A group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: "If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town."
Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, "I'll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot."
Don't believe it? Here's some video, in case you missed it.
To them, life is nasty, brutish and short, and they want to make sure it stays that way.
Here's also video interview of the man they were taunting.
Yes, people are mad and frustrated. I've been frustrated with Washington pretty much all of my adult life. But this kind of nastiness — along with other things like shouting racist epithets at a black congressman, spitting on people, screaming "faggot" at Barney Frank, all the way back to John McCain's concession speech in 2008, where we heard shouts of "kill him" referring to Obama — is just awful. Maybe people like these goons have always been around, and we just haven't had to see or hear them before this age of citizen-generated media (blogs, YouTube, Twitter, etc.). I don't know.
But as someone who considers herself a moderate independent politically — which apparently makes me a communist or fascist, I can't tell which, according to the wingnuts — I can't find myself sympathizing at all with people like this.
The Republicans have a problem. Several problems, actually.
They're responsible for most of the national debt.
Republicans in Congress, whatever positions they may run on, vote as a block against:
Protecting people from air pollution.
Protecting people from water pollution.
Protecting people from having their health insurance cancelled when they get sick.
Allowing women to make decisions about their own bodies.
Allowing people who happen to be gay to have equal rights.
Religious freedom. (Only certain Christians are deemed acceptable.)
They're beholden to the evangelical right-wing.
They vote party first, country second.
And it's the last point that has me disgusted. Yes, Democrats can do this, too, but the GOP has the corner on me-right-you-wrong politics. Anything that's Republican is good, anything that's Democrat is bad, and that's that according to them. (And that's why you see things like cap-and-trade, a Republican policy under Ronald Reagan, is now evil as soon as Barack Obama endorses it.)
No, I am not a Democrat. But there's no way in hell I will trust a Republican Senator or Congressman to do the right thing, no matter what he or she says.
White House adviser Karl Rove boogied, backed by NBC's David Gregory, Brian Wiliams burped the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the President cracked wise, all to the general delight, and occasional gales of laughter, of journalists gathered for the Radio & Television Correspondents Association dinner in Washington.
Rove was a better sport than a dancer, tapped by the surprise entertainment--Whose Line is It Anyway's Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood--for an improv rap number featuring "MC Rove," with Gregory as one of his backup dancers, and based on information supplied by Rove that, among other things, he collected stamps and liked to "tear the tops" off of small animals.
Rove got into the spirit of the bit, though when President Bush was asked to supply a rap nickname for Rove, his response was "Your Fired!" Sherwood then suggested Rove had offered his resume to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of a host of legislators in attendance at the annual dinner at the Washington Hilton.
There is a strangeness in Washington as we return to the two-party system. Like Moses leading his people in the wilderness, the Democrats are slowly returning to power. Was it any different in 1994 when the tables were turned?
The conservatives say, at least in some circles, that the Republican defeat was not all that bad and in two years the people will come to their senses and re-elect a Republican government like we've had since 2000. Perhaps. But, that's not the interesting story.
For two years, we will have a different voice in Congress and this will be a chance for the Democrats to re-frame the issues.
I think of when Rush Limbaugh could be a foil against a Democrat Congress, or at least against President Clinton, and though he had his own personal problems, I think what really killed it for him was that the Republicans got into power. His rage really had no place to go, except kicking the people who weren't in power.
Now the strangeness comes back. The two-party system might have a chance, and two of the first losers are Steven Colbert of the "Colbert Report," and to some extent Kos of "The Daily Kos." "Does their schtick still work?" asked a friend. The Daily Show is not as invested as Kos and Colbert in the brand of anger in the case of Kos and humor in the case of Colbert.
I don't go to Kos any more, but I have peeked in on and off, more on than off, on Colbert, and suddenly his feigned right-wing stance falls flat. Nothing against Steve. It's just that in a matter of a week, the entire humor base has shifted along with the power base. In the case of Colbert, his humor worked when the Republicans were the only party in real power and his feigned support was great counterpoint. Now the Republicans are a minority in Congress (slim though it may be) and the President is a lame duck. Not as funny to be a feigned zealot.
Colbert and Kos suffer the fall out. Their base has a place to go for real power, just as Rush found out.
We'll see where Washington goes in the next several months, but the new balance of power has unexpected consequences in the strangest of ways.
WASHINGTON - Your parents were right, don't study with the TV on. Multitasking may be a necessity in today's fast-paced world, but new research shows distractions affect the way people learn, making the knowledge they gain harder to use later on.But wait, Sherlock! There's more (if you're capable of learning, that is):
As Poldrack explains it, the brain learns in two different ways. One, called declarative learning, involves the medial temporal lobe and deals with learning active facts that can be recalled and used with great flexibility. The second, involving the striatum, is called habit learning....
...The problem, Poldrack said, is that the two types of learning seem to be competing with each other, and when someone is distracted, habit learning seems to take over from declarative learning.
"We have to multitask in today's world, but you have to be aware of this," he said. "When a kid is trying to learn new concepts, new information, distraction is going to be bad, it's going to impair their ability to learn."
This means that don't try to multitask when learning -- for example, don't try to watch Fox and get the news of what's happening at the same time. They work at cross purposes and leave you confused.
John Dean and ___________ ? Original flipper John Dean looks at the state of the special prosecution:
An unidentified government official, The New York Times reports, says that Fitzgerald was "not expected to take any action in the case this week." With his grand jury expiring on October 28, 2005, he is down to only a few options:
First, he could close down his Washington office; return to his work in Chicago, where he serves as the U.S. Attorney; and simply issue a statement that his investigation has ended. (He has no authority to write a report, for the information he has obtained is subject to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and thus is secret).
Second, he could extend the grand jury for whatever time he needs to complete his investigation. And third, he could issue one or more indictments.
(Future notorious Non-Supreme Court Justice Robert Bork was the designated hatchet man -- an act that did not go down well in Washington and played a part in his being rejected for the high court for partisan reasons, which put us all on the road we find ourselves today with the nomination of Bush crony Harriet Miers, which has added only more problems to the troubled presidency of W. Oh the circular ironies of Beltway living!)
So has someone flipped in the White House, like Dean did on national television? Dean himself seems to think we indeed may have another case of All the President's Men ... and perhaps the president himself:
Something is going to happen, and, I think, fairly soon. It has been many years since my conversations with well placed friends in Washington have reflected the sort of inside-the-Beltway tension that is now mounting. This tension was not matched during the Whitewater/Lewinsky investigation, nor during Iran-Contra. But it is very reminiscent of the wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in Nixon v. United States- the decision that famously forced Nixon to turn over his secretly recorded taped conversations -- and ended his presidency.
The similarity is, of course, because there is the real potential that this investigation and prosecution could reach right into the top of the Bush White House. How high is the source in question? Could it be George Bush himself? Dick Cheney? Karl Rove? Scooter Libby? My guess is that, in different ways, all four likely were involved in the exposure of Plame's covert identity.
Guesswork, yes. But even if Bush is culpable, what can be done? Constitutional issues stand in the way:
First, there is the Constitutional language that appears to make impeachment and removal the only solution for presidential misconduct. There is also the point that conduct bad enough to constitute a serious crime, is likely also bad enough for impeachment -- and that, after impeachment removal, of course, an ex-president can be indicted.
On a more practical level, a president can remove any federal prosecutor who might indict him, for they all serve at his pleasure.
...In other words, Fitzgerald could be Coxed if he pushes too hard.
As for Cheney, Dean points out that if Cheney is indeed impeached by the House, he would Constitutionally preside over his own trial in the Senate.
Alas, in the end, John Dean doesn't expect too much to come of all this excitement:
In short, I cannot imagine any of them being indicted, unless they were acting for reasons other than national security. Because national security is such a gray area of the law, come next week, I can see this entire investigation coming to a remarkable anti-climax, as Fitzgerald closes down his Washington Office and returns to Chicago.
And yet the damage is done. David Gergen says "the wheels are coming off" the Bush administration. Poll numbers are way in the tank. Conservatives are squabbling. Reporters are scrambling to cover it -- or dodge it.
The only problem is that we're stuck with these guys. And only sweeping victories for Democrats in the election next year offer any reasonable chance to change this situation. --But even then, it's questionable that they could stick together for an impeachment vote. After all, it seems half of them vote Republican half the time already.