mass murder

The Marco Rubio Show (Aid and Comfort)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

“George W. Bush said America was at war with an ideology that had ‘hijacked Islam’ in the same way Nazism had hijacked Germany or communism had hijacked Russia. Barack Obama has argued that even this assessment gives violent jihadists a stature they don’t deserve. Rubio, by contrast, is going far beyond Bush. And he’s doing exactly what the Islamic State wants: He’s equating ISIS with Islam itself.”

Peter Beinart

There really is nothing like giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Or, rather, this is how you run for president in 2016 if you are a Republican.

Peter Beinart of The Atlantic dissects the Florida junior’s remarks regarding the Paris terror, a case study in getting everything wrong while running for president.

One would think the general threat Daa’ish presents against humanity would suffice, but for Republicans that isn’t good enough. In February, Congressional Republicans refused a specific authorization for use of military force against Daa’ish because it wouldn’t have been a big enough war for their satisfaction. Meanwhile, Sen. Rubio, whose campaign slogan is itself a war cry, has shown himself something of a dim bulb in questions of foreign policy. Steve Benen notes, “the Republican field is dominated by candidates with no meaningful experience in or understanding of foreign affairs”, and at some point along the way this ought to become a relevant consideration. Whether it means anything to Republican voters at present remains to be seen; whether it means anything when voting starts is an unresolved question. Still, though, the seeming now-more-than-everism among warmongering Republicans is a bit unsettling; if they intend to keep it up through the general, we might also hope they will at some point find a clue. Otherwise, it is all noise and fury, and not even a spark of useful thought.

Something goes here about the soft bigotry of low expectations, and the devastating toll it can incur.

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Image note: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announces his candidacy for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on 13 April 2015. (AP Photo)

Beinart, Peter. “​ISIS Is Not Waging a War Against Western Civilization”. The Atlantic. 15 November 2015.

Benen, Steve. “GOP offers a lesson on how not to respond to terrorism”. msnbc. 16 November 2015.

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Our Grief and Hope for Paris

You’ll get through this, Paris. Just hang in. You can do this.

You have the world at your back. Our hearts grieve for your loss; our best hopes are what we can give.

And, yeah. You’re Paris fucking France. You’ll do fine.

Be well.

American Terrorism

Detail of Wanted poster offering thirty million dollars for the murder of Dr. George Tiller;  in May, 2009, Dr. Tiller was gunned down at a church service.

We should not be surprised that anti-abortion terrorists are offering bounties.

Laura Bassett of Huffington Post gets the unfortunate duty of explaining:

According to abortion rights advocates, Joseywhales’ post is just one example of an alarming spike in death threats and violent acts against abortion providers, clinics and companies that work with them since the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood were released. Two Planned Parenthood clinics have reported arsons, anti-abortion protesters are showing up in large numbers at doctors’ homes, and commenters on conservative websites and online forums are calling for the bombings of abortion clinics across the country, according to Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. Saporta is so alarmed by the escalation of threats against providers that she asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to intervene.

“In my 20 years at NAF, I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech, threats and criminal activity, and we would like to prevent a serious violent act from occurring,” she told The Huffington Post in an interview. “We have enlisted law enforcement’s help.”

If history is any indication, death threats against abortion providers should be taken seriously. Two abortion doctors have been murdered during Saporta’s tenure at NAF: Dr. George Tiller in 2009 and Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998. Slepian was shot in his home after returning from synagogue, and Tiller was shot in the head while attending church services on a Sunday morning.

Saporta had worked with them both.

And that’s the problem; it easily sounds like the kind of big talk many enjoy around the internet, a manner of vice and hatred that allows one to feel better for ephemeral and illusory sensations of empowerment.

But there is history.

“I’ll pay ten large”? Yeah, it sounds like someone has been watching too much television, or something. That a certain business executive “should be hung by the neck using piano wire and propped up on the lawn in front of the building with a note attached”? Yes, at some point it is problematic that this is what a person so needs to say in order to feel better about life, the Universe, and everything, otherwise known as self.

Except for the fact that we know where this goes. Arsons and shootings and even that weird aspiring mass murderer in Wisconsin a few years ago.

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The Jeb Bush Show (Radical Restructure Remix)

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits in a hallway after a campaign event Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Henderson, Nev. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours.”

Jeb Bush

This is an occasion when it is instructive to read past the superficial narrative. True, this is another occasion on which Mr. Bush required a do-overα, and the line really didn’t sound all that good. Still, though, the rebound was good enough to get Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)―the ostenisble House GOP budget wonk and former vice-presidential nominee―onboard. And even Democratic-sympathizing pundits and politicians alike can find a reason to go with the later iteration; to wit, Steve Benen:

For what it’s worth, the Florida Republican, not long after his interview, clarified that his comments were about part-time vs. full-time employment. The Washington Post reported Bush saying, “You can take it out of context all you want, but high-sustained growth means that people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours and that by our success, they have money, disposable income for their families to decide how they want to spend it rather than getting in line and being dependent on government.”

As a matter of Economics 101, Bush’s broader points have at least some technical merit. When an economy has more full-time workers, it means more economic activity. When employees work more hours, it means more output and greater growth. None of this is controversial.

The problem with Bush’s rhetoric, however, is the real-world implications, and the degree to which he fails to understand the issue.

For example, the Republican candidate, who made $5.8 million in “consulting and speaking” income in 2013, makes it sound as if sluggish economic growth is your fault – you’re just not working enough hours. In reality, however, full-time employment is soaring when compared to part-time employment, and Americans are already working, on average, 47-hour weeks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-VT), running for the Democratic nomination, is also willing to follow that course.

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The Ted Cruz Show (Hair-on-Fire Apoplexy)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

“As ridiculous as Cruz’s posturing seems, it’s important to remember the broader context: national GOP candidates have a built-in incentive to be as hysterical as possible right now, in the hopes of currying favor with the party’s base. Mild, reasoned disappointment with the court doesn’t impress far-right activists; unrestrained, hair-on-fire apoplexy does.”

Steve Benen

This is an obvious point, or, at least one might think.

Steve Benen points to his msnbc colleague Benjy Sarlin’s report Friday last detailing the 2016 GOP presidential reactions following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of same sex marriage:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went so far as to call for a constitutional convention to overturn the court’s decision while campaigning in Iowa, according to CNN. In an interview with Sean Hannity he called the back-to-back rulings on health care and gay marriage “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

While the Texas junior is hardly the only Republican presidential candidate opting to skip out on posturing his response within the realm of general dignity, Mr. Benen responded aptly:

Hannity, incidentally, found Cruz’s rhetoric quite compelling, responding, “I couldn’t say it more eloquently.”

For what it’s worth, it’s not hard to think of some genuinely tragic 24-hour periods in American history. The Lincoln assassination comes to mind. So does the time British troops burned the White House. There were days during the Civil War in which tens of thousands of Americans died on the battlefield. Just in the last century, we witnessed the JFK assassination, Pearl Harbor, and a corrupt president resign in disgrace.

For the Republican presidential hopeful, learning that Americans will have health benefits and loving couples will get married belongs on the same list.

The thing is that Mr. Cruz is not entirely wrong; the rest, as Benen points out, is a matter of perspective.

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The ‘Nigger’ Post

Barack Obama

Jordan Fabian sums it up well enough for The Hill:

President Obama caused a stir on Monday by using the N-word to make a point about racism in America.

In a conversation recorded on Friday, less than 48 hours after a mass shooting at an African-American church in South Carolina, Obama said racism is still deeply ingrained in society despite the fact that racial slurs are no longer acceptable in normal conversation.

“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — that casts a long shadow, and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on,” Obama said during an interview on comedian Marc Maron’s “WTF Podcast” released Monday.

“Racism, we are not cured of it,” Obama added. “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n—– in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.”

Obama’s phrasing renewed a debate over who is allowed to use the word and when it’s appropriate to say. The provocation also garnered more attention for his broader message, something that almost certainly factored into Obama’s decision to use the word.

The discussion about race consumed cable news chatter and dominated newspaper headlines on Monday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest fielded more than a dozen questions about Obama’s comments at his daily briefing with reporters.

The discussion arose amid a new battle over the Confederate flag, augmenting a debate about race and the country’s past. As the White House reiterated Obama’s call for the flag to be placed in museums rather than state grounds, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said she would seek to move the flag.

Few commentators said that Obama was wrong to use the word, though some acknowledged the discussion of one word threatened to overshadow Obama’s larger message. Despite improvements since the civil rights era, Obama said, “societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

I would only comment that if this is not an occasion on which editors should decide to go ahead and print the word nigger, I have no idea what would be.

Put simply, of course there will be discussion about President Obama’s use of the word. Yes, we should guard against allowing that discussion to overshadow the larger point. But, really, on this occasion, you are going to censor the President of the United States?

It is worth bearing this point in mind insofar as it might suggest something important about the readiness of American society to responsibly address these issues.

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Fabian, Jordan. “Obama uses N-word to spark talk about racism”. 22 June 2015.

The Jeb Bush Show (Fancy & Shame)

Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the 'Road to Majority' conference June 19, 2015, in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America. (Detail of photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It would seem we were not the only ones who noticed.

Matthew Yglesias looked into the Jeb Bush’s suggestion of four percent GDP growth:

But 4 percent is not really a round number. The US economy grew faster than 2 percent in 2014, 2013, and 2012 and is projected by most economists to grow faster than 2 percent in 2015. Economists surveyed by the Associated Press, Politico, and the New York Times all doubted that 4 percent growth was achievable.

Wednesday, speaking in Iowa, Jeb defended the 4 percent target on the grounds that “aspirational goals” are important in politics.

According to James Glassman, Bush originally selected this goal at random, backed by zero substantive analysis of any kind:

That ambitious goal was first raised as Bush and other advisers to the George W. Bush Institute discussed a distinctive economic program the organization could promote, recalled James Glassman, then the institute’s executive director.

“Even if we don’t make 4 percent it would be nice to grow at 3 or 3.5,” said Glassman, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In that conference call, “we were looking for a niche and Jeb in that very laconic way said, ‘four percent growth.’ It was obvious to everybody that this was a very good idea.”

No, really, is there any telling that doesn’t make the story sound incredibly stupid? As Howard Schneider and Steve Holland explained for Reuters, “Asked by Reuters during a campaign-style stop in New Hampshire on Thursday how he had arrived at the figure, Bush said: ‘It’s a nice round number. It’s double the growth that we are growing at. It’s not just an aspiration. It’s doable.'”

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The Rick Perry Show (Useless Coward)

'This is the M.O. of this administration, any time there is an accident like this―the president is clear, he doesn't like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every oportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.' (Rick Perry, on mass murder at Mother Emanuel)

To: Rick Perry

re: Mother Emanuel

Mass murder is not an “accident”, sir.

“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this―the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.”

(qtd. in Tashman)

Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

Tywanza Sanders.

Cynthia Hurd.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.

Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor.

Ethel Lance.

Susie Jackson.

Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr.

Myra Thompson.

They have names, Mr. Perry.

This was not an accident.

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Tashman, Brian. “Rick Perry: Charleston Shooting An ‘Accident’ Due To Drug Use, Manipulated By Obama To Ban Guns”. Right Wing Watch. 19 June 2015.

Saliba, Emmanuelle, Erik Ortiz, and M. Alex Johnson. “Charleston Church Shooting: Tributes Paid to ‘Kind-Hearted’ Victims”. NBC News. 19 June 2015.

Pigskin Piggy Priggy

Oh, those poor Washington Piggy-Piggy-Pigskinners.

The National Football League’s Washington Redskins can sue a group of American Indians for seeking to block trademark protection for its name, which has been criticized as offensive.

Just Say No ... to the Washington Racists NFL organization.U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in Alexandria, Virginia, today denied a request to dismiss the case. Throwing out the complaint would deprive the team of the opportunity to review the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to cancel the mark as disparaging, Lee said in a written opinion.

“Defendants show no reason why their interest would cease to exist considering reversal of the TTAB’s cancellation of the Redskins marks would subject defendants to the very harm they sought to eliminate by filing the petition,” Lee wrote.

The ruling is the latest in a 22-year dispute over a brand worth an estimated $145 million, according to Forbes. The board’s decision to cancel six trademarks, if left intact by the court, would make it harder for the team to enforce rights to its name and protect revenue associated with it. The franchise ranked third in the NFL in August, with a valuation of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes.

(Pearson)

Just so we’re clear: You can call the team name an “honor” to the indigenous tribes right about the same time we have a team called the Pale Riders that features mass rape and murder as part of his halftime genocide show. You know, to honor white people.

Meanwhile, yes, this is the way it goes. Assholes need to be able to sue the people who call them out as assholes, or else Justice herself goes to Hell as a handmaiden in a handbasket.

Poor Piggy-Piggy-Pigskinners.

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Pearson, Sophia. “Redskins Can Sue American Indians Over Team’s Trademark”. Bloomberg. 25 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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