf, but he has a great piece in The Atlantic: Police in California Killed More Than 610 People Over 6 Years.
The ACLU of Southern California has been working to understand how many people have been killed by law enforcement in America’s most populous state. What they found is alarming. Over a six-year period that ended in 2014, California’s Department of Justice recorded 610 instances of law enforcement committing homicide “in the process of arrest.”
That figure is far from perfect. It excludes some homicides in 2014 that are still being investigated. And it understates the actual number of people killed by police officers and sheriffs deputies in other ways. For example, after Dante Parker was mistaken for a criminal, stunned with a Taser at least 25 times, hog-tied face down, and denied medical care, California authorities classified his death as “accidental.”
Still, the official number is 610 homicides attributed to law enforcement “in the process of arrest.”
Officially, 608 are classified as justified. Just two are officially considered unjustified. In one unjustified killing, there’s video of a policeman shooting Oscar Grant in the head as he lay face down in a BART station. In the other, there is extended video of police brutally beating a mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas, to death.
Officially speaking, only police officers who were being filmed killed people in unjustified ways. Whether law enforcement performs less professionally when cameras are rolling is unclear. But it seems more likely that the spread of digital-recording technology will reveal that unjust killings are more common than was previously thought.
Read the rest of this important article at the link.
I’ll end with a couple of political stories. Politico has an exclusive on Joe Biden this morning: Biden himself leaked word of his son’s dying wish.
Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.
Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.
According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because “the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.
But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
What an a-hole.
By every account of those surrounding Biden, Beau is constantly on his father’s mind. But so are Clinton’s poll numbers — and his own, as the vice president notes in private details, such as the crosstab data that show him drawing more support from Clinton than Bernie Sanders. So is the prospect of what it would mean to run against a candidate who would make history as the first female nominee, and potentially first female president. So is knowing that the filing deadlines are quickly closing in and that he almost certainly has to decide in roughly the next week to make even a seat-of-the-pants campaign possible.
“Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that’s what it is,” said one person who’s recently spoken to Biden about the prospect of running. “The head is further down the road than the heart is.”
Ugh. There’s plenty more disgusting stuff at Politco, including some tidbits about Biden’s “secret” meeting with Elizabeth Warren.
Finally, the king of a-holes continues to act unpresidential. From Business Insider:
Real-estate developer Donald Trump took his feud with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) to a rather unique place this week, sending a gag gift to Rubio’s presidential campaign office.
According to CNN, Trump’s campaign sent Rubio a “a care package” on Monday containing a 24-pack case of “Trump Ice” bottled water, two “Make America Great Again” towels, and a note that said: “Since you’re always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!”
As much as I can’t stand Rubio, Trump is the worst of the worst.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!
I just can’t get past Jeb Bush’s remarks about the mass shooting in Oregon: “Stuff happens.” In context, the meaning is the same. Here’s full quote:
“We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very sad to see.
But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
I think what was shocking to many commentators is that Bush didn’t express any sadness or horror at the senseless murder of nine people.
The truth is that Bush was simply being honest about Republican policy–the solution to problems that affect ordinary people is not government or laws. There is nothing we can do, because laws and regulations will cause inconveniences for other people. We just have to accept that the cost of “freedom” is that people will periodically be murdered with high powered weapons, and that is the price we must pay so that people can have all the guns they want.
Here’s Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine explaining that Bush was simply stating GOP policy in frank terms:
The news media immediately initiated its gaffe sequence, reducing Bush’s response to “stuff happens” and the context to the shootings in Oregon. Omitted from the gaffication was the intermediary process in Bush’s reply, when he generalized from a particular shooting to public problems in general, which led him to his position that frequently events occur and the proper response is nothing. That idea is not always wrong, not even for liberals, and certainly not for conservatives. Those of us who favor gun control find it terribly wrong as a response to mass shootings. But, again, denying any public policy response to endemic gun violence is a completely standard position in the GOP.
So the impulse to call Bush’s response a gaffe rests instead upon the callousness of the wording — “stuff happens.” But Bush was not applying that phrase specifically to yesterday’s tragedy. He was generalizing about events — many of them, yes, tragic. He was not dismissing the scope of the tragedy in Oregon. And without that element, there is not, or should not be, anything especially troublesome aside from the fact that Bush subscribes to a party doctrine that dismisses even the most sensible and minor limits on access to deadly weaponry.
Here is the video with some commentary from The New York Daily News.
Of course Bush and his fellow GOPers don’t apply their “stuff happens” philosophy when it comes to women’s reproductive health. When it comes to anything involving women, no amount of regulation is enough for them. Women should be returned to the status they held in the 1950s and early 1960s. They should be at home caring for large numbers of children, cooking, cleaning, and generally acting like servants for their husbands. What about women who choose not to be married?
Hey, stuff happens. If you can’t get a decent job and you automatically get less pay than your male counterparts, that’s just the way it is. Government can’t solve your problems. What if you can’t afford to have a child or you were raped or you’re a 12-year-old girl impregnated by her stepfather or father? Tough luck. You should have the baby and be grateful for what “god” gave you. Of course we’ll still call you a slut and a whore if you aren’t married.
What if you have black or brown skin and people are prejudiced against you? What if they even attack you violently because of the color of your skin? What if they make you go to separate schools and make you drink out of separate drinking fountains? What if they won’t let you vote?
Hey, stuff happens. Laws won’t change anything.
Except that is what happened. Government leaders took action and laws changed. Women gained some rights and privileges that had been denied them right up until the 1970s. Black people were integrated into schools and “separate but equal” was replaced with equality for all. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but to the extent that changes happened, government and laws played important roles.
Of course Jeb Bush’s mistake was that he stated Republican attitudes honestly. Republicans are supposed use weasel words and vague generalities instead of coming right out and saying, “Tough luck, stuff happens.”
There is also a larger context for Jeb Bush’s words. Remember Donald Rumsfeld’s reaction to the out-of-control looting of Iraq’s precious national treasures? From CNN, April 12, 2003:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday the looting in Iraq was a result of “pent-up feelings” of oppression and that it would subside as Iraqis adjusted to life without Saddam Hussein.
He also asserted the looting was not as bad as some television and newspaper reports have indicated and said there was no major crisis in Baghdad, the capital city, which lacks a central governing authority. The looting, he suggested, was “part of the price” for what the United States and Britain have called the liberation of Iraq.
“Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things,” Rumsfeld said. “They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here.”
Looting, he added, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. “Stuff happens,” Rumsfeld said.
As we all know, stuff kept right on happening in Iraq and stuff is still happening there and in Afghanistan and Syria, thanks to the second Bush administration. Now Jeb! wants to be the third President Bush. Fortunately, he’s so ham-handed, incompetent, and uncharismatic that he probably won’t get that chance.
But the simple truth is that with today’s Republican Party in charge, we are not going to be able to solve problems that affect ordinary Americans. The only thing government will be permitted to do is enable giant corporations to destroy the economy and the environment and generally ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Of course many Republicans recognize that Bush hurt himself with his honesty. Here’s Ed Straker at The Daily Thinker:
In a poll with a margin of error of about 5%, Jeb Bush is polling at 4%. That means, statistically speaking, that it is possible that Jeb Bush is at zero percent in the polls. The last time I wrote this about a candidate, he ended up out of the race shortly thereafter. I hope the same does not happen to Jeb, because then the amnesty crowd will be forced to pin their hopes on Marco Rubio, who has the same sweaty nervousness giving speeches as a first-time bank robber handing a furtive note to a bank teller.
But even Politico, the website of liberal Democrats and their Republican friends, is starting to turn on Jeb, featuring an article telling of his most recent flubs.
Speaking about the massacre in Roseburg, Oregon, Jeb says, “Stuff happens.” Some conservative websites say that quote was taken out of context, but it wasn’t. Listen to it yourself. He is clearly responding to the shooting, and chose his words very badly.
Donald Trump’s comments on the Oregon mass murder were similar to Jeb Bush’s. Josh Voorhees at Slate:
On Friday morning, an unusually calm Donald Trump offered his take on what can be done to prevent the next massacre on U.S. soil: nothing.
“First of all, you have very strong laws on the books, but you’re always going to have problems,” Trump said during a telephone interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “We have millions and millions of people, we have millions and millions of sick people all over the world. It can happen all over the world and it does happen all over the world, by the way. But this is sort of unique to this country, the school shootings. And you’re going to have difficulty no matter what.”
Trump added later: “It’s not politically correct to say that, but you’re going to have difficulty and that will be for the next million years, there’s going to be difficulty and people are going to slip through the cracks. What are you going to do, institutionalize everybody?”
Trump didn’t come right out and say “stuff happens,” but that’s obviously what he meant. Government can do things to help the rich, but not the rest of us. Tough luck folks. Stuff happens. More from Voorhees’ piece:
You don’t have to squint to find the irony in Trump’s comments, and not just because the GOP front-runner managed to talk about a mass shooting without ever once directly mentioning guns, aka the very weapon of choice for this particular killer—just like it was for those murderers that came before him at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, and the countless other schools that were the settings for similarly horrible violence. In that way, Trump’s not unlike the rest of his GOP rivals who, as my colleague Will Saletan notes, continue to maintain that gun violence isn’t a gun problem.
What’s so remarkable about Trump effectively throwing in the towel on this topic is that his whole campaign is predicated on the idea that he’d be able to fix all of the nation’s woes with the sheer force of his personality. Here’s a man, after all, whose heartless immigration policy is built on the premise that he’d construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that would ensure that no one—and especially not would-be criminals like the one man who allegedly killed Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco—could slip through the cracks, and yet here he is suggesting that there’s nothing to be done about school shootings because ultimately there will always be people who slip through the cracks.
That’s because the “problems” Trump and the rest of today’s Republicans want to “solve” aren’t the same problems the rest of us care about.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comments. This is an open thread.
Posted: October 2, 2015
There’s a lot of news up today but the first thing I want to cover is the clarification made by the Vatican on the Kentucky Bigot Brigrade and the supposed papal visit. It looks like we have a case of extreme exaggeration or “telling a whopper” as we like to call it in my neck of the woods.
According to the Vatican, Pope Francis did not invite Kim Davis to meet him. There was no secret meeting, and the Pope had no idea who she was when he met her.
In a statement, the Vatican clarified that Pope Francis didn’t even know who Kim Davis was:
The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:
Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.
The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.
The Pope briefly met Kim Davis as part of a group, had no idea who she was, said hello to her, and moved on.
The Vatican’s version of events is the opposite of what Davis’s supporters are claiming happened. The anti-gay marriage crowd claimed that the Pope met with Davis in secret and expressed his support for her bigotry. The right has been using the imaginary meeting as an endorsement of their out of step views.
The extremist conservative movement’s attempt to use Pope Francis for propaganda purposes has fallen apart. Davis’s invitation had been extended by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the envoy in Washington. Viganò is well known to have gone further than others in the church in his campaign against gay marriage. The Pope did not invite Davis to meet him. In fact, according to the Vatican, Pope Francis had not been briefed on the situation and knew nothing about Davis.
The fact that the Vatican took such pains to distance themselves from Davis could logically be viewed as a rejection of her beliefs.
So, hopefully the Archbishop will be called to the Vatican woodshed and there will be a great big huge discussion on rending unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Either way, the Kentucky Bigot Brigade appears to following the usual tradition of lying your way to to what you think gawd wants.
Yet another abortion advocate is the target of death threats from the “pro-life” set. I’ve had all kinds of run ins with these folks over a period of about 30 years and it always ends in threats of violence. Lies and violence are their trademarks.
A few weeks ago, writers Amelia Bonow and Lindy West began the hashtag campaign #ShoutYourAbortion to encourage the one in three women who have had an abortion to speak out about their experience instead of being shamed into silence. Then came the death threats.
Bonow told the New York Times that the idea behind the campaign wasn’t to glorify the procedure, but instead to destigmatize it during a time when people are so angry about the topic they’re setting Planned Parenthood clinics on fire.
“A shout is not a celebration or a value judgment, it’s the opposite of a whisper, of silence,” Bonow told the Times. “Even women who support abortion rights have been silent, and told they were supposed to feel bad about having an abortion.”
In a social-media world that’s this upsetting and dangerous, no wonder some celebrities hire Twitter surrogates.
Increased violence against Planned Parenthood Clinics is on the FBI’s radar and has come about as the result of the intense lying of Congressional Republicans and idiots like Republican Presidential Wannabe Fiorina. Nothing ever good comes from whipping up a bunch of religious fanatics. Check the Middle East region if you need further proof.
As the national conversation on Planned Parenthood has become louder and more heated, politicians have warned that it could ignite acts of violence against clinics and neighborhood facilities.
Late Wednesday, for the second time in weeks, a Planned Parenthood center in Thousand Oaks came under attack, this time by an arsonist or arsonists who authorities believe smashed out a window, splashed gasoline inside the clinic and then ignited it.
Authorities say there’s no evidence the attack was related to the larger debate on Planned Parenthood, but said the West Hillcrest Drive facility was previously attacked by vandals six weeks ago.
No direct theats had been made to the facility or clinic workers before the fire, said Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. John Reilly.
A few plants near the window were blackened, but the small fire had been extinguished quickly because of a sprinkler system, Lohman said.
A fire in a Washington State Planned Parenthood that happened in early September was already ruled arson. As previously mentioned, the FBI is warning local law enforcement of the possibility of increased domestic terrorist activites aimed at Planned Parenthood.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of an increasing number of attacks on reproductive healthcare facilities. “It is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities,” an FBI Intelligence Assessment reads,according to a CBS report Friday.
The finding comes after a July video from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, which releasedsecretly taped footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they use tissues from aborted fetuses for medical research.
Since then, federal investigators have reported nine criminal or suspicious incidents at reproductive health centers across the country, which included cyberattacks, threats and arson. The FBI believes the incidents were “consistent with the actions of lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement,” sources told CBS.
So, this is in keeping with the latest mass shooting whose perpetrator is a self-confessed NAZI and “conservative Republican” who disliked “organized religion”. Chris Harper Mercer is yet another example of a lone wolf, young white male shooter with mental illness issues.
Mr. Mercer appeared to have sought community on the Internet. A picture of him holding a rifle appeared on a MySpace page with a post expressing a deep interest in the Irish Republican Army. It included footage from the conflict in Northern Ireland set to “The Men Behind the Wire,” an Irish republican song, and several pictures of gunmen in black balaclavas. Another picture showed the front page of An Phoblacht, the party newspaper of Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the I.R.A.
A picture of Mr. Mercer also appeared on a long-dormant dating website profile registered in Los Angeles. On it, he described himself as an “introvert” with a dislike for “organized religion.”
In the offline world, Mr. Mercer’s mother sought to protect him from all manner of neighborhood annoyances, former neighbors in Torrance said, from loud children and barking dogs to household pests. Once, neighbors said, she went door-to-door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.
“She said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him,’ ” Julia Winstead, 55, said. “She said they were going to go stay in a motel. Until that time, I didn’t know she had a son.”
We’ve said this before, but American’s gun fetish is causing our country to look like some kind of throwback to the Stone Age. Except, stone axes can kill one person. Sophisticated guns kill millions of Americans. Here’s “America’s fucking awful, truly unique gun violence problem,visualized” per Ezra Klein.
Whenever a mass shooting occurs, supporters of gun rights often argue that it’s inappropriate to bring up political debates about gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy. For example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a strong supporter of gun rights, criticized President Barack Obama for “trying to score cheap political points” when the president mentioned gun control after a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
But if this argument is followed to its logical end, then it will never be the right time to discuss mass shootings, as Christopher Ingraham pointed out at the Washington Post. Under the Mass Shooting Tracker’s definition of mass shootings, America has nearly one mass shooting a day. So if lawmakers are forced to wait for a time when there isn’t a mass shooting to talk gun control, they could find themselves waiting for a very long time.
We’ll undoubtedly see more stories blaming mental illness. But is it the real issue in these domestic terrorist situation? Read this great rant by Arthur Chu on Salon.
I get really really tired of hearing the phrase “mental illness” thrown around as a way to avoid saying other terms like “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “misogyny” or “racism.”
We barely know anything about the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, atrocity. We certainly don’t have testimony from a mental health professional responsible for his care that he suffered from any specific mental illness, or that he suffered from a mental illness at all.
We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.
We know that the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day — it costs people relationships and jobs, it scares people away from seeking help who need it, it brings shame and fear down on the heads of people who already have it bad enough.
But the media insists on trotting out “mental illness” and blaring out that phrase nonstop in the wake of any mass killing. I had to grit my teeth every time I personally debated someone defaulting to the mindless mantra of “The real issue is mental illness” over the Isla Vista shootings.
“The real issue is mental illness” is a goddamn cop-out. I almost never hear it from actual mental health professionals, or advocates working in the mental health sphere, or anyone who actually has any kind of informed opinion on mental health or serious policy proposals for how to improve our treatment of the mentally ill in this country.
There are so many ways to see how our country is marching backwards from modernity that it sometimes makes my head hurt badly. This is Hillary on Alabama’s attempt to remove DMVs and access to picture IDS in their counties that are majority black. Alabama is trying to reinstate Jim Crow just as every Republican in Congress wants us back to the days before Birth Control and Abortion was legal and acessible.
Hillary Clinton slammed the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama — many in majority-black counties — as “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
The closures, announced this week, hit majority-black counties especially hard. Under Alabama’s new tougher version of its voter ID law, voters must have a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to vote. Every Alabama county with at least 75 percent African American registered voters will lose its DMV office, according to local reports.
“This is only going to make it harder for people to vote,” Clinton said in a statement Friday. “It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
Clinton has made voting rights a major platform of her presidential campaign. Alabama has defended the DMV closures, saying that there are other options for residents to obtain an ID that will enable them to vote.
Read Clinton’s full statement below:
“I strongly oppose Alabama’s decision to close driver’s license offices across the state, especially in counties that have a significant majority of African Americans. Just a few years ago, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote. Now they’re shutting down places where people get those photo IDs. This is only going to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.
“We’re better than this. We should be encouraging more Americans to vote, not making voting harder. As President, I’ll push for automatic voter registration for every American when they turn 18, and a new national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting in every state. And I’ll work with Congress to restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act.
“African Americans fought for the right to vote in the face of unthinkable hatred. They stood up and were beaten down, marched and were turned back. Some were even killed. But in the end, the forces of justice overcame. Alabama should do the right thing. It should reverse this decision. And it should start protecting the franchise for every single voter, no matter the color of their skin.”
The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were OK. To imagine the feelings of the police as they carried the bodies and heard the ringing is heartrending; to imagine the feelings of the parents who were calling — dread, desperate hope for a sudden answer and the bliss of reassurance, dawning grief — is unbearable. But the parents, and the rest of us, were told that it was not the right moment to ask how the shooting had happened — specifically, why an obviously disturbed student, with a history of mental illness, was able to buy guns whose essential purpose is to kill people — and why it happens over and over again in America. At a press conference, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, said, “People who want to … make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them. … At this point, what it’s about is comforting family members … and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?