Thursday, August 30, 2012

Herman Cain is Wrong, Factually WRONG

I tried looking for the examples of any - ANY - proposal anywhere that would support the claims by Herman Cain in this interview with Jon Stewart that there was ever a chance that work requirements for welfare would be less stringent rather than more stringent.  I'm posting part 3 here, of an interview which began on air, and which continued in 2 additional parts on the internet due to time constraints.  I would encourage readers to view all 3, which can be found through this same link above.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Herman Cain Extended Interview Pt. 3

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I can't find any, and I suspect Herman Cain here is talking through his hat, as he frequently does.  I am confident that he cannot produce ANY such example, and that if he DOES have something like this, that Jon Stewart will give it fair and prominent coverage.

That there were so many Republican governors, INCLUDING MITT ROMNEY, INCLUDING MIKE HUCKABEE, HALEY BARBOUR, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, our own TIM PAWLENTY , RICK PERRY, JOHN HUNTSMAN and JEB BUSH who sought and received such waivers is an argument AGAINST the claims made by Herman Cain ------- unless he is asserting that all those REPUBLICAN / ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE governors were the ones trying to weaken that work requirement in welfare.

Here is what a New York Times article had to say about the stringent requirements for a waiver:
Reacting to these kinds of requests, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a memo last month granting states some flexibility. If states can find better ways to get welfare recipients into jobs, they can extend training periods or grant certain kinds of exceptions. The department “is only interested in approving waivers if the state can explain in a compelling fashion why the proposed approach may be a more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs,” according to the memo. Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary, said all waivers would have to move 20 percent more people from welfare to work.

As talking point memo noted here:
States have long sought relief from the 1996 measure’s strict workforce participation requirements and time limits for welfare recipients. In 2005, Romney was one of 29 Republican governors wrote a letter to Congress seeking even more leniency in waiver authority from the welfare law than the Obama administration granted last month.

Here are the names on that letter, which you can see also here below, the text of that letter making it quite clear that there is NO weakening of work requirements being sought by a waiver.  The letter is written on Republican Governors Association letterhead, and notes that it is paid for by the Republican Governor's Association:

Kenny C. Guinn, Governor of Nevada              Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts

Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida                          Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California

Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas            Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi

George E. Pataki, Governor of New York         Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii

Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr, Governor of Maryland    Dirk Kempthorne, Governor of Idaho

Donald L. Carcieri, Governor of Rhode Island  Sonny Perdue, Governor of Georgia

Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota              Dave Heineman, Governor of Nebraska

John Hoeven, Governor of North Dakota          M. Michael Rounds, Governor of South Dakota

John Huntsman, Jr., Governor of Utah              James Douglas, Governor of Vermont

Ernie Fletcher, Governor of Kentucky              Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina

Frank H. Murkowski, Governor of Alaska        Bob Taft, Governor of Ohio

M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut              Bill Owens, Governor of Colorado

Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama                      the Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern
                                                                                  Mariana Islands, (whose signature I cannot read)
Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana                  Matt Blunt, Governor of Missouri

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas

I haven't found ANY requests from Democratic or Independent Governors seeking significantly different or more lenient work requirements for welfare than this.  If any readers find such a request or inquiry, please bring it to my attention.  I am thorough in my research, but I don't claim to be infallible. However, I'm pretty confident that there is no such weakening request ANYWHERE, by ANYONE, granted by ANY president, and certainly NOT BY OBAMA.

However, the Republicans are just wrong, in some cases, like Cain here, who comes off as a goofy, sometimes charming, sometimes obnoxious, (and often generally just very ver strange), but sincere man in this interview.  But there are others who are clearly, calculatingly, deliberately simply LYING on the right in this election -- and more so than ususal.  I have to applaud Stewart for his exceptionally deft and skillful interviewing technique. He knows how to keep a light touch while still being meticulously fair and factual.

More Right Wing Crazies Stockpiling Arsenals of Weapons for Insurrection

I don't claim by any stretch that all conservatives are racist. What I'm asserting below, connecting the dots, is that racism among a significant, and surprisingly large segment of the base, is embraced and exploited by the right for money, votes, and power. It is more than tolerated, it is encouraged to be part of their politics and to set part of their political agenda. For some, it is because they dislike having to share the traditional position of political power and social and economic privilege among white christian(more or less) males with women and with people of color or alternatively, who do not originate from Europe, preferably western Europe. For others, it is sufficient that people of color - and with the recent policies and legislation, increasingly women - are voting not only for democratic candidates, but actively AGAINST conservatives.
At right is a 2008 Reuters photo with the caption: “Republican National Convention page Isaac Aguigui watches from the edge of the floor at the start of the first session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota September 1, 2008.”
photo above from Pandith News; left photo appears to be Aguigui's mug shot
From Business Insider:
Anarchist Leader In Assassination Plot Was Apparently A Page At The 2008 GOP Convention

Gawker reports that they found a photo of what appears to be Aguigui, or maybe just a guy who looks incredibly like him and also has the name "Isaac Aguigui."
The caption of the photograph says "Republican National Convention page Isaac Aguigui watches from the edge of the floor at the start of the first session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota September 1, 2008."

From Business Insider:
Military Anarchists Were Busted Trying To Overthrow The Government And Assassinate Obama

attached image
There was a recent revelation in a relatively well-covered murder trial involving four US Army soldiers facing murder charges for the shooting death of another soldier and his 17 year-old girlfriend.The revelatory pieces of information are contained herein, released by the AP:
Prosecutor Isabel Pauley says the group bought $87,000 worth of guns and bomb-making materials and plotted to take over Fort Stewart, bomb targets in nearby Savannah and Washington state, as well as assassinate the president.
Remember when the conservatives had a meltdown because the Obama administration recognized the threat from violent right wing extremists, which is factually a greater threat than Islamoterrorism to this country?  All extremists are legitimately suspect because they lean towards any means necessary to achieve their purpose; all terrorists are genuinely dangerous because they embrace violence to do so.

It is not a coincidence that the Sikh mass shooter in Wisconsin first discovered and then embraced white supremacy and neo-nazi groups in the military.  Clearly, while not an indictment of the military overall, there is an apparent niche for that kind of politics there.
The militia white supremacists are just a bit more overt about it, and a good bit more honest in their violence and hatred as right wing authoritarians and fascists. The right can't win in a fair, honest and legal election; so they claim voter fraud where none exists.  The right can only take power to try to move this country backwards into the worst abuses that disgrace our principles, to the shameful days of our past.  The only difference with the white supremacists and militias and the other members of the GOP who go along with the voter suppression and disenfranchisement is they get down to the violence inherent in that a lot quicker.

Apparently the leader of this group was a page at the 2008 Republican Convention.

As author and professor Juan Cole noted, this guy is a bigoted White militia leader.  I've heard too many of the right wing supporting white supremacists, taking their money, courting their racism, and trying to return to the bad old days of yesteryear when we had a very real group of people who were second class citizens, people of color.

If anyone doubts that a segment of the right is extremely racist, you have only to look at this year's incident where two delegates through nuts at a black CNN camerawoman, telling her this was how they fed the animals.  If you have any doubt about the role of white supremacists in the conservative movement you have only to look at the groups welcomed to participate in CPAC during recent years that have been notoriously and historically racist, like the John Birch Society (one of the founders was the father of our current political corrupters, the Koch brothers) and two prominent white supremacists were speakers, alongside our current crop of radical right wing candidates for office at the GOP convention.

From News One:
Two white supremacists are set to speak at panels at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference that will also feature speeches by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
The first white supremacist is Peter Brimelow the owner of the website VDare, which is labeled by the SPLC as an anti-immigration hate website. VDare has featured the works of noted white supremacists, Jared Taylor, Sam Francis, Virginia Abernethy, Kevin MacDonald as well as conservative pundits, Michelle Malkin and Pat Buchanan.
Brimelow has been a featured guest on the white supremacist talk show “The Political Cesspool” and is a prominent anti-immigration activist despite the fact he was born in England. Brimelow will speak on a panel called “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity.”
The other white supremacist is Robert “Bob” Vandervoort who spoke on a panel called “High Fences, Wide Gates: States vs. the Feds, the Rule of Law & American Identity.” Vandervoort works for the site and also was the organizer for Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance which met regularly with the Chicago Chapter of Council Of Conservative Citizens.
American Renaissance is white supremacist organization run by notorious racist Jared Taylor that organizes a conference of racists including neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan including David Duke and Stormfront owner, Don Black. The Council Of Conservative Citizens is another white supremacist organization. 
This is of course in the larger context of the two prong strategy that began in the Nixon administration, and continued long after Nixon resigned, and continued beyond his death.  The 'Southern Strategy' and the less well-known 'Northern Strategy' devised by racists like former Republican candidate, Pat Buchanan.  I was particularly struck by a statement made, on air, by former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur about a conversation off air that he had with former MSNBC host Pat Buchanan before Buchanan was fired for his blatant white supremacist racism from that network.  Uygur indicated that when he spoke with Buchanan about the intentional racism of the southern strategy, and how it had benefited the GOP in the early years but was now in fact working against the GOP, as people of color become a larger demographic in the U.S., he indicated Buchanan's claimed the Southern Strategy had kept whites in power, despite the voting rights act and other civil liberties legislation in the 60's, for 40 years, so it "had a good run", and was therefore apparently worthwhile for the GOP.

So while Karl Rove whines that the Democratic party is 'playing the race card', it is in fact the Republican party and the Tea Party that pander to people like these white supremacist militants who want to overthrow the country and commit further presidential assassinations.  Ron Paul has taken money from white supremacists like Stormfront, Mitt Romney cynically and deliberately uses surrogates like birther Donald Trump to raise money from racists conservatives, and won with that white demographic strongly in southern campaigning.  Prominent Republicans like former governor Haley Barbour are supporting both Romney and Ryan as a surrogate and campaigner:
Most of the uproar over Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s comment, “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” misses the point entirely. When the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate made the remark to Andrew Ferguson in an interview for The Weekly Standard, speaking in defense of racist Citizens Councils that ruled the South before and during the civil rights era, it was no mere slip of the tongue. Barbour was simply playing the “Southern Strategy” card. 
Even a cursory study of Barbour’s past reveals the recent remark was not out of character. In the past he’s recalled that turbulent time when Ole Miss was violently forced to integrate as “a very pleasant experience.”
In his office he’s been known to show interviewers his prized possession: The last handwritten note of Ronald Reagan, dated Nov. 14, 1994, mere days after the president had announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer's and was retreating from public life. It was addressed to Barbour, who at the time was the chairman of the Republican Party.

Dear Haley, 

Congratulations on a great job for the Republican Party. I couldn't be happier with the results. And please don't count me out! I'll be putting in my licks for Republicans as long as I'm able.

This is the same Ronald Reagan that, immediately after being nominated by Republicans as their presidential candidate, played the Southern Strategy to the hilt by giving his first speech on August 3, 1980, at the Neshoba County Fair, just a few miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town widely associated with the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers. In it, he repeatedly used what had by then become the coded racist buzzwords: “states’ rights”—the notion that each state has the right under the Constitution to perpetuate its traditions any way citizens deem fit, even if those traditions were racist.

Such subtly coded racist rhetoric resonated with voters then, just as Barbour’s revisionist version of history of the South he came of age in resonates with his base now.
It is not an accident that despite Tampa being in an area likely to be threatened by hurricanes, and which is notoriously untenable due to heat and humidity in August even when there are no actual storms raging, Florida was a southern state that like the rest of the deep south was a part of the confederacy that has a long history of racism in this country.  It is no accident that the state of Florida is trying, despite laws to prevent purging the voting rolls of ELIGIBLE LEGAL VOTERS within 90 days of an election, and that they did so in a manner calculated to disenfranchise this time around 100,000 legitimate, legal, valid voters.  Now Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Texas are trying to one-up Florida's dirty politics directed against people of color. But all that will do besides trying to re-institutionalize racism in government, which is both UnAmerican and contrary to the fundamental premise of representative government in the Constitution, is guarantee that when history is written, the Republicans of the early decades of this millenium will have disgraced themselves and their politics as bigots who are corrupt, unethical and morally bankrupt. That's why they have to put so much money and effort into characterizing themselves as religious and the 'values' party, and call themselves patriots.  It is because they are none of those things they 'doth protest too much' to the contrary.

I don't want to go back to this; apparently the GOP and Tea Partiers and their militia friends DO.

Either you think these were the good old days where the good ol' white boys were in charge the way God intended, not women, not minorities; or you think these were the bad old days that we have genuinely moved beyond.  Apparently the old white male GOP is waxing nostalgic, and not in a good way.  And the new militants want the old days back too.

Ryan Lies at GOP Convention to the right wing ideologues and the tea party low information voters, Gets Busted on the Spot

If they can't get this right, neither candidate on the ticket deserves the office.  These are not accidental mistakes, these are deliberate, calculated lies.  Apparently Ryan and Romney want to be the VP and President ONLY of the low information conservative voters.

That would make them intend to be President and Veep of the likes of Palin and Bachmann, Fox News, and the tiny turnout at the GOP caucuses this year, but no one else?  You can't count the corrupt millionaires; they're just shopping for the bargains among the corrupt conservative politicians.

About the only thing left is for the conspiracy theories to be trotted out; no doubt Mittens on R-money has some more birther jokes up his sleeve.

Media Calls Out Paul Ryan Acceptance Speech For Falsehoods
The Huffington Post | By Posted: Updated: 08/29/2012 11:57 pm

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan's vice presidential acceptance speech ran into a lot of trouble with fact-checkers and journalists.
It seemed like some reporters' heads were going to explode on Twitter as Ryan spoke. For instance, he blasted President Obama for not doing more to keep a GM plant in his hometown open. The problem was that the plant closed before Obama took office. He also criticized Obama for rejecting recommendations from a debt commission that he himself sat on, and whose findings he also rejected.
ABC's Jake Tapper was one of a nearly infinite amount of reporters tweeting these points:

Jake Tapper

this new debt commission Ryan is extoling? Ryan was on it and voted against its report.

The New Yorker's Atul Gawande was even more direct:

Atul Gawande

Ryan's outright, unflinching dishonesty on Medicare, GM, Simpson-Bowles, among others is revelatory -- a total discarding of pretense.

The Washington Post flatly said, "Ryan misleads on GM plant closing."
Some media watchers expressed initital frustration at the lack of fact-checking they were seeing on television during Ryan's speech:

James Poniewozik

Seriously, if my Twitter feed, Politifact &c can fact-ck convention in real time, isn't it irresponsible for TV crawls NOT to?

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett began by slightly skirting the issue immediately after the speech.
"I marked seven or eight points I'm sure the fact checkers will have some opportunities to dispute if they want to go forward," Blitzer said. "I'm sure they will." He did not specify what the points were.
After a correspondent's interview with Ryan's family — and a fair amount of criticism — Blitzer noted that he had been getting emails from Democrats and others about what, in his words, "they claim were falsehoods, misleading statements, lies, if you will, that were made by Paul Ryan. And I guess that fact-checking is only beginning."
John King then made the point about the GM plant, and Gloria Borger brought up the debt commission issue. Panelist David Gergen took a different tack.
"I think these factual checks are really important," Gergen said. "But this was a speech about big ideas."
This is not to say that Ryan got overwhelmingly negative reviews. CNN's Candy Crowley said he brought a "spark" to the convention hall. "This was the speech they were waiting for," she added. Burnett called the speech "precise, clear and passionate."

The reality is that Obama promised to help that factory retool in new industries. The factory technically is not closed, it is just shut down on standby, as were two other GM factories, one of which has reopened already in Michigan, Jaynesville is set to be the next to reopen (unless something changes) and another factory in Tennessee that was on standby and has expanded into full production. Jaynesville is set to reopen as demand continues for the successful new hybrid and smaller vehicles; GM production, thanks in large part to Obama, is continuing to thrive and grow again.


It's a reference to this passage in Ryan's speech:
My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.
A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.
Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.
What actually happened is a bit more complicated.
On February 13, 2008, early in the campaign, Obama gave a speech at the GM plant in Janesville, several months before the closing of the plant was announced. And he said this:
I know that General Motors received some bad news yesterday, and I know how hard your Governor has fought to keep jobs in this plant. But I also know how much progress you’ve made – how many hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles you’re churning out. And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it’s where it will thrive.
In context, Obama wasn't speaking so much about the auto bailout (which was just gearing up) as the idea that clean-energy investment could allow Janesville to remake its industrial sector, as made clear by the two previous paragraphs:
I believe that we can create millions of those jobs around a clean, renewable energy future. A few hours northeast of here is the city of Manitowoc [MAN-a-ta-WOC]. For over a century, it was the home of Mirro manufacturing – a company that provided thousands of jobs and plenty of business. In 2003, Mirro closed its doors for good after losing thousands of jobs to Mexico.
But in the last few years, something extraordinary has happened. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Doyle and Mayor Kevin Crawford, Manitowoc has re-trained its workers and attracted new businesses and new jobs. Orion Energy Systems works with companies to reduce their electricity use and carbon emissions. And Tower Tech is now making wind turbines that are being sold all over the world. Hundreds of people have found new work, and unemployment has been cut in half.
It wasn't a promise to keep the factory making cars; it was an expressed belief that a sweeping energy policy could give the town the resources to produce something else, like passenger rail cars.
Two days before Christmas, 10 months after his speech and three months before Obama would become president, the Janesville factory ceased to manufacture SUVs, as virtually all the plant's employees had been or were laid off that day; 50 stayed in the massive plant until late April, making trucks for Izuzu.

It is worth noting that, like the rest of the right that is in the pocket of dirty coal and big oil, Paul Ryan opposes any efforts to switch this country off of fossil fuels, which are expensive, and being rapidly depleted.  But Ryan is beholden to big oil money, like the Koch brothers, so he opposes funding anything that decreases spending on oil, either directly as oil subsidies, or on petroleum fuels demand. Ryan is possibly even MORE the Koch brothers' bought and paid for 'boy' than Romney.

From that same article above:
Since then, the plant has remained in limbo, and the Janesville Gazette has continued to follow the now-quiet saga. In 2010, GM signaled that it would move work to one of its two standby plants, the other in Spring Hill, Tennessee—which, at the time, was not entirely idled, but operating below production. In 2011, GM reopened the Spring Hill plant, keeping Janesville on standby.
It's still owned by GM, and still in standby mode.
Ryan's comments on the Janesville plant were deceptive, but rather than obscuring a simple truth, they obscure a complex web of economics and politics. The plant closed under George W. Bush, but it's remained in play as a GM plant into the Obama administration—which you could view as giving some weight to Ryan's charge, but it's also limited the use of the plant to re-tool in the way that Obama originally proposed as a candidate. The auto-industry bailout did aid GM in saving jobs, including the jobs of Janesville plant employees, but only for those who relocated; the jobs were lost to Janesville itself. It's possible that, had the economy recovered more quickly, GM would have the demand required to bring the Janesville plant back online, as was suggested in late 2011, but that also reflects back on Ryan's support for the auto bailout versus his opposition to Obama's stimulus package. And the unemployment rate in Janesville has improved greatly since early 2009, though it remains above the state's unemployment rate.
The facts aren't what Ryan presented last night, but the truth is more complicated than the bare facts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No Lyin', there's no Lion

Reading this, I have to wonder if a bit of this was just some sort of mass hysteria / group insanity.  No one has ever answered the quesion of where a lion would have come from; they don't run wild in the English woods, like the urban myths of alligators in the New York City sewers.

From the Express:

ARMED police were left, well, feline embarrassed last night after spending 24 hours hunting an “escaped lion” that turned out to be nothing more than a cat.
Dozens of officers were ready to pounce after witnesses were “one million per cent” certain they saw the African predator in an Essex village.

Frightened residents of St Osyth were warned to beware and police marksmen patrolled neighbouring fields as two helicopters hovered overhead.

But the drama came to an end when photographs revealed the “Essex Lion” to be a domestic cat lapping up the attention.

Meanwhile, grainy snaps of a male lion prowling around a suburban street circulating on Twitter were exposed as fakes.

An Essex Police spokesman said:

“We believe what was seen on Sunday evening was either a large domestic cat or a wildcat.

“Extensive searches have been carried out, areas examined and witnesses spoken to, yet nothing has been found to suggest that a lion was in the area.

“We would like to thank the local community and holidaymakers for their patience and support throughout the past 24 hours as the police and media presence would have been somewhat overwhelming for them.”

The scare began on Sunday evening after witnesses saw the prowling beast in a field at Earl’s Hall Farm.

Denise Martin, 52, a warehouse operative, was one of several people who took pictures from the window of her caravan on the site.

Mrs Martin, on a Bank Holiday weekend break from her home in Canvey Island, said:

“I was looking out of the window and we saw smoke. When it cleared I could see this shape in the field, so I got the binoculars out. We had a look and it looked like a lion.”

Farmer Roger Lord said:

“The first thing we knew about it was a phone call from the police.

“They have taken it very seriously and have put two helicopters up in the air and I don’t know how many armed police that we still have on site now.”

Rich Baker, 39, who was walking with his two sons, aged nine and 11, said:

“A man started running towards us yelling ‘It’s a lion!’ He looked so panicked you knew it was not a joke.”

Van driver Mr Baker, from Romford, added:

“I grabbed my children’s hands and we ran towards our caravan. My children started to scream, ‘Daddy, is the
lion going to get us?’

“It was one million per cent a lion. It was a tan colour with a big mane, it was fully grown. It was definitely a lion. It seemed to be standing there enjoying itself.

"There were a dozen or so people who saw it. “

Che Kevlin, 40, said: “I was sitting with my wife in the front room playing backgammon at around 10pm when I heard this very loud roar. It was incredibly odd to hear something like that at that time of night.”

Rumours circulated that the animal could have escaped from a circus that had been performing nearby earlier this month.

Armed police were scrambled and an expert from Colchester Zoo was called in to advise officers on how to deal with the potential maneater.

But when photographs of the big cat were examined by police, it became obvious that it was a ginger domestic cat with a white bib.

Although police said their primary concern had been public safety, some residents were still sceptical about the stand-down.

Mandy Thomson, 42, said:

“Let’s hope the police have not left us too soon as it all felt very real when they were hunting for it last night.”

Driver Kieran Bourne claimed yesterday that he saw a panther on the loose in the Cotswolds.

Mr Bourne, 30, said he almost ran over the animal when it appeared in his headlights on Cleeve Hill in the early hours.

The 30-year-old, who reported the sighting to a big cat expert, said:

“I’m now 100 per cent sure it was a big black cat, with no markings on. It’s out there.”


In psychology, projection is the act/behavior of assigning to others blame or traits for which you have responsibility or know you are "guilty" of engaging in yourself.  Often it is done to deflect blame or otherwise create a tangible defense by "blaming the other guy" first in order that the fingers don't point back at you.

Yet, much like the finger-pointing analagy of the hand, projection is often seen by others is shirking blame.  Would that it were always so on some topics and some levels.

The GOP, in my life, has very nearly always been a group that spent a lot of time pointing fingers.  People who were out of work were "lazy", women who chose to have an abortion were "sluts", people who needed a financial hand were "not taking personal responsibility", and so on.

The modern day GOP is at least as guilty of projection as they have been at any point in my memory of the past.  Mitt Romney calls Obama's campaign style "vituperative", a overly-long, needlessly complex word for "harsh language" aka saying things which the other guy thinks are insulting.  Funny that they then complain about Obama being too "professorial.", but that's not the projection I'm talking about.  No, what I'm talking about is at the same time Romney complains about "insulting" rhetoric, the Republican National Committtee is calling people, me included, and referring to Obama and liberals in general as "downright criminal."  Now, I get attacking the President, you're running for office, it's what you do.  Calling him a criminal is, however, absolutely uncalled for.  What law has he been CONVICTED of breaking?  Where is the presumption of innocence here?  But worse, far more a problem for me, you just called 33% (or so) of this country's population criminals.  You're using wording which justifies what, exactly?  Putting them in jail?  Pursuing them through the courts? 

Maybe Romney and the RNC are just engaging in "vituperative" hyperbole - and I suspect for the leadership of the RNC, that's exactly what it is, but words carry meaning, they have power.  Words encourage folks to act, to, say, shoot Dr. Tiller for providing abortions, to shoot kids on an island in Norway.  Words matter.  if you want to promote a campaign about issues as soooo many politicians claim they do, then start yourself.  Take "personal responsbility" yourself, RESPECT your opponent as having differing views, but still as Americans who love their country and want the best for it.  Above all, don't promote hatred of entire swaths of the country.  Using words which call others criminal is FAR over the top, doing that is more than just campaign hyperbole, doing so is the worst sort of "vituperative" campaign, doing THAT is ugly and irresponsible.  It shows nothing in the way of respect. 

This is the first of several points I'll make on the tendency of the GOP to project their worst conduct onto their opposition.  If they TRULY want to be the party of personal responsibility, it is time they took some.

Uh-OH! "Annie Get Your Gun" Redux

In Texas, where else, we have what started out as a skunk shooting that ended up as a spouse shooting.

There are times when it would be more appropriate to resort to one of those rechargeable 'air horns in a can', often sold in the automotive and boating sections of most big box stores.  It would be cheaper than any deductible on the health insurance to airlift this wounded husband. Which raises another question about the article below -- it says the husband was airlifted by helicopter to Houston, but his injuries were not that serious. College Station has at least one medical center, a 150 bed facility that includes at least some surgical services and trauma why Houston by helicopter rather than College Station by regular ambulance if this was not that serious, compared to say a critical wound?

Local animal control should drop by to explain, if the cats are eating the left out food, and so are skunks, as in likely more than one, they're probably attracting other vermin....

The notion that some people have that they just must get out their gun to use lethal force has unfortunate consequences.

Frankly in this instance apparently it did not occur to the shooter that executing the goblin skunk would create an extremely unpleasant smell in the immediate vicinity, which by itself should have dissuaded her from taking arms against an annoying trouble.

And is it just me, or does it seem ill advised to be firing away from one's house in what is apparently a suburban housing division, or was this fool firing towards the porch when she missed, hitting her husband?  Because either choice this seems another of those unsafe shootings where the gun handler forgot or ignored the fundamental rules of firearm safety.  I know this is Texas, where the odd is normal, and intellect is not strictly required, but ........good grief, this is a .45, not a pea shooter or a BB gun.  It's not just the risk of the skunk spray if she did kill it, or the risk to husband and family, or the neighbors, but good grief -- who shoots up their own deck like that?  Thank goodness going through the back door reduced the momentum a bit before it hit her spouse.

But this kind of judgement does tend to point out that there are good reasons some of us are less than sanguine (pardon the pun) about when concealed carry permittees think it is appropriate to fire, all amusement aside.


Stinky shot: Texas woman aims for skunk, accidentally shoots husband

A Texas woman aiming for a pesky skunk that was feeding off cat food bowls outside her home wound up accidentally shooting her husband when the bullet ricocheted off the porch and struck him in the abdomen, a sheriff said.
The accident happened Sunday night at the family’s home in a subdivision south of College Station, Texas, Brazos County Sheriff Christopher Kirk said.
“Apparently they feed their cats out of bowls outside the back of the porch. They had a skunk that had been coming up there feeding. They decided they wanted to dispatch that skunk,” Kirk told NBC News on Tuesday.
The wife went out to retrieve her .45-caliber handgun, which was legally permitted, from her purse in an office in an attached garage. The husband stayed inside the home.
The wife shot at the skunk but missed. The bullet ricocheted off the porch, penetrated the back door of the home and struck her husband in the abdomen. The bullet did not damage any vital organs and wound up lodged in the hip area, the sheriff said.
The husband was airlifted to a hospital in Houston, where he was treated and released on Monday.
Kirk said investigators interviewed the husband and wife separately and their stories were consistent that the shooting was an unfortunate accident.
“She was very concerned about her husband and certainly having created that situation,” the sheriff said of the wife.
The couple’s names were not released. Kirk said they were in their early 50s.
The couple’s seven children were also in the home at the time but none witnessed the accident and none were hurt, the sheriff said.
Kirk said investigators will present their findings to the prosecutor to see if any laws were broken.
“Discharging a firearm in that situation was probably not good judgment,” Kirk said. “It certainly was reckless but I don’t know if anyone would be served if any charges were to be filed.”
Kirk said even the skunk cooperated with the investigation.
“He actually came back while our investigators were at the scene and tried to feed again off the cat bowls. We chased it off,” he said.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Update on Maryland School Shooting

The news  station went to the house where Gladden lives with his mother on Monday afternoon; a sign on the door read "We don't call 911," and had a picture of a revolver on it, reporters said.

I've seen this kind of sentiment over and over among the shoot-first crowd and the more intransigent "gotta-carry-wanna-shoot-'goblins" crowd, with goblins being a dehumanizing slang from among gun nuts for people the right wing radicals want to shoot / execute by themselves, rather than participating in the justice system.

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On the face of it, do you think this kid most likely saw and heard unhealthy and unrealistic and unhealthy examples from adults in that home on the topic of what firearms are and what they properly are for?  Apparently some gun owners of the more rabid variety don't favor participating in the criminal justice system, but instead favor taking the law into their own hands.  Where do we tend to find that unhealthy and uncivilized approach to both crime and conflict? Anyone want to venture a friendly bet these are ignorant rednecks of the far right birther/truther pro-guns anti-government variety?

So it should come as no surprise this is also part of the article below:

Police also executed a search warrant at the Kingsville home of Gladden's mother and stepfather and arrested the stepfather — Andrew Piper, 43 — on illegal gun and drug possession charges, police said. The charges against Piper had nothing to do with the school shooting, Johnson said, but he noted that Gladden lived part-time at that address.

As I have pointed out before, more than once, guns that are acquired by those who either are prohibited from having guns from mental illness, criminal past, illegal immigrant status, and drug use can get them easily through private transactions, either from original purchasers who obtained them legally but then sell without any questions asked or background check, either in person, over the internet, or at gun shows as private sellers.  In this case the (alleged) shooter appears to have taken an inadequately secured firearm from his father's home in the shooting. Those who engage in gun violence alternatively obtain weapons from family or friends.

Want to make a bet that, at the very least, Gladden's mother and stepfather share conservative views of the ignorant red neck variety common to birthers, evolution deniers and other truther stupidity? 

I hope that readers will join us in condemning this stupid, destructive, pointless violence, and in praying for the poor kid who was shot in the back on his first day of the new school year for no apparent reason.

From NBC News and the AP:

Cops: Maryland school suspect brought 21 rounds of ammunition, vodka to school

Baltimore County Police Department / AP
Robert Wayne Gladden, Jr., 15, of Baltimore.

PERRY HALL, Md. - A 15-year-old sophomore at a suburban Baltimore high school who made references to murder-suicide on Facebook has been charged as an adult in the shooting of a classmate on the first day of school, authorities said Tuesday.
Robert Wayne Gladden Jr. was being held without bail on charges of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault, Baltimore County police said. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 7. The state's attorney's office said it did not know if he had a lawyer.
Gladden's last status update on his Facebook page, posted the morning of the shooting, read: "First day of school, last day of my life. ... f--- the world."
His father told The Associated Press that his son had been bullied. Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said at a news conference Tuesday that he was aware of the reported bullying, but he said Gladden has not indicated in conversations with detectives that bullying was a motive for the shooting. His father did not disclose other possible motives.

Gladden continues to cooperate with investigators and was undergoing a mental health evaluation, Johnson said.

Gladden rode to school on the bus Monday morning with a bag containing a disassembled shotgun, 21 rounds of ammunition and a bottle of vodka, Johnson said.

Steve Ruark / AP
A Baltimore County police officer speaks to a parent as students are evacuated from Perry Hall High School after a student was shot and critically wounded on the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 27.

When he arrived at school, Gladden went to his first two classes, Johnson said. On the way to the cafeteria, he stashed the bag with the shotgun in a restroom, the chief said. A short time later, he returned to the restroom and assembled the gun, which he then hid beneath his clothes, Johnson said.
Previous report: Student shot at Maryland high school on first day of class
Upon entering the cafeteria, he pulled out the gun and fired a shot toward a lunch table, according to charging documents. A 17-year-old classmate, Daniel Borowy, was struck in the back.
Borowy is a special needs student, according to NBC affiliate He remained in critical condition Tuesday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. His family issued a statement asking well-wishers to keep him in their thoughts and prayers and asking for privacy.
Teachers and school staff rushed toward Gladden, and in the ensuing struggle, he fired another shot that hit the ceiling, investigators said in the documents. The staffers were able to get the gun away from him and he was arrested by a school resource officer.
Witnesses credited guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer with getting the gun away from Gladden.
Gladden sipped from the vodka bottle before the shooting but did not drink enough to become intoxicated, Johnson said.
The teen got the shotgun from his father's house, Johnson said. The weapon was manufactured before 1968 and was of legal length, and police were trying to determine whether it was properly registered, he said.

Update on Neil Prescott, Joker 'Disgruntled Employee' Who Threatened His Co-Workers

Turns out Neil Prescott, who at one time worked in the Congressional mail room apparently, was released from a mental hospital last week into the custody of his parents.  He is only allowed out of their house for legal and treatment appointments, and he has to continue to attend counseling and take medication.

In other words, he has emphatically NOT received a clean bill of mental health.

He exemplifies the characteristics that are often used to define someone who is called disgruntled - expressing a preoccupation with firearms; accumulating an unusual quantity and assortment of firearms, accessories, and ammunition; making threats and invoking firearms as solutions to conflicts; behaving with hostility or aggression; and behaving in ways which suggest a possible mental instability.

For those of you who are wondering who the heck Neil Prescott is, he self-identified as the Joker not long after the Aurora, Colorado shooting, and was taken into custody wearing a t-shirt proclaiming "guns don't kill people, I kill people", after threatening to load up his guns and kill his former co-workers in a phone call, and indicating he wanted to kill a lot of people in online comments.

He had a private arsenal in his apartment when law enforcement intervened including large capacity magazines, assault style weapons, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, as well as an extensive and varied collection of firearms, itemized below.

From the Pasadena Patch:

Prescott Had Collector Status, Bought Firearms Legally
Maryland State Police said Neil Prescott bought 16 firearms between May of 2011 and July of 2012. He passed all background checks and was permitted to buy more than one gun per month.
August 3, 2012
Prescott, a Crofton resident accused of threatening to shoot former employees, did not violate any laws when he bought an array of weapons, including several pistols, revolvers and receivers. Maryland State Police said Prescott passed all background checks required to purchase firearms. His collector status was also properly applied, police said.
Collector status can be granted to to a person who "devotes time and attention to acquiring certain types of regulated firearms for the enhancement of the collector's personal collection," and who does not act as a dealer. Applicants are required to provide a signed and notarized affidavit.
Prosecutors on Thursday issued a warrant for Prescott's arrest on a misdemeanor phone misuse charge, which carries a sentence of up to three years in jail and a $500 fine. He was detained last week after police said he threatened former employees at a Pitney Bowes office in Capitol Heights. Police said they believe they may have stopped a potential mass shooting after discovering a collection of weapons inside Prescott's home.
Prescott remains hospitalized voluntarily for a mental health evaluation.
Here's a list of Prescott's purchases, according to the Maryland State Licensing Division. Note that receivers, which house the operating mechanisms, are considered regulated firearms under Maryland state law.
  • May 14, 2011 – Beretta .40 caliber pistol
  • June 30, 2011 – lower receiver
  • August 13, 2011 – Ruger .357 revolver
  • December 10, 2011 – Springfield .9mm pistol
  • April 10, 2011 – five lower receivers
    - two Kahr Arms 9mm pistols.
  • April 19, 2012 – Saiga .762 caliber rifle
- Ruger .45 caliber pistol
  • June 16, 2012 – Beretta 9mm pistol
- Sig Sauer 9mm pistol
  • June 20, 2012, and July 14, 2012 – Weapons not yet entered into state database.
I don't understand why this kind of behavior is categorized as making terroristic threats here and elsewhere, but not apparently in Maryland; since he has been released and not found a danger to himself or others, or involuntarily committed, it sounds like he wouldn't be included in the NICS data base as dangerously mentally ill or as having committed a felony, so presumably on that basis he could continue to pass an FFL screening.  I find it disturbing that this man could ever have firearms again, or regain his existing weapons.  I find it even more disturbing that if denied legal weapons purchased through a law abiding FFL, the NRA has ensured that there are no background checks required in private transactions, making it both legal and very, very easy for this man, and other disgruntled employees, dangerously mentally ill individuals, or criminals, even minors, to acquire a new arsenal of weapons and ammunition.  Not only are there no questions asked, volunteered answers are ignored so long as the money is good.  Clearly, this is NOT supported by the overwhelming majority of gun owners, including those in the NRA.  But the NRA answers far more to the gun manufacturers who want to sell, sell, sell, and NOT to their rank and file members -- (many of whom don't have voting privileges in the NRA).

If you question this - see the preceding post on what gun owners, including NRA member gun owners, want in the specific area of background checks on ALL gun sales, and not allowing guns to people with mental health issues -- which is more stringent than only denying firearms to those found by a court to be a danger to themselves and others (usally part of an involuntary committment process, a very difficult legal threshold to satisfy)  From a CNN poll:
The poll indicates that two meet with almost unanimous approval: Ninety-six percent are in favor of background checks and 91% support laws to prevent convicted felons or people with mental health problems from owning guns.

The possible charges in Marlyand appear to be relatively trivial for making a death threat over the phone; in related news from the same source:

Prosecutors Handcuffed By Law in Threat Case

The State's Attorney for Prince George's County said she'll fight for tougher laws against making threats, after determining she could only charge Neil Prescott with phone misuse.
The State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County said she will push for tougher laws against people who make threats, after concluding that she could only charge a Crofton man with misdemeanor phone misuse.
Top prosecutor Angela Alsobrooks insisted that local police “saved countless lives” when they detained Neil Prescott last week after he allegedly threatened to kill former co-workers at a Pitney Bowes facility in Capitol Heights. Police also found more than two dozen guns in his home in Anne Arundel County.
The alleged threat took place three days after a gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, CO, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.
Prescott allegedly said, "I'm the joker, and I'm going to load my guns and blow everyone up."
But prosecutors eventually determined that Prescott had broken no laws, save for section 3-804 in the Maryland Code, which prohibits the use of the telephone to “annoy, torment or harass” someone. Prescott faces a misdemeanor charge and could face up to three years in prison and a $500 fine. Prescott could also face a similar federal charge.
Alsobrooks said Wednesday there is no law in Maryland that makes it expressly illegal to threaten someone over the phone. Moreover, she said there was not enough evidence to charge Prescott with second-degree assault, and all of his firearms were legally obtained.
“I want to communicate that this is insufficient, especially in light of Mr. Prescott’s alleged threatening statements,” Alsobrooks said. “I believe that when people like Mr. Prescott threaten violence, especially in this day and age with all that we have going on, he ought to be facing felony charges, not misdemeanor charges.”
Prescott is currently being evaluated at a hospital in Annapolis. A warrant for his arrest will be served when he is released. Alsobrooks said he will not be able to recover his guns or obtain new ones while his case is being adjudicated.
Alsobrooks also said that if convicted, Prescott will be prevented from purchasing firearms indefinitely.
Laws regarding threats vary from state to state, along with penalties. In the District of Columbia, a threat to kidnap or injure another person could result in a felony conviction and a jail sentence of up to 20 years.
In Virginia, a verbal threat of harm is considered a misdemeanor, but could rise to a felony offense if the threat is communicated in writing.
In New York, making a terroristic threat is considered a felony, and the law states that it does not matter if the defendant had the intent or capability to carry out the threat.
“This situation, as far as we are concerned, highlights the need for tougher laws, and we will be lobbying for it in Annapolis,” Alsobrooks said.
Jason Cleckner, an attorney in Maryland who has worked on cases involving phone threats and harassment, said cases against people involving phone harassment are common. Usually, however, they involve people who are mentally ill or involved in domestic disputes.
Cleckner, who cautioned that he was not familiar with the details of the case involving Prescott, said the defendant's mental health could play a role in how he is prosecuted and whether he will stand trial. Cleckner said Prince George’s County judges have developed a reputation for ensuring that defendants suffering from mental illness are more likely to be treated than jailed.
He said that under current Maryland law, it does appear that charging Prescott with any additional crimes would be a reach.
“That sounds right to me,” Cleckner said. “If he hasn’t done anything, what else could they get him on?”
Cleckner acknowledged that other states may have felony statutes against threats, and said a three-year jail sentence is not a minor penalty.
“If that’s not enough to deter someone from making threats over the telephone, I don’t know what is,” he said.