04/15/2012 archive

Rant of the Week: Rachel Maddow

NRA Conference Undercuts Gun Violence

Rachel Maddow reports on Mitt Romney’s confused attacks against President Obama at Friday’s NRA Conference in St. Louis. Rachel also talked with Pittsburgh councilman Ricky Burgess about the conversation the country should be having about gun violence and the need for tighter gun control laws

Andrew Rosenthal: Keep, Bear and Use

The modern drive against gun control started with an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment as bestowing an absolute, individual right to “keep” and “bear” arms, rather than a societal right based on the need for a “well-regulated militia.”

But we are now in a new and dangerous phase of the gun movement, in which extremists led by the National Rifle Association are pushing beyond “keep” and “bear” to “use.” They are pressing state and federal lawmakers to make it easier for people to shoot other people. [..]

They certainly will not discuss these statistics, compiled by the Violence Policy Center, on the homicide rate for African Americans, which is more than three times the overall homicide rate. The overwhelming majority of victims are killed by guns, and the majority of those are killed by handguns. Missouri leads the nation in this appalling statistic.

Missouri Leads Nation in Black Homicide Victimization for Second Year in a Row

Washington, DC–Missouri leads the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization for the second year in a row according to a new analysis of unpublished Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).

The annual study, “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2009 Homicide Data,” (http://www.vpc.org/studies/blackhomicide12.pdf) uses 2009 data–the most recent data available from the FBI–and ranks the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates. The study found overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, were the weapon of choice in the homicides.

Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund: What a Difference a Gun Makes

On April 16, 2007, our nation suffered its deadliest shooting incident ever by a single gunman when a student killed 32 people and wounded 25 others at Virginia Tech before committing suicide. Five years later, have we learned anything about controlling our national gun and gun violence epidemic? A look at just a few of the sad headlines across the country so far this year suggests we haven’t learned much or anything at all. [..]

As a nation we can’t afford to keep waiting for common-sense gun control laws that would protect our children and all of us from indefensible gun violence. It’s time to repeal senseless gun laws like the “Stand Your Ground” laws enacted by 21 states that have grabbed so much attention in Trayvon’s case and allow people in Florida to defend themselves with deadly force anytime and anywhere if they feel threatened. More than two million people have signed online petitions saying they want to repeal these laws. It’s time to require consumer safety standards and childproof safety features for all guns and strengthen child access prevention laws that ensure guns are stored safely and securely to prevent unnecessary tragedies like those in Washington state. And in a political environment where the too-secretive and powerful advocacy group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushed “Stand Your Ground” laws in other states along with other “model bills” that benefit some corporate bottom lines or special interests like the NRA, it’s time for all of ALEC’s corporate sponsors to walk away from enabling or acquiescing in destructive laws that protect guns, not children.

It’s a tragedy that five years after Virginia Tech so little has changed. How many years must we wait until tragic headlines about school shootings, children dying, and people using the “shoot first and ask questions later” defense to take the law into their own hands go away? When will we finally get the courage to stand up as a nation and say enough to the deadly proliferation of guns and gun violence that endanger children’s and public safety?


On This Day In History April 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 15 is the 105th day of the year (106th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 260 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1912, Molly Brown avoids sinking with the Titanic

A 20th century version of the strong and resourceful women of the Wild West, Molly Brown wins lasting fame by surviving the sinking of the Titanic.

Margaret Brown (nèe Tobin) (July 18, 1867 – October 26, 1932) was an American socialite, philanthropist, and activist who became famous due to her involvement with the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, after exhorting the crew of lifeboat 6 to return to look for survivors. It is unclear whether any survivors were found after life boat 6 returned to search. She became known after her death as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, although she was not called Molly during her life. Her friends called her Maggie.

Born Margaret Tobin in Hannibal, Missouri, one of four children born to Irish immigrants John Tobin (1820-1899) and Johanna Collins (1825-1905). Her siblings were Daniel (born 1863), William (born 1869), and Helen (born 1871). Added to these, Margaret had two half-sisters: Catherine Bridget Tobin, by her father’s first marriage, and Mary Ann Collins, by her mother’s first marriage. Both her mother and father had been widowed young.

At age 18, Margaret relocated to Leadville, Colorado with her sister, and got a job in a department store. It was here she met and married James Joseph Brown (1854-1922), nicknamed J.J., an enterprising, self-educated man. His parents, too, had emigrated from Ireland. Brown had always planned to marry a rich man but she married J.J. for love. She said,

   I wanted a rich man, but I loved Jim Brown. I thought about how I wanted comfort for my father and how I had determined to stay single until a man presented himself who could give to the tired old man the things I longed for him. Jim was as poor as we were, and had no better chance in life. I struggled hard with myself in those days. I loved Jim, but he was poor. Finally, I decided that I’d be better off with a poor man whom I loved than with a wealthy one whose money had attracted me. So I married Jim Brown.

Margaret and J.J. were married in Leadville’s Annunciation Church on September 1, 1886. The Browns had two children.

The family acquired great wealth when J.J.’s engineering efforts proved instrumental in the production of a substantial ore seam at the Little Jonny mine of his employers, Ibex Mining Company, and he was awarded 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board.

In Leadville, Margaret first became involved with the women’s suffrage issue, helping to establish the Colorado chapter of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and working in soup kitchens to assist miners’ families.

During 1894, the Browns moved to Denver, Colorado, which gave the family more social opportunities. Margaret became a charter member of the Denver Woman’s Club, whose mission was the improvement of women’s lives by continuing education and philanthropy. During 1901, she was one of the first students to enroll at the Carnegie Institute in New York. Adjusting to the trappings of a society lady, Brown became well-immersed in the arts and fluent in the French, German, and Russian languages. During 1909 she advertised herself as campaigning for the U.S. Senate.

Margaret assisted in the fundraising for Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception which was completed during 1911. Margaret worked with Judge Lindsey to help destitute children and establish the United States’ first juvenile court which helped form the basis of the modern U.S. juvenile courts system.

Margaret campaigned for Senate again during 1914 but stopped when her sister Helen married a German baron, with Margaret believing that the union would have made a successful campaign impossible.

By the time Margaret Tobin Brown boarded Titanic at Cherbourg, France, she had already made a significant impact in the world. She and her daughter Helen, who was a student at the Sorbonne, had been traveling throughout Europe and were staying with the John Jacob Astor party in Cairo, Egypt, when Margaret received word that her first grandchild, Lawrence Palmer Brown, Jr., was ill. She decided to leave for New York immediately, and booked passage on the earliest ship: Titanic. At the last minute Helen decided to stay behind in London. Due to her quick decision, very few people, including family, knew that Margaret was on board the Titanic.

After the ship struck the iceberg, Margaret helped load others into lifeboats and eventually was forced to board lifeboat six. She and the other women in lifeboat six worked together to row, keep spirits up, and dispel the gloom that was broadcast by the emotional and unstable Robert Hichens. However, Margaret’s most significant work occurred on Carpathia, where she assisted Titanic survivors, and afterwards in New York. By the time Carpathia reached New York harbor, Margaret had helped establish the Survivor’s Committee, been elected as chair, and raised almost $10,000 for destitute survivors. Margaret’s language skills in French, German, and Russian were an asset, and she remained on Carpathia until all Titanic survivors had met with friends, family, or medical/emergency assistance. In a letter to her daughter shortly after the Titanic sinking, she wrote:

   “After being brined, salted, and pickled in mid ocean I am now high and dry… I have had flowers, letters, telegrams-people until I am befuddled. They are petitioning Congress to give me a medal… If I must call a specialist to examine my head it is due to the title of Heroine of the Titanic.”

Her sense of humor prevailed; to her attorney in Denver she wired:

   “Thanks for the kind thoughts. Water was fine and swimming good. Neptune was exceedingly kind to me and I am now high and dry.”

On May 29, 1912, as chair of the Survivor’s Committee Margaret presented a silver loving cup to Captain Rostron of the Carpathia and a medal to each Carpathia crew member. In later years Margaret helped erect the Titanic memorial that stands in Washington, D.C.; visited the cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to place wreaths on the graves of victims; and continued to serve on the Survivor’s Committee. She was particularly upset that, as a woman, she was not allowed to testify at the Titanic hearings. In response she wrote her own version of the event which was published in newspapers in Denver, New York, and Paris.

The actor Kathy Bates, who portrayed Margaret “Molly” Brown in the movie Titanic, bears an uncanny resemblance to Margaret Brown.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Sunday’s guests are Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter David Cay Johnston (@davidcayj); Betsey Stevenson (@betseystevenson), former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor; Tom Perreillo (@tomperriello), former Democratic representative from Virginia’s 5th congressional district; Heather McGhee (@hmcghee), Washington D.C. office director of Demos, a progressive policy organization; Jennifer Siebel Newsom (@JenSiebelNewsom), writer, director and producer of the 2011 Sundance film Miss Representation; and Marianna Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger Free Communities and associate professor at Drexel University School of Public Health.

The Melissa Harris-Perry Show: Guest list was not posted at this time.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Guests are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in an exclusive interview with  Mr. Stephanopolous.

The roundtable gusts this week are ABC News’ Cokie Roberts; former Obama domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes; Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot; advisor to the Romney campaign Kevin Madden; and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Sunday’s guests Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; Georgetown University’s Michael Eric Dyson, TIME Magazine Columnist Toure, CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford and CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann look at the Trayvon Martin case; Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, Washington Post editorial writer Ruth Marcus, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Norah O’Donnell and CBS News political director John Dickerson on the War on Women and Campaign 2012

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests Dan Rather, HDNet Global Correspondent; Pete Williams, NBC News Justice Correspondent; Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post National Political Reporter; and Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post Columnist.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is making the rounds; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN); and the roundtable panel guests are former Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN), Republican strategist Mike Murphy, and NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Guests are legendary actor/comedian/writer/producer/activist Bill Cosby; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers; Dan Balz of The Washington Post and Matt Bai of The New York Times.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

‘Disaster emergency’ as dozens of tornadoes pummel Midwest


By msnbc.com staff and news services

A disaster emergency has been declared in Kansas are a severe storm system moving through the state spawned a number of strong tornadoes, causing damage in multiple counties.

Governor Sam Brownback issued a declaration of disaster emergency to help speed relief to areas affected by the storms. “We are continuing to assess all the damages across the state,” said Brownback, “and signing this declaration clears the way for making state aid available to those counties that need help with clean-up and recovery.”

Dozens of tornadoes were reported Saturday as baseball-size hail shattered windows and tore the siding off homes in northeast Nebraska and one twister damaged a hospital in Creston, Iowa. Several homes were wrecked in Kansas.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Egypt disqualifies top Islamists from election

Maoists extend deadline for MLA’s release

Sixth Summit of the Americas: 8 things to watch

UN monitors prepare for Syria mission

Sport that survived the Khmer Rouge

Formula One 2012: Shanghai

So now that we’re in Shanghai, let’s talk about Bahrain.  Not that China doesn’t have an oppressive and violent plutocratic regime, just that 60+ years of totalitarianism detract from the novelty factor.

It was interesting to hear all of the paid shills on Speed begrudgingly opine that they thought next week’s race was a bad idea.  The operative insight was- ‘Everybody’s afraid of the penalties if they don’t honor their contract.’

Ecclestone said there were commercial reasons why teams should take part but admitted he could not force individuals to participate. “We’ve no way we can force people to go there,” he said. “We can’t say ‘you’ve got to go’ – although they would be in breach of their agreement with us if they didn’t go – but it doesn’t help. Commercially they have to go, but whether they decide to or not is up to them.

So the question is if you’re more afraid of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in court than you are of a waiter pissing in your cocktail or blowing himself up in your face.

The place is a powder keg waiting to explode and the fuse is Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja who has a 50% chance of martyrdom before the race, a signal even Bernie can’t ignore.

As riot police wage almost daily pitched battles with masked petrol-bomb throwing protesters, analysts say the mainstream opposition may be losing touch with the youth who seek more revolutionary change.

That I think Ecclestone a callous greedy fool and liar is no secret to my readers and I hope that at the very least the negative publicity damages him financially and personally.

Bahrain Grand Prix Splits the Kingdom

By SOUAD MEKHENNET, The New York Times

Published: April 13, 2012

In the street battles that have continued for more than a year, nearly 50 people have died.

Some insist that there is little to worry about regarding Bahrain and the race. John Yates, a former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police in London who have been hired to oversee an overhaul of the Bahrain police force, said that he felt safe in the kingdom. “Indeed, safer than I have often felt in London,” he said Wednesday, according to Reuters.

During an interview, Yates said that tear gas was the only weapon the riot police carried. “They don’t carry any guns, while protesters in the villages are throwing Molotov cocktails and stones,” he said.

“Some people have recently told stories to media that never took place and give the impression that Bahrain is a war zone, and it’s not,” Yates said.

The boss of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, said Friday in Shanghai, where he was overseeing preparations for the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, that the Bahrain race was definitely going ahead as planned and that all of the teams were “happy” to be going there, The Associated Press reported.

“There’s nothing happening,” Ecclestone said of the situation in Bahrain. “I know people that live there and it’s all very quiet and peaceful.”

Human Rights Watch says this-

“We are looking at a lockdown.  F1 is not my world, but this seems to be a terrible climate in which to hold what is supposed to be a competitive, festive sporting event.  In the circumstances, I don’t know who is going to be having any fun.”

“I think that they [F1] will have some explaining to do,” said Stork (Deputy Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch). “I can easily imagine that the security will be such that you won’t have the race disrupted on the track and I imagine that they can keep that under control.  But if you have a situation where there are demonstrations on a nightly, if not daily basis, clashes with security forces who aren’t known for the most sophisticated crowd control techniques is not going to be good.  It’s not going to be good for Bahrain, it’s not going to be good for F1 either if it happens either during the race or when it’s clear that the demonstrations are primarily aimed at stopping the race.  That’s what the story will be.”

“From the Bahraini government’s point of view, of course,” he said when asked if there were potential benefits to the race going ahead. “They are desperate to make the case that the situation is normal from a security point of view, normal in terms of civil strife, and that it’s one big happy family.

“But the fact is, it’s not normal. I’m not sure that it’s the mission or the mandate of F1 to be participating in these kinds of exercises.”

“The [ruling] Al Khalifa family are desperate for [the grand prix] to happen. But that doesn’t mean that it should happen.”

On the competition front-  There hasn’t been an all-Mercedes front row since 1955 and Sauber and Lotus are unexpectedly high up on the grid.  Scuderia Marlboro UPC continues its slide into the back markers.  My Dad, who inspired this coverage, asked me today, “So what happened to Red Bull?”  The answer is simple, without the diffuser they have a very ordinary car.  They are attempting to do something with aerodynamic brake cooling to regain their technological edge.

I like it, and not just because McLaren is doing well.  In the ’60s Lotus was my favorite Matchbox and it certainly makes the races more interesting that Red Bull dominance is broken the same way breaking the Scuderia Marlboro/Schumacher dominance made it more interesting.

And not in the flaming chunks of twisted metal Turn Left kind of way.

Pretty tables below.

Shad Roe

Shad Roe

Actually this diary is not about food so much as it is about writing.

From 1934 to 1975 Rex Stout chronicled the adventures of Archie Goodwin (fictional detective) and Nero Wolfe.

If you have not yet made Archie’s acquaintance yet you really should.  He’s a fun guy.  Dances 2 or 3 nights a week, heiress girlfriend with interesting connections that can usually scare up a buck or two. Often deployed by his boss as a sympathetic face for the women to cry on the shoulder of.

Still, among your other exciting duties are the cataloging of the orchid hybrids and book keeping.

About Nero

His name is taken from The Black Mountain where he and Marko were born and where he served in Italian Intelligence during the first world war.  He has a house in Egypt you know.

Yet it is hard to pry him away from 35th street where he keeps a very rigid schedule.

  • 9 to 11 Orchids.
  • 4 to 6 Orchids.
  • Lunch is usually at 1:15 p.m.
  • Dinner is generally at 7:15 or 7:30 p.m.

He is obsessed with sausage recipes and never does business outside his house except when tempted by his love of food and flowers.  When he is not otherwise occupied he reads books about which he has strong opinions.

What makes Nero Nero instead of a Mycroft Holmes variant is that he’s admirably mercenary.  He’s not interested in detecting so much as he is in making money, right up to his Galtian marginal tax rate.

Your Vote Counts!

Does the 2012 Presidential Election Matter?

Matt Stoller, Naked Capitalism

Friday, April 13, 2012

The 2012 election … is at this point a completely empty enterprise, bereft of substance, or integrity.  This is new to our era, reminiscent of the late 19th century electoral landscape which was dominated by policy consensus around corruption and plutocracy while electoral contests were organized around “bloody shirt” smear campaigns.  Populism intruded briefly, but there’s a reason that time period was known as the time of the robber barons.  It’s increasingly analogous to our time.

In 2003-2004, a large Democratic field and George Bush bitterly debated questions of war and peace.  In 2007-2008, both parties saw significant debate between multiple candidates in which they argued about a whole set of questions, from war to civil liberties to the financial crisis.  The financial crisis was probably determinative in 2008, with the lead seesawing between the two candidates until John McCain “suspended” his campaign.  There was a substantive amount of deceit, of course, in previous contests, and it’s true that many of the promises were not real.  But at least the candidates had to debate in a way in which their words had to bear some resemblance to the world in which voters resided.  But this time, there is literally no relationship between the reality of the policy questions and the political debate.

For instance, at the same time as the Rosen spat occurred, this week we also saw a report from the Inspector General of TARP that Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department has simply not implemented a $7 billion program intended to help families hardest hit by foreclosures.   That could have been a scandal of sorts, with the Republicans attacking the administration for incompetence and the administration making arguments about its economic stewardship.  The major problem facing our economic structure is the collapse of the housing finance system, with 96% of mortgages at this point backed explicit by government.  Yet, no debate, nothing.  It’s millionaire kabuki.  There are now murders happening around the foreclosure crisis.  Nothing.  No pressure from the left, or the right.

Major policy initiatives, such as the JOBS Act eliminating accounting requirements for companies using public equity markets, are now bipartisan, beyond debate.  AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka is apparently “personally disgusted” by that bill, but he can’t help but argue how Barack Obama is the President for the middle class.  The Democratic campaign will center in at least some part on tax justice and economic fairness, with the Republicans decrying class warfare.  Yet, the data on inequality betrays that this narrative is completely disconnected from substance, from reality.  Without an debate over the policies that led to this endpoint, it’s hard to figure out whether the 2012 election matters.  Since Obama is still taken seriously when he promises to redress inequality immediately after signing the JOBS Act, this debate can’t happen.

This is not to say that politics is the only route to social change, it certainly is not.  And this is not a “your vote matters” argument.  It doesn’t always matter.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.  What is striking is how little pressure is coming from the populace, towards the political elites in both parties.  The Republicans have a bitter class divide within their party, but they have quickly clamped down on the populists in their midst.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama can give stump-speeches on his support for the middle class with a straight face.  Until this dynamic changes, and someone or something forces a real debate that reconnects substance and politics, our American decline will continue.  Until then, the debates in DC will happen behind closed doors among powerful interests, and the public will only witness a fierce kabuki performance over Hilary Rosen’s tweets.

Where’s Perry?

They don’t do much.

‘This is what co-optation looks like’

(S)ome guy whose name I didn’t catch gave an astonishingly simple-minded lecture on the history of American radicalism since the populists.

“And then in the 50s, we had the civil right movement…” the guy droned.

“Uh, I think we should conclude the lecture and break up into groups to discuss our nonviolent direct action training,” said Landis. “We seem to be losing people.” A lot of them, too.

Landis asked what kind of a world we wanted to see. Someone said, “Socialism” and Landis said the topic for discussion was now how to plan for a “hypothetical direct action.” Every time somebody brought up something that was actually happening, Landis insisted that our agenda was set and we were only discussing hypothetical situations. So we talked about hypothetically withdrawing money from a hypothetical evil bank, or hypothetically stopping the hypothetical fracking in the Catskills that is going to poison New York City’s hypothetical drinking water.

“What about May 1?” said a retired professor.

“What about it?” said Landis.

“I heard that Occupy Wall Street was calling for a general strike. They’re planning actions all around midtown and they’re saying that nobody should go to work that day.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” said Landis. “We’re talking about hypothetical situations here.”

And so it went from 6:30 to 9:30 last Tuesday night. Over half the crowd left early. Most of those who stayed appeared to be angry and mystified that they had received no training whatever in nonviolent direct action. I doubt that the Democrats or MoveOn succeeded in co-opting anyone, and I predict that they will be inventing more dreary front groups as the election year grinds onward. “Front groups, not issues!” should be Obama’s rallying cry.

“I’m taking the subway to Wall Street,” said a guy in his 20s (probably the only guy in his 20s) as he walked out the door. “That’s where the action is. People are sleeping on the sidewalk there. Apparently the police can’t arrest you if you take up less than half the sidewalk. Go to Maydaynyc.org if you want to find out about the general strike.”

“The first clue … was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale.  …  Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling.”

Yes, The 99% Spring Is A Fraud

Charles M. Young, This Can’t Be Happening

Fri, 04/13/2012 – 11:44

(h/t Lambert Strether @ Naked Capitalism)