The single biggest new item this week was the shooting in Tucson, which so overshadowed, among other things, the first full work week of the 112th Congress, that most of today’s round-up items are directly or tangentially related to it. As in the wake of Columbine, both sides of the gun rights debate have proposed and are gearing up to debate new bills, while plenty of across-the-aisle sniping has ensured Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck remain ever-present in the news cycle.
President Obama’s Speech at the Tucson Memorial Service–There’s really nothing I can say about what actually happened in Tucson that you haven’t already heard on the news or read on other blogs. It was a tragedy which, unfortunately, seems to have only further highlighted the vast rift in ideology between many Americans–the mental health blamers vs. the violent rhetoric invokers, those crying “opportunism!” against those defending their arguably opportunistic polemics (though, honestly, if all the folks who called Palin out on her Target Map back in March didn’t take a minute to say, “Well, we told you so,” I’d call that less un-opportunistic and more foolish/not following up).
In his speech on Wednesday, the President pulled off a near-miracle of diplomacy by neither blaming Republicans for their typically caustic, often violent speech, nor neglecting to call for “more civility in our public discourse.” Frankly, I’m impressed that he was able to honor the victims and their families by declining to politicize the day or promote his party’s agenda at all, particularly since Obama has been practically begging for bipartisan, peaceful discourse since he took office–it’s sad that it took the assassination attempt of a high-ranking public official for people to really start listening.
Anyway, that’s why he’s President and I’m not–I would have stuck it to the Republicans and made some of the party leadership answer for the hatred they tacitly endorse when it comes from Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and other media darlings.
Of course, Fox News and Michelle Malkin in particular found ways to criticize the memorial service, namely complaining that it was a “pep rally” and the people who clapped were being inappropriate. Good ol’ right wing media–always finding ways to tell the rest of America how they’re doing it wrong. I would draw the line at criticizing the way other people grieve, but whatever.
If you want to read an incredible piece from Melissa McEwan at Shakesville about the whole violent rhetoric issue, particularly how it’s not employed equally by right and left, here you go. It’s one of the more coherent, fact-based, moving rants I’ve read amid all the shouting and straining to be heard.
Palin’s Antics – Just typing her name makes me tired. But apparently, not everyone feels the same way. A Washington Times editorial accuses liberals of unfairly attacking her and other right-wing talking heads:
This is simply the latest round of an ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers. The last two years have seen a proliferation of similar baseless charges of racism, sexism, bigotry, Islamophobia and inciting violence against those on the right who have presented ideas at odds with the establishment’s liberal orthodoxy.
This round-up isn’t the venue to go into detail about how the right is significantly less concerned than the left with the welfare of people of color, women, GLBT people, and anyone whose religion isn’t Protestant or Catholic (and they keep a side-eye on those Catholics at all times). But the Republican voting record against bills that would help those people–whether it’s fair pay for women or marriage for gays and lesbians–speaks for itself.
Back to Palin: She released a video Wednesday morning that was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to a) defend herself and b) enter the national discussion on the precise day President Obama would be speaking in Arizona. Thankfully, her use of inappropriate language (“blood libel”) and inability to rise above personal considerations, as Obama did, made her look bad.
Potential Gun Laws and Reaction from Second Amendment Rights Enthusiasts – Members of Congress currently plan to introduce at least four bills regarding gun rights. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D – N.Y.), apparently a big gun control advocate, plans to introduce legislature that would make the purchase of high-capacity ammunition clips–which Loughner used to pack 33 rounds into a handgun–illegal. The type of weapon Lougner purchased, a Glock with an extended magazine, was once illegal under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, but that expired in 2004 and attempts to reinstate it have failed.
Full disclosure–I am a proponent of the right to bear arms, absolutely. I think that, particularly in dangerous neighborhoods, allowing vetted citizens to own firearms can be a major crime deterrent. However, the insistence of the NRA and, by extension, most Republicans, that all weapons are created equal, is patently fucking ludicrous.
Loughner should never have been able to buy a weapon allowing him to fire so many times without reloading. Hunters don’t need that. People defending their homes, unless it’s the Apocalyspe or Godzilla’s come to New York, don’t need that. It’s a function that’s of primary interest to gang members and people who want to go on a shooting rampage.
I’m not very supportive of the other legislative that’s being discussed–there’s a bill that would make it illegal to use violent imagery or language in regards to public officials (and that’s tip-toeing close to limiting free speech, plus I’m not sure how that differs from laws already on the books about threatening officials?), a bill that would make it illegal to carry a firearm within 1,000 yards of a public official (that’s just plain unenforceable–I’m fine with ramping up security for public servants, but this seems overly specific, unnecessary, and would hardly deter someone like Loughner), and, lastly, this really funny bill that would allow Congressional representatives to bring their guns into the Capitol. HA.
Rash of Threats to Public Servants Now Coming to Light – This week, when several instances of public officials receiving death threats starting popping up in Google News, I initially thought they were copycat crimes, occurring in the wake of the Tucson shooting. However, most of the threats actually were placed before the shooting and are merely making headlines now, as the context provided by Rep. Giffords’ condition spurs investigators and media folks on to action.
John Troy Davis threatened to shoot Sen. Michael Bennet (D – CO) and his entire staff January 6, two days before the Arizona shooting, so . He was arrested this past weekend (I couldn’t find any sources that specified whether he was arrested on Saturday or Sunday, unfortunately).
A California State Senator received death threats from Palin supporters last spring when he was investigating Palin’s speaking contract, and the benefits thereof, with a California state university. Detectives investigating the Tucson shooting are now looking into his case.
Sen. Jim McDermott (D – WA) received two threatening voicemails at his office on December 9. The FBI just arrested Charles Turner Habermann, the responsible party and also purportedly the sourced of threats to a California Congresswoman, this Wednesday.
Perhaps I’m being cynical, but it would appear investigators are taking these threats more seriously in light of the Tucson shooting–as they should, but, of course, it would have been nice if they had stepped things up earlier, instead of apparently assuming the threats weren’t a big deal. Or, hey, maybe all these different investigative forces reached breakthroughs in their cases this week and it had nothing to do with Giffords. Maybe.
Is This Real Life? Are We Moving Backwards? Republicans De-Integrate NC School District, Defy NAACP – The Republican-run, Tea Party-backed school board of Wake County, North Carolina declared they will “say no to social engineers!” and abolished a policy that encouraged economic and (since race and economics are unfortunately still very tied) racial diversity in their schools.
It’s hard to see why this was a priority for the board–the policy disallowed school to have more than 40% of students on subsidized lunch programs in an attempt to keep the schools from becoming highly polarized, but according to The Atlantic Wire, “Most students attended school within five miles of home, with fewer than 10 percent getting bused to school to maintain diversity.” So it’s not as though extreme amounts of busing were going on and inconveniencing families, which still wouldn’t be the strongest argument for getting rid of the policy, but at least it would be rooted in some type of logic.
School board chairman Ron Margiotta defends the decision:
If we had a school that was, like, 80 percent high-poverty, the public would see the challenges, the need to make it successful. Right now, we have diluted the problem, so we can ignore it.
His nickname should be “Right-On Ron,” because he so totally nailed it: we, as a country, have an awesome track record of improving our high-poverty schools and assuring those kids get the best possible education. Right? Don’t we? Um, guys?
The NAACP has already filed a civil rights complaint, stating that the new policy is just a path to renewed segregation.
In tangentially related news, this GOP governor guy completely embodies the “But I have back friends!!!” excuse for racism so hard. HuffPo reports:
Paul LePage, Maine’s new Tea Party-backed governor, isn’t going to attend an NAACP event to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and if the NAACP doesn’t like it, LePage said, they can “kiss my butt.”
“They are a special interest. End of story … and I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests,” LePage said, according to CNN affiliate WCSH “And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it.”
Someone needs to go to MemeGenerator and create this dude a meme. I would do it except I’ve had trouble with that dang application in the past and my husband’s bugging me to wrap this up so we can go bowling. NEXT WEEK! I promise.
Michael Steele Dropped Out of the Race for RNC Chairman, Like 6 Hours Before He Would Have Lost Anyway –
I really wanted to post this video, so I did. But yeah, Steele’s resignation probably isn’t the best thing to get fired up about–they’re just going to replace him with some white dude with an unpronounceable name: Reince Priebus (Ryns Pree’-bus).
Health Care Repeal Law Moving Forward in House, But Don’t Fret! –
The House had been expected to act this week on the repeal bill, but the vote was postponed after a shooting spree in Arizona killed six people and critically wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
…The vote is set for Wednesday, said [a] Republican aide who asked not to be identified.
Whatever, Republidudes. It’s not going to pass in the Senate. No freakin’ way. And even if it does–Obama will veto it. So please, instead of trying to dismantle stuff, save us all some time and build a bill of your own. Hell, contribute to modifications of the current healthcare bill and make it more viable, if you want a project. Or just sniffle and whine and glue macaroni to construction paper.