Video of the day

This whole SNL skit on Black attitudes about Obama is pretty good, but I love the part about the Wire:


There was an in-depth piece in the Post this weekend about all that went wrong in leading to the disaster of the website.  Let’s be clear– the Obama administration made some big mistakes.  But let’s be equally clear– if the Republicans were not actually hellbent on literally sabotaging the law (which they indeed were), this might actually have all turned out just fine.  The Post’s Jonathan Capehart:

So, the federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work ended up not working because it was starved of the money needed to help make it work.

A larger number of states than expected were signaling that, under Republican pressure, they would refuse to build their own online insurance marketplaces and would rely on the federal one. The more states in the federal exchange, the more complex the task of building it. Yet, according to several former officials, White House staff would not let this fact be included in the specifications. Their concern, one former official said, was that Republicans would seize on it as evidence of a feared federal takeover of the health-care system.

So, the federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work ended up not working because the GOP pressured Republican governors to not form their own state exchanges. This made the federal task more complex and difficult, thus ensuring its failure.

Of course, foot dragging by a ’fraidy cat White House aided the failure. But after reading The Post story on the debacle that is the Obamacare debut, what the GOP gleefully calls a train wreck was a self-fulfilling prophesy courtesy of Republican sabotage.


The gun nuts

No, not all gun owners are “gun nuts” but clearly, far too many of them are.  And sadly, this extends to those entrusted with teaching classes on concealed carry.   An NC physician tells the story of his recent concealed carry class and it is quite disturbing:

I am fortunate to come from a family that ingrained a deep respect for the hazards of the world that we inhabit. Guns were certainly no exception. There were many rules, and they were militarily enforced. Guns could be useful – even fun – but they were not a novelty.

So, it was with expectations of a similar deference and gravity that we settled in on that Saturday morning for some serious instruction on how to go about exercising this rather unique American privilege. Boy, were we ever wrong…

Our instructor was well-qualified enough – a very experienced local law enforcement officer, with considerable advanced weapons training of all sorts. We proceeded directly into the letter of the law regarding explicitly what the state did and did not allow regarding concealed handguns. And then, almost immediately, things began to descend into a mockery of reason and good judgment. One-in-a-million scenarios began to erupt from the audience, unveiling the emotional currents that lie buried just under the surface.

One-in-a-million scenarios follow.  The real kicker is this, though:

Perhaps most shocking, though, was the advice we received from a practicing law enforcement officer regarding the storage of firearms: under the bed, preferably loaded. I’m not kidding. Fifty or so families, many of whom we must presume have children in the home, walked out of that classroom with the understanding that the proper way to store your guns was in a location that is within reach of a child, and loaded. No gun safe. No trigger lock. Across the United States in 2008-09, according to the FBI, we lost more preschoolers to guns (173) than officers in the line of duty (89).  [emphasis mine] A September article from the New York Times pointed out just how common it is for young children in the U.S. to encounter guns, pick them up and then play with them, naively courting tragedy all the while.

Shocking indeed!  I would hold that instructor and whomever employed him liable for any child’s “accidental death.”  The statistics are pretty clear that a gun in one’s house is much more likely to be used against a family member.  Toss in a loaded gun under a bed, and you are practically inviting an “accidental” death.

Photo of the day

It’s a crisp Autumn day here in NC, so let’s go with this Autumn-themed gallery from Big Picture:

Trees with autumn colored leaves reflect in the water of the Trepliner See lake near Treplin, eastern Germany, on Oct. 8. (Patrick Pleul/DPA via AFP/Getty Images)

Of princesses and superheroes

If you are a 30 or 40-something who uses facebook, I suspect that, like me, your feed was full of adorable kids in their Halloween costumes this past Thursday.  The feminist in me couldn’t help but be a little disturbed by the number of families I saw where the boy was some sort of superhero, action hero, etc., where the girl was a princess.  Boys are for doing things and saving people.  Girls are for looking pretty and being the passive beneficiary of boy heroes.  I know, sometimes girls just want a frilly dress and a crown, but still.

Of course, in my case, we had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (literally a teenager who will not stop Halloween until we make him), a skeleton (Alex insists on always being a skeleton.  He even had Kim’s dad get a skeleton shirt this year), Indiana Jones (definitely a hero– certainly mine), and, for Sarah… not quite a princess, but a giraffe ballerina.  Definitely a girlie costume.  To which all I can say, is feminist or not, when your daughter wants to dress up in something girly and looks so damn cute, who are you to say no?


ENDA and media bias?

So, the Senate got over the filibuster-threshold yesterday with 61 votes to move forward on legislation that would prevent workplace discimination based on sexual orientation.  Hooray, that’s good.  (On a related note, I learned that the LGBT of my youth, which I thought was now LGBTQI is now actually LGBTQIA.  Whoa!  I argued in class yesterday that perhaps the P polyamorous are feeling left out).   On the other hand, this strikes me as a law with an approximately 0.0% chance of passing the House.

So, it got me to wondering, is this a classic case of ever-so-subtle media bias.  Here we have a piece of legislation that is not going to become law anytime soon.  Nor is it a piece of legislation, I suspect, of which most Americans are even aware.   I think it is safe to say that, as a group, journalists are far more pro-gay rights than your average American.  And they are probably more interested in the issue.  Thus, I think this may be an example of the amount of coverage an issue gets being reflective of journalists own personal biases.  That said, you can make a strong case, that more than 60 Senators agreeing on anything of national significance these days is a big, noteworthy deal.  Anyway, just worth thinking about.

On a related note, I came across this Op-Ed against the law from former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed that is just laughably non-sensical.  The right has learned it’s not good politics to be seen as anti-gay.  But anti-lawyer is still a-ok:

What its supporters call the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, should really be labeled the “Trial Lawyers Full Employment Act.” It burdens any business with 15 or more employees with new threats of litigation, frivolous law suits and additional compliance costs.

Yowza.  The frivolous lawsuits are going to ruin business and thus the economy.  Just like how all the lawsuits would ruin things for business if we passed the Lilly Ledbetter law (memo to readers– business is still doing fine).  The absurd part is that Reed basically contradicts his argument within just a few paragraphs:

Society doesn’t need tutoring by Washington politicians on this issue. At least 21 states and hundreds of cities and counties ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. More than 80% of Fortune 500 companies have adopted similar policies. The number of discrimination actions in states that prohibit hiring decisions based on sexual preference is miniscule, suggesting it doesn’t require federal policing.  [emphasis mine]

Got that?  This law will create endless frivolous lawsuits.  But this law is unnecessary because where similar laws exist, there are almost no lawsuits.   What’s it like in there inside Ralph Reed’s head anyway?

Anyway let’s come back to this when the Tea Party is not running the House.

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