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Offensive and inappropriate open thread


It occurred to me that I might have missed angering and offending a few people this week. If you’re one of them, this post’s for you.

Julian Assange was in court this week but we didn’t talk about it because somebody used up all the pixels. IBS. (I blame Sarah)

Did we miss anything else?

Let’s talk about anything but HER.



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Tucson Memorial Service. Live Blogging begins at 8pm Eastern

9 year old Christina Taylor Greene

The victims were:

  • U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63.
  • Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Giffords’ director of community outreach.
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76, a pastor at Mountain Ave. Church of Christ.
  • Christina Greene, 9, a student at Mesa Verde Elementary.
  • Dorthy Murray, 76.
  • Phyllis Scheck, 79.

This post is for the discussion of the service.

Tucson memorial service helps begin healing process

The University of Arizona is preparing to host a community memorial service tonight, one of many services to remember the victims of Saturday’s deadly shooting.

A memorial mass at St. Odelia last night gave the community a chance to release emotions.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was at the site of a growing memorial on the hospital lawn.

“There is no way to measure what Tucson and all of Arizona lost in that moment. The statistics: 6 dead, 14 wounded in no way explain the depths of this tragedy,” said Governor Brewer.

Obama Visits Giffords Ahead of Memorial Service

As thousands lined up Wednesday for a memorial service in Tucson, President Obama visited Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the hospital along with other victims in Saturday’s shooting attack that left six dead and 14 wounded.

“The president wanted to begin this solemn trip by stopping first at the hospital where Congresswoman Giffords and others continue to recuperate,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Obama is expected to remember the victims and heroes of the tragedy in his speech at the memorial service. The speech is expected to last for 16 to 18 minutes.

“The president will devote a significant portion of his remarks to the memory of the victims,” Gibbs said. “He’ll also reflect on how all of us might best honor their memory in our own lives.”

Do you think Steve Benen might be a tad biased?


Seriously:

HALF-TERM GOVERNOR BREAKS HER SILENCE…. As tempted as I am to simply ignore former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R) latest statement, I suppose there’s no point in pretending it’s not of some interest to the political world this morning.

Palin has been unusually quiet since Saturday’s massacre in Tucson, and as interest in the toxicity of political rhetoric has grown more intense, her role in cheapening and dragging down our discourse has generated a fair amount of attention.

Today, Palin broke her silence issuing a video, which is nearly eight minutes long. It’s a standard tactic — the right-wing media personality can’t subject herself to questions or muster the confidence to deal with cross-examinations, so to communicate, Palin’s forced to hide behind statements others write for her, and then upload them. It’s not exactly the stuff Profiles in Courage are made of.

In any case, the statement/video is about what one might expect. Palin, speaking from Alaska with an American flag over her right shoulder, has no regrets and no apologies to offer. Instead, she’s concerned about “blood libel.”

“If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.”

I don’t imagine Palin actually knows what “blood libel” means, but historically, it’s referred to the ridiculous notion of Jews engaging in ritual killings of Christian children. More commonly, it’s a phrase intended to convey the suffering of an oppressed minority.

In other words, Palin is apparently feeling sorry for herself, again, using a needlessly provocative metaphor that casts her as something of a martyr.

Benen uses the phrase “half-term governor” at least three times in his post. That right there indicates that maybe he’s not being entirely neutral and objective.

I like the “breaks her silence” jab too. On Saturday, soon after the news of the shootings broke, Sarah Palin posted this statement on Facebook:

My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.

On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.

She then went about her business. Various people have been criticizing her for not saying more, specifically for not admitting it was all her fault, apologizing and promising to never show her face in public again.

Of course if she had been giving interviews she would have been criticized for trying to steal the spotlight for herself.

Apparently Benen hasn’t got the memo that Sarah was dogwhistling to her fundiegelical supporters when she used the words “blood-libel.” He thinks she’s just a stupid girl who was using words she didn’t understand.

As for the flag reference, I wonder what Benen thought when candidate Obama gave his Greatestest Speech on Race EVAH with about 10 American flags behind him?

That’s it for another episode of “Look over there! It’s Sarah Palin!


Palin and Clyburn add fuel to raging fire with “blood libel” and intellectual deficits


I’m just going to summarize what I said in the comments because I’m still on an iPad app and it’s not designed for mini novels.

Regarding Sarah Palin’s video this morning, she was defiant. I found it decidedly unhelpful.

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 for 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 unnecessary 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. The left has been relentless in using her as a whipping girl for the past two years and the behavior of Jeralyn and Digby and just about every other lefty blogger has made us at The Confluence very angry with the behavior of what should be our side. We have always condemned the demonization and dehumanization of Sarah Palin because it undermines our moral authority and it is wrong.

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?

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.

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 Christians 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 conservatives and not just any conservatives. Way to go. Enhance that persecution complex of the conservative Christians out there in Glenn Beckistan. In this part of her speech, she is specifically talking to 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. But what can we expect from Clyburn, who bludgeoned Hillary Clinton and her supported as being racists. Talk about stupidity, look no further than yourself, James. In America, it’s not only unacceptable to be a liberal, according to Republicans, it’s doubly unacceptable to be a liberal who prefers a capable woman over an inexperienced and ruthless man. That makes you a racist liberal. And they say only Republicans can come up with this stuff.

He should have done what bill Clinton did yesterday and condemned demonization 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 and will be eating right out of her hand.

So, Sarah has just added kerosene to this fire. Well done

Sarah – 1; Clyburn – 0


Descent into madness

Before

After


The New York Times:

The account by Mr. Loughner’s friend, a rare extended interview with someone close to Mr. Loughner in recent years, added some details to the emerging portrait of the suspect and his family.

“He was a nihilist and loves causing chaos, and that is probably why he did the shooting, along with the fact he was sick in the head,” said Zane Gutierrez, 21, who was living in a trailer outside Tucson and met Mr. Loughner sometimes to shoot at cans for target practice.

[…]

The new details from Mr. Gutierrez about Mr. Loughner — including his philosophy of anarchy and his expertise with a handgun, suggest that the earliest signs of behavior that may have ultimately led to the attacks started several years ago.

Mr. Gutierrez said his friend had become obsessed with the meaning of dreams and their importance. He talked about reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s book “The Will To Power” and embraced ideas about the corrosive, destructive effects of nihilism — a belief in nothing. And every day, his friend said, Mr. Loughner would get up and write in his dream journal, recording the world he experienced in sleep and its possible meanings.

“Jared felt nothing existed but his subconscious,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “The dream world was what was real to Jared, not the day-to-day of our lives.”

And that dream world, his friend said, could be downright strange.

“He would ask me constantly, ‘Do you see that blue tree over there?’ He would admit to seeing the sky as orange and the grass as blue,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “Normal people don’t talk about that stuff.”

He added that Mr. Loughner “used the word hollow to describe how fake the real world was to him.”


As more and more details emerge about Jared Loughner it is becoming clear that the warning signs were there long before he went on his murderous spree. I can’t help but feel that the system failed somewhere.

The story I linked to above reports that the police had been to the Loughner home on more than one occasion but it’s not yet clear why they were there. There are rumors going round that the Pima County Sheriff’s Office may have known more about Loughner than they are willing to admit.

I think we need to examine closely the last few years of Jared Loughner’s life to see what could and/or should have been done that might have prevented this horrible tragedy.

There is nothing political or partisan about trying to improve our nation’s mental health services. I’m not a mental health professional but some of our readers are and others have had close personal experiences with mentally ill friends and family members.

I’d like to see some informed discussion in the comments about what is wrong with our current system and what we can do to fix it, especially in regards to early identification and treatment of people with mental illnesses.

NOTE:

This post is NOT about political rhetoric and its relevance to this tragedy. We’ve had those discussions and I’m sure we’ll have them again. This post is about mental illness. Stay on topic or your comments will be deleted.


UPDATE:

Sometimes you write a post and hit “publish” and within minutes you find something that fits right in with the topic. From William Galston at The New Republic:

The story repeats itself, over and over. A single narrative connects the Unabomber, George Wallace shooter Arthur Bremmer, Reagan shooter John Hinckley, the Virginia Tech shooter—all mentally disturbed loners who needed to be committed and treated against their will. But the law would not permit it.

Starting in the 1970s, civil libertarians worked to eliminate involuntary commitment or, that failing, to raise the standards and burden of proof so high that few individuals would meet it. Important decisions by the Supreme Court and subordinate courts gave individuals new protections, including a constitutional right to refuse psychotropic medication. A few states have tried to push back in constitutionally acceptable ways, but efforts such as California’s Laura’s Law, designed to make it easier to force patients to take medication, have been stymied by civil rights concerns and lack of funding.

We need legal reform to shift the balance in favor of protecting the community, especially against those who are armed and deranged. This means two changes in particular. First, those who acquire credible evidence of an individual’s mental disturbance should be required to report it to both law enforcement authorities and the courts, and the legal jeopardy for failing to do so should be tough enough to ensure compliance. Parents, school authorities, and other involved parties should be made to understand that they have responsibilities to the community as a whole, not just to family members or to their own student body. While embarrassment and reluctance to get involved are understandable sentiments, they should not be allowed to drive conduct when the public safety is at stake. We’re not necessarily cramming these measures down anyone’s throat: I’ve known many families who were desperate for laws that would help them do what they knew needed to be done for their adult children, and many college administrators who felt that their hands were tied.

Second, the law should no longer require, as a condition of involuntary incarceration, that seriously disturbed individuals constitute a danger to themselves or others, let alone a “substantial” or “imminent” danger, as many states do. A delusional loss of contact with reality should be enough to trigger a process that starts with multiple offers of voluntary assistance and ends with involuntary treatment, including commitment if necessary. How many more mass murders and assassinations do we need before we understand that the rights-based hyper-individualism of our laws governing mental illness is endangering the security of our community and the functioning of our democracy?


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.