Friday, April 19, 2013

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) As you probably have heard, police have shot one of the Boston marathon suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and are hot on the trail of the second, identified as Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Both are from Chechnya, living here legally for about ten years now. Ten years ago, I’d be remiss not to point out, we bargained with Vladimir Putin to allow him to invade Chechnya to put down an incipient revolution, in exchange for his silence on our invasion of Iraq. I’ll just leave that stand for you to ponder, but to say, “Well, George, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us in.”
2) Michael Bay has already optioned the rights to the battle on the streets of Watertown, by the way.
3) In other news that wraps up old wounds the US opened
4) I’m really beginning to think the world skipped back to 2006…bird flu? A new strain?
5) Hot on the heels of a big one in Iran earlier this week comes a magnitude 7.0 earthquake off Japan. If Jesus is coming, he’s picking a good time to do so.
7) Scott Walker: Even bigger douchebag than you imagined.
9) If things are getting a little too weird for you around here, you can always move.
10) No, really! You CAN move!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Song of the Furies

Witnesses to them that died,

The blood avengers at his side,

The Furies' troop forever stands.

Aeschylus was more right than he knew.

I’ll leave it to Gabby Giffords to explain what this post is about:

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

The Congresswoman is far more eloquent than I could be in reaction to the cowardly, blood-thirsty vote that took place in the Senate yesterday, as 45 traitors voted to block a yes or no vote on…and here Congresswoman Giffords and I differ in what she defines as “common-sense”…on a bill that amounted to the Democrats throwing up their hands and saying, “Fine! YOU write a gun control bill!”

President Obama was rightly angry at the 45 Senators saying, “And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.”

There it is: he called them “cowards” to their faces.

Mr. President, it’s time to put some noses to the grindstone. It’s time to make Senators pay for standing up for the deaths of innocent children. It’s time to hurt them where it will hurt the most: in their home states. Pull funding from them. Close military bases. Ramp up whatever discretionary methods you have to make those Senators know that votes have consequences.

Many have said that this bill will do nothing to prevent criminals from getting their hands on more weapons. That tiny minority are idiots. By this logic, we should dismantle all drug laws. All traffic laws. All laws of any kind because good people will obey them anyway, and bad people will ignore them. In other words, we should become Somalia.

Our schools already are, thanks to a domestic terror organization known by the initials “N R A”. And it’s about time we recognized them as such. There’s a reason they won’t even support these pathetic safeguards: many of the members, if not most, have ties to organizations that would be and likely are on domestic terror watchlists.

They are traitors and deserve a traitor’s fate.

I call on Michael Moore to sue under the Freedom of Information Act, for the release of the crime scene photos from Sandy Hook and to feature them in a film that follows up Bowling For Columbine. Make people see the ghastly horror of what’s left of the bodies and faces of those tiny children. Why not? The anti-choice movement does that all the time, with their protest posters. Let’s make those bastards as uncomfortable as they think they make us.

With three years left in your second term, there is precious little you can do legislatively to make your second term bigger than your first, but you can take actions outside of legislation, and I urge you to implement those now. Use that bully pulpit. Bring your oratorical skills to the forefront and begin to change the dialogue in this nation about guns from one of “We’re too scared to stand up to you,” to “There are many more of us than there are of you. Put away your guns.”

And to you, my readers, and to the American people, it’s time now to act. It’s time now to find these Senators and get them out of office, to show that votes have repercussions, and to support whomever runs against them. To do the work that those children no longer can. There are 4 million NRA members. That means there are 326 million Americans of whom more than 90% believe in stronger gun control and putting an end to the tyranny of the NRA.

It is time for us to release our Furies.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shades of Failures

In the wake of the national focus on the Boston bombings, you may have missed the other act of terror that was committed this week:

WASHINGTON - Police have a suspect in mind as they investigate a letter mailed to Sen. Roger Wicker that tested positive for poisonous ricin, a Senate colleague said.

"The person that is a suspect writes a lot of letters to members," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Tuesday as she emerged from a classified briefing.

Authorities declined to comment on a suspect or any other aspect of the investigation being led by Capitol Police and the FBI after tests indicated that a letter mailed to the Mississippi Republican's Washington office contained the potentially deadly toxin. The letter was intercepted at a Senate mail facility in Prince George's County, Md., just outside Washington, said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a member of the Senate's Democratic leadership.

First, let’s note that no one was in danger from this attack – except for the union men and women who deliver your mail. Once again, union members are on the front lines.

Second, for all the bluster and braggadocio that right-wingers have displayed this week about Obama’s “lack of oversight” in homeland security (as if), we were reminded of the single unsolved terrorist incident in the past century: the anthrax attacks.

Among senators there was a mix of apprehension and appreciation that security protocols — put into place after anthrax mail attacks following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — seemed to work.

The 2001 anthrax-laced letters appeared in post offices, newsrooms and the offices of then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Two Senate office buildings were closed during that investigation. Overall, five people died and 17 others became ill. The FBI attributed the attack to a government scientist who committed suicide in 2008.

Five people dead, no outrage. Three people dead from an apparent domestic act of terror? Outrage.

I highlight the domestic terror angle, because if it is, for Obama to have no blame would require the Federal government to do the job of local and state law enforcement officials.

You may as well blame Obama for the Wall Street bombing, too, if you’re going to pick nits. After all, he has a time machine.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keep your cool Though you can't see what's in front of you

Some random thoughts on the Boston bombing yesterday:


-          Road running is about as egalitarian a sport as there is. All you need is -- well, I was going to say a pair of sneakers, but you don’t even need that. Or feet. But most people can do it for free, with minimal equipment. That an event like that is terrorized speaks volumes about the cowardice of the bomber(s).

-          That said, a few things should be noted about this particular race:

1.    While marathons are generally viewed as peace time activities, we should not forget that they have their roots in war. The first marathon was run to celebrate an Athenian victory. Was the bomber aware of this? Who knows?

2.    It was the celebration of Patriot’s Day, the day when the American Revolution kicked off (actually, that’s April 19, but the celebration is always the third Monday of the month.) The bomber most certainly was aware of this.

3.    The race is run in the city most synonymous with an event that probably instigated the fierce British response that triggered the Revolution full stop: the Tea Party. I’ll let you draw whatever conclusions you may from that, but it’s an eerie note to make.

-          Already on Twitter, some morons on the right are comparing Boston to Benghazi and complaining about the “tepid” response to yesterday’s act of terror. They’ll even blame Obama for lax oversight on homeland security, conveniently forgetting that even George W Bush screwed the pooch any number of times in his administration and was bailed out only by the incompetence of potential terrorists. From the Virginia assassinations to the anthrax mailings to the Times Square bombing, Bush was ineffectual about all these events. He was worse than Obama, who is trying to maintain a calming influence on the nation. To call this a terrorist act (as opposed to an act of terror) is to raise the spectre of, let’s face it: Islam, when it could just as easily be any number of domestic morons or moronic organizations on both sides of the political spectrum. For instance, as I noted above, just because it’s the city of the original Tea Party, this does not mean the bomber was celebrating the right. It could just as easily have been an attempt to associate the Teabaggers with death, and emanated from the left. We don’t know, and Obama is correct not to label anything prematurely.

-          Which of course, is contrasted with Bush’s cowardice (ignore the ridiculous rhetoric at that link and focus on the facts of his reaction) in the aftermath of 9/11, when he flew across country twice to avoid any possible plane attacks (there were none) on Air Force One, then lashed out at a nation that had nothing to do with the destruction, all in the name of appearing strong. It was America’s weakest moment, and we should make a strong note of that. We allowed terror to rule our actions. And that’s being charitable towards the then-President.

-          Police are questioning a Saudi national who was detained at the scene of the explosion by a bystander, who might have made a terribly bigoted mistake. He saw a swarthy man running and tackled him. That’s all we know right now. Did the bystander see something or was he reacting to “bomb/Arab”? This is why the President’s caution is warranted.

-          You know those people running towards the bombs? Union men and women. All paid for with our taxes. Those people are in danger of being cut by the Republicans, Inc.

-          Most of the injuries were caused by flying shrapnel, specifically some form of BB or ball-bearings encased in the bomb itself.

-          Finally, today, we are all Bostonians. I know I’ve spent more time in Boston than any other city in America save my home town. I know this area. I’ve been in Copley and on Boylston and it was a dream as a younger man when I was a runner to run the marathon. There was an innocence shattered yesterday. This was not a Federal building or a building on a college campus associated with a war, or a bank. This was a group of people, some American, some not, who had their most innocent pleasure ripped from their hands.

Monday, April 15, 2013

In Charge of the Six Hundred

Not the Light Brigade, but the remaining families who are still homeless after Hurricane Sandy devastated and destroyed their homes.

They’ve been living in city-provided shelter, basically hotel rooms, since the disaster clean up began. On April 30, the city is pulling funding for that program. They will for all intents and purposes, be homeless:

Many families who fell victim to Sandy will be left with no place to go when the city pulls the plug on its hotel program at the end of the month, advocates warn in a new report.

Some 592 families are still in hotels six months after the storm, and the city is trying to get them into other housing by the April 30 end of the program.

Advocates are urging the city to scrap the deadline.

I’m not one of those advocates. The city can’t possibly be expected to finance their living arrangements indefinitely.

But here’s the thing: Where are all the free marketers who claim that private enterprise will step in when times are tough? These people live less than fifteen miles or so from the greatest concentration of wealth in this hemisphere, if not the world. You mean to tell me that those billion dollar bonus packages that bankers and brokers dole out annually couldn’t have gone towards helping to fund relief in these areas?

Instead, these folks take a “Let them eat cake” attitude towards the very people who likely are assigned to make their lives a little easier. Many of the displaced are firefighters and police officers and other middle class families…after all, they could afford houses….who make the income that buys the things that make the money that gets invested in banks and investment accounts.

And there aren’t that many families. 600 is a meaningless, insignificant number in the grand scheme of things, and about half of that number will be leaving the program shortly anyway, as their homes are in the final stages of repair. We can presume the other 300 or so will also be out sometime in the near future.

And so this, THIS, is why the government has to spend my tax money in places it really shouldn’t have to, because the people who can help, won’t.