David Brooks’ world: Let all the worms that lurk in the mud hatch out

Ashley Moser, age 25

The shooting in Aurora, Colorado and its aftereffects, appear to be a culmination of all of the ways we Americans have let each other down in the past 30 years.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Ashley Moser: If there was a poster child for everything that has gone wrong in America since Richard Nixon resigned, Ashley would have to be it.

Ashley is 25 years old.  Her father died recently from leukemia.  His illness wiped out the family’s financial resources.  He died penniless.  Ashley is a single mother, it’s unclear if she is divorced or ever married.  But the “little Depression” has been hard on families who struggle to make ends meet and are broken up by distance when one parent has to make a living in another location and can’t take the whole family.  It’s a common situation these days and marriage is no safeguard against it.  She was living with her parents but times got tough and when her father died, she had to move in with her aunt.

She’s a student.  She is also unemployed.  She had applied to and was accepted into a nursing program.  She was living on student loans.  LOANS, not grants.  She had a six year old daughter who she took to the movie with her.  Been there, done that, waiting with the kid for the latest book in the Harry Potter series at the local bookstore at 12am, surrounded by a store full of Hermione Grangers and Draco Malfoys.  Veronica Moser-Sullivan, aged 6, was the youngest victim.  She died at the scene.

Ashley was shot in the neck and the abdomen and is in critical condition.  Her doctors say she will suffer some paralysis but may have the use of her hands.  There’s a bullet in her head that hasn’t been removed yet. She is pregnant.

Because she is unemployed and uninsured, she is on medicaid. If she weren’t horribly injured at the moment and didn’t have the nation’s sympathy, it’s likely that she’d be shamed by these very same people who would be calling her a deadbeat leech on the American taxpayer.  She’d be treated with more dignity and respect in Norway but she had the misfortune to not be Norwegian during these last critical years of her life. That’s where single motherhood is no big deal, children are valued and she wouldn’t be struggling to live on student loans while she got her life together and was able to contribute to society, which should be the *only* definition of success, other than good parenthood, that gets admiration and respect.

It is unclear what her prospects, medical expenses or living arrangements will be once she is released from the hospital, if she is released. But whatever they are, it is likely that her future wages will be garnished to pay back her student loans.  Otherwise, it would be irresponsible to let this kind of moral hazard stand and wouldn’t be teaching Ashley a valuable lesson.

Her relatives had to tell her about her daughter on Saturday night.  She didn’t take it well and screamed that she wanted to die.

In all likelihood, if she *does* look like she is about to die, some Christian group will petition the state for guardianship of her unborn baby, intending to keep her on life support until the delivery.  Or, she may he on the brink of death without an abortion and they may interfere at that point.  Or, because she is on Medicaid, she will have to pay for a lifesaving and possibly much more expensive high risk abortion herself.  If it’s a “partial birth abortion”, there might not be any way to do it in the state of Colorado.  The scenarios that play out here sound like an updated version of Stephen King’s Misery crossed with Never Let Me Go.  Her family should have kept this information out of the media but it’s too late now.  The cat’s out of the bag and the evangelicals are no doubt already winding up for the prayer circle of all prayer circles, sending her messages about how her lifelong paralysis happened for a reason and god wanted Veronica for his newest angel but it’s a miracle that god has blessed her with a precious replacement!  As if children are swappable objects.  If it were up to me, I would leave life and death decisions up to Ashley and her doctors.  Maybe we should ask Michael Schiavo how that kind of thing works out.

The mass murderer, James Holmes, is apparently a very disturbed individual.  He’s not unlike many other disturbed mass murderers.  Friends and family notice that there is a personality change or he starts to behave strangely but there’s not a whole lot of things parents can do.  After all, the kid is an adult now.  The owner of a gun club says that Holmes left messages on his company’s voice mail and that his voice made him very uneasy.  He thanks god he didn’t have to deal with him, probably because guns are big business in America and it would have been hard to turn him away.

Not much is known about whether or not Holmes was treated for any psychological problems. It’s hard to know when science geeks have crossed the line mentally.  Many a time I have heard, “You know, so and so is acting really weird. He gives me the willies.  If anyone here were to go postal, it would be him.”  “Yeah, but he’s great in the lab! Fricking brilliant. His boss would be lost without him.” (True story about a gun “enthusiast” I used to work with many years ago.) His University probably has a counseling office but in America these days, it’s almost unheard of to commit people.  We usually just let them fall to their natural level, as David Brooks might say, and let them live on the streets. Holmes will probably get better mental health care now that he’s in prison or at the facility for the criminally insane.  For sure, he should never be free again, but will he be turned over to an institution run by a for profit company?

Graduate students are used to working conditions that are unusual.  I’ve heard it said that they have a lot of flexibility in their work.  They can work any 80 hours of the week they want.  It’s unclear if his work schedule contributed to his mental state but we should consider that Wall Street traders and analysts Holmes’ age work about 80 hours a week without a break for a couple of years and they nearly blew up the world, so, you know, there’s that.  His stipend, no matter how much the media makes of it, was probably less than minimum wage for the hours he would have been expected to work and was not enough to live on in the Denver area.  I’ve had a kid who worked in Denver as a chef for a couple of years.  They didn’t pay her enough.  She had to move.  She loves Denver.  Denver wages?  Ehhhhh, not so much.

Holmes ended up in Denver at graduate school because after earning a master’s in Neuroscience in 2010, he couldn’t find a job.  That’s not really all that unusual for scientists these days, including yours truly and everyone I’ve ever worked with.  A master’s is plenty sufficient for anything industrial research could throw at him but without experience, even young, cheap labor can’t find work.  Neither can older, experienced labor.  I find that a lot of employers want experienced labor, they just don’t want to pay for it.  So, Holmes had to go back to graduate school.  He probably would have been better off learning plumbing or joining the navy.  At least the military will help you pay your student loans.

This is not to say that I feel any kind of compassion for James Holmes the mass murderer.  But I do feel sorry for colleagues of James Holmes who are in a similar economic situation through the actions of a bunch of financiers on Wall Street who thought mergers and acquisitions of research companies in the last two decades was a sweet way to make loads of money and big bonuses.  Too bad it ruined research.

Holmes was able to order many rounds of ammunition online.  He also ordered an urban assault vest.  Unlike buying birth control, there is no conscience rule that would allow someone who is using common sense to stop a graduate student like James Holmes from buying combat equipment.  No one was allowed to say, “Where are you headed, buddy? Afghanistan?  Iraq?  Because I don’t think you need any of that stuff in Aurora.  Whatever you’re planning, I’m agin’ it.  No sale for you.”

Let’s think about that for a second.  It is harder for Ashley Moser to buy Plan B in the very same places where James Holmes could buy his own arsenal.  Enough weaponry to mow down a theater?  As long as you have a credit card, not a problem. No questions asked.   A couple of pills of early intervention to prevent a mistake?  Everyone you don’t know has an opinion and a hoop you must jump through.  Sure, the conscience rule executive order has been modified but whose going enforce it?  In a couple of years, Sasha and Malia will be able to buy their own Glocks but long after they’ve given up bubble gum, they will still have problems locating a pharmacist who will sell Plan B to them from behind the counter.

And because this is an election year and we must not piss off the young, white males in western states who might vote, Barack Obama sees no reason why he should develop any policies to address the issue of unfettered access to guns.  He also sees no need to promote an assault weapons ban that Bill Clinton put in place during his terms but went out of fashion during the Bush years.

I wonder if Ashley Moser knows this.  I hear Obama has been visiting the victims.  There’s an outpouring of support for Ashley right now, including a fundraiser.  But in a couple of months, America will forget about Ashley and she’ll have to navigate the social welfare system on her own.  For what it’s worth, I think a fundraiser should never be necessary for Ashley or others like her.  She, and all of the other Ashleys and Alexes, deserves a nation’s support, not charity or pity or insensitive moralizing.  She needed her country to be behind her in the last couple of years.  We’d better not fail her in the years to come.

So, there you go.

Worms everywhere.

Update: Katiebird says there is a second family that will be ruined by this shooting through no fault of their own.  Caleb Medley was shot in the eye and is in a medically induced coma.  His medical bills are expected to top $2 million, which is $2 million *less* than what David Brooks paid for his new house.  Caleb’s wife is on a separate floor of the hospital ready to give birth.

Of course, according to David Brooks, if the Medley’s end up broke, disabled and must remain deliberately impoverished in order to qualify for the bare modicum of subsistence medical care that Medicaid provides, at least we can console ourselves that the nation didn’t “commit sociology” to rescue any Americans who were collateral damage of a disturbed guy who just happened to use an easily available gun on their bodies.

WHO coordinated the raids?

Occupiers during the Zuccotti Park raid

One data point is just data.  Two points are a trend.  Three points are a correlation.

Denver, Portland, Oakland, New York.

And we musn’t forget Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  For years, an abandoned car dealership was a blight on the town’s business environment but no one did anything about it.  Then, the Occupy Movement stepped in and occupied the building and, voile!  Last Sunday, the cops moved in and arrested the occupiers for squatting.  Township authorities cleared their agendas and focused on solving the suddenly most important issue before them – condemning the building.

Why the rush?

On Monday, when Mayor of Oakland, CA, Jean Quan’s legal council quit, he said something cryptic about supporting Occupy Oakland and not the 1%.  That was interesting.  And then the deputy mayor quit too.  Then we find out that Quan was one of 18 mayors nationwide  on a conference call sometime in the past week where allegedly they planned to break up the occupy protests.

There are three possibilities for who coordinated the raids:

1.) The mayors were all good golfing buddies, got together over a few beers and decided all on their own to rid themselves of these meddlesome protestors.

2.) The 1% organized an online Mayor’s Retreat where participants offered charitable donations to the cities who took a more proactive approach to cleaning up their parks.  Does Oakland need to buy some property for a new school?  Does Chapel Hill find itself short on funds for their downtown business zone Renaissance project?  It wasn’t a coordinated effort to shut down the Occupy Movement.  It was simply a way for the 1% to give back to these communities and pair up interested benefactors with cities that have been stretching their tax dollars as far as they could go and were still falling short of their obligations.  Call it Noblesse Oblige.

3.) One (or both) of the political parties was involved in cleaning up the Occupy Movement.  It could have been either party because both take wads of cash from the 1% and have an interest in keeping their finance industry masters happy.  But there’s only one party in charge of the executive branch departments that might prove useful to coordinating the clean up.  But that’s just a conspiracy theory and you will never find the fingerprints of anyone in particular on the documents.  But I would love to know who set up that conference call.  And isn’t it conveeeenient that it all went down right after that off year election where so many politicians were forced to give lip service to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.  Maybe it was the Republicans.  They haven’t chosen a nominee yet and maybe they don’t want to be put on the spot, having to scrunch up their faces and make little strangled choking noises about how the Occupiers are speaking for some terribly misguided but well-meaning people who should be working.  But if that were the case, how did they manage to get Democratic mayors like Jean Quan and Portland Mayor Sam Adams (with a name like that, he really should be an occupier) to go along with it?

So, here we see clear evidence of a coordinated effort but we don’t know what motivated the mayors to terminate the occupations.  The timing is suspicious.  There is no doubt now that there was a conference call.  And the resignation of Dan Siegal in Oakland suggests that the 1% are involved, whether by itself or through some political/electoral coordinating committee.

I want to know WHO did it.

Who decided to get together and terminate the peaceful assemblies of these occupiers to protest and speak?  Who decided to use the excuse of “cleaning” (or, more accurately, “cleansing”) the parks?  Who put together the trigger words that they all used about health and safety and danger and crime?  Who has associated those words with a group of people who are protesting social inequality brought on by the unchecked and reckless behavior of the 1%?  And while we’re at it, if the cities were so concerned with sanitation and hygiene, why did they make it so difficult to get porta potties at the sites?  And why do they permit vampire romance addled teenagers to camp out in a parking lot in front of a theater for 5 days for tickets to a silly movie without subjecting them to pepperspray, batons and arrests for unlawful, unpermitted assemblies?

And what is the meaning of an unpermitted assembly?  The very idea violates the spirit of the first amendment that says that citizens have the right to assemble and speak.  If you have to ask for a permit to do this, isn’t that the same as saying you don’t really have this right because someone else has the power to deny you the permit?  I am not a lawyer but it seems to me that the Constitution was written broadly enough that powerful people have been able to argue that just about any truncation of your rights are permissable because the Constitution didn’t explicitly say “no”.  Why is it that movements like Occupy Wall Street are routinely shut down?  Why is it that so many grassroot movements such as the Occupy movement fail to take root because they can’t get permits?

Anyway, I want answers.  I want mayors who have been “forced” to cooperate for fear that their local and state parties might lose campaign funds to come forth and tell us the truth.  It won’t go well for them if they don’t tell the public the truth and the truth comes out anyway. Now that the press have had their own rights violated and reporters roughed up, they have an interest in finding this out for themselves.   The timing was really, really bad from a PR standpoint.  It came way too soon after an election.  And now a whole year stretches before us so that those of us who have questions and demand answers can keep this issue going.

The coordinators didn’t end the movement.  No, the idiots focussed the concentration of the nation with laser like intensity on the Occupiers now.  The way these raids were carried out, complete with jack booted thugs and helicopters in the middle of the night, is enough to make even the most whacked out 2nd amendment nutcase sympathetic and make the most liberal minded crunchy granola type think that owning a gun to defend yourself against governmental overreach isn’t such a bad idea.  So, whoever it was who planned this hamhanded operation should be congratulated for finally finding common ground between the two extremist ends of the parties.

Concern in Chapel Hill after Sunday's raid

If I were to hazard a guess, I’d go with Rahm Emmanuel’s syndicate.  Yep, he’s got the whole mayor thing going, he’s in Chicago, which has a reputation, he’s familiar with how to use the 1%’s money to gain political influence in an election year and he’s not into subtlety.  There’s just enough distance between him and the 1% and the Obama campaign and just enough irritation from the merry pranksters of Occupy Chicago that it would make it look entirely reasonable for him to want to squelch them and help his fellow mayors squelch them.

That’s my hypothesis.  What kind of data to we need to make a correlation?

Sunday: Working out the kinks in Denver

I just drove around Denver and Oh. My. Gawd. What a nightmare. It took me half an hour to go about 2 miles. The barriers are going up everywhere. I was using a GPS and the poor dear was busily recalculating every couple of blocks. There is a visible No More War presence downtown surrounded by an even more visible presence of cops. The city is on lock down and from what I hear, the residents are PO’d.

In the meantime, more of us have arrived overnight. Sheri Tag is here, chipper as ever. LadyBoomerNYC is lending us her calming presence. There is media on all of the networks. Diane is busily setting up interviews. I have been asked to give a short speech at The Beautiful Protest and Rise tomorrow evening. Things are picking up here.

Just one more note: Darragh Murphy is doing a fantastic job and her mother is here as well. They are pulling out all of the stops to get things done. We are resetting our watches for Mountain Time and we do not expect to have any more glitches.

The Credentials Committee is going to meet at 11:30am at the Colorado Center. Eastern? Mountain? See if you can catch it on CSPAN.

Hang in there, Conflucians. It’s going to be a wild ride!

Meanwhile, here is some very good news:

The grassroots petition that roared

When the Clinton and Obama campaigns announced last week that Senator Clinton’s name would be placed into nomination, a group of Clinton delegates cheered for a moment and went right back to work. With Hillary Clinton’s name “officially” on the ballot, the petition signatures were no longer technically needed. But this group of determined individuals pressed on.

“When we started this effort, it was the ONLY way for us to be able to vote in Denver to represent the people who elected us,” said a Clinton delegate from Texas. “We’re proud of what we did. We’re going to see it to the end. Just like our candidate – we don’t quit.”

According to DNC rules, a floor nomination petition needs a minimum of 300 signatures from voting delegates to be submitted. In July, a small but determined group of Clinton delegates and volunteers started reaching out to fellow delegates in true grassroots fashion – one by one – to collect the signatures. This proved to be slow going since Democratic Party officials would not provide contact lists for delegates. The 300 Delegate Petition group was born.

After national and international mainstream media attention, petitions started pouring in. When they received the requisite number of petitions, they once again took a breather and went back to work. DNC rules state that no more than 600 petitions can be submitted. They’re working on it.

“We’ve got well over 300 petitions now in hand,” explained Sue Castner, a Clinton delegate from Portland, OR. “Since we never consulted with Senator Clinton’s campaign, we don’t know if ‘the petition that wouldn’t die’ had anything to do with the two joint campaign announcements made last week. We will probably never know but it certainly made us feel good.”

Signatories include a governor or two, county Democratic party chairs, members of the diplomatic corps, and even some brave Obama delegates. The names of those who signed the petition will remain a mystery unless Senator Clinton decides to file the petition, in which case, their names will be a part of recorded history.

As a meager reward for those delegates who saw the nomination process as a path to party unity and signed this historic document, a numbered commemorative pin will distinguish them from fellow delegates. Rest assured, the green pin, featuring the number 300 with a pen, will be THE most coveted pin in Denver.

One more thing: CBS coming over for a cup of sugar at 2:30pm. We’ll let you know when you can expect to see us.

On the ground in Denver

The paint is fresh at PUMA HQ.  We’re located right next to the Police Department so we shouldbe relatively safe.  There are cops EVERYWHERE.  It’slike a lice infestation.  On the way from the airport, we passed three bike medics.  That’s right, they have their equipment in paneers(sp) on the back ot their bikes.  Rill says she’s seen police on bikes too but she can’t quite take them seriously.

People are arriving as we speak.  Darragh’s mom is here.  DancesWithPumas is here.

MarylandPUMA, TruthIsGold and some of the documentary film crew.  Murphy is out getting some stuff from the rental store.  We’re setting up tables, getting the swag together and generally having a good time.  We’ve got Aretha Franklin on the laptop speakers.

Yeah! More later.
in the meantime, the Declaration has been updated:

Scratching Post Dance Party – Carry On to Denver, Hillary!

I’m in a dancing mood tonight after Blog Talk Radio’s No We Won’t call from Paul@ Friends for Hillary.

Please listen to the lyrics of this song, it’s feel good, get up, fight for a brand new day song that moves the soul.  Never give up and never give in!  Carry on to Denver, Hillary!!! 

I know that we all feel disillusioned sometimes, that we are fighting the impossible, but Paul’s call was definitely a sign that all our hard work is going to pay off.  We are standing our ground – and we are being heard!

Paul called in to talk to us about Hillary’s blog chat tomorrow at noon @ www.hillaryclinton.com.  He also gave me the thrill of a lifetime to know that all of our PUMA PROWLS from PUMAPAC is reaching DNC officals and we’re making a difference! Please log in and sign up if you haven’t already.

Rico – I need some Pink Pumas STAT for all Conflucians.  If you have some change – please click on the brown lunch bag.  Flo’s got the night off, but I’ll be here tending the baddies just in case. 

For more action www.justsaynodeal.com.  PUMA!!!

"Powerful and Graceful, even in repose is about to change to "Powerful and Graceful and nack in ACTION!"

"Powerful and Graceful, even in repose" is about to change to "Powerful and Graceful and back in ACTION!"

Cue the X-Files music: I want to believe

So, we went to the Denver Aquarium today.  Rill was filling in for some staff shortage  at the restaurant where her BFF is executive chef.  (More about that in another post)   Brook and I decided to walk back to the hotel.  There are lots of sidewalks and it was only 2 miles.  We crossed the foot bridge over the Platte river to a park that borders the river and what do you think we saw?  You won’t believe it. 

Confluence Park

 

Ack!  I am having fits wit iPhoto.  Anyway, see that sign by the tree?  It says “Confluence Park”.  I thought, well that’s a nice touch.  But it got weirder.  

Because when I turned around, there were two guys standing on a bridge overlooking the traffic and what do you think they were holding?

Hillary Devotees 

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.   

Nitecap- Tiramisu

The undiscolsed location I’m in in Denver has an expresso maker in the room and the coffee is the best I’ve ever had in a hotel. I think I’ll have another cup.

Anyway, about Denver, for those of you who are going to be coming here in August, let me give you a little preview in the next week. The city seems to be still evolving. Maybe it’s just because I live in what is essentially a suburb of New York City that I see Denver as somewhat unfinished. The city core has a lot of space between the buildings. Hmmm, maybe they *wanted* a lot of space here. There is a lot of activity going on construction wise. There is a mix of late nineteenth century Woolworth building, modern skyscrapers and neoclassical buildings representative of a state capital and regional federal district. The residential is only a few short blocks from the city center. The beautiful hotel where I am is a short distance away from a part of town where muggings are not uncommon and it’s a bit seedy. My local culinary tour guide, I’ll call her “Rill”, told us not to walk in that direction.

rill
Continue reading

Monday: Last day to register in PA

Yes, ladies and gents, if you are a resident of PA and you want to register or switch parties *hint, hint*, today is your last day. Run, don’t walk to your local Board of Elections office or Clinton campaign office.

In other news:

  • Lambert at Corrente has started the “Why Won’t That Stupid Bitch Quit ? Watch” (WWTSBQW) Every time one of the Big Boyz puts up a post asking why Hillary won’t just get out now for the good of the party because The Math isn’t in her favor (and spreading an untrue meme because Obama can’t win *either* without superdelegates), some Corrente readers are donating $10 to Hillary’s campaign. If we all pledge an affordable dollar amount, she should be rich by the end of the week!
  • What if you were planning to throw a party and nobody paid? That is dilemma laid out in Money Troubles in Denver at the NYTimes. Howard Dean is having trouble coming up with half of the money for a downpayment. (LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!) Ahem, excuse me for that. Where was I? Oh, yeah, no one could have predicted that anyone would take a large swing state, slam a harsh penalty on it, take another large swing state, slam *it* with another harsh penalty and manage to piss off the voters enough that they want their money back for the convention. It was completely unforseen. The comments, although peppered by the occasional cluelessly juvenile Obamaphile, seem to be uncharitable towards poor Howard. I know, I know, you’re heartbroken.
  • Hillary’s mother had a hard life when she was young. If you haven’t read this article, The LA ‘village that raised Hillary’s mother, in the LATimes from yesterday, you can see why Hillary might not want to go back to days like that.
  • Bill Richardson says he still feels loyal to the Clintons. Hmmm, “loyalty”. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. I understand. What’s a politician to do when he can’t get to the WH on his own merits? Oh, well, he probably is just thinking in terms that even Kos would understand. We’ll all just kiss and make up after the primaries. Right? I said, RIGHT?!

Ok, I’m going to hop across the river and see if I can make trouble at the Clinton HQ in Harrisburg. Later taters…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 413 other followers