Thursday, March 21, 2013

Links / Open Thread

Oh dear. The doomed assault weapons ban vote in the Senate is leaving the poor Dems vulnerable. To say nothing of all the incipient victims in classrooms, malls, theaters and other community gathering spots. But never mind. The recent lack of filibuster reform by Harry Reid is having the desired effect. Popular bills backed by the majority of the citizenry will die by preordained plan, but the Dems will still be seen as having "tried." So sit back, wait for the next massacre, and then watch amazed as the politicians cry on cue before the TV cameras, and your inbox fills up with fund-raising appeals to demonstrate just how much the Dems differ from the Repellicans.

It turns out that besides being a lovely island paradise, Cyprus is the unregulated paradisical parking lot for the money of the Russian oligarchy -- much like the Caymans are for the American oligarchy. Paul Krugman has the best and pithiest encapsulation of the whole mess that I have yet read. He can even say FUBAR in the title and not get censored the same way he censors himself by never calling out President Obama for being a member in good standing of the Clan of the FUBAR Social Security-Hating Deficit Scolds. 

As Cyprus goes, so goes Detroit, another recent victim in the bankster war against civilization. The "manager" being brought in to deliver the coup de grace to the Motor City is actually a bankruptcy lawyer at a firm which boasts a veritable who's who of Fortune 500 companies as clients. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report has the lowdown. With any luck, this massive privatization scheme could be the tipping point that actually gets the people out in the streets.

A Tree Doesn't Grow in Jerusalem: Barack's Department of Horticulture has apparently committed a diplomatic faux pas, and the magnolia tree the president so lovingly planted may have to be dug up for not having going through the same sequestration procedures being bipartisanly imposed here at home against poor and unemployed people. In another gaffe, the president's armored tank-mobile had to be towed away for repairs after a Secret Service agent (accidentally, of course) filled it with regular instead of diesel. These stories will no doubt spark a whole new slew of conspiracy theories and right-wing blog plants by gasbags. And then stay tuned for more Democratic fund-raising emails, because nothing makes you open your wallet for politicians like some trumped-up outrage. 

Fat, and Proud of It: Mississippi, which ranks tops in gun deaths and probably all kinds of avoidable deaths, has just passed an Anti-Bloomberg Law, which will ban politicians from banning stuff that is bad for you. Mike Bloomberg, the New York mayor whose ban on supersized drinks was just overturned in court, scoffed at the new law and suggested that the state to his south just be renamed Mississgulpi. No, he didn't it. I made that up.


Zee said...

Regarding the “assault weapons ban,” the Obama administration, itself, helped seal its fate when a memorandum was leaked from the National Institute of Justice discussing the likely effects of various types of gun control measures on crime in general and mass shootings in particular.

The findings from this memorandum were not encouraging for gun control enthusiasts:

Some of the observations regarding assault weapons:

“Guns are durable goods. The 1994 law exempted [assault] weapons manufactured before 1994. The exemption of pre-1994 models ensures that a large stock, estimated at 1.5 million [small by many other estimates], of existing weapons would persist. Prior to the 1994 ban, assault weapons were used in 2-8% of crimes. Therefore, a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.”

“Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence. If coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective. The 1997 Australian buyback was massive in scale and, while it appears to have had no effect on gun homicide, Australia has had not mass shootings since the ban was put in place.”

And regarding restrictions on large-capacity magazines,

“In order to have an impact, large capacity magazine regulation needs to sharply curtail their availability to include restrictions on importation, manufacture, sale, and possession. An exemption for previously owned magazines would eliminate any impact. The program would need to be coupled with an extensive buyback of existing large capacity magazines. With an exemption the impact of the restrictions would only bae felt when the magazines degrade or when they are no longer compatible with the guns in circulation. This would take decades to realize.”

While the memorandum suggests that things like ammunition logs targeting “straw buyers” and other laws could have some success as effective measures to reduce gun crime and violence, the memorandum essentially reduces an assault weapon ban of the sort proposed by Feinstein to a “feel-good” gesture, unless the government decides to buy all assault weapons and large-capacity magazines back from the public, or takes them back by whatever means .

If that's the assessment of the Obama administration itself, is it any wonder that “vulnerable Democrats” in western, gun-friendly states would care to gamble their re-election chances on such legislation?

Pearl said...

Michael Moore was on the CNN Piers Morgan show the other night and he was
waxing most eloquent about Harry Reid and the wimpy democrats. He had stayed
out of the gun control issue but couldn't stand it anymore. He asked
everyone watching to send an appropriate message to Reid about his shenanigans.
He is also helping organize pressure groups meeting in homes to help
in this battle. Very inspiring hour between him and Piers. He stated
that nothing will happen until the people take over and get into fighting
mode. Could be said about all the other issues not dealt with and it will be interesting to see what happens.

I believe that all the overeating and obesity in Americans is partly due to
the angst they are suffering from trying to make sense of their country's insanity and eat to calm their nerves. I know I do when I am really stressed out. Also it doesn't help to watch Michelle scolding them from her elite station in life, flexing her muscles. Have you seen her on Vogue's cover and the photos in very upscale clothes? Proves where her values are.

Loved that Flame throwers article with all the sketches and I recognized
some of you in them but won't expose you unless you cross me.

Pearl, definitely Toxic Granny

Zee said...


I guess that I would have to dispute your assertion that Mississippi is #1 in firearms deaths in the nation. I have seen some sites that make this pronouncement, but have found plenty of other sites/sources that suggest that there are at least a few states—including my home state of New Mexico—that exceed Mississippi's rate depending upon how you look at things.

In terms of firearms homicides, Mississippi is somewhat down the list:

In terms of absolute numbers of firearms deaths per 100,00 of population, Mississippi at 16.8 per 100,000 is in an absolute tie with Washington, DC, at 16.6, and again, not at the top. That's Lousiana and Wyoming.

You can find just about any statistic you want to prove whatever point it is you care to make relative to the subject of gun violence, and someone else will find another study/statistic to prove otherwise.

And yes, I admit that it is because the NRA has done a pretty good job of stifling research on the topic, something which I think should be remedied.

Personally, I'd rather live in a city/state where I can buy a couple of sausage-and-egg McMuffins with cheese—and don't forget the bigee coffee and hashbrowns!-- at the same place I'm buying my ammo on the way out to the range—preferably at a drive-thru.

Pearl said...

"Personally, I'd rather live in a city/state where I can buy a couple of
sausage-and-egg McMuffins with cheese-and don't forget the bigee coffee and
hashbrowns!-- at the same place I'm buying my ammo on the way out to the
range-preferably at a drive-thru."

Zee: When they find your body in a clearing by the shooting range, how will they know what killed you, the bullet in your chest or the heart attack from your McDonald's brunch? It might be helpful while you are still alive to make out a living will requesting burial in Michelle's vegetable Garden,next to the rutabagas, and no matter what happens, your demise would make a
bold statement one way or another.

Seriously, all the information you offer about the convoluted laws about
firearms, is indeed discouraging. And with nothing really nailable in place
if it gets to the Supreme Court anyone trying to implement changes in the complicated current regulations doesn't have a chance. This is what the NRA knows and depends on and explains their bold statements notwithstanding the hullabaloo from the public. However very strong organized reaction from the
public can take time but eventually CAN make some real dents.
A current article in the N.Y.Times in the wedding celebration section,
called Wedding Bells is an interesting history of how gay marriage has finally made its way into acceptable society by people really forcing changeby way of threats to the power structure. Interesting personal story of agay couple many years ago pushing through the legal layers to get to the
current point we are at. And the genie in this bottle can no longer be pushed back.

Denis Neville said...

As millions of Americans starve, Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts says, “We must cut food stamps to save them.”

"Times are tough right now for millions of Americans and government spending is out of control. We need to ensure that precious taxpayer dollars are getting to those in the greatest need,” said Roberts.

Never mind Wall Street banksters’ free money, defense contractors’ boondoggles, and all the other high level waste, fraud and abuse. We need to make sure we reign in food stamp abuse!

No wonder we are an overweight nation with a huge deficit.

If food stamps benefited a Republican-leaning demographic, any such attempt would be met with "keep government out of my food stamps!"

How much of the food stamp program ends up benefiting corporations that peddle soda, candy and other junk food to low-income people?

Food stamps are the largest, most overlooked corporate subsidy, "Food Stamps: Follow the Money,"

Michele Simon, president of Eat Drink Politics, opposes cuts to food stamps. However, food stamps subsidize the purchases of junk food made from subsidized commodities. She says, "Nutrition shouldn't just mean not going hungry. It should mean actually feeding people nutritious food."

Should food stamp recipients be able to buy what they like with taxpayer dollars? Would restrictions be any more paternalistic than the restricted purchases in the federal Women, Infants and Children program? Would banning junk food purchases make diets more healthful? Would the administration of such a ban be too complicated?

The food industry has fought attempts to limit food stamp purchases of junk foods.

Socialism for Republican corporate farmers and Big Food, but not poor people.

James F Traynor said...

1. No restrictions on and/or reductions of food stamp money.
2. A single payer health system.
3. Nationalize the too big to fail banks, break them up
and re-privatize them under the Volcker rule (with no goddamn amendments).
4. Institute state banks in all 50 states.

James F Traynor said...

5. Tax security trades.

James F Traynor said...


Kat said...

I understand that SNAP benefits are a huge corporate subsidy. And, I understand people sometimes buy crap with them. I am still so, so uncomfortable with placing limits won what people may purchase with them (although I would be happy to see soda excluded as it really is a non food item). Yes, it is paternalistic. When I go to the Aldi at the beginning of the month most of the customers are using their SNAP card. Sure, there's some junk. But there's also a lot of fruits, vegetables, pasta, milk and other stuff too. People are buying the things that they need because they have to cook. I go to the fancy grocery up the street and you know what-- they're buying fancier quality crap-- prepared dinners, individually packaged baked goods (3 dollars for one brownie!) along with fruits, vegetables, and some other stuff. I've seen someone purchase one bag of food for 100 bucks.
I'm pretty uncomfortable with telling people how to eat. I do think the lifestyle liberals tend to put entirely too much faith in their diet as a means of disease prevention. I actually read a comment the other day that stated "it's clinically proven that wheat causes Alzheimer's". Whaa? This is supposed to be the cream of newspaper readership.
Poor people don't need more restrictions. Being poor is a big enough restriction in itself.
So, I'll vote for James Traynor's plan and add guaranteed living wage and guaranteed job.

Will said...

Happy Saturday, Sardonickists!

I checked out the flame throwers page, but it fell into the tl;dr* zone for me. If I had to pick, I'd say I'm a clown--not of the evil variety, but an intellectually lazy one for sure.

Why, you didn't ask but I just did? Because I know the world is screwed. (We've covered this, I know.) So I keep things simple: Be a good person. Keep up with the shitty news. Have fun and lots of it, 'cause tomorrow's not promised to anybody.

And with that, here's a video of a cockatoo who loves the blow dryer:

*Tl;dr means "too long; didn't read" in interweb slang.

Pinko Big Cat said...

Re: Flame Warriors

Will, you're Yuk Yuk!

That website is so much fun. Like Pearl said, I recognize all of you but won't identify you unless you cross me.

Will said...

Pinko B. Cat,

I'll take Yuk Yuk! I don't like the part about Yukker attacking people for lacking a sense of humor, though. That kind of boorish behavior is just sauteed in wrong sauce. Besides, this is Sardonicky: EVERYBODY who hangs out here has a fairly twisted sense of humor by default, dontcha think?

Btw, Pinko & Big Cat is a magnificent combo! If I really gave a flying fuck, I'd probably go back & look to add another appellation myself. Oh, would that we were all just a bunch of Bliss Ninnys. Life would be so much easier.

Pearl said...

My warning antennas have been in full battle gear reading about Obama's
peacemaking efforts and getting BiBi to apologize to Turkey for killing
members of a peace flotilla and including an American citizen of Turkish decent who was killed and for which Obama couldn't be bothered about. As soon as I entered the cast of characters in my search for the facts the following hit me in the face:

U.S. plans to attack Iran with a mix of nuclear and conventional weapons
> have been in readiness since June, 2005, according to Michel Chossudovsky,a distinguished authority on international affairs.

He notes that the U.S. has stepped up its military shipments to Israel, its
NATO allies, and to countries bordering Iran. Israel in 2004 took shipment of the first of 500 U.S.-made BLU 109 "bunker buster" bombs, and the U.S. has supplied thermonuclear bombs to Belgium, Germany, Italy, The
Netherlands, TURKEY, and Great Britain. TURKEY alone, a partner in the U.S. anti-Iran coalition, has 90 thermonuclear B61 bombs at its Incirlik nuclear
air base.

I guess I should have figured this out as some of you smart ones undoubtedly did. The further details of what Mr. Chossudovsy has written about in a book on this topic are hair raising. I wonder how many blank checks Obama handed out to his 'friends' for further purchases of million dollar air force planes, use of Turkish air bases and
air space, ad nauseum. So this was not a trip for peace but a trip for war against Iran. My warning antennas never fail me.

On a smaller scale the article about the expenses involved in visits by
Biden to foreign countries is also mind boggling. The use of 100 rooms in
the best hotels for his 'entourage' of advisors, security personnel, etc.
adds up to a goodly sum we taxpayers are billed for and with nothing to show
for it.

from toxic granny (who else?)

spreadoption said...

Dear Toxic Granny,

You're the best (next to Karen, of course)! You keep us simultaneously alert and grounded in the realities of your worldly experience.

Late to the game, I'm just now tuning in to Noam Chomskey, largely through a seemingly endless body of his work posted in YouTube videos. If you want the Big Picture, there can be no better source. I ended my evening watching him take on William Buckley for 18 minutes. What an amazing performance, a delivery of historical facts and accurate interpretation (Chomskey) versus arguments based on ideology and distortion (Buckley).

What is unfortunate, and what accounts for so much of our national demise, I believe, is that a casual, low-information viewer would have been certain that Buckley squashed Chomskey in their debate, when to a better informed observer, it was clear that Buckley had met his better rival and lost.

James F Traynor said...

Bill Buckley was possibly the most overrated right wing intellectual around. His family got their money from Mexican oil, as I remember, lost their holdings in the Mexican revolution and have been virulent right wingers ever since. I think his son turned out differently, but who cares. There is nothing more virulent than a right wing Irish American Catholic. And Buckley was not only that but rich to boot. The combination was really toxic.

Jay - Ottawa said...

It wasn’t only Lefties who tried to deflate William F. Buckley. There was a time when honorable men could still be found within Republican ranks resisting the right-wing pull of sophists like Buckley in their own party.

Elliot Richardson, Nixon’s Attorney General who resigned rather than fire Archibald Cox during the Watergate investigation, later reduced arch-conservative Buckley into fine-grain cat litter on “Firing Line” with the ease of a brilliant kid solving a three-dimensional hand puzzle. The topic was “The Future of the GOP.” No shouting: just cool and dazzling to watch.

I’ve hunted but can’t find the show on YouTube, but you can find a transcript of the program here (scroll to bottom of the program summary for PDF link):

Unlike Chomsky, Mailer, Vidal, Baldwin and others, the Republican Richardson was never invited back. He was too brilliant and too honest to ever become his party’s pick for president. Sad because he coulda been a big contenda for the next place on Mount Rushmore.

spreadoption said...

James F Traynor,

Thanks for the background on Buckley. Back in the day I knew of him, of course, but was too busy making a life to pay much attention.

Jay - Ottawa,

Thank you for the link to the Richardson - Buckley "conversation". I've got it now on my desktop and am eager to read it... soon!

There's nothing like a good smack-down. But the Big Question is, Why do we winners still end up the losers? Why do the bad guys always hold most of the power and determine most of history? Why are history books mainly a catalogue of wars? Do we celebrate them? And why do we celebrate the bad guys more than the good guys?

Ah, well... gotta walk the dog.

Jay - Ottawa said...

I got around to reading the transcript myself and find it doesn't convey my recall of how Richardson from the outset intimidated Buckley, who was sometimes uncharacteristically at a loss for words. The transcript doesn't show those pauses, of course, but Richardson's tone and good sense -- the guy thinks in paragraphs -- were in sharp contrast to Buckley's catty dogmatism and pointless interruptions.