Monday Mashup (1/7/13)

January 7, 2013

(I know I’m a news cycle or two behind on some of this stuff, but this is the best I can do.)

  • It looks like I’m not the only one who thinks that PA Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of Penn State isn’t a stinking dead dog of a case (here)…

    There have been a lot of embarrassing days for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, by association, Penn State, but Wednesday was the worst of all.

    After months of trying to heal from the most horrifying scandal and cover-up in the history of American colleges and universities, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett undid a year’s worth of goodwill by announcing in a bizarrely timed news conference that the state is suing the NCAA to overturn the strong Jerry Sandusky scandal sanctions Corbett himself welcomed less than six months ago.

    The crux of Corbett’s case is that the unprecedented NCAA sanctions were “overreaching and unlawful” and an “attack” on the economy of the state.

    But, on July 23, 2012, Corbett welcomed the NCAA sanctions, saying, “The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university. Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”

    So which one is it, Governor? This couldn’t have anything to do with trying to convince football coach Bill O’Brien to stay at Penn State and not bolt to the NFL, could it? (Although, after that performance Wednesday, one would think O’Brien would know that ripping the scab off the terrible wounds at Penn State is the last thing that will encourage already wary recruits to commit.)

    Christine Brennan’s well-done article in USA Today also points out the following…

    The fact that Corbett has the audacity to say these things with a straight face is mind-boggling. One could even ask why he’s still the governor, because his actions – inaction, actually – played an integral part in the entire, horrifying Sandusky saga. Corbett was the attorney general when his office took over the Sandusky case in early 2009. As we know now, even then, there was plenty of graphic and stunning testimony from at least one young man, then known as Victim No. 1, not to mention the story of another victim that had been covered up for 10 years.

    Yet it took Corbett’s state prosecutors nearly three years to charge Sandusky.

    Nearly three years.

    And to answer the question Brennan poses above as to the real reason behind this utterly pointless lawsuit (to say nothing of a waste of taxpayer money), she tracks down one of the biggest pieces of the proverbial puzzle by pointing out that a certain Tom Corbett was indeed PA’s attorney general while the Sandusky monstrosities were happening. Also, as noted here, Corbett needs to shore up his base as they say for an upcoming gubernatorial re-election bid, trailing a generic Democrat 47 to 37 percent.

    USA Today also tells us that Corbett has yet to discuss the suit with incoming PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who is facing a bit of a test on this issue herself. If she caves and goes along, then that will speak volumes as to how much she truly cares about the rule of law versus political expediency (and let’s not forget that she stood mute during Corbett’s “fetal ultrasound bill” nonsense while her Dem challenger Patrick Murphy rightly stood up and decried another hateful right-wing stunt…for now, though, Kane deserves the benefit of the doubt).

    (Oh, and an update here tells us that Corbett first went along with the NCAA sanctions against Penn State but has apparently changed his mind because he didn’t have all the information in front of him at first, or something – no word in the story as to whether or not Corbett’s nose grew when he said that.)

  • Next, Jeffrey Goldberg concocted the following in the Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    Myth: Renewing the assault-weapons ban is the clear answer.

    By my definition, any device that can fire a metal projectile at a high rate of speed into a human body is assaultive. How deadly a shooting is depends as much on the skill and preparation of the shooter as on what equipment he uses. It may be beneficial to ban large-capacity magazines and other exceptionally deadly implements. But we shouldn’t be under the illusion that this will stop mass killings.

    I know of no one arguing that that is the case; the issue is trying to make it as difficult as possible for those killings to take place. And as Think Progress points out here

    One of the principal weapons used by James Eagan Holmes in the horrific Dark Knight Rises shooting would have been subject to a series of sharp restrictions under the now-expired federal Assault Weapons ban. The AR-15 rife carried by Holmes, a civilian semi-automatic version of the military M-16, would have been defined as a “semiautomatic assault weapon” under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. If the law was still in force, semiautomatic assault weapons would have been outright banned.

    The post also tells us that there were loopholes in the 1994 bill that allowed gun manufacturers to legally produce slightly modified AR-15s, though a 2008 bill closed them.

    The Inky piece above is a little less wanker-ific for Goldberg on this subject relative to his other tripe; as noted here about another gun column he wrote for The Atlantic…

    Goldberg’s macho obsession reveals itself further in the stories he tells of shootings in progress that were allegedly stopped by good guys with guns. It’s telling that in every single one of these stories, he seriously misrepresents the facts — check out (Salon’s Alex) Seitz-Wald’s piece for the details of this.

    In fact, in the real world, it is very rare for people to successfully defend themselves with guns when they are unexpectedly attacked; indeed, such attempts often prove counterproductive. Seitz-Wald has more on this, but I urge you to check out this fascinating video, which illustrates the general point. Overall, the serious health and safety risks of owning a gun almost always outweigh the negligible benefits. That is generally true at the individual level. It is definitely true on the level of society as a whole.

    And yet, Goldberg is simply incapable of thinking clearly on this point. Instead, he spouts libertarian gibberish and wanks off to macho fantasies about whipping out his penis substitute and blowing the bad guys away. Toward the end of the article, he writes, “I am sympathetic to the idea of armed self-defense because it does often work” (not!) and “because encouraging learned helplessness is morally corrupt.”

    Does Goldberg believe that the majority of Americans, including a large majority of American women, who do not own guns are “morally corrupt”? What, exactly, is “morally corrupt” about leaving the business of armed defense to the trained professionals in our police departments and military who make this their life’s work? Isn’t one of the fundamental reasons of forming any kind of government in the first place to provide for a common defense, instead of having to bear the totality of that burden all by yourself? Did Goldberg ever take political science 101?

    Maybe not, or maybe for Goldberg, common sense is merely a “suggested elective.”

  • Continuing, it looks like the corporate media campaign to proclaim the Speaker of the U.S. House as a Republican statesman of some type is kicking into overdrive, with Ross Douthat of the New York Times performing a bit of fluffery noted here.

    Aside from Douthat’s ridiculous attack on Chris Christie for “Governor Bully” rightly calling out Boehner for refusing to hold a vote on aid primarily to New Jersey and New York as a result of Hurricane Sandy, we also get this from the Times’ conservative quota hire columnist…

    …Boehner has done his country a more important service over the last two years than almost any other politician in Washington.

    That service hasn’t been the achievement of a grand bargain with the White House, which he has at times assiduously sought. Nor has it been the sweeping triumph over liberalism that certain right-wing activists expect him to somehow gain. Rather, it’s been a kind of disaster management — a sequence of bomb-defusal operations that have prevented our dysfunctional government from tipping into outright crisis.

    I think it’s hilarious to read this from Douthat as he utterly whitewashes Boehner’s role in contributing to “dysfunctional government” that has risked “tipping into outright crisis” (please note the following)…

  • Here, Boehner basically made noise to the effect that he would take the debt ceiling hostage again in upcoming negotiations, even though he said here that doings so in 2011 would lead to “financial disaster.”
  • Here, Boehner allowed another vote to repeal the health care law, this one from Moon Unit Bachman (Boehner could have put his foot down and said no, but of course he didn’t want to risk the almost-perpetual rage of the Teahadists).
  • This tells us that Boehner’s supposed “Plan B’ at deficit reduction would have cut taxes for the richest 1 percent of earners and raised them for the poor (as Atrios and many others have pointed out, the Repugs claim to care about the deficit, but in fact they want to use that as a cudgel to attack “New Deal” and “Great Society” social programs).
  • Here, Boehner said that there’s “no difference” if revenue comes from the middle class or the super rich (the latter has had a nice, cushy ride for the last 10 years at least).
  • Here, Boehner threatened filibuster reform, which is particularly funny since that has nothing to do with the U.S. House, but it is a matter for the U.S. Senate.
  • There’s a lot more I could get into about Orange Man and how he has done more than his share to contribute to the utter mess in Washington, but instead of listing it all, I’ll merely link back to here if you want to read further (and here is another example of Douthat acting as the press secretary for another Republican politician, perhaps the most infamous one of this still-new century).

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • And speaking of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, The Daily Tucker propagandized as follows recently (here, using the business of Fluffy Head bringing the illegal ammunition onto “Meet The Press” despite being warned by the D.C. police not to do so)…

    (David) Gregory’s soft-glove treatment of Obama stands in contrast to the media’s treatment of President George W. Bush in 2003, and especially before the 2004 election.

    Shortly before the 2004 election, Bush was slammed by numerous media outlets for not securing the large stockpiles of weapons in Iraq. For example, in late October 2004, the New York Times ran front-page articles about missing weapons from the Al Qaqaa, creating a mini media scandal.

    But before and after the 2012 election, Obama escaped scrutiny from the established media outlets.

    Number One, I don’t know what that previous sentence even means. Number Two, trying to draw a comparison between the attack in Benghazi which, tragically, claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others and the missing Al Qa’qaa explosives is particularly ridiculous. As Wikipedia tells us here (quoting from a Frank Rich New York Times column in May 2005)…

    It’s also because of incompetent Pentagon planning that other troops may now be victims of weapons looted from Saddam’s munitions depots after the fall of Baghdad. Yet when The New York Times reported one such looting incident, in Al Qaqaa, before the election, the administration and many in the blogosphere reflexively branded the story fraudulent. But the story was true. It was later corroborated not only by United States Army reservists and national guardsmen who spoke to The Los Angeles Times but also by Iraq’s own deputy minister of industry, who told The New York Times two months ago that Al Qaqaa was only one of many such weapon caches hijacked on America’s undermanned post-invasion watch.

    Staying with Number 43 for a minute, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” alleged here that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in Libya dismantled his WMD because Saddam Hussein did also. In response, this tells us that Gaddafi first said he’d do that in December 2003, when the debate about Saddam Hussein and his alleged WMD was still raging (more is here).

    And while we’re still on this wretched subject, Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo tells us here that Dubya is supposed to be such a humanitarian…please; I guess the wingnuts have given up on the “Bush bounce” at last and are merely settling for a “bump” at this point.

    In response, this tells us that, over a year since we left Iraq under the SOFA, there are still about 500,000 “displaced persons” (i.e., refugees) as a result of the war of choice in Iraq waged by President Obama’s wretched predecessor.

  • Finally (switching back to sports), this tells us that the NHL lockout is over, the third of its type over the 20-year reign of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

    I hope you’ll excuse me if I’m not bubbling over with joy at the moment.

    Of course, many “Stepford” Flyers fans in this area are deliriously happy at this moment, if the social media activity is any indication. They can’t wait for the orange-and-black to hit the ice again.

    Count me out (and I think this covers a lot of how I feel about this).

    Of all the professional sports leagues, the NHL can probably afford this type of a spat between players and management the least mainly because of the comparative pittance the sport generates in TV revenue versus MLB, the NFL or the NBA. And while I’m not totally enamored with the players’ role in this mess, it should be noted for emphasis that they did not strike during any of the three stoppages, but were locked out by ownership each time.

    And I guess it would make me a bit too much of a cynic to put out the possibility at least that maybe the owners decided to cave a bit because they realized they were losing too much money.

    It really gets me, though, that, as I said, there are far too many people in this area of the country who are just willing to let bygones be bygones and put down the dough for a ticket to a Flyers game like nothing ever happened.

    You know what? There are lots of venues for college or minor-league professional hockey out there that you can support if you love the game (the Trenton Titans for one are closer to my turf), and you won’t have to wonder if the entire league will shut down when it comes time once more to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. And you’re bound to have a seat closer to the action (ice hockey, on any level, remains a truly great live spectator sport).

    And that is all I will support when it comes to ice hockey for a little while. The NHL took all of the excitement and interest it has generated in the game to date (helped in no small measure by the great run of the Los Angeles Kings that led to their first-ever Stanley Cup win last season) and pissed it down the drain. Now they have to win me back (and firing Bettman would be a nice first step in that direction).

    I don’t like hostage taking when it comes to politics. And I certainly don’t like it when it comes to our professional sports also.

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    Thursday Mashup (12/20/12)

    December 20, 2012
  • I guess this isn’t really “cutting edge,” but this person at The Daily Tucker extols the supposed virtues of whaling here

    There are few activities more pleasurable than whaling. Like chess, the task of hunting giant, seafaring beasts engages all of a man’s wits. But unlike chess, whaling brings man deep into nature, far from the distractions of civilization. That combination is unique — no other sport matches it. That’s why I have never felt more alive, more human, than when I’m whaling.

    Whaling is also great for the economy. During its peak in the mid-nineteenth century, the U.S. whaling industry employed tens of thousands of Americans. Now, of course, it employs very few. Not only would legalizing whaling create jobs, it would spark the revitalization of America’s whaling centers, like New Bedford, Mass., while lowering the price of the whale oil we use to light our lanterns.

    Why, then, do environmental groups and others oppose whaling? It’s simple: racism. Whaling has historically played a central role in many Native American societies. Tribes like the Makah have whaled for centuries and want to continue to do so today. But the anti-whaling bigots will have none of it.

    It’s also possible that anti-whaling activists are Confederate sympathizers who are upset about the Union’s employment of whaling ships during the Civil War.

    (By the way, the author uses the pseudonym “Scoops Delacroix” to avoid prosecution, as the bio tells us.)

    Well, I oppose whaling, and I can assure you that I am most certainly not a Confederate sympathizer (I believe I have a bit more of an appreciation for their point of view after reading “Gods and Generals” by Jeff Shaara, but to me, that still doesn’t absolve them of leading an armed insurrection against this country). And while I readily admit that I’m not perfect on the issue of race and other matters, I do not believe that I’m an intolerant person on that subject.

    As nearly as I can tell, every product that we could obtain from whales can be manufactured synthetically. I will go along with some limited whale hunting by undeveloped nations that would be closely monitored by an international regulatory agency, but that’s it (more information is available from here, and here).

    And I don’t believe that God commands us to throw a harpoon or two into an 880-pound-or-more mammal that could easily kill me if I ever came face to face with it in a large body of open water.

  • Next, I suppose it’s completely inevitable that we revisit the issue of guns once more, which we should do I realize – as noted here

    The incoming chairwoman of the House Republican Conference urged caution in passing new gun laws.

    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), speaking in an interview with C-SPAN set to air Sunday, was asked whether it was time to review current gun laws in light of a shooting rampage in Connecticut.

    “We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I think we have to be careful about new —suggesting new gun laws. We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kind of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again.”

    The text I highlighted above is one of the typical Repug boilerplate responses on this subject; more such responses are noted here; McMorris Rodgers’ is #4, which I want to highlight in particular…

    We only need better enforcement of the laws we have, not new laws. In fact, Congress has passed several laws that cripple the ability for current gun regulations to be enforced the way that they’re supposed to. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, a series of federal laws referred to as the Tiahrt amendments “limit public access to crime gun trace data, prohibit the use of gun trace data in hearings, pertaining to licensure of gun dealers and litigation against gun dealers, and restrict ATF’s authority to require gun dealers to conduct a physical inventory of their firearms.” Other federal laws “limited the ATF compliance inspections” and grant “broad protections from lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and retail sellers.”

    By the way, as far as comments from a politician go on this subject, I thought this was pretty good; I honestly don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but I’ve been making noise about this for years, and incurring varying degrees of wingnut wrath for it – that’s just the price you pay, but my point is that, while it’s positive to add any voice in support, it’s terrible that it took the slaughter of white children in a well-to-do suburb to do it, whereas people of color in inner cities have been getting slaughtered for years, and I’m talking about all ages here, with nary a peep of outrage from a lot of these people who, quite rightly, are upset now (and in that vein, kudos to Bob Casey for this – a little late to the party, as they say, but at least he showed up).

    And by the way, you can learn about more “fun” involving Cathy McMorris Rodgers here.

    Also, on this subject, I came across this bit of soul-searching from Repug strategist John Feehrey, who has come to a bit of a realization on guns, or so he says.

    Well, I think the silence of Feehrey’s old boss on Capitol Hill, Dennis Hastert, speaks volumes. I realize that he hasn’t been in public life for a little while now, but I think he among others needs to answer for the fact that he supported reducing the waiting period for a gun from three days to one, co-sponsored banning a gun registration and trigger lock law in Washington DC (both noted here), and dragged his proverbial feet in allowing the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004 (here –Dem Rep Jan Schakowsky was absolutely prescient in her remarks).

    And sticking to our guns, so to speak…well, we know what Ann Coulter is, but I thought her drivel was particularly obnoxious here, extoling the supposed virtues of concealed carry laws (and citing more statistical misinformation from John Lott to do so).

    In response, Bob Cesca tells us here that, according to a U of P medical study, “people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.”

    Cesca also tells us the following…

    PROPAGANDA: Banning guns won’t stop mass shootings because of the outlaws, blah blah blah.

    REALITY: Once again, totally not true. Australia, May 1996, a lone gunman killed 35 people and wounded an additional 23. Subsequently, Australia passed a very strict gun control law that included a buy-back program that managed to recover 600,000 assault rifles and other arms — 20 percent of all the known firearms in Australia. There were no more private sales of firearms, there were stringent registration laws, and, as with other nations, you had to prove to authorities that you had a specific reason for purchasing a firearm. And no, according to Slate, self-defense wasn’t a valid excuse. What happened after that?

    Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.

    One of the thoughts on my mind about this issue is as follows; we’re taught to do so much from a defensive posture in our lives, which makes sense since the need for protection is self-evident. Here is one example; any driving instructor worth his or her salt tells the student to drive defensively and try to avoid situations that could lead to auto accidents.

    Well, why don’t we apply that thinking to guns? Buying more guns is taking an aggressive posture that could (and often does) lead to violent behavior. I mean, going back to the driving analogy, we’re not taught that looking for ways to cause accidents will make us safer, are we?

    (At least, I hope not.)

    And by the way, kudos to the mayor of Bridgeport, CT near Newtown for this; instead of destroying the guns, he should send them to Texas (removing my tongue from my cheek).

  • Continuing, there are those on our side who claim that President Obama received a “mandate” with 51 percent of the popular vote (I don’t agree with that, thought I wish it were true, and he should govern like he did anyway), which kicked off another round of wingnut caterwauling, as noted here.

    Funny how many of those same folks believed that a certain Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History had a “mandate” also with the same percentage when he was re-elected, as noted here (and I definitely didn’t agree with that either).

  • Finally (and on a somewhat related note), I give you the following from a former half-term-before-she-quit-to-cash-in governor of Alaska here

    When asked last night by Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren about Time magazine’s selection of President Obama as the 2012 person of the year, Palin responds, “Time magazine, you know, I think there’s some irrelevancy there, to tell you the truth. I mean, consider their list of the most influential people in the country and the world—some who have made that list: yours truly. That ought to tell you something right there regarding the credence that we should give Time magazine and their list of people.”

    This may come as a shock, but I actually agree with that.

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    After all, in addition to Palin, this guy was also named Number One (and not once, but twice).


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