Thursday, January 20, 2011

Truth

From Commentary: Restore civility by Kevin McKinney:

We need to find the truth again.

Isn't that what's been missing in all this? Truth and justice used to be considered the essential building blocks of a democracy, our democracy. Admittedly, politics and lies to some degree have always gone hand in hand. Nothing new there. Anymore though, we live in an age, and amid a harsh political landscape that leaves virtually no room for the truth to flourish. It's lost its value - a reflection of us losing our values. The truth is treated as a novelty, incorporated only when convenient to serve a particular political agenda. It's the first casualty of political warfare.

In the absence of the truth, all bets are off. The groundwork is laid for further deception. The escalation begins. Arrogant lies become common place. And our country suffers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Left And Right

Victims of words and victims of violence.

Contrast fantasy (the world of Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck):

From The Right Word: Fox News under fire by Sadbh Walshe:

In the wake of Tucson, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck unite in their sense of victimhood from leftwing hate speech.
With reality (the world the rest of us actually live in):

From Another Isolated Incident by digby:
-- July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how "liberals" are "destroying America," walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

-- October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

-- December 2008: A pair of "Patriot" movement radicals -- the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted "to attack the political infrastructure" -- threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

-- December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear "dirty bomb" in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

-- January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

-- February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

-- April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

-- April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama's purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

-- May 2009: A "sovereign citizen" named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

-- June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

-- February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one "domestic terrorism" too.)

-- March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

-- March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

-- May 2010: A "sovereign citizen" from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

-- May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

-- May 2010: Two "sovereign citizens" named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

-- July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

-- September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year--old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the "Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

Bigger Than The Bible

From Tax System: Too Complex To Be Constitutional? by Jack Hough:

Douglas Shulman says he uses a hired tax preparer because the U.S. tax code is so complex. That's a bad sign. He's the I.R.S. commissioner.

The tax system has clearly gotten too complicated. The code itself holds about 3.8 million words, nearly five times as many as the King James Bible.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thank God For Making Me An Atheist

Ricky Gervais: Why I’m an Atheist

Guns Don't Kill People…

2 wounded at LA school when gun in backpack fires

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What Is The Matter With Us?

From Helpless in the Face of Madness by Bob Herbert:

What is the matter with us? Are we really helpless in the face of the astounding toll that guns take on this society?

More than 30,000 people die from gunfire every year. Another 66,000 or so are wounded, which means that nearly 100,000 men, women and children are shot in the United States annually. Have we really become so impotent as a society, so pathetically fearful in the face of the extremists, that we can’t even take the most modest of steps to begin curbing this horror?

Where is the leadership? We know who’s on the side of the gun crazies. Where is the leadership on the side of sanity?
Mr. Herbert, I agree with you and ask the same questions. Many Americans, however, see this issue in a way that is completely reversed from how you present it. To them gun control is crazy, and the sane solution is more guns, not less. This is a big part of what is the matter with us.

Where is the leadership on the side of sanity? Well, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is one starting point. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is another. Send them some money if you want to support them. I agree that we are facing madness, however, I like to think that we are not helpless.

How The Least Rational Person Takes It

From The Crying Shame of John Boehner by Matt Taibbi:

Another Ohio Democrat, Steve Driehaus, clashed repeatedly with Boehner before losing his seat in the midterm elections. After Boehner suggested that by voting for Obamacare, Driehaus "may be a dead man" and "can't go home to the west side of Cincinnati" because "the Catholics will run him out of town," Driehaus began receiving death threats, and a right-wing website published directions to his house. Driehaus says he approached Boehner on the floor and confronted him.

"I didn't think it was funny at all," Driehaus says. "I've got three little kids and a wife. I said to him, 'John, this is bullshit, and way out of bounds. For you to say something like that is wildly irresponsible.'"

Driehaus is quick to point out that he doesn't think Boehner meant to urge anyone to violence. "But it's not about what he intended — it's about how the least rational person in my district takes it. We run into some crazy people in this line of work."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Palinesque

From Sarah Palin: Graceless Under Pressure by Jeffrey Winbush:

When she should rise above the fray, once again she gets dragged down by her inability to overlook a slight. How sadly predictable. How Palinesque.

Palin uses loaded words and images and then tries to act surprised when they blow up. No, she didn't pull the trigger in Arizona, and I wasn't expecting her to issue a half-assed apology, but she could have expressed a little less of the "Why is everybody picking on me?" whine and a lot more of the "Let's set aside our differences and come together as Americans to help the victims and start the healing." She could have done that, but she decided to stick to her guns. As usual, it's all about Sarah.

Somewhere in those eight minutes, she and her speechwriters could have referred to an even greater communicator than Reagan -- and that's Martin Luther King Jr., who said, "Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies -- or else? The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

Quote Of Note - Daniel Hernandez

“I think a lot of people are realizing the political discourse has, for years, become completely destructive and more about tearing the other people apart instead of trying to work together to build up a nation and the state.” Daniel Hernandez

Political Rhetoric That's Beyond The Pale

From Linking Uncivil Rhetoric With Violent Acts by Emily Badger:

Some 95 percent of people said they believe civility in politics is important for a healthy democracy — the good news, in Shea’s eyes. But nearly 50 percent said they believe civility has been on the decline since Barack Obama took office (and those paying close attention to politics were four times more likely to say this than those paying only moderate attention).

Most surprising are the responses when people were asked to define what should be out of bounds. “If you were able to create a rule book for civility in politics,” subjects were asked, “which of the following would not be OK — would be, that is, against the rules?” Overwhelming majorities opposed belittling or insulting someone (89 percent), questioning someone’s patriotism because they have a different opinion (73 percent), and personal attacks on someone they disagree with (87 percent).

Most Americans, in short, think entirely commonplace occurrences in politics today constitute political rhetoric that’s beyond the pale. We’re not even talking gun sights or “second-amendment remedies.”