Monday Mashup Part One (5/17/10)

Three items from “the old gray lady” here, people…

  • I’m usually a fan of Gail Collins of the New York Times, but I have to wonder what she was thinking when she wrote the following in an otherwise sensible column on Saturday…

    “Do you support allowing people to carry loaded guns into an American airport?” Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey asked the attorney general at a recent Appropriations Committee hearing.

    The proper answer to this question would seem to be: “Huh?” However, Eric Holder is a dignified guy, so he settled for “very worrisome.”

    Lautenberg has a knack for proposing laws against things that most people would presume were illegal already. You may remember him from such past hits as “Let’s Not Let Convicted Felons Buy Weapons at Gun Shows” and “Don’t Sell Assault Rifles to People on the Terrorist Watch List.”

    Neither is anywhere near being passed. Or even coming up for a vote.

    Yeah, well, as noted here, people on the terror watch list are able to buy guns about 91 percent of the time, though the NRA rank-and-file membership (which has just about always acted more sensibly than its leadership) basically disapproves of this idiocy (here).

    Also, this story in the Times tells us that the U.S. Senate voted to allow Amtrak passengers to carry unloaded and locked handguns in checked baggage (and as I noted at the time, Amtrak train baggage is not “checked,” and anyone who thinks it is has obviously never ridden on Amtrak, or else they would know better…update: please see comment).

    Neither Collins nor anyone else should “presume” what is illegal and what isn’t. That’s exactly how the wingnuts are successful, by filling that information void with their propaganda that gets repeated to the point where it becomes “conventional wisdom.”

  • Also, it appears that John Harwood has been doing hallucinogenic drugs again, or something, based on this…

    Three United States Senate primaries on Tuesday offer new signs of the election-year intentions of America’s dyspeptic voters.

    A few voters, anyway.

    By the way, for those of you who haven’t eaten a Thesaurus for lunch or something, I should point out that “dyspeptic” means disgruntled.

    In Kentucky, Rand Paul’s bid for the Republican nomination will again test the strength of the Tea Party right against the establishment, represented by Trey Grayson.

    In Arkansas, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s attempt to oust the incumbent Democrat, Senator Blanche Lincoln, will measure the left’s resistance to compromise in the age of Obama.

    Oh, that’s cute (and Harwood then goes on to talk about Specter and Sestak in PA and how that race could show whether or not “partisan inconstancy is too much to bear”).

    If Harwood would decide to give a rest to his wankery for a minute and do some actual reporting, he would learn, among other things, that the Arkansas Democratic primary is actually a three-person contest between Lincoln, Halter and D.C. Morrison, the “Ralph Nader” candidate, if you will (harking back to Bush/Gore 2000…still painful, I’ll admit), who has zero chance of winning, though he could take just enough votes away from Lincoln in particular to keep her from getting 50 percent of the vote and thus force a runoff between her and Halter in June (all of this, along with more of Lincoln’s putrid record, is noted here).

    Also, the supposed “resistance to compromise” by “the left” has not a damn thing to do with an odious ad sponsored by a business group sympathetic to Lincoln criticizing Halter for offshoring of jobs to India; the highly questionable veracity of the ad is noted here, along with the fact that, though Lincoln has criticized it, that hasn’t stopped her from using imagery from the ad in a mailer (unfortunately, the ad appears to have succeeded in its goal so far; it is particularly galling for Lincoln to imply that she gives a damn about workers in this country when she opposes the Employee Free Choice Act).

    I sincerely hope that Harwood’s readers don’t grow “dyspeptic” over his preoccupation with “resistance to compromise” and “partisan inconstancy” as opposed to the reality point of view.

  • Finally, I give you The Moustache of Understanding (here)…

    … in a world where our demand for Chinese-made sneakers produces pollution that melts South America’s glaciers …

    Uh, you wanna run that one by me again, Mr. “The Mall Is Flat” (and by the way, how did the stock of General Growth Properties do last week)?

    So it’s supposed to be our fault that the sneakers we may buy at a big-box retail store come from some country made by someone paid a starvation wage under conditions of oppression most of us cannot imagine?

    In response, I give you David Sirota (here)…

    This is Tom Friedman’s world view – a view that has made him the shining star of what economist Jeff Faux calls “The Party of Davos.” It is a view we see not only in his writing about the UAE, but in his book “The World Is Flat.” His vision is of a world that is terrific for wealthy people like Friedman. He writes glowingly of booming metropolises in India, China and the UAE. But he refuses to go even one inch beneath the alluring veneer and actually look at day-to-day life for non-elites in the countries he trumpets as “modernizing models.”

    That’s not by accident, because Friedman is not stupid. His utopia is a world where a tiny handful of very rich people use “free” trade to move their capital wherever they please, exploit the most oppressed workers on the planet, and underwrite dictatorships who disenfranchise citizens. It is a world where the term “shared prosperity” means hundreds of billions of dollars being shared only between a tiny group of sheiks, dictators, businessmen and political elites. It is a world where the President of the United States simultaneously talks about his supposed desire to spread democracy, then publicly fawns all over the world’s worst dictators, and then wonders why anti-Americanism is on the rise.

    That world is a dream for someone like Friedman – it means he and his fellow class warriors get to continue living the high life, no matter how much anti-Western resentment their rhetoric and policies breed throughout the world, no matter how much economic destruction they are wreaking on ordinary people.

    And oh yeah, Friedman also says “We’ve become absorbed by shorter and shorter-term thinking.”

    As in “the next six months”?

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    One Response to Monday Mashup Part One (5/17/10)

    1. Ran says:

      While I am very much against the proposal to permit weapons aboard Amtrak, I think some clarification is needed here. Amtrak operates many trains around the country where all of the luggage is carry-on. None of it is therefore checked, either in the sense of examined or in the sense of it being conveyed to Amtrak’s responsibility during carriage. On some of its trains, the ones with baggage cars, passengers boarding and alighting at stations with proper facilities and manpower have the option to check their bags. Again, this is in the sense of having Amtrak deal with the bags, not in the sense of inspection.

      The bill in the Senate doesn’t suggest that any luggage aboard Amtrak is inspected, but it does recognize that on some routes much of the luggage is checked and carried by Amtrak in its baggage cars. This is the luggage that is now available to weapons owners.

      So the bill is correct that some luggage is checked, and it is on that basis that they are compelling Amtrak to accept weapons. This presents the railroad with horrendous security and liability issues, and does so with no time or funding to address these issues properly, in my personal opinion.

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