11 December, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Compare and contrast:

The comparison is admittedly inexact, but consider a parallel between 2004 and 2008.

Four years ago, shortly after national elections, Republicans were forced to deal with the criminal indictment of a high-profile member -- Tom DeLay. One of the House GOP caucus' first major moves after the elections was to agree, behind closed doors, to change the rule forbidding those under indictment from holding leadership posts in the party. (Embarrassed, they later changed their minds.) Republican officials also defended the accused and lashed out, in a coordinated effort, against the prosecutor.

Four years later, shortly after national elections, Democrats have been forced to deal with the criminal indictment of a high-profile member -- Rod Blagojevich. One of the Senate Democratic caucus' first major moves after the elections was to agree, with full transparency, that they don't want anything to do with the scandal-plagued governor.

And as for turning on Fitzgerald, if Dems hate his guts, they have a funny way of showing it:

Obama has already made it clear he intends to keep Fitzgerald at his post. His transition team yesterday pointed reporters to a statement Obama had made in June: “I still think he’s doing a good job. Yes,” Obama said. “I think he has been aggressive in putting the city on notice and the state on notice that he takes issues of public corruption seriously.”

Other top Democrats share Obama’s view. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he would ask Obama to renominate Fitzgerald, and yesterday Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “I don’t think there is any thought whatsoever of changing the U.S. Attorney in Chicago with these very, very troubling and important times.”

Interesting how Dems react like sane people, and Cons react like a bunch of corrupt fucktards, when one of their own is indicted, innit? Neither party is perfect, but at least the Dems make an attempt to be seen respecting law and order.

There's also a rather stark contrast between Dems and Rethugs when it comes to trying to keep the economy from imploding:

Last night, the House approved an emergency plan, crafted by negotiations between congressional Democrats and the Bush White House, which would have directed $14 billion to U.S. auto manufacturers. It passed 237 to 170. Expecting success in the House, senior White House officials were dispatched to the Hill to lean on Senate Republicans to support the measure.

Bushies probably don't realize that their influence on the Hill is gone. Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) announced that he's ignoring the president's request and will oppose the bailout measure. McConnell's move "all but assures" the legislation's defeat.

The Kentucky Republican, with a large auto presence in his state, had been seen as a potential ally for the industry, and he provided crucial support for the Treasury Department's financial markets rescue fund this fall. But he has since endured a punishing reelection fight. And faced with strong resistance in his caucus, he said that the bill "isn't nearly tough enough" and that he could not ask taxpayers to "subsidize failure." [...]

While not entirely surprising, the Republican opposition stands in contrast to what have been significant concessions by Democrats to try to move the bill forward.

"Much of this bill is dictated by the president. It is a stunning vote of no confidence," [Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)] said of the Republican opposition.

Dems try to bargain, Cons throw hissy fits and fuck everything up spectacularly. Right now, allowing several million jobs to get flushed down the toilet is exactly the wrong option, but Cons don't seem to believe that ordinary people really need jobs all that badly. I suppose that if the bill had included nothing but tax cuts, they would've gone for it. Fucking morons.

You might think this makes no sense, and it doesn't - not from a sane person's perspective. But here's how the Cons seem to be, for lack of a better word, thinking:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has been one of the Senate’s fiercest opponents of the auto bailout, claiming rescue packages would lead the country to socialism. Yesterday, DeMint claimed there would be “riots” if Congress approves a bailout for the Big Three automakers:
We’re going to have riots. There are already people rioting because they’re losing their jobs when somebody else is being bailed out. The fairness of it becomes more and more evident as we go along. Because the auto companies may be hurting there are very few companies that aren’t hurting and are gonna hurt. We don’t have enough money to bail everyone out.

Have you seen riots? I haven't seen riots. I haven't even seen demonstrations. But in Jim DeMint's own personal reality, we're on the primrose path to socialism, and people are rioting in the streets.

Every fucking Republicon needs to be drug tested. They're either spectacularly stupid, mentally ill, or on some serious psychadelics.

Dumbfuckery seems to be running rampant today:

Almost immediately after the elections last month, George W. Bush publicly vowed a smooth transition, and for the most part, it's been going well. There is, however, a rather glaring example to the contrary. (via Ben Smith)

NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is "not qualified" to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.

In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses.

In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency's moon program, sources said.

NASA, as an agency, has struggled over the last eight years. It's reportedly muzzled scientists who disagree with the Bush agenda, and it's led by an administrator who isn't sure if global warming is real, and believes we should ignore the crisis, even if the evidence is right.
It stands to reason, then, that Griffin might be inclined to give Obama's team a hard time, but if this Orlando Sentinel report is right, his obstinacy is rather extreme.

Well, he is a Bush bootlicker. We probably shouldn't be too terribly surprised he's this fucking stupid. I have news for him: if he wants to keep his job, this isn't the way to do it. There's a boot with his name on it, getting ready to kick some arse, I guarantee you.

All I can say is, I can't wait until the new Administration is sworn in, the new Congress takes over, and a multitude of boots make firm contact with deserving buttocks.


Mike at The Big Stick said...

Interesting how Dems react like sane people, and Cons react like a bunch of corrupt fucktards, when one of their own is indicted, innit? Neither party is perfect, but at least the Dems make an attempt to be seen respecting law and order.

By contrast though I think on the whole the Right has been a lot more reasonable and mature about losing this election than the Left was in 2000 and 2004.

In addition, let's think about the fact that Barney Frank still has a job, which is completely befuddling. And Trent Lott was crucified for putting his foot in his mouth over Strom Thurmond, while John Murtha can call his constituents racists and nothing happens.

Hypocrisy goes both ways...

Cujo359 said...

On the whole, Republicans weren't victims of widespread vote suppression efforts, Mike. The only thing they have to complain about this time is that they didn't get to do as much of it as usual. As for how well they're taking it, I think that $700 billion bailout that's being done without any meaningful oversight, while torpedoing any loans to the auto industry counts as one final "fuck you" from the GOP.

Barney Frank? What in blazes are you complaining about? That's a rhetorical question, BTW.

The difference between Trent Lott and John Murtha on racism is that Lott acted like a racist. He forgot that it's the 21st Century, and racism isn't fun any more. Murtha, OTOH, was lamenting that some of his constituents are racists, which is actually a rather courageous thing to do. I know that's a subtle difference there, but concentrate really hard and I think you'll grasp it.

Dana Hunter said...

Thank you, Cujo. Might I just add: Dems didn't preemptively threaten to filibuster every bill the Cons brought forth. Bringing lawsuits for potentential election fraud when there's some reasonable evidence for it is a qualitatively different thing than filing frivolous lawsuits over a birth certificate. And in 2004, we were enraged at a President who had committed America to two useless wars, tortured people, and constantly flouted the law, among many other abuses. Not to mention, you didn't see the Dems making a run on gun stores everywhere.

Tell me again how "on the whole the Right has been a lot more reasonable and mature," and do try to provide examples. Also do try to remember that the "They're doing it too!" argument is only convincing if the proportions are roughly equal. As it is, you gave me a good laugh, and I thank you for that.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Dana, even most conservatives are tired of the birth certificate thing. Michelle Makin's blog even ran an article saying, "Give it a rest". That's the wacko wing of the Right.

I'm not sure what problem there is with a 'run on gun stores'. I've made two purchases of high-capacity magazines already. Given Obama's track records on guns, that's just being pro-active. A renewal of the AWB or the Brady Bill is going to be a real problem for gun owners. Question: Do you have a problem with gun ownership in general, or just specific types?

Dana Hunter said...

That's the only thing Michelle Malkin and I have ever agreed on. Well, there might have been two things, but I don't remember what the other was.

Gun owners have continued to own guns in spite of all those nasty liberal laws like the Brady Bill. (In fact, those laws haven't even stopped people who shouldn't own guns from purchasing them despite mental illness and then using them to murder people.) What's the problem with renewal of those laws? Why should guns be in the hands of people too unstable to use them responsibly? Why do ordinary people need to own assault weapons?

Obama's not coming to take your guns away. There are times when I wish he was, because far too many stupid people own them (far more stupid people since the election, alas), but since we don't ban people from owning cars or raising children due to the dumbfuckery of the few, I suppose we can't make an intelligence test a requirement for gun ownership even if it weren't for the Second Amendment.

Besides, if gun ownership were totally outlawed, young girls wouldn't have the pleasure of outshooting the boys during their first outing with a rifle. There's nothing quite like pissing off your neighbor's sons because you can hit the broad side of a tree when they can't.

It's a memory this girl cherishes.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Maybe after we have our 'progressive debate' an 'assault weapon' debate is in order :-)

For the record, I have no problem with the Brady Bill, waiting periods, etc.

As for the Assault Weapons Ban...that is a completely bogus piece of legislation and it does nothing to address the two main factors in most gun crime: handguns and trafficking. Most people, when asked, can't even accurately describe an 'assault weapon' but that term seems to scare a whole lot of liberals.

Obama is no friend of gun owners...and while he may not ever call for an outright ban, he has shown support in the past for laws which will make it so difficult to purchase and maintain guns that it would make ownership very, very hard. Since I know you are going to ask for evidence, please see this non-partisan link:


I think FactCheck has something similar.

Dana Hunter said...

Ye gods, Mike, how much free time do you think this girl has? I haven't even gotten round to our progressive debate yet! Well, mostly because I'm saving it for when Aunty Flow's here and I won't feel like doing much else, but still. LOL.

I don't know how fellow flaming liberals define assault weapons, but mine is fairly simple: if it walks like an Uzi, talks like an Uzi, and shoots ginormous streams of bullets in a few seconds without effort, it's probably an assault weapon, and I don't think most citizens really need such things lying about. People who claim they use them for "hunting" really get up my nose - if someone has to use what amounts to a machine gun to take down a deer, they are a piss-poor hunter. Of course, I was raised by a man who never used anything more than a .22 and a bow, which probably colors my attitude a bit: in the household I grew up in, real men didn't use AK-47s to bring down bucks. Neither did the women.

If I'd had a coffee in hand when I read the last bit of your comment, I would've spilled it. Are you saying you'd support legislation that would better control handguns? Trafficking we can both agree on without surprise, but I'm not used to conservatives actually saying that handguns are part of the problem. We could possibly end up having a productive discussion here. What's weird to me is this vague sense that I might end up defending handguns more than you!

Not that that's really likely, but y'know. But responsible gun ownership has never bothered me overmuch. This is one area where my credentials as a flaming liberal are questionable at best. Well, aside from the fact that I read over that link you sent and I don't see too much that Obama and I differ on. I don't think blanket bans will ever work for cities in this country, but I see no problem with better enforcement of existing laws and bans on (rationally defined)assault weapons.

We're also not going to see an outright ban on gun manufacture. That may be a far-left pipe dream, and he may want that for a perfect world, but he's too much of a pragmatist to push something like that. You may have noticed that there's been utter silence from the transition team on gun issues. They've got enough they're dealing with to take on wiping out gun ownership in this country - and I think he understands, like I do, that it's neither possible nor necessarily desirable. That's what I'm getting from that page and his other comments during the campaign, anyway.

And I am now rambling, instead of doing Happy Hour like I'm supposed to, so I shall shut up now.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Dana, I agree that guns like Uzis are pretty dangerous. When was the last time you heard about anyone committing a crime with one? While gangbangers may all have one in Steven Segal movies, that's not realistic. Same for AK-47's. Fully automatic versions are pretty rare. I can't find it now but I had a link to an article where they talk to a sherrif somewhere and he says they see an automatic weapon maybe once a year and it's usually confiscated from someone's personal collection in the course of being busted for something else. i also have a friend on the police force here and he concurs on the frequency of finding one.

Read the Assault Weapons Ban sometime. It goes well beyond 'machine guns'. true automatic weapons are no longer made in the US for civillian purchase and haven't been for decades. Importation has been banned since the 1930's I believe. It's all a red herring.

Personally I think handguns are fine with a background check. i also like semi-autos for hunting. But they may be vulnerable if Obama ever takes an interest again.

Dana Hunter said...

Mike, I have bad news for you. I just spend an instructive 40 minutes reading reports, and I've now come to the conclusion that the Assault Weapons Ban wasn't restrictive enough (pdf):



As for recent crimes committed with assault weapons, your wish is my command:



Deary, deary me.

We should probably cut this conversation short before I become one of those liberals who thinks that even antique guns need to be banned (surprising I don't, considering one of my friends got shot in the neck with a musket, but that was his dad being stupid and careless rather than criminal).

Upshot: there's arguments on both sides. You and I could probably hammer out an excellent agreement on handguns and trafficking. With my upbringing, I'd unfortunately sneer at semi-autos used in hunting, while you might present good arguments as to why they're not for sissies (please take that as tongue-in-cheek as it was meant!), and we're probably never going to see eye-to-eye on assault weapons (aside from fully automatic weapons).

Yup. We're ready to take over Congress. ;-) Fuck, we'd do a better job as hashing out a reasonable compromise than the current batch.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Those links are interesting reads. I'll have to dig deeper into them. But I also think this quote is telling:

A number of factors—including the fact
that the banned weapons and magazines
were rarely used to commit murders in
this country...posed challenges in discerning
the effects of the ban.

The point is that 'assault weapons' aren't used in that many crimes. The links you provided make multiple references to high-capacity magazines and i can see where those are problematic in the madman-shoots-up-his-workplace scenario, but keep in mind that in many mass killings, specifically Va Tech, the killers were using pistols with low-capacity magazines. So then we're back to run-of-the-mill criminals using primarily handguns in every-day crimes, murders, etc.

This is where a serious crackdown on trafficking comes in. If you check out the article in Democracy Journal that reference here (http://thebigstick.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/the-nra-and-assault-weapons/) i think it makes some very valid points about gun crime and the real problem behind it. Please also keep in mind that DJ is a liberal publication so maybe you will take them more seriously than a link to The Weekly Standard. ;)

Personally I only use one semi-auto for hunting which is a .22 that holds about 15 rounds. Usually I only need about 4 of those rounds, but when I'm not hunting and I want some target practice it's nice to not have to reload constantly.

I have friends who use semi-auto shotguns in competition AND in the field. Those guns aren't really any more dangerous than my pump shotgun, but a potential semi-auto ban would effect them. I know liberals hate this term but when it comes to actually banning certain types of guns, verses trying to halt the root cause of crime which is not the guns themselves, we're entering into slippery slope territory.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

I would also add that the SKS that is referenced in that last link is far less powerful than the two hunting rifles I use, which would both remain legal under a renewal of the AWB. It's also less deadly than a slug from my shotgun, which would also remain legal after a renewal of the AWB. It's also less deadly than the heavy caliber pistol we keep in our nighstand for protection, which would remain legal after a renewal of the AWB. I could also mention my .50 muzzleloader which has far mower than an SKS at close range. Heck, we could talk about a well placed neck shot from my bow or even a lucky hit with a Chinese Star you buy at the flea market.

That officer would have been just as dead from a bullet from many, many AWB compliant guns. Again, it's not the gun, it's the crime.

Dana Hunter said...

Whelp. Where we're at is this: I believe we need some smart, targeted laws to keep the really destructive arsenals out of the hands of madmen, skinheads, gangbangers, and assorted idiots. I still think we don't need as much weaponry sloshing around as we've currently got - after all, as you pointed out, one can kill very nicely indeed with simple weaponry, which is why my self-defense weapons of choice are a rather vicious hunting knife and a very sharp katana. ;-)

But what you said just at the end there is key: all of the regulation and restriction in the universe isn't going to solve a damned thing if we don't get to the root of the problem. But we're going to get into a whole other argument if we start down that road, because I have a sneaking suspicion you'll tell me parents and religion are the key, and I'll have to come back with the fact that those things so often don't cut it that we have to go for social programs that are proven to work. We can't rely on good parenting alone, and you know how I feel about religion. There's no reason, though, that there can't be a healthy mix things.

If we could take a more sensible approach to addressing the root causes of violence - poverty is a big one, as are some of the more self-defeating criminal laws meant to address crime but only leading to more of it - we wouldn't have the problem we do now. The problem I see is this: it's easier to convince people that taking away guns and putting people in prison will solve the issue, whereas it's bloody damned difficult to convince them to get behind social programs that do more to stem violence but don't sound "tough" enough, or don't fit some idealized version of the way things should be. So we end up with short-sighted bullshit that pisses off a lot of folks and doesn't do much of anything to resolve the crime problem.

And I'm running out of debating time - I have serious science to consider here, or I'll never get this damned book done. You can have the final word, if you like.