Archive for National


No cop left behind

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“He must have done something,” says the voice in my head when I think about Laquan McDonald. It is the voice of my parents’ generation, a generation that went from seemingly never questioning authority to always questioning it. Except when members of minorities run afoul of police. I wonder if “He must have done something” was the model of justice our Founders thought they were pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to establish? Or is that the kind of colonial-rule justice from which they fought to separate themselves? Are they now rolling over in their graves?

As police in Colorado Springs led away the alleged Planned Parenthood murderer in handcuffs, I was still trying to process the latest police shooting news from Chicago. The Guardian’s database this morning lists 1033 people killed by police in the U.S. so far this year. Police killed “more people in the first 24 days of 2015 than police in England and Wales did in the last 24 years,” as reported by the Independent, noting “police in Norway fired their guns only twice last year – and no one was hurt.”

Brian Burghart’s web site tracks police shootings in the U.S. because the government will not. Burghart and colleagues are building a database of people killed in interactions with American law enforcement since 2000:

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Your Thanksgiving Turkeys

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News reports of the annually banal pardoning of the White House turkey triggered memories of that video where Sarah Palin blathers on about whatever Sarah Palin was blathering on about, word-salad-wise, while behind her a workman looks on while he slaughters a turkey.

Several of our current GOP presidential candidates thought it might look more dignified if the turkey they were mock-pardoning was in black tie:

Gotta say the hands visibly holding the turkey’s legs from underneath a velvet cushion are bit of a distraction, if not quite as Palinesque as a workman holding a turkey’s legs while bleeding it out into a trough.

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Powderkeg America

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Disturbing and unsurprising events are still unfolding in Minneapolis and Chicago.

In Chicago last night, police released a dash-cam video of the shooting last year of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by then-Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke. A judge’s order forced the release, which the department fought. The video is here. McDonald went down and Van Dyke just kept shooting until he’d emptied his gun. It’s sickening:

Hours after a Chicago police officer was ordered held without bond on a first-degree murder charge, the city released a shocking police dash-cam video that captured the white officer opening fire on an African American teen on a Southwest Side street, striking him 16 times and killing him.

The video is about six minutes long and appears to show 17-year-old Laquan McDonald running down the middle of Pulaski Road near 41st Street when Officer Jason Van Dyke, standing next to his SUV, opens fire.

It was released to the media after a late afternoon news conference by Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

That took over a year and multiple FOIA lawsuits.

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The iCondemn® for Republicans

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Donald Trump’s brand of 21st-century McCarthyism rolls on unchecked by a Republican party fearful of taking him on, and giving tacit approval through its silence.

When challenged, Trump doubles down, citing vague sources he fails to name. He has a “pretty good source.” He is “hearing … from other people” something no one else has heard. Trump got “hundreds of calls” from people who imagined they saw what he imagined he saw. James Downie writes at the Washington Post:

It’s all eerily similar to a claim made by a U.S. senator in Wheeling, W.Va., 65 years ago: “I have here a list of 205 [State Department employees] that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party.” Sen. Joe McCarthy never revealed where he got that list; the number changed from 205 all the way down to seven, and he never provided any concrete evidence. But, as Trump knows, McCarthy’s lack of evidence was no hindrance to tapping into the fears of a portion of the U.S. electorate. In those days, communists were coming for you; now, Muslims and immigrants are, and in both cases, the U.S. government won’t stop them. The message remains: Be afraid. The more that people buy into the message, the worse off America is.

Dana Milbank has no sympathy for Republican cowardice in not calling down Trump: Read More→

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At an event Saturday night in eastern Tennessee, an organizer brought up the meme that poor people tend to “vote against their best interests,” for Republicans who vote to slash safety net programs that keep them afloat. This complaint, as I have written, is an old pet peeve. First, because it’s a lefty dog whistle for saying those voters are stupid — which they hear clearly even if we cannot. And second, as liberals do we really want our neighbors to go into the voting booth to vote what’s best for No. 1 rather than for an America that aspires to something better? But Saturday night, the same organizer offered a new twist from a New York Timesarticle by ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis:

In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.

This is perhaps a manifestation of the “last place aversion” I wrote about in February. It is the need to have someone to look down on so you do not see yourself on the bottom rung of life’s ladder: Read More→


A dose of sanity

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A dose of sanity in a minute, I promise.

Donald Trump is America’s crazy, right-wing uncle—and he’s coming for Thanksgiving. His Thursday comments about creating a Muslim database had me fantasizing whether Trump isn’t secretly asking himself just how far he can go before his Real American fans balk. Is Trump wondering, “What if I slipped lines from Mussolini into my speeches? Would they still cheer? What if I called for putting Muslims in camps? Would they pump their fists in the air?” Finally, Trump would throw up his hands and say, “Look at you idiots! This is the United States of America we’re talking about. You would really do it. Whatta buncha losers!”

I know. Not gonna happen.

Even though Trump tried to walk back the “unconstitutional, morally repugnant” comments, it was a Kinsley gaffe. In response, Chris Hayes recalled President George W. Bush’s “Islam is peace” speech at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. days after the September 11 attacks, and Jeb Bush’s people pounced:

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Home of the shameless

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Americans ought to be ashamed. We are not, of course. Shame is for losers.

We love to pledge allegiance to the flag, sing the Star Spangled Banner, and pat ourselves on the back for how much we love the home of the brave. Then we turn tail and run from our own values at the first sign of fear itself.

In the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday 242 Republicans and 47 Democrats voted to erect further barriers to Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States. President Obama threatens to veto the bill. This follows governors of at least 31 states “either opposing, refusing, or suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees into their state — either permanently or until after a security review.”

The Nation‘s Julianne Hing was not surprised:

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Oops, wrong terror. Daesh sleeper agents hiding among refugees is the least of our worries:

Medicine’s final line of defence against deadly disease has been breached, raising the spectre of a global epidemic, scientists say, after finding bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics.

The discovery could herald a virtual return to the Dark Ages, with doctors unable to control common germs like E. Coli, rolling back centuries of medical progress.

We could be headed for a period when even the smallest infections could prove lethal, say reports:

… British scientists have discovered that pigs and meat sold in China are infected with bacteria carrying a new gene which makes them resistant to these rearguard antibiotics.

The MCR-1 gene is in a part of the DNA which can be easily copied and transferred between bacteria leading experts to conclude that ‘pandemic resistance is inevitable.’ The mutated forms were also found in 1322 hospitalised patients in China and is thought to have already spread to Laos and Malaysia.

British scientists and health experts described the discovery as ‘worrying,’ ‘disturbing’ and ‘alarming.’

It gets better:

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Wingnut Memento

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What does a Memento remake look like in 2015?” asks The Verge. You remember Memento, Christopher Nolan’s 2000 neo-noir film about Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) who is hunting down his wife’s killer? Shelby lost his ability to form new, short-term memories in the same attack and so hangs onto “clues” by tattooing them on his body and scrawling notes on Polaroid photographs. Shelby’s condition makes him easy prey for people who would manipulate him to their own ends. Shelby winds up killing the wrong man. He had already killed his wife’s killer. Then he immediately forgot.

It’s a shame, isn’t it, that tattoos aren’t more popular with Republican politicians? They are still struggling with the blowback from when after September 11 they killed the wrong country and created Daesh in the process. It took Barack Obama to get Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden played the war hawks like a fiddle. Now it’s Daesh’s turn. They know just which buttons to push, too, and they pushed them last weekend in Paris. Republicans responded as predictably as Pavlov’s dog.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to shut down mosques.

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz (whose father was a Cuban refugee) wants to stop resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush thinks we should let in only proven Christians.

Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich wants to fund a new, government agency to promote Judeo-Christian values around the world. (There might be a slight upholding-the-constitution problem with that, but these are stone killers we’re talking about, right?)

House Republicans want to bar women and children fleeing death at the hands of Daesh from entering the United States.

Here’s a memento that won’t help them remember how well things worked out last time:

Maybe a mug with “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” on it?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

A lot of pant-wetting in the Home of the Brave yesterday as fear of #SyrianRefugees swept the intertubes.

It didn’t matter that all the attackers identified as of yesterday were French or Belgian nationals. It didn’t matter that
the Syrian passport found near the body of one of the Paris suicide bombers was a fake. Serbian police arrested a man Saturday with the same passport information except for the photo:

… according to the Serbian daily Blic, the existence of the second passport with the same data means “it is likely that the two men separately purchased false Syrian passports at the same forger in Turkey”.

Whatevs. Half the governors in the country yesterday (all Republicans but one) showed the rest of the world what Americans are made of:

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