Open Thread 1/31

- I’m glad the teachers refusing to administer the MAP test is getting national attention.

- This stereotyping is why I’m not comfortable with American elites like Packer and Wills talking about the South. Even if, like Wills, they have southern roots, they ignore the basic fact that racism and right-wing politics are national problems.

- There is nobody more surprised than me that my first reaction to hearing that sequestration might lead to the cancellation of the Blue Angles was “oh, sad.”

- While Hadiya Pendleton went to a good school and was shot in an upper middle class neighborhood not far from the president’s Chicago home, her assailants are reportedly gang members, and the plague of gang violence — which springs from generations of chronic, festering and unanswered urban poverty and violence – has been ignored for too long because it rarely touches the people deemed to matter in our country.

- If there’s a toll, Mercer Island will be the next Alcatraz. You know, you have to pay a modest toll to leave.


  1. 2


    It’s great that we’re finally using deaths of inner city youths in Chicago as pawns for our ideologic goals, but maybe we should keep in mind that even after Newtown, more than 5 times as many Gallup respondents thought the economy was the most important issue as thought gun control was most important.

    And, speaking of the economy, GDP growth in 2012 Q4 seems to have been negative, (I don’t think anyone brought this up on HA yesterday), and today the first-time jobless claims figure was 368,000, not a whole lot different than numbers reported a year or so ago.

    The GDP growth trend line since 2011 isn’t looking so good. Recessionary, some might argue. What were we told not so long ago, including by Obama advisors, about the wisdom of raising taxes during a recession? Maybe we’re about to find out.

    Anyways. Back to assault weapon control initatives that have no chance of passing.

  2. 3


    Who says taxation doesn’t affect behavior?

    Personal dividend income jumped 34.3% in December, the government data showed.

    Economists say higher income is due to one-time dividend distributions and will likely reverse sharply in January. Hundreds of corporations shifted dividend payments to 2012 in order to avoid higher tax rates in 2013.

    Any guesses on what that ‘sharp reversal’ we’re seeing this month will do to purchasing power, consumer confidence, and other measures of how Joe Public is doing?

    All you HAers who think you weren’t affected by the tax increase that purportedly only hit the top 2% of wage-earning families?

    Mebbe think again.

  3. 4


    It’s in the Seattle Times:

    In the midst of Boeing’s 787 crisis, employees got good news Wednesday of big bonus payouts next month.

    Based on the company’s financial results for 2012, Boeing’s white-collar-worker incentive plan next month will pay out an additional 14.75 days of pay to salaried employees working on commercial airplanes and 16 days to those on the defense side. That’s roughly a6 percent annual bonus.

    I wonder how many battery-assisted vehicles Boeing employees will be buying with their bonus pay. The Chevy Volt

    and the Fisker

    must be looking particularly attractive to those employees.

    I could point out that both GM’s Volt and much of Fisker’s production costs are subsidized by the government. That might be overkill for one post, tho.

  4. 5


    As a liberal / progressive / lefty from the South I don’t think most folk realize the character building aspects that swimming against the tide can bring. When I moved from Texas to Eastern Washington I found a similar mind set, if a milder form. A liberal can find allies among conservatives on specific agenda items. Don’t write off the South. It brought the nation Molly Ivens and fried chicken.

  5. 6

    rhp6033 spews:

    It figures that Serial would jump in with several posts as soon as a new open thread was created. He must be getting a bonus added to his “dime-per-post” pay for being in the top ten posters on a topic.

  6. 8

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 2: I noticed that for every post about gun violence or reform, you would complain that there wasn’t a topic on inner-city violence. But as soon as it’s included within an open topic, you complain about us using the deaths of young inner-city teens as a “pawn”.

    It seems that most of your posts are merely an attempt to deflect us from whatever discussion is embarrasing to the Republican party. In this case, you are trying to deflect from the deflection.

  7. 9


    @ 6

    If I’m paid to post, then why’d y’all claim I was gonna go bye-bye after the elecshun?

    I need the money. Dividends this quarter are going to be a little slim @3, after all.

    If I wasn’t here, you’d be agreeing with YLB and RR about how eeevvviiillll the Rethuglicans are, for the sixth time, each day.

  8. 10

    rhp6033 spews:

    I like the Blue Angels. I love the smell of JP1 in the morning (to paraphrase Duvall).

    But it is only a public relations and recruiting strategy, not essential to national defense. If push comes to shove, then it’s an understandable cut.

    But I really don’t think it’s ever going to be cut. This is an old gambit from government administration – if your agency gets threatened with cuts, you pull out the most politically popular program and declare it will be the first to go. Then wait for the outcry from the public to register with Congress, and your budget ends up intact. Politicians play the game to – listing popular programs as being the first on the chopping block if the other side has their say.

    With regard to potential sequestration, I is a useful strategy in this instance.

  9. 11


    @ 8

    Not quite. I pointed out the dearth of posts on HA bemoaning the gun violence-related deaths in inner-city regions, until the cluster of deaths in Newtown gave you a reason to talk about it.

    Would it have helped you to talk about inner-city gun violence deaths in Chicago last year, which increased despite the city being run by Obama’s former Chief of Staff and despite Chicago’s gun-control laws, which are more strict than those in most other big cities in this country? No, it would not.

    One of the senators, Leahy or Durbin, I think, said to Mark Kelly yesterday that he was sorry it took two years to start talking about gun violence after the Giffords shooting and the other deaths that occurred in association with it.

    Why do you think it took two years?

    Because it’s an election-loser issue. The senators who are Democrats in reddish states and face election next year are telling you that

    right now.

    What did they do instead? They bashed the GOP for violent rhetoric, and called for civility, which lasted about three months before Dems started using the same rhetoric they had decried when it suited their purposes.

    This is theater. Gabby Giffords wasn’t a witness giving testimony. She was Exhibit A.

  10. 12

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 9: I agree that we need the trolls, if for nothing else to prove our point about the falacy of the other side’s reasoning. In fact, we need a few more trolls. We just need them to be a better sort of trolls, not inclined to repeating Limbaugh talking points, and not engaging in classical logical falacies (like the old, tired “straw man” tactic).

    Alas, William F. Buckly is dead, and in today’s Republican party he would be treated as an outcast for being too “liberal”.

  11. 13


    @ 12

    Think about MSNBC’s typical talk show format:

    A liberal host has a guest on, who agrees with the host, and then a second guest who agrees with the first guest. Then maybe someone like Lawrence O’Donnell has on someone with an opposing opinion but then shouts that person down so you really don’t know what that contrasting opinion might have been.

    Take away those you call ‘trolls’ on HA, and what’s left is HA content very similar to what I described for MSNBC.

    I don’t think anyone wants that. Not really.

    I’d rather argue here than read stuff on SP or elsewhere. SP sucks and has since the ’04 recount ended.

  12. 14


    Q: What’s black and tan, and looks good on a lawyer?

    A: A Rottweiler.

    As of this month, there were 30,000 applicants to law schools for the fall, a 20 percent decrease from the same time last year and a 38 percent decline from 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council. Of some 200 law schools nationwide, only 4 have seen increases in applications this year. In 2004 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools; this year there are likely to be 54,000.

    This is where it starts. Programs in which jobs for graduates aren’t available in sufficient quality will go under the knife. Students who borrow heavily so they can spend 12 years in school to get a PhD in Critical Dance Studies should be poor their entire lives. Stupidity should be painful.

    Things that can’t go on forever, won’t.

    Check out Mitch Daniels’ open letter to Purdue University:

    It’s necessary.

  13. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Less gun violence is an “ideological” goal? Yeah, that’s about your speed, Kap’n Kornflake.

  14. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I don’t hear rich people complaining because they dodged some taxes by getting their January dividends a month early. If Kap’n Kellogg waited until this month to invest his inheritance from his rich aunt that’s his problem.

  15. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    We seem to be down to one troll on this blog. The others were nothing to write home about, but at least we had a modicum of variety. We should recruit some new trolls, by conscription if necessary.

  16. 20


    @ 15

    I guess that’s a ‘dog whistle’, then.

    I have to admit I don’t know the race joke. You’ll need to enlighten me.

    BTW on the Drinking Liberally post I used a John Kerry joke that had earlier, I learned later in the thread, been used with John Elway instead. Guess that was racist, too.

  17. 22

    Expat(!)Chad spews:

    19. Roger Rabbit spews:

    We seem to be down to one troll on this blog. The others were nothing to write home about, but at least we had a modicum of variety. We should recruit some new trolls, by conscription if necessary.

    I could dress in drag and start typing, but I’m in Asia and it’d ruin the effect.

    Or affect…

  18. 23

    Ekim spews:

    2. Serial Scrooge spews:

    It’s great that we’re finally using deaths of inner city youths in Chicago as pawns for our ideologic goals…

    You mean like how bush used 9/11 to start 2 wars, kill hundreds of thousands of people, bankrupt our country and enrich Haliburton and other sociopathic corporations?

  19. 24

    Ekim spews:

    2. Serial Scrooge spews:

    …but maybe we should keep in mind that even after Newtown, more than 5 times as many Gallup respondents thought the economy was the most important issue as thought gun control was most important.

    You mean Obama should some how pass the laws required to fix the economy?

    Such bills must start in the Rethug controlled House where those same Rethugs are much too busy passing laws to make women second class citizens.

  20. 25

    rhp6033 spews:

    After the election, the Republican party decided that it wasn’t so much their idiology that brought them to defeat, it was demographics and bad P.R. At their recent retreat to create a strategy going forward, they discussed this frequently and mentioned – repeatedly – that they needed to attract hispanics to the Republican party.

    Shortly thereafter, the Senate announced it’s bi-partison immigration reform plan, which was endorsed not long afterwards by President Obama. Chief among the plan’s proponants and sponsors was Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who has been considered in the top tier of candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination (he kept out of the 2012 race).

    Now the junkyard dogs of the Republican party are attacking Rubio. Aside from the thinly veiled racism “hispanics have too many illigitimate babies!”, their chief complaint is – wait for it – that the path to citizenship provisions would create “too many new Democratic voters”.

    Of course, the whole idea was to remove the most predominate issue which was driving the hispanic voters to the Democratic party, in the hopes that at least some of them would begin to vote Republican. But it seems like Coulter, Vitter, etc. don’t want to take a chance on that.

    Of course, the other possible explanation is simply that as a leading Republican contender for the 2016 presidency, Rubio is already a target, and those who have aspirations in that area may be trying to drum up a Tea-Party consensus against him. The 2016 Republican Parties may end up being quite similar to the 2012 primaries – selecting a candidate which is acceptable to the Tea Party, but thereby inherently unacceptable to a majority of the American voters.

  21. 27

    Michael spews:

    Republicans eat their own and act the fool.

    (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers attacked Chuck Hagel on Thursday at a contentious hearing over his nomination to become the next U.S. defense secretary, questioning his judgment on war strategy and putting him broadly on the defensive.

    In one of the most heated exchanges, Senator John McCain aggressively questioned Hagel, interrupting him and talking over him at times. He voiced frustration at the former Republican senator’s failure to say plainly whether he was right or wrong to oppose the 2007 “surge” of U.S. troops in Iraq.

  22. 28

    Michael spews:

    2. Serial Scrooge spews:

    It’s great that we’re finally using deaths of inner city youths in Chicago as pawns for our ideologic goals

    1. If reducing the numbers of gun deaths in America is an “ideologic goal” it’s one that I can get behind.

    2. Wouldn’t the idea that all goals should be free of ideology be an ideologic idea?

  23. 29

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    “I don’t hear rich people complaining because they dodged some taxes by getting their January dividends a month early.”

    Well of course they did, nimrod! Anybody with any savvy at all makes good investment decisions when the tax code presents them. I took advantage of an expiring little number in the tax code to garner a $10,000+ capital gain TAX FREE!!

    Want to change all that? Then enact a simple, flat-rate income tax. The flat-rate tax is about as fair as it gets.

  24. 30

    Politically Incorrect spews:


    I’ve often wondered why, if the people outside of the South hate the Southerners so much, why do they insist the South be part of the union? After all, the rest of the nation had a chance to get rid of the South once and for all back in April of 1861. Why not just kick out the South and call it a day?

  25. 32


    @ 27

    Republicans eat their own…

    Sometimes it’s necessary. They did it with Harriet Miers as well, and justifiably.

    Hagel is a Republican in much the same vein as, say, Rodney Tom is a Democrat. I don’t see HA libbies holding back on Tom because of his party affiliation.

    And if Hagel is striving to be one of Team Obama’s ‘own’, the White House isn’t looking all that supportive of its choice, either:

    (CBS News) White House officials told CBS’ Major Garrett that they’re disappointed with defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s performance at his confirmation hearing before the Senate on Thursday.

    One of the most damaging exchanges during the hearing came from Hagel’s onetime ally, Sen. John McCain, over Hagel’s opposition to the Iraq troop surge.

    CBS News’ Chief Washington correspondent and host of “Face the Nation,” Bob Schieffer, said the heated round of questioning was one of the most surprising details to emerge from the hearing.

    “Let’s not forget, Chuck Hagel was the co-chairman of John McCain’s presidential campaign when John McCain ran the first time. This is stunning.”

    “He says it’s policy. It’s all policy,” Schieffer said, speaking to McCain’s harsh line of questioning.

    Hagel did an extremely good job of appearing unqualified for the position to which he has been nominated. Rather than observing that the GOP had the knives out for him, wouldn’t a better perspective be to wonder who will be the first Democrat to make it clear to Obama that in this instance he chose poorly?

  26. 33


    The state’s embattled welfare chief was forced to step down yesterday in the wake of a shocking internal report that found that a staggering 47,000 families receiving taxpayer-funded benefits are unaccounted for — and nearly $30 million in food stamp money went to recipients who were not eligible.

    The shocking report, released to the Herald last night, found that the Department of Transitional Assistance has lost track of 47,087 households on welfare — or one out of 10 of the total 478,000 who received DTA mailings.

    Only one out of 10?

    Obamacare should strive to be so efficient.

  27. 37

    No Time for Fascists spews:

    @33. You failed to mention this happened in Massachusetts, not Washington State, or any mention of why….

    The state attributed that taxpayer-funded blunder to a lack of staff and resources during the recession, when thousands of new recipients flooded the agency to sign up for food stamps.

    Corruption happens where there is not proper oversight. Republicans fight regulations and fight proper funding of agencies then savage the agencies when they cannot deliver. Typical.

  28. 38

    Gman spews:

    GOP Senator: Background Checks threaten Liberty……oh and anti-gay marriage doesn’t….what mother fucking asshole scumbags Republicans are!

  29. 40

    Michael spews:

    “And, speaking of the economy, GDP growth in 2012 Q4 seems to have been negative”

    Yep, government spending slowed down and so did GDP growth. Go figure. The funny part is, you’ve been screaming about government spending since you showed up here and now that the government did what you’ve been saying it should do you’re complaining about it.

  30. 41

    Michael spews:

    Scotty Brown’s not going to run for the senate in MA. I’m phoning this in so no link.

  31. 42


    Barack Obama and the results of his “socialist” policies:

    Private sector hiring is up:
    Since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, we’ve gained 1.9 million private sector jobs. And since we hit bottom in February 2010, we’ve gained 6.1 million. Under President George W. Bush, we lost 685,000 private sector jobs. [data]

    Government employment is down:
    Since January 2009, we’ve lost 606,000 public sector jobs. Since February 2010, we’ve lost 719,000. Under Bush, we gained 1.7 million public sector jobs. [data]

    The stock market is up:
    When President Obama took office, the Dow was at 7,949. As of 10:00 AM EST Friday, it was at 13,967—an increase of 75 percent. Under Bush, the Dow fell from 10,578 to 7,949, a decrease of 25 percent. [data]

    Heh.. What have the baggers got aside from …

    GREECE!!! Benghazi!!!

  32. 43

    No Time for Fascists spews:

    @39. Hey. Not all. That’s like saying all gay men are beyond evil, they are scum! And you know that is not true. (Also, scum is worse than evil? Not the other way around?)

    I know some good and honorable republicans but they are individuals, not politicians. Sadly, the more power the republican politicians seem to have, the worse they seem to act.

  33. 44

    No Time for Fascists spews:

    This is a post from a buddy from Facebook

    So I guess the NRA says the answer to stop school shootings is more guns, joining the smattering of elected officials who recently have promoted the idea of arming teachers and principals. This approach is wrong.

    If a place like Ft. Hood, TX which has some of our planet’s most deadly weapons carried by some of our planet’s most deadly professional soldiers, can be reduced to carnage by a single armed assassin, then what makes The NRA think that arming a nation of just-right-book loving, denim jumper wearing, wooden apple bead necklace creating, white board marker toting school teachers (and the rest of us) will be effective?

    You want to arm me? Good. Then arm me with a school psychologist at my school who has time to do more than test and sit in meetings about testing.

    Arm me with enough counselors so we can build skills to prevent violence, have meaningful discussions with students about their future and not merely frantically adjust student schedules like a Jenga game.

    Arm me with social workers who can thoughtfully attend to a student’s and her family’s needs so I. Can. Teach.

    Arm me with enough school nurses so that they are accessible to every child and can work as a team with me rather than operate their offices as de facto urgent care centers.

    Arm me with more days on the calendar for teaching and learning and fewer days for standardized testing.

    Arm me with class sizes that allow my colleagues and me to know both our students and their families well.

    Arm my colleagues and me with the time it takes to improve together and the time it takes to give great feedback to students about their work and progress.

    Until you arm me to the hilt with what it will take to meet the needs of an increasingly vulnerable student population, I respectfully request you keep your opinions on schools and our safety to yourself, NRA. Knock it off.

    Yeah, but implementing that would cost money, and the republicans will have NONE of that. They will pay for more guns in the classroom, but not pay for actual solutions.

  34. 45

    rhp6033 spews:

    Much of the world’s food supply comes from oceans. But 30% of the carbon released into the atmosphere is a absorbed by the oceans. Man is the largest contributor of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, especially by burning fossel fuels like oil and coal.

    We’ve already seen the effects of pollution, including rising ocean temperatures and acidification, with the wordwide decline in coral reefs – a breeding grounds for all sorts of sea life.

    Northwest shellfish are also especially vulnerable, as the Northwest U.S. receives a lot of it’s ocean water from upswells from deep within the Pacific Ocean. After a long period of stability (for as long as man has been able to measure, record, and publish the data), there have now been reports of rather dramatic changes in acidity levels in Northwest waters. The result is a corresponding reduction in shellfish beds in teh area, starting with commercially farmed oyster beds. At least one has relocated to Hawaii.

    Industry in jeapardy

    Imagine the Northwest without clams, clam chowder, geoduck, etc. We aren’t that far away from that.

  35. 47

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 37:

    ….Corruption happens where there is not proper oversight. Republicans fight regulations and fight proper funding of agencies then savage the agencies when they cannot deliver. Typical.

    Remember Katrina? After pretty much dismanteling FEMA into little more than a contract-letting agency, the TV reports from New Orleans showed the consequences. Only then did Karl Rove see the problem, except to him it was only a P.R. problem.

    The White House mobilized to give displaced Katrina refugees debit cards with no advance system in place and no monitoring or controls – and then complained when a few of the refugees mis-spent the money, advertising it as another example of why New Orleans was too corrupt to be saved, and it’s people deserved whatever happened to them.

    After promising big money to rebuild New Orleans, administrative roadblocks were put in place (or allowed to fester) which meant that little of the appropriated money was ever spent. What WAS spent, and spent quickly, went to Halliburton and it’s subsidiaries to supervise contracts for cleanup – at a significant mark-up over costs, with little or no auditing or controls in place. Most of the poor and middle-class of New Oreans were left with no homes, creating a diaspora of voters, mostly to be absorbed in reliably red states (Texas, Alabama, etc.) where they were first dropped off by the busses.

    In the long run, of course, it didn’t work out too well for Bush. This was the point where the differences between the statements coming out of the White House and video evidence of what was actually happening were in stark contrast to each other. People saw that the emperor wore no clothes, and thereafter nobody believed Bush very much. His dream of privatising Social Security never had much of a following And the consequences of Republican practice of government soon became even more apparant with the Great Rescession of 2007-2009.

  36. 48

    Ekim spews:

    Should we tax the rich more in our state? Why not?

    They say they will move to a state where their taxes would be lower? Good luck on that one.

    Scroll down to the map and mouse over the states to see who pays what.

  37. 50

    ArtFart spews:

    @45 Elsewhere in the liquid part of the biosphere (especially where the water’s warm) increased carbonization of sea water has led to large algal blooms. That might be a good thing (the algae do consume carbon dioxide and emit oxygen like other photosynthetic plants) except that a great many varieties of algae are horrendously toxic and can wipe out all the other aquatic flora and fauna over areas of hundreds of square miles. In some places the water is so poisonous that falling in might be fatal to humans.

  38. 52

    Gman spews:

    I bet statistically speaking a gun owner has a greater probability of committing suicide or killing their spouse than a non gun owner or a greater chance of the same than being shot by a stranger.

  39. 53

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @53 A gun owner also has a greater probability of getting shot, because if you pull a gun on someone who also is carrying a gun, one of you is going to shoot the other.

  40. 54

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Scott Brown announced today he won’t run for the Senate seat being vacated by John Kerry, making it a lead-pipe cinch Democrats will keep that seat in June’s special election, although that was all but a lead-pipe cinch anyway. I mean, Massachusetts a Republican state? You gotta be kidding. Brown, unlike our local Republicans, knows a losing proposition when he sees one — and isn’t eager to be a GOP human sacrifice. Rossi and McKenna aren’t as smart as him.

  41. 55

    Ekim spews:


    It’s about a 25 to 1 ratio of family members to intruders being shot.

    We could have really good statistics on all of this but the NRA’s privately owned politicians have pushed legislation to ban all such studies by authorities.

    Must let the crazies have their guns you know.

  42. 56

    Ekim spews:

    NRA’s #1 reason why we can’t ban assault rifles with 100 round clips:

    Mothers need them for home defense to protect their children from bad guys.

    Number of times a mother has defended her children with an assault rifle with 100 round clip?

    Never has happened.

  43. 57

    Ekim spews:

    If you really insist on having a gun for home defense, I recommend a Winchester Model 97 pump shotgun. Less chance of killing your neighbors 3 blocks away with the stray rounds.

  44. 60

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 57: I agree, whole-heartedly.

    I have to laugh at all the shows on TV which show someone using a wall of a house (interior or exterior) for cover while engaged in a shoot-out. An interior wall just has less than an inch of drywall between you and the other shooter, unless he’s unlucky enough to hit a stud or pipe. You can make a similar whole by pushing a small screwdriver through the wall. An exterior wall isn’t much better, it’s just got some additional plywood, siding, and insulation material – none of which will do much to stop a bullet.

    Which is why your neighbor is just as likely as you are to get hit with a bullet from any gun you shoot.

  45. 61

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 60 (continued) – and anybody who needs a hundred-round clip for their AR-15 is just expecting on using the “spray and pray” method of shooting. Do they really expect to be attacked by 100 miscreants? Or do they figure it’s going to take fifty rounds to hit two burglars?

    I’ve got a friend who woke up to hear somebody trying to break the lock to their trailer. She shouted out loudly that she was armed (she is), and they better get out of there. A couple of hours later, she heard the same noises, and said “Are you STUPID? I said, get out of here before I shoot you!” Another hour later, same noises. She gets out of bed, gets her semi-automatic rifle, and heads to the door, and aims at the trailer. Just before she started firing, she saw the miscreants – a family of racoons. She almost shot wholes through her camping trailer trying to kill a bunch of racoons.

    We decided that the next time she goes to the firing range, she’s going to record the sound of a lot of firing, and then if she hears a noise she’s just going to hit the “play” button.

  46. 62

    Michael spews:

    You have a better chance of dying in a car smash while driving around in a “safe” suburb than you do of dying from a GSW while walking around in a bad part of B’more.

  47. 63

    Michael spews:

    Damn, the closest I come to being on the NRA’s blacklist is owning some clothes made by Kenneth Cole.

    And while we’re on the subject, if the NRA want to work with people to make sure that schools are safe why are the following on their black list?

    Council of the Great City Schools
    Council of Chief State School Officers
    National Association of Police Organizations
    National Association of School Psychologists
    National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers