Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Grim Reminder

I didn't know her, but I have friends who did.  She made national news this weekend, because of the irony.  But behind that, there is the obvious lesson about texting and driving:

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 27 (UPI) – A 32-year-old North Carolina woman died in a car accident Thursday just moments after she used her cell phone to post on Facebook.

Police in High Point, N.C., said Courtney Ann Sanford posted a message on Facebook at 8:33 a.m. and one minute later the car accident was reported. She was driving.

“The happy song makes me HAPPY," Sanford wrote of the hit song by Pharrell Williams.

“In a matter of seconds, a life was over just so she could notify some friends that she was happy,” said High Point Police Lt. Chris Weisner.

Sanford drove her vehicle across a grass median and hit a truck. The truck driver was uninjured.

“As sad as it is, it is a grim reminder for everyone … you just have to pay attention while you are in the car,” Weisner said.

 

The final post of 32-year-old Courtney Ann Sanford, who died one minute after sending this because she veered across a grass median and slammed into an oncoming truck. The other driver was not hurt.

World’s Worst Lawyer™ Defends World’s Worst Racist Cattlerancher™

Oh, Aaron Walker.  Please don't practice law.  Ever.  Even academically on your blog.  You're just so bad at it.  You embarass yourself and the profession.

Yes, folks, the World's Worst Lawyer™ is back at it again.  Taking a break from his Brett Kimberlin obsession, Aaron Walker tackles current events — specifically, the Cliven Bundy issue in a terribly-reasoned and tragic post entitled "Is Cliven Bundy Right?"… which is Walker's way of saying, "Cliven Bundy is right and I'll show it even if I have to use the most tortured and indeed untruthful legal reasoning available to me."

But first, Walker, like most conservatives last week, must do the necessary throw-Bundy-under-the-bus-for-his-racism dance:

There has been some attempt to rehabilitate what he said, such as here, but at best it only mitigates what is still a pretty racist and ignorant thing to say.  No, there is zero chance that black people were better off under slavery and you have to be willfully ignorant of the evil of slavery to even entertain the thought.

I give Walker a little credit here.  Normally, when a right wing hero is accused of racism, Walker tries to turn it around and accuse a black person of reverse racism.  But, seeing no black person in the Bundy scandal, I guess Walker is forced to admit that Bundy is indeed a racist.

And props to Walker for admitting this:

When it comes to the legal issues his racism is beside the point.  If a government lawyer brought it up in court, it would annoy the judge by being irrelevant. Or to quote from Mark Steyn:
 
the reason the standard representation of justice in statuary is a blindfolded lady is because justice is supposed to be blind: If you run a red light and hit a pedestrian, it makes no difference whether the pedestrian you hit is Nelson Mandela or Cliven Bundy. Or at least it shouldn't: one of the basic building blocks of civilized society is equality before the law.
The only problem is that Walker is the wrong person to deliver this message.  Yes, Bundy's racism is irrelevant to the legal situation, but the same could be said for Brett Kimberlin (what 50+ year old man can and should be held accountable for mistakes that he made — and paid for — in his youth?)  In other words, Walker is a hypocrite about what is and isn't relevant when it comes to assessing "equality before the law".
 
But let's get to the legal issues and the point of MY post — which is just how terribly terribly BAD Walker is as a lawyer.

Blown away by the extent of one particular person’s self-obsession. I’m wondering if this person can do anything that isn’t “about her”.

Bundy Tries To Apologize

He got a decent start on CNN Friday morning, saying "Maybe I sinned and maybe I need to ask forgiveness and maybe I don’t know what I actually said."

Take out the three "maybe"s, and he would have been home free.  But instead, Bundy continued:

If I call — if I say negro or black boy or slave, I’m not — if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be offended, then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done then yet. They should be able to — I should be able to say those things and they shouldn’t offend anybody.

Yeah.  Stupid Martin Luther King getting himself murdered before he finished the job.

But more importantly, note what Bundy seems to think that MLK's "job" actually was.  Apparently, Martin Luther King was here so that Bundy could slur black people, and nobody would be offended.  Certainly that was Martin Luther King's dream, right?  When you make racist statements suggesting that the Negro would be better off a slave, and not get called out for it?

UPDATE:  Actual Craigslist listing:

Tea-Party-Folk-Hero-Wanted

Hashtag #Fail

I love spontaneous protests, particularly when they happen in cyberspace:

An exercise in social media outreach turned #epicfail Tuesday when users flooded the Twittersphere with some of the NYPD’s most infamous moments of brutality.

The NYPD, through its Twitter page, innocuously asked people on to post pictures of themselves interacting with New York’s Finest — complete with the hashtag myNYPD.

But instead of happy pictures of cops posing with tourists and helping out locals, Twitter erupted with hundreds of photos of police violence, including Occupy Wall Street arrests and the 84-year-old man who was bloodied for jaywalking on the Upper West Side earlier this year.

Just before midnight, more than 70,000 people had posted comments on Twitter decrying police brutality, slamming the NYPD for the social media disaster and recalling the names of people shot to death by police. It was the top trending hashtag on Twitter by late Tuesday, replacing #HappyEarthDay.

Police officials wouldn’t respond to questions about the negative comments or say who was behind the Twitter outreach. They released a short statement on Tuesday evening, when users were posting more than 10,000 tweets an hour.

“The NYPD is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community,” said Kim Royster, an NYPD spokeswoman. “Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.”
Twitter users had plenty to say.

“Free massages from the #NYPD,” read one of the Occupy Wall Street tweets, which showed a young man being smashed into the trunk of a car by three cops in riot gear.

Nice PR move.

Not Number One

The New York Times reports what we all know:

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

The numbers, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, offer some of the most detailed publicly available comparisons for different income groups in different countries over time. They suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.

Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago.

What's to account for this?  It doesn't take a genius.  It's the policies the began in the early 2000's, and are still here with us today:  a tax policy that favors the wealthiest while placing burdens on the middle and lower classes.  There is no trickle-down.  These other countries did not apply the rightwing tax policy (plus, take note, they all have socialized medicine).  And they are surpassing the United States.

But try to tell that to your typical Fox News viewer, lobotomized by what he sees on Hannity.  You'll know what he'll say?  Benghazi!!!!

Darling of The Right, Cliven Bundy, Expresses His Views About Race….

…. and they are just about what you would expect:

Republican politicians began backtracking on their support of Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy after the New York Times caught Bundy making racially-inflammatory remarks blaming African-Americans for willingly submiting to dependency on federal assistance.

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy was quoted as saying to a group of supporters last Saturday. “And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Bundy’s statements about “the Negro,” published on Wednesday, were made during his daily speech to supporters outside Bunkerville, Nevada, where a crowd gathered to support him in defiance of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during an attempted round up of his cattle. The confrontation was the result of Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees on federally-owned land for more than 20 years, in spite of multiple court rulings against him. Bundy has stated on several occasions that he does not recognize the existence of the federal government.

Every single Republican politician who spoke out in favor of this loser should have their words plastered on tv commercials over this racist asshole’s words.

Of course, Bundy's rhetoric isn't all that new….

UPDATE:  The reaction of Cliven Bundy's defenders to his pro-slavery rant is proving quite entertaining. Exhibits ABC, and D.  I especially like the ones who say he's not the issue.  Look — he doesn't recognize the legitimacy of the federal government.  Just like pro-slave Southerners.  It's not a coincidence.

UPDATE #2:  Bundy made the rounds of rightwing radio today, and tried to clarify his remarks, which sound just like the racist remarks he said in the first place:

I'm wondering if they're better off under a government subsidy and their young women are having the abortions and their young men are in jail and their older women and children are sitting out on the cement porch without nothing to do.

I'm wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were when they were slaves and they was able to their family structure together and the chickens and the garden and the people have something to do?

So in my mind, are they better off being slaves in that sense or better off being slaves to the United States government in the sense of the subsidy? I'm wondering. The statement was right. I am wondering. 

UPDATE #3:  By the way, want a good example of the adage that "racism isn't about hatred; it's about ignorance"?  Listen to Cliven Bundy talk about Mexican immigrants, a group of people he actually has first-hand experience with:

"I understand that they come over here against our Constitution and cross our borders," he says. "But they're here and they're people. I worked side-by-side a lot of them. Don't tell me they don't work, and don't tell me they don't pay taxes. And don't tell me they don't have better family structures than most of us white people."

"When you see those Mexican families, they're together. They picnic together. They're spending their time together," he said. "I'll tell you, in my way of thinking, they're awful nice people. We need to have those people join us and be with us."

Pretty liberal, huh?

UPDATE #4:  Before the news broke that Cliven Bundy is a raging racist (in addition to being a deadbeat rancher backed by an armed militia defending his right to stiff the federal government): 458 mentions of the right's newest hero on Fox News in April, an average of 20 per day.

And since then? Two.

Denial of Service Attacks

Typepad and therefore this blog has been under attack for the past several days…. for ransom:

UPDATE: SAY Media has responded that they, too, received a “ransom” note which didn’t specify an amount. The company ignored the note and focused instead on mitigating the attack. They are also cooperating with the FBI on this investigation. “We’ve made excellent progress this morning, but still have some customers impacted and we’ll keep you posted when there’s more news to share,” a spokesperson said.

I say they need to catch the culprits and fry them.

This Bundy Thing

The story of the Bundy ranch has slowly made its way into mainstream media circles.  It started out on the absolute fringes of the far right, then worked its way to Fox News.  And now, others are picking it up.

It's troubling, not so much for what is actually going on, but because it shows the absolute lack of morality of the right wing — yes, even the "reasonable" right wing, who caters to the fascist right.

For those not in the know, the story isn't complicated.  For 20 years the federal government has fined Cliven Bundy for grazing his cattle on protected federal land. And for 20 years Bundy has refused to pay. Last month this dance came to an end when the Bureau of Land Management sent Bundy a letter informing him that it intended to “impound his trespass cattle” that have been roaming on federal property. It closed off hundreds of thousands of acres, and earlier this month, moved to round up Bundy’s cows.

Protesters challenged the BLM, and Bundy’s son was arrested for “refusing to disperse” from the area in question. Bundy’s cause caught fire on right-wing blogs, egged on by Fox News and conservative outlets like the National Review, which have held the confiscation as a dangerous intrusion on private property rights, despite Bundy’s lawbreaking. Defending his decision, the rancher told one right-wing radio host that he’s ready to take drastic steps beyond refusing to pay:

I told you that I did the legal thing and the political thing and the media thing and it seems like it's down to “we the people” if we're going to get it done. You know the things like militias. You know, I haven't called no militia or anything like that, but hey, it looks like that's where we're at.

To that end, hundreds of people from outside Nevada—including “militia” armed with rifles and ammunition—have joined his protests, going as far as to set up camp and confront federal officials with brandished weapons. The federal government blinked, and the Bureau of Land Management announced an abrupt end to its cattle roundup, hoping to avoid violence and further confrontations.

This story amazes me. 

What we have here is, quite simply, a lawbreaker.  He's also one of the peope who can rightly be called a "taker" in Mitt Romney language — someone who literally lives off the federal government and contributes nothing.

Other ranchers pay their grzaing fees.  What makes Bundy special?

The notion that Fox News and others (Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul) would embrace this guy is scary. Right-wing media ought to be condemned for their role in fanning the flames of this standoff. After years of decrying Obama’s “lawlessness” and hyperventilating over faux scandals, it’s galling to watch conservatives applaudactual lawbreaking and violent threats to federal officials.

And to those who say there isn't racism on the right, does anyone think this would be happening if the ranchers were black?

Anyway, for the crazed nutjobs on the right (some of whom were wishing for a Waco, you can tell), this is only the beginning [AFTERTHOUGHT: I neglected to mention how these guys put women and children up front in the hopes that the U.S. federal government would shoot and kill them].  Let's hope that before they start bombing federal buildings, etc., Fox News and others realize that we are a nation of laws.  Some of which, yes, you might dislike.

Rewriting The Civil War

Heritage Foundation Leader Jim DeMint:

DeMint: This progressive, the whole idea of being progressive is to progress away from those ideas that made this country great. What we’re trying to conserve as conservative are those things that work. They work today, they work for young people, they work for minorities and we can change this country and change its course very quickly if we just remember what works.

Newcombe: What if somebody, let’s say you’re talking with a liberal person and they were to turn around and say, ‘that Founding Fathers thing worked out really well, look at that Civil War we had eighty years later.’

DeMint: Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like Wilberforce who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.

(Emphasis mine)

No, no, no!  A thousand times no.  You just can't make up shit like that as historical fact, and pollute the airwaves like that.

Of COURSE big government freed the slaves, you mouthbreathing moron!  Linclon's Emancipation Proclamation was nice, but it did not free a single slave.  Freedom from slavery came from the Thirteenth Amendment and in the form of a GIGANTIC FUCKING ARMY bringing the Southern states to its knees.  You can't get a bigger federal government than that.

Also, not for nothing, but "all men created equal" was in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.  And if you don't know that, that's fine.  But you shouldn't opine on stuff you know nothing about.

Breaking: SCOTUS Makes The Money-In-Politics Problem Worse

Further loosening the reins on the role of money in politics, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down restrictions on the grand total that any person can contribute to all federal candidates for office.

Today's decision left intact the cap of $2,600 per election that a contributor to give to any single candidate for federal office, but it invalidated the separate limit on how much can be contributed to all federal candidates put together — $48,600. 

The law was challenged by the Republican Party and an Alabama businessman, Shaun McCutcheon, who argued that the contribution ceilings were an unconstitutional restriction on his free expression.

"It's about freedom of speech and your right to spend your money on as many candidates as you choose. It's a basic freedom," McCutcheon said in bringing the challenge.

Supporters of what's known as the aggregate contribution limit said its purpose was to help prevent corruption. Without it, warned Fred Wertheimer, a longtime proponent of federal regulation of contributions, "you will establish a system of legalized bribery like we used to have before the Watergate scandals."

Under the aggregate limits, an individual could donate a maximum of $48,600 to all candidates for federal office plus another $74,600 to national political parties, state and local political parties, and political action committees — a grand contribution total of $123,200 per election.

House Speaker John Boehner hailed the decision, saying "freedom of speech is being upheld."

Go On Offense

Just a week ago, things looked bleak for Democrats and Obama for 2014. But then thePaul Ryan Vanity Project collided with 7 million new signups under the Affordable Care Act, and now the Democrats have the makings of a winning ticket for this year:

Go on offense.

One of Karl Rove’s basic tenets of politics was to attack from your area of weakness. In the same vein, Congressional Democrats and Barack Obama need to treat the next seven months as a sprint, an all-out attack campaign against their GOP opponents, day in and day out to push the GOP on defense for having no solutions except to throw millions off their health insurancehurt the vulnerable, and protect corporations and the wealthy. Democrats and the White House should aggressively push the ACA, attack the Ryan budget, and tar the GOP as whores for the Koch Brothers, end of story. Hammer the message every day without apology.

And watch these poll numbers go even higher. Go for broke and double down, instead of crawling into a hole.

ExxonMobile Can No Longer Deny It

Yes, human civilization is facing one of the greatest threats it has ever faced and no, we aren’t going to do anything about it. Or so says ExxonMobil in their latest report issued coincidentally on the same day as the latest IPCC report on the dangers of climate change. The report marks a rhetorical turning point of sorts where the fossil fuel industry accepts that climate change does pose significant risks.

Apparently ExxonMobil did not get the memo that climate change is a hoax as the world’s largest energy corporation acknowledged that the carbon being pumped into the atmosphere posed serious risks.

“We know enough based on the research and science that the risk (of climate change) is real and appropriate steps should be taken to address that risk,” Ken Cohen, Exxon’s government affairs chief, said in an interview. “But given the essential role that energy plays in everyone’s lives, those steps need to be taken in context with other realities we face, including lifting much of the world’s population out of poverty.”

97% of scientists might have a point. 

But before anyone starts celebrating a new enlightened fossil fuel industry, recognize this public acknowledgement of the danger does not translate into a commitment to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, ExxonMobil sees the climate change issue as part of a larger calculus that still favors their current business model. One that reasonable governments will be “highly unlikely” to mess with.

Exxon says that renewable energy sources are not now cheap enough nor technologically advanced enough to meet growing demand for energy, let alone also replace oil and gas. Governments therefore face a choice between restricting access to energy or raising the cost of energy significantly. In Exxon’s view, governments will chose to raise the cost of fossil fuels to encourage alternatives somewhat, but stop well short of enacting policies that will sharply curtail consumption, especially in developing countries, because populations would resist and social upheaval would result.

Now that is some impressive rhetorical jujitsu. Unlike Koch Industries which just lobs crazy people at Congress, ExxonMobil takes the warnings that climate change will cause social unrest and political instability and turns them on their head. Regulating carbon consumption, not climate change, becomes the real threat to social stability.  GO figure.