Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:05 pm

Lookie here! Some honest-to-goodness voter fraud!

Why, it’s 200 votes’ worth! See! All those restrictions on voting that all the GOP legislatures have enacted are there for a reason! We’re trying to prevent the wrong people from voting outrages like this!

In … um … Texas.

By … um … a Republican.

Oh, snap.

And these are the fiscal grownups

So Rep. Steve Stockman wrote House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s PAC a check last November for $5,000.

It bounced.

Someone ‘splain to me again how the Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility?

Friday, April 4, 2014 6:12 am

It was 40 years ago today/That I got injured and I couldn’t play

Filed under: Ew.,Housekeeping,That's gonna leave a mark — Lex @ 6:12 am
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April 4, 1974, started off as a nice, ordinary early-spring day in Charlotte.

Actually, that’s not true at all. At Carmel Junior High School, where I was in eighth grade, that day was ’50s Day. Not only had we all been encouraged to come to school dressed in ’50s garb, there would be an actual sock hop after school.

Well, I was in homeroom before the day really began, and everyone was admiring everyone else’s getup. I never could get pegged jeans or boots. But I did score some honest-to-God butch wax with which to give myself a real DA hairstyle — and since my hair was almost to my shoulders at that point, my pompadour and DA were very well fleshed out. And, coolest of all, I’d scored a gen-u-wine leather biker jacket from a guy my mother was tutoring. (He went on to play football at Alabama.)

So I wasn’t the most perfectly styled ’50s icon that morning, but I was definitely in the top quartile. I was looking pretty good and feeling pretty good about looking good. Trust me, as unusual as that feeling is for me today, it was way more unusual when I was 14. And I was reveling in it.

That’s when I heard an unfamiliar noise — loud, roaring. It was a motorcycle. More to the point, it was a motorcycle being ridden by the teacher in the next room. Our rooms were on ground level, and he, also in full ’50s regalia, had driven his bike right up to the window of his classroom before killing the engine and lowering the kickstand. Because each room had a window at each end of that wall that could be opened, the students in his homeroom opened the window and he hopped in to take over the classroom.

I was watching all this while leaning into the doorway of his classroom, which I was accomplishing by holding onto the door frame of my homeroom. Unfortunately, I later learned, someone in my homeroom had complained about the bike noise, and someone else — who remains a Facebook friend today, although I won’t name her because I know this was an accident — shut the door without checking to see whether the door frame was clear of all vulnerable objects like, you know, the first three fingers of my left hand.

The door was solid oak. The door frame was solid steel. They fit so closely I don’t know if you could have slipped a credit card between them.

And the ends of my fingers were in there.

And I couldn’t get them out.

So I did what anyone else in that situation would do: I screamed like a baby. I do not recall whether I screamed actual words, like, “Open the door!,” or issued a long string of cuss words, or whether I just ululated incoherently until somebody outside in the hall with me figured out what was going on and started pounding on the door, which was locked, to get someone to open it.

I don’t know how long it took to get the door open, and I don’t recall how long it seemed like it took. I don’t even recall the pain being that great. (That would come later.) But when the door opened, I saw two things: a godawful amount of blood running down the door frame to puddle on the floor, and a single, entire white fingernail sticking to some of the blood.

I don’t remember who took me upstairs to the office. I don’t remember who called my mom. But she took me to the ER, and eventually, a surgeon arrived. He put tight rubber bands around the bases of all three fingers, then injected them all with anesthetic (Novocaine, I think). And then, once the fingers were good and insensate,  he threaded a needle with black silk and set about stitching together the bleeding ends of the first three fingers on my left hand. Somewhere in all this, I remember a nurse remarking to a colleague on my getup, but I don’t recall now what she said.

Because the hand wasn’t hurting at all at that point (thanks, Novocaine!), I looked at him and observed three things. He appeared to be in his early 50s. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days. And he  had what appeared to be dried blood on his scrubs.

“Long day?” I asked.

“Well, before you, I had to take out a man’s stomach,” he said.

That was kind of a conversation-killer.

When the stitching was done, he dressed each finger, then wrapped the three of them together with gauze, then wrapped the gauze around my hand and wrist, thus instantly rendering me capable of flipping the world’s biggest bird. Then he x-rayed me. Sure enough, all three fingers were broken, but there was nothing more that he could do for them, so that was that. He gave me (well, Mom) a prescription for painkillers, told me to keep it the hand dry, scheduled a time for me to come to his office for a checkup and rebandaging, and sent us on our way.

Lex19740404-cropped

Despite all that had happened, there were still a couple of hours before the sock hop started. I told Mom I wanted to go. She was dubious but said I could. And I did, and in my ninth-grade yearbook (the incident happened too late to make deadline for the eight-grade yearbook) there’s a picture of me at the sock hop with the bandaging on my left hand and my DA and my badass leather jacket. (I’m on the right. My friend Mark Asperheim is next to me.)

Toward the end of the sock hop, I didn’t feel so great. Later that night I was, to put it charitably, in a great deal of pain.

Recovery took weeks. And as bad as the pain from the injury was, it was nothing compared to the bandage change. They took the original dressings off my stitched, swollen, sensitive, nail-less fingers. The dressings, of course, were stuck on to the exposed nail beds with dried blood, and bathe those things in hydrogen peroxide as the doctor might, he could not get them off easily, gently, or painlessly.

I wasn’t just crying. I wasn’t just screaming. It hurt so badly that I literally wanted to die. If you had offered to shoot me at that moment, I would have taken you up on it without a moment’s hesitation if not snatched the weapon from your hand and pulled the trigger myself. Of that I had no doubt then and have no doubt now. And I also have no doubt that neither before nor since, in spite of numerous illnesses and injuries, have I ever wanted to die simply because of the pain the way I wanted to die in those few minutes in the doctor’s office. I’ve been sick a couple of times where I thought I was going to die, sure. But this was on a whole ‘nother level. If I hadn’t hit the bathroom just before coming into the doctor’s office, I’m sure I’d’ve soiled myself. Memo: It’s bad form to die with full pants.

At the time, I was teaching myself guitar. I wasn’t going to be quitting my day job anytime soon, but I actually was getting sorta kinda good. Even after I recovered fully from the injury and my nails grew back (two out of three look normal; my ring-finger nail has a squared-off shape to it), my fingers didn’t have the flexibility they had had before. And they never would again. I was gonna be a power-chorder from there on out.

And so it came to pass, until I gave up the guitar for good around age 27 or so. I played at my next-door neighbor’s turkey fry last Thanksgiving Eve, and I sounded awful, but everyone else was drunk and/or tolerant, so no one said anything unkind.

So what’s the larger lesson here? I honestly don’t know. But I have thought about this event every year since it happened. I don’t have nightmares about it, let alone anything like PTSD, but I remember. That said, I’m under no illusion that the accident ended a budding music career.

But I did learn that there are things worse than death, or things that at least seem so.

And I have learned not to grip doorframes for support when leaning.

And I have learned that I don’t look bad in a leather jacket.

Friday, December 6, 2013 7:35 pm

Quote of the Day, Response to Cardinal Timothy Dolan Edition

So Cardinal Timothy Dolan went on Press the Meat this past Sunday to argue that Catholic doctrine on gays and women has been “caricatured” by Hollywood and the media and that the Church has been “outmarketed” in spreading its message. No, he really said this. So Charlie Pierce responds:

And the Founder assured us that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, and you’re arguing that you got “outmarketed” by the Sundance Festival?

(Dolan also argued that the Pope “can’t make doctrinal changes,” which would surprise the hell out of most Catholics, the Pope included. You can’t make this stuff up.)

Monday, November 25, 2013 7:33 pm

I love it when they eat their own

The Heritage Foundation used to be a reliably conservative, respectable Washington think tank, one with which one could disagree without necessarily believing it to be in any way insane. It has become, instead, a parliament of hacks. It would be easy to blame former U.S. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who became the foundation’s chief in April, for this problem. And there would be an element of truth in that; DeMint is crazier than a bag of bugs. But the real problem began before DeMint, with an offshoot of the foundation called Heritage Action, and its CEO, a wealthy young ideologue named Michael Needham:

Needham is the 31-year-old CEO of Heritage Action, the relatively new activist branch of the Heritage Foundation, the storied Washington think tank that was one of the leaders of the conservative war of ideas ever since it provided the blueprint for Ronald Reagan’s first term. Although DeMint is Heritage’s president, it was Needham who had designed much of the defund Obamacare strategy. Beginning in 2010, when Heritage Action was founded, Needham pushed the GOP to use Congress’s power of the purse to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act. He formed a grassroots army, which he used to keep congressional Republicans in line. “They make six hundred phone calls and have a member of Congress in the fetal position,” says one GOP congressional staffer.

After months of furious lobbying, Needham sold, at most, 20 members of the House on his plan of attack. In the end, this was enough to cement the party line—and lead the GOP to a spectacular, deafening loss.

Sorting through the wreckage, Washington conservatives can barely contain their anger at Needham for his ideological inflexibility and aggressive, zero-sum tactics. “Their strategic sense isn’t very strong,” griped a prominent Republican lobbyist. “They’ve repeatedly been wrong about how to handle this.” Says a senior House Republican aide, “Mike Needham played a large role in defeating ideas that would have worked out better.”

But the wrath is not solely reserved for Needham; his employer now inspires plenty of disgust among conservatives, too. Increasingly in Washington, “Heritage” has come to denote not the foundation or the think tank, but Heritage Action, Needham’s sharp-elbowed operation. Instead of fleshing out conservative positions, says one Republican Senate staffer, “now they’re running around trying to get Republicans voted out of office. It’s a purely ideological crusade that’s utterly divorced from the research side.” (“If Nancy Pelosi could write an anonymous check to Heritage Action,” adds the House aide bitterly, “she would.”)

As a result, the Heritage Foundation has gone from august conservative think tank revered by Washington’s Republicans to the party’s loathed ideological commissar. “It’s sad, actually,” says one Republican strategist. “Everybody forgets that Heritage was always considered the gold standard of conservative, forward-looking thought. The emergence of Heritage Action has really transformed the brand into a more political organization.”

Needham’s strategy has also sparked a war inside the halls of the foundation itself, where many feel duped by the stealthy yet brutal way the Heritage Action takeover went down. Some now wonder whether the foundation can ever recover its reputation as a font of ideas. “I don’t think any thoughtful person is going to take the Heritage Foundation very seriously, because they’ll say, How is this any different from the Tea Party?” says Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman and a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation. Looking at the organization he helped to create, Edwards finds it unrecognizable. “Going out there and trying to defeat people who don’t agree with us never occurred to us,” said Edwards. “It’s alien.”

So how did someone so young get into such a position of responsibility?

Like all good revolutionaries, Michael Needham had a sterling upbringing, the kind that allows a young man to pursue ideological purity free from worry about consequence or reality. Needham’s mother is a former Saks Fifth Avenue executive; his father runs a boutique investment bank. The future Tea Party rabble-rouser grew up on the Upper East Side. He attended Collegiate, a prestigious New York prep school, then Williams. As a political science major and, eventually, the editor of the college newspaper, Needham loved to provoke his liberal classmates, arguing that Social Security was unnecessary and that the minimum wage hurt the working poor. “It’s amazing how little reflection he’s given to his privilege,” says a classmate. “It was all kind of a game to him. It was an experiment in winning.”

After Needham graduated from Williams in 2004, Bill Simon Jr., a former California Republican gubernatorial candidate and fellow Williams alum, helped Needham secure the introductions that got him a job at the foundation. Ambitious and hard-working, he was promoted, in six months, to be [now-retired Heritage co-founder Edwin] Feulner’s chief of staff. According to a former veteran Heritage staffer, Needham is intelligent but “very aggressive”: “He is the bull in the china closet, and he feels very comfortable doing that.” (“I consider him a friend,” says the college classmate, “but he’s a huge [expletive].”) In 2007, Needham, whose father has given generous donations to both Rudy Giuliani and the Heritage Foundation, went to work for Giuliani’s presidential campaign. When the campaign folded, Needham followed his father’s footsteps to Stanford Business School and then came back, at Feulner’s bequest, to run Heritage Action.

Needham, who in his time at Heritage, had been a proponent of ramping up the foundation’s lobbying efforts, was also given a lieutenant. He wasn’t the seasoned lobbyist who might be expected to keep tabs on his young boss, but a 31-year-old evangelical named Tim Chapman who had a few years experience working on the Hill. Heritage elders viewed Chapman, a boyish young man with freckles and strawberry blond hair, as the golden retriever to Needham’s pitbull. The two were installed in a townhouse down the street from Heritage headquarters, which soon came to be known, dismissively, as “the Frat House.” A young staff of about a dozen people worked there, hanging around in easy chairs, tossing a football around. The foundation scholar recalls stopping by and noting that the conversations at the Frat House sounded “more the way you’d expect a bunch of interns sitting around to sound, talking politics, trying to figure things out.”

That’s right, kids: The Republican Party, which likes to market itself as the grownups in the room, is letting both its political efforts and the keystone of its policy-development infrastructure be destroyed by a spoiled child. And we wonder why they can’t govern.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 9:59 pm

Watch Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP legislature get their asses kicked. By a teenage girl.

Filed under: That's gonna leave a mark — Lex @ 9:59 pm
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Meet the new generation of suffragettes. Warning to jackasses: My daughter will be able to vote in 2016, and if you think I don’t suffer fools gladly, well, she doesn’t even suffer them at gunpoint.

Monday, September 9, 2013 7:21 pm

In which Betty Cracker whips Glenn Reynolds like a rented mule in front of God and the whole Internetz

Glenn:

Say what you will about George W. Bush’s diplomacy, but he nurtured relationships with our most important allies — like Britain — and managed to put together a huge multinational coalition for his own foray against an Arab dictator suspected of having chemical weapons. Obama’s diplomatic efforts — championed by Hillary Clinton and, now, John Kerry — are looking more and more inept by comparison: So far, our only ally in the proposed Syria venture is France, maybe.

Betty:

I can say what I will about George W. Bush’s diplomacy? Good, here goes: He lied us into a ruinous, catastrophic war that killed tens of thousands of people, bankrupted America while enriching his cronies, burned our allies and tanked our global prestige so badly that it’s nothing short of a [expletive] miracle that any subsequent American president, including Barack Obama, could get the French on board for a resolution to discourage tourists at the Louvre from defacing the Mona Lisa with a Sharpie.

Glenn:

But that’s what happens when your diplomacy is a failure.

Betty:

No, that’s what happens when the president’s immediate predecessor was an unindicted, unconvicted [expletive] war criminal, Glenn. It means we can’t have nice things, like broad international coalitions and federal budget surpluses.

Game, set, match and tournament to Ms. Cracker. Someone please pick up the mic Ms. Cracker dropped, and can we get a doctor to grab the remove the tennis racket from Professor Reynolds? Because I don’t think God intended for him to be holding it that way.

 

 

Monday, August 12, 2013 6:04 pm

Julia Ioffee is my new blogging hero

I’ve not had much use for The New Republic ever since they published that crap that was reputed to have eviscerated Clinton’s health plan (and did nothing of the sort, not that I’m bitter), and to be honest, before today I don’t recall hearing of Julia Ioffee despite subscribing to The New Yorker, for which she spent time in Moscow. But — and speaking of evisceration — her takedown of MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell is one of the most righteously satisfying things I’ve read on a blog — or anywhere else, for that matter — since Stephen King’s “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” If they ever find a way to turn this post into a movie, Morgan Freeman’s status as an icon may be in serious danger. Just go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 6:50 pm

Quote of the Day, KY Senate race edition

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a likely Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on McConnell’s obstructionism, particularly overuse of the filibuster:

“Let’s tell it like it is. If the doctors told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he wouldn’t pass it.”

Friday, July 19, 2013 7:05 pm

Retired SCOTUS justice John Paul Stevens rips Chief Justice Roberts a new orifice on voting rights …

and you could drive a Hummer through it as long as you kept the wipers going to clear the windshield of blood. Stevens doesn’t just mock Roberts’s “fundamental principle of equal sovereignty among the States,” he demonstrates that at no time in U.S. history has it existed anywhere outside John Roberts’s rear end. (Yet the Court majority in Shelby County are all, all honorable originalists.)

Stevens continues:

The statistics set forth in Roberts’s recent opinion persuasively explain why a neutral decision-maker could reasonably conclude that at long last the imposition of the preclearance requirement on the states that lost the Civil War—or more precisely continuing to use the formula that in 1965 identified those states—is not justified by the conditions that prevail today. The opinion fails, however, to explain why such a decision should be made by the members of the Supreme Court. The members of Congress, representing the millions of voters who elected them, are far more likely to evaluate correctly the risk that the interest in maintaining the supremacy of the white race still plays a significant role in the politics of those states. After all, that interest was responsible for creating the slave bonus when the Constitution was framed, and in motivating the violent behavior that denied blacks access to the polls in those states for decades prior to the enactment of the VRA.

The several congressional decisions to preserve the preclearance requirement—including its 2006 decision—were preceded by thorough evidentiary hearings that have consistently disclosed more voting violations in those states than in other parts of the country. Those decisions have had the support of strong majority votes by members of both major political parties. Not only is Congress better able to evaluate the issue than the Court, but it is also the branch of government designated by the Fifteenth Amendment to make decisions of this kind.

In her eloquent thirty-seven-page dissent, Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, described the extensive deliberations in Congress over the preclearance requirement, the precedents holding that the Court has a duty to respect Congress’s decisions, and the reasons why the preclearance remedy should be preserved. Indeed, she captured the majority’s principal error concisely and clearly when she explained that “throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

I hope everyone who wrote all the crap about Roberts being concerned about his Court’s place in history after it upheld the Affordable Care Act will now take it back, but I’m not optimistic.

Friday, February 22, 2013 8:41 pm

Want to run a newspaper? Here’s how you do it right.

Finally, finally, finally, the owner of a newspaper has told the geeks, waterheads, nematodes, mouth-breathers and knuckle-dragging readers who masturbate to gun ads but can’t STAND the possibility that their local newspaper might publish a story about two happy people doing something that’s none of their damn business to take their whiny, misprioritized complaints and shove them north toward their tonsils.

God, I need a cigarette. And I haven’t smoked in almost 35 years.

Our story begins when Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven — yes, that’d be two people with ladyparts — got married in, believe it, Jones County, Missafreakingsippi, the left ventricle of Bat Country. The Laurel Leader-Call newspaper did a front page story, acknowledging the historic (albeit legally unrecognized) nature of the event, and then basically letting the protagonists speak for themselves and for each other — not an approach recommended for political coverage, but perfectly acceptable for a wedding story. (Bonus pathos: Craven has Stage 4 brain cancer.)

Well, Leader-Call readers freaked out. They called. They wrote. They virtually spat on the paper’s Facebook page.

So how did the paper’s owner, Jim Cegielski, respond?

Did he pretend there was no controversy? Or that if there was, it was OK to ignore it? Did he, God forbid, send an underling out to lie to people about his position or lack thereof instead of manning up and doing his job?

Oddly, no.

He stood up. He took responsibility. He told the people who were wrong that they were wrong. He told them to stop misbehaving toward his employees just because they’d read a story they didn’t like. And he told them that if they didn’t like all of the above, they could get bent. (If the link doesn’t go directly to Cegielski’s column, flip to page A5, where it’s at the top.)

And the horrible financial price the paper paid for this optimally competent exercise of its privileges and duties? Fifteen canceled subscriptions. Even in Laurel, Mississippi, that’s the equivalent of a few households going away for a long weekend.

So here’s a suggestion to people who want to run newspapers that both make money and bond with with their communities in ways that make long-term profitability even possible: Do your jobs. Be right. And when you are right, take no shit from those who are wrong, particularly when it’s aimed at your underlings. Even most of those who disagree with you will respect that; wanting your boss to have your back is a nonpartisan policy goal in and out of newspapers.

I’m sure Warren Buffett’s BH Media already has some decent ideas about how to dig the News & Record out of the hole it has dug for itself in the past five or so years (not all of which, I hasten to add, is local talent’s fault). But I’m betting that sending someone to Laurel to buy Jim Cegielski lunch and listen to him talk for an hour would not be a bad strategy at all.

(h/t: Gawker via Athenae)

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:33 pm

Tom Ricks gives Fox News a vicious left cross to the chin

Filed under: Journalism,That's gonna leave a mark — Lex @ 7:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Fox News invites Tom Ricks, who sometimes but not always errs on the side of the Establishment, on to discuss the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi Sept. 11 that left a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead. The interview doesn’t go quite as Fox had planned.

For the record, in addition to the contractors to whom Ricks refers, between 9/11 and the end of the Bush 43 presidency, dozens of Americans were killed in dozens of attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. And don’t even get me started on that administration’s ignoring warnings about 9/11 and stonewalling an investigation afterward.

Ricks was right: This wasn’t about four dead Americans, tragic as their deaths were. This was about an election, an election in which Fox was pushing a candidate and Fox’s candidate lost badly. If President Obama decides to nominate U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who wasn’t responsible for the consulate and whose contested original account of what happened was based on early and incomplete reports vetted for her by the U.S. intelligence community, to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, then Rice will be confirmed. And whether that ends up being a good thing or a bad thing, Roger Ailes and Fox News, for all their lies, can’t do a thing to stop it.

UPDATE: Fox claims Ricks later apologized.

UPDATE: Ricks says he didn’t apologize for jack and that Fox is, once again, lying.

 

(h/t: Mom; DougJ at Balloon Juice)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 8:00 pm

That’s going to leave a mark

Paul Ryan, who gets way more credit than he deserves for even being able to count, let alone devise a deficit-reduction plan that actually, you know, reduces the deficit, says something remarkably ahistorical here:

We wonder if we will be the first generation in American history to leave our children with fewer opportunities and a less prosperous nation than the one we inherited.

Paul, son, never leave a curve ball hanging out over the plate like that, because if you do, Charlie Pierce is going to take you downtown:

Can this possibly be true? Didn’t parents in the depth of the Depression wonder the same thing? Didn’t the mothers and fathers who worked in the coal mines in the early years of the 20th century see pretty much the same future for their children and grandchildren? Didn’t the farmers ground up in the Panics of 1873 and 1837 — to name only two major events that occurred while the country pursued the policies that Ryan’s “budget” so deeply flattered — feel pretty damned hopeless of what would happen to their kids? Didn’t we ship kids west from the cities on orphan trains? Wasn’t this the normal state of affairs for generation after generation of African Americans?

You know when people began to feel that they could leave their children with more opportunities than they had? When government got involved, that’s when, and when common people began to feel that the government was on their side, and not the wholly owned subsidiary of the wealthy and the privileged. The farmers started to feel it when the Morrill Act established land grant colleges. The miners began to feel it when unionization fought to make their jobs slightly less hellish and when government got behind that effort. The farmers began to feel it when the Progressives began to force change at the beginning of the last century. Everybody felt it with the election of Franklin Roosevelt and the defeat of Hooverian economics, for which Paul Ryan seems overly nostalgic. And that feeling really took off in the 1950’s, when government passed the GI Bill and built the interstate highways, and made college affordable generally to the children and grandchildren of the people who won World War II like, say, me. And when we recognized that the death of a parent need not blight the hopes and dreams of his children, who would be allowed the opportunity of an education through the survivor benefits provided by Social Security, like, say, Paul Ryan was. The notion that we will leave a brighter day for our kids is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it is one that was not possible without the intervention of the government, and it is one from which Paul Ryan profited so handsomely that he is now in a position to claim a “moral obligation” to deny it to everyone else. What a country.

Man, that felt almost as good as hearing about bin Laden.

Friday, February 10, 2012 7:05 pm

Popcorn; or, It’s fun to watch them eat their own

David Frum, who — have I mentioned this? Why, yes. Yes, I have — has blood on his hands, gets some more on in a good way with this stinging takedown of Charles Murray’s latest not-so-cryptoracist screed:

You are a white man aged 30 without a college degree. Your grandfather returned from World War II, got a cheap mortgage courtesy of the GI bill, married his sweetheart and went to work in a factory job that paid him something like $50,000 in today’s money plus health benefits and pension. Your father started at that same factory in 1972. He was laid off in 1981, and has never had anything like as good a job ever since. He’s working now at a big-box store, making $40,000 a year, and waiting for his Medicare to kick in.

Now look at you. Yes, unemployment is high right now. But if you keep pounding the pavements, you’ll eventually find a job that pays $28,000 a year. That’s not poverty! Yet you seem to waste a lot of time playing video games, watching porn, and sleeping in. You aren’t married, and you don’t go to church. I blame Frances Fox Piven.

When 95 percent of the American work force has got a secure job that provides enough to covers its needs, provide for occasional wants and leave a little over to be put aside toward its dreams, then I might entertain lectures from our social overlords about the morality of the lower classes. Until then, however, Murray and his ilk need to STFU.

(h/t: DougJ)

 

Sunday, May 1, 2011 10:34 pm

Osama bin Laden: Rest in pieces

Filed under: That's gonna leave a mark — Lex @ 10:34 pm
Tags: ,

UPDATE/DISCLAIMER (ADDED 5/2): Pretty much all of what follows is contingent on the facts in the case being as the administration reported them last night, both in the president’s speech and in administration officials’ background briefings to reporters. At this point I have no reason to doubt them, but I would be insane to assume unquestioningly that what has been reported is true and accurate in all respects, given the hash the government has made of accounts of such incidents as the Jessica Lynch case, the killing of Pat Tillman and so on. Just sayin’.

As I begin this post, President Obama hasn’t actually showed up to confirm it, but apparently, at long last, we found Osama bin Laden, killed him and positively identified the body through DNA matching.

Thoughts on the fly, hastened by some Dos Equis amber in lieu of champagne:

  • Bin Laden said he ordered attacks against the U.S. because of the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. Whether you take that statement at face value or not, the fact remains that long before he died, he already had what he had wanted.
  • The news is being announced eight years to the day (if the president actually appears before midnight ET) after George W. Bush announced “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.
  • Speaking of Iraq, it bears repeating: Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nothing.
  • The price on bin Laden’s head was $25 million. What’ve we spent to kill him? A trillion dollars, about 4,500 U.S. service members dead and 40,000 wounded, many maimed for life; God alone knows how many hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan; and enormous, and probably permanent, damage to the Bill of Rights and the rule of law. The current president of the United States has ordered extrajudicial assassinations of U.S. citizens. The immediate past president lied us into a war of aggression, ordered torture and other crimes against humanity and ordered serial felony violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Neither man will be investigated, let alone serve a day in prison. And all of the criminal violations of law they have committed are now no longer crimes, merely standard operating procedure.
  • Spare a thought, if you will, for the families of those killed on 9/11: the people on the four airplane flights; the people in the Twin Towers; the people in the Pentagon.
  • We, as a country, soiled our drawers on 9/11. It took us most of a decade to even begin to clean ourselves up, and that job is far from finished and never will be. Our ancestors are probably deeply ashamed of us, and well they should be.
  • After 9/11, many, many Americans, most but not all Republican, treated any criticism, even any questioning, of the Bush administration’s behavior as treasonous. Go to hell, every damned one of you.
  • Politically, this is great news for Obama’s re-election effort … for a while. Keep in mind, Obamanauts, that about this time 20 years ago, Bush 41’s approval rating was roughly 90%.
  • So, um, in a mansion outside Islamabad, huh? LOOOOO-SEEEEE, somebody’s got some ‘SPLAININ’ to do.
  • Bless MS/NBC for reminding us that we had Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, and we let him get away.

11:35: Here we go …

… images of 9/11. Like we needed reminding.

11:37: (My predecessors didn’t make bin Laden top priority), so I told Leon Panetta that now bin Laden was.

11:39: Last August? Last August we found him?

11:40: “Bin Laden was not a Muslim. He was a mass murderer of Muslims.” Nice.

11:42: “We will be true to the values who make us who we are.” Oh, so we get the Bill of Rights back? The rule of law? Cool!

11:43: “Let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.” And let the historians among us leave no doubt as to who exploited and squandered it.

11:44: And he walks off like Gary Cooper.

Continuing random thoughts:

  • NBC now saying bin Laden was shot at least once in the head. Good. No zombie bin Laden.
  • NBC treating Joint Special Operations Command as if it’s newly discovered. New Yorker has reported on it for a long time.
  • Memo to liberals: It’s OK to cheer the death of a mass murderer. It really is. You won’t go to hell for it or anything.
  • This news is a hanging curve ball to page-1 designers at U.S. newspapers tonight. If y’all’s lede headlines aren’t in type at least 216 points high (that’s 3 inches for you civilians), y’all suck.
  • Terrorism ain’t going away. Al-Qaeda ain’t going away. But when, not if, the next attack comes, let us not soil our drawers, OK?
  • Come down to it, this deal wasn’t much heavier than half the raids you see on “The Chicago Code.” Good thing we spent all those lives and all that money to set it up right.
  • For a decade, we have not just used but abused our military and their families. Time to make it right, and if it takes a 90% marginal rate on top earners to pay for it, I’ll vote for that and give money to opponents of anyone who won’t.
  • Before the 2008 election, Obama said he would send U.S. forces into Pakistan if need be to capture or kill bin Laden. The GOP acted like he’d threatened to torch the Constitution. The GOP now hopes you will forget this.
  • Wouldn’t you love to have been listening in when Obama called George W. Bush to tell him about it?
  • Apparently, about the same time Obama delivered a very nice standup comedy routine to the White House Correspondents’ dinner last night, he also was ordering bin Laden to be killed. As the relative of several former Army snipers, I salute his coolness and focus.
  • It figures, doesn’t it, that a man who would order the murders of civilians would use a woman as a shield in a firefight (or one of his supporters would). But that’s what happened.
  • Someone, some individual U.S. service member, pulled the trigger on the round that sent bin Laden to hell. But, much as I would like to buy that individual a beer, it’s best for him that we never know his name while he lives. We owe him at least that much.
  • Holy crap. This guy inadvertently live-Tweeted the raid.

Well, it’s damn near 2 a.m. and I’ve got to work tomorrow. So I’m going to bed. ‘Night all. Those of you partying in D.C. and New York, be safe. Those of you mourning again in those same locales, I hope you take some measure of comfort from this event.

UPDATE, 8 a.m. 5/2: My daughter had been aware of bin Laden’s death for no more than 90 seconds when she asked, “Does this mean we can bring the troops home?” Much as I might like to think so, the answer to that question is probably somewhat complicated, BUT: The burden of proof needs to be placed heavily on anyone arguing to the contrary — full employment for swindling defense contractors is not a good argument, by the way — and I love how fast her mind went there.

One other thing: I don’t know whether it was news, speculation or just Internet noise, but someone was suggesting last night that our intel source for this raid was Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. Anything’s possible, I suppose, but it’s worth remembering that the compound where bin Laden was found is only about five years old, and we’ve had KSH in what is supposedly very secure custody since 2003.

Monday, July 19, 2010 8:52 pm

Glenn Beck pwned by social-justice Christian

I know and love many ministers, but just for today, my favorite is Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York. I am drinking so much WIN out of her piece on Glenn Beck, Christianity and social justice that I do not own a beer stein capable of holding it all. At my age, I’m running out of things I haven’t seen yet, but until today I had never seen someone turn the other cheek and still leave a mark — and Glenn, buddy, all the pancake in the world ain’t gonna cover that bruise.

Friday, July 2, 2010 8:47 pm

Shorter Thurgood Marshall Jr. …

… to Republican Senators: You want to fight about my father’s legacy? Bring it on, beehortches!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 10:21 pm

“File this under, ‘Things you never want a judge to write about you.'”

So say those raging secular humanists at The Wall Street Journal:

Austin federal judge Sam Sparks dismissed a suit by the Dallas-based Institute of Creation Research, which seeks the right to grant a master’s degree in science from a biblical perspective. And by “dismissed,” we mean the judge tore it apart.

But first, a summary of the suit, as reported today by the San Antonio Express-News. The Institute seeks to offer a masters degree that critiques evolution and champions a literal interpretation of the biblical account of creation. Texas’s higher education board nixed the group’s application, because of the proposed program’s creationist slant. This, the Institute contended, was a violation of its First Amendment Rights.

That claim was dismissed by Sparks in an opinion that criticized the Institute’s arguments as incoherent. At one point he writes that he will address the group’s concerns “to the extent [he] is able to understand them.” At another, he describes the group’s filings as “overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering and full of irrelevant information.” Click here for the judge’s opinion.

So I clicked there for the judge’s opinion and read all 39 pages. And lemme tell you, I would say that Sparks’ ruling in this case will stand with the ruling in Dover v. Kitzmiller, except that there was even less substance in the creationists’ arguments in this case than there were in Dover. Which is saying something, I’ll grant, but good night, the Institute of Creation Research’s suit was a dog’s breakfast of FAIL:

  • A review panel “reasoned much of the course content was outside the realm of science and lacked potential to help students understand the nature of science and the history and nature of the natural world.”
  • “First, although it is difficult to follow ICRGS’s complaint, it appears …”
  • [Sparks, quoting a state reviewer]: “The proposed program of study in no way would adequately prepare students in the field of science education, at any level, and certainly not at the graduate level.”
  • “It is unclear whether ICRGS intends to assert a procedural or substantive due process claim in its complaint …”
  • “Because ICRGS alternates between arguing it is merely teaching science and arguing its program is compelled by its religious beliefs, the Court is at a loss to determine what portion of ICRGS’s behavior should be considered motivated by its religious beliefs.”
  • “And although its pleadings and various documents in the record (such as the report of the review panel) contain third-person references to ICRGS’s religious beliefs, the Court has no actual evidence (such as an affidavit) of what those beliefs are and to what extent they motivate ICRGS in offering the degree in question.”
  • “… because ICRGS has not raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Board imposed a substantial burden on its religious exercise, the presence or absence of a compelling governmental interest is immaterial.”
  • “ICRGS claims Standard 12 “criminalizes free speech.” (see Pl.’s Mot. Summ. J. at ¶ 5.) The statement is misleading. The governing regulations do in fact have a criminal component: Rule 7.5(a)(1) provides, in relevant part, that no person or institution may offer a degree on behalf of a nonexempt institution unless the institution has a certificate of authority to offer the degree. 19 TEX. ADMIN. CODE § 7.5(a)(1). Rule 7.5(c) warns a violation of the rule may constitute a violation of Texas Penal Code § 32.52 or Texas Education Code §§ 61.312 and 61.313, and an offense under subsection (a)(1) may be a Class A misdemeanor.”
  • “In this case, ICRGS has offered no actual evidence Standard 12 is unconstitutionally vague (though it pontificates extensively on the subject) …”

And last but not least:

In conclusion, the Court finds ICRGS has not put forth evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact with respect to any claim it brings.

Memo to creationists: You can call it creationism or you can call it intelligent design or you can call it a dog’s breakfast, but whatever you want to call it, in front of any half-bright judge, your sins Stoopid will find you out and leave you, as the Institute of Creation Research Graduate School is left tonight, in a well-deserved world of butthurt.

Unfortunately, the only negative consequence to this attempt to securitize Teh Stoopid is that they get told no. I think these people ought to face criminal fraud charges for making the state waste so many bureaucrats’ time, and the lawyers who represented this asshattery should lose their licenses. That would put a stop to this foolishness right quick.

But this is Texas we’re talking about.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 10:45 pm

Slap!

via Emptywheel:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.: We all want to get to the bottom of this tragedy. And I think we all agree that finger-pointing will not get us there. I don’t understand–I have to be real honest here–why you and others keep harping on what MMS did or didn’t do in the previous Administration, when you did know about these problems when you came into office and you have been in charge of them for more than a year now. Why aren’t we talking about the here and now?

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: Well we are talking, Congressman Lamborn, about the here and now, and that’s why people have been terminated, people have been referred over to prosecution, and we’ve done a lot to clean house at MMS. Unlike the prior Administration, this is not the candy store of the oil and gas kingdom which you and others were a part of. And so we have moved forward in a manner that is thoughtful, that is responsible, that holds those accountable. And those who violate the law, Congressman Lamborn, will be terminated and whatever other sanctions of law are appropriate, those sanctions of law will be applied.

OK, at least until tomorrow morning (when I will wake up and find out if BP’s top kill worked), Ken Salazar is my new hero.

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