Groundhog Day Reads: Gun Fetishists, Fetus Fetishists, and Other News

Punxsutawney Phil and friend

Punxsutawney Phil and friend

Good Morning!!

It’s Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawny Phil says spring will come early this year.

An end to winter’s bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog.

Following a recent stretch of weather that’s included both record warm temperatures and bitter cold, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair Saturday in front of thousands but didn’t see his shadow.

Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler’s Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.

United States of Guns

United States of Guns

Do you ever get the feeling the U.S. is becoming an armed camp? On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on gun violence at which two loony right wingers–Crazy Wayne LaPierre of the NRA and attorney Gayle Trotter–were permitted to dominate the proceedings with their bizarre defenses of assault weapons.

Meanwhile, news was breaking about two more shocking shootings, one in Midland City, Alabama and the other in Phoenix, Arizona.

Three days later, the gunman in Alabama is still in his homemade bunker with his 5-year-old hostage. CNN: Authorities tight-lipped as standoff over child hostage enters 5th day

As an armed standoff entered its fifth day Saturday, authorities negotiated through a ventilation pipe with a man accused of barricading himself and a 5-year-old hostage in an underground bunker in southeastern Alabama.

Police have been tight-lipped about a possible motive since the hostage drama began unfolding in Midland City with the shooting of school bus driver and the abduction of the 5-year-old.

In a sign of perhaps how tense negotiations are between authorities and the suspect, officials have refused to detail what, if any, demands have been made by the suspect.

On Friday, the Dale County sheriff did confirm what neighbors have been saying and news outlets around Midland City have been reporting since the standoff began — the suspected gunman’s identity.

He is Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, a Vietnam veteran and retired truck driver who moved to the area about five years ago.

According to USA Today,

One of Dykes’ next-door neighbors said the suspect spent two or three months constructing the bunker, digging into the ground and then building a structure of lumber and plywood, which he covered with sand and dirt.

Neighbor Michael Creel said Dykes put the plastic pipe underground from the bunker to the end of his driveway so he could hear if anyone drove up to his gate. When Dykes finished the shelter a year or so ago, he invited Creel to see it — and he did.

“He was bragging about it. He said, ‘Come check it out,” Creel said.

He said he believes Dykes’ goal with the standoff is to publicize his political beliefs.

“I believe he wants to rant and rave about politics and government,” Creel said. “He’s very concerned about his property. He doesn’t want his stuff messed with.”

The kindergartner whom Dykes is holding hostage has been heard crying for his parents, who say he has Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD. Dykes’ neighbors say that he has enough supplies to stay in the bunker for an extended period of  time.

In Phoenix, a second shooting victim has died of his wounds. New York Newsday reports:

Mark Hummels, 43, had been on life support at a Phoenix hospital after Wednesday morning’s shooting that killed a company’s chief executive and left a woman with non-life threatening injuries.
Hummels died Thursday night, a publicist for his law firm told The Associated Press early Friday.

Colleagues of Hummels described him as a smart, competent and decent man who was a rising star in his profession and dedicated to his wife, 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.

Hummels had worked as a reporter until 2001 when he returned to school to become an attorney.

Hummels worked with the Phoenix law firm Osborn Maledon with some support from the Hastings law firm in Houston and focused on business disputes, real estate litigation and malpractice defense. He died Thursday night, publicist Athia Hardt told The Associated Press early Friday.

He was a reporter for the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican before he left to go to law school in 2001. He graduated first in his class at the University of Arizona’s law school.

Santa Fe New Mexican editor Rob Dean said in a statement Friday that Hummels “was an accomplished journalist and an even better person. He had the intelligence to understand difficult problems and a hunger to do important work.”

Hummels was admitted to the Arizona bar in 2005.

The body of the alleged shooter, Arthur Douglas Harmon was found dead on Thursday, apparently having shot himself with a handgun.

Meanwhile, two more shootings have been reported in Phoenix.

Mayor Greg Stanton vowed Friday that the bloodshed will not define his city.

“This is not the norm,” Stanton said hours after the latest of three Phoenix shootings that, combined, left at least four people dead. “It’s a tragic set of circumstances. These incidents are an aberration. But these tragedies will not define the city of Phoenix.”

The three days of bloodshed left Stanton more convinced than ever that a comprehensive approach to gun control is needed, combined with stronger mental-health laws and improved community policing.

The three incidents and the motives behind the violence were unrelated: a dispute over a civil lawsuit, a possible drug transaction and a drive-by shooting that may have been gang-related.

Details at the link. Good luck to the Mayor of Phoenix getting any gun regulations passed in Arizona.


Yesterday President Obama handed more ammunition to Republicans in their ongoing war on women. From Wonkblog: The White House’s contraceptives compromise.

The Obama administration proposed broader latitude Friday for religious nonprofits that object to the mandated coverage of contraceptives, one that will allow large faith-based hospitals and universities to issue plans that do not directly provide birth control coverage.

Their employees would instead receive a stand-alone, private insurance policy that would provide contraceptive coverage at no cost.

This is a really bad idea, because it lends credence to Republicans’ efforts to separate women’s reproductive health needs from health care in general.

It could also breathe new life into lawsuits filed against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirement, some of which were put on hold until the Obama administration clarified its policy on the issue.

Under this proposal, objecting nonprofits will be allowed to offer employees a plan that does not cover contraceptives. Their health insurer will then automatically enroll employees in a separate individual policy, which only covers contraceptives, at no cost. This policy would stand apart from the employer’s larger benefit package.

The faith-based employer would not “have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.”

Whatever happened to separation of church and state? Besides, the fetus fetishists aren’t satisfied, and they never will be satisfied until women’s bodies are under complete control of the state and women’s lives are reduced to breeding, child care, and housework. From “Pro-Life Groups Blast Revisions to Obama Abortion-HHS Mandate” (I’m not going to link to the story because I don’t want a bunch of fetus trolls coming over here):

Leading pro-life groups don’t have much good to say about the proposed changes the HHS department announced today to the Obamacare mandate that forces religious groups and religiously-run companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs.

The Christian Medical Association (CMA), the nation’s largest faith-based association of physicians, today called the administration’s policy announcement regarding its contraceptives and sterilization mandate “unacceptable,” noting that the ruling still flouts the First Amendment.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens said, “This latest version of the contraceptives and sterilization mandate remains unacceptable. Since when does the government get to pick and choose which groups will get to enjoy First Amendment protections? Our founders intended the First Amendment to protect every American’s freedom to act according to one’s conscience. They didn’t specify that only groups deemed religious will be afforded this protection; freedom of conscience applies equally to all Americans.”

You can find many more quotes from men who hate women by googling the headline.

But wait a minute… Amanda Marcotte says the HHS contraception mandate is “Exactly What It Was a Year Ago.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has just released the proposed rules for handling religious objections to a new mandate requiring employer-provided insurance to cover contraception without a copay. The New York Times, at least, is covering this release as if it were a new and exciting “compromise” between the Obama administration and employers who believe their God wants ladies to be perma-pregnant. First the Times announced it in a “Breaking News” banner, and now the home page headline reads: “Birth Control Rule Altered to Allay Religious Objections.” Click on that and you’ll get to: “White House Proposes Compromise on Contraception Coverage.” The problem is that the proposal isn’t new, and nothing’s been altered since the Obama administration announced a clarification of the plan a year ago….Nothing has changed in the proposal.

OK, now I’m really confused. All I know is that the war on women has expanded from outlawing abortion to ending birth control. American women are quickly being reduced to a separate category of beings who are seen as less than human. We need an Equal Right Amendment, stat!

Here’s another wacky example of the right-wing anti-woman, anti-science pontificating we’ve been subjected to for the past couple of years from Right Wing Watch: Wombs of Women on Birth Control ‘Embedded’ with ‘Dead Babies’

Well, here’s some medical research we hadn’t heard about. Generations Radio host Kevin Swanson, who last week delved memorably into feminist theory, tells us this week that “certain doctors and certain scientists” have researched the wombs of women on the pill and found “there are these little tiny fetuses, these little babies, that are embedded into the womb…Those wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”

Shades of Todd Akin. Where do these crazy ideas come from anyway?

I’ll wrap this post up with some link-dump-style reads:

Wall Street Journal: Interview: Axelrod on Hillary Clinton’s Political Prospects

Wall Street Journal: Clinton’s Exit: Either Epilogue or Prelude

The Spokesman-Review: Idaho senator compares health exchange to Holocaust

Alternet: Exposed: How Whole Foods and the Biggest Organic Foods Distributor Are Screwing Workers

The Boston Globe: Mass. GOP scrambling to find US Senate candidate

The Boston Globe: Scott Brown’s finances may influence ex-senator’s next step

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your reading list for today? I look forward to clicking on your links!

29 Comments on “Groundhog Day Reads: Gun Fetishists, Fetus Fetishists, and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Reuters: Turkish leftist group claims U.S. embassy bombing: website

    Turkish leftist group DHKP-C claimed responsibility on Saturday for a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara, according to a statement on a website close to the group.

    “Our warrior Alisan Sanli carried out an act of self-sacrifice on Feb 1, 2013, by entering the Ankara embassy of the United States, murderer of the peoples of the world,” the statement on “The People’s Cry” website said.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Biden offers Iran direct talks, calls for trans-Atlantic free trade

    Vice President Joe Biden has offered Iran direct talks aimed at ending the diplomatic standoff over its nuclear program. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he also praised trans-Atlantic ties.

    Speaking on his first trip abroad since he and US President Barack Obama were sworn in for a second term in office, Biden told the conference on Saturday that there was still time to resolve the international community’s dispute with Tehran through diplomacy.

    “The ball is in the government of Iran’s court. It is well past time for Iran to adopt a serious good-faith approach to negotiations,” Biden said. “Abandon the illicit nuclear program and your support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives.”

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Mahony defends legacy on church abuse in blog

    Retired Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony defended his tattered legacy in a sharply worded letter to his successor, a day after Archbishop Jose Gomez stripped him of his administrative duties and bowed to a court order to release thousands of pages of confidential files on sexually abusive priests.

    In a letter posted Friday on his personal blog, Mahony challenged Gomez for publicly shaming him and said he developed policies to safeguard children after taking over in 1985, despite being unequipped to deal with the molester priests he inherited.

    Mahony had apologized two weeks ago after another release of similar files showed he and other top aides worked behind the scenes to protect the church from the growing scandal, keep offending clerics out of state and prevent public disclosure of sex crimes committed by priests.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Right, and he will “reitre” into an unfettered life of luxury where he can be found on the golf links and not have a worry in the world because he offered an “apology”. So much for justice.

      Meanwhile the victims will be forced to live with the memories of the clergy roaming the diocese by way of a “transfer” to continue their assaults as church leaders looked the other way.


    • dakinikat says:

      Need a good laugh?

      Huffington Post ‏@HuffingtonPost

      Vatican doctrine chief accuses critics of waging ‘pogrom’ against Church

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    This nation is being “dictated” to by ideologues who have lost all sense of proportion as they dig through chapters of “the bible” to wage their war against women.

    This “good book” also maintained that slavery was once considered “okay”. Read this “book” and the nonsense that unfolds is ridiculous. Polygamny and child brides were celebrated within the pages. Killing your own kid in order to “please god” was considered an “act of love”. Those “hearing voices” were afforded a place of honor. Today they would be issued a package of meds.

    Murder, smiting, burning, beheading, slaughter, chaos, and untold misery were considered as an excuse to carrying out “god’s will” for those who refused to “worship”. All this torture was carried out to please a “benevolent being” who just loves us to death!

    The contradictions stand out on these pages yet 2000 years later we are still suffering under the weight of this tome written by men who may have been considered just another Steven King or Ray Bradbuy of their day.

    No matter how “enlightened” we have come to believe that we are we are still in the grasp of those who take this stuff seriously and have every intention of foisting it upon the rest of us who would just as soon be left alone to make our own decisions under the heading of “free will”.

    It’s the biggest “con” of all that has managed to survive all these years when thinking for yourself is used as perjorative rather than a means toward progress.

    Ignorance is not bliss. It’s ignorance!

    • RalphB says:

      There’s no con like the long con and that’s religion in a nutshell. These nutcases need a padded cell.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        One of the biggest “cons” takes place daily on a network calling itself Trinity Broadcast and owned by snake charmers living in luxury and gated communities.

        This network devotes its time to “selling” prayer to shut ins, the sick, and those who depend upon small incomes to survive. They extract their money from these poor souls who are exorted each day to send money for a place in the afterlife.

        They stomp, clap, sing, slither across the stage, yell, weep, cajole and plead for money under the pretense of doing “god’s work” while enriching themselves in the meantime.

        And they get away with this scam under the pretext of “tax free” laws that do not require them to open their books to the IRS as “religious leaders”. Most of them get away with this scheme for years.

        Couple this daily dose of crapola with the Right Wing hatemongers who dominate the airwaves and it is no wonder why this nation is in the grip of crazies.

        Very difficult to argue with “the word of god” no matter how much it may be corrupted by these bands of charlatans.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      It’s the Borg!

      This collective consciousness is experienced by the Borg as “thousands” of voices — they are collectively aware, but not aware of themselves as separate individuals.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Orlando doesn’t just have The Tragic Kingdom (aka Disney), but The Holy Land Experience, owned by TBN. Ya’ll might like this old news piece: I must have missed this book of the bible about the proper way to do “god’s work.”

  5. RalphB says:

    Just in case anyone didn’t know Harry Reid is a weak idiot.

    In the spirit of the bipartisan, but toothless rules reforms the Senate passed last week, Senate Minority Mitch McConnell and over 40 of his members are vowing to block confirmation of a permanent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director unless Democrats agree to pass legislation dramatically weakening the agency.

  6. RalphB says:

    For the right wing gun nuts, Obama skeet shooting in August.


  7. Pat Johnson says:

    The only one not “covering up” these days is Kim Kardashian.

    For this she must be congratulated!

  8. bostonboomer says:

    George W. Bush’s dog Barney has died.

    “He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend,” Mr. Bush said Friday in a statement from his home in Dallas.

  9. RalphB says:

    Gotta love these Republican family values dudes.

    Nebraska Lieutenant Gov. Rick Sheehy (R) stepped down abruptly Saturday, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The sudden resignation came on the heels of an investigation by the World-Herald that Sheehy, who had been pegged as a leading contender in the state’s gubernatorial race next year, had made thousands of improper calls to four women over the last four years on his state-issued cell phone.

    The resignation was announced Saturday morning by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R), who said he has a “knot in his stomach” over the news.

  10. Greywolf says:

    That one about women on birth control pills has me screaming, “Are you fking kidding me!” Please tell me this isn’t real. It’s insane.

    • NW Luna says:

      It is insane. Keep superstition out of health care.

      Obama should just say “Health care is covered,” and make no exceptions.

      It’s terrible to see that this country has gone from an environment where voters worried that a president might let his Catholic religion influence his policy (Kennedy) to the current status where we have Catholic priests who dictate government policy.

  11. RalphB says:

    Salon: Can Elliott Abrams be stopped?

    Though secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearings were bruising, thanks to aggressive questioning from Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, it could have been worse. His staunchest critic was absent.

    More than anyone else, it is Elliott Abrams who has questioned the former Nebraska senator’s qualifications and character. Abrams twice called Hagel an outright anti-Semite, a smear other neoconservatives hinted at but couldn’t bring themselves to utter. So outrageous was Abrams’ slur that the head of the Council on Foreign Relations, where Abrams is a senior fellow, publicly criticized it.

    This asshole should not be walking free, ever.

  12. RalphB says:

    Bill Maher: Ted Cruz, Patriot (Unlike Some People)

    This is funny and very, very true!