Monday, May 3, 2010

The Crazification of America


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C&L: It Would Be Irresponsible Not To Speculate. Was Bomber A Fan Of The Beckster?

You know, I don't want to jump to conclusions here, because that would make me too much like Matt Drudge. But if the car bomber was indeed a white guy in his 40s who didn't know the difference between ammonium nitrate and plain old fertilizer, I'm thinking it's gotta be a Beck Patriot who was trying to water the tree of liberty with... the blood of random Times Square tourists.

I mean, it's just their kind of logic:

Law enforcement officials offered a more detailed description of the makeup of the failed car bomb found in Times Square on Saturday night, and said they were reviewing surveillance footage that showed a white man who appeared to be in his 40s walking away from the area as he looked over his shoulder and removed a layer of clothing.

Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner, said the materials found in the Nissan Pathfinder — gasoline, propane, firecrackers and simple alarm clocks — also included eight bags of a granular substance, later determined to be nonexplosive grade of fertilizer, inside a 55-inch-tall metal gun locker.

The bomb, Mr. Kelly said, “would have caused casualties, a significant fireball.” He added, “I don’t think we can label it at this time crude or not.”

Let's see: wrong kind of fertilizer. Shut-off propane tanks. Someone who's not all that bright, or good with details? Someone who apparently modeled his bomb on those of infamous bombmaker Wile E. Coyote?

Ah, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's a Limbaugh listener.

Nachum at Free Republic thinks otherwise:

To me, it sounds like a liberal charade to take the heat off Barack and put it on the tea partiers.

Brilliant thinks someone's being framed:

They are going to hang this failed bomb on some fat, white guy who was allegedly seen at a Tea Party rally. The construction of the device was so botched it seems almost like a set up and some sad nutter was talked into driving it to Times Square. I know, you think I wear a tin foil hat to bed, but I really don’t trust our present government.

Yes, the rest of the freepers are insisting the perpetrator must be a white man who's a convert to Islam.

I swear to God, I do not Make. This. Stuff. Up. I don't have to.

mistermix: Lessons From a Misspent Youth

According to the Times, the Times Square bomb was made up of a couple of propane tanks and five-gallon tanks of gas, and some “consumer-grade” M-88’s that fizzled and started the car upholstery on fire, thus alerting bystanders. (CNN also says that there was some “non-explosive fertilizer”.)

A “M-88” is a wanna-be M-80. Because I was a useless little shit as a kid, I’ve lit many M-80s, as well as a huge number of various wanna-bes, all of which were smuggled across the Mexican border in my and my brothers’ pockets. The M-80 has a thick fuse, is hard to light, sparks a lot after it is lit, and it tends to fizzle right at the base where the fuse enters the body of the firecracker. We’d often put the fizzled M-80 in a pool of gasoline in an overturned metal garbage can lid, and light that gas on fire. Even then, it would take a few minutes for the M80 to go off.

The reason that my brothers and I still have our limbs isn’t just dumb luck. The M-80 made a big boom, but it was remarkably weak. The most damage I’ve ever seen one do is to take a little bit off the top of an antpile. The “consumer grade” M-88 (we called them “M-100’s”) have roughly the same amount of explosive as a standard “Black Cat” firecracker.

As for the real explosive in this mix, propane, there’s a reason why we don’t hear about explosions at backyard cookouts—those cylinders are well-engineered. Mythbusters just aired an episode where they attempted to make a propane cylinder explode in a fire. It’s essentially impossible, since propane cylinders have pressure-relief valves, which vent the propane rather than allowing an explosion. Even after disabling this device, which involved some skill with metalworking tools, the Mythbusters crew had to heat the tank for some minutes over an extremely powerful gas burner to get it to explode. I can’t imagine a scenario where a burning car in the middle of Times Square wouldn’t be extinguished before even a properly modified propane cylinder would explode.

So, let’s review the bidding. Apparently, the masterminds behind this device lacked the experience of a ten-year-old boy, since they didn’t know that M-80s tend to fizzle and can’t blow up shit. And they must not get basic cable, otherwise they would have put a hell of a lot more gas in that car to get those tanks to explode quicker. But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.

Sully: The Times Square Bomb

Chait's view of the attempted car bombing in Times Square:

Rushing to take credit for a bungled attack is fairly pathetic. It's another piece of evidence of al Qaeda's severely degraded capability of launching attacks on American soil, where leaving a smoke-filled car in Manhattan is an operation worth boasting about. The Christmas bombing likewise failed on account of miserably low quality.

Yglesias's question:

I don’t quite get why this is prompting so much less freaking-out than the Christmas underpants bomber did. Both seem on a par to me — amateurish failures that seem to indicate that whichever people might be inclined to kill American civilians don’t have much in the way of capacity. Is the country learning? Maturing? Or is it just that airplane-related incidents have some special grasp on the public imagination?


Those right-wing policymakers in Arizona sure have been busy lately.

The Arizona state Senate on Thursday passed a bill making it illegal for a person to "intentionally or knowingly creating a human-animal hybrid."

The bill, which passed 16 to 12, would prohibit anyone in the state from "creating or attempting to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm."

This concept rose to national prominence in 2006, when then-President George W. Bush used his State of the Union address to urge Congress to pass legislation curbing what he considered "egregious abuses of medical research." Among the threats in need of a legislative remedy? A ban on "creating human-animal hybrids."

This has generated a fair amount of mockery, and for good reason, but there's a serious angle to this. The kind of effort Arizona is now pushing may have serious consequences for medical researchers. Indeed, when far-right activists talk about banning "human-animal hybrids," they're often trying to make a sweeping ban on stem-cell research, which can involve mouse cells.

What's more, research that may fall under the "human-animal hybrid" umbrella includes some potentially life-saving science. I spoke to a scientist last year who explained, "For example, it is currently unclear just how certain viruses spread in a person. Animal models are the preferred method of studying such things (for obvious reasons) but many pathogens are species restricted, meaning you cannot infect a mouse with them. By generating a mouse that carries genes to make what are effectively human cells (molecularly, and only a specific subset of cells, such as liver cells, or immune cells) these experiments can be done. Legislation banning such research has profound implications for our ability to stay competitive in the world in terms of basic research, not to mention in terms of medical developments."

It's not just Arizona -- Louisiana passed a similar measure last year -- and Republicans in Congress have touted the "Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act," which will likely get a more significant push if there's a GOP majority next year.

C&L: Next up from Arizona: How about Governor Joe Arpaio?

If you think things are getting crazy in Arizona, just wait. They're just getting started.

As Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones reports, Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio is getting set to run for Gov. Jan Brewer's seat.

And he's already the runaway favorite for the GOP nomination:

He made arresting Latinos fashionable and, after many run-ins with the feds over such practices, was likely the main inspiration behind Arizona's new immigration code. In short, Brewer felt she had to sign last week's immigration bill, because she felt Arpaio's breath on her neck. She had to appear as tough on brown people as Arpaio does, lest he decide to challenge her in the GOP primary.

So she signed it. And guess what? Arpaio's still going to run against her. Sources in the sheriff's department, which will likely double as his campaign staff (no new thing there), say his paperwork's filed. And on his Twitter account - where you can read about his Washington Post interview today, or his "crime suppression/illegal immigration" operations briefings, or his anger about "out of town critics" - he recently tweeted that his wife wants him to run. And he's already the frontrunner in Arizona Republicans' minds.

So why not run? What does he have to fear? Latino turnout in the Phoenix metro area? Problem solved!

Here, then, is to Arizona: one of the prettiest states in the union, soon to be the first breakaway republic in the new confederacy of Inner America.

According to the Tucson Sentinel, current polling shows him handily beating Brewer:

Although Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff, is not running for governor, he is by far the most popular Republican in the state.

Likely primary voters view him favorably at 70 percent, to only 22 percent with a negative opinion, and he leads Brewer 33-25 as a prospective candidate.

All this news was put in perspective, perhaps, by the neo-Nazis from the National Socialist Movement who showed up today at an Arpaio press event -- he was announcing his handpicked nominee for the county prosecutor's spot -- and told reporters:

"Sheriff Joe is endorsing this candidate, and we feel strongly to support Sheriff Joe and his actions," the man said, "particularly with the illegal immigration situation here in Maricopa County and in our state."

As you can see from the report, Arpaio plans to announce his intentions in the governor's race today.

Both Arpaio and his puppet denied having anything to do with the NSM's presence; Arpaio even hinted that they had been sent out by opponents to try and discredit him politically.

But that doesn't exactly wash, particularly not in Sheriff Joe's case. Because Arpaio has been all too happy to court support from outright neo-Nazis in the past. Check out the video below, from a year ago:

As you can see, Arpaio can't claim ignorance: the men he posed with were displaying neo-Nazi flags and symbols. A little further down the road, he did the same thing with a group of people openly waving a Confederate flag.

Indeed, Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times uncovered a working relationship between Arpaio's office and a clutch of local neo-Nazis.

Meanwhile, if you want to get an idea of the Arpaio approach to governance -- a preview of his governorship, as it were -- all you have to do is look at his record:

-- As Sheriff, his emphasis on immigration has gutted his office's ability to enforce the law, especially when it comes to investigating violent crime.

-- His office has been under steady legal attack (which has proved extremely costly) for rampant racial profiling and assorted civil rights violations, such as the time he forced a legal immigrant to give birth in shackles.

-- If you have the audacity to criticize him at public meetings, his deputies will arrest you.

-- Indeed, all of his critics, both in the press and in public office, have found themselves arrested by Arpaio's deputies -- a practice that has produced an FBI corruption investigation into his practices.

-- The ongoing DOJ investigation into all of these matters finally prompted ICE to strip him of all immigration enforcement powers.

Yep, looks like Arizona Republicans have another winner on their hands. A Governor Arpaio -- who does a mighty fine George Wallace imitation -- will complete the transformation of Arizona into an Old South segregationist state.

Unsurprisingly, here's Limbaugh:

"The carbon tax bill, cap and trade, that was scheduled to be announced on Earth Day," Limbaugh said, arguing that "hardcore environmentalist wackos" were opposed to its allowances for more nuclear power and more offshore drilling.

"What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?" he rhetorically asked. "I'm just, I'm just noting the timing here."

Sargent: Sue Lowden’s Republican Rival Attacks Chickens For Checkups

Sue Lowden’s chickens-for-checkups gaffe is no longer just fodder for Dems and pointy-headed east coast talk show hosts. Her Republican rival is now officially making it an issue in the Nevada GOP Senate primary.

Danny Tarkanian, who runs a real estate business and is challenging Lowden, launched his first direct chickens-for-checkups attack on Lowden today, pointing to it as proof that she doesn’t have what it takes to take on Harry Reid in a general election.

The occasion for this move: Lowden gave an interview to a local TV station on chickens-for-checkups that has only landed her deeper in the manure. In attempting to explain herself, she looked a bit like a chicken who had begun to cross the road only to realize a truck was bearing down on her.

The Tarkanian campaign is circulating video of the interview in an email that says: “Watch this video and ask yourself if Sue Lowden is prepared to run against Harry Reid.” Watch:

In other chicken news, Research 2000 has now done a poll for DailyKos on chickens for checkups, and found that a huge majority of Nevadans, 81%, thinks bartering chickens for health care is not a realistic way to bring down costs. Sixty-one percent of Republicans reject chickens for checkups, too.

In other words, chickens for checkups is sinking in with GOP primary voters. The fact that her primary rival is making it an issue ensures that this saga will continue indefinitely.

GOP split by its own wedge issue April 29: Rachel Maddow contrasts reactions by prominent Republicans to Arizona's new immigration law, including some politicians too afraid of the controversy to take a position.

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It's a shame the month is about to end, because Dennis G.'s CHM series has been fabulous . . .
Dennis G.: Confederate History Month: The Feds decide to help…

ConfederateGOP Logo

It is so like the Federal Government to bigfoot in and spoil the fun of the Republican Confederate Party as they celebrate Confederate History Month. I’m sure they’ll blame this on Obama, but it seems that the National Archives is interjecting themselves into the CHM thing by launching an interactive exhibit called “Discovering the Civil War.”

The WP offers an early review:

The show proceeds thematically rather than chronologically. It raises large questions—What led to the secession of the South? Were there efforts to avoid war?—and then offers documents that should help visitors form answers. Early in the exhibition, viewers confront what might be called the Southern-apologist listening station, where you can both read, and listen to, a document laying out South Carolina’s reasons for secession. After some boilerplate language about the Constitution comes reason No. 1: The right to property, which for South Carolina included the right to human chattel, had been infringed.

There it is, in black and white, and coming at you through a very 1980s hand-held listening device: Slavery is the cause—the essential, primary, undeniable first and sufficient cause for the war. While much of the exhibition aims at nuance and complexity, this should be sufficient to unmask the old masquerade about what the South was fighting for. Efforts to make it seem problematic and complex are all too often part of a nostalgia game, nostalgia for a time when every white Southern man had a God-given right to be a racist, if he so chose.

Looks like the Civil War Sesquicentennial Celebrations will put CHM to shame and provide endless reasons for Republican Confederate Party outrage. Should be fun.

Think Progress: Gingrich’s ‘Drill Here, Drill Now’ campaign continues as oil rig disaster grows.

The Earth Day oil rig disaster that began with an explosion that claimed 11 lives is becoming an ecological catastrophe. The Coast Guard has set some of the West-Virginia-sized oil slick ablaze, even as it grows by thousands of barrels a day. Although this deadly catastrophe calls into question the pro-drilling campaigns by the oil industry and its conservative allies, the propaganda continues. In 2008, Newt Gingrich began American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), the casino-funded 527 that used the slogan “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” to promote the false idea that new offshore drilling could lower gas prices. On its website, Gingrich’s ASWF is continuing its petition while reporting on the inevitable consequences of dependence on dirty oil:

Drill Here, Oil Spill

Similarly, other oil-industry front groups — American Petroleum Institute, Energy Tomorrow, Institute for Energy Research, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, and the Institute for 21st Century Energy — are still promoting increased drilling and attacking green economy legislation that would reduce our dependence on oil. (HT Wonkette)

Yglesias: Ben Nelson and Berkshire Hathaway

Rachel Slajda flags Ben Nelson’s curious outburst against critics of his apparently Buffet-motivated filibuster of financial regulatory reform:

To be absolutely clear, I did not vote no because of Berkshire Hathaway. Nor did the fact that I and my wife have owned Berkshire stock for 30+ years have anything to do with my vote. It has never been an issue. It isn’t now,” he said in a statement. “I voted no because of concerns about what is in the underlying bill drafted by Senator Dodd.”

He said he did support the exemption Berkshire wanted, as a matter of policy. To force existing contracts to conform to new rules, he said, would be unconstitutional.

So he wanted the same think Berkshire wanted, and he owns shares in Berkshire, and Berkshire is located in his home state, and he filibustered the bill, but he didn’t filibuster the bill because of Berkshire’s concerns. It’s just a big coincidence. Now we’re clear.

Meanwhile, the rule in question is clearly constitutional. In fact, if it were unconstitutional it probably wouldn’t bother Warren Buffet so much. He’s concerned precisely because the law would be enforced and he doesn’t want to comply with it.

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