Georgia

A Certain Shade of Gray

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

KING 5 overstates the lede:

Washington health experts say deaths due to fentanyl have roughly doubled in the state in only a year. The drug is cut into heroin and other drugs as a cheaper alternative and often times without people knowing.

A new investigation released Wednesday by the State Department of Health, State Toxicology Laboratory, University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, and Public Health Seattle & King County shows deaths from fentanyl and related drugs rose to 70 in 2016 from 28 in 2015.

The State Toxicology Lab says we can’t compare the numbers directly because halfway through the year, the lab changed its testing methods in order to detect smaller amounts of fentanyl. Had it used the old protocol, the lab would have identified 53 fentanyl-related deaths in 2016.

However, the 70 deaths account for 10 percent of all opioid-related deaths in the state.

Even still, the comparative reality isn’t exactly good news. Nor is there much comfort in not being elsewhere. WUSA, via KING 5:

Knoxville police are keeping their eyes out for a dangerous and deadly drug. It looks like a chunk of concrete, can kill with one dose, and is being called ‘Gray Death.’

So far, it’s been found in Ohio, Georgia, and Kentucky, which are all states connected to Tennessee by an interstate.

According to reports, the drug is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, and includes an elephant tranquilizer called Carfentanil.

That tranquilizer showed up in Tennessee for the first time this year. Since then, it’s been found in five separate cases, including one in East Tennessee.

Remember: You can call it “gray death”, and someone will still want to use it.

At the same time, the joke about the nanovirus doesn’t work; the opioid epidemic is a bit more serious than video game obscurities. Still, of course they called it “gray death”.

(It’s a marketplace thing. See, back when KGB was popular as “killer green buds”, the marijuana didn’t actually kill you. Of course they called it “gray death”. Think about who we’re dealing with, here inasmuch as anyone would actually manufacture and distribute the stuff.)

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Tan, LiLi. “‘Kill pill’ intensifying opioid epidemic”. KING 5. 10 May 2017.

WUSA. “New drug called ‘Gray Death’ can kill with just one dose”. KING 5. 10 May 2017.

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Sean Hannity (Poor Donny)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity.  (FOX News, 2016)

“I have had it. Thirteen freaking days. Wake up. This can be won. But it’s very, very hard. And I’m telling all of you who is important here. And basically every red state’s important. If you think, ‘well, my state doesn’t matter, it’s Texas,’ no, you better vote. ‘My state’s Georgia,’ well we’ve seen polls that are close in Georgia. ‘My state’s Utah.’ Who’s this idiot that’s running third party that’s killing Trump out in Utah. Who put him up? What was it? The Bush people? The Romney people? Seriously? Really? You’re going to elect Hillary because we lose Utah? What a disaster that would be for the country.”

Sean Hannity

This is just a distraction. Media Matters offers a glimpse into Sean Hannity’s not quite struggle to wear both FOX News and Trump surrogate caps. Two hats, one tongue, half a brain? Right. Seriously: What joke goes here? Are not the words, “Sean Hannity”, enough?

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Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity. (Credit: FOX News, 2016)

Media Matters Staff. “Listen To Sean Hannity’s Unhinged Rant Over ‘Idiot’ Evan McMullin Beating Trump In Utah”. Media Matters for America. 26 October 2016.

A Quote Worth Paying Attention To (Blame a Black Man Mix)

VIII. Adjustment.

“Given the current outrage from black communities around police violence against black citizens, police fabrications take on additional seriousness. Glad to see Sherry Hall is going to be charged. One would hope other cops will pay attention to her fate.”

Denise Oliver Velez

And this is what that means:

Officer Sherry Hall, of Jackson, Georgia, faces four charges alleging she shot herself and then blamed the incident on a nonexistent black man. (Detail of frame from CBS46, 2016.)An officer shot. A bullet stopped by body armor. A 10-day chase for an unidentified shooter.

A newly hired Jackson police officer told a compelling story about what happened late the night of Sept. 13. After only three months on the job, Sherry Hall found herself immersed in a high-profile shooting, pitting a white officer against a black man. At least, that was her account of what happened.

But she made the whole thing up, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

On Friday, Hall was charged with four felonies, including evidence tampering and giving false statements to investigators.

After her account began to unravel over the past two weeks, investigators were left with little to conclude other than she shot herself, but officials stopped short of saying so Friday.

(Atlanta Journal Constitution)

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Image note: Right ― Officer Sherry Hall, of Jackson, Georgia, faces four charges alleging she shot herself and then blamed the incident on a nonexistent black man. (Detail of frame from CBS46, via Daily Kos.)

“GBI: Cop lied about being shot by black man”. Atlanta Journal Constitution. 23 September 2016.

Oliver Velez, Denize. “White Georgia police officer will be arrested for claiming a black man shot her”. Daily Kos. 24 September 2016.

Justice Answering Hatred

VIII. Adjustment.

The report from Cleve Wootson, Jr. for the Washington Post:

A jury has convicted an Atlanta truck driver accused of pouring boiling water over two gay men as the couple slept in February.

The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes Wednesday before finding Martin Blackwell guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault, according to the Associated Press.

Blackwell was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Three words: United States of America.

Two more: Scald attack.

And one more: Bigotry.

This is not complicated math.

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Wootson Jr., Cleve R. “Man who threw boiling water on gay couple will spend 40 years in prison”. The Washington Post. 24 August 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Burning Sensation)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump departs from a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami, Florida, 27 July 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

“The political establishments of both parties brought about this war. Are they willing to swallow their pride to end it or will Trump have to do to the Beltway Ivory Tower what Sherman did to Atlanta?”

Joseph R. Murray, II

We might indeed acknowledge uncertainty as to why the thought of Donald Trump’s queer outreach administrator appealing to the burning of Atlanta with all the grace of a domestic abuser making excuses for himself might seem remotely funny.

“You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will,” General William Tecumseh Sherman wrote to Atlanta’s officials as he moved forward with plans to evacuate and burn the city. “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.”

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos, 15 August 2016.Less than three months before the presidential election, the political establishment and media elites are facing the “curses and malediction” of war of their own making. After years of being used and abused, the Silent Majority they muzzled is rising up and its voice is Republican nominee Donald Trump.

There is no doubt the protectors of the status quo see a threat in Trump. Why else does the media hang on Trump’s every word and pounce whenever they get a whiff of a salacious scent, no matter how faint? Why else has the establishment professed that Trump must change the very formula that resulted in him trouncing multiple Republican rivals―many of whom were thought to be the crème de la crème of Republican politicians?

The answer? Trump is winning this war to restore the Silent Majority and his victory means the pay for play power structure in Washington―enjoyed by both Democrats and Republicans alike―is about to come crashing down.

Maybe it has something to do with the vein-popping apoplexy about what reads like the embittered triumphal confession of defeat, as if it is all of the third week in August and already the time has come to start accounting for what pass as blessings or redemption amid the devastation of failure.

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Image note: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump departs from a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami, Florida, 27 July 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri) Right ― Detail of This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos, 15 August 2016.

Murray II, Joseph R. “Trump’s recruitment of Bannon means war and everyone knows it”. The Hill. 19 August 2016.

Faith, Juxtaposed

The front entrance of the Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer in Augusta, Ga. that was vandalized overnight is seen Tuesday morning July 21, 2015. The Church's pastor, Rick Sosbe, and his fiancee, Michael Rhen, recently became the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Augusta-Richmond County following the recent decision by the US Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. (Michael Holahan/Augusta Chronicle)

“To me, it seems so interesting that they’re saying on there that you’ll burn―in other words saying ‘You’ll burn in hell,’ I’m sure―and quoting scripture. Is that what Christianity―right-wing, fundamentalist Christianity―has come to?”

Pastor Rick Sosbe

‘Tis a fair question. And even the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer must pause to check his tongue; quite clearly this is not what Christianity itself has come to. Still, though, Pastor Rick asks a fair question.

And here is another question: Many on the American political right wing rushed in the wake of the Mother Emanuel massacre to dismiss white supremacism and characterize the killings as an attack against Christianity. Would they be so kind as to condemn this attack against Christianity? Sure, nobody’s dead, and that’s all to the good. But in this case it’s a real, actual, genuine attack against Christianity, so … you know … Hello?

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Sieczkowski, Cavan. “Church With Openly Gay Pastor Vandalized With ‘You’ll Burn'”. The Huffington Post. 24 July 2015.

Benen, Steve. “The Charleston massacre wasn’t about ‘religious liberty'”. msnbc. 19 June 2015.

Clarkson, Frederick. “Charelston Massacre an Attack on Christianity? Yes, But Not How the Christian Right Says”. Political Research Associates. 24 June 2015.

Georgia, in Disgrace

Georgia Republican Senate Candidate David Perdue speaks to supporters at a primary election night party, Tuesday, 20 May 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Something about the goodness of noodly appendages goes here, though we need not thank Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) for the mess; throwing pasta at the walls in order to see what sticks is best reserved for teaching young children the scientific method, and certainly has no part in geopolitics and diplomacy.

Steve Benen explains:

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) complained bitterly about the United Nations moving forward on the international agreement before Republicans have had a chance to try to kill the deal. “We’re showing the world we don’t stand together right now,” Perdue said.

In March, Perdue signed on to a letter to Iranian officials, urging them not to trust the United States. The Georgia Republican, one of 47 GOP senators who endorsed the letter, were openly and brazenly trying to sabotage American foreign policy.

Maybe he ought to skip the complaining about “showing the world we don’t stand together right now.”

It might well seem a valid point. After all, Mr. Perdue is one of the infamous #GOP47 who hoped to sink P5+1 negotiations by telling Iranian leaders the United States and its people lack integrity as negotiating partners.

When your great contribution to the U.S. Senate is knifing the nation in the back while hoping to start a war, it is probably best to not be heard complaining about an apparent lack of unity.

The people of Georgia owe us an apology and an explanation for sending this excremental character to the United States Senate. However, as with the cowardly Mr. Perdue, we have no reason to expect they will bother.

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Image note: Georgia Republican Senate Candidate David Perdue speaks to supporters at a primary election night party, Tuesday, 20 May 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Benen, Steve. “‘Showing the world we don’t stand together'”. msnbc. 24 July 2015.

Patriotism

Police and federal agents investigate a suspicious package at Vickery Creek Park, 4-5 November 2014.  (Photo: Duffie Dixon/11 Alive)

Figure this one out, if you can:

A man who described himself as a “patriot” confessed to placing homemade bombs in a Georgia park to help people realize “that this type of activity could happen anywhere,” according to court documents obtained by TPM on Tuesday.

Michael Conrade Sibley, a resident of Marietta, Ga. was charged last week in a federal court in Atlanta with attempting to damage federal property ....

.... He said he purchased a backpack at a garage sale and, according to the documents, wrote the name “Mina Khodari” inside the backpack because he said “it looked foreign.”

Along with the bombs, Sibley put print-outs of the Atlanta Falcons’ schedule as well as public transportation timetables and the locations of Marcus Jewish Centers into the backpack because he thought officials would see those as “soft targets,” the documents said.

Sibley told the agents he also placed a copy of the Quran and a book titled “The Rape of Kuwait” in the bag.

Sibley said he placed the bombs in the park because he’s a “patriot.” He said he regretted that people weren’t “paying attention to what was going on (sic) the world” and he wanted to remind people “that this type of activity could happen anywhere,” according to the documents.

(Garcia)

While “patriot” may well be the wrong word to describe Mr. Sibley, the term apparently still has certain benefits. That is to say, Why isn’t this person charged with attempted terrorism?

We might speculate that apparently he’s just not Muslim enough to be a terrorist.

Or, you know, hell, too patriotic an agent provocateur.

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Image note: Police and federal agents investigate a suspicious package at Vickery Creek Park, 4-5 November 2014. (Photo: Duffie Dixon/11 Alive)

Garcia, Ahiza. “‘Patriot’ Allegedly Confesses To Leaving Two Homemade Bombs In Georgia Park”. Talking Points Memo. 24 March 2015.

A Long Note on Political Tradition in These United States

President Barack Obama, delivers his State of the Union speech at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Charles Dharapak/AP)

By now of course we have become accustomed to the proposition that Republicans, once elected, would rather sit around. To some it actually seems a very sick idea; not only did the Speaker of the House demonstrate that Republicans conisder their job description to include going on vacation instead of actually working because, well, the most important part of the job is election and re-election, but in recent months the GOP has shown more and more willingness to simply admit that the inherent failure of government is more of a conservative goal than anything else.

Boehner and the band skipped out on gigs that might need Congressional attention, such as the Daa’ish question, the Ebola question, and the Immigration Reform question; despite their howls of rage regarding the latter, the fact of executive action occasionally arises when Congress refuses to pass a bill and the Speaker of the House calls on the President to use his executive authority. They could have skipped screeching themselves hoarse by simply sticking around and doing their jobs. Then again, the prior statement is controversial if only because it would appear that Congressional Republicans appear to believe their first, last, and only job is to win votes. Given their reluctance to undertake day-to-day Constitutional functions of Congress, such as advising and consenting to presidential appointments—or, as such, formally refusing the nomination—we ought not be surprised that the latest duty Republicans wish to shirk is sitting through an annual speech.

Nearly 16 years later, another Democratic president, also hated by his Republican attackers, is poised to deliver his penultimate State of the Union address. And like Pat Robertson, the idea of denying the president a SOTU invitation is once again on the right’s mind.

“Yes, there’s a risk to overreacting, but there’s a risk to underreacting as well,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “And I fear that’s the way the congressional leadership is leaning.”

Mr. Lowry suggested one way Congress could react. “If I were John Boehner,” he said, referring to the House speaker, “I’d say to the president: ‘Send us your State of the Union in writing. You’re not welcome in our chamber.'”

Lowry may not dictate GOP decision making the way Limbaugh and Fox News do, but it’s important to note that he isn’t the only one publicly pushing the idea.

Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to “address” their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and “GOP aides and lawmakers” are considering the idea of “refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.”

Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: “Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his ‘executive amnesty’ remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.”

(Benen)

Wait, wait, wait—sixteen years ago?

Yes. Like impeachment chatter and stonewalling, Republicans want to make refusing to hear the State of the Union Address part of their standard response to any Democratic president.

(more…)

Republican Dysfunction

USCapitol-bw

Again, remember that one side of this argument pushes the idea that government just doesn’t work … and when they get elected their purpose is to prove the thesis:

A week into the lame-duck session, Senate Republicans are finding all kinds of ways to block President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees — even if that means obstructing their own nominees in the process.

Last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) delayed Senate Judiciary Committee action by a week on nine judicial nominees for no evident reason. That group includes three Texas nominees with strong support from Texas Sens. John Cornyn (R) and Ted Cruz (R). Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is refusing to submit his so-called “blue slip” to advance a Utah judicial nominee he’s previously praised as “well known and highly regarded.” And Republicans are forcing four Georgia judicial nominees with strong support from Georgia’s GOP senators to each wait an extra day before they can get confirmed.

(Bendery)

Two brief notes:

• Those who wish to object on the grounds that the president, and not the congress, nominates judges, please account for the blue slip process else your protestations will be significant of ignorance.

• Those who wish to complain that government just doesn’t work ought not have voted for Republicans, unless it’s not really a complaint but, rather, an antisocial hope.

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Bendery, Jennifer. “Senate Republicans Use Lame Duck To Block Their Own Judicial Nominees”. The Huffington Post. 18 November 2014.