Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Fireside Chat for January 15, 2011 (VIDEO)

As Congress returns to work, the President calls on them -- and all of us -- to debate our differences vigorously but to live up to the spirit of common cause we felt following the tragedy in Arizona.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Apparently, Ezra thought the "puddles" imagery

It has not been a good week for Ezra, and I don't know why.

First, he was adamant that the Jared Lee Loughner had no connection to Right Wing Political thought at all. (Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok, who makes a living studying these things, says otherwise).

And how, he (and Wonder Boys author Michael Chabon) seem hell bent on pissing all over what I thought was the line of the night.

For me, the one really false note in the president's speech last night came when he said, "If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today." It was ... cheap, somehow. More like what you tell children when a pet dies than what you tell adults when a child dies. Or maybe it wasn't. I haven't had to talk to many parents in that situation. But Michael Chabon had the same reaction.


Hope Ezra and Michael realize that the rest of america, didn't feel that way.

I'm going to chalk it up to a major, major disagreement between friends. But it wasn't like Andrew who took a position on Loughner's philosophy initially, then slowly (and quietly) backed off it. Ezra seems to be loud and proud about letting the concrete dry around his feet.

"If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today...." (VIDEO)

From the prepared remarks:

I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.

Imagine -- imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -– we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

As has already been mentioned, Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart." "I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on this Earth -- here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

John Dingell. An old soul with fire in his belly. (VIDEO)

Via Talking Points Memo, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) reading off a list of the various comments he's heard in the last two years:

If only. The Police had stopped Loughner the day of the assassination...

First caught by Karen Tumulty via Twitter.  The Police stopped Loughner the day of the assassination attempt.

Police stopped Jared L. Loughner for running a red light several hours before authorities say he opened fire outside a Tucson supermarket Saturday, but the state wildlife officer who made the traffic stop noticed nothing unusual about Mr. Loughner and had no probable cause to search the vehicle, Arizona authorities said Wednesday.

On Saturday at about 7:30 a.m. — some two-and-a-half hours prior to the shooting that left six dead and wounded 14, — the officer pulled over Mr. Loughner, 22, as he drove down an access road several miles from the supermarket. A check of his license and registration turned up no warrants and he was allowed to leave with a warning, officials said.

“The contact was very cordial,” said Jim Paxon, a spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Mr. Loughner was very forthcoming with his license and registration and insurance. The officer did a visual examination of the vehicle. He had no probable cause to search the vehicle or detain the subject.”

This is not something we should crack on the Arizona Cops for. That last part was right. They had no probable cause to search his vehicle. This, I'm afraid, falls into the category of...if only...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Charlie Rose's Interview with Jon Meacham and Ezra Klein...

...only a link, I'm afraid, as Charlie and PBS still haven't figured out the whole "embed" thing.

Still, never thought I'd see the day when I'm siding with Jon Meacham against Ezra Klein on any matter, yet..

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok's had himself a busy day (AUDIO and VIDEO)

First, Mark's Interview with Randi Rhodes:

And his second interview with Keith:

You do know that the Federal Reserve has turned 80.9 Billion dollar profit, right?

First caught by Ezra.

By the way, in case you couldn't tell by now, I'm not much of a Ron Paul supporter.  I don't like the guy.  I don't trust the guy.  I think he's a racist.  I don't buy his bull@#$% about the Gold Standard.  I generally understand what the role of the Federal Reserve is, but don't ask me to write a paper on it.  I've heard of the Panic of 1907 (a.k.a., the Financial Crisis everyone in America would still be talking about if it wasn't for that Great Depression thing).

So when I saw this story in the Financial Times (not exactly a stronghold of Liberal thought), I know...pleased!

US Federal Reserve turns $80.9bn profit

By Robin Harding in Washington
Published: January 10 2011 18:04 | Last updated: January 10 2011 18:04

The US Federal Reserve made a record profit of $80.9bn in 2010 and sent $78.4bn to the US Treasury as income poured in from its programme of quantitative easing.

The figures show how the financial crisis has turned the Fed into the most profitable bank in history, earning income of $88.1bn in 2010 but paying only $2.7bn in interest and $4.3bn in operating expenses.

CNN: Anderson Cooper interviews Bill Maher on the Giffords Assassination Attempt and the Right's use of rhetoric

Great catch from Under the Mountain Bunker & Coffee Shop:

I'm always a little nervous about posting third party video of Television, as big companies (like the one I work for) tend to assert their Copyright claims and delete said video. Enjoy it while it lasts!

That being said, Maher pushed a lot of interesting buttons, especially in regards to the media. Wonder if Anderson was listening.

UPDATE: 1:05pm Pacific: In the interests of mitigating a sudden departure of the video above, I've decided to put the CNN Video on this blog as well. Though, it only covers the first 8 minutes or so of the interview:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reading extreme right wing ideas did not make Loughner crazy, and it was crazy that made him a killer...

One of the first things that happened after the Loughner Assassination-attempt was how quickly folks in the media tried to distance Loughner from the American Right. I even had two of my stalwarts doing it as well:

First, it was Ezra Klein:

From what we know, or think we know, Jared Loughner, the suspected shooter, was mentally ill. This was not an organized act of political violence, or even a rational one. Loughner's statements were clearly insane, and though his ravings contained some political content, it is not political content that either side of the spectrum would easily recognize as their own. "I'm able to control every belief and religion by being the mind-controller" does not appear in the platforms of either party, for instance.

...and quickly, Greg Sargent followed suit:

It's crass and counterproductive to start asking whether any political parties or ideologies are to blame for the tragic and horrific shooting of Dem Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others at an event with constituents yesterday. That's especially true given that the shooter is looking more and more like a deranged loner and early chatter that he might have had an accomplice is turning out to be false.

Greg's still at it, as of this morning.

Mind you, these are the two Liberals on the Post's staff. I shudder to think what was being said on less reputable Newsorgs (I'm talking about you, Wall Street Journal). Even Andrew Sullivan, fair-minded, but Conservative, seemed to be jumping on the Media's "He's of no Party or Ideology" bandwagon, at least for a time. These seemed to echo a meme from a lot of Reporters on Twitter (Jake Tapper and Rachel Maddow to name two) begging the rest of us to calm down and wait for the evidence.

There's something to that. We in the Liberal/Progressive community are supposed to be a lot more "Fact-based" than at least the rabid right, so we should take this advice to heart.

At the same time, we're kind of like Cops (or at least my worst stereotypes of them), in that, even when we know we know who did it, we're going to go about the task of gathering all the evidence anyway.

Well, it looks like at least some of that job has been done. We have a clearer picture of the shooter than we did the night before, and it's pretty much what we expected.

The first thing I saw was a couple of quotes Andrew pulled from Mr. Loughner's YouTube Channel:

The majority of the citizens of the United States of America have never read the United States of America's Constitution. You don't have to accept the federalist laws. Nonetheless, read the United States of America's Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws. .... In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can't trust the current goverment because of the ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

No! I won't play debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver! No! I won't trust in God


Every US Government Official Agency is illegally accepting payment not in Gold or Silver.

Wow. This sounds familiar. Where have I heard this crap before?

The language of currency points to a Libertarian/Ron Paul type (a movement that tends to blend ideologies from odd ends of the spectrum -- Free Market Anti-Federal Reserve types and Stoner end-Marijuana laws hippies). But the stuff about Mind Control and "controlling grammar"? That had another, but still wholly extreme Right-wing source:

Jared Lee Loughner’s rants about grammar and mind control track closely to the writings of a conspiracy theorist who believes that is how the government controls the populace, one leading group says – and the man tells POLITICO he agrees with some of Loughner’s statements.

The far-right activist, David Wynn Miller, said in a telephone interview that he didn’t know Loughner, but agreed with his statement in a YouTube video that “the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”

Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, first mentioned Miller during an appearance Saturday on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

“The idea weirdly enough of controlling grammar, of somehow the government using grammar to control the people is an idea that exists on the radical right. There’s a particular person, a man named David Wynn Miller who has plugged this idea for years,” Potok said.

Miller “claims to have invented truth language,” Potok said in an interview with POLITICO. “His idea is that if you only use the correct grammar and punctuation, you can throw off the shackles of the tyrannical government.”

Potok said Loughner appeared “practically illiterate and quite mentally ill,” but his statements and the books he has cited suggest a “pretty strong anti-government, conspiracy-oriented threat.”

“It seems he is getting some of his key ideas from David Wynn Miller,” he said.

You might want to take a look at what the Southern Poverty Law Center has to say about Miller.

Another thing that has come up in trying to play down any connection to the Tea Party is Mr. Loughner's selection of reading material. Basically, the line of thought goes, since he liked the Communist Maniefesto, he must have been from left.

Uhhh, is there a web-app that allows me to make a game show buzzer--nope?

Okay. Read on. (This was first caught by Andrew Sullivan, who slowly changed his mind about the "No Ideology" thing throughout the day):

His favorite book list is actually rather good, I must say, featuring Orwell’s Animal Farm, Huxley’sBrave New World, Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Hesse’s Siddharta (as well as Marx’ The Communist Manifesto and Hitler’s Mein Kampf). While these are all masterpieces, they have in common that they deal with the topic of reality perception being controlled by higher powers, as well as the possibility of alternate realities. Loughner in his YouTube videos writes about ‘conscience dreams’, and his MySpaceis called ‘fallen asleep’. His talk of grammar being controlled by the government calls to mind Foucault.

The inclusion of The Communist Manifesto on this list has been cited by some as proof that Loughner could not be a Tea Party activist, but since the Manifesto deals with the topic of organized revolution more than it does with imposing a state-controlled economy, I find its appearance on the list not so strange. It also seems that Loughner had came in contact with (campus) police a couple of times, so a picture more or less emerges of a troubled adolescent, who reads stuff that’s maybe a few levels too complex for him. But these are exactly the people that you shouldn’t expose to the sort of militant, violent political rhetoric that since Obama’s presidency has been employed by the Tea Party and the Republican right.

What I've presented to you here just a few pieces. This is not a complete picture. We're day two into this investigation, and I'm sure there's still an avalanche of crap yet to hit us. Still, I'm pretty much willing to say at this point his ideas came from the Right Wing camp. Though it's entirely possible that I'll have to repudiate this whole article at some point in the future...I'm betting I won't have to.

Of course the very idea that Loughner was from the right has sent the right into a frenzy. Never mind that the overwhelming negative tone of American politics primarily comes from them, never mind virtually all of the political violence that has occurred in the country over the last two years, has come from the extreme wing of their ideology.

Nope. Never mind all that...and don't you dare talk about it, either.

From Steve Benen:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was asked this morning by CNN's Candy Crowley about Sarah Palin's notorious "crosshairs" graphic, and he seemed rather annoyed about the question. Alexander concluded, "I think the way to get away from it is for you not to be talking about it."

Well, tough crap, Senator. We're talking about it.

Then, Rand Paul struck:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Fox News Sunday today that the mass shootings in Arizona yesterday are "unrelated" to Arizona's gun laws: "The weapons don't kill people, it's the individual that kills people."

And how could I make a list of tone deaf, dishonest Right-wing rhetoric without listing Justin Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, sent out an Email with this little ditty:

In a moment, a leftist lunatic destroyed a half a dozen lives.

Right. He blamed us.

Project much there, Justin?

If there is one bit of sunshine to come out of this mess (and it is just a bit, given how much we have all lost and how much others have suffered), it is that people are noticing. They've had enough of the rhetoric and want it to

“There is a need for some reflection here - what is too far now?” said the senator. “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.

The Senator who said that was a Republican. The problem is that he or she refused to identify themselves on the record "in order to freely discuss the tragedy", which is horrifying in itself.

Even the Tea Party showed that it hadn't completely lost their minds. Allison Miller of the Pima County Tea Party Patriots (where the shooting occured) said:

"There are people in society that are just going to do these things, unfortunately. And then, what happens is, you know, in this case, people trying to use it to create further divisions between the right and the left. I think it's irresponsible, in my opinion...what it does is polarize people even further."

At the same time, she was still defensive :

"I did feel, you know, very like 'why are they jumping to this conclusion before they even knew the person's name?' They're jumping to this conclusion that it has to do with the hotly contested Congressional race," she said. "Well, apparently, from what I've seen so's looking like that's not the case."

I guess it's too much to ask for Allison to read any part of this blog, right?

George Packer (the Liberal who blew his call on the Iraq War) was in a far more reflective mood:

For the past two years, many conservative leaders, activists, and media figures have made a habit of trying to delegitimize their political opponents. Not just arguing against their opponents, but doing everything possible to turn them into enemies of the country and cast them out beyond the pale. Instead of “soft on defense,” one routinely hears the words “treason” and “traitor.” The President isn't a big-government liberal—he's a socialist who wants to impose tyranny. He's also, according to a minority of Republicans, including elected officials, an impostor. Even the reading of the Constitution on the first day of the 112th Congress was conceived as an assault on the legitimacy of the Democratic Administration and Congress.

This relentlessly hostile rhetoric has become standard issue on the right. (On the left it appears in anonymous comment threads, not congressional speeches and national T.V. programs.)

Andrew Sullivan (on same posting, in response):

The level of animus toward the new president and anyone supporting him reached preposterous proportions at the beginning of this presidency; the gracelessness from the Congressional leadership on down, from "You lie!" to "death panels" and "palling around with terrorists" ... this is a real problem in a country with its fair share of disturbed individuals and much more than its fair share of guns.

The Palin forces, who have fomented this dynamic more viciously and recklessly than any other group, are reacting today with incandescent rage that they could even be mentioned in the same breath as this act of political terrorism. That's called denial. When you put a politician in literal cross-hairs, when you call her a target, when you celebrate how many targets you have hit, when you go on national television and shoot guns, when you use the language of "lock and load" to describe disagreements over healthcare provision ... you are part of the problem.

John Weaver, a longtime Republican operative, agreed:

"Actions can’t be placed on anyone’s doorstep. But if Governor Palin doesn’t want to be criticized then she should continue her commentary but dial back the anger."


One of the things I keep saying about President Obama is that he gets blamed for more stuff he actually didn’t do. It started with the Reverend Wright case, and how the eventual President was somehow blamed for statements that were made when he wasn’t there. It cast in my mind the importance of trying to nail down for anyone, what was actually done, and said.

Along those lines there is an obvious statement that needs to be said flat out for the argument to continue:

Being Right winged does not mean mentally unstable.

I know, revolutionary thought, right? But its something that we on he left have started to take for granted, albeit a lighthearted way. We say it all the time, “Oh, that person must be crazy for saying those things” or “they’re nuts” or even a simple “they’re stupid”.

All that is lighthearted banter. We can say those things a thousand times and still not mean them, because we don’t. We just disagree, and are doing so in strong terms.

All the more reason to be mindful of what actual crazy looks like, and Loughner falls into that category.

He may have gotten his ideas from the extreme right, but reading what we would call bad ideas did not make him crazy. That was something else, and that crazy made him pull the trigger.

I leave this post convinced that a majority of the political philosophy Mr. Loughner absorbed was from the extreme American right.

…but in Loughner's case, crazy takes precedence.

The Fireside Chat for January 8, 2011 (VIDEO)

This almost counts as blog business. But given the tragic events of this past weekend, I almost didn't get to it.

Remember, these videos are taped the Friday before their release on Saturday.

If anything, his real Weekly Address is below.

I'm starting to get the feeling that more is to come from the President. There's even speculation about an Oval Office Address.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords

It has been a long, heart-breaking weekend.  I have been following the news, and I will go about the business of this blog in the near term.  I'll back-post the President's address later in the day, and try to express some thoughts on the shooting...sometime.  Right now, I'm trying to decompress from the horror of what happened.