Wednesday Morning Open Thread: The New Normal

suicide repubs
(Jeff Danziger’s website)
Dana Milbank goes nutpicking, the easy way:

When I covered Congress in the mid-1990s, one of my favorite characters was Steve Stockman, a former street vagrant who somehow got swept to power in the Republican Revolution of ’94.

Voters in his Texas district, realizing their mistake, swept him out two years later — but not before he distinguished himself by demanding a federal investigation of the 1948 Kinsey Report on male sexuality and by claiming that the deadly 1993 assault on the Branch Davidians was a Clinton administration conspiracy to tighten gun control.

So it was with a mix of nostalgia and delight that I came across a headline on the news Web site Talking Points Memo this week proclaiming, “GOP Rep. Threatens Impeachment If Obama Uses Executive Order on Guns.” It turns out that congressman is . . . Steve Stockman. Sixteen years and one failed run for railroad commissioner later, he’s back in the halls of Congress.

But there is a key difference in Stockman’s second act, and it says less about him than about our politics. Back then, he proved too much even for the ’94 revolutionaries; his classmates came to shun him and voters in his competitive district sent him packing. But this time, Texas has redrawn its political boundaries, and Stockman’s new seat is safe. What’s more, his views, outlandish in the House of 1995, are more at home in the House of 2013. On Tuesday night, Stockman was one of 179 House Republicans to vote against aid to Hurricane Sandy’s victims.

All these years later, Stockman can still bring the crazy. The problem is he’s now just one of many purveyors…

Apart from President Obama’s plan to “formally announce the most aggressive and expansive national gun-control agenda in generations” (I hope anyone standing near a Republican gets to wear a disposable poncho for that presser), what’s on the agenda for the day?

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71 replies
  1. 1
    JPL says:

    Anne, Your post goes along with the one below. The President is now called Mr. and it’s his fault, not that of a deranged man, for the mass killing of children. Many years ago, I mentioned to a friend that political correctness and common decency might be synonymous.
    The local tv station is now talking about school police forces. Will my grandchildren (if I’m so lucky to have grandchildren) grow up with armed guards outside of fast food joints, malls, movie theaters and street corners, in order to protect the feeling of the whackos in the House of Rep. and the NRA? Many of the same whackos mention the good olde days..Well guess what, children could play outside without fear of getting shot. Gosh I hate these people.

  2. 2
    Patricia Kayden says:

    179 Repubs voted against aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy!!!

    Cold blooded.

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    What, no requirement for intrusive patdowns and shoe removal when entering a school zone?

    Oh, his name wasn’t al-Lanza.

    The overkill fueled by fear and panic that results in naught but security theater is once again in full throttle.

  4. 4
    Raven says:

    And Dowd will thrill you all today.

    His words were laced with an edge — churlish, chiding and self-pitying. He sardonically presented himself as Lonely Guy, shafted by the opposition, kicking around the White House on his own. Days before his second inauguration, he seemed to be intimating that the job he had fought so hard for and won against all odds was a bit of a chore, if not a bore.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    @ Patricia Kayden

    179 Repubs and one Democrat voted against untethered aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy!!!

    Modified for accuracy.

  6. 6
    JPL says:

    @Raven: Is it to early to curse Dowd?

  7. 7
    amk says:

    @Raven: @JPL: she writes for an audience of a few dozens ? not worth the time.

  8. 8
    NotMax says:


    That may be a new record for sheer number of errors, unsupported suppositions and trite armchair attempts at psychoanalysis by Dowd in one sentence.

  9. 9
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    It is almost impossible to comprehend. How can the rights of a few out weigh the rights of the many to go about their life’s without fear of being shot. It appears to this outsider as intimidation. What happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave…..
    True freedom comes at the point of a gun, sorry that shoul be grip of a gun.

  10. 10
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    It is almost impossible to comprehend. How can the rights of a few out weigh the rights of the many to go about their life’s without fear of being shot. It appears to this outsider as intimidation. What happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave…..
    True freedom comes at the point of a gun, sorry that should be grip of a gun.

  11. 11
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    I swear it told me it didn’t publish first time. What is the ritual …….FYWP

  12. 12
    xian says:

    @NotMax: she is less than useless

  13. 13
    Schlemizel says:

    Gex posted last night, its not the news we had been hoping for.

    Whatever your spiritual beliefs now would be a good time to invoke them for these two.

  14. 14
    WereBear says:

    And the pressure on the bubble increases.

    I love the way the President is attempting to school the public on how the debt ceiling works. I know how difficult it is, face to face, to convince a random someone that yes, the Republicans are willing to destroy the economy and millions of lives. Why? Because they want their way. Yes, their way is bad… look at their attitude towards the debt ceiling. And round and round.

    It does not compute. It’s like telling them Godzilla is approaching.

  15. 15
    Raven says:

    Ok, here’s another one for ya’ll. Jim Vandehei is discussing the debt ceiling and Geist said, “there is a group of people who not believe that not raising the debt limit will be catastrophic to the economy”. Vandehei said “yes, that is the thought process of quite a few Republicans”. “Thought process”??? How has “thought process” come to mean the ideas or positions that people hold. I hear it every day, especially in sports reporting. What the fuck?

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    The NRA ad reminds me of the health care debate, when at one press conference, some idiot Village reporter asked the President whether his plan would guarantee them the same level of health care that he (the President) received. To which Obama responded, No, you fuck, I’m the President.” (I’m paraphrasing).

    But you notice none of the right-wingers are urging Americans to demand the same level of health care as the President gets.

  17. 17
    NotMax says:


    Inserting the word “thought” into the conversation is the newest sugarcoating meme.

    Whether it emanated from Frank Luntz’ focus groups I cannot say.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    How much will their thought process cost us? Do they have any idea that the treasury actually uses computers that are programmed already and to change those programs would be at an enormous cost?

    idiots…all of them.

  19. 19
    WereBear says:

    @NotMax: As always, reality has nothing to do with it.

    However, I am drawing some hope from the fact that Fox “News” is experiencing cratering ratings.

    In a sane world, they would dial back the crazy… but the crazy demands more! The sane have already left the building, so where does that leave them? Nowhere to go, I hope.

  20. 20
    WereBear says:

    @WereBear: Note that this is in the “critical 25-54 year old demographic.”

    The “65-89 year old demographic” presumably still keeps Fox blaring 24/7 in their dusty, loveless house, while liberals keep their wits sharp by playing chess in the park; that common area a true conservative wouldn’t be caught in.

  21. 21
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Raven: And someone remind me how many votes Maureen Fucking Dowd got in the last election?

    ETA: I was going to post that Stockman defeated 42-year veteran liberal Jack Brooks because of a gerrymandered district in 1994, and one of his claims to fame at the time was that he lived with his parents, IIRC. He was a proto-tea partier. Weird to see his name in the news again.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:


    Am reminded more and more these days of an old cartoon (from either MAD or The New Yorker, probably). Wish I could find the picture of it, but shall attempt to describe it and paraphrase it.

    Scene: An obviously huge and lavish office of the CEO of Gargantuan Conglomerate, Inc. (or some such huge company) .

    Characters: A flunky standing in front of the massive slab of desk, behind which, ensconced in a chair 6 sizes too large for him sits the fuming boss, angrily brandishng a sheaf of papers.

    Flunky: But Mr. Flemmershmertz, the financial report shows quarterly profits up by millions. For the fiscal year, that will mean billions! What has made you so upset?

    CEO: Bah. Millions and billions I don’t understand. But here — three dollars for a long distance call — now that I understand.

  23. 23
    JPL says:

    @NotMax: That’s sorta the vision that I have but the characters are Geithner and Rep. Blackburn.

  24. 24
    JPL says:

    Since the liberals are protecting Hollywood, did I miss the part where Tipper Gore was a Republican? She was vilified when she went up against the music industry for parental labels.

  25. 25
    Randy P says:

    Since this is an open thread, I’ll post this local story about a 10-year-old girl who died on New Year’s, just after midnight. She was hit by a falling bullet from some unknown asshole firing into the air to celebrate. We’ll never know who or where.

    This kind of incident will never be affected by any kind of gun control. Being an asshole with a gun and firing it off into the air is a permanent part of our culture.

    This story apparently made the local (Baltimore area) news but as I don’t watch TV news, I only found out about it from a poster about a benefit concert at a local convenience store. It’s a “minor” incident, of local interest only.

  26. 26
    JPL says:

    @Randy P: An Atlanta area child lost his life while in Church on New Year’s Eve the previous year. Some ass shot off his gun outside the church and what goes up must come down and the bullet entered the church.

  27. 27
    aimai says:


    Oh you are shitting me.

  28. 28
    Anya says:

    @Raven: It’s too early for me to get this annoyed.

  29. 29
    aimai says:

    @Randy P:

    “This kind of thing will never be affected by gun control?” Not true. If there were no open carry laws and no concealed carry laws the police could round up and confiscate most of the guns they bump into during the day. And people would be afraid of other people snitching on them so they would be less likely to draw and fire where other people could report them. Gun laws would certainly cut down on public displays of guns for fun. Any individual death might not be averted but many such deaths might be averted when the sheer number and popularity of guns is declining.

  30. 30
    TD says:

    Got something published this morning, would appreciate your clicks! (maybe some “likes”, too)

  31. 31
    jeffreyw says:

    Mmm… coffee. And puppies. Need moar puppies?

  32. 32
    Paul says:


    179 Repubs and one Democrat voted against untethered aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy!!!

    Yup. Jim Cooper of Tennessee. He is also a founder of NoLabels. Shouldn’t that in itself disqualify him from being a Democrat?!

    Furthermore, didn’t Tennessee get federal aid when the Nashville flooding caused Grand Old Opry to be rebuilt? If so, I assume Mr Cooper will prepare a bill to refund that money to the federal government.

  33. 33
    Ash Can says:

    @jeffreyw: Squeeee! Babieeeeees!

  34. 34
    Napoleon says:


    Yup. Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

    That guy is such an asshole.

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    This is great — a direct, personal identifying story in Steve Stockman of the transformative craziness from the hard right of 1994 to the neo-Confederate Bircherbangelical super-loonies of today.

    No, wait, I mean, what a sad story of a man who tried to save us all a decade and a half ago, but whom we rejected, and now rides back in perhaps too late to save us from the UN black helicopter soshullist gay agenda to take our guns he tried to hard to warn us against.

  36. 36
    brettvk says:

    @jeffreyw: Omighod, the leetle white highlights on the brannew gleaming puppypaw nails [swoon]

  37. 37
    Anya says:

    @TD: Done!

  38. 38
    Yutsano says:


    @TD: And done! I’ll read it a bit later but click made!

  39. 39
    redshirt says:

    What a bunch of assholes. I’d like to scream “HAVE YOU NO DECENCY?!” But I already know the answer. Nope. Not these assholes.

    They must be crushed and scattered.

  40. 40
    PurpleGirl says:


  41. 41
    Jebediah says:

    @Randy P:

    She was hit by a falling bullet from some unknown asshole firing into the air to celebrate. We’ll never know who or where.

    Long (~20 years) ago I was told that here (California) guns were test-fired before being sold, so that later on, if necessary, fired bullets could be matched to the gun (without having to find and identify the gun.) At the time, it seemed plausible and sensible to me. Given the current climate, it now seems to me that it must have been a bogus story. But if we did do that for every gun sold, maybe assholes whose “celebrations” kill randomly could be found and held responsible. How could the NRA object? After all, only irresponsible or criminal binky-strokers would have anything to fear, not the responsible gun owners they say they represent.

  42. 42
    Jebediah says:

    Super-cute! I’m guessing the box scores they appear to have been reading weren’t exciting enough to keep them awake.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:


    Thank you for linking to Gex’s post. Had missed it.

  44. 44
    liberal says:


    “there is a group of people who not believe that not raising the debt limit will be catastrophic to the economy”

    Related to the issue of Republican crazies, I was reading about statements from GOP freshmen on this nutball idea that the government could function fine for quite awhile without raising the debt limit, and that cutting the deficit is so important that maybe we should do it.

    From one of the FPers here a few months back, I was already aware that one of these freshman was (way back) a kid I TAed. He was really, really smart. Now, of course, not so much. I assume it’s related to, if not exactly the same as, the Salem Hypothesis.

  45. 45
    liberal says:


    maybe assholes whose “celebrations” kill randomly could be found and held responsible

    But that’s the key problem here. The extremists among gun owners don’t want to be held responsible for anything. They want authority (here, the right to possess a dangerous weapon) but not responsibility (doing hard time if they injure someone, even if by accident).

    Not that that makes them unique or anything. Same problem (authority/power, but no responsibility) is behind many of our ills (CEOs, banksters, …).

  46. 46
    liberal says:


    If there were no open carry laws and no concealed carry laws the police could round up and confiscate most of the guns they bump into during the day.

    Yeah, but that would give CelticDragonChick a massive sad.

  47. 47
    liberal says:


    Some ass shot off his gun outside the church and what goes up must come down and the bullet entered the church.

    I always thought that the speed of a bullet coming down wouldn’t be so bad, because it’s limited by terminal velocity, which ought to be much less than the speed coming out of a barrel.

    …OK, here’s Wikipedia:

    Bullets fired into the air usually fall back at terminal velocity, speeds much lower than those at which they leave the barrel of a firearm. Nevertheless, people can be injured, sometimes fatally, when bullets discharged into the air fall back down. The higher mortality is related to the higher incidence of head wounds from falling bullets. Bullets fired at lower angles than vertical can be yet more dangerous, as the bullet maintains its angular ballistic trajectory and is far less likely to engage in tumbling motion, and so travels at a speed much higher than its terminal velocity in a purely vertical fall.

  48. 48
    Elizabelle says:


    Don’t be so coy.

    Who is the formerly smart kid, now a Member of Congress?

    And FWIW: the Tea Partier up the street has replaced his yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag with a state flag.

    Is he going states’ rights, or did the Tea Party embarrass him?

    (What I love: he’s got a spiffy looking stone garage/home addition because the old one burned. Publicly paid firemen and emergency responders saved his house about 3 years ago when something or other caught fire in his garage while he was at work one fine morning.)

  49. 49
    liberal says:

    I would figure Faux News and related outfits aren’t limited so much by ratings, since they have deep pockets behind them with a particular class interest.

  50. 50
    liberal says:


    Who is the formerly smart kid, now a Member of Congress?

    Thomas Massie.

  51. 51
    FlyingToaster says:

    @Jebediah: You can change the marks on the bullet by replacing the barrel. There’s also some alteration when you replace the firing pin.

    So realistically, I don’t think such a database would be current for very long.

  52. 52
    Elizabelle says:


    Roll Call Profiles Congressman Thomas Massie as Tea Party Wonk

    (There’s a stretch. Didn’t work so well with Paul Ryan, but Massie sounds like the real deal.)

    Story mentions Massie got an “A” from Paul Krugman in a macroeconomics class.

    BS in Electrical Engineering; Master’s in Mechanical Engineering; won the 1995 Lemelson-MIT prize for student inventors.

    And, per the Courier-Journal:

    Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie has introduced a bill to repeal the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act, a move that would allow people to bring firearms into the nation’s schools.

    Massie thinks gun control is unconstitutional.

  53. 53
    Jebediah says:

    For semi-automatic pistols, replacing the barrel is trivially easy (not so much for revolvers.) But a new barrel has to be purchased, so each barrel could be test-fired as well. I have no idea how difficult it is to replace a firing pin, but I am guessing it is more than the ~10 seconds to field-strip a pistol.
    So, as far as I know, you are correct, but I think it could be addressed for a large percentage of gun owners. But as long as we are being realistic, a much bigger obstacle would be getting something like this passed into law in the first place. Although, if the NRA and the binky-strokers keep up the public crazy, maybe we’ll have a better chance.

  54. 54
    Elizabelle says:

    WordPress ate my previous comment.


    Interesting guy; undeniably smart. Thinks gun control is unconstitutional; has introduced legislation to repeal the Federal Gun-Free Schools Act.

    Per wikipedia, lives in a solar-powered home he built himself.

    Has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT, in Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, respectively. Got an “A” in Macroeconomics from Professor Paul Krugman, whose ideas Massie disavows.

    Describes self as entrepreneur and farmer.

    Profiled by “Beltway newspaper” Roll Call as “Tea Party Wonk”, label which fits him better than Paul Ryan (who’s a bullsh*tter).

    Someone to watch, for sure.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Randy P:

    This kind of incident will never be affected by any kind of gun control. Being an asshole with a gun and firing it off into the air is a permanent part of our culture.

    You absolutely CAN change the culture! After 9-year-old Brian Perez was accidentally killed here in Los Angeles in 1999 by celebratory gunfire, all of our local law enforcement agencies coordinated a HUGE public relations campaign. There are posters, advertisements, billboards, PSAs. Every local newscast in every local language does multiple stories (usually one every night on every newscast until New Year’s Day) reminding people that shooting off their guns on NYE is dangerous and they will be charged with a felony if they do it. As a consequence, we haven’t had an accidental death in 13 years.

    The culture can be changed, but it takes a huge commitment by the entire community to do it.

  56. 56
    Elizabelle says:



    And agreed.

  57. 57


    Not the least a huge commitment by the actual, y’know, people who have the guns. We’ve had all of those things in Puerto Rico – celebrities supporting the Not One More Stray Bullet campaign, mayors coming out and asking people to refrain, the Governor – and yet, they continue to roll in.

  58. 58
    liberal says:

    Yes, he’s very smart.

    Too stupid to understand macroeconomics, though.

    Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that his specialty was robotics. I don’t have any evidence at hand, but I presume that there’s lots of tax dollars there. Certainly MIT itself is massively funded by tax dollars (via DOD, for example).

    Has to be a great example of the Salem Hypothesis (if you extend beyond its original, narrower scope). This “but the constitution sez you can’t have gun control!” stupidity seems to me to be very similar to “but the bible sez creationism is true!”

  59. 59
    liberal says:

    Not entirely dissimilar to a disagreement my wife and I had last night. I groused about some political problem (probably Republican idiots) and she said “but there’s nothing we can do about that.” I pointed out that politics is entirely a human creation, hence someone is clearly doing something “about that.”

  60. 60
    Tone in DC says:

    Open thread here, sooo…

    Michele’s apparently had her hand in the cookie jar.


  61. 61
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Andy Good, Swartz’s initial lawyer, is ­alternately sad and furious.

    “The thing that galls me is that I told Heymann the kid was a suicide risk,” Good told me. “His reaction was a standard reaction in that office, not unique to Steve. He said, ‘Fine, we’ll lock him up.’ I’m not saying they made Aaron kill himself. Aaron might have done this anyway. I’m saying they were aware of the risk, and they were heedless.”

    DOJ is verrrrry quiet right now, out of respect for Aaron’s family.

  62. 62
    gocart mozart says:

    @El Cid:


    This word is a keeper. I shall steal.

  63. 63
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    BTW; The good news is the last Swarz thread had 500 comments.

    The bad news is half the commentators could make a nifty nest at Legal Insurrection, so we at BJ have that, going for us.

  64. 64
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Raven: I have disliked Dowd ever since she helped spike Al Gore’s presidential run with bullshit like the idea that his “earth tones” made him “unmanly”. She was then, and is now, a near-total waste of ink who should be blogging in obscurity, not taking up space in the NYT.

  65. 65
    handsmile says:

    @Elizabelle: , @liberal:

    Here’s a link to the MIT newspaper account of Massie being selected for the 1995 Lemelson Prize. It describes his computer/human interface invention, the PHANTOM.

    Yes, Massie is well-educated, maybe even “smart.” But not every Congressman can be Rush Holt. From Wikipedia and several news articles, it’s clear Massie is allied with noted half-wit and media darling Rand Paul, so he may be providing some intellectual firepower to Paul’s national ambitions. Massie may be worth paying attention to for that reason, but I suspect he may be too much of a geek and there’s no evident right-wing Christian bona fides.

    It might be worth some enterprising journalist (extinct or seriously endangered) looking into federal support for Massie’s family farm.

  66. 66
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Lector Peregrinus:

    Considering that the people we’re asking not to do it are often gang members or other assorted criminals, I guess it’s even more of an achievement that LA has been so successful. I dunno, maybe it’s easier to convince people who immigrated here from other countries that it’s not acceptable when they’re in the US than it is to convince people inside their own country to change.

    (As I understand it, a lot of the problem arose because immigrants from Central and South America were bringing their tradition to Los Angeles, so a lot of the early campaign was focused on convincing them that it was not an acceptable thing to do in the US.)

  67. 67
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Gives me hope for the next generation.

  68. 68


    That’s an excellent point. Puerto Ricans either don’t want to be like Americans, or they think they’re more American than the Americans, so that wouldn’t work so well with us. Appealing to high-minded morals did have an effect for a year or so, IIRC, but after that things went back to normal.

    ETA: And this despite the fact that it is and continues to be a concern. I realize that the first sentence of my post sounds like a gross generalization, and in some ways it is quite reductive, but it’s what I’ve seen growing up and it’s gotten worse since I moved to the US (or maybe I’m missing a lot of subtle context now).

  69. 69
    Lex says:

    So the Tea Partier wants to impeach President Obama? I’ve got three words:

    Make. My. Day.

    Because apparently he forgets how well that worked out for the GOP in the 1998 midterms.

  70. 70
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Lex: Oh please Republicans, don’t throw us in the Impeachment Patch! We’ll die die die in there for sure!

  71. 71
    El Cid says:

    @gocart mozart: Use widely.

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