Saturday, October 31, 2015

You Want a Big Tax Cut? Adopt a Single-Payer Healthcare Plan.

The GOP tax plans are laughable. Even they wouldn't enact them, and they know it.

Republicans never met a tax they wouldn't cut. Well, that's not exactly true: Ted Cruz' tax plan has a massive lowering of taxes across the board, which favors the rich, and would replace the revenue with a massive 16-percent value-added tax. That's highly regressive, again favoring the rich at the expense of the lower and middle classes. As long as revenue goes down and rich people's bank accounts go up, the Republicans are ready to embrace it.

There were several quality dissections of GOP tax plans as "discussed" during last Wednesday's debate here, here, here, here, and here. Generally speaking, their plans don't add up. Far from it, they tend to explode the deficit while claiming to not do that because they'll find spending cuts that they almost uniformly refuse to delineate. Standard GOP campaign tool, that one.

There is one way to give the American people a major tax cut that is paid for without decimating Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and that's by adopting a single-payer healthcare system.  Read this Journal of the American Medical Association -- yes, the AMA -- discussion of the advantages of a Canadian-style healthcare system:
MANY MISCONSTRUE US health system reform options by presuming that "trade-offs" are needed to counter-balance the competing goals of increasing access, containing costs, and preserving quality. Standing as an apparent paradox to this zero-sum equation are countries such as Canada that ensure access to all at a cost 40% per capita less, with satisfaction and outcomes as good as or better than those in the United States.
Got that? Canadians, with outcomes as good as or better than those in the U.S., pay 40% less. What does that equate to? It equates to a savings of $1.29 trillion a year. Got that?

That's equal to a reduction of our federal budget by more than 35%. This is based on the 2015 budget. We could take the savings from reduced healthcare costs and hand it over to the federal government with the stipulation that it can only be spent reducing the deficit. Since the deficit is currently $412 billion, we'd end up with an annual surplus of $878 billion. Got that?

That's just on the basis of a comparison with Canada, ostensibly the most "American"-like country in the world. Most other single-payer healthcare systems pay markedly less per capita than Canada, which is ranked approximately 8th. That leaves the vast majority of developed countries with lower-cost healthcare systems.

Want a tax cut? Adopt single-payer. Now.

Note. Of course we wouldn't carry a budge surplus of $878 billion, but imagine what we could spend it on? Even if all we did was pay down the debt we owe to Social Security and even expanded it, we'd be in great shape, leaving lots of room for a real, paid-for tax cut. We wouldn't have to do anything to Medicare and Medicaid because they'd be subsumed by single-payer. Cool. What are we waiting for? Oh, yeah, the Republicans.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

GOP Debate: We Don't Have to Answer No Stinkin' Questions!

Marco Rubio won the debate because he lied better.

I know, I know, Hillary Clinton's a big fat liar about why Benghazi happened, so she's a poophead. But, more seriously, the Republican debate the University of Colorado takes the cake this cycle for dodging questions equals winning. Sheesh.

And when they did answer they were generally lying or obfuscating. I'm no fan of even legitimate conservative policy, but since a lot of what passes for conservative policy is best described as zombie lies. They keep walking and moving forward no matter how dead or debunked they are. In fact, zombie lies are dangerous. They really can eat your brains.

Marco Rubio "won" the debate, demonstrating once again that media narratives, like zombie lies, must move forward and, most especially, be adhered to. If you don't climb on the media bus, you're not "mainstream." Sure, there are a number of close-to-mainstream media outlets -- those at Salon, MSNBC, Vox, liberal bloggers of repute, etc. -- that don't stick to the narrative (that link is to a conservative blogger!), but even then they're servants of the narrative when they point out what's nuts in the narrative.

For fun, Google "gop debate fact check." Here, I did it for you. I was going to do a separate post on Carly Fiorina's lies, but it's hardly necessary. The entire GOP field had a field day with the truth, so Fiorina didn't stand out this time. She's an asterisk at this point, anyway.

However, I just came across reporting of some points Fiorina made about the unconstitutionality of government involvement in the private sector. (I must have been in the kitchen cleaning bullshit off my face or something and missed them.) They're so whack that I have to point them out. Here's ThinkProgress:
Fiorina revealed her unusual understanding of the nation’s founding text during Wednesday night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate. In response to a question on whether the federal government should help workers set up retirement plans, Fiorina offered two sweeping declarations about what the nation’s leaders can and cannot do. “There is no Constitutional role for the federal government in setting up retirement plans. There is no Constitutional role for the federal government to be setting minimum wages,” according to the former corporate CEO.
Her statement that “there is no Constitutional role for the federal government in setting up retirement plans” has similarly broad implications.
Social Security, of course, is the most important federal retirement plan. Congress is permitted to set up retirement plans such as Social Security because the Constitution permits it “to lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the . . . general welfare of the United States.” The same provisions of the Constitution permit a broad range of federal spending programs, from Medicare to Medicaid to federal education funds to highway funding. So if Fiorina believes that the federal government cannot create a national retirement program like Social Security, it is likely that she also believes that many of these other programs are unconstitutional as well.
Pretty whack. the "general welfare" of the country and the power of Congress to tax and spend to provide for it are well explained in this Wikipedia entry on general welfare clauses. Sorry, Carly, the constitutionality of retirement plans and minimum-wage laws has been settled law for a while now, in spite of Rick Perry's assertion to the contrary. But then who'd want to wander into Rick Perry Land in the first place? Hint: Carly Fiorina. Oops.

Other highlights of the night: Fiorina will reduce the tax code to three pages. Ted Cruz is going to shrink the tax return to a postcard. Rand Paul is going to eliminate payroll taxes, putting them all on businesses. (How's that going to work??)  Donald Trump is still going to make Mexico pay for the wall.

Bonus bullshit: Ben Carson denied any relationship with Mannatech, right?

Right, Ben. You explain how much you aren't connected to Mannatech in this, er, Mannatech video. Dr. Carson, welcome to Carly Fiorina Land! Of course, YouTube is worse than slavery, or something.

All in all, I continue to think it's a bad field for the GOP. Maybe Rubio did win. But at what price? Obfuscating about his fiscal irresponsibility and his tax plan? YouTube will be all over you, and so will Hillary. Oppo research, here we come.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

School Police Violence in South Carolina: Is This the America We Live In? Yes, Yes It Is.

No excuse for this, no matter what anyone says.

(Updated below.)

We will keep going through this until everyone in America -- at least those that don't believe that "those other people have it coming" -- stands up and says enough is enough.

The cell-phone video era is upon us, and there will be increasing examples of cops caught on tape. They have been doing this for decades upon decades, and it's jarring to have it in our faces almost nightly when something like this goes viral.

The Week magazine offered these details:
"The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told NBC affiliate WIS. "The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO." A Richland County Sheriff's Department spokesperson said the female student and a male student were both arrested for disturbing the peace. The officer, identified by the department as Ben Fields, has been placed on administrative leave.
In a statement, the Richland Two Black Parents Association said the incident is "unacceptable" and "egregious," and shows "the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland School District Two particularly with families and children of color. As we have stated in the past, we stand ready to work in collaboration to address these horrible acts of violence and inequities among our children." District superintendent Debbie Hamm said she is "deeply concerned" by what happened, and the district will "not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students."
Yet another disturbing example of both the current "style" of law enforcement, especially against minorities, and the lack of training of alternative approaches.

We will keep seeing this. Is this the America you want to live in?

Note. This has nothing to do with the extra steps a police officer should be allowed to take to effect the arrest of a violent suspect, so don't offer that as a justification. I'm not suggesting police don't have the right to force a threatening suspect to comply with an arrest order. This is about finding non-violent solutions to the "she disrespected me!" claim. Grow up, law enforcement, and learn how to police non-violent situations. You're part of the problem. The video below appears to make that clear.

Niya Kelly stood up for her and was arrested for "disturbing schools." As her mother said, "Who was really disturbing school, was it my daughter or was it the officer who came into the classroom and did that to the young girl?"

Update. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott tells reporters that the student hit the officer in the head. A good look at the video does show the student flailing without effect at the officer but not until after he had grabbed her by the neck and begun to throw her violently to the ground.

I suggest that officers using excessive force invite self-defense, which is often then used to charge their victims with resisting arrest. In fact, many altercations result in nothing but resisting arrest charges, begging the question, what was the original offense?

Here's a story from NBC News that covers this followup story well, with video. Officer Ben Fields has attracted attention in the past for his violent response to situations, earning the nickname "officer slam." I was pleased that he was suspended without pay. We'll see what happens.

Update 2. A video from the NYTimes shows the ineffectual swing clearly, and clearly it was after the officer began his violent attack.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Forget Benghazi. For the GOP, It's Back to the War on Women.

Newly-appointed chairperson of the Select Investigative Panel, Rep. Marsha
Blackburn (R-TN): "If you believe that, I've got some baby body parts to sell you."

Sheesh. You'd think that having your head handed to you on Corningware plate by Hillary Clinton would chasten Republicans into realizing that destroying your brand wasn't a viable game plan for 2016. But you'd be wrong.

I know the Benghazi fiasco came to a close -- one can only assume -- just this past Thursday, and that the announcement of the anti-Planned Parenthood committee was in the works well before Trey Gowdy and gang were thrown to the lions. So it's not surprising that the laws of motion dictate that foolhardy, self-destructive plans would move forward the very next day, as if sending forth another Titanic upon hearing the first one had sunk was a wise choice.

As with Benghazi, the Planned Parenthood allegations have been thoroughly debunked. Nonetheless, read this from the Huffington Post and weep:
The eight Republican members of the Select Investigative Panel who will probe the practices of “big abortion providers” -- which everyone understands to mean Planned Parenthood -- have spent years trying to defund the reproductive health provider and restrict women's access to abortion.
The release, earlier this year, of sting videos made by an anti-abortion group that show Planned Parenthood staff members discussing fetal tissue donations for research has led to Republican claims that Planned Parenthood profited from the donations. Federal law allows the organization to accept reimbursements to cover the processing and transfer of the tissues. Planned Parenthood has insisted that it has done nothing illegal, and numerous state and federal investigations have found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Recall that there had been seven prior investigations into the Benghazi attacks that had essentially cleared Hillary Clinton of culpability. The eighth investigation crashed and burned Thursday, causing a number of observers and pundits to conclude that contrary to destroying Hillary, they'd given her a chance to appear convincingly presidential in a long national forum rarely accorded a potential candidate for the presidency.

So here we are: We've got a credible woman candidate for president -- by some measures the only current electable candidate -- in 2016, and what do the Republicans do? Launch yet another offensive offensive in the War on Women™.

Hey, Republicans, here's an idea! Just when there's a credible woman candidate for president at a time when there are growing suspicions that your party actually has a clown car full of candidates for president, why don't you continue to alienate the very class of voters that might want to vote en masse for said woman candidate? Yeah, that's the ticket!

Doing this on top of what might be the greatest set of insults to yet another class of voters ever launched the year before a presidential election -- being Hispanics and other immigrants, including, now, Asians (smart move) -- would be, one would think, a really, really self-defeating enterprise.

At least the Republicans end up with one positive: They will not have been defeated by the Democrats. They will have defeated themselves.

Meanwhile, get some popcorn and watch the horror show that the Planned Parenthood investigation is going to be. If you're a Dem, it has a happy ending. If you're a Republican, you're screwed.

Every so often, I'm reminded of the time when I owned a restaurant and watched a family on their first visit to my establishment. They came in so excited, drank too much, got drunk, hated their beautifully prepared and cooked T-bone steaks, and left in a huff.

I had personally handled their table because I felt drawn to make sure their first visit was memorable. When they instead angrily breezed out of the place, I stood puzzled, watching them from the end of the bar as they left. My bartender, Jeff, walked up to me, polishing a glass, and stood for a moment. Then he said, "You know, some people just go out for a bad time."

I knew in a flash that he was right. Right now, because their party has been hijacked by the Tea Party, Republicans cannot seem to go out in public for anything but a bad time. Boy, are they having it, and, boy, do they deserve it.

Who you lookin' at??

How Did Hillary "Win" the Benghazi Committee Hearing?

Smartest person in the room? Almost always.

Hillary Clinton won the Benghazi hearing yesterday because she outsmarted the Republican side of the panel.

That's it exactly. But being smart isn't enough. Having a strategy is required. What was Hillary's?

I watched almost every minute of the 11 hours the committee was in session, so I have a clear picture of what she did.
  • She listened patiently to the questions, many of which were designed to antagonize and bully her. She carefully avoided reacting to the insulting, abusive nature of the clearly prosecutorial style of the questioning.
  • When it was her turn, she carefully began answering the question directly, but then brought the answer over to merge with the narrative she had been building all day, which was one of competent and compassionate understanding of statecraft, of its goals and limitations.
  • In a sense, this meant that regardless of the question or the questioner, she controlled the narrative throughout the long hours.
  • This was painfully obvious to the GOP interrogators, who lost their cool, when their own strategy apparently required Hillary to lose hers. Didn't happen, and they, er, lost.
  • They didn't simply lose, they were bested. It was palpable throughout the room, throughout the day. It produced a veritable drumbeat of defeat. You could see that defeat in the sweaty brow of Trey Gowdy when, after threatening another round of questioning -- during which they might, presumably, finally cause Hillary to crack -- he suddenly gaveled the hearing to a close.
The Benghazi committee was formed to persecute Hillary Clinton through prosecution. That's why Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, was chosen to lead it. A good prosecutor formulates and then weaves a story and controls that story's narrative until his case is proven. When the committee lost control of the narrative -- which Clinton deftly took total control of -- the prosecution became fruitless.

Game over.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Atrios Has a Different Reaction to David Brooks' Lady Gaga Column

Here's Brooks wondering if he was born this way...

Atrios has a profoundly different reaction to Brooks' latest than I did.

David Brooks (Really?) Helps Me Understand Hillary's Day Before the Benghazi Committee.

Yeah, I know, Hill. Whaddya gonna do?

I was originally going to call this post "A Free Day-Long Hillary Ad Courtesy of the Benghazi! Committee," but, counterintuitive though it may seem, David Brooks has handed me a template, if you will, for understanding yesterday's catastrophic Benghazi Committee hearing, in which Republicans badgered, bullied, hissed at, and ultimately pilloried Hillary Clinton.

Yes, I don't like David Brooks, but I read him sometimes, usually to remind myself why I don't like him. (Hint: he's a sophist, a rhetorician, a limp one at best.) This morning's column was meh, but meh in a not horrible way. Here's a salient excerpt from "Lady Gaga and the Life of Passion":
I suppose that people who live with passion start out with an especially intense desire to complete themselves. We are the only animals who are naturally unfinished. We have to bring ourselves to fulfillment, to integration and to coherence.
Some people are seized by this task with a fierce longing. Maybe they are propelled by wounds that need urgent healing or by a fear of loneliness or fragmentation. Maybe they are driven by some glorious fantasy to make a mark on the world. But they often have a fervent curiosity about their inner natures and an unquenchable thirst to find some activity that they can pursue wholeheartedly, without reservation.
Aside from the slightly creepy feeling that overtook me when I confronted the reality that David Brooks was writing about Lady Gaga, what his paean to the hyper-stylish singer had done for me was give me something with which to contrast the behavior of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The question then becomes: Are the members of the committee exhibiting Lives of Passion™?

Holy crap, I don't think so, I hope not. Here Martha Roby (R-AL), a lawyer by training, attempts to go after Hillary:

Is Martha Roby exhibiting a Life of Passion? Gee whiz, maybe.

Let's look again to Brooks:
Lady Gaga is her own unique creature, whom no one could copy. But she is indisputably a person who lives an amplified life, who throws her contradictions out there, who makes herself a work of art. People like that confront the rest of us with the question a friend of mine perpetually asks: Who would you be and what would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Okay. Is Martha Roby demonstrating an amplified life? Is she making herself a work of art? Most importantly for David Brooks, is she fearless?

Clearly, Lady Gaga has been hitting all these marks since she, apparently, decided to. (Her early career was tame, then, holy shit, it was not.)

If I were scoring Martha Roby's performance at the hearing, I'd give her 0 Born-This-Ways.

Let's look at another committee member, Jim Jordan (R-OH), going after Madam Secretary:

Fine. A congressman does not have to be nice, and there is something genuine about Jim Jordan, although I would limit that to his being a genuine horse's ass, unless of course you'd like to see Hillary Clinton roasted on a spit. Then he might be your notion of a winner.

But is Jim Jordan's performance here showing off his Passion for Life? I don't think so. I'd give him maybe 1/2 Born-This-Ways.

I could go on in like fashion through all the Republican members, but why bother? You do it, and you'll find them to be a positive parade of malevolent irrelevance. Their behavior insults the term hot air.

The Democrats were better, if only because they didn't have an axe to grind but rather a woman to defend -- who, in this case, deserved defending even as she didn't especially need it. If Hillary Clinton earns two or three Born-This-Ways, it's because she's put herself out there for decades and has, more often or not, ended up being the last person standing. She ran and lost to Barack Obama. She became his Secretary of State, and now is running again for the presidency. Not someone easily knocked over, and I imagine that's why the right-wing attack machine struggled mightily trying to drag her through the mud.

I don't need to reference all she went through at Bill Clinton's side, either. She was subject to all the right-wing attack machine could muster -- and some of the pains her own husband caused her -- and she's still standing. In the end, I wouldn't be surprised if she's president. She appears to have the passion for it.

The committee's chairman Trey Gowdy flying off the rails:

The majority members of the Select Committee on Benghazi, at the end of the day, have been left in the corridors of power with very little power left. They brought Hillary Clinton before them for the purpose of destroying her. Instead, she sucked the marrow out of their bones, shook everybody's hands and left the committee room in triumph. Yes, that's the term pundits used to describe her performance, triumph.

Hillary is no Lady Gaga, I'll warrant. But at yesterday's hearing, she gathered up all The Fame and took it home, leaving Trey Gowdy and the rest of his tag team of would-be prosecutors with an infamy that will live as long as next week, at which time they'll be forgotten.

Hillary has drunk their milkshakes, eaten their lunches, and cleaned their clocks. She's a bad ass, I suspect, because she was Born That Way.

Thanks, Mr. Brooks, for giving me a lens for viewing the shenanigans. If, in your words, the majority members of the committee were attempting to "complete themselves," they succeeded in making complete asses of themselves.

Bonus vid: Here's the first segment of the hearing's Q&A, in which Hillary took control of the affair and essentially never lost it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Linda Greenhouse's Persuasive -- and Brave -- Defense of Abortions in Texas

Yale Law School's Linda Greenhouse
I'm no fan of abortion but remain solidly pro-choice, as I've taken to heart the grip reproduction has, over the millennia, exerted on women. They cannot be truly free or in control of their lives if we (men) demand that producing babies takes precedence over all other wishes. It shouldn't; it can't, otherwise society enslaves women by the dumb luck of gender, while we (men) celebrate our dominance. And women are destined to remain a step or two behind -- where too many men want them to begin with.

So I was thrilled to read Linda Greenhouse's dissection of the case soon to be heard at the Supreme Court, one concerning a law Texas passed requiring abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The law has the effect of closing all but about four clinics in the state. Governor Perry, among other politicians, has openly stated that the desired effect was limiting abortions, not protecting the health of the mother, the ostensible rationale for the law.

Unfortunately, a Court of Appeals decision overruled a lower-court judge who had claimed the law placed an undue burden on the mother, saying that they as judges had no right to judge the efficacy of the law's effect on the health of the mother. Huh? (They don't have to judge the validity of the medical basis, only to acknowledge the undue burden, which was clarified in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.)

That seems the nub of the case, and Linda Greenhouse, whom I've always respected in her opinions and coverage of Supreme Court cases, concurs. She finds the Court of Appeals reasoning highly suspect, and predicts that Justice Anthony Kennedy, so often the deciding vote, will find in a similar fashion and void the Texas law. An undue burden is an undue burden, especially if the law makes women seeking an abortion drive not 50 but 500 miles to obtain one.

Her explication of the issues are certainly worth a read. It's going to be a doozy of a case, as Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas all tipped their hands in voting against a stay of the appeals-court decision. Here we go again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Who Won the CNN Democratic Debate? The Democrats.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton: All five candidates looked reasonable,
but these two are the ones that count, when the real counting starts.

The two Republican debates that proceeded the first Democratic debate were sliced and diced in very much the same fashion as last night's debate. Who lost, who won, who really, really lost, and who really, really won. And, like the Republican debates, the Democratic debate was subject to fact-checking, if you can call it that.

I was almost apoplectic watching Carly Fiorina declared winner of the Republican debates, in spite of or perhaps because of her well-delivered prevarications against Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood. (She was actually in the so-called happy-hour debate in the first round, but her "crisp" performance there overshadowed the nonsense at the "real" debate.)

Since then, however, Fiorina has caught her share of scrutiny, and none but the true believers still maintain her truthiness has legs. She's slipping in the polls, though no one seems to be noticing. Now it's the Ben and Donald Show, even as the pundits continue to wonder how long before the grown-ups reassert themselves.

Which is why, frankly, the winner of the Democratic debate was the Democrats. All five candidates acquitted themselves quite well Tuesday night, even it the gap between Hillary and Bernie and the rest of the field now seems insurmountable.

Another reason why the Democrats as a tribe are big winners of the debate is that all five candidates' ideas are quite mainstream and rational and could be the basis of good governance. On the Republican side, any semblance of reasonable policy has been buried under an avalanche of anti-government, anti-governance, reality-TV performances and "crisp" but wildly untrue sound bites by Fiorina.

Oddly but crucially undermining what little credibility the Republican candidate might have been able to foster at their debates is the current debacle over who shall rule the House Republican caucus and thus the House itself. The anti-governance wing of the GOP is quite nearly killing all the babies in Galilee in hopes of preventing a newborn king from wresting control from them.

Seriously, it's a bit like that, and it isn't helping the GOP get ready for 2016. It makes them look deserving of a serious licking, which is what they'll get if they continue this way.

I avoided links to all the boring articles and columns because, well, you can find them if you want. I will offer these because they sum up today's political zeitgeist:

Grown-ups are allowed to run for president after all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Another Important Law Jerry Brown Signed Last Week.

Jerry Brown is herding our cats pretty well.

I missed this one, but it's pretty good:

California on Friday became the only state to target anti-abortion pregnancy centers with a law cracking down on deceptive practices some have used to prevent or dissuade women from having an abortion.
The new law, which forces some crisis pregnancy centers to offer information about public assistance for reproductive services and others to notify patients that there are no medical professionals on staff, passed the California state assembly with a large majority in late May. Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the bill on Friday night.
Reproductive rights advocates and public health officials have long sought to raise alarms about crisis pregnancy centers. Run by anti-abortion groups, crisis pregnancy centers sometimes provide pregnant women with misleading medical information in order to discourage them from ending their pregnancies. Others are ambiguous about whether they perform abortions or not in order to get women through the door. According to an investigation by NARAL, almost half of California's crisis pregnancy centers promulgate the popular anti-abortion myth that terminating a pregnancy is linked to a patient’s chances of developing breast cancer. At the same time, NARAL claims, a majority of the state's crisis pregnancy centers present themselves as neutral on the issue of abortion.
Abortion foes deny that crisis pregnancy centers engage in such subterfuge. "A woman knows her options," says Sandra Palacios, a government relations executive with the California Catholic Conference, which opposed the law. "Women are smart. They know where they’re walking into—a safe place where they can get all the information about abortion alternatives."
When I was still teaching high school, I noticed one of these clinics near my school. The clinic tried to buy an ad in the school yearbook -- I taught the class that published it -- which forced me to find out what principles the clinic stood for. When I found out they were a fake abortion provider that showered their customers with anti-abortion religious propaganda replete with pictures of fetuses and all sorts of piety and pressure to have the baby, I cancelled the ad.

Though my sense of propriety and instinct for survival (!) would have forced me to deny ad space to Planned Parenthood, as well, at least I'd have to admit Planned Parenthood isn't out to hoodwink its patients.

So, once again, kudos to California for stepping up and keeping the cads at bay.

David Brooks, in a Moment of Clarity, Notices His Conservatives Are Incompetent Whack Jobs.

David Brooks: I come not to mock you but to praise you!

That's right, I speak in praise today of David Brooks. After all the posts pointing out Brooks' half-baked fake dualism sophistry, etc., he landed in credit-where-credit's-due territory, with his NYTimes column, "The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus." Why, it's enough to give a liberal the vapors, in a good way.
But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.
A weird contradictory mentality replaced traditional conservatism. Republican radicals have contempt for politics, but they still believe that transformational political change can rescue the nation. Republicans developed a contempt for Washington and government, but they elected leaders who made the most lavish promises imaginable. Government would be reduced by a quarter! Shutdowns would happen! The nation would be saved by transformational change! As Steven Bilakovics writes in his book “Democracy Without Politics,” “even as we expect ever less of democracy we apparently expect ever more from democracy.”
This anti-political political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence. Running a government is a craft, like carpentry. But the new Republican officials did not believe in government and so did not respect its traditions, its disciplines and its craftsmanship. They do not accept the hierarchical structures of authority inherent in political activity.
Holy crap. This admission that the folks whose views he is supposed to uphold are too corrupt and incompetent to shill for at the moment is a breath of fresh air from the Conservative of Record on the Paper of Record. I commend Mr. Brooks' honesty, but like a number of the commenters on the column, I wonder why it took this long to own up to this state of affairs in the party whose "conservatism" no longer serves any purpose other than to oppose all moves by our elected government to, er, govern.

I've never seen so many comments on a David Brooks column, nor have I read so many favorable to Brooks, although, again, a startling number begin praising him before questioning why now and not before.

One comment was particularly notable:


houston, texas 3 hours ago
This may be the most insightful -- and the most significant -- column Brooks has ever written.
Wow. The most insightful -- and most significant -- column that David Brooks writes is one in which he finally stipulates that he can no longer toe the party line because of "jaw-dropping incompetence." It's hard to argue with that. Put some salve on that, David. I'm sure it will heal.

David, you get the last word:
If a politician lacks the quality of detachment — the ability to let the difficult facts of reality work their way into the mind — then, Weber argues, the politician ends up striving for the “boastful but entirely empty gesture.” His work “leads nowhere and is senseless.”
Welcome to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus.
Really, have we ever seen bumbling on this scale, people at once so cynical and so na├»ve, so willfully ignorant in using levers of power to produce some tangible if incremental good? These insurgents can’t even acknowledge democracy’s legitimacy — if you can’t persuade a majority of your colleagues, maybe you should accept their position. You might be wrong!
People who don’t accept democracy will be bad at conversation. They won’t respect tradition, institutions or precedent. These figures are masters at destruction but incompetent at construction.
These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.
Okay, a couple more from me: OH MY.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Culture Wars: We Won on Cigarettes, Then Marijuana, Then Gay Rights. Can It Happen with Guns?

The Few, the Proud, the Paranoid: (some of) your fellow Americans.

Something hopeful has emerged in the gun debate in the past few days. Since it's considered wishful thinking to expect any form of gun regulation getting through a GOP-controlled Congress, many have despaired of lowering the level of gun violence that's truly become endemic in American life. However, could a cultural shift pave the way for progress, similar to what happened with cigarettes, marijuana, gay rights, and the like?

It's possible. Michael Maiello, writing at TPM, thinks we might be able to make guns "uncool."
It’s surprisingly easy to imagine a society where gun ownership is looked down upon, if not scorned outright. This already happened with smoking, at least partly as a result of a public education campaign aimed at young people, and it happened when polite society finally came down against people flying the Confederate flag after the Charleston church shootings this year. Sometimes, when legislative action is difficult or downright impossible, a cultural approach works to curtail dangerous behaviors.
In short, we can make gun ownership uncool.
Looking at the chart below, you'll see that, by and large, the typical gun owner is older, white, conservative, Republican, rural males. (OMG aging bubbas!) How many of you are surprised by that? From a certain perspective, gun ownership is already demonstrably uncool.

We have so much "DON'T TAKE OUR GUNS AWAY MUSLIM BLACK PRESIDENT!" paranoia in the country as it currently stands that it's hard to imagine that meme dispelling anytime soon. But, well, I smoked for 34 years before giving it up -- thinking that it would be like kicking heroin. I don't miss it one bit. America is working tobacco out of its system, and I can't imagine it ever making a comeback.

Something similar happened with marijuana. Once we found some benefit and little downside with the demon weed, it became difficult to maintain the OMG-our-kids-will-die-if-they-ever-touch-the-stuff nonsense. It's much safer than alcohol.

Same with the gay. It was icky until it wasn't. Then, snap, gay rights.

It was a little more complicated than that, and there are still serious headwinds to tolerance in the hinterlands. But the hard work is done. Conversation over except among the Neanderthals.

Typical gun owner.
Side note: Yes, I just referred to Neanderthals in the hinterlands. That's right, I have contempt for ignorant bubbas with Confederate-flag bumper stickers. So sue me. I find them cavemanish.

Why? Because so much of the gun culture -- yes, clustered in the under-educated rural states -- believe things that are simply not true.

What am I talking about? Click here, here, here, here, here, and here. Okay, so those were snapshots of misinformation continuously stirring the pot. I could have listed hundreds, perhaps thousands of them

But what if those of us who favor sensible gun safety laws -- or, like me, favor virtually banning them outright -- fought on a similar battlefield that the Southerners do? What if we battled patiently and diligently, taking every opportunity to convert millennials and even younger folks into a cohort of people who are tired of Americans killing each other at alarming rates?

There is a burgeoning discussion of just that here, here, here, here, and here. As a special example of quite recent calls for a cultural and legal shift on guns, I recommend this CNN article comparing gun laws among western nations, making an important point in the last paragraph:
In other words, even if a particular state chooses to make it harder for some would-be killers to get their weapons, these efforts can be undercut by the jurisdictions that hold out from these efforts. In the U.S., of course, gun control measures at the state and local level are often thwarted by the lax attitude to gun acquisition in other states.
Again, it's white, Republican males who trust guns.
A nearly indisputable point. Which leads to the conclusion that we need national solutions, not state and local ones, though I take solace that we have stronger gun laws in California where I live and a not-so-visible gun culture if any. (Of course we have a gun culture.) Still, here in Sonoma County where I've lived for the past decade we've had police killings of kids with toy guns, the infamous Polly Klass rape and murder, and assorted gun murders and suicides, though the gun death rates are quite low by comparison. We've got our nearby Oakland, Richmond, and even sections of San Francisco that are not exactly gun-free paradises, though Richmond has made laudable strides in reducing gun violence.

Then, upon trying to prove how progressive my Sonoma County was, I was nonplussed to discover that we had concealed carry laws that included my town of Sonoma (not all of Sonoma County residents are free to concealed-carry). The law, as explained in the link, is quite strict and somewhat attached to common-sense, well-regulated, concealed-carry rules. That's reassuring.

I was, however, gratified to discover that open carry of loaded or unloaded weapons is not permitted in California, with very careful exceptions. What is especially reassuring is that both open- and concealed-carry laws contain strict regulation. Important for gun-rights supporters: People of proven good character, with no arrest record and with a provable need for open- or concealed-carry, can qualify for such privileges.

Unless you believe people with criminal records, mental-health or substance-abuse issues should have access to guns, you'll find a pretty good balance in California.

And yet there is easy access to guns here in spite of the laws. In urban areas where most concealed- and open-carry are virtually banned, we still find unacceptable levels of gun violence. Guns are still trafficked with insufficient regulation. Good gun laws alone can't overcome the gun culture.

Insufficient -- and under-enforced -- gun regulation leads to higher levels of gun deaths.

Where is my state of California in this set of statistics? California has the ninth-best record on gun deaths per 100,000. It also has a 21.1% gun-ownership rate. See the correlation between gun ownership and gun death rates? Pretty obvious.

  • Hawaii -- lowest gun-ownership rate, lowest gun death rate.
  • California -- ranked 42nd in gun ownership, ranked 41st in gun-death rate.
  • Alaska -- highest gun-ownership rate, highest gun death rate.

See how that works? Now get educated on this stuff, and every time there's another mass shooting, spread the news from every mountain top -- or, more likely, social media outlet -- to everyone you can reach, saying you're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Japanese freaks and geeks chillin' on the streets of Tokyo: They can relax in one
of the world's most populous and crowded cities, in a nation with a murder rate
in 2006 of 2 per approximately 125,000,000 (not a typo). There were 0 in 2008.
22 murders in 2007 was a national scandal. Most recent figures (2011) are near
0 again. Tell me again why we can't achieve something close to this?

Needed: a cultural shift away from the cult of guns.

Final factoid: Pooling results from 15 investigations, researchers found that a person with access to a gun is unequivocally less safe in terms of intentional death. Those with the ability to get to a gun are three times as likely to commit suicide and twice as likely to be the victim of a homicide than people without access.

 Hmm. Maybe guns do kill people.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

CA Governor Jerry Brown Continues to Sign Remarkable Bills into Law, with Humility and Grace

Jerry Brown's second go-round as governor --a post he also held in the 70s --
has demonstrated all that can be good, and fair-minded, in a mature politician.

This is not exclusively about Governor Jerry Brown of California. It's also about a state legislature, though controlled entirely by the governor's party, that can work together to pass truly common-sense legislation that is authentically in the public interest.

I just read a wonderful, thoughtful article by Slate's legal writer, Dahlia Lithwick, about the humility and grace of Brown's signing statement upon signing the right-to-death law just adopted in California:
What is most singular and striking about Brown’s personal and conflicted signing document is the extent to which he attempts to reconcile the best arguments against the bill—particularly the religious and theological ones—with his sense that he cannot be certain that, were he in the same situation, he would not want the right to end his own life. As he put it:
I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.  
There are so many things about this simple statement that are remarkable, chief among them the humility of a lawmaker attempting to imagine himself into a scenario that is heartbreaking and tragic. Compare it to the moral certainty of legislators who would deny a woman the right to end her pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest, without giving a moment’s thought to the possibility that it could happen to them, or their daughters or wives. Compare it to the moral certainty of putative political leaders asserting that they know exactly how they would behave in a mass shooting.
Just before that, I read another aritcle in Slate about Brown signing three bills regulating medical marijuana.
The Sacramento Bee notes that while the governor's approval was expected, since his office was heavily involved in drafting the bills, an unlikely coalition of support had sprung up among some of the state's most powerful interests, from labor unions seeking worker protections to the head of the state association of police chiefs.
And the target of this regulatory intrusion, proprietors of marijuana businesses, have made it known that they don't mind the new rules. One grower told the Los Angeles Times that, even though he'll have to modify his plans for a new indoor cultivation facility in order to comply, he welcomed "this well-thought-out set of guidelines."
Imagine that. Labor unions, police chiefs, and marijuana growers and sellers all agreeing that regulation is good. That's getting everyone on-board in a state that, while controlled by and large by the Democratic Party, is nonetheless quite diverse. When police and marijuana dealers are happy together, you've found peace in the family, and there's nothing wrong with that.

In fact, there's a lot right about it. The common good is not a mythical beast to be avoided at all costs. It's a reality close at hand if citizens want to improve their lot and don't mind the dreaded compromise involved. Often, compromise is what produces good results.

What's more, Brown signed a "motor voter" law just today. When you go to get a driver's license or register a vehicle, you're given a chance to opt out of being registered to vote. If you don't, you're automatically registered. Those accepting registration will be checked for citizenship.

This is not just for the fun of it: According to the CA Secretary of State some 6.6 million Californians are unregistered to vote.

But the governor was far from finished. He also just signed a law banning concealed weapons on school and university campuses. A number of Republican politicians felt their heads explode.

So many bills have just been signed by the governor, including ones requiring vaccines for daycare workers, guaranteeing strict electronic privacy, approving efforts to expand renewable energy and increase energy efficiency, that I'm tired of listing them. Read all about the rest at "Brown's signing tsunami," which doesn't cover the bills he signed this weekend, though I covered them above.

We didn't get everything we wanted: Brown vetoed a bill that would have restricted for-profit companies from running charter schools -- often squeezing out teachers' unions -- and another that would have expanded preschool education, citing the additional expense. By and large, though, Californians can be proud of our government.

Kudos to real public-service politicians like Jerry Brown and to the citizens of California that elect them. No wonder when I feel blue about the state of American politics I remind myself that here in liberal Northern California we have our own nation-state not dissimilar to the democratic-socialist countries of Europe. I like it.

Planned Benghazihood Was All Carly Fiorina Ever Had Going. She's Toast, Right?

Carly Fiorina, emphatically making shit up. Win!

No, Carly Fiorina isn't toast just because Jason Chaffetz couldn't rattle Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards or prove any wrongdoing on the part of the organization. And, no, Carly Fiorina isn't toast just because Kevin McCarthy let the air out of the Benghazi balloon.

I suppose it's also fair to allow that Carly Fiorina isn't toast because her self-inflated secretary-to-CEO story is wrecked by the fact that she wasn't a secretary-to-CEO at all or that she was not da bomb as a CEO but a bomb as a CEO.

In all fairness to Fiorina, she was a secretary briefly and years later, in an unrelated event, she became a CEO. What's disconcerting about Carly is that in everything I've ever heard her say, there is a small bit of truth surrounded by astounding hogwash. It's the basis for the way she's been campaigning, and it's the basis for her baseless smears of Hillary Clinton.

My prediction for Carly? She will begin to slip in the polls -- already happening -- even before New Hampshire and not be a factor in the general election except for her occasional visits to Fox News or other outlets to mouth her baseless smears of Hillary Clinton. Then she'll take her show on the road, either as a Fox News commentator or a speaker on the conservative circuit, or both.

Why is this her fate? Not because of her penchant for deception -- that is a feature, not a bug, for Republicans. No, it's mostly because she is so decidedly unpleasant that building a personal base of support from the already deeply disturbed GOP base by being shockingly unpleasant and narcissistic won't work very well. She'll capture 5 percent of 25 percent of America. That's just enough to get on Fox.

It'll be fun and a minor distraction in an otherwise goofy GOP primary season and good enough to lift Fiorina's prospects in low-brow punditry. But stardom? Hella no.


Update. Steve Rattner, who tears into Fiorina on the above Morning Joe, has recently penned an Op-Ed in the Times, again tearing into Fiorina's business record. double ouch.

Benghazi Was Always a Hoax, Email No Different. Who's to Blame? The Media. Who Can Fix It? The Media.

Don't forget that Darrell Issa badgered Clinton on Benghazi long
before Trey Gowdy got his shot. But there was never any there there.

Pretty stunning what's come from Kevin McCarthy's off-hand remark that Benghazi had knocked Hillary Clinton's poll numbers hard. He never suspected that it would knock a hole in his career instead of hers.

Now it seems the cat's out of the bag, what with the NYTimes calling for the Select Committee to pack it up, just as more trash about the committee's nefarious motives emerge.

I don't know how the committee can continue this with a straight face, but rest assured it will be in business at least until Hillary Clinton testifies on October 22nd. I'm making popcorn for sure. It'll be a barn burner, and I'll wager it won't be Hillary's barn that goes up in flames.

Next, we have to see how hard people can continue to press Hillary on the email "scandal," one that the NYTimes had a hand in promoting with a host of misreported stories.

At some point, someone of influence will declare the email "scandal" a puff of smoke without a fire. Expect it any day, but don't count on a major Republican politician accidentally admitting it on Hannity.

The nexus of the trumped-up email scandal (no pun intended) lies at intersection of two facts: one, classified material wasn't sent on Clinton's private email server, and, two, the use of the private system was not against State Department rules.

The first, that classified material might have been sent or received is indeed made murky by the habit of federal agencies classifying documents, including emails, long after the facts of their provenance have been lost in the fog of document reclassification. Politifact takes a look and gives Clinton a well-deserved break:
We’ve noticed several Republican candidates claiming that Clinton negligently handled classified information. But they’re jumping the gun. There isn’t enough evidence to prove that. Some evidence suggests Clinton and her team went to some trouble to keep classified information out the email system.
This is not to say Clinton’s email setup was allowed or appropriate -- for example, it skirted open records laws and presents challenges to archivists. And subsequent investigations may yield surprises or other unexpected evidence. But because of the way classification works and because of the incomplete record of her emails, we continue to reserve judgment.
What's interesting about Politifact's opinion here is that they give Clinton a break on the first facet of the email "scandal," but then proceed to bust her on the second facet, her email setup. In fact, however, Politifact has been proven wrong on this second point by none other than the State Department itself.

So, to recount, there has been no proof so far that Hillary Clinton sent information, classified at the time, over her private system, and there is proof that no State Department rules prohibited use of a private email system. There's no proof of any wrongdoing, even if our blessed media did hound Hillary until she apologized for her email sins, in case there were any.

What's a diligent media to do, given such facts? Why, go after the Republicans for spreading such bunk. Will they? Who knows? Most of the media believe it's their job to puff up such scandals while maintaining narratives of their choosing.

It's clear to me that the media should be reporting that the constant scandal-baiting by Republicans is repugnant. It's also clear to me that the media has been scandal-baiting the Clintons for so long they wouldn't know what's true if it bit them on the ass. Whitewater anyone?

Note. I may have given the impression that I think the media won't embrace the truth about the phoniness of Hillary's scandals. While it may be true that the media will just gloss over their failure to get it right, it's also possible they'll grab a chance to stick it to the real villains in this monstrosity -- the GOP and its "candidates" -- if they feel they can get away with it without losing their precious access. In other words, they'll tell the truth right after they figure out that the GOP are the losers and turn around and say "We always loved Hillary, seriously we did!"

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Secret to Overcoming Gun Violence? Train Americans to Gang-Rush Shooters!

Coward! He should just gang-rush the shooter!

Wow. This is getting fun. Who knew national tragedies like Roseburg would bring out the best in our national character?

First it was Dr. Ben "First-Do-No-Harm" Carson who came out with the very, very smart idea of everybody just rushing shooters to lower the body count.
 But Carson is against gun control, writing on Monday, "As a doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies. There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking — but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."
What I find breathtaking is the position ALL Republicans take -- I'm talking politicians here -- on the gun violence issue, which can never ever ever be to limit guns in any way. It's better to train people to rush shooters than to do anything about the ridiculous availability of semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles. What part of America-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-history-of-the-world depends on how fabulously armed we all are?

I liked Jonathan Chait's response to the notion:
Are you kidding me? You think gun control is impractical, so your plan is to turn the entire national population, including young children, into a standby suicide squad? Through private initiative, of course. It's way more feasible than gun control!
Unless I am missing a very subtle parody of libertarianism, McArdle's plan to teach children to launch banzai charges against mass murderers is the single worst solution to any problem I have ever seen offered in a major publication. Newsweek, I award this essay no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Funny that Megan McArdle -- who prescriptions for a myriad of problems have almost universally dumbfounded me -- would be upstaged by the next president of the United States, Ben Carson.

Another great reaction to the latest yet-another-horrible-shooting is to put metal detectors EVERYWHERE. That's bold and bright, don't you think? Wouldn't getting rid of all the friggin' metal make more sense? Hell no, because freedom!

Now we hear that Indiana has figured this all out. ThinkProgress reveals the latest in grand thinking about gun violence with this plan to turn our schools into automatic anti-shooter units:
The safety standards Wooldridge is working to implement in Indiana schools are no ordinary measures.
They’ve already been implemented at Southwestern High School, a small school in rural Shelbyville. There, not only do children perform “active shooter drills” alongside fire drills, teachers wear special key fobs that alert police faster than a 911 call. Classrooms have “hardened doors” that lock automatically and “hardened exterior glass” windows to deflect both bullets and brute force. Cameras in the school have “shooter detection technology” — tools created for the military — to help law enforcement more quickly locate suspects. And if the suspect is trapped in the hallway, smoke cannisters can be detonated to slow down the shooter.
Active shooter drills, that's the ticket. I spent some time teaching in elementary school, and of course active shooter drills is such a very American solution, wouldn't you think? It would be so fun to scare the living shit out of every kid in America by repeatedly telling them to get prepared in case someone wants to blow their brains out.

You know what else would be fun? Answering a first-grader's obvious question: "Why do we have to do this?" Our choices are either "Did you ever hear about Sandy Hook?" or "Just trust us and do it."

Of course, Indiana's solution is "feasible" because a typical school would only take about a half a mil to secure. Let's do it, America! What are we waiting for?

What am I missing here? Get rid of all weapons not related to hunting, fiercely regulate them (like, uh, autos), make everyone who owns one get mandatory training and yearly permits (like, uh, fishing), and pay liability insurance and carry proof (like, uh, proof of insurance in our glove compartments).

NO! Better we should install a gazillion metal detectors.

Chait provided a link to this, but I wanted to make sure you saw this. It should be sent to all the "gun enthusiasts" throughout this freedom-lovin', armed-to-the-teeth country of ours:

Carson, no points, McArdle, no points, Indiana, no points, Republican politicians and all Republican candidates for 2016, no points, the NRA, OMG no points. And God have mercy on our souls.

Note. Above I pointed only to Republican politicians. One, most Democrats are for gun control of some sort, and, two, Republican voters in general favor gun control, too. Hell, NRA members do, as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Our Toxic Culture: Bobby Jindal Goes from Bad to Worst with Statement on Oregon Shooting

Bobby Jindal posing with an assault rifle: He was stupid before stupid was cool.

Okay, he was a Rhodes Scholar. That doesn't seem to stop him from him from breaking the bounds of common decency by blaming in the Umpqua Community College shooting on the shooter's anti-gun father:
In the blog post -- titled "We fill Our Culture With Garbage, And We Reap The Result" -- Jindal blamed the prevalence of mass shootings in America on "deep and serious cultural decay in our society," jumping from a condemnation of violence in media and a reference to abortion to a discussion of the reported absence of the father of the Harper Mercer in the young man's life.
"This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns," Jindal wrote. "Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here."
Of course Jindal ignores the part of the problem where the shooter, Christopher Harper Mercer, lived with his mother, who was a certified, paranoid gun nut. Now, I'm making a "value judgment" like Jindal, but it is based on the following Facebook posting by the mother:
“When the mood strikes,” Harper reportedly wrote on Facebook, “I sling an AR, Tek-9 or AK over my shoulder, or holster a Glock 21 (not 22), or one of my other handguns, like the Sig Sauer P226, and walk out the door.” Shotguns, she said, “are a little too cumbersome to open carry.”
Compassionate brainiac Bobby Jindal based his condemnation on Mercer's dislike of guns:
"He brags that he has never held a gun in his life and that he had no idea that his son had any guns. Why didn’t he know? Because he failed to raise his son. He should be ashamed of himself, and he owes us all an apology," Jindal wrote. "When he was asked what his relationship was with his son, he said he hadn’t seen him in a while because he lived with his mother. Case Closed."
Jindal went on to call out "shallow and simple minded liberals" for blaming "pieces of hardware for the problem."
As Jezebel points out:
It’s a bit of an embellishment on what Mercer actually said, his son was 24 when he relocated to Oregon, and there’s no evidence to suggest that he “has never been in his son’s life.”
The killer was, indeed, 26 and living with his mother, an assault-rifle packin' mamma, when he went ballistic at the college. But of course it was the non-gun-loving father who was at fault.

Is this how far Republicans have to go to blame gun deaths on something other than guns? Maybe not, but Bobby Jindal has now gone there, and he's a "presidential candidate," albeit with 0.6% in the polls.

Not to let Jindal off the hook, but not a single GOP candidate will blame guns for a mass shooting by someone with fourteen guns in his household. Can't be guns, though.

Hmm. Jindal's Louisiana has the highest rate of gun deaths.

Louisiana was number one in gun-death rate in 2007, still is today under Jindal. Heckuva job, Bobby. How did he put it, again?
Jindal went on to call out "shallow and simple minded liberals" for blaming "pieces of hardware for the problem."