Shorter Question Everything
Rachel Maddow can’t call “bullshit” on tv, but she can call “bullpucky”, and does so. Bullpucky, like malarkey, is a great word. Perfectly respectable to say on tv and yet everyone knows exactly what’s being said.
Bullpucky sums up a good deal of today’s items but a special slathering of bullshit comes in the form of NRA asshats heckling a man who lost his son in the Newtown shooting. That takes a certain level of cretinism that the word bullpucky is just too polite to cover.
• Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month, was heckled by gun advocates during a legislative hearing on Monday.
• Heckling the father of a victim of the Newtown massacre is a new low for assault weapon defenders. Perhaps they are finally going to learn that bullying the parents who lost their children due to gun violence is not the best plan if they want to win in the court of public opinion. The NRA defenders are starting to look like members of the Westboro Baptist Church — fringe lunatics.
• The NRA is clearly very afraid of a hell of a lot of people, as it publishes its enemy list
Assorted Bullshit Alerts
• PROPAGANDA ALERT: Amid growing fears that Syria’s stockpile of unconventional weapons may fall into terrorists’ hands, Hezbollah set up bases in Syria, an Israeli news site said. Hezbollah, listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and other governments, recently set up a number of bases near chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, possibly in preparation to transfer them to Lebanon, Ynetnews.com said Monday. Ynetnews, however, didn’t give the source of its information.
• Fox News hosts whine at ’60 Minutes’ for ‘no follow up’ on Hillary concussion conspiracy. “If you give somebody 30 minutes [for an interview], you could get real news — especially Steve Kroft, who is usually awesome,” co-host Brian Kilmeade opined on Monday. “But I think for some reason, they just didn’t dig in to anything at all. For one thing, I would like to know, did she pass out and hit her head? Was she pushed? How did she hit her head and get a concussion?”
• Bullpucky: [F]reshly minted and anonymously backed organization, Use Your Mandate, which presents itself as a liberal gay rights group but purchases its television time through a prominent Republican firm, is attacking Mr. Hagel as “anti-Gay,” “anti-woman” and “anti-Israel” in ads and mailers. [F]ederal records show that Use Your Mandate uses Del Cielo Media, an arm of one of the most prominent Republican ad-buying firms in the country, Smart Media, with clients that have included the presidential campaigns of former Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. of Utah and Senator John McCain of Arizona; the 2010 Senate campaign of Christine O’Donnell, who was known for positions against homosexuality, in Delaware; and, as it happens, the Emergency Committee for Israel.
Rightwingers behaving badly
• Now the Social Security haters are taking a page from the Welfare Queen smear campaign book of the ‘90s to conjure a new scapegoat for all that is wrong with America: the Disability King. According to this meme, the problem with America’s economy and society is vast numbers of lazy, lying, good-for-nothing loafers cheating the American taxpayer through disability fraud.
• Michigan vote rigging scheme: State Rep. Pete Lund said recently he plans to introduce a bill this session under which Michigan would allocate its 16 electoral votes according to the popular vote winner in each of 14 congressional districts. Michigan Democrats have scathing criticism for the idea. “This is nothing more than election-rigging,” state party chair Mark Brewer told the AP. The move might have been illegal in Virginia, voting-rights experts told MSNBC.com Friday. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, most southern states are required to get federal approval before making changes to their voting systems, to ensure the move doesn’t reduce the voting power of minorities. Awarding electoral votes on the basis of congressional districts would appear to do that, since African-American voters tend to be clustered in large numbers into a smaller number of districts.
• The Southwest Commission, or how the GOP plans on gumming up the works on immigration reform: It’s a body made up of the governors and attorneys general of the Southwestern border states and perhaps representatives of community groups from those states. The point of the Commission is to sign off on when the border has officially been ‘secured’ which would give the green light to embarking on the ‘path to citizenship’ for undocumented immigrants already in the country.
• Loyalty oaths: Two Arizona lawmakers are stirring Constitutional debate and threats of legal action after introducing bills that would require the state’s students to express love of country under God. House Bill 2467, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Bob Thorpe, would require all public high school seniors to take an oath to “support and defend” the U.S. Constitution and proclaim, “so help me god.” A second proposal, House Bill 2284 sponsored by Republican state Rep. Steve Smith, would require all public 1-12 students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
• The State Department has shut down the office of its special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, a US official said Monday, in a sign of the fading hopes of shuttering the jail. Daniel Fried, the special envoy in charge of the dossier, will now move to coordinate the State Department’s sanctions policy, including for Iran and Syria, and his “former responsibilities will be ‘assumed’ by the office of the department’s legal adviser,” The New York Times reported, citing an internal personnel memo. A US official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that the story, which specified that Fried would not be replaced, was “accurate.”
• US authorities censored part of a preliminary hearing Monday at a Guantanamo military tribunal that touched on CIA secret prisons where suspected 9/11 plotters say they were tortured. [W]hen a defense lawyer mentioned the CIA secret sites at Monday’s hearing, a red light flashed on and the sound from the courtroom was cut off. The audio from the proceedings was replaced by white noise, preventing journalists from listening to the courtroom debate over evidence related to the CIA “black sites,” where the suspected September 11 attackers were detained and interrogated before being transferred to the Guantanamo facility.
• Israel’s foreign ministry said it was “surprised” by Argentina’s agreement with Iran to create an independent commission to investigate the 1994 attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish centre. Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Sunday said that her country and Iran had agreed to create a “truth commission” with five independent judges — none of whom can come from either Iran or Argentina.
• Iran has launched a live monkey into space, the Fars news agency reported, lauding it as an advance in a missile and space programme that has alarmed the west and Israel. There was no independent confirmation and there have been no announcements by western powers of any Iranian launch late last week. Fars said the monkey was launched into space on a Kavoshgar rocket. The rocket reached a height of more than 75 miles (120km) and “returned its shipment intact”, Fars reported.
• PROPAGANDA ALERT: Iran has denied foreign media reports of a major explosion at one of its underground uranium enrichment sites. The deputy head of Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) called the reports “Western propaganda” designed to influence forthcoming nuclear talks. Reports in Israeli and Western media said a blast at the Fordo facility near Qom had caused significant damage. Since Friday, various Western and Israeli media have been quoting Iranian sources as saying that the Fordo enrichment facility was rocked by a massive explosion a few days ago – shortly before Israel’s general elections on 22 January. One unconfirmed report said as many as 200 people were feared trapped inside the facility.
• White House Press Secretary Jay Carney knocked down reports of an explosion at a key Iranian nuclear site in Fordow. The report, on the conservative website [WND] alleged that the explosion “destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground.” “We don’t believe those are credible reports,” Carney said Monday in a response to a question at the daily press briefing.
• Canada’s special forces are on the ground in Mali to help protect Canadian personnel who are already operating in the troubled African country, say sources within the Department of National Defence. Few other details were immediately available, although the Department of Foreign Affairs went to lengths to spell out that the presence of special forces soldiers does not signal an involvement in combat. “We have been clear; there will be no mission in Mali,” Rick Roth, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said in a statement. “Steps have been taken to ensure our mission and Canadian personnel are protected. We cannot comment on security specifics.”
• A Canadian robot named Dextre achieved a major milestone this weekend when it successfully refuelled a mock satellite on the International Space Station’s exterior. The Canadian Space Agency said the “handyman” bot made “space history” by completing the task.
• A report called on the Israeli army to stop using live ammunition and curb the use of dangerous non-lethal weapons when dispersing Palestinian protesters. The 31-page report called “Crowd Control: Israel’s use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank,” released Monday by B’Tselem-The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories relates to incidents in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The report says, since 2005, six Palestinians have been killed by rubber-coated metal bullets fired by soldiers, two killed when hit directly by tear gas canisters and at least two other Palestinians killed by .22-caliber bullets used to disperse demonstrations. The report claims since 2005 at least 46 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by live ammunition.
• Ríos Montt: Almost 31 years after he became president of Guatemala by a coup, to rule for just under 17 months with a counterinsurgency military policy of deep accused of human rights violations, the former dictator and retired General Efrain Rios Montt was notified yesterday by a Guatemalan court to face trial for genocide and duties [crimes] against humanity by an Indian massacre that took place in 1982. Rios Montt, who ruled from March 1982 until he was overthrown in August 1983 another coup, will stand trial alongside Mauricio Rodriguez, a chief of military intelligence in Guatemala during 1982. [Google translation]