Sunday, January 09, 2011

No Sunday Funnies today

I'm going to do my part to "tone down the rhetoric", as they say.

But if you want to see how the local conservative contingent is doing in that regard, go here and read the comments. All of them.

Yesterday at our "Blueprint for a Blue Harris County" the fifteen breakout sessions all had a common theme: Pushback. Rapid response to the misinformation and deception and prevarications of the extremist right.

Last November In Harris County we had the most activist network ever assembled to harass, intimidate, and thwart minority voters at their precincts. That won't happen in 2012; among other reasons, the early voting judges will be Democratic.

With the news that yet another organization will organize here to stop the invisible "voter fraud" epidemic, we will need all hands on deck:

Anita MonCrief, a former Project Vote/ACORN employee who testified against the organization as part of a voter registration fraud lawsuit in Pennsylvania, has announced the formation of a new Houston-based Tea Party organization. The Crispus Attucks Tea Party will hold its first meeting later this month.

"We are based in a former ACORN neighborhood represented by Sheila Jackson Lee," MonCrief wrote in an email message. "We have been meeting/planning since late November, and our inaugural meeting is January 18th. The path has not been easy, and though we have been shut out of black churches and community centers, we managed to find a place literally two blocks from Sheila Jackson Lee's home. She is of course invited."

Press release and comments.

I would not encourage the Congresswoman to attend unless she has a contingent of HPD or sheriff's deputies as bodyguards. And wore a flak jacket.

I'll refrain from responding to this and other provocations at least until tomorrow out of deference to the victims of yesterday's tragedy.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Now they're shooting Congresswomen in Arizona

A natural progression, I suppose, since they are arresting people for "looking illegal" and letting mortally ill Medicaid patients die because the governor doesn't want to pay the bill:

Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and critically wounded Saturday morning while hosting an event outside a Tucson grocery store, according to local news reports. Doctors said she survived the attack, but six others did not.

Federal law enforcement sources said that John M. Roll, the senior U.S. District judge in Arizona, was shot and killed in the incident. The Pima County Sheriff's office said that five others including a nine-year-old child had died, and a total of 18 people were injured.

A 22-year old man was taken into custody after being tackled by people on the scene after the shooting. One pistol was recovered and it had what police described as "an extended clip."

The man was identified as Jared Loughner of Tucson, according to the Associated Press.

Giffords, who in November narrowly won reelection to a third term, was hosting her first "Congress on Your Corner" event when a gunman ran up and began shooting her and others in her entourage with a Glock handgun, according to law enforcement sources.

Eyewitness Steven Rayle, a Tucson doctor, said he saw a young man wearing sneakers and what appeared to be navy blue sweats approach Gifford with a semi-automatic handgun raised. The man shot Giffords once in the face, he said.

After Giffords fell, he said, a number of people near Giffords sought to flee but were trapped--hemmed in by the table and a concrete post. The gunman fired into the crowd, he said.

Giffords had a sighted rifle scope symbol over her district on the map at Sarah Palin's SarahPAC website, as well as Palin's Facebook page. Palin had endorsed Giffords' Republican challenger in 2010, who used this tagline: "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."

This isn't the first time someone showed up at one of Giffords' events with a gun.

Gary Hart's comments are perhaps the best to heed:

Gradually, over time, political rhetoric used by politicians and the media has become more inflammatory. The degree to which violent words and phrases are considered commonplace is striking. Candidates are "targeted". An opponent is "in the crosshairs". Liberals have to be "eliminated". Opponents are "enemies". This kind of language eminates largely from those who claim to defend American democracy against those who would destroy it, who are evil, and who want to "take away our freedoms".

Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric. Those with a megaphone, whether provided by public office or a media outlet, have responsibilities. They cannot avoid the consequences of their blatant efforts to inflame, anger, and outrage. We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.

So long as we all tolerate this kind of irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric or, in the case of some commentators, treat it with delight, reward it, and consider it cute, so long will we place all those in public life, whom the provocateurs dislike, in the crosshairs of danger.

That this is carried out, and often rewarded, in the name of the Constitution, democratic rights and liberties, and patriotism is a mockery of all this nation claims to believe and almost all of us continue to struggle to preserve. America is better than this.

Hart didn't mention "second amendment remedies", or "reload", or some other choice words.

Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano -- a former Arizona governor who had an explosive package mailed to her just a few days ago -- has spoken about the threat of violence from right-wing extremists as early as 2009.

What do you think it will take to curtail the deadly virus of hate and violence spreading like wildfire among the far right and those who enable them?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sessions violates Constitution ... on the day it is read

So yesterday I mentioned that I wouldn't be paying much attention to what the House of Representatives would be doing except to note the more hypocritical and atrocious aspects. On Day One, the Republicans hit the daily double.

Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.

The Republicans, incumbent Pete Sessions of Texas and freshman Mike Fitzpatrick, missed the swearing in because they were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors Center. The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised.

Fundraisers are forbidden at the Capitol due to House ethics rules, so I suppose the Capitol Visitor Center isn't actually a part of the Capitol. Oh, and there is nothing in the Constitution about being sworn in at a remote location via teevee.

You just can't make this shit up.

Update: As Matt notes in the comments, it is a kind of a small deal that these two guys stood before a teevee set to take their oaths. Goofy and irresponsible, but still small potatoes. The six votes they cast were nullified without consequence, and Weeper Boehner bailed out Sessions and Fitzpatrick by swearing them in properly today, but not before Cong. Anthony Weiner (D- NY) called for them to forfeit a day's pay.

The big deal is why they were MIA from their oath-taking in the first place: the fundraiser.

Democrats and congressional watchdog groups accused Republicans on Friday of illegally holding a campaign fundraiser in the Capitol complex during this week's swearing-in ceremonies for lawmakers.

More (and a reiteration of the citation above):

Holding a fundraiser in the Capitol could be both unethical and illegal, according to the Committee on Standards and Ethics.  And, in fact, the Capitol Visitor Center says in the document outlining its official uses, "Visitor Center space may not be used for any fund-raising purpose.... Visitor Center space may not be used for political activities, including political campaign, political party, or political action committee activities." That's the rules.

Fitzpatrick's spokesperson says it wasn't a fundraiser, but they just charted a $30 fee for "transportation costs for the festivities." Nonetheless, the event was sponsored by the Fitzpatrick campaign, which sure makes it seem like a massive violation of the rules.

Following the Constitution? Adhering to the House ethics rules? Those are supposed to apply to Republicans ... right?

Update II: Then again, it may be barely legal, and thus only sleazy.

Dear Americans who are not rich:

Can't afford health care? Screw you.

Want the food you eat to be safe? How quaint.

Deficit reduction? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!

Want Social Security to be preserved? You're an idiot.

In foreclosure hell? La la la we can't hear you!

Concerned about the environment? Treehugger. Eco-terrorist.

You want stronger unions? You want ANY unions ? Good luck with that, commie.

Unemployment benefits running out? Quit whining and get a job, you lazy bum.

Muslim? Latino? Gay? You nasty un-American, you.

Looking for fresh new government ideas to solve problems? Move to California -- or better yet, Scandinavia. Socialist.

Think you can count on us to stimulate job growth? Hell no you can't!

Reproductive freedom? We own your private parts, little lady.

Don’t want the government to default on its debts? Too bad!

Want the rich to be taxed more? In a pig's eye.

Wish we'd put America's interests above our own? Keep dreaming.

Love and Freedom Fries,

The New Republican House Majority

P.S. Like cake? Eat all you want.