Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Gabrielle Giffords

Wednesday Deux

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screen-capture* CFP: Queerness and Games at UC Berkeley.

* AMC passed on Red Mars, but then greenlights this? Those idiots.

Minimum Wage Machine (Work in Progress).

The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 4.97 seconds, for $7.25 an hour (NY state minimum wage). If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money.

* Gabrielle Giffords op-ed on the Senate’s minority-rules rejection of gun control.

What started out as a case about whether corporations could be held accountable in U.S. courts for human rights violations abroad now turned into a case about whether anyone can be held accountable. And on Wednesday, a five-justice majority of the U.S. Supreme Court held that the answer is, mostly, no.

Mellon Foundation awards grant to develop new careers for humanities Ph.D.s. At the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Disney Says New ‘Star Wars’ Films Will Open Every Summer Starting in 2015. The internet has spoken: put Patton Oswalt in charge.

Monday Night Links

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* It’s been a few hours, so that must mean it’s time for some debt ceiling revisionism. Hooray! I feel so much better.

* At least the maniacs at Red State hate it.

* Congress to the unemployed: drop dead.

* Congress to grad students: drop dead.

* Every schoolchild knows that big cuts to defense are the trigger that will bring the GOP to its knees when the Super Congress brings its recommendations in a few months, so it’s no surprise that the Pentagon actually gained money in this round of negotiations.

Rather than cutting $400 billion in defense spending through 2023, as President Barack Obama had proposed in April, the current debt proposal trims $350 billion through 2024, effectively giving the Pentagon $50 billion more than it had been expecting over the next decade.

Wait, what? Let me start over.

* Today Biden told House Democrats that Obama would eventually have done the thing he obviously should have done from the start if he had literally no other option left. What a comfort.

* The White House: “…members of Congress would likely recoil at the gamesmanship involved in shelving the committee’s recommendations and therefore feel compelled to place well-intentioned lawmakers on the committee.” Reid: “This absurd mess shows the system works.” McConnell: “That was awesome! Let’s do it all again!”

* I’ve been informed it’s forbidden to be cynical about Gabriel Giffords’ return to the House no matter how transparent and manipulative it seems. Please be advised.

* Taibbi: The Democrats Take a Dive.

* And Europe’s still in even worse shape. Ugh.

Happy MLK Day Links

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American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white. Via MeFi.

* Tim Wise on the disappearance of the real MLK.

So we compartmentalize the non-violence message, much as we compartmentalize books about Dr. King and the movement in that section of the bookstore established for African American History; much as we have compartmentalized those streets named for the man: locating them only in the blackest and often poorest parts of town.

Were this tendency to render King divisible on multiple levels — abstracting non-violence from justice, colorblindness from racial equity, and public service from radical social transformation — merely an academic matter, it would hardly merit our concern. But its impact is greater than that. Our only hope as a society is to see the connections between the issues King was addressing and our current predicament, to see that what affects part of the whole affects the greater body, to understand that racism and racial inequity must be of concern to us all, because they pose risks to us all.

* But let us never forget that the civil rights movement was completely unnecessary in the first place; a “truly free market” would have ended segregation on its own.

* Martin Luther King in science fiction.

* Why we can’t have nice things: Jon Hamm is just too damn old to play Superman.

* Schwarzenegger says being governor cost him 200 million dollars. You’re welcome, California.

* When assassins get results: Arizona law could force Gabrielle Giffords out of her seat within months.

* The Edge Question 2011: What scientific concept would improve everyone’s toolkit? There are some good nominations, but for a twenty-first century civilization teetering on the brink of ecological suicide there’s only one right answer: TANSTAAFL.

* Towns for losers: the highway’s jammed with broken heroes fleeing the ruins of New Jersey. Let’s hope Chris Christie isn’t next to make the big move to D.C.

* And naturally you had me at Soviet workplace safety posters. Via MeFi.

The Paranoid Style

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Tim Wise: …while Loughner would never have likely contemplated political assassination in a culture where the most pressing issue was, say, a simple philosophical disagreement over tax policy, or the proper balance between interest rates and full employment, or the percentage of GDP dedicated to debt service as opposed to long-term infrastructure investment, that is not the culture in which he (or any of us) lives. Rather, we live in a nation in which it is commonplace, and considered completely rational, for elected officials to believe the President is a foreign interloper. We live in a culture where the nation’s most powerful Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, cannot bring himself to condemn the maniacal derangement that is birtherism, but is reduced instead to a mere acknowledgement that since Hawaii says the President is a citizen, that’s “good enough for him.”

We live in a culture in which it is utterly normal, to a degree that has sadly made it nearly banal, to hear multi-million dollar, best-selling authors and talk show hosts suggest that the nation is on the verge of total fascism, death panels for the elderly, door-to-door gun confiscation, and the reconquest of the American southwest by Latinos bent on ethnic war. In short, in a society where paranoia is the daily currency of mainstream commentators, and pseudo-schizophrenic ramblings are elevated to the level of persuasive argument, we ought not be surprised that such a tragedy as occurred on Saturday might happen.

[…]

It is not necessary to show that Loughner is a follower of Glenn Beck, or Michael Savage, or any of a hundred or more local variants of the same. It is not, in the end, all that important whether he spent time on right-wing websites, or is (as a Department of Homeland Security memo seems to suggest) a follower of the white nationalist group, American Renaissance, or whether he believes (as some of his internet postings hint) that the Constitution is being usurped by the current government because of its reliance on paper money: a prominent meme among the far-right. What matters is that Loughner, like all of us, has been exposed day in and day out, for several years, to the unhinged and paranoiac ravings of persons who believe America is in its “end days,” and that the sky is falling, at least metaphorically — and not because of global warming, which is just one more piece of the left-wing conspiratorial plot to confiscate all wealth in the name of nature-worship — but because of the communist / socialist / fascist / Marxist / Nazi / Muslim / Kenyan / terrorist / anti-Christ who occupies the White House.

It is that daily stream of poisonous vitriol from which it is nearly impossible to escape.

In a culture where Glenn Beck plays “Six Degrees of Chairman Mao” every night on his chalkboard, uncannily managing to convince his flock that even the most moderate of Democrats likely hums the Internationale to his or her children rather than regaling them with bedtime stories, we can truly say that paranoia has become not only the prelude to something deadly, but sadly a form of pedantry so everyday in its appearance that we write it off as entertainment, rather than the poison it truly is.

In a culture where political rallies attended by thousands feature prominent speakers who suggest the President might well be Satan in the flesh, and marchers who carry signs suggesting “Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s Ovens,” or that the President intends to put whites into slavery, nothing should surprise us anymore.

In a media environment where highly paid commentators can keep their jobs even as they insist that those who call for the shooting of government agents so as to stop a world government takeover are “beginning to have a case,” or that a national service initiative is just a run-up to the implementation of a literal stormtrooper corps like the Nazi SS, or that “multicultural people” are “destroying the culture of this country,” or that Latino migrants are an “invasive species,” that seeks to undermine the nation, or that the President is intentionally “destroying the economy” so as to pay white people back for slavery, or that, worse, he and other Democrats are vampires, the only solution for which is a “stake through the heart,” to feign shock at the acts of a Jared Loughner is a precious and naive conceit that we can no longer afford.

Via Pandagon, which notes succinctly, “Keeping people in a permanent state of fantasy is an excellent way to push them towards violence.”

A few related links:

* The solution to gun violence is always more guns.

* Some rules for debating debate.

* Gun control for me, but not for thee.

* Nate Silver tries to get empirical.

* And these “You Lie!” bullets could be intended for anyone. It’s not a call for violence. Stop whining.

This Was Monday

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* Judy Clarke, lawyer.

* All these worlds are yours, except Kepler 10-b. Attempt no landings there.

* Autonomous organization: In urban N.J. areas, few residents disrespect unwritten rule of reserving snow-cleared parking spots.

* Matt Taibbi gets introspective.

For my part, as a member of the political media, and a vitriol-spewing one at that, the Tucson shooting immediately made me ask myself the question: do I personally do anything to add to this obvious problem of a hypercharged, rhetorically overheated political atmosphere? And the unfortunate answer I came up with was, maybe. I’ve always told myself that what I do is different from what someone like Rush does, because I don’t target classes of people and try not to exempt anyone (even myself) from criticism, or favor either party. 

I’ve also counted on the belief that anyone who’s willing to devote the mental energy to even follow whatever wild rhetoric I’m using is probably also smart enough to tell the difference between reality and hyperbole. I also hope that anyone reading my articles will get the underlying message that I’m pretty sure — I hope I’m sure, anyway — I’m conveying at all times, i.e. that violence is irresponsible, that we should use our brains instead of baseball bats to solve problems, etc.

But while I tell myself all these things, I also know that I would never talk to my wife or my mother the way I talk to Lloyd Blankfein. Is it ever right to just wind up and let someone have it with all you’ve got? That’s a question that I think has to be asked. It’s certainly possible that we’ve all become too used to unrestrained rhetoric as a form of entertainment, and people like me live right in the middle of the guilt parabola there. Most all of us are grownups and can handle extreme argument, but clearly some people are not, and obviously I’m not just talking about Jared Loughner.

To see that, all you have to do is attend almost any family gathering, where once-loving relationships have been completely lost because of the overheated right-left culture war. If real family relationships are being lost to this kind of political debate, if someone on TV can reach into your living room and break up your family without knowing anything about you or even knowing that you exist, that tells us that this mechanized mass-media rhetoric has been almost unimaginably successful at dehumanizing whole classes of people.

Twitter beta-tests a spine.

* The University of California Student Association responds to news of an additional half-billion dollars in cuts to education in California.

* Short film of the night: “Three Minutes.”

* Infographic of the night: Dexter’s victims.

‘Climate of Hate’

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Echoing commentary from across the blogosphere, Krugman and The New York Times Editorial Board consider the larger social implications of Saturday’s attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and call for an end to extremist and eliminationist rhetoric of the sort extensively catalogued here.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Assassination in Arizona?

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An Arizona congresswoman has been shot and possibly killed at a scheduled “Congress in your Corner” event in Arizona. The shooter is in custody. It’s obviously too early to speculate on his motives, and somehow feels wrong to mention at all when the news is still so fresh, but my Twitter feed is exploding with recent instances in which Rep. Giffords has been a target of eliminationist rhetoric and imagery in the past.

Sad news for her family and for the nation.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, the initial reports were that Giffords had been killed; the new reports are saying she’s still alive and in surgery.

UPDATE 2: The story from the New York Times includes this detail:

She has held several events since first taking office in January 2007. At one such event in 2009, a protester was removed by police when his pistol fell on the supermarket floor.

A federal judge was apparently also killed or injured at the scene, who could have been the target as well if this was indeed a motivated assassination (as opposed to a random act of violence).

UPDATE 3: Members of Giffords’s staff and a child have apparently also been killed. So sad.

UPDATE 4: RT @TheFix MSNBC reports that deputy city manager tells them that doctors expect Giffords to “pull through”. #giffords

Written by gerrycanavan

January 8, 2011 at 2:54 pm