Book of the Month

Bowdlerizing for Columbine - or "Living within your (ends justifiying the) Means"

As I've been regaled with requests to blog (or more accurately, "get off my lawn, go shit on your own"), I've been looking for inspiration to return to a post (or reason to quit commenting at all, and Get.A.Life, as I often suggest to others).

It's not that I'm not inspired or urged on by events, with a chronic distaste in my mouth. But what to say that I haven't already said or is being droned on by others?

[yes, I posted something like 150 diaries of my own over the course of a couple of years - some serious, humorous, distasteful, incendiary, lame, and other aspects to my personality]

One reader's comment, "I call it Somerbyitis," almost got an "oh yeah" response, but it goes back to Greenwald and Digby and Gene Lyons' "Fool for Scandal".

I'm tired of people making shit up. Left, right, conservative, liberal, centrist, whatever.

Life is complicated. You can always rearrange facts and get away with it if you cover the right bases. And typically you can justify it - the other side's a bunch of Huns, they're eating our babies, and they pollute as well.

A tape editor at NBC got fired for badly bolloxing an edit of Zimmerman's 911 call - making it seem extremely racist. Another tape editor for CNN won't get fired for finding "fucking coons" in a recording a week before a 3rd found it to say "fucking punks". (I squint my ears, and only hear "fucking cones", whatever that would mean).

But what won't happen is that the outrage engendered by these cockups won't be put back in the bottle. If the outrage was based on reality, that would be great (Occupy Wall Street sadly has lost momentum). But typically, we have "truthy" outrage - the outrage that works on a soundbite, but not on the full transcript.

We justify this as satire or symbolism or just playing by Fox's rules or other excuses. But besides usually only appealing to the smug kids in the back row, we damage our brand - if our complaints are expanding on mischaracterized hyped-up trivialities, when pray tell would someone take us seriously?

Now, quite frankly, that's not completely fair - because the right has done an ingenious job of hyping trivialities into grassroots approval. But they also stick to a message, and seem to enjoy playing continual self-destructive games of chicken. It's hard to play proper mumbley-peg with a true masochist.

But that's the right's brand - that wasn't supposed to be ours. We had a rightful reputation of herding cats, but at the end we were supposed to do the right thing.

Instead, we've tried to discover our own brand of character assassination - as exemplified, but not created, by Rachel Maddow. It wasn't just the right wing that attacked Clinton or Gore - a lot of people in the "liberal press" and on the left joined in or spearheaded the attacks.

So a trumped up real estate deal, a sex scandal, an appearance at a Buddhist temple, a fantasized column about "wearing earth tones" - all became symbols of something deeper, a hidden corruption that should be accounted for.

Except it wasn't. There was no greater boastfulness and ego in Gore vs. all the Giulianis/Liebermans/Gingriches/Obamas/Bushes/John Edwards in our political circuit. For all the investigations of Whitewater, they couldn't even pull out a Martha Stewart $40k insider trading link, much less Bernie Madoff or Goldman Sachs corruption. And for all the talk of Clinton sleeping around and harrasment, the only verifiable story we ever got was not-full-intercourse with a consenting 22-year-old professional subordinate.

But we weren't finished. We then went through a period of psychoanalyzing Hillary for how she could stay with Bill - craven power-seeking? career? And those pantsuits, and the Post's cleavage articles, and the Times' 10,000 word essay on how Bill might be "still doing it". But not just the Clintons - every campaign became a search for a higher metaphor - or a way to blow up positive attributes into scandal-ridden dead weight.

Howard Dean's wife is a practicing doctor - who had the wisdom to not want to campaign rather than help people. And she was attacked. John Kerry was a decorated soldier and well-known protestor - and his heroics were turned into a Gore-like fibbing about his time on swift boats. Dennis Kucinich for all his good policy suggestions couldn't find any media time except to laugh at him about a UFO statement.

And one by one, the actual important policy issues disappeared. Instead of Gore's superior engineering of policy proposals and focus on a Social Security lockbox, we got distracted with Willie Horton and Love Story - and ended up with 9/11, Iraq War and the botched FEMA handling of Katrina. (but oh what fun it was to find Gore didn't talk to the head of FEMA on 1 particular day when they successfully handled 3 Florida hurricanes in one month)

We shot down Dean, our anti-war candidate, and then let the war mongers ride to victory in 2004 while our overall campaign theme was whether Kerry was too French and stiff and looked bad wind surfing.

We focused on whether Hillary was too divisive in 2008, while the divisive Republicans had been ramming attorney general appointments and Iraq extensions down our throats.

All through 2008 we were getting dark forebodings of our future with Obama's reversal on FISA, his lobbying for a no-strings TARP, his appointment of Wall Street insiders to high positions.

But our overriding concern has been whether Republicans are cracked up with their Kenyan Muslim obsession. Whether the Teabaggers are racist. Whether Sarah Palin spent too much on her campaign warddrobe.

Actual policy decisions are hardly discussed anymore. The Supreme Court just approved full public & group cavity searches for any one arrested - not convicted - with the Obama Justice Department approvingly pushing for more and deeper. Anyone picketing the White House?

We're deeper into Afghanistan with our drones and military deployment, with embarrassing and disgraceful drone misstrikes and renegade soldiers killing civilians - but public protest against the war is scant, and as an election topic, it's non-existent.

Our primary season has been about whether we should bomb Iran later vs. right away. And the big issues of a candidate's former dog, the deep question of "do candidates change positions between primaries and generals", and the surprising issue of contraception as a campaign platform. (As Rush isn't running, his slut comments don't technically fit as election material).

Only Ron Paul actually came out about ending our wars quickly and reining in Wall Street plus ending our war on drugs - which made him an unserious candidate.

The only actual policy issue we're seeing is with Obama now dancing with Paul Ryan over their budgets. Optimistically at $1.3 trillion deficit, it's hard to see how Obama's repeal of Bush tax cuts will pass the Republican House, and I'm skeptical about any actual defense savings or that Medicare cuts will be limited to providers and not beneficiaries. Ryan's budget is more fanciful and less detailed, and obviously friendlier to the rich. Things look dismal.

While not completely equal, our deterioration of rights and worsening economic situation means we're stuck with "going to hell in a handbasket" vs. "going there in a minivan". And little chance that these concerns will play out seriously in the media. And unless protests can be revived as the weather warms up, the looks headed for an even more vacuous conclusion - likely "who's the more serious daddy".

My guess is that typical liberal concerns will be lost, but we'll get some hot trigger petty scandals to keep us complaining and pacified. My recommendation: invest in Wall Street and oil companies, sell public services short.

 

 

 

So much of what you assert is so true.  Perhaps we should take 'poetic license' with that ol' saw and change it to, 'Them that can't take the reins - instead complain, blog and comment'.  Hopefully, it's at least showing we're paying some attention, even tho' too many seem to suffer from ADD when it comes to the political arena and actions/inactions of our government.

Glad you posted! 

Your Rovian respelling mumblety-peg does nothing to hide the fact that this practice is nothing more than child-on-child violence, and that we have been right all along in our efforts to remove this scourge.

I'm sure your support for the reintroduction of this "game" - combined with your long-time advocacy of concealed-carry on schoolgrounds - we can all look forward to Emergency Rooms being driven under by a wave of newly-toeless children.

Or perhaps, in your libertarian-Republican dreamworld, we'll just rebrand them as "toe-free" and look to Nike to respond to this growing market with a new line of Shorter-Means-Faster running shoes.

Bah.

I dunno.

I got 30 pages on this, already on line and I suppose I might do 6 pages on a blog.

But damn. It is hard to argue with you.

I hereby render unto the anonymous Q the Dayly Comment of the Day Award for this here Dagblog Site, given to all of Q (the canuck) from all of me (the Minnesotan). ha

Okay, so I am supposed to come to the conclusion that MSM (less FOX I, suppose) ignores the real issues presented in this universe and goes for the easy pickins like poor black kids shot in the chest or 87 year olds who land airplanes following the death of their spouse, or voters who are denied the votes, or poor folks who can no longer eat, or women who can no longer seek equity in the courts, or white folks who can pick and choose when they are standing their grounds, or corporations who never have ever paid their fair share after paying bribes to politicians, or children (who escaped abortion) receiving a fair education, or teachers who are imprisoned in institutions without books or facilities to properly educated our children, or police and firemen who are asked to give up pensions based upon years invested in a system that was dedicated to public service, or .....

Oh I give up!

 

Coca-Cola, Kraft and Pepsico have pulled out of ALEC

ALEC supports "Kill At Will" and voter suppression laws.

Melissa Harris-Perry talks about food deserts where poor, mostly urban citizens are miles away from nutritious foods.

Lawrence O'Donnell and Al Sharpton point out that a local police department has a spotty record on law enforcement and that a local States Attorney ignored the murder of an unarmed youth.

It is unclear if the Sanford Fla said coons, goons or punks. Who cares. A unarmed teen is dead. If your black friend comes on TV and says that Coons in a friendly term in Louisiana and that goon isn't that bad; if the mortician didn't notice signs of a struggle on the murder victim's body; if the murderer's father calls the President evil, then the heat may get turned up.

People are not rioting, they are asking for a trial because local pople have said that they don't trust local law enforcement or prosecution.

Looking back on the Duke rape case, black people heard the word "stripper" and backed off. There were no marches by Jesse or Al because local law enforcement said they had evidence to convict. The local prosecutor lied. The black community was not calling for lacrosse players heads, they trusted a lying SOB prosecutor trying to get reelected.

When it was felt that law enforcement was inept in the John Benet Ramsey case, there was public and media outcry. When law enforcement botched the Natalie Holloway case, public and media outrage followed.

The Sanford police force and the States Attorney in Sanford, Fla appear to be compromised, thus they get public and media attention.

Hillary is now Barack Obama's Sec of State. 80% of likely black voters supported the idea of Hillary being Obama's VP. That support was there even immediately after the rough Primaries.

BTW two white guys just allegedly shot 5 black people in Tulsa, killing three. Local law enforcement arrested them. Apparently one alleged murderer's father got shot by a black guy two years ago. His girlfriend committed suicide (reason unknown. Relation to a black person..unknown). The Man who murdered the suspected shooter's father is in prison.  They will get a trial, which is what people are requesting for Trayvon Martin's murderer. Trayvon's parents are requesting an arrest and trial. Trayvon's parent's have not gone on a shooting spree.

A grand jury is set to convene in Sanford on Tuesday. We will see if Martin's case is even presented. We will see if an arrest follows.

What else ya got?

Torture, indefinite detentions, targeted assassinations, drones, continuing war in Afghanistan, push for war with Iran, soldiers gone wild.

An overly optimistic $1.3 trillion deficit, 13 million unemployed, 8.2% unemployment rate,  push to cut medicare & social security, jobs program that probably won't get off the ground. A mortgage fraud settlement wholly inadequate to the premeditated offense.

Supreme court upholding public full cavity search of a black man erroneously arrested for a ticket he'd paid (and the continued assumption that you abandon your rights when you step in a car - even as a passenger). More voter ID nonsense to deprive voter rights. Searches and confiscations of borders to selectively target dissidents. New r,acial incident that will likely just promote more gun nuttery rather than help some understanding and find some solutions.

I'm less interested in particular cases than the the general dismantling of the Constitution, and the general destruction of our livelihood.

I'm not a deficit scold - sometimes it's best to run deficits for good causes. But what's the good cause we're getting? What's happening to our courts? How come almost every single decision upholds the power of the executive, the police, the eavesdroppers, the detainers - to do with us as they "wisely" see fit?

And during this election season, when we're supposed to have our best chance of changing the path of government - what policies have we affected? Will the White House or Congress do one initiative more towards something we like? Cut out one outrageous activity we hate? Or is it a popularity contest, where we choose our favorite self-absorbed, smarmy candidate, so that they can get in the White House and do what-ever? only with the half-promise, half-conceit: a little bit more what-ever to our taste now and then? Please, sir - can I have some more?

I'm watching this election, and unlike 2008, I can't imagine anything good coming out of it - only hoping for something less-bad, slightly less intolerable. Am I the only one who feels like this?

 

You forgot to mention Seamus. devil

How did the Obama court appointees vote on cavity searches for any arrest?

There is a planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. Obama is trying to talk Israel down from attacking Iran. 

If you you're going by unemployment, the numbers are going down. The predicted stock market crash did not occur. GM is the top automaker in the world. GM was supposed to either go belly up or be under the thumb of the Socialist Obama.

If the new racial incident you talk about is Tulsa, then law enforcement should be congratulated for swift action. Sadly, the authorities in Sanford failed. The parents and public are requesting a legal review of the case. Martin's parents never called for violence. The legal system is working in Tulsa. After pressure from the public, the legal system may work in Sanford.

What else ya got?

Addendum:

Ron Paul would be a disaster for minorities, education, woman's rights and labor.

How can anyone see the support for Kill at Will, the war on women, voter suppression and anti-union behavior of the GOP and are not focused on the GOP as a major threat?

Oops.

should read;

"and not be focused on the GOP as a major threat?"

The Obama DoJ defended full cavity searches in front of the court.

Employment has to increase by 110K-120K to keep up with population growth. # of employed is now where it was March 2009, except with a larger population. # of hours per week worked has fallen.

I don't know who predicted a stock crash, but the guys on Wall Street made out like bandits. Instead, the huge mortgage fraud occured, with no one tossed in jail and a pittance of a settlement underway.

GM is half the stock price needed for tax payers to break even, and 1/3 off the price from Jan 2011. Their electric car is a money loser. There's a lot of hype there, and without government supports they'd be in the dirt. Still, I did support a bailout - I didn't support government thinking they understood car sales.

The Supremes get to decide governmental limits. The Obama court appointees did their jobs. It is called checks and balances. 

The government gets to decide when the stock price of GM has reached a high enough level to sell and reap some reimbursement. Obviously, GM would be in the the dirt without the bailout. Again GM Is the biggest car seller in the world. how does that imply a deficit in  the government's ability to sell cars.

Jobs were declining under Bush. Jobs are increasing under Obama. If you have a quicker job solution in this global era,  speak up.

Regarding Obama and the stock market crash. The meme was very popular following the Inauguration.

We had 132 million jobs when Bush entered office. We had 133 million when Obama came in - though falling quickly and obviously not Obama's fault.

But after a year pegged at 129 million and relatively slow growth, we just got back up to 132 million where we'd been 11 years earlier, with 30 million fewer people. The latest month's slow to only 120,000 is quite worrisome in that respect. 

Of course judging presidents on Bush is like judging cars vs. the Edsel or Corvair.

Ron Paul supporters like you have had no affect on any of the shit you mention, except for the worse. For instance, as rmrd00000 points out, if you don't like the Supreme Court decision on unlimited unwarranted searches up your spread cheek butt, blame it on the Republican Presidents who appointed these partisan assholes, Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, and the GOP votes which put these hacks in there, including Ron Paul. It wasn't Obama or the Democrats.

For the mentally challenged, the reason Koch, ALEC and Co. are spending hundreds of millions to defeat Obama is not because 'he's no different' than a Republican.   

Democrats put Alito and Roberts on the court - you can look it up.

Hard to see how I'm a "Ron Paul supporter", aside from liking *someone* to speak out against the wars in the Middle East and the war on drugs.

It would be nice if our Democratic president would fill *nominate* and fill empty court seats as well -otherwise, if Romney gets in, he'll fill them. Bad planning.

Democrats did not put Republican nominees on the court. Republican presidents did. Obama voted against Roberts, and Thomas squeaked in by a few GOP votes. The basic fact is no justice nominated by a Republican was put on the court by anyone but the president who nominated them. The Party in opposition has a very high bar to clear to reject a nominee.  The Democrats did so with Bork, and for which the GOP is still whining 'Borked!'.

Tell me one thing Ron Paul did in Congress to increase freedom, or stop the GOP assault on the Constitution? Other than peddle the Ron Paul newsletter to make money off the nitwit fringe.

A reminder that Senator Obama also did an infamous blog post on this whole topic, entitled "Tone, Truth and the Democratic Party" which among other things, explained why he felt it important not to excoriate those of his Dem colleagues who did vote for the confirmation.

 

Wow.  I totally never knew about that post--it's fascinating, and I haven't even tracked back to get the context.  Thx.

A minority in the Democratic Senate caucus voted for both Alito and Roberts.  A substantial majority of Democrats voted no for both.  But NCD is correct; most Senators tend to be more reluctant about voting no on S. Ct justices.  Thus, for example, Russ Feingold voted to confirm Roberts.  In short, it's true that some Dems voted to confirm the two, but as NCD notes, it is the president who is really the person responsible for such nominations.

Actually a majority of Democrats voted for Roberts, but yes, it was a foregone conclusion in both cases without a filibuster.

Alito got by without saying much of anything - the "I can't talk about it until I see it" excuse. Roberts was given a free ride, all good vibes.

Actually, it was 22 out of 44 (or 45 if you include Bernie Sanders). So, technically (excluding Bernie Sanders) bslev is wrong that a minority voted for it, but you're also wrong when you say a majority voted for it.

Thanks for the numbers.

I got the impression that this post was mostly about being tired of people making stuff up in service of truthiness, so I'm expecting kudos for your comment from the author. wink

In all seriousness, you've written about a lot of important issues. The question is, knowing what we know about the electorate, what's our strategy to improve things? I'd argue that sound-bites are an unfortunate need to motivate an unmotivated electorate. The 99% versus the 1% is one strategy, and a pretty decent one. Slandering one politician to help his opponent is another strategy, and one that tends to work. The first strategy focuses first on concepts, and later (in theory) on precise actions. The second one, although less desirable in many other ways, focuses primarily on a precise action—voting for the less bad candidate.

One action related to the bigger concepts (such as many you've risen here) is to communicate to politicians that we're unhappy with how they're handling them. Another is to identify which candidate is most likely to help, or frequently just do the least damage.

So, life is complicated, and an important service we can provide for those unable to or (more likely) unmotivated to understand that complexity is to simplify it as much as possible, while distorting the truth as little as possible. (Consider cartography as an analogy.)

I would just like to add.

And also.

trucknutz.

I. can't. stop. watching. awesome.

The Mighty (Q) Master of the GIF

We are in a period where Ron Paul is considered rational, except for the bat-feces crazy stuff. Centrists are finding some comfort the  Paul Ryan budget. The 4 Supreme Court members who vote in favor of US citizens on 5-4 decisions are considered as loony as the wing nuts. Jobs of automakers got saved, but the administration is said to want to have Socialist control over the automakers. Job growth is happening at a slow pace.

Would it be better if things went faster? Yes. But we have a GOP that fights at every turn. US citizens voted out Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich and voted against a Progressive  candidate in Illinois. The voting public is schizoid.

The GOP targets minorities, women and labor and people are repeatedly mentioning Ron Paul as a savior. When people take a look at the current political situation and offer me a viable alternative to Obama and the Democrats, I'll listen. Until the alternative is shown, the most rational action is to vote out every Republican that you can.

Those who have a viable alternative to what I see as rational behavior should speak up. Show me your plan.

No plan is needed to simply not defend but attack unneeded retribution / humiliation searches - repeated public group full cavity searches just to cow inmates in whatever situation.

No plan is needed to prosecute illegal mortgage seizures and stock fraud.

No plan is needed to simply follow US law in habeas corpus detainments and trials.

No plan is needed to nominate judges for empty posts.

This is not 11ty-dimensional chess.

He has nominated judges for empty posts. Per Wikipedia:

As of March 28, 2012, 138 Obama nominees to Article III judgeships have been confirmed by the United States Senate, namely two Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States, 26 judges to the United States courts of appeals, and 110 judges to the United States district courts. 32 further nominations are currently awaiting Senate action. There are currently 16 vacancies on the United States Courts of Appeals, 61 vacancies on the United States district courts and 17 additional federal judiciary vacancies that are anticipated to occur before the end of Obama's current term. Obama has not made any recess appointments to the federal courts.

Perhaps it's that last sentence that's bothering you, but keep in mind there are currently 32 nominations currently in the pipeline.

(I'm with you on your first and third point, however. I'm ignorant as to what has and hasn't been done with respect to your second point.)

I see Peracles point -- there's a lot that's under Presidential discretion.  Accepting that the Patriot Act can't be overturned with this Congress in place (you probably couldn't even get the Democrats behind that) Obama doesn't have to avail himself of every little thing that the law allows.  You don't have to do everything you have the authority to do.

I can only conclude that Obama does what he wants to do, within the limits of what the law allows.  He's not a hardcore civil liberties guy.  But, we've known this for awhile.

I think you're misinterpreting the Wikipedia article:

http://www.afj.org/judicial-selection/judicial-selection-snapshot.pdf

                                    District Circuit Supreme
98 Total Vacancies                     81 17 0 
81 Current Vacancies                 65 16 0
17 Future Vacancies                  16 1 0
   
34 Vacancies With Nominees        25 9 0
64 Vacancies Without Nominees 56  8 0
   
34 Judicial Emergencies              27 7 0

From American Bar Association:

Criticism over the high vacancy rate has rightfully been leveled at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The Administration has been slow to make nominations, particularly during the 1st Session. Even though the Administration has picked up the pace of nominations, there are still a high number of vacant positions for which no nominee has been announced: at present, there are no nominees for 57 of the 109 vacancies.

 

Here's a good op-ed by Linda Greenhouse on the whole obstruction of judge nominations problem. It's from late 2010, but I think much of what she said still applies  She does note that the Obama administration has been slower on nominations than its two predecessors, but she believes that, as before, the real blame still lies with the Senate games, and points out that Rehnquist chastised them for this in the past. And the main point of the essay is to chew out Roberts for not doing the same:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/calling-john-roberts/

Consider this a response to you and PP (and destor to the degree it matches):

I could be thinking about this wrong, as a serial pipeline when it's really a parallel architecture. I'm thinking there's already a lot of nominees in the pipeline and adding more nominees at this time would just make the pipeline longer. Don't the same Senators have to vote on all of the nominees? Would adding more nominees make a difference? Would it only make a difference if they were nominees more in line with the GOP way of thinking (i.e., exactly the nominees we don't want to see)? I suppose the Senators decide which nominees to even consider, so they could move someone to the front of the line (still implying a pipeline, but one that's not FIFO).

I was viewing this from a standpoint of diminishing the political opposition in Congress. I was also thinking about how you could bring the voting populace along to accomplish that goal.

I am led to understand that there is no plan to insure that the next Supreme Court Justice, for example, will make a 5-4 decision go the other way. The 5-4 decision on cavity searches was set in stone because of the current Court's makeup.

The voters  in some states are expressing buyer's remorse with GOP leadership. ALEC is being challenged. Women are waging their own war on the GOP.

People do have a plan on getting what they feel is important accomplished. Some see the most immediate problems differently than others. They access and plan opposition accordingly.

If there is no plan, there is nothing. Martin Luther King Jr warned against voting for the GOP. He did this knowing LBJ was the alternative. King had a plan not just moral outrage. Many of us see the current GOP as the biggest threat. Others obviously disagree.

I have trouble believing that the White House/DoJ arguing with the prisons has no effect, that it's "set in stone" whether they argue for or against - do you really believe this?

The Obama administration is siding with the prisons in the case and urging the court  to allow a blanket policy for all inmates set to enter the general prison population. 

“When you have a rule that treats everyone the same,” Justice Department lawyer Nicole A. Saharsky argued, “you don’t have folks that are singled out. You don’t have any security gaps.”

Looking at the makeup of the court, I believe the opinion was in the bag no matter what the DOJ said. I also believe that the current 5 wing nuts on the court would find that the stand your ground law made the killing of Trayvon Martin legal.

Thomas would argue that you don't have let a suspected criminal get away to commit a crime. Suspected "criminals" don't have a right to commit a crime. Asking "What are you doing here?" is not a threat if you aren't guilty of something. 

Because I have such a low opinion of the Republican Supreme Court jurists and their legislative colleagues,  I view voting out elected Republicans as job number 1.

The GOP is actively working to suppress my votes and make my dark skin a target for attack by someone like Zimmerman. It is bad enough to be targeted by police for being black, having "neighborhood watch" captains free to kill is a bridge too far.  Many cannot understand the clear and present danger that the GOP represents to some citizens.

The 4 sane justices went against the cavity searches. For me, that is good enough.

As I noted before, I expect the Martin case to lead to more nuttery, which seems to be formulating as "Neighborhood Watch carrying Tasers instead" - great, the unappreciated damage of high voltage devices in the hands of even less experienced people who think they don't kill until too late.

(Because Tasers are mistakenly believed to be harmless, deaths from Tasering will be also exempt from murder prosecution because of the Condi Rice "who could have predicted terrorists flying planes into buildings?" I-am-delirious excuse.)

Latest Comments