firearms

The Suicide Pact as a Political Argument

#PutiPoodle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Contemplation of Justice

This is an interesting starting point:

If the Justice Department and the FBI knowingly used an unreliably biased witness to win a FISA warrant against Carter Page, violating his civil liberties in the process, you would therefore expect that there are some judges on the FISC who are concerned. They, after all, are the ones who were misled. They are the ones who signed warrants and renewals based on shoddy information. Conversely, if the judges on the FISC are not hopping mad, you might take that as evidence that they don’t, in fact, feel misled and that the Justice Department and FBI conduct was, after all, reasonably within the obligations of lawyers and investigators before the court.

(Wittes)

One particularly difficult aspect of the #TrumpRussia scandal is the manner in which the context of dispute overshadows history itself. It is telling, in comparison, that Democrats have come to defend and advocate the individual mandate, but also that Republicans and conservatives turned on their own idea; at some point, we ought to take the note about insincerity. It has, for years, also been true that a liberal political relationship to law enforcement is fraught, to say the least; but it is also true that conservatives have simultaneously drummed up tough law-and-order talk while relying more and more on conspiracy theories denigrating and defaming law enforcement institutions. Naturally, the allegedly liberal party finds itself defending the law enforcement agency and agent that, to the one, undertook irregular actions wrecking the Democratic presidential candidate, and that alone ought to be boggling. To the other, if we set aside Donald Trump for a moment, the FBI is also the agency that reviews its own duty-related killings, and has found itself to be perfect, something like a hundred fifty out of a hundred fifty. Given a day in court to indict all the sleazy tactics of a powerfully effective eugenic “drug war” any liberal would find the FBI in line to defend the necessity of allowing law enforcement to behave that way. Yet the spectacle continues apace, with Republicans hollering until they wheeze and Democrats breathlessly defending one of the most controversial law enforcement agencies on the planet. Without this extraordinary, self-inflicted presidential scandal requiring our priority, what is up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, anyway? Federal law enforcement is still law enforcement.

Just as Democrats finding themselves rallying to defend the individual mandate ought to be significant of something about how we reached this point, or Jade Helm leaving liberals to consider posturing an ostensible general defense of the American military; or, if we can remember back to 2009, the conservative roll from patriotism and the indignity of protesting against the president to the patriotic necessity of threatening the president with firearms; or, hey, we might consider decades of conservative conspiracism including the National Rifle Association, and then wonder whether it will be law enforcement or the military confiscating the guns; so, too, might we wonder at the trend of conservatives behaving so badly that others need to do their jobs for them.

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The Message in a Bullitt

[#rapeculture]

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

The permeating sense of inevitability of Akela Lacy’s report for Politico

A Kentucky lawmaker died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday evening after facing allegations that he molested a 17-year-old girl in 2012.

Dan Johnson, a Republican state representative, shot himself on the Greenwell Ford Road bridge in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, according to the Bullitt County coroner. The apparent suicide came after his Republican colleagues called for him to step down following reports that he assaulted a young woman on New Year’s Eve of 2012.

—is its own curious, unhelpful beast. The the former self-described “pope” of Heart of Fire, later elected to the Kentucky House, was accused after the incident several years ago, but police closed their investigation without charges. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting spent seven months investigating the legislator, leading to a report Monday; on Tuesday, Rep. Johnson (R-KY49) denied the charges during a press conference.   (more…)

An American Snapshot (Heritage: Hatred)

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

“Yes, a majority of Americans said they were against such measures, but let’s not brush past the obvious point: a third of the country is an alarming number of people.”

Steve Benen

The problem with making a point like Steve Benen’s is not that it is somehow wrong or grotesquely exaggerated. Rather, the problem is that such straightforward, dramatic statements find themselves anywhere near the realm of American reality.

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The Ben Carson Show (Phenomenon)

Source photos: Ben Carson announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, 5 May 2015 (Paul Sancya/AP). A biblical inscription is chiseled into the wall of Ben Carson's home, with 'proverbs' spelled incorrectly (Mark Makela/The Guardian, 2014).

Tom McCarthy tries to explain the Ben Carson phenomenon for The Guardian:

He is more than an American success story, brilliant brain surgeon and bestselling author of 10 Christian-themed books. He has also coined some of the most outlandish statements ever uttered on the national stage, a purveyor of bizarre conspiracy theories and a provocateur who compares abortion to slavery and same-sex marriage to pedophilia.

This week, Carson restated his belief that the pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain, and not by Egyptians to entomb their kings. He believes that Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Abbas attended school together in Moscow in 1968. He believes that Jews with firearms might have been able to stop the Holocaust, that he personally could stop a mass shooting, that the Earth was created in six days and that Osama bin Laden enjoyed Saudi protection after 9/11.

The Carson conundrum is not fully captured by a list of his eccentric beliefs, however. He also confounds the traditional demographics of US politics, in which national African American political figures are meant to be Democrats. Not only is Carson a Republican – he is a strong conservative on both social and economic issues, opposing abortion including in cases of rape and incest, and framing welfare programs as a scheme to breed dependence and win votes.

He has visited the riot zones of Ferguson and Baltimore but offered little compassion for black urban poor populations who feel oppressed by mostly white police forces.

Even Carson’s core appeal as a Christian evangelical is complicated by the fact that he is a lifelong adherent to a relatively small sect, the Seventh-Day Adventist church, whose celebration of the sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday and denial of the doctrine of hell have drawn accusations of heresy from other mainstream Christian groups.

That last probably plays more strongly with the British audience; in the United States, Christian is as Christian does; Dr. Carson’s penchant for false witness and exclusionary, judgmental scorn are his own ad hoc iteration of faith, shot through with neurotic self-contradiction as it struggles to justify his self-centered pretense of humility. If one seeks strangeness about the SDA experience in general, it is a different phenomenon.

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The Value of Prayer in the Twenty-First Century

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

It is a straightforward headline: “Politicians Can’t Pass Actual Laws to Stop Gun Violence, So They Tweet Prayerfully”. And HuffPo’s Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney deliver the goods.

All of which reminds the basic point: Prayer is something to do if you cannot or will not do anything more useful.

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Police Potty Training

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

“We are now providing additional training on what to do when you have to go to the bathroom.”

Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine

This really ought to be one of the more memorable quotes you’ll read in a long time. But for all we might laugh at the absurdity and show derision unto irresponsibility, we should also bear in mind that these are trained professionals.

Capitol Police officers are getting training after officers accidentally left their guns in the Capitol’s public bathrooms three times this year.

One gun was found by a child.

“We are now providing additional training on what to do when you have to go to the bathroom,” Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine told Congress on Wednesday.

Dine said there is no excuse for officers accidentally leaving their guns in public bathrooms. He said the officers were being disciplined, but he did not name them. A first-time offender typically would be suspended for at least five days, he said.

Dine said he is considering increasing the minimum penalty to a 30-day suspension for a first offense, and termination for a subsequent violation.

“I would be remiss if I did not say that the officers involved in these recent weapons cases reported in the media in no way intended to leave their weapons unattended. But as noted, this is not acceptable and they will be held accountable,” Dine told the House Administration Committee. “They do take very seriously their life and safety responsibilities and they acknowledge that they made a mistake.”

(Associated Press)

Police potty training. It really is a good chuckle, isn’t it? But part of the reason Chief Dine was in front of Congress was to answer for the gyrocopter and a few other embarrassing incidents, including this thing with leaving guns in the bathroom. Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA01) offered the ritual questioning of department leadership, but then mended fences with an awkward bit about how, “We’re not here to criticize you”.

A hint for the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania’s First: Yes, you are.

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A Glimpse Into the 1920s

“One can’t help but imagine the nightmare scenario where an unfortunate passerby gets sprayed with buckshot when Little Johnny discovers the telegraph key his dumbass father installed in the nursery.”

Matt Novak

Detail of image from May, 1922 issue of 'Science and Invention' magazine.The obvious joke brings a chuckle, to be certain, but at the same time one cannot help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, putting the button within the reach of children is a later development. Or maybe it was something about the days in which a father could beat the hell out of his children if they were stupid … and not get shot in the process.

No, seriously. I am not a spanking parent, but it seems to me that the moment one puts a gun in a child’s hands, the thrashings are finished.

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Novak, Matt. “Even Hunting Was Supposed To Become Automatic in the Future”. Paleofuture. 17 November 2014.

The Electric Jonestown Clusterbumble

This was inevitable:

You’ve probably heard the expression, “He drank the Kool-Aid.”

Kool Aid Man wrecks everything ... again.Arianna Huffington once used it to describe supporters of George W. Bush’s economic policies. Bill O’Reilly said it of his critics (“the Kool-Aid people,” he told listeners, “are going nuts”). In 2012, Forbes called it a top annoying cliché used by business leaders.

There’s a problem with this flip word play though: That expression was born of a nightmare.

Thirty-seven years ago today, 918 people died in Jonestown, a Guyana jungle settlement, and at a nearby airstrip. Some of us knew the victims. I grew up with one of them, Maria Katsaris.

(Richardson)

Alright, then, you heard the man.

And in truth, his reason is no worse than any other, even for those of us who found the phrase offensive for its blithe lack of distinction. That is to say, drinking electric Kool-Aid is a variation on the theme, and much more useful than the Jonestown variation, but from the outset it has been subject to a certain sort of (ahem!) “affirmative action” whereby a conserative drinks the Kool-Aid by believing in a tinfoil wingnut conspiracy theory, but a liberal believes the Kool-Aid by disagreeing with conservatives. At some point, conservatives need to just come right out and demand reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Yet this is how far we’ve come.

And who knows, perhaps before all this is over, Republicans will fulfill the Jonestown version, too. You know, “Second Amendment solutions”, and all.

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Richardson, James D. “The phrase ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ is completely offensive. We should stop saying it immediately.” The Washington Post. 18 November 2014.

Waldman, Paul. “The real problem with Joni Ernst’s quote about guns and the government”. The Washington Post. 23 October 2014.

Life (and Death) in These United States

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

Today is …

Authorities say a 10-year-old boy has been hospitalized after accidentally shooting himself in the face with a gun he found while sitting in a car in southeastern Pennsylvania.

(Associated Press)

… just another day in America.

Okay, then, let us be accurate: That was Sunday. Fret not, friends, there will be a gun accident today, too.

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Associated Press. “10-Year-Old Shoots Self In Face In Pennsylvania”. The Huffington Post. 16 November 2014.

A String of Obvious Questions

Detail of framegrab from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

File under Stupid:

Green River Community College went into lockdown Monday morning after a threat was made against the school, Auburn police said.

Cmdr. Steve Stocker of the Auburn police said an unknown person made the threat to a faculty member at about 10:15 a.m., saying something to the effect that there was going to be a shooting.

(KOMO News)

Perhaps a number of factors are coincidental. We do, in our society, have a problem with misogyny that reached a dramatic height at GeekGirlCon earlier this month, when someone issued a bomb threat against the convention; apparently the mixing of females and technology is a mortal offense? And the deadly violence at Marysville-Pilchuck High School seems, ostensibly, to have been about a girl.

But we don’t really know what pushed the GRCC terror threat, and that is important to note.

Yes, we need to address misogyny, but there are also a number of other factors to consider.

The thing is that each part of the issue has a way of spilling over its banks and soaking the others. This sort of overlap causes confusion for many people; indeed, we at This Is have a good friend who is bright and rational and all of those nice things we appreciate about people, but he is by nature incapable of comprehending what guns have to do with anything.

Not that we need to campaign against guns, specifically, but it does make some sort of point to acknowledge that there are people in this world who wonder what guns have to do with mass murder by firearm. It happens. To wit, he says, “Don’t make new laws, enforce the ones we have!” But there are some laws he believes exist everywhere despite observable reality.

And, you know, it might be kind of a low blow, but he also wonders why anyone would ever prosecute someone who negligently shot his own son to death with a handgun he was prohibited by law from carrying. And while that tragedy out of Pennsylvania has seemingly little to do with what has been going on around the Seattle area of late, there is also more there than it seems.

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