An American Outrage: Bernie, AIG, and Us

Why are we outraged at AIG and not the state of homelessness, of children in poverty, of Bush-backed torture, of innocents slaughtered in Iraq, of worldwide hunger, of corporations ignoring our overheating planet. Is money truly the root of all the outrage?

Commentary By: Walter Brasch

by Rosemary and Walter Brasch

There have now been more than 4,000 deaths and 30,000 casualties of American military in the war in Iraq. More than 100,000 Iraqis and others, most of them civilian, have also been killed in what is now known to be an unnecessary war. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

We have recently learned that former President Bush and former Vice-President Cheney had authorized the use of torture. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

The Supreme Court has ruled there have been significant and substantial constitutional violations during the Bush–Cheney era. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

More than 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance. Millions don’t get the health care they need or are turned away because they can’t pay. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

The unemployment rate has climbed past 8 percent. More than 12 million Americans are unemployed and actively looking for work. About three million have been unemployed more than half a year. About 2.6 millions jobs were lost just in the past four months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies have eliminated jobs, forcing the remaining employees to work beyond their capacity. These companies have cut wages and benefits; they have shipped jobs overseas. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

About 38 million Americans are living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

About 3.5 million people were homeless last year. More than one million of the homeless are children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Over a half-million are veterans. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

Almost every reputable scientist has told us that the world’s environment is in jeopardy from man-made destruction. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

We are killing off our animals by a combination of neglect and planned destruction of their lives and habitat. About 1,600 animal species are critically endangered, according to the World Conservation Union; about 25 become extinct every year. But, we as a nation are not outraged.

But, we are outraged about one thing. Our money.

We are outraged that Wall Street financiers, corporate bankers, and real estate brokers have seemingly conspired for personal greed, leading to a plunge in the value of our own stocks and investments, forcing the nation into the worst economic crisis in more than seven decades.

We, as a nation, are outraged that Bernard Madoff scammed individuals and charitable foundations for billions.

We, as a nation, are outraged that executives at failed insurance giant AIG are receiving millions in bonuses paid for by taxpayer funds. In Congress, conservatives and liberals, many of whom were part of the problem of the subprime mortgage crisis, have united for the first time in years and have expressed their outrage. The President, who inherited this mess, is outraged. The media who had failed to adequately report this mess are outraged. Almost every American is outraged.

And why are we outraged? Because it’s money.

As homeless children sleep beneath bridges, as millions desperate for work are told to go home and collect a pittance in unemployment, as inn

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Walter Brasch |

Gun Nut Poplawski Feared Zionists

The story of the Pittsburgh cop killer Richard Poplawski get more sordid today. Seems he was all worried about conspiracy theories that featured Zionist control of the known universe. Screws loose, for sure, and ripe for the revolution talk by Republicans Bachman, Turner Diaries and Beck. SPLC working overtime today, for sure.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I suppose this was inevitable, and must be driving some mass hysteria over at Stormfront. (No, I will not link to that hate group, but their immediate speculation on the crime centered on whether the guy was one of “them.”) Newspapers are reporting that Richard Poplawski was not only upset with the whackjobbery notion that Barack Obama was going to take his guns, but also at the notion that Zionist controlled the world. Alas, that mention is a mere aside in this story from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Within minutes, all three officers were fatally shot by the subject of the domestic call, later identified as Richard “Pop” Poplawski, 22. A dishonorably charged Marine, he adhered to a number of right-wing conspiracy theories and expressed fears of a “Zionist nation” revoking his right to own guns.

There’s a blogger here who has some interesting insight. And here’s a transcript from an interview with Poplawski’s best friend Eddie Perkovic, who has a MySpace page with explicit ravings about Zionist conspiracies. The transcript is linked from an OpEdNews diary, but the interview is on WPXI:

Q What can you tell us about him?

Eddie: Umm. he was a pretty straightforward guy. he was never on any drugs he never did anything out of line he wasn’t involved in any gangs, any militias, he just believed in his right to bear arms; he believed that hard economic times were, you know, gonna put forth a, you know, gun bans. That sort of thing. ..he uh, he basically believed in what our forefathers had put before us and thought that it was being distorted by the, you know, zionist control of the government, and he didn’t believe in that. Uh Also, I don’t think that the way he went about solving it was the right way to do it though.

Reporter: And did he have a lot of, I take it he had a lot of guns? He collected guns and things like that?

Eddie: he only had about 4 firearms

Q. How do you know him?

Eddie: I’ve been best friends with him since I was born.

I wouldn’t impute to Poplawski the motives Eddie Perkovic imputes to him, necessarily, but this is beginning to look particularly ugly with dashes of gunnuttery mixed with ladles of bigotry and whackjobbiness. That’s a stew worked, as I noted last night, by the Republican Pundits Gone Wild like Glenn Beck and his partner in crime, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

By the way, is Wayne LaPierre French? I’m thinking his name in itself should wave a red flag as to whether he should be allowed to have a gun.

Sunday, April 5th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Gun Nut + Unemployed + Glenn Beck/NRA = Dead Policemen

There are connections between the Pittsburgh rampage earlier today, which left three policemen dead, and the kind of wingnuttery as represented by the NRA and Glenn Beck. Sure, the man responsible is clearly a fruitcake, but he was worried about the false and rabid rumor spread by the NRA that Obama was going to take his guns.
Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

That’s the equation in Pittsburgh. Oh, sure. This is really about a lone whack job. It will never be shown in the papers that the NRA or Glenn Beck or making up wild rumors about Obama had anything to do with this tragedy. But three policemen are dead today. And the gunman, a former right wing internet talk show host, recently laid off, was heard by his neighbors to say that he was fearful that Obama would take his guns away. From FoxNews, the home of Glenn Beck:

Pittsburgh police say a man wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire on officers during a domestic disturbance call, killing three of them.

Police chief Nate Harper says the motive for Saturday’s shooting isn’t clear.

Friends say the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and that he feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

. . .

One of the gunman’s friend, Edward Perkovic, said Poplawski feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.”

Another longtime friend, Aaron Vire, said Poplawski feared that President Obama was going to take away his rights, though he said he “wasn’t violently against Obama.”

Perkovic, a 22-year-old who said he was Poplawski’s best friend, said he got a call at work from him in which he said, “Eddie, I am going to die today. … Tell your family I love them and I love you.”

Perkovic said: “I heard gunshots and he hung up. … He sounded like he was in pain, like he got shot.”

Vire, 23, said Poplawski once had an Internet talk show but that it wasn’t successful. Vire said Poplawski had an AK-47 rifle and several powerful handguns, including a .357 Magnum.

Another friend, Joe DiMarco, said Poplawski had been laid off from his job at a glass factory earlier this year. DiMarco said he didn’t know the name of the company, but knew his friend had been upset about losing his job.

Crooks and Liars, in MUST READ reporting, has been on the case of right wing whack jobs ginning up the fear of rabid NRA types who say Obama is going to take away the guns from people, which is of course absurd. They note an article from the right wing Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about increased gun sales attributed to the notion. And, of course, Crooks and Liars showed video of Glenn Beck and NRA Honcho Wayne LaPierre on a show in mid-March that was essentially hysterical ranting about how Obama was going to take away guns.

A rational man, even if he had a stockpile of guns and could shoot “hundreds of rounds,” according to a witness, would likely not open fire in this situation. No, the mainstream media will not connect this act of the murder of three police officers with the rabid and extremist rhetoric of gun nuts and complete whack jobs like Glenn Beck. I’ll make that connection explicit. Throw a match towards some of these gun nuts, in this case lay him off of his job, and the result can be devastating.

Yes, Richard Poplawski, a bare 23 years old, is responsible for shooting and killing officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo III. But it seems like Richard Poplawski was influenced and inflamed by the irresponsible rhetoric that comes from the NRA and from Glenn Beck. Were FoxNews responsible, they would fire Beck on the spot, and further, they would boycott NRA spokespeople from editorializing on any of their shows. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Saturday, April 4th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Another Republican Lie About Obama, in Wash Times Editorial

All the Washington Times had to do was a little fact checking. But they decided to go with a false charge to rile up the gun nuts and Republicans who read the paper. That’s dishonesty, but somehow the Wash Times still is considered part of the media. Others in the legitimate media should call them on this.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Hey, maybe the Washington Times is financially strapped and just fired all its fact checkers or something. So is this incompetence or a deliberate lie to enrage all the gun nuts?

The story they put out, in an Editorial no less, is that Barack Obama was going to eliminate the notion that commercial pilots can carry firearms for defense of the aircraft. From the right wing extremist Washington Times:

After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

Of course a simple fact check by them would have resulted in their alarmist editorial being proven false. Here’s the skinny.

Whether the Bush policy is right or not can certainly be debates. Whether the Washington Times is a lying tool cannot be debated

Monday, March 23rd, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

#1 Qualification for RNC Chair? Gun Ownership

What qualifies a Republican to lead the GOP as RNC Chair? Why the amount and type of guns he owns qualifies a guy (always a guy), doesn’t it? In a debate the candidates for RNC Chair counted their guns, and the party is even morally weaker as a result. Micheal Steele, with no guns to his name, likely bows out of the race.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It is not astuteness, wisdom or party loyalty the Republicans seek. It is not regional representation or an attempt to sway demographics. The Republicans are not looking for political power or someone with a history of success either, which would be difficult given the last two election cycles. It seems clear from a debate sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist’s group, that the GOP values gun ownership quite highly, and that it is at least one qualification for RNC Chairmanship, if not the #1 qualification. Here’s some reporting from that debate from the Gun Guys, who themselves quoted the National Journal’s Hotline blog:

When moderator Grover Norquist asked how many firearms the candidates own, the current RNC chairman, Mike Duncan, who despite presiding over his party’s 2008 electoral trouncing is reapplying for his job, noted proudly that he claims four handguns and two rifles.

Rival Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina GOP, said that he has “too many to count.”

Former OH Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was willing to count. Seven, he said, adding: “And I’m good.”

MI GOP chairman Saul Anuzis said he has two guns, but in case the RNC’s 168 committee members, who will vote this month for the next party chairman, wanted to verify his stash, Anuzis said, perhaps only half jokingly, that he is not allowed to carry them in Washington.

Chip Saltsman, who managed Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, offered up a list so long it was hard to track the pistol persuasion.

And GOPAC head Michael Steele, a one-term lieutenant governor of blue state MD, was the only man on the panel to say that he hasn’t a single firearm.

Hotline discusses why such gun talk is innappropriate, and I’d agree it is innappropriate, especially in a city like Washington DC where the citizens are trying mightily to control gun violence. But the real question here is why the question comes up at all, and what it has to do with a Republican’s qualifications for running his party.

As it stands, if gun ownership is a vitally important qualification for RNC Chair, then Michael Steele seems out of the running. Katon Dawson of SC and Chip Saltzman seem to be the front runners by this estimation. But the better questions might be about which of these candidates owns semi-automatic weapons. Or maybe someone should suggest they have a shootout. At a target range? Come on! A target range doesn’t show a true measure of a Republican’s devotion to guns. Maybe we could have a shootout among the candidates, or perhaps we could send them all on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney, and the survivor becomes RNC Chair. Hmm. I can just see Mike Duncan out there carrying a couple rifles and four handguns, a regular Pancho Villa or something.

This is as pitiful as. . . a Republican. –Nuff said.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Gun Nuts Charged with Boyslaughter

The case happened in October, where at one of those gun nut exhibitions they allowed an 8 year old boy to test fire a micro Uzi. The boy couldn’t handle the kick, and thus shot himself dead. Now the charges are being filed, and finally some gun nuts are being held responsible for their actions, in this case with charges of manslaughter.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Today’s first news is a mix. The Bush Administration has bowed to the NRA over a regulation that used to disallow some finds of gun possession in National Parks. The Bushies are relaxing the rule so that people will be able to carry concealed weapons into the parks. But all is not bad news on the gun front. Many will remember that tragedy where an 8 year old boy was killed at a gun show when they allowed him to try firing an micro Uzi. Christopher Bizilj, the boy, will have his death avenged, at least somewhat. Some folks are being charged for even allowing the boy to handle such a gun. From the Boston Globe:

A small-town police chief who authorities say promoted, organized, and profited from a firearms exposition where children were encouraged to shoot machine guns and where an 8-year-old killed himself with a Micro Uzi was charged yesterday with involuntary manslaughter.

. . .

Bennett said [Police Chief] Fleury took a portion of the proceeds from the event. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Fleury was also charged with four counts of furnishing a machine gun to a person under 18, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Bennett said three of the counts stemmed from other instances in which minors were allowed to fire machine guns at the expo.

In addition, the Westfield Sportsman’s Club, a 59-year-old, all-volunteer organization, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and four counts of furnishing a machine gun to a person under 18, charges that could result in fines to the club but not penalties against its officers.

Two Connecticut gun dealers who supplied the Micro Uzi and other machine guns for the expo, Carl Giuffre of Hartford and Domenico Spano of New Milford, were each charged with involuntary manslaughter. They were not charged with furnishing a machine gun to a minor because they had “reasonable reliance” on Fleury’s authority as a police chief that the gun expo was legal, Bennett said.

But Bennett said state law is clear that it is illegal to give a person under 18 a machine gun, under any circumstances, with or without parental consent.

The Micro Uzi Christopher fired was designed for Israeli special forces and is known among some gun enthusiasts as the “fifty-fifty,” a grim reference to the chance the gun will hit its target or kill its user.

That last line is important. The gun is known among gun enthusiasts as so totally unreliable that it is as likely to kill its user as hit its target. There’s the stark view of how completely stupid these gun nuts are, that they would think such a weapon should ever be fired, much less by amatuers, much less by an eight year old. And this guy did it for a profit?

I’m going to follow this story. I’m sure the NRA will be paying for the defense lawyers, after all. It will be good to expose that.

Saturday, December 6th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |