Monthly Archives: January 2013

Additional Myers-Briggs Personality Types

BY JAMES HANNAHAM

Unfeeling Uncaring Judging Screaming (UUJS)

Lurking Touching Hurting Regretting (UTHR)

Lying Denying Confessing Lying (LDCL)

Smoking Dancing Laughing Fucking (SDLF)

Moping Whining Crying Leaping (MWCL)

Loving Buying Owing Impoverishing (LBOI)

Hating Marrying Abusing Divorcing (HMAD)

Running Swimming Boxing Fencing (RSBF)

Writing Drinking Drinking Drinking (WDDD)

Opening Sniffing Tasting Questioning (OSTQ)

Eating Sleeping Videogame Playing (ESVP)

Five Things You Need To Know While Listening To Today’s Gun Control Hearings

1. America has a gun problem. Study after study after study has found that the spread of guns in the United States has led to more people being killed by guns. The old “more guns, less crime” theory has been conclusively debunked. The question now is how to limit the spread of guns, particularly by better mechanisms to prevent people who would commit murder and other gun crimes from getting them.

2. The National Rifle Association is not interested in real measures to address it. In today’s hearing, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre will say that we have to “be honest about what works,” but his organization has proven uninterested in any real reform beyond its own quixotic quest to put more guns in schools. The NRA refused to meet with the President to discuss his framework for gun violence prevention and has spent the days post-Newtown blaming everything other than guns for the deaths they cause. NRA members don’t share the organization’s absolutist positions.

UPDATE:  Moments ago, in the hearing, LaPierre even came out against closing the loophole on background checks for guns bought online or at gun shows.  Even 80% of NRA members support this measure, showing how far out of the mainstream LaPierre is. 

3. There’s real evidence that gun regulation can work. Research comparing murder rates across states found that those with stricter gun regulation found that “[f]irearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation.” These regulations include the main measures being debated today — universal background checks, a strengthened assault weapons ban, and limits on high-capacity magazines. Strengthened background checks and oversight over gun dealers has in particular proven effective — one “study using crime gun trace data from 54 U.S. cities” found that “strong regulation and oversight of licensed gun dealers, regulation of gun sales by private sellers, and permit-to-purchase licensing systems (which require potential gun purchasers to apply for a license directly with a law enforcement agency, where they are typically photographed and fingerprinted) were each associated with significantly fewer guns that were diverted to criminals.”

4. This debate isn’t about the Second Amendment. Since the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling inD.C. v. Heller, banning the ownership of guns “in common use” has been legally impossible. That’s why none of the proposed regulations ban handguns or most shotguns and hunting rifles. Justice Scalia’s ruling specifically allows restrictions on “dangerous and unusual” weapons and stipulatesthat “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

5. This is the best chance for Congressional action on guns since 1994. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary has galvanized American public opinion on guns in a way unlike any other event in recent memory, with public opinion firmly behind new regulations — 90 percent of Americans, for example, support expanded background checks. And while House and Senate Republicans still appear firmly opposed to most of the proposed regulations, key Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Tom Coburn have indicated openness to action on background checks.

Plainly Stupid

AP reports:

The lead police investigator into a nightclub fire that killed 234 people in southern Brazil says the music group playing at the time lit a flare designed for outdoor use that set the club's ceiling on fire.

Police inspector Marcelo Arigony said in a news conference Tuesday that "the flare was for outdoor use only and the people who lit them know that."

 

Our Gun Culture: Man Who Purchased Assault Rifles for Fear of Weapons Ban Aims Them at Daughter Over Disappointing Grades

From Gawker:

Kirill Bartashevitch, 52, of St. Paul was arrested and charged with two counts of felony terroristic threats for allegedly threatening his daughter and wife with an assault rifle.

Police say Bartashevitch recently purchased the weapons because he was concerned that President Obama was planning to ban them.

The incident report states that on Sunday January 13th, Bartashevitch and his daughter got into an argument after the 15-year-old received two B’s instead of two A’s. The victim told a social worker that she swore at Bartashevitch and told him she “hated” him, causing him to snap.

Bartashevitch subsequently pointed one of his newly purchased rifles at his daughter, prompting his wife to stand in the line of fire. He pushed her down and then pointed the rifle at her as well.

Conservative Pundit Has a Theory About Why Obama Is Suddenly Pushing For Gun Control

So here's a columnist named Matthew Boyle. Writing at Dead Breitbart News, he finds it strangely curious that Obama has suddenly ramped up gun control efforts at the same time Media Matters starts writing about.

Read the article (the full thing is below) and see if you can tell what is missing:

The far left-wing, George Soros-backed Media Matters for America organization has been on a gun control binge in recent weeks, aligning its advocacy efforts with those of President Barack Obama’s push for restrictive new laws since his re-election.

In the less than three months since Obama’s re-election on November 6, 2012, the liberal advocacy group–that maintains a 501(c)3 tax exempt status–has written 186 posts tagged with the term “guns,” a Breitbart News search on the site shows.

To put that in comparison, it took Media Matters from March 23, 2012, until Election Day–almost seven and a half months–to write as many posts on gun control before the election.

Media Matters’ ramped up gun control advocacy comes even though the organization has come under scrutiny for arms carried by the bodyguard assigned to the organization’s leader, David Brock.

One reason why Media Matters may have juiced up its anti-gun push in recent weeks is because the president has as well. Media Matters has closely coordinated its messaging with that of the Obama White House, as The Daily Caller’s Vince Coglianese has reported before.

Obama largely avoided talking about guns ahead of his re-election. Save for a debate comment in which he said he’d support reinstatement of the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, Obama didn’t say much about the Second Amendment or about firearms until after he was re-elected.

Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action noted after that debate comment that “[s]ome gun owners took Obama at his word four years ago, when he said he wouldn’t take their guns away” but after that debate comment Obama “finally let it slip… that he supports the most draconian form of gun control – a gun ban” after “years of paying lip service to the Second Amendment.”

As Obama has boosted his gun control efforts–alongside those of California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein–Media Matters has clearly joined in.

Yeah. It's weird, right?

Tbogg snarks:

It’s almost as if there was some kind of post-election precipitating event that caused an uptick in America’s sudden increased interest in restricting unlimited access to high powered weaponry with extended magazines which would allow a 2nd Amendment absolutist to shred the body of a seven year-old child with eleven shots in less time than it took to read this sentence.

Palin And Fox Break Up

Palin's contract with Fox News is up, and the news today is that Fox is not renewing.

Palin, who was paid a reported $1 million per year as a contributor to FOX since mid-January 2010 when FOX announced her signing, may not have made quite the splash her employers had hoped during this three-year period, and would, on occasion go weeks between appearances.

So, did the network get their money's worth?

A Smart Politics review of the more than 150 FOX broadcasts in which Sarah Palin appeared as a paid commentator from 2010 through 2012 finds that she spoke 189,221 words on air during this span, for an average pay rate of $15.85 per word.

Right Continues To Lose Culture Wars

(1) NBC:

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

(2) CNN:

Chick-fil-A restaurants' philanthropic WinShape Foundation no longer funds the most controversial and politically charged anti-same-sex-marriage groups and has not since 2011, according to Campus Pride, a leading national LGBT campus organization.

Campus Pride issued a statement Monday claiming that Chick-fil-A gave the organization's executive director, Shane Windmeyer, access to WinShape's 2011 "990" tax documents. He says they show that the nearly $6 million in outside grant funding "focuses on youth, education, marriage enrichment and local communities" and that in the list of the foundation's beneficiaries, "the most divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed." Among those groups were the Family Research Council, Eagle Forum and Exodus International.

Windmeyer acknowledged that WinShape continues to fund groups that don't condone same-sex marriage based on biblical beliefs but says these groups, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, don't operate with the same hard-nosed political agenda the other groups are known for.

 

Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 4 Thoughts

Spoiler Alert, as always

Before I begin, I thought I would share this cheeky tweet from yesterday — Hugh Bonneville (who plays Lord Grantham) to U.S. Downton Abbey viewers:

Very funny.  He's worried about us hating him.  And with good reason.

This episode was a watershed moment, as we lost a major charactor.  That's right — Mrs. Bird has decided to leave the employ of Isobel Crawley and move in with relatives in Manchester.  Why?  Because she refuses to work with Ethel, the Fallingest of the Fallen Women Who Have Ever Falled.

In last week's episode, Ethel decided to give bighead Baby William a better life, and turned custody of him over to the Bryants.  As she walked away teary-eyed to go to some remote corner of the village and sing "I Dreamed A Dream", we wondered if we would see her again.  Well, she's back.  She is, after all, Isobel Crawley's pet project, and Isobel isn't about to let Ethel the Fallen out of her teeth until she is respectable, dammit.  So she takes Ethel on as a cook, and Mrs. Bird is not pleased.

"I cannot work with a woman of her ilk", Mrs. Bird complains. "Everyone will think I was a woman of the night, too."

*Shudder*

But Isobel Crawley was like, "Whatevs", and that was the end of it.  So, bye bye Birdie.

SamtheEagle1Carson, who looks a lot like Sam the Eagle, also isn't sympathetic to the idea of Ethel being a cook to Isobel Crawley and forbids any of the downstairs staff (especially the footmen) from visiting the Isobel Crawley house.  It would look bad, he says.  But Ethel, it seems, is a very poor cook.  We understand when she can't make Canard à la Rouennaise Au Gratin — that was too ambitious.  But apparently, she can't even make tea without causing Isobel to blanche.  Setting up for a future confrontation, Mrs. Patmore defies Carson and makes a visit at the Crawley house to help Ethel learn how to make food.  We only see Mrs. Patmore from the back, but we assume she carried with her Mrs. Hughes' electric toaster.

What else is going on downstairs?  Well, Daisy is having a bit of a power play over the new girl.  Apparently, William 2.0 only has eyes for the new girl, so Daisy thinks that by bossing the new girl around, William 2.0 will lose interest.  Mrs. Patmore sets Daisy straight by saying something harsh — along the lines of "He's never going to like you, Daisy, so you might as well be nice to the new girl."  A bit tactless.  Perhaps she should have done the Ouija Board thing again if she wants to send Daisy a message.

And the new guy, Jimmy (aka "James" when he's upstairs) is getting creeped out by Thomas.  He even goes to Mrs. O'Brien with a complaint: "Mr. Barrow is tooching me soo much, I thaynk I've goot splinters up me bum" — a veiled reference to Thomas' wooden left hand.  Or he says something like that.  But Mrs. O'Brien, up to no good, urges Jimmy to accommodate Thomas, which means we're in for some more vaguely homoerotic clock-setting scenes.

Meanwhile, there is a glimmer of hope in the Slowest Moving Plot Line™, as Anna has found a witness who will swear that there was a pie on the shelf when she visited Mrs. Bates.  Yeah, I don't know what that means either.  I also don't understand why Bates has enemies in prison.  His former cell-mate — yeah, I get that.  But why do some of the guards have it in for Bates?  You see, when it comes to this plot line, I have the same problem as Daily Show creator and writer Lizz Winstead:

Anyway, all I can say for sure is that things are looking better for Anna and Mr. Bates, which means we'll probably see him in bed with her before long — hairy back and all.

And that's about it for downstairs.  Upstairs, of course, things got really bleak.

Lady Edith got an offer to write a weekly column in a newspaper about whatever she wanted.  Unfortunately, the only thing she knows about is (a) whining wistfully and (b) being jilted at the altar by men twice her age.  So you know the weekly newspaper column  going to be a barnburner of journalistic excellence. 

Lord Grantham advises her against it, which means of course that she should do it.

Matthew Crawley is worried about his er, um, "down there" and ability to have a child.  Fortunately, there is a doctor in the house (two of them actually — more on that in a moment), and so he has a conversation about his er, um, fertility.  Look, I know it is only the 1920s, but a man who spent time with salty soldiers during wartime, and a medical doctor, should have been able to get through that conversation better.  What a bunch of nellies.  

Anyway, it's no surprise that Matthew doesn't approach Dr. Clarkson about his er, um.  Dr. Clarkson, after all, was the one who misdiagnosed the severity of Lavinia's illness.  He was also the one who told Matthew he would never walk (much less er, um) again.  So Matthew approaches Sir Phillip, another doctor invited by Lord Grantham to oversee the imminent birth of Tom and Sybil's child.  Unfortunately, it turns out that we may have found a worse doctor than Dr. Clarkson.

Because what happens shortly thereafter is epic.  As Sybil goes into labor, Dr. Clarkson argues that she is succumbing to Eclampsia.  Sir Phillip insists that Sybil is fine and her labor is coming along normally.  Dr. Clarkson says he knows the size of Sybil's cankles, and they shouldn't be that big, and Sybil needs to go to the hospital for a C-Section right away.  But Sir Phllip insists that Sybil's labor is healthy and normal.

The family wavers about what to do, and it gets frustrating.  Finally, Lord Grantham decides to follow the medical advice of Sir Phillip, which is to do nothing because Sybil is fine.  The baby is born.  It's a girl, and she will grow up to be Margaret Thatcher (spoiler alert).  Sybil is fine, and she and Tom discuss where the baby should be baptized.  Sybil drifts off to sleep and all is well.  Until….

During the night, Sybil's neck and cankles have gone off-the-wall crazy, and she struggles to breathe.  Both doctors huddle in a corner of her bedroom, exchanging shocked glances while the family stands at Sybil's bedside yelling "DO something".  The doctors kind of look at each other ashamed, and look into their hands.  Then Sir Phillip comments on the wall color: "Is that off-white or eggshell?  You know, I can't tell the difference"  

Tom pleads with the doctors to save his wife, to which Dr. Clarkson looks down at the rug and says "Uh, uh, that's a really nice pattern.  Did you buy that in London?"

Both doctors are silently greatful that medical malpractice hasn't been invented yet.

Anyway, Sybil dies.  And there's much sadness both upstairs and downstairs.  Tears drop everywhere.  

And by the way, five seconds of screen time showing the Dowager Countess walking in an aggrieved state, not saying a word, shows why Maggie Smith deserves every award she's won.

Sad as it all is, it's not too early for recrimination and bitchiness.  Lady Mary chews out Matthew for an ill-timed conversation with the family lawyer about how the estate is being mismanaged, for example.  But mostly, everyone is mad at Lord Grantham for his decision to bring in, and then take sides with, Sir Phillip rather than Dr. Clarkson.  Cora turns Lord Grantham out from her bed — it's one thing to lose the family fortune due to his bad decision-making skills, but when family members start dropping off — well, she has to draw the line.  

Even America's Sweetheart, Katie Couric, is pissed:

So it looks like Lord Grantham is going to be in the doghouse for a while.  And rightly so.  Everything he believes and thinks is wrong.  This probably means Bates is guilty as hell.

There was also an odd scene where Mary and Edith, the two surviving sisters, bond.  But Mary, who is becoming a real pill, did in such a perfunctory way, as in "Well, we're sisters so let's just hug now because our other sister is dead"… or something like that.

And what about Tom and the baby?  Will they stay at Downton?  I can't imagine the family letting the baby go away.  So will Tom hang around and be with his daughter?  Or will he leave the baby at Downton while he goes off to fight the revolution?

I think he should hook up with Lady Edith and become a pair of journalist crimefighters.  Or better yet, go into town and hook up with Ethel (and become lower-class cast-off crimefighters).  Hope he likes redheads.

Congrats to the cast of Downton Abbey for winning Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Drama Series at the SAG Awards last night.

Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 3 Thoughts

Spoiler alert, as always.

Downton has become a strange little show, moving at a fast pace with short scenes, and yet not seeming to go anywhere.  There's seems to be more foreshadowing than actual plot.  But it's still fun to watch — don't ask me why.

So we had a scene where Mary was again frosty to Matthew.  Hard to tell why.  He's already acquiesced in helping to save Downton with his new inheritance.  All he did was mention using the nursery for its intended purpose.  Does Mary know something about her ability to bear fruit, that we don't?

There's also a subtle scene where Matthew hints that there might be some mismanagement in the running of the estate by his father-in-law.  It can't be like the old days, he suggests, but then he quickly backs off so as not to be a pain.  Why not, I wonder?  Lord Crawley lost his own fortune (before the series started), then his wife's.  Now he is frittering away Matthew's money by fully staffing Downton.  Matthew should say something.

Then there's Tom.  The struggle for Ireland's independence is heating up, and poor Tom in conflicted about which side of the fence he's on.  I guess spending a few weeks in a tux shooting pool with Matthew makes one forget their political leanings.  But worse than his internal conflict, he's wanted by the police, and flees from Ireland to Downton, leaving poor pregnant Sybil behind.  That's quickly resolved (mostly off-camera) and the couple is reunited.  At least he and Sybil make a cute couple and they are stuck at Downton, although their story line is, as always, a bit clunky.

Mrs. Crawley's quest to save Ethel, the fallen ex-maid, continues unabated.  

And speaking of "unabated", someone has been preventing the mail from going to/from Daisy and prison.  We learn more about the forces against Bates, and the attempts to hide drugs in his cell. 

But getting back to Ethel, it looks like Baby Bighead will be left in the care of Grandpa Walrus Moustache (Sob, sniff, sob).  There's an interesting dynamic surrounding Ethel — everyone talks about her as a "fallen" woman yet no woman on this show (save Mrs. Crawley's maid) is judgmental of her.  She walks off at the end of her big dramatic scene, but I suspect we'll see her again.

On the cheerier side, I love it when a new invention comes to Downton, and someone remarks on it like it is a parasite.  With this episode, it was a toaster.

And the downstairs gets a new character, the new footman for Carson.  All the maids drool, but I think Thomas is planning on getting to him first. Ewww.

Goodbye Twitpic, Hello Vine

This morning, Twitter debuted a new app called Vine.  It works just like Twitpic (an app that allows you to attach pictures to your tweets), except that Vine allows for six-second loopable movie clips to be attached to your tweet.

So far, the results are…. boring.

News From The Fetus Front: Maybe Fetuses Aren’t “Persons”

(1)  A New Mexico bill introduced Wednesday would force rape victims to carry their pregnancies to term during their sexual assault trial or be charged with “tampering with evidence.

If a woman ended her pregnancy after being raped, both she and her doctor would be charged with a third degree felony under HB 206:

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.

In addition to burdening victims of sexual assault, the bill from State Rep. Carolyn Brown (R) also reveals some hypocrisy in the anti-abortion community. While anti-choice advocates maintain that a fetus should be afforded the full rights of personhood, charging abortion as “tampering with evidence” effectively turns the fetus into an object.

(2)  This New Mexico bill isn't the first time so-called pro-life supporters have dropped the fetal personhood crusade when it was convenient.

When sued for malpractice, a Catholic hospital group decides that fetuses don’t have any rights if that would cost them money: (via)

But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

This is a sad case where a woman pregnant with twins died suddenly, and no emergency c-section was performed to attempt to save the twins. Apparently unborn persons are only persons if they’re being treated in a non-Catholic hospital.

The Infinitely Recursive Conspiracy Theory Conspiracy

So… I guess you know about the Sandy Hook school shooting conspiracy theories — the ones that opine that the government was behind the shootings and that the shoortings were staged by actors.

Glenn Beck wants you to know that those conspiracy theories are bunk.  AND he wants you to know who is BEHIND those conspiracy theories: the government.

That's right.  The government created those conspiracy theories to distract you from other things like… uh, well, let Glenn explain:

 

G.I. Jane

A lot of people might miss this, but I think this is kind of a big deal:

The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, CNN has learned. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow and notify Congress of the planned change in policy.

“We will eliminate the policy of ‘no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,’” a senior defense official says.

But the officials caution that “not every position will open all at once on Thursday.” Once the policy is changed, the Department of Defense will enter what is being called an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can integrate them.

Hillary 2016

I would have had no problem with Hillary in 2008.  And for a long time, I had hoped she would run in 2016.

But her illness lately had me wondering if she was up to the job, not to mention the campaign.

Today she testified about the Benghazi incident, and although I only heard some of it, I can say one thing: she's ready for 2016.

Enhanced-buzz-wide-3417-1358959569-5

 

The Viral Eyeroll

So here it is…. Michelle Obama responding with an eyeroll to something Boehner says to Obama:

Michelle-eyeroll-gif

How RUDE, screams the always-victimized rightwing chattering class.

However, according to the expert professional lip-reader team at Entertainment Tonite, chain-smoker John Boehner asks professed ex-smoker President Obama if he ‘had a chance to catch a smoke’… and then adds ‘hah, sooooomebody wouldn’t let you’.

Under those circumstances, Anne Laurie defends the eyeroll:

As the female half of a long-term couple, let me assure you that Couple Etiquette under such conditions not only allows but requires an eyeroll on the part of the spouse. Failing to do so would indicate that one was deliberately ignoring Boehner’s roughly joke-shaped jape, and that would be rude, which our First Lady never is.

Today’s Mass School Shooting

Multiple People Shot on College Campus in Texas.

HOUSTON – Multiple people have been shot at a Harris County college, Harris County Precinct 4 deputy constables said.

Investigators said the shooting happened at Lone Star College's North Harris campus, 2700 West W. W. Thorne Drive near Aldine Westfield shortly after noon.

Officials have not said exactly how many people have been shot or the extent of their injuries. Memorial Hermann Hospital said Life Flight was being sent to the college to pick up at least one patient.

Deputy constables said they have at least one person detained, but have not said if that person is a suspected shooter.

Live video

I’m Back

Went to NYC with the girl, and saw some good shows, but missed several things.  The Patriots losing for one, which I could have missed anywhere.  

And the inauguration.  Inauguration speeches, particularly those for a second term, often become historical (or, at least, a line or two does).  And Obama is a good orator, so I thought maybe there was something lofty and ideal to come about from his speech.

But I didn't see it, and haven't read much about it.  Apparently, he gave a shout-out to homosexual people, likening it to the civil rights issue of our time.  Which it is, but saying so NOW isn't quite as bold as saying so four years ago.  Still, kudos and all.

No, the BIG controversy from the inauguration was that Beyonce lip-synced the National Anthem.  And she admitted to it.

Shock. Horror.  Dogs mating with cats.

Now, it's true that James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson, who also performed, sang live.  But here's the thing: the National Anthem is hard vocally, it was freezing hella-cold, and Beyonce was singing with the Marine Band with whom she didn't have any practice time.  Oh, yeah, and it's not like this is the first time someone lip-synched at an inauguration.

So "controversy"?  No.  Leave Beyonce alone.

Deadspin Wins The Internet

Deadspin is the news organization that broke the story (which I'm not writing about) regarding Notre Dame player Manti Te'o and his non-existent girlfriend.

The reason why I say they "win the Internet" is not because of their groundbreaking story, but because of this twitter exchange:

Enhanced-buzz-29105-1358439555-4

followed by….

Enhanced-buzz-28654-1358439555-9

Not Feeding The Trolls

I wanted to badly to do an extensive take-down of this latest screed from The World's Dumbest Blogger™, but I'm mindful of Rachel's admonition about feeding the trolls.  So my take-down will be less extensive.

Basically, Aaron Walker Worthing, tackles Godwin's Law, which states that anyone who invokes Hitler in an online argument loses that argument merely by showing desparation.

Walker, having invoked Hitler several times in arguing against gun control, and without any bit of self-aware irony, does not think that applies to HIM.  After all, when he invokes Hitler, he argues, it's actually an apt historical comparison. 

It's really not.  For one thing, Obama isn't a dictator, and the gun control measures he has proposed are going through a democratic system, just like every other law on the books.  Secondly, and for the last time, Hitler did not engage in gun control except to the extent that he denied Jews the right to own guns as he made guns more available.

Walker then add the factless assertions that Kristallnacht was, in part, a measure to confiscate guns.  (It wasn't, which is why his entire post is link-free).

He then launches on a theory which, at best, boils down to this:

The framers of the Constitution wrote the Second Amendment to avoid another Holocaust, even though they couldn't have possibly imagined a Holocaust.

Ah. Makes sense mif you don't think about it.

But where he enters into nut crazy land is where he attempts to argue that the Second Amendment (at one time an "individual right") is now a "right of rebellion".  The framers, he argues, wanted the people to be armed so that they could overthrow a dictator and a tyrannical government.

The obvious problem (obvious to anyone with a brain, i.e., not Walker) is that, if that is the case, why does the Second Amendment state that its purpose is for "the security of a free State"?  Why is the militia regulated by Congress, and not the "people"?  The Second Amendment is there so that people can protect their government, not overthrow it.

But Walker doesn't even acknowledge that language.  It gets in the way.  He pretends it doesn't exist, placing him to the right of Scalia, i.e., wingnut territory.

Walker insists that the right to rebellion exists in the Constitution.  Like the Whiskey Rebels of 1791 (two years agter the Constitution came into operation), Walker believes the people have the collective right to change or challenge the government through extraconstitutional means.

Someone needs to tell him that the Whiskey Rebels lost, thus resolving the issue.

No, on second thought, don't feed the troll.  They don't eat facts anyway.

Gun Succession Begins

From the Jackson Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi:

Gov. Phil Bryant and House Speaker Philip Gunn said they would block any federal measures limiting the right to bear and possess arms from being enforced in Mississippi. … State Rep. Chris Brown, R-Aberdeen, said he is drafting legislation to say that firearms manufactured in Mississippi would fall under state law and wouldn’t be subjected to federal regulations.

Earlier in the day, Bryant made his intentions known in a letter posted online. Bryant wrote that Mississippi lawmakers should be read to block any Obama executive actions that infringe on the right to bear arms. Once the list of Obama’s executive actions were announced, Bryant held a press conference in the capitol to say they don’t all bother him. “He isn’t opposed to background checks and enforcing laws already on the books, but he doesn’t believe in limiting the type of guns or ammunition a person can possess,” according to the Clarion-Ledger.

Yup.  Once again, like with desegregation, Southern states are going to refuse to follow federal law.  Looks like we got ourselves a rebellion.

Michele Bachmann Won’t Pay Staff, So Staff Rats Her Out To The Feds

Michele_bachmann_is_invincible (1)Oh, Michele.  I was worried that, after your embarassing but hilarity-filled run for president, you would fade away into oblivion and no longer light my days with your unique brand of stupidity.

I guess I was worried for nothing.

First, we learned that Bachmann is refusing to pay five staffers unless they sign a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits them them from talking to any reporters or police about any "unethical, immoral, or criminal activity" they may have witnessed during the campaign. And it seems they did witness some, um, questionable activities—including stealing an email list from a home-schooling group.

Then, because leaking that story did not motivate Bachmann to open the checkbook and just pay her damn staff, her especially bitter former field coordinator, Peter Waldron, started dishing the dirt about how Bachmann was basically mind-controlled by her debate coach, whose "Rasputin-like" relationship was so powerful, he even forbade her own husband from sleeping in the same room with her on the trail. Which, as we all know, must have been just devastating for poor Marcus.

In today's episode of why you should probably not refuse to pay staffers who know an awful lot of juicy things about you and your potentially illegal campaign activities:

A top adviser in Michele Bachmann's 2012 White House bid has filed a complaint with federal election officials alleging campaign finance violations involving her presidential campaign and the independent political action committee she leads. […]

Waldron, formerly Bachmann's national field coordinator, is accusing the campaign of improperly dipping into money from MichelePAC to pay longtime fundraising consultant Guy Short for presidential campaign work he performed in the critical final weeks ahead of Iowa's caucuses last year.

Waldron also alleges that the campaign concealed payments to Iowa state campaign chairman Kent Sorenson, a state senator who abruptly left the Bachmann camp to join then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's insurgent campaign.

Call me Bachmann-crazy, but I don't think Waldron is going to shut up until he gets a check in his hands.

Who Is On The Board Of The NRA?

Mother Jones takes a peak.

Yes, Ted Nugent.

Yes, Tom Selleck.

Yes, Oliver North.

Yes, R. Lee Ermey (from "Full Metal Jacket")

Yes, Roy Innis (I know this guy; total dick)

Yes, Larry "Wide Stance" Craig.

Yes, Grover Norquist.

And then there's this:

Pclark

She live in…. Newtown, Connecticut?

Wonder what her neighbors think.  Wonder if she has kids in school there.  I couldn't find any public statements from her… let's hope she's at least "conflicted".

Les Miserables

This is an actual graphic from the Wall Street Journal showing the devastating effect of Obama's Post-Fiscal Cliff Socialism on the downtrodden.  My, they look so sad:

Screen-Shot-2013-01-15-at-11.58.52-AM

How come they don't write country songs about the married couple with four children who have $180,000 in investment deductions?  You know, like that "Christmas Shoes" song?

The Gun Plan

He's giving his statement now (and invoking Reagan, heh), but here is a list provided by the White House of the 23 executive actions President Obama plans to take to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

These are the things that Obama can do, and plans to do, without Congressional approval. Some argue that he should be impeached for this, although it's not clear on what grounds. Groan.

Dumb Lawsuit of the Day, Or Is It?

One should always be careful when mocking a lawsuit.  Several years ago, late-night comics joined the rest of the nation in mocking a woman who sued for McDonald's for "hot coffee".  On its face, the suit sounded ridiculous, but in reality, it was not.

So with that caveat in mind, I turn your attention to this:

Retired Ohio teacher Maria Waltherr-Willard is suing her school district, claiming it discriminated against her because of her disability — a debilitating phobia of young children.

Waltherr-Willard, 61, claims in her lawsuit against the Mariemont school district that for 35 years, she taught Spanish and French to high school students in the system. But when she helped fight the district's decision to cut French class in favor of an online course, officials retaliated by reassigning her to younger students at a middle school in 2009, ignoring her hypertension, specific phobia and general anxiety disorder, Waltherr-Willard says, according to Cincinnati.com.

She claims that district officials were previously sympathetic and aware of her medically diagnosed pedophobia.

While the public and a number of commentators have taken to ridicule the teacher and her lawsuit, Dr. Caleb Adler, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, says it's a serious phobia, as the illness causes Walterr-Willard to experience stress, anxiety, chest pains, vomiting, nightmares and high blood pressure when she's near young children.

I don't doubt that pedophobia is a serious phobia.  And I am sympathetic to her allegations (if they hold up) that the school district retaliated against her.  I mean, they shouldn't retalitate against her because she stood up and tried to preserve a French course.

But… really?

Does it make sense that someone with fear of children would choose teaching as a profession?  And should any employer be obligated to hire and maintain employment for someone who can't do their job because of a disability?  Does a firemen with a fear of fire have a legitimate claim against the city who hires him?

Something isn't quite right here.

The Pro-Gun Argument In A Nutshell

It goes like this: "We need guns so that we can resist the government when it becomes tyrannical. And when does the government become tyrannical? When it comes to take our guns away."

From Wikipedia:

Circular reasoning (also known as paradoxical thinking or circular logic), is a logical fallacy in which "the reasoner begins with what he or she is trying to end up with".  The individual components of a circular argument will sometimes be logically valid because if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true, and will not lack relevance. Circular logic cannot prove a conclusion because, if the conclusion is doubted, the premise which leads to it will also be doubted. Begging the question is a form of circular reasoning.

Emphasis mine.

NRA Launches Ad Calling Obama An “Elitist Hypocrite”

WHY is Obama an "elistist hypocrite"?  Because HIS daughters go to school with armed guards protecting them, and YOUR kids can't.  Watch:

 

Yes… how DARE Obama act like he's something special, like he holds a position of importance, like his kids are obvious and unique targets for terrorists and, uh, gun nuts and therefore require special protection.  Who does Obama think he is????  President?!?

This ad shows that the NRA is either full of crazy people, or they intentionally cater to crazy people, because their argument simply falls flat as a piece of logic.  This is meant to fan the flames of Obama-hatred — it has nothing to do with protecting children.

UPDATE:  An NRA spokesperson told reporters this morning, "Whoever thinks the ad is about President Obama's daughters are missing the point completely." Of course, it was the NRA that released an ad about President Obama's daughters.

The spot also throws in a line about Obama wanting the wealthy "paying their fair share" in taxes. Why? I don't know; I've misplaced my crazy-to-English decoder ring.

Sandy Hook Truthers Harass Retired Psychologist Who Helped Kids During Shooting

On the morning of December 14, Gene Rosen, a retired psychologist in Newtown Connecticut,  had just finished feeding his cat when he noticed six elementary school students sitting in a semi-circle at the end of his driveway.  A school bus driver was with the students, telling them everything would be okay.  It was just past 9:30 a.m., and the students had fled from the school after Adam Lanza had shot his way into the school and opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults.

Rosen let the children inside his house, and gave them toys to play with, while he tried to contact their parents.

In the days following the Newtown shootings, Rosen gave several interviews, mostly talking about the bravery of the children.

Turns out that was a mistake, because conspiracy investigators believe there is some inconsistency in what Rosen has said.  Conclusion: he must be part of the conspiracy to fake the Newtown shootings:

“I don’t know what to do,” Gene Rosen told Salon.com. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘How much am I being paid?'”

[H]is inbox is filled with emails like this one:

How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?

.These people are seriously sick.

Daily Show: No Investigative Journalism Anymore

A great Daily Show segment from last night, when John Oliver learns that CNN has closed down its investigative journalism department.  Where does one of its investigative journalists go?  To HBO's The Newsroom.  Will McAvoy makes an appearance.

 

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Investigating Investigative Journalism
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

 

Kodachrome Taken Away

In 2009, Kodak announced that it would stop producing its iconic Kodachrome film after nearly 75 years in production.

Famed photographer Steve McCurry (the man who photographed the Afghan Girl for National Geographic — on Kodachrome!) asked to be given the last roll of Kodachrome off the assembly line. Kodak agreed. Then National Geographic followed McCurry as he shot those last 36 exposures.

You can see them here.

Good News: Despite The Nuts, Most Common Sense Gun Control Solutions Poll Well

Pew Research released today:

1-14-13-12While the issue of gun control remains divisive, there are clear areas of agreement when it comes to a number of gun policy proposals. Fully 85% of Americans favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, with comparable support from Republicans, Democrats and independents. Similarly, 80% support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns, with broad support across party lines.

But this bipartisan consensus breaks down when it comes to other proposals. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor creating a federal database to track gun sales, but there is a wide partisan divide between Democrats (84%) and Republicans (49%). A smaller majority of the public (55%) favors a ban on assault-style weapons; Democrats (69%) also are far more likely than Republicans (44%) to support this. Similar partisan divides exist when it comes to banning high-capacity ammunition clips or the sale of ammunition online.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults also tested two specific school-safety proposals, with widely different results. By a two-to-one margin (64%-32%), most favor putting armed security guards and police in more schools. But when it comes to more teachers and school officials having guns, most are opposed (40% favor vs. 57% oppose). The latter option is particularly divisive across party lines: 56% of Republicans would like to see more teachers and school officials armed, compared with just 23% of Democrats.

1-14-13-4

There are a lot more graphs and information at Pew.  A good read.

Will Congress have the courage to be just as common-sensical?

I Say Robert Wagner Clocked Her With An Oar

… but I can't prove it.

Anyway, they've exhumed Natalie Wood and amended her death certificate:

NatalieWood_244x183Questions about bruises on the body of actress Natalie Wood, whose body was found floating off Catalina Island in 1981, led the Los Angeles County coroner's office to change the cause of death from "accidental drowning" to "drowning and other undetermined factors."

"With the presence of fresh bruises in the upper extremities in the right forearm/left wrist area and a small scratch in the anterior neck, this examiner is unable to exclude non-accidental mechanism causing these injuries," wrote Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, the chief medical examiner.

"The location of the bruises, the multiplicity of the bruises, lack of head trauma, or facial bruising support bruising having occurred prior to entry in the water. Since there are unanswered questions and limited additional evidence available for evaluation, it is opined by this medical examiner that the manner of death should be left as undetermined."

 

Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 2 Thoughts

Spoiler alert, as always.

It's strange why some stories pop up, and are resolved the following week, while other stories seem to linger on interminably.

In fact, some plots don't even last a week.  They planted something in Bates' prison bed — this could be a turn of events that effects the whole rest of the season, you think.  Nope.  Bates outwitted the guards (who, for some reason, don't bother to inspect Bates himself).  Oh, well.  That was a semi-exciting three minutes.

Mrs. Hughes has a possible illness — nope, she's fine.  It was kind of like when the cook, Mrs. Petitfore (or whatever) had eye trouble.  An illness — bam! it's fine.

On the other hand, Bates being in prison — well, that story line is going to last forever it seems.

The interesting story about Grantham family down-sizing was swept off our plate this week, too.  I thought that was too juicy to let go, but it's gone.  It would have been interesting to see the family squeeze into increasingly smaller homes over the years, each time having fewer and fewer servants, turning the show into a post-Victorian Survivor (what servant must be let go this week?).  Julian Fellowes could have dragged that one out forever.  But nope.  The family's continued stay at the Abbey seems a certaintly now.

But I guess the big news is that, for the third time in a row, we've failed to see a Grantham girl get married.  Ironically, we saw more of Edith's wedding than we did of Mary or Sybil… and Edith ended up not getting married!  The episode as a whole made me feel like we were watching the backstory to Edith becoming a villian — just as a young Bruce Wayne  witnessing his parents' murder compelled him to become Batman, perhaps Lady Edith's jilting at the altar will turn her into… oh, who knows?  Mopegirl, no doubt.

It was actually a bad week for female gingers whose name begins with "E".  Former housemaid Ethel is now a woman of ill-repute, and apparently we're going to have to worry — again — about where her huge-headed baby ends up.   My money's on Mrs. Crawley.

And with Daisy felling for William 2.0, one gets the feeling that we've been here before, amIright?

White House Responds To Death Star Petition

Someone has a great sense of humor:

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

Read the whole thing.

How Crazy Is The Gun-Crazy Right?

Pretty crazy.

After all, how fringe do you have to be to criticize Justice Scalia's views on gun control?

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said Sunday that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was wrong to assume that the government had the right to place limits on the Second Amendment. "He was not speaking from a constitutional perspective," Pratt said.

"The amendment does provide it's own degree of scrutiny: It says, 'shall not be infringed,'" Pratt said on "Fox News Sunday" after host Chris Wallace read a quote from a 2008 case in which Scalia wrote that the Second Amendment was not "unlimited." 

"And we know that at least one justice, Mr. Thomas, takes that point of view. This is not something where the government is supposed to be free to tell we the people, the government's boss, how much — how far we can go with the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is there to constrain the government."

There's a lot of terribly bad information now bouncing around the right-wing, fact-free, pro-gun bubble.  

There's the "Hitler passed gun control" myth — which is completely wrong and beside the point.  One component of the Hitler-gun myth is that, if only the Jews had been armed, they would have staived off the Holocaust.  Well, that's a nive unable-to-be-proved-or-disproved proposition, the kind of the thing the insular echo chamber likes to tell itself ad neauseum.  However, it's probably not very likely.  The Germans had tanks and planes, which would have, in time, probably won the day against Jewish resistance.  Take the Warsaw Ghetto, where Jews did arm themselves against the Nazis.  Only about 20 Germans were killed, while some 13,000 Jews were massacred. The remaining 50,000 who survived were promptly sent off to concentration camps.

But let me address another stupid argument floating around wingnut-o-sphere: one articulated by the World's Dumbest Blogger™, Aaron "Worthing" — that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to preserve the right of Americans to overthrow a tyrannical goverment.

That's right — he (and others) think the point of the Second Amendment was to destroy government.  OUR government.  In his mind, the Constitution is a suicide pact.

Is there any historical evidence for this?  None.  Which is why Worthing makes facts up, you know, as a "joke".  Written as a tongue-in-cheek piece, he imagines that he has discovered an early draft of the Second Amendment:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  That means that just having finished throwing off British rule and being concerned that this new government might also become tyrannical, and believing also in the moral but not legal right of rebellion as explained in the Declaration of Independence, we aren’t giving up our guns, stupid.

Ha. Ha.

It's a nice theory, but unfortunately, it is only a theory which can only be supported by making up "joke" facts.

The problem, of course, is that this argument begs the question: who gets to decide when the government is being tyrannical such that a rebellion, led by the well-regulated militia, is necessary?

Is it Aaron Worthing?  James Yeager?  Timothy McVeigh?

What did the Framers have in mind?

Fortunately, we don't have to guess, or make things up.  We just have to refer to the Constitution itself.

I direct everyone's attention to Article 1, Section 8.  It states:

Congress shall have the Power…

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

So, if Aaron's thesis is true, Congress has the power to train and call forth the militia… to overthrow the federal government, of which Congress itself is an integral part.

Does this make sense to anyone?  

Of course not.  

But that's an inconvenient fact for Worthing.

Why does the hardcore right want to assert this fact?  Because it lets them keep their hardcore, military-grade assault weapons.

For weeks, the left and responsible gun owners have asked: "Why does one need a military-grade assault rifle for hunting, or even for self-defense?"

Lacking an answer, the gun nuts have to explain why they really want those guns: to overthrow their government.  But they can't say that without sounding crazy, so they make up the fiction that the founding fathers wanted the American people to be able to overthrow their government.  Let's see how they make this argument.

Worthing, a supposed history major, claims that the United States had just won a war against a tyrannical Britain, and the Second Amendment was thrown in there to address the concern that "this new government might also become tyrannical".

That's what we have the Second Amendment.  So that citizens can get all Rambo'ed up against Uncle Sam.

Nice try, but the explanation doesn't hold water, and avoids inconvenient facts.  

Yes, the Constitution was written after the end of our war with the British, but there's not much to suggest that "concern over a tyrannical government" was at the forefront of the framers' minds.  The Revolutionary War ended in 1783.  The Constitution was drafted in 1787.  And a lot happened in between.

The controlling document before the Constiution was the Articles of Confederation, which was thought to be woefully inadequate.  Why?  Because (among other things) it failed to establish a mechanism for a centralized military force or militia.  This, as it turned out, was a rather difficult problem, as brought to light by Shay's Rebellion.

Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising that took place in central and western Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787. Caused by economic depression, an aggressive tax and debt collection, and tight state fiscal policy, the goal of Shay's Rebellion was to overthrow state government.  It was the very thing that Worthing claims the Second Amendment was meant to protect.

It was under this setting, and not the British, that the Constitution was written.  And as originally written, there was no Bill of Rights, and no Second Amendment.  The Bill of Rights was therefore added on to protect individual rights against the federal government.  It was not intended to replace the newly-centralized powers of the federal government, i.e., it was not intended to overwrite Article I, Section 8, and give "the people" or even "the states" the right to mount insurrection against the federal government. 

The militia powers enshrined in the new constitution were soon put to use by President George Washington (i.e., the government). After the passage by the United States Congress of the Whiskey Act, protest against the taxes it imposed began in western Pennsylvania. The protests escalated and Washington led federal and state militia to put down what is now known as the Whiskey Rebellion.

So basically, before the Constitution, you had an internal rebellion that, under the Articles of Confederation, was tough for the federal government to put down.  And then, after the Constitution, you had an internal rebellion which the federal government was empowered to put down.  What was the difference between Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion?  The Constitution and the Second Amendment.

Worthing and his like-minded liars would have you believe that the Constitution was set up to make Shay's Rebellion possible, and the Whiskey Rebellion impossible.  But history shows us that it was the reverse.

UPDATE: Not to mention the preamble to the Constitution, which reads:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

How does taking arms up against the country fit in those categories?  It doesn't.

So I'll say it again: The Constitution provides for the militia to be controlled by the federal  government, for the purposes of, among other things, suppressing rebellion and insurrection.

Whatever the Second Amendment says, it does not reserve power for the people to form their own militias and engage in insurrection and rebellion.

Meet The Sandy Hook Truthers

From Salon:

Yes, there really are Newtown truthers.

But in the crazy world of Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, this one may be the worst yet. (Maybe you’ve already heard some of the others, like the one about fantasy ties between the gunman’s family and the LIBOR banking scandal and a related theory about the Aurora shooting and the “Dark Knight Rises.”) Most of the theories are really pieces of a larger meta-theory: that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, perhaps by the Obama administration, designed to stir demand for gun control.

In the latest angle, theorists think they have found “absolute proof” of a conspiracy to defraud the American people. “You reported in December that this little girl had been killed,” a reader emailed Salon in response to a story. “She has been found, and photographed with President Obama.”

The girl in question is Emilie Parker, a 6-year-old who was shot multiple times and killed at Sandy Hook. But for conspiracy theorists, the tears her family shed at her funeral, the moving eulogy from Utah’s governor, and the entire shooting spree are fake. Welcome to the world where Sandy Hook didn’t really happen.

There are dozens of websites, blog posts and YouTube videos extolling the Emilie Parker hoax theory. If you Google her name, the very first result is a post mocking her father for crying at a press conference after the shooting. One popular video, which already has 134,000 views, was made by the producers of a popular 9/11 Truther film. “Just as the movie ‘Operation Terror’ shows the 9/11 attacks were a made-for-TV event, so too were the mass shootings … There can be no doubt that Sandy Hook was a staged event,” the narrator intones. He goes on to say that the adults who participated in the media coverage of the shootings “should be prosecuted as accessories after the fact in a mass murder” — i.e., the parents whose children were murdered in the massacre should be thrown in prison.

The crux of the theory is a photograph of Parker’s sister sitting on President Obama’s lap when he visited with the victims’ families. The girl is wearing the same dress Emilie wore in a pre-shooting photograph of the family shared with media, so she must be Emilie, alive and well. “BAM! I cannot believe how idiot these people are [sic]… That’s her,” one YouTuber exclaims as he watches the two images superimposed on each other. (Apparently missed by these crack investigators is the possibility that the sister wore Emilie’s dress and that they look alike because they are sisters, after all.)

The supporting details to the hoax theory explanation are reminiscent of the arcana of any well-developed conspiracy theory. What about the car? What about the rifle? Why does someone off camera allegedly tell Parker’s father to “read the Card” (as in a cue card) before he goes on CNN? Why is he laughing? Who is the guy running into the woods? Why is there police audio referring to multiple shooters? Why does one boy who survived the shooting tell Dr. Oz it was like “a drill”? Why was the principal quoted by a local paper after she died? Why do some of the parents look like some of the victims of the Aurora shooting — are they “all actors”? All of these questions have simple explanations, but in each case, the theorists have sided more with less likely, but more nefarious possibilities.

One man has taken it upon himself to catalog all of the theories at SandyHookHoax.com. By way of credentials, creator Jay Johnson explains: “I am the only person in the world to solve LOST,” he writes (yes, the TV show).

In an email exchange with Salon, Johnson said he initially “wanted to help the kids express their feelings and memorialize the victims … But then I saw how the local paper interviewed the principal after she was dead, and I realized it was 99% odds another psychological operation that was going on,” he explained.

Noting that he started the website on “12/21/12” he explained, “since I am the New Age Messiah, with my Look Your Heart in the Mirror™ as the new revelation from the Goddess Tefnut, aka Ma’at, of Egypt, I thought the date was significant.”

But the hoax theory has even earned the backing for some presumably more credible sources. James Tracy, a tenured professor of communications at Florida Atlantic University, sparked controversy this week after he wrote a blog post suggesting the parents were “crisis actors.” “While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place — at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation’s news media have described,” he wrote.

Websites owned by Alex Jones, the conspiracy theory pundit who helped start the 9/11 Truther movement and has millions of readers, are a virtual one-stop shop for Sandy Hook “false flag” miscellanea. So far, mainstream conservative figures haven’t hopped on board, though Gun Owners of American head Larry Pratt told Jones this summer that he thought there was a good chance the Aurora massacre was perpetrated by government agents.

Then there’s just the downright bizarre subgenre of theories. One posting on the community forum of Jones’ website connects Sandy Hook and Emilie Parker to Satanism, postulating that the school was a “recruiting center” for the Church of Satan. There’s even a low-budget slasher flick called “Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre” — could that be connected?

Whether there is a connection or not, we can count on the Internet’s conspiracy theorists to find one, even if it means denying the legitimacy of the mourning families’ grief.

The people creating this insidious conspiracy need help, but they might be so evil that they are beyond all help and hope. The number of videos promoting this sick lie are growing every day, and they are mostly from people who hate our president.

YouTube Gun Celebrities — Where Are They Now?

(1)  Keith Ratliff, who insisted everyone has the right to an assault weapon under the Second Amendment, who hosted a popular YouTube channel devoted to guns, including videos like “Top Three Weapons to Survive the Apocalypse”, met his end violently on January 3, single shot in the head in his office, where he stored his many guns and rifles.  Police are treating it as a homicide, although nothing was stolen.

(2)  Then there's another YouTube celeb, James Yeager, the guy who said he was going to “start shooting people” if President Obama signed an executive order on guns. I wrote about him last week.  What's up with him?  From 14news.com:

CAMDEN, TN (WSMV) –

A Middle Tennessee firearms trainer who made an ominous comment about killing people in a YouTube video that gained national attention this week has had his handgun carry permit suspended Friday by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

James Yeager, 42, had his permit suspended based on a “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public,” the department said in a statement.

Col. Tracy Trott of the Tennessee Department of Safety said it didn’t take him long to reach a decision after viewing the comments on the Internet.

“I watched it twice to make sure I was hearing what I thought I heard,” Trott said.

“It sounded like it was a veiled threat against the whole public. I believed him. He had a conviction in his voice, and the way he looked into the camera, I believe he’s capable of a violent act,” Trott said.

Yeager told Channel 4 News he is aware of the suspension, and his attorney will handle his statements going forward.

And he tries, for a second time, to walk back his threats, this time with an attorney:

 

GOP Needs To Send Out Memo To Republicans: “Stop Talking About Rape”

From the "They Just Can't Help Themselves" file, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's intrepid Jim Galloway informs us that U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), an OB-GYN, went out of his way in a local newspaper interview to express sympathy for the "legitimate rape" comments of his former colleague Todd Akin:

And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, "Look, in a legitimate rape situation" — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, "Hey, I was raped." That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that….

And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, "Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate." So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.

Well, thanks, Phil, for that valuable expert validation of the perspective that many rape victims are actually liars and thus we shouldn't be reluctant to force them to carry pregnancies they claim are the product of rape to term.

Now please just shut up.

Martin Luther King On Gun Control

You know you're barking up the wrong tree when you have to dig up Martin Luther King, put words in his mouth, and then say, "See??? Dr. King agrees with me!"

That's practically what Larry Ward did.

Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, appeared on CNN on Friday to defend his event. When confronted with the fact that Gun Appreciation Day coincides with the celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr, who was assassinated with a gun, Ward insisted that his event “honors the legacy of Dr. King.” Ward didn’t stop there; he argued that if African slaves had been armed, they would have been able to prevent slavery from ever happening:

WARD: I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.

Suuuure he would have.  Martin Luther King, Jr. a strict disciple of peaceful resistance, was shot by an assassin in 1968. The Gun Control Act of 1968, the nation’s first comprehensive federal firearms regulation, was passed in response to King’s assassination, as well as the murders of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X.

Besides, there were many armed slave revolts, as early as 1526. Armed revolts almost always failed, and often led to retribution by the slave owners, who had the justice system on their side. Most famously, Nat Turner led a rebellion that resulted in 60 white deaths and 100 black deaths. The state later executed 56 blacks accused of being involved in the insurrection, and white mobs beat and killed at least 200 others in revenge.

So shut up, stupid gun-loving man.

Epidemic

CDC says 7.3% of all deaths in US last week were from pneumonia, flu, which is above epidemic threshold of 7.2%. 47 US states have reported widespread flu activity; 24 states, New York City had 'high activity' in flu-like illnesses last week.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

So then Fox put up this chyron:

Fiatstupid

Apparently, the brainiacs at Fox think that a nickel coin actually contains a five cents worth of the element nickel.  Maybe they also think that a $20 bill is 20 times bigger than a $1 bill.

Idiots.

Threats Are Made

An employee with Tactical Response, the Tennessee firearms training company making headlines this week thanks to a video posted by CEO James Yeager, told TPM Thursday the company is going to leave it up to Yeager to respond to questions about the clip.

Yeager posted a video online where he said "I'm gonna start killing people" if the White House goes ahead with plans to use executive orders to further its gun violence prevention goals. He later deleted the video. Yeager's comments come in the midst of amped-up conservative rhetoric over the executive order plan that so far have included comparisons between President Obama and Hitler and warnings that Obama is planning to run the country like "dictatorship." 

 UPDATE: More on James Yeager.  And here's my question: is the FBI going to at least talk to this guy?  Because he just threatened to kill people.

UPDATE #2: TPM reports that Yeager’s training credentials are fraudulent. “I have confirmed with our Handgun Unit that Mr. Yeager is not a Department of Safety and Homeland Security certified handgun instructor and Tactical Response is not a department certified school,” a DHS spokesperson told them.

UPDATE #3:  Ed Kilgore nails it:

WHO GETS TO DECIDE?

It's not fair or right to attribute the views of random extremists to those who share a general political orientation. But sometimes the crazy people will come right out and express a sentiment that is implicit in the positions taken by "mainstream" folk, as is becoming ever more evident as we have an actual national debate over regulating the private possession of military weapons.

You may have heard yesterday about the CEO of a Tennessee firm that offers firearm and "tactical" training publishing a video in which he threatens to "start killing people" if the Obama administration proceeds with executive orders regulating guns. Now there's a new video out from the same terrorist, named James Yeager, that expresses his second-thought opinion that he doesn't advocate an armed uprising against the United States government "until it's necessary," though he's personally drawing "a line in the sand" against any future encroachments on his Second Amendment rights. [Note: if you watch these videos, be forewarned that this dude's language is no more civilized than his belief-system].

Yes, I know, Yeager is an isolated self-promoting kook looking for attention (and maybe customers). But his very existence illustrates the problem with the point of view, articulated by writers for respectable publications and more than occasionally expressed by gun lobby activists, that the whole purpose of the Second Amendent and the reason it protects even weapons designed for use by the armed forces is to preserve the right of insurrection against the state should it institute "tyranny."

Who gets to decide when "it's necessary"–when the police officer patrolling one's neighborhood or the neighbors at the local Guard armory become not objects of respect but targets? James Yeager? Kevin Williamson? Wayne LaPierre? You or me? Certainly the normal mechanisms of the legal or political systems–you know, the systems that have produced and enforced the "tyranny" of Obamacare or the "injustice" of "confiscatory" taxes cannot be trusted to protect any right of revolution, can they? So apparently it's up to heavily armed, seething-with-rage individuals and groups to figure out when "it's necessary" to start shooting cops and members of the armed forces, and presumably advocates or beneficiaries of "tyranny."

This is the fundamental problem not only with Second Amendment absolutists but with the Tea Party Movement's "constitutional conservative" stand that there is a permanent–perhaps even divinely instituted and eternal–scheme for self-government that electoral majorities and legislative deliberations and court decisions cannot be allowed to modify. When those are dismissed as "tyrannical," who gets to decide when "it's necessary" to take extralegal action? Add in the hard (but still respectable) Right's taste for military and revolutionary metaphors and the tendency to treat fellow-citizens as enemies of every fundamental liberty, and you've got a dangerous playground for the James Yeagers of the world.


School Shooting Du Jour

California:

Sheriff's officials say two people have been shot at Taft High School. We are also told someone has been taken into custody.

Kern County Fire officials say one victim received only minor injuries and refused treatment at the scene, the other person was airlifted to Kern Medical Center with unknown injuries.

The reports started coming in at 9:00 a.m. Deputies are now on scene at the school. Earlier, they told 17 News they were doing a room-to-room search. They say the scene is still not secured.

UPDATE:

85th Academy Award Nominations

Not many surprises.  A tough competitive year in most categories. With 12 nominations total, director Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” led this year’s pack, unusually full of films that have reached a broad mainstream audience. “Life of Pi” came in with 11 nominations; “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Les Miserables” received eight.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best animated feature film of the year
“Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
“ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

Achievement in cinematography
“Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
“Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
“Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
“Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
“Skyfall” Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design
“Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
“Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
“Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
“Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing
“Amour” Michael Haneke
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Ang Lee
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
“Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Best documentary feature
“5 Broken Cameras”
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
“The Gatekeepers”
Nominees to be determined
“How to Survive a Plague”
Nominees to be determined
“The Invisible War”
Nominees to be determined
“Searching for Sugar Man”
Nominees to be determined

Best documentary short subject
“Inocente”
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
“Kings Point”
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
“Open Heart”
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
“Redemption”
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Achievement in film editing
“Argo” William Goldenberg
“Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
“Lincoln” Michael Kahn
“Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Best foreign language film of the year
“Amour” Austria
“Kon-Tiki” Norway
“No” Chile
“A Royal Affair” Denmark
“War Witch” Canada

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
“Hitchcock”
Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
“Les Misérables”
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
“Argo” Alexandre Desplat
“Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
“Lincoln” John Williams
“Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best motion picture of the year
“Amour” Nominees to be determined
“Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
“Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
“Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
“Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
“Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers

Achievement in production design
“Anna Karenina”
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
“Les Misérables”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
“Life of Pi”
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Lincoln”
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best animated short film
“Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
“Fresh Guacamole” PES
“Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”" David Silverman
“Paperman” John Kahrs

Best live action short film
“Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
“Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
“Curfew” Shawn Christensen
“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
“Henry” Yan England

Achievement in sound editing
“Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
“Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
“Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
“Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Achievement in sound mixing
“Argo”
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
“Les Misérables”
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
“Life of Pi”
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
“Lincoln”
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
“Skyfall”
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
“Life of Pi”
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
“Marvel’s The Avengers”
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
“Prometheus”
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
“Snow White and the Huntsman”
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Adapted screenplay
“Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
“Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
“Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Original screenplay
“Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
“Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino
“Flight” Written by John Gatins
“Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal

Guns In School and NRA: How They Lookin’ To Us?

Not good:

PPP's newest national poll finds that the NRA's image has declined over the last three weeks following Wayne LaPierre's controversial press conference the week before Christmas.

The NRA now has a negative favorability rating, with 42% of voters seeing it positively while 45% have an unfavorable view. That represents a 10 point net decline in the NRA's favorability from the week before the press conference when a national poll we did found it at 48/41. Its image has taken a hit with both Democrats (from 29/59 to 22/67) and Republicans (71/19 to 66/18).

The NRA's focus on putting more guns in schools is likely what's driving the decline in the organization's image. Only 41% of voters support the organization's proposal to put armed police officers in schools across the country, with 50% opposed. Democrats (35/57) and independents (38/51) both oppose the push and even among Republicans only a narrow majority (52/39) supports it.

On the broader issue of giving teachers guns, only 27% of voters are supportive with 64% opposed. There's bipartisan opposition to that concept with Republicans (35/50), independents (31/59), and Democrats (19/77) all standing against it. Gun owners (37/52) oppose it as well.

Thank God reason and sanity haven't left this country, powerless as those things may be.

Drudge Goes Godwin*

A screen grab of the Drudge Report on Wednesday afternoon. The feature links to a Weekly Standard story on Vice President Joe Biden's statement that President Obama may use an executive order to reform gun laws. 

1-9-13-drudge-sg

The argument that commonsense gun violence prevention measures will lead to a dictatorship are common in right-wing media, with conservative guests on Fox News and CNN making similar comparisons this week.

* Godwin's Law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"

Also… this:

 

 UPDATE:  “I don’t think pro-gun activists get it. I think that when they’re throwing around Hitler and Stalin, people are thinking about the children who were massacred in that classroom and wondering, ‘what the hell are you talking about?’” said Ladd Everitt, spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “I don’t think mentally stable individuals think like these folks. I think they are focused on six and seven year-old kids who were massacred by a lunatic who should never have gotten anywhere near those guns and wondering what in the world are they talking about.” – Source

 

Laurence Tribe On The Trillion Dollar Coin

So, in case you haven't been paying attention….

A strange idea has been floated about how to deal with the deficit, particularly if House Republicans are prepared to take the full faith and credit of the United States and destroy it.

You see, we are up against another debt ceiling soon.  No big deal; we've faced this dozens of times, under Republlican and Democratic administrations, for several decades.  The debt ceiling simply means that the government cannot pay its bills unless it borrows more money, requiring Congressional approval.  This, of course, adds to the deficit.

But deficit hawks are wrong to block passage of the debt ceiling.  If you want to lower the deficit, you pass budgets that tax more or spend less in the future.  You don't stop the deficit by refusing to pay bills for things you've already agreed to pay (things like Medicare and Medicaid, VA benefits, etc.)

Never mind that, though.  The House Republicans don't care if they destroy the United States credit rating (doing so will send the global economy into a tailspin).  And if they threaten to do that, well, that's where the trillian dollar coin comes in.

Thanks to an odd loophole in current law, the U.S. Treasury is technically allowed to mint as many coins made of platinum as it wants and can assign them whatever value it pleases.  Therefore, there will be no need to borrow, and we won't hit the ceiling.

Under this scenario, the U.S. Mint would produce (say) a pair of trillion-dollar platinum coins. The president orders the coins to be deposited at the Federal Reserve. The Fed then moves this money into Treasury’s accounts. And just like that, Treasury suddenly has an extra $2 trillion to pay off its obligations for the next two years — without needing to issue new debt. The ceiling is no longer an issue.

Much of the discussion of the trillion dollar coin is whether or not it is legal or constitutional.  Today, Larry Tribe weighed in:

I don’t think it makes sense to think about this as some sort of “loophole” issue. Using the statute this way doesn’t entail exploiting a loophole; it entails just reading the plain language that Congress used. The statute clearly does authorize the issuance of trillion-dollar coins. First, the statute itself doesn’t set any limit on coin value. Second, other clauses of 31 USC §5112 do set such limits, but §5112(k)—dealing with platinum coins—does not. So expressio unius strengthens the inference that there isn’t any limit here.

Of course, Congress probably didn’t have trillion-dollar coins in mind, but there’s no textual or other legal basis for importing this probable intention into the statute. What 535 people might have had in their collective “mind” just can’t control the meaning of a law this clear.

It’s also quite clear that the minting of such a coin couldn’t be challenged; I don’t see who would have standing.

Bottom line: This is a situation where the political and economic considerations, not the legal considerations, have to drive the decision-making about this option. It’s certainly a lot better from just about every perspective than having the nation stuck on either horn of the very real dilemma you outlined below, which I agree offers no plausible way out as long as enough leaders in Congress insist on playing Russian Roulette with our economy and risking our full faith and credit by using the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip as they are threatening to do.

So it seems quite do-able, legally.  The question is what will be the political ramifications if it is done.  It is, to be sure, unprecedented.  But then again, so is Congress refusing to pass the debt ceiling.  As the chart blow shows, it was passed 8 times during the Bush administration:

800px-US_Public_Debt_Ceiling_1981-2010

Might Obama do it?  He probably doesn't have to decide unless the House Republicans are serious about their debt ceilling threat.  But it does seem to be a huge gun in the Obama arsenal.  In fact, some argue that he must mint it, if there is no other choice:

Whether he likes the idea or not, President Obama might be legally required to mint a trillion dollar coin if Congress fails to raise debt limit and he has no other way to meet Congressional spending mandates

Matt Yglesias argues that President Obama appears to be legally required to pursue the trillion dollar coin option in the event that Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit:

  1. Under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974 it's illegal for the president to spend less money than congress has appropriated—the Nixon administration had this idea that it could enact unilateral spending cuts, but it can't.
  2. Under the terms of the statutory debt ceiling, the president can't borrow extra money without congressional authorization.
  3. I don't believe there's a specific statutory prohibition on collecting taxes that congress hasn't authorized, but this principle is pretty literally the foundation of the entire fabric of common law.
  4. The Treasury Secretary can instruct the mint to create platinum coins of any denomination.

Given those facts, Yglesias concludes, the coin must be minted if Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit.

 

Word(s) of the Year

The American Dialect Society picked hashtag as the word of the year for 2012.

The dictionary folks at Merriam-Webster chose capitalism and socialism, based on the number of lookups those words got during the year.

The team at Oxford American Dictionaries chose GIF.

But we English-speakers are not the only ones with this fetish for word of the year pronouncements. Here are some of the word of the year choices from other countries.

1. Rettungsroutine, Germany

This word means “rescue routine” or “bailout” and was prominent this year in discussions of the European economic crisis. It was chosen by the Association for the German Language, beating out words like Bildungsabwendungsprämie (“education avoidance subsidy,” a term used by opponents of the creation of a child care allowance for parents keeping their kids out of state-run day care) and Fluch-Hafen (“cursed-port,” a play onFlughafen, or “airport,” referring to the drawn out and increasingly costly construction of a new airport in Berlin).

2. Project X-feest, Netherlands

The word of the year in the Netherlands is announced by dictionary publisher Van Dale. “Project X-party” is a spontaneous party that grows out of control due to people spreading the word on social media. It’s named for the American film Project X, about such a party, but entered the Dutch vocabulary in a big way after a Facebook invitation to a girl’s 16th birthday party escalated into a riot in the small town of Haren in the Netherlands.

3. Frietchinees, Belgium

Van Dale also announces a Flemish word of the year for BelgiumFrietchinees or “Chinese fryer,” refers to the phenomenon of Asian people running Belgian fry shops.

4. Entroikado, Portugal

In a vote run by the Portuguese publisher Porto Editora, entroikado, or “en-troika-ed,” won for word of the year. It means “to be forced to live under the conditions imposed by the troika.” The troika in this case is made up of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank.

5. Watture, France

Watture was selected the winner at the XYZ Festival of New Words in Le Havre. It’s a clever blend of “watt,” as in “wattage,” and voiture (car). It means “electric car.”

6. Mèng 梦, China

The Education Ministry in China runs a poll to select the Chinese character of the year, and the winner this year was the character meaning “dream.” There was some disagreement over how the choice should be interpreted, with the government playing up its reflection of the wonderful dreams fulfilled by China this year (“The dream for an aircraft carrier, the dream for a Nobel Prize…”) and various citizens responding that it was a particularly ironic choice for times in which corruption has made it so difficult for ordinary people to attain their dreams. In a separate, online poll, voters chose bào 曝 (exposure) as the character of the year, in reference to the exposure of official corruption.

7. kin金, Japan

After a public vote, the Japan Kanji Proficiency Society announces the kanji (character) of the year every December 12, otherwise known as Kanji Day. This year the character meaning “gold” was selected. The character appears in the written form for “milestone” and it represents some of the events of the year, including the Olympic gold medals won by Japan, a Nobel Prize in medicine for Shinya Yamanaka, the completion of Tokyo Skytree (the tallest structure in Japan and tallest tower in the world), and a solar eclipse.

8. Ogooglebar, Swedish

Instead of picking one word of the year, the Swedes, in their egalitarian way, make a list of all the new words of the year. The Swedish Language Council announced their annual list of words that “show that language is a result of an ongoing democratic process in which we all participate.” This year there were 40 words on the list. Some of them were straight English borrowings, such as “brony,” some were references to local scandals like Tintingate, and some were pure Swedish, like henifiera (henify), referring to the practice of replacing the gendered “he” and “she” pronouns in Swedish (han and hon) with the neutral hen. But the best I think was the delightful, bouncy ogooglebar. It means “ungoogleable.”

“Gun Rights” Doesn’t Mean That Guns Have Rights

Thanks to the Second Amendment and some recent (bad) Supreme Court decisions, it is the state of the law that gun ownership is a constitutionally-protected right (albeit with some as-yet-defined limitations).

But some NRA members don't get that:

Todd Rathner, an Arizona lobbyist and national board member of the National Rifle Association, has threatened to sue over the city of Tucson's gun buyback, NPR reportedWednesday

On Tuesday, Tucson police accepted guns from members of the public in exchange for $50 Safeway gift cards. Police will destroy the claimed guns. Outgoing Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori and others held a rival buyback a stone's throw away, offering cash for guns.

Rathner told NPR that the NRA will ask for a full accounting of the city's claimed guns and go to court to stop them from being destroyed. "We do believe that it is illegal for them to destroy those guns," he said.

Wait, what?

It's illegal to destroy a gun legally purchased?

This moron apparently things that guns have a right to "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness".  And melting down a gun is murder.

Crazy people.

Suicide Tweet

Read from the bottom up.  This is the suicide of rapper Freddy E.

Enhanced-buzz-6842-1357669314-0 Enhanced-buzz-6844-1357669373-1

What strikes me as odd is that he would twitter "*puts finger around trigger*", and then continue tweeting.

One wonders what role drugs played.  I sense he was playing around with the idea of killing himself, and probably didn't decide to do it until after his last tweet.  Anyway, it's rather odd.  Sad.

WTF: His passing came only two weeks after the suicide of another young rapper, Capital STEEZ, who also sent farewell messages on Twitter before killing himself. 

Read more: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00056961.html#ixzz2HQHNlzzO

Congress: Better Than Ebola, Worse Than Cockroaches and Nickelback

From PPP:

Our newest national poll finds that Congress only has a 9% favorability rating with 85% of voters viewing it in a negative light. We've seen poll after poll after poll over the last year talking about how unpopular Congress is but really, what's the difference between an 11% or a 9% or a 7% favorability rating? So we decided to take a different approach and test Congress' popularity against 26 different things. And what we found is that Congress is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, and evenNickelback.

Here's what we found:

It's gross to have lice but at least they can be removed in a way that given the recent reelection rates members of Congress evidently can't: Lice 67 Congress 19

Brussel sprouts may have been disgusting as a kid, but evidently they're now a lot less disgusting than Congress: Brussel Sprouts 69 Congress 23

The NFL replacement refs may have screwed everything up, but voters think Congress is screwing everything up even worse: Replacement Refs 56 Congressmen 29 (the breakdown among Packers fans might be a little bit different).

Colonoscopies are not a terribly pleasant experience but at least they have some redeeming value that most voters aren't seeing in Congress: Colonoscopies 58 Congress 31

And you can make the same point about root canals: Root Canals 56 Congress 32

You might get a bad deal from a used car salesmen, but voters evidently think they're getting an even worse deal from Congress: Used Car Salesmen 57 Congress 32

Being stuff in traffic sucks, but voters are even less happy about being stuck with this Congress: Traffic Jams 56 Congress 34

America might have had to bail out France multiple times over the years but voters still have a more charitable opinion of it than Congress: France 46 Congress 37

Carnies may use loaded dice, but voters still think they have a better chance of winning with them than Congress: Carnies 39 Congress 31

It may be true that everyone hates Nickelback, but apparently everyone hates Congress even more: Nickelback 39 Congress 32

Genghis Khan did a lot of bad stuff but I guess it's faded from voters' minds in a way that Congress' recent misdeeds haven't: Genghis Khan 41 Congress 37

DC political pundits and Donald Trump aren't held in very high esteem by the population, but they still both manage to just barely edge Congress: DC political pundits 37 Congress 34 and Donald Trump 44 Congress 42

Cockroaches are a pretty good reason to call the exterminator but voters might be even more concerned if their homes were infested with members of Congress: Cockroaches 45 Congress 43

Now the news isn't all bad for Congress:

By relatively close margins it beats out Lindsey Lohan (45/41), playground bullies (43/38), and telemarketers (45/35). And it posts wider margins over the Kardashians (49/36), John Edwards (45/29), lobbyists (48/30), Fidel Castro (54/32), Gonorrhea (53/28), Ebola (53/25), Communism (57/23), North Korea (61/26), and meth labs (60/21)

 Chart of things people like more and less than Congress.