guns

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 Donald Trump Show (Death Wish Double Trouble Super Fun Follow-Up Sequel Pak)

Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate who also happens to be a skeleton with an afro. (Detail of frame from 'Shonen Jump One Piece'.)

“He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance.”

Andrew O’Hehir

Sometimes the setup requires a bit of seemingly otherwise useless melodrama; and sometimes that seemingly otherwise useless melodrama―your buzzword for the week is, well, okay, two words: “October surprise”―works well enough to address certain otherwise seemingly obvious questions somehow obscured by a hazy addiction to synthesized melodrama. Or, more to the point:

We can’t be sure how many people really support Trump, [Thomas B.] Edsall reports, since there’s considerable evidence that they aren’t telling pollsters the truth. Voting for Trump, it appears, is something white people do in the shadows. It’s a forbidden desire that is both liberating and self-destructive, not unlike the married heterosexual who has a same-sex lover on the down-low, or the executive who powers through the day on crystal meth and OxyContin. Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)On some level you know the whole thing can’t end well, but boy does it feel good right now.

I have argued on multiple occasions that white Americans, considered in the aggregate, exhibit signs of an unconscious or semi-conscious death wish. I mean that both in the Freudian sense of a longing for release that is both erotic and self-destructive―the intermingling of Eros and Thanatos―and in a more straightforward sense. Consider the prevalence of guns in American society, the epidemic rates of suicide and obesity (which might be called slow-motion suicide) among low-income whites, the widespread willingness to ignore or deny climate science and the deeply rooted tendency of the white working class to vote against its own interests and empower those who have impoverished it. What other term can encompass all that?

Trump is the living embodiment of that contradictory desire for redemption and destruction. His incoherent speeches wander back and forth between those two poles, from infantile fantasies about forcing Mexico to build an $8 billion wall and rampant anti-Muslim paranoia to unfocused panegyrics about how “great” we will be one day and how much we will “win.” In his abundant vigor and ebullience and cloddish, mean-spirited good humor, Trump may seem like the opposite of the death wish. (He would certainly be insulted by any such suggestion. Wrong! Bad!) But everything he promises is impossible, and his supporters are not quite dumb enough not to see that. He’s a death’s-head jester cackling on the edge of the void, the clownish host of one last celebration of America’s bombast, bigotry and spectacular ignorance. No wonder his voters are reluctant to ‘fess up.

(O’Hehir)

Nor is this a matter of making the obvious point; with Americans, it’s all in how you say it.

I mean, sure, we can all see it, but explaining the mess is a whole ‘nother thing.

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Image notes: Top ― Brook, the jolly Humming Pirate. (Detail of frame from Shonen Jump One Piece.) Right ― Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

O’Hehir, Andrew. “Appetite for destruction: White America’s death wish is the source of Trump’s hidden support”. Salon. 11 May 2016.

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.

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.

Responsible Gun Ownership

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

David Waldman describes the latest particular emergence of the general inevitability:

We have had our third in-school accidental discharge by an armed teacher during the still-very young 2014-2015 school year.

As Waldman notes, a criminal justice instructor at the Technology Center of DuPage, who is also a retired FBI agent, apparently shot a filing cabinet by accident on Friday, with a gun he was not authorized to carry on campus. Luckily, nobody was injured; the bullet passed through the filing cabinet and wall, finally stopping somewhere in “another classroom”.

You will recall that last month saw an armed 6th grade teacher injure herself with porcelain shrapnel as she accidentally Second Amendmented the toilet out from beneath herself in the faculty restroom, and an Idaho State University professor Second Amendment himself in the foot during class.

And that paragraph is just fun, reminding us that these responsible gun owners did at least manage to be responsible enough to not hurt anyone else. Then again, is that something we really need to thank them for?

But think about it for a moment. For the last twenty-five years, at least, as we have wrangled with gun violence in our American society, we keep running into a wall whereby doing the right thing is an unjust abrogation of the rights of “responsible gun owners”.

And these folks remind us that everyone is a responsible gun owner until they aren’t.

No, really. We all know these people. They use the “responsible gun owner” argument when discussing public safety, but always have a story or three to whip out ostensibly intended to be humorous or admirable or even defining, that also describes them being incredibly irresponsible with their firearms.

Like these teachers. They’re all responsible gun owners. Or, well, you know. They were. Not a one of them should ever describe themselves that way, ever again.

And let’s face it, this is the sort of thing “responsible gun owners” want to protect. Well, this and “accidentally” shooting a child to death in the parking lot of a gun store with a firearm you are not, by law, supposed to be carrying. And that’s why we don’t prosecute those outcomes: It’s the fair price of responsible gun ownership.

That is to say, the rest of us have to pay for the responsible gun owners irresponsibility.

You know. It’s the American Way.

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Waldman, David. “Seriously, people. This armed teacher thing really might not work out.” The Daily Kos. 4 October 2014.

A Note to “Responsible Gun Owners” in and Around Mill Creek, Washington

The unhealthiest seed

Let me clear my throat.

You know, when I find your spent bullet in my garden, it would be difficult to imagine how such a thing might please me. Indeed, we think the bullet was fired around 10:30 pm on April 7, but that is based on a memory of a weird sound that was too long after a meteor sighting to be a cosmic rock exploding in the atmosphere. And it didn’t have the right resonance, either. Rather, it sounded, well, like something small striking something hard at high velocity. A pebble on the windshield, only more so. Of course, neither can that noise, which compelled us each to ask the other what had happened, be definitively established as the event. We’re having trouble figuring out where, exactly, the bullet hit the structure. Note the relatively light deformation from impact.

There were no reports of major crime in the area such to land stray rounds about the neighborhood; the nearest gun range is out of range and, at any rate, indoors.

Responsibility, indeed.But among all the rattles and clangs and bangs of traffic and construction in this area, every once in a while there comes a sound something akin to a responsible gun owner celebrating his or her constitutional rights.

To which end I would like to thank all the responsible gun owners in and around Mill Creek, Washington, for this treasured reminder of how they’re all keeping us all safe.

No, really, you do realize, do you not, there is a reason why I laugh whenever I hear the phrase responsible gun owner? You’re all responsible gun owners until one day you aren’t. If it is too much to ask that you keep your (ahem!) “responsibility” to yourself, then maybe you’re not the sort of person who should be allowed to possess or handle firearms.

Something About … er … um … Oh, Come On ….

“Somebody throws popcorn. I’m not sure who threw the popcorn. And then bang, he was shot.”

Charles Cummings

We all knew it was coming … eventually. After all, it’s one of those thoughts we have about other people, but, you know, most of us understand the difference between … er … ah … right.

According to multiple reports, the shooting occurred after an apparent argument over an audience member texting during a screening of “Lone Survivor.”

The suspect was identified as Curtis Reeves, a retired Tampa police officer, according to News 13. He has been charged with second-degree murder.

The Orlando TV station website identified the victims as Chad and Nicole Oulson, a married couple.

AP/HuffPo

It’s all well and fun until someone loses … oh. Again, right. Just, you know. Still, though, I mean, come on.

And, you know, some things just shouldn’t have to be said. Or, as witness Charles Cummings reflected:

“I can’t believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie. I can’t believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone.”

Apparently, people need reminding. Please, before someone actually does strangle the crying baby on the airplane with a seat belt. This is already out of hand.

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Associated Press and Huffington Post. “Shooting Over Movie Theater Texting Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured”. Updated January 13, 2014. HuffingtonPost.com. January 14, 2014.

An Update: It Ain’t the Mulberries

Excess flake can by an embarrassing problem, especially when it is not something that can be cleared up with shampoo. Even more so for Arizona, where it turns out that one Flake really is too many.

Senator Jeff Flake, that is. The junior Republican senator from Arizona last month, in trying to make the case justifying his vote against the background checks firearm bill, managed to make the case that maybe he just isn’t ready for the major leagues.

And as one might expect after that kind of preface, yes, Sen. Flake is back at it:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is pushing back against attack ads that say he broke his promise to support passing new gun laws.

Flake, Senator Jeff Flake“If you are anywhere close to a television set in Arizona in the coming days, you’ll likely see an ad about gun control financed by NYC Mayor Bloomberg,” Flake wrote Friday on his Facebook page. “Contrary to the ad, I did vote to strengthen background checks.”

Flake is responding to ads from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) group that supports tightening gun laws. Recent advertising by the group accuses Flake of breaking his promise to help pass expanded background checks.

Flake voted against an amendment co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would have expanded background checks to include firearms purchases at gun shows and over the Internet. But Flake says he did not break his promise because he supported an alternate gun control proposal by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The most obvious problem with this approach to the issue is that others have tried, and the tack doesn’t work. Indeed, Flake himself has already tried it, and, well, it didn’t work.

No, really.

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