Wednesday News

Good Morning Conflucians!!

Obviously the news is still mostly about the Arizona tragedy and all the political and social issues being talked about. Let’s take a look at a few articles on the subject to see what’s new there. First as was mentioned yesterday, those crazy Westboro Baptist Church religious nut cases plan to protest the little girls funeral. Just when you thought those people couldn’t be more sick and evil. But heartening is the reaction and the people that plan on protected the family and funeral:

Arizona lawmakers moved quickly Tuesday to try to block protesters from the funeral of 9-year-old shooting victim Christina Green, passing an emergency measure prohibiting protests within 300 feet of any funeral services.

[...]

The actions were prompted by the Westboro Baptist Church, a publicity-seeking Kansas congregation known for demonstrating at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, arguing that their deaths are retribution by God for America’s acceptance of homosexuality. The church announced it would protest Green’s funeral, scheduled for Thursday, because the family is Catholic.

The protest drew instant and unanimous condemnation from Arizonans.

“Protesting or picketing outside the funeral of an innocent victim is despicable,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams. “It’s time to bring Arizona in line with the many other states that protect the sensitivities of victims against groups that use fear and hate to denigrate the lives of Americans.”

Adams sponsored the emergency measure that prohibits people from picketing or protesting within 300 feet of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue or other establishment during or within one hour of a funeral service or burial service.

The House and Senate passed the bill unanimously Tuesday. Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure Tuesday evening.

If that’s the face of not accepting homosexuality in America, no wonder many in the GOP have been moving in the direction of repealing DADT and being open to gay marriage. Something to think about and understand when it comes to changing the tone and framing of a political/social topic.

Politico has a piece talking about three of the GOP potential campaign frontrunners for 2012 and how they’re fairing through this tragedy. I’ll save you the trouble, Pawlenty wins the day. That is, he comes out more moderate and unscathed. Palin of course is the target of many. And Newt seems to be playing the roll of Rush/Beck trying to drum up the base.

In an interesting op-ed at WaPo, Krauthammer (heads up, warning, winger alert) in addition to the some winger stuff (step carefully), has a few observations about language and symbols in politics:

Finally, the charge that the metaphors used by Palin and others were inciting violence is ridiculous. Everyone uses warlike metaphors in describing politics. When Barack Obama said at a 2008 fundraiser in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” he was hardly inciting violence.

Why? Because fighting and warfare are the most routine of political metaphors. And for obvious reasons. Historically speaking, all democratic politics is a sublimation of the ancient route to power – military conquest. That’s why the language persists. That’s why we say without any self-consciousness such things as “battleground states” or “targeting” opponents. Indeed, the very word for an electoral contest – “campaign” – is an appropriation from warfare.

I think the best stab at the politics of this may be Jon Stewart’s clip posted in last nights post. Take a look again if you missed it.

Let’s look at a few other things going on. In news of the doublespeak delicately placed on a dungheap, it appears Obama and the Chamber of Commerce are getting cozy and mending all those faux rifts:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce signaled Tuesday that its rift with the administration is beginning to ease, just three months after bitterly sparring with the White House during midterm campaigns.

In a speech at the Chamber’s headquarters, directly across the street from the White House, Tom Donohue, the group’s president, said disagreements with the administration have “never been personal.”

He noted “a new tone” at the White House and praised President Obama’s selection of William Daley as his new chief of staff, calling him “a real pro.”

Donohue nonetheless struck a combative note as he vowed to fight for the Chamber’s policy goals this year, which include expanding trade, lowering the federal deficit and curbing regulations it thinks are excessive.

“We will not allow the business community to be intimidated, and we will use every tool at our disposal to challenge those who try to silence our voice,” said Donohue, referring to Democrats’ attempts to force the Chamber, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, to reveal its donors.

Such kabuki theater. Aren’t you so happy they’re getting along now? Yea.

Meanwhile in real leadership news, SoS Hillary Clinton is the first SoS to go to Yemen in over 20 years:

Hillary Clinton made the first trip by a U.S. Secretary of State to Yemen in 20 years on Tuesday to underline to the Sanaa government the urgency and importance of fighting al Qaeda at its grassroots.

Washington is anxious for Yemen, next door to the world’s top oil exporter, to step up its fight against an al Qaeda wing based in the Arabian peninsula state where militants have attempted ambitious attacks against U.S. and Western targets.

“It’s not enough to have military-to-military relations,” Clinton said before her plane touched down in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, where she was due for talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“We need to try to broaden the dialogue. We need to have this dialogue with the government,” she added.

This is all part of the massive new workload Hillary has had to take on to repair the damages from the leaked State Department cables. At least we have Hillary doing this work and repairing those relations. I’d hate to think how this work would happen if Joe Biden had the position as he claimed he was offered.

In Illinois news, they are eliminating the death penalty:

After more than a decade of debate over whether the state’s system of capital punishment could ever be fair, state lawmakers voted on Tuesday to end the death penalty in Illinois.

The move, which came only hours before a new group of lawmakers takes office in Springfield on Wednesday, leaves the future of capital punishment to the Democratic governor, Patrick J. Quinn, who has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation. If Mr. Quinn agrees to the ban, Illinois will join 15 other states without capital punishment.

There’s some great news at least. We could use some.

In international monetary news, China is going to open the Yuan for US trade:

State-owned Bank of China Ltd has offered yuan trading to U.S. customers, a sign that Beijing this year may increasingly promote the use of the Chinese currency in major financial centers.

The change at Bank of China announced in a posting dated Dec. 2010 means that customers can trade in yuan in the United States for the first time rather than having to do so in Hong Kong.

The New York branch of China’s fourth-largest bank said it now lets companies and individuals buy and sell the yuan via accounts with its U.S. branches, although U.S. businesses and individuals can also trade the currency through Western banks.

“The authorities are promoting the use of the yuan in international trade and this is another step in that direction and this means we should see the growth of yuan trading in other regional centers across the world,” said Robert Minikin, senior currency strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.

The move is seen as another small step to redenominate trade in yuan after persuading mainland importers and exporters to reduce settling trade in the U.S. dollar and striking trade settlement agreements with Russia, Brazil and other countries.

Part of the reason behind this is China’s too high exchange reservers. Here’s more on what’s happening:

The thorniest problem in economic relations between the United States and China is getting worse, just as the world’s two biggest economies prepare for a summit next week in Washington.

At issue is the imbalance in their financial relationship. China’s central bank said Tuesday that Beijing’s holdings of foreign cash and securities amount to $2.85 trillion – a jump of 20 percent over the year before – despite Chinese promises to try to balance its trade and investment relations with the United States and other countries.

[...]

Foreign exchange holdings are a broad measure of a nation’s economic links with other countries, reflecting exports and imports, investment and the flow of speculative “hot money” into local markets. Some reserves are helpful, and Asian nations in particular, stung by their financial crises in the 1990s, seek to keep a war chest for times of trouble.

But with China’s foreign currency holdings far exceeding those of any other country, it has been urged by the United States, International Monetary Fund and others to import more, allow its exchange rate to rise in value, and use some of the reserves, for example, to boost the purchasing power of Chinese citizens. Although some recent statistics have shown a move in that direction – the country’s trade surplus has narrowed for the past two years, as China’s imports grew faster than exports – the surge in reserves is a pointed reminder of the difficult questions that still face Hu and Obama.

[...]

The renminbi, also known as the yuan, is considered by a wide range of economists to be undervalued in relation to the dollar, and China keeps tight control of the exchange rate, in part to protect its powerful export industries.

[...]

An administration official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of discussions between the countries, said that it is an ideal time for China to let its currency float more freely. The lack of progress shows that the country’s export lobby still has the upper hand, the official said.

On the one hand we want China to let the value of the Yuan to float freely and find it’s proper value. On the other hand China wants to keep tight control and wants to start using that tightly controlled money it trade with others instead of the US Dollar. But China has to worry about its US holdings at the same time. And as long as they keep such tight control, it’s less usable as a trade currency. We’re in a strange dance together. But China plays rough. Let’s hope we and other parts of the world are up to the challenge.

In sad news, David Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet fame died. In other sad news, exactly one year ago today the Haiti 7.0 earthquake hit, and they’re still not much better off. But back with a bit of good news, mentioned yesterday, Tom DeLay got sentenced with 3 years of jail time.

That’s a bit of the news. Chime in with what you’re reading.

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21 Responses

  1. Obituary: Richard ‘Dick’ Winters, courageous WWII officer portrayed in ‘Band of Brothers’

    Richard “Dick” Winters, 92, a decorated Army officer whose courageous leadership through some of the fiercest combat of World War II was featured in the best-selling book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” died Jan. 2. He had Parkinson’s disease.

    The Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania reported that Maj. Winters, a longtime Hershey resident, died at an assisted-living facility in nearby Campbelltown.

    Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book “Band of Brothers” followed the men of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The group came to be known as Easy Company.

    One of Easy Company’s officers was Maj. Winters, a charismatic and compassionate leader who entered Army service as a private and returned home after World War II as a major.

    He and his men jumped into combat on June 6, 1944, above Normandy and later fought together through Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge.

    Real American Hero

  2. Loughner a “textbook” case paranoid schizophrenic

    It wasn’t long after news of the Tucson, Ariz., tragedy broke that the words “paranoid schizophrenic” entered the conversation. Armchair psychiatrists across the country looked at Jared Loughner — 22, history of antisocial behavior, with a cache of rambling YouTube videos on government mind control — and diagnosed him. But is there any truth to this? And if so, how does it help make sense of his horrific actions?

    To try and untangle the influences that might lead one lone gunman to fire his Glock at a political rally, we turned to Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, respected psychiatrist and one of the foremost experts on paranoid schizophrenics. Torrey has written several books on the mental illness, including the bestselling classic “Surviving Schizophrenia.” He is founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Virginia, a national nonprofit for the mentally ill.

    Quite early in the news cycle, the media more or less diagnosed Jared Loughner as paranoid schizophrenic. Do you think that’s accurate?

    He’s a textbook case. Most psychiatrists will tell you they need to examine a patient before diagnosing him, but this guy has all of the symptoms. He has the right age of onset. He has a deteriorating social course, as they say in the [DSM], social and occupational dysfunction. He has delusions, and they’re pretty strange. It’s common for schizophrenics to think people are trying to control their mind, but thinking the government is trying to control your grammar — I’ve never heard that before. The real tip-off is the markedly disorganized speech, which you see in the rambling videos. This is the kind of disorganized speech that you virtually never get in any other condition. It’s what we call pathognomonic of schizophrenia. That is, when you hear that symptom, it’s “schizophrenia until proven otherwise.” He’s also got the affective flattening of emotion, which you see in that mug shot.

    Let’s talk about that mug shot, because it’s pretty striking. This guy is getting booked on six murders. Why is he smiling?

    That’s pretty bizarre, and that’s something a person with schizophrenia will do, because their emotions are disconnected from what’s going on. When you tell a schizophrenic your mother died, they might smile instead of cry.

    Early on, I wondered: Are we jumping to conclusions with this guy’s diagnosis? But you’re the expert, and you’re saying you feel pretty confident.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, I will call it a duck until somebody tells me it’s really a chicken in disguise. Is there any chance it’s not schizophrenia? Sure, but I’ll give you 100 to 1 odds.

    • I knew someone in college who had adult onset paranoid schizophrenia in his early twenties. The guy was complete disorganized and couldn’t have planned anything like what Loughner did.
      I’m guessing paranoid personality disorder.
      Besides, there are a lot of conservative fox news viewers who sound very much like schizophrenics these days.

      • And there are a lot of msnbc viewers you could say the same about. Do you ever watch Olbermann or Schultz? Do you ever read the ravings of some DailyKos posters? Yup, only one side is lunatic or has a lunatic fringe.

        • if you have ever spent any time here you would know the answers to your questions, bucko. This is not a place where Dkos or Olbermann are admired.
          So before you jump to anymore conclusions, you might want to hit the archives.

  3. This is for WMCB who I believe has a pet critter. Never saw the charm in that, before meeting Heidi the cross eyed critter from Leipzig Zoo. ;)

    Funny how this flaw makes her look sort of human … in the cartoon character kind of way. For all I know she could have been starring in “Ratatouille”. :D

  4. “Protesting or picketing outside the funeral of an innocent victim is despicable,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams.

    Isn’t protesting or picketing outside the funeral of anyone despicable?

  5. Maybe more “new” than “news”: 50 logos from start-up companies, categorized by DesignCrowd into “The Good, The Average and The Ugly”.

  6. Sarah Palin’s message on the shooting:

    • She just has to insert herself into everything, doesn’t she?

    • I was waiting for her to acknowledge that conservatives may have gone too far. I didn’t hear it. I didn’t hear her acknowledge that the atmosphere in Arizona and other states had made liberals afraid fir their safety even before giffords’ shooting. Nope, right wing pundits were just being spirited, not incendiary.
      I don’t like the constant references to god or the amnesia that the country lost its mind after 9/11 with the help of right wingers to the point that we started an unnesccesary war with iraq or the fact that america’s enduring strength was completely undermined by lies about weapons of mass destruction. Nope, republicans and their media lackeys had nothing to do with that. It just happened.
      BTW, what is her definition of an innocent victim? Would Giffords fit that category? She was not very specific.
      I will stick up for sarah’s right to be treated with respect and not demonized. But I am very disappointed that her message wasn’t more like bill clinton’s, who condemned, unambiguously, the demonization of those you disagree with. To Sarah, it’s all just very spirited. Yes, let’s just continue this level of spirit!
      How about we let all of the political spectrum have equal access to spirited debate? The fairness doctrine would ensure free speech for everyone. Who could possibly be against that?
      Sarah? Do you have something to say in support of the fairness doctrine? Sarah? Sarah?
      Sorry, myiq. She’s not a demon. But I disapprove of he company she keeps. She doesn’t meet my WWHD standard. In fact, this speech may have done more harm than good by giving the wingers an excuse to pick up where they left off.

      • I was waiting for her to acknowledge that conservatives may have gone too far.

        You better sit down while you’re waiting. It’s not gonna happen.

        First of all, they don’t believe they did anything wrong. But even if they did think they were wrong they wouldn’t admit it. You don’t hear conservatives apologizing for the war in Iraq, do you?

  7. Clyburn: Palin intellectually ‘not to be able to understand what’s going on here’

    A House Democratic leader on Wednesday lashed out at Sarah Palin, accusing the former Alaska governor of being intellectually unable of understanding why she’s faced criticism related to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

    Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that Palin had missed the point by releasing a statement this morning blasting the media for “blood libel” for looking to assign blame in part to her rhetoric after the attempted assassination of Giffords last weekend.

    “You know, Sarah Palin just can’t seem to get it, on any front. I think she’s an attractive person, she is articulate,” Clyburn said on the Bill Press radio show. “But I think intellectually, she seems not to be able to understand what’s going on here.”

    It’s probably because she’s just a stupid girl.

    • He’s no better. I’m sure she knows exactly what she’s doing, which is why she’ll come out if this smelling like a rose but has permanently lost my respect.

    • In fact, it’s worse than that. My heart stopped when she used the words “blood libel”. You know as well as I do, myiq, that blood libel is a term that Christians foisted on Jews as collective guilt for the death of Jesus. It gave chritsians an excuse to ghettoize Jews in the medieval centuries and lead to pogroms and persecution. So, in essence, she is equating criticism of right wing political speech as going on a pogrom against consevatives and not just any conservatives. No she means religious conservatives who feel is is their mission to protect the country of Israel because the Jews must be converted before armageddon.
      That’s not intellectually stupid at all. That’s knowing her audience. I’ve always said she is a skillful politician and democrats would be wise to take her threat more seriously. But Clyburn and others are the stupid ones when they continue to insult her and by extension her fans.
      He should have done what bill Clinton did yesterday and condemned demoniszation against anyone, Sarah could have no come back to that. But now, blood libel, will be the word du jour and every right wing religious fox news viewer will know exactly what she means.
      So, Sarah has just added kerosene to this fire. Well done.

      • She knows her audiences, plural. She is tweaking the noses of *certain* people and they are reacting in a predictable way.

        The past four days she has sucked up all the spare oxygen and she will continue to do so as long as people on the left keep focusing on her. The only other GOP contender to get any airtime was Tim Pawlenty and he shot himself in the foot by mildly criticizing Sarah. He quickly had to walk it back.

  8. Having not done any noticeable damage in Afghanistan, Biden moves on [to] Pakistan.

    Ack, but then he starts talking … :)

    Biden Lands in Pakistan.

  9. Great roundup DT. The yuan news is interesting, though maybe mostly symbolic with Hu’s US visit next week. In theory, it does look like China is taking some small steps to allow its currency to float freer…which means let it appreciate, and that would help the jobs economy here.

    The other thing that allowing the yuan to trade outside China will do is provide a hedge for China against a weakening dollar succumbing to high debt and deficits. Such a collapse would take huge value out of China’s 2.5 trillion loan to the US, and they are trying these days to diversify out of that risk in different ways.

    The dollar is not likely to take a dive anytime soon though, given the state of the euro and the European economy. Severe austerity in Europe, inflation fighting in China, and it looks like our Fed and Treasury are driving us somewhere in between, while large private sector companies and banks are still sitting on their cash for the most part. What we need is an “invest in our people or else” strategy.

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