Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The AP tells us that somebody in Kentucky has lynched murdered a census worker:
AP source: Census worker hanged with 'fed' on body

By DEVLIN BARRETT and JEFFREY McMURRAY (AP) – 46 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker near a Kentucky cemetery, and a law enforcement official told The Associated Press the word 'fed" was scrawled on the dead man's chest.

The body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and occasional teacher, was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky. The Census has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Lucindia Scurry-Johnson, assistant director of the Census Bureau's southern office in Charlotte, N.C., said law enforcement officers have told the agency the matter is "an apparent homicide" but nothing else.
(Emphasis mine.)

Details are still a little sketchy. We don't really know the motive for the killing yet, and the FBI is still investigating.

Marking the body with the word 'fed' is a pretty good clue to me that we're likely looking at a right-wing hate crime. I mean, I suppose we might find out that the guy was also an undercover federal law enforcement agent or something, but... come on... it looks pretty likely that somebody thought it would make a useful display of force to start murdering census workers. Maybe it's just one lone psychopath, but I worry that this might only be the beginning of a series of crimes like this, committed by a group of psychopaths— the sort of psychopaths who're easily spun up by the sorts of crap we saw going on in Washington, D.C. last weekend.

[NOTE: this might have been a lynching, but we don't really know yet. If people in Kentucky start showing around pictures of themselves smiling and standing around in large crowds next to the hanging bodies of federal workers, then there will be no doubt.]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Glenn Beck

Blogger doesn't seem to be showing me the archives... but I'd like to note for the record, that I was sounding the alarm about Glenn Beck over four years ago, well before he was a television personality. Back when he was only a second-tier talk-radio host.

Seriously, people... when it comes to spotting the potential of second-tier doomful assholes, I have mad skillz. Nevertheless, check out David Neiwert's latest dispatch on him at Crooks And Liars. I will tell you now, if this guy and all his fellow travelers aren't stopped soon, then we're going to be living inside V For Vendetta for the rest of our goddamn lives.

Update: more documentary footage of Glenn Beck's stooges out in force..

Monday, September 14, 2009

Know Your Dopefiend!

Keep an eye open for the telltale signs.
'Know your dopefiend. Your life may depend on it! You will not be able to see his eyes because of tea-shades, but his knuckles will be white from inner tension and his pants will be crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can't find a rape-victim. He will stagger and babble when questioned. He will not respect your bath.'

'Know your dopefiend. Your life may depend on it!'

'There are 4 states of being in the cannabis society, Cool, groovy, hip and square. In that descending order. The square is seldom, if ever, cool. He is NOT with it. That is: he doesn't know WHAT'S happening, but if he manages to figure it out, he moves up a notch to 'hip'. And if he can bring himself to approve of what's happening he becomes 'groovy'. And after that with much luck and perseverance he can rise to the rank of 'cool'.'

'Ahhrm. We must come to terms with the drug-culture in the country. The reefer butt is called a roach because it resembles a cockroach.'

'About those flashbacks. The patient never knows and think it's all over and then he gets himself straightened out for six months and then DARNIT the whole trip comes back on him.'

Friday, September 11, 2009

Look On The Bright Side, Congressman Wilson...

It could have been so much worse for you. You could have been overheard saying, "Go fuck yourself," to Senator Leahy.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

So It Goes...

Here is the line in the President's speech tonight that signals where the bodies are buried:
...I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.
What he should have said:
I will not back down on the basic principle that all Americans have a right to coverage they can afford.
See the difference?

Here's some context in case you're still not reading it:
...To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it. The public option is only a means to that end – and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.

For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.
I could go into a detailed analysis here, but that will have to wait for later. At this point, the summary I promised yesterday is all I'm prepared to offer.

President Obama has now quite clearly signaled that he doesn't believe a health insurance reform package can pass the U.S. Senate unless A) it further cements the privileges of asymmetric information and market hegemony [over both patients and doctors] that the private health insurance companies now enjoy, and B) it allows Democrats a political fig leaf over their abject failure to pass either single-payer or the moderate compromise: an option for universal access to Medicare.

By telling us that a worthless bill, loaded with individual mandates, triggers that can never be pulled, co-ops that are nothing different than what we have today, interstate compacts that will only make matters infinitely worse, etc.— by telling us that this crap sandwich is the best we can expect from a Democratic president working with a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, that we can't even expect Democratic Senators who join with Republicans to deny cloture in debates on Democratic bills to pay any political price for obstructing their own party— by telling us that, he is telling us that we may as well roll up the U.S. government and put it in the big warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It's over. We can't even pretend otherwise anymore, though I predict some will continue to try.

Our corporate aristocracy, with their gun-brandishing wingnut squadristi in tow, are now capable of exercising absolute control over the policymaking apparatus of the State without even needing to pay lip service to the public interest or the consent of the governed.

That was old school...

Well, here's my take on what's happening today before the President addresses Congress re: Health Insurance Reform.

The speech to school kids was part of it.

Maybe I am reaching here (I can easily see how this could be interpreted like this), but I think the Obama people went old school last week.

The key to this is the utter predictability of the wingnut-o-sphere regarding nearly anything the President does.

Last week the Administration announces that Obama will have a national address aimed at our children on the first day of school, and little else other than a vague notion that the Dept. of Education might have some sort of lesson plan suggested for teachers in the wake of the speech.

The spittle-flecked hyperventilating bloviation from the usual suspects was not only predictable, but I think it was counted on and the Administration played it in such a way as to encourage the rabidness to the point where mainstream media smelled a story and picked it up in the middle of the week...

See where this is going?

The media whipped itself into a really fierce little dust-devil for the speech, and then the speech itself, when released the day before turned out to be... a big vanilla soda. Stay in school, work hard, don't quit, respect yourself and nurture your talents.

This not only snatched the wind out of the sails of the wingnut-0-sphere for about 36 hours, but the meta-narrative of the media coverage became: "Why the hell were these morons all worked up about this? Are these guys stupid or just insane?"

And of course, this comes as the immediate precursor of the President's big health care speech to Congress. The Weengnut-0h-Zphere is spinning in it's predictable fashion, but the top-down media is not biting on this one. They just got caught in bed with these gomers, and on something as simple as a cheer leading speech to school kids... they aren't going to fall for that two weeks in a row.

The outcome? As the President goes into tonight's speech, he will have a very nearly even media playing field, without the pre-game hamstringing that would have otherwise almost surely occurred with a Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, Scaife Whinge-Nut dominated mainstream media narrative going into it.

Now let's see if the rest of this team is as good as I hope they are... but either way... that was old school Mr. President! Rock on!

mojo sends

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Think I Just Failed Another Sanity Roll

...with probably about d4 damage.

Julia, at Sisyphus Shrugged, decided to go looking for the origins of the new wingnut meme-du-jour, i.e. that the executive branch is crawling with time-traveling Russian, Bulgarian and Serbian emperors. She noticed that the Wikipedia page is a relatively recent creation [its opening timestamp coincides with the circulation of this polemic from the wingnut Taxpayers For Common Sense], but I think I know where the meme originated: legendary hippie prankster Robert Anton Wilson (or, as I like to call him, Uncle Bob).

Uncle Bob was an eclectic fellow, to put it politely. I have a copy of the book he wrote that I think was the likely source of this weirdness, TSOG: The Thing That Ate The Constitution. That book was almost certainly ignored by the wingnut hive mind, but I suspect the prank political party that Uncle Bob and his twisted friends put together might have managed to get more purchase. Go read the Guns And Dope Party manifesto and see if you don't think it might have a chance of being taken for serious by certain types in the wingnut wilderness. It quite handily marries Second Amendment militancy with the Tenther madness, then goes on to rail for page after page about the Tsarist Occupation Government. Does that sound like your modern teabagging Glenn Beck fan? It does to me.

How did the wingnuts find out about the Guns And Dope Party, I hear you asking? I think I might have had something to do with that. See, back in 2004 I was passing those links around to all the wingnuts I knew. And I knew a fair number in those days, because they hadn't quite gotten to the point where they were stockpiling ammunition like they are today, and they were still congregating in places where a hippie freak like me could communicate with them freely without being banned in ten seconds flat.

One thing I noticed when I would flow those links at the most weirdly of the wingnuts: they'd go all quiet for a few hours, then they would send a really short and cryptic follow-up message like, "Those are interesting links." And they would never mention it again.

As I mentioned to Julia, I'm more than a little concerned that I might have been one of the vectors for the transmission of this meme. Let That Be A Lesson To You! What happens at Burning Man, must ever STAY at Burning Man.

We Will Soon Have Our Answer

Wednesday night.

We will find out whether my cynicism during last year's election was warranted, or if Change in America is really possible without another revolution. We will know, because President Obama will tell us if he can see a way to overcome the institutional failure in the U.S. Senate and deliver effective reform of our health insurance system. If that can't be done, then you can pretty much forget about reforming financial services or military expenditures or foreign policy or or or... the list is almost endless.

Of the major crises facing the United States, the health care system is the most pressing, the easiest to frame, the most straightforward to fix and the least politically risky for Obama to play with an all-in push. If that can't be done, then we're all fucked.

Friday, September 04, 2009

I Should Just Change My Name To Cassandra Already

Digby sez This Could Change Everything, and I'm having a hard time arguing otherwise:
You’ve probably heard by now that next week the Supreme Court will break up its summer recess to hear argument, for the second time, in Citizens United v. FEC. You may have the sense that this doesn’t happen often and that something important is going on. If so, you’re right and then some.

The case involves a film, Hillary: The Movie, that was produced by Citizens United, a conservative, non-profit corporation, to coincide with the 2008 presidential primary season. The case began as a fairly sleepy challenge to the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC’s) decision to treat the film’s production and release as corporate electioneering subject to campaign finance regulations, but was transformed by an order issued by the Supreme Court on June 29th. Here are five reasons why Citizens United is now a truly momentous case:

Digby goes on, but I'll just enumerate the five briefly by referencing her headers: A) President Palin, Courtesy of Chevron; B) Reargued Cases in September are like a Snowstorms in July; C) A Cast of a Thousand Stars (and a lawyer’s trick you should not try at home; D) The Alito Court; and E) The Roberts Court and Stare Decisis. She finishes up by saying, "Anybody want to take bets on whether or not the Roberts Court is going to move sharply to the right?"

I'd like to get in on that action, too.

I think the odds of the Roberts Court moving sharply to the right are approaching Sure Thing chances. And if you've been reading the Sara Robinson articles I've been linking, then you can probably infer the reason I'm having a tough time arguing against Digby that this case might not mean very much.

Here's what I want to know: if the Roberts Court overturns both Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and the parts of McConnell v. FEC that uphold regulation of corporate spending in candidate elections, then does that free our corporate overlords to go public under the law with their courtship of the militant right-wing extremists?

Should I be worried?