The week began with an attempted massacre of Planned Parenthood in Congress and ended with another horrific mass shooting in Oregon. Conservatives grilled the head of the organization that provides healthcare to poor women as if she were a criminal, and then threw up their hands saying nothing can be done about gun violence. Poor healthcare and random gun deaths are just the price you pay for freedom, they say. Or as Jeb Bush so brilliantly articulated: "Stuff happens." Here are five low-lights from the week that was:
1. Bill O’Reilly: We can’t do anything about gun violence. I really can't think of a single thing.
In the wake of another sickening mass shooting, Papa Bear O’Reilly had this sage advice for his flock: Be sad and do nothing. Do not delude yourselves that there is something that can be done, because there is nothing. Because freedom. And guns. That's the American way.
O’Reilly seemed most concerned that these shootings might be hurting America’s reputation in the world. Here is Papa’s hollow sounding sadness:
This is another black mark for all Americans. People around the world must wonder what's going on in the land of the free. And it is our freedom that allows insane individuals to kill so many people. Guns are legal in America under the Second Amendment. Tonight, President Obama delivered an impassioned anti-gun remark speech, which we'll discuss later.
Then he went on to discuss it anyway, mostly his gambit to nip any discussion about gun control in the bud:
The mass murder today could not have been prevented by any legislation in my opinion. Roseburg, Oregon is about as normal as it gets. A rural area that enjoys the stunning nature Oregon provides, and a relatively simple lifestyle centered on family and community. I worked in Oregon, I visited Roseburg. It's a calm place. But it's also gun country, as hunting is big in the area and the rural setting means folks must protect themselves with firearms, as police protection is far away for many people.
Really, people must protect themselves with firearms? Are you sure about that Papa Bill?
It pains me to report stories like this because I know how much personal damage is caused to the people and families affected by murder. The country itself takes a massive hit whenever this kind of thing happens. Thirty-two people killed at Virginia Tech, 27 slain at Sandy Hook. Thirteen murdered at Ft. Hood, 13 dead in Binghamton, New York, 12 murdered in Aurora, Colorado, the same number at the Navy Yard in Washington. Charleston, South Carolina just last June, nine shot dead in a church. There is no rational explanation for all the carnage, none. And no public policy will stop it.
So, this is progress, if in a microscopic way. The small admission that there just might be a problem with gun violence, and that other countries don't seem to have this problem. But we can’t solve it. It’s too hard. Or too distasteful and would hurt our backers. So why bother? And anyway, we don’t really want to.
2. Jeb Bush’s deep and consoling thought on Oregon shooting: ‘Stuff happens.’
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reportedly told a South Carolina crowd on Friday that gun control is not the answer to reducing gun deaths in the U.S. because "stuff happens."
"I had this challenge as governor. Look, stuff happens,” Bush shrugged in response to a question of whether the time is right for some sensible gun control. “There's always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."
Asked later if he wanted to rephrase or clarify his remark, if he perhaps spoke too cavalierly, was mistaken or misquoted, Bush doubled down:
"No, it wasn't a mistake, I said exactly what I said. Explain to me what I said wrong. Things happen all the time. Things. Is that better?"
So irritating for him, to have to try to use more sensitive language. Stuff! Things! This political correctness thing is so out of control, it’s oppressive!
3. Sean Hannity is hopping mad that the president ‘politicized’ the shootings.
The Oregon community college shootings were horrible, but what really had Sean Hannity angry was that President Obama spoke about them, and had the audacity to suggest there might be something we can do to prevent such tragedies. How dare he!
“I was really disgusted with the president’s comments tonight,” Hannity said angrily on his show, “His race to politicize this.”
Hannity and his idiotic guest, former cop turned right-wing personality Bo Dietl, proceeded to not politicize the tragedy at all by talking about how wrong any sort of gun control arguments might be, and how the president is the only one who is politicizing it. “When the president said today, ‘This is a political choice we’ve got to make, that we make to allow this to happen,’ that is a gross lie by this president!” Hannity sputtered. He then unpolitically advocated putting armed guards in schools to keep kids safe. See, Mr. President, that’s how un-politics are done!
Also, unpolitically, Hannity brought up the rumor that the shooter might have been a Muslim terrorist. Nope, no politics anywhere to be seen on apolitical Hannity's show.
4. Dr. Ben Carson, man of science, is not so sure about gravity.
Former pediatric neurosurgeon, top-tier Republican hopeful Dr. Ben Carson has taken his hilarious science denial act on the road, and he’s testing it out on lucky crowds all over this great country. Carson has previously expressed doubts about the Big Bang, evolution (which he speculates might be from the devil—ha ha! Stop Dr. Carson, you’re making our stomachs hurt from too much laughter), climate change, vaccine science and the biological roots of sexuality. This week, he free-associated on the weighty topic of gravity while on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. And frankly, he’s not so sure about it.
“Gravity, where did it come from? I mean, there are so many things,” he said, in a riff on his skepticism regarding the ‘Big Bang’ theory vs. Biblical creation. “I don’t denigrate the people who say ‘Eh, eh, whatever, somehow it happened.’ I don’t denigrate them. I just don’t have that much faith.”
This semi-coherent aseemblage of sort-of sentences issued forth when an audience member asked him if he really does not believe in climate change. Carson responded that, of course climate is changing, “At any point in time, temperatures go up and down. When that stops happening, that’s when there is big trouble.” That’s about as unscientific as you can be on that topic since, of course, he is confusing weather and temperature with climate, a rookie mistake.
Carson went on to say that of course, we should take care of the environment, and there is “no reason to make it a political issue,” forgetting perhaps that the issue has been politicized by right-wing science deniers and ignoramuses. So, yeah. WTF is he talking about?
5. Republican Congressman: Planned Parenthood is not necessary, because as a guy with great health insurance from the taxpayers, I don't need it.
During this week’s Planned Parenthood hearings, the tin-eared award goes to Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin who told the CEO of the women’s healthcare provider that he just does not find her organization necessary. As a man enjoying great government-funded health insurance, he has plenty of other options. Bully for him.
When I look at cities around me that have a Planned Parenthood clinic … usually in those cities, as a guy, I could go to many clinics locally that have all the machines that one would need, all these clinics as far as I know take Medicaid dollars, so you could go to any of those clinics to get any medical service you could. . . . I guess what I’m getting at is if Planned Parenthood disappeared tomorrow in those towns, there would still be three or four or five clinics or hospitals providing all the … medical care you would want.
Grothman's general outlook on Medicaid is almost as dim as his view of Planned Parenthood. He has claimed in the past that people who use the public safety net are fleecing taxpayers by living high on the hog, and not having to pay deductibles like those with private insurance do.
Women and poor people have all the luck!