Saturday, March 27, 2010

no texting while driving

Some guy in Massachusetts died in a car accident yesterday. He had been sending text messages while driving. His death is sad (he was 21), and illustrates the dangers of distracted driving.

If all driving-while-texting (or cell-phone talking) incidents were single car crashes, well I'd be tempted to let nature take its course. But they aren't. The driver yesterday lost control and hit a tree. But he could have lost control and plowed into an oncoming car. Or onto a crowded sidewalk. Or into a storefront.

Cell-phone driving impairs people much like driving while drunk does. Texting while driving is even worse. There is a reason that states should ban these practices. Because the market won't, and evolution won't work fast enough to save the innocent bystanders.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

a moronic constitutional proposal from texas

So many Republicans are bent out of shape over the imposition of mandatory death at age 60 - I mean, over the confiscation of all private property and guns and our daughters - I mean, over an incrementalist health care reform package that means insurance companies can't quit insuring you if you are sick, yeah that's the one - that is is hard to keep track of them.

One particular clown, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert has raised an idea to stop the Senate from doing anything so wrong as passing legislation with 60 votes that Republicans, tea baggers, and others on the deranged right-wing fringe don't approve of. He wants a Constitutional Convention to repeal the 17th Amendment.

No, that's not the one banning slavery or giving all Americans the right to vote, though you can bet there are some on the right, including those anti-health-care-bill protesters who yelled "n****" at Congressman John Lewis on the steps of the Capitol last week, who wouldn't mind revisiting those. It's the one that gave us Americans the right to vote directly for our Senators, instead of having them elected by the legislatures of the states.

Sayeth Gohmert's overwrought press release, since "the safeguard of State legislatures electing U.S. Senators was removed by the 17th Amendment in 1913, there has been no check or balance on the Federal power grab for the last 97 years." Not even during the years that Republicans had one, two, or three out of the Presidency, Senate, and House?

Well I'll give Gohmert some points for originality in the cause of paranoia. I've heard people complaining about the establishment of the Federal Reserve, or the introduction of the federal income tax, etc. But never before have I heard an American elected official suggest that reducing the rights of Americans to elect their legislators, in this case US Senators, would be a good thing.

Isn't that TAKING power away from the American people, Congressman Gohmert? Are you implying that you don't trust the voters of Texas or Massachusetts or Oregon or where-ever to elect Senators, and you'd rather give that power to the politicians in Austin, Boston, and Salem?

Well this is a loser on several levels. First, Gohmert's press release asserts this convention would cover ONLY the 17th Amendment. Can't do it like that: there is NOTHING to prevent a Constitutional Convention from addressing ANY issues that it wants. So the whole shebang would be open for renewal and revision.

And again, I don't think that taking electoral power away from the voters and giving it to STATE legislators is a terribly pro-democratic thing.

Finally, has Gohmert looked at the control of state legislatures. Currently, the Democrats have a 27-16 edge, with 7 states divided. So let's give the Democratic Party two senators in states they control, and split the other 7... and we have a 61-39 Democratic majority.

Control of state legislatures can change, of course. But I fail to see what Gohmert really thinks this would address.

Gohmert also refers to "the usurpation of the rights of states" in decrying the passage of health care reform.

Rights of states. States' rights. Ah, that seductive call of those who are too afraid, too devious to openly describe themselves for what they really are: supporters of the elite conservative moneyed ruling and business classes, and allies of racists.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

dick armey, tea-bagging moron

Sometimes I see something that spurs me to dust off the password and add something to this semi-retired blog. This Washington Post story from Dana Milbank about Dick Armey did it today.

Milbank rightfully skewers Armey for not getting his history right in Armey's speech criticizing Washington (a place, as Milbank points out, where Armey has spent a lot of time and made a lot of money).

First, at his luncheon address to a bunch of tea party types, Armey said "Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow."

Bzzz, wrong. Jamestown, founded in 1607 before Marx or anybody else had really come up with "socialism" - heck, before we really even had "capitalism" - was founded by a bunch of entrepreneurs looking to make a quick buck. Well, it wasn't so profitable, and it was also mismanaged and many people did starve. But NOT because it was a government venture - it was a PRIVATE enterprise, the only government role was permission to do it.

Hey Armey, I thought you were a history professor?

The other history Fail is even better. A questioner asked how come tea baggers like Alexander Hamilton when Hamilton was well-known as an advocate for strong central government?

Armey hemmed and hawed, then said basically "Says who?"

Says EVERYBODY including Hamilton himself, back in the day. As Milbank noted, "Hamilton favored a national bank, presidents and senators who served for life and state governors appointed by the president."

Governors appointed by the PRESIDENT. You don't call that strong central government.

As is so often the case with Republicans, you have to ask yourself, is Armey stupid enough to not know two pretty basic facts about American history that many high school students, let alone college history professors, know? Or is he willfully misrepresenting the facts - that's lying - to advance his reactionary political cause.

I think Armey is plenty stupid. But in this case, I think he was lying ... and was counting on a compliant, foaming-at-the-mouth group of teabaggers not to have the school learning or independence of thought to know these facts, nor to challenge Armey on them.

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