Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Like a poor marksman....

Maybe it's "toxic masculinity" that drives so many white men to shoot people.

That was the topic on "1A" this morning.  If they mentioned that shooters are overwhelmingly white as well as male, I missed it.  If they mentioned it, it didn't suffuse the entire conversation, which was more about "boys becoming men" and finding their "heroic stories" and having a "need" to protect people and be in charge and so on.  I kept thinking about Hemingway's male characters, all striving to be manly men in an unmanly world, and none of them finding their "heroic story" in the tales Hemingway had to tell, tales so clearly derived from his own biography his fiction is practically treated as autobiography.  Hemingway's characters may be "macho," but they certainly struggle with living in the world, and don't find success or leadership or fulfillment in it, or in killing people.  Robert Jordan doesn't end a vaunted hero; nor does Harry, dying of gangrene in Africa waiting for the plane; nor Francis Macomber (his story, happy life is very short, indeed); nor does Jake Barnes; nor does Nick Adams, ever.  Need I go on?  The very model of a modern major machismo novelist, Hemingway never wrote a character who achieves the John Wayne ideal of masculinity, success, and admiration.  In fact, the only character Wayne played who famously failed that goal is Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers."

So this discussion of "macho" and "boys becoming men" was heavily suffused with a lost of post-70's reactionary bullshit, a reaction to the Alan Alda type of man we were all supposedly going to be thanks to hippies and free love and feminism and Woodstock.  It wasn't long after that men were off in the woods sitting in "drum circles" and finding their heroic purpose; or something.  It was bullshit, a little ignorance about the "rite of passage" (a term invented by French anthropologists, not a fundamental reality of the universe), and a handful of lessons from John Wayne movies and Hollywood westerns thrown in for good measure.  And now it's offered up as the antidote to school shooters who turn 18, get their hands on a semi-automatic weapon, and shoot their schoolmates several times, just because they can.

The dumbest part of this is that it takes place in the shadow of the continuing praise for "Eric Killmonger" in "Black Panther."  Adam Serwer, in a highly regarded article, assures us that "Killmonger" is "a profound and complex villain" and "a comic-book villain so transcendent that he is almost out of place in a film about a superhero who dresses as a cat."  Oh, yeah, that's where this is going:

Killmonger’s stated purpose, to liberate black people all over the world, has sparked a lively discussion over whether he is a bad guy to begin with. What could be so bad about black liberation? “I fist-pumped in the silent, dark theater when he was laying out his plans,” writes Brooke Obie at Shadow and Act. “IT’S A GOOD IDEA!” That Coogler’s villain has even inspired this debate is a testament to how profound and complex the character is.

“In the end, all comes down to a contest between T’Challa and Killmonger that can only be read one way,” writes Christopher Lebron in a well-argued piece in Boston Review, “in a world marked by racism, a man of African nobility must fight his own blood relative whose goal is the global liberation of blacks.”

Serwer, to be fair, sees the character of "Killmonger" a bit more clearly than some:

The following distinction is crucial: Black Panther does not render a verdict that violence is an unacceptable tool of black liberation—to the contrary, that is precisely how Wakanda is liberated. It renders a verdict on imperialism as a tool of black liberation, to say that the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house.

Yet because Killmonger’s plans are rooted in a recognizable idealism and a wounded soul, the audience is supposed to empathize with him, even care for him. Viewers are meant to mourn him as T’Challa does when he dies, invoking his ancestors who chose to be consumed by The Void rather than toil in bondage. When T’Challa goes to the spirit world, he sees his ancestors. When Killmonger goes, in one of the most moving scenes in the film, he sees only his father; the rest of his ancestors have been lost to The Void. He is alone in a way T’Challa can never comprehend. So like his father N’Jobu, Killmonger is radicalized. “We can rule over them all the right way,” N’Jobu says during a flashback.
Serwer acknowledges the key plot points of Killmonger's back story:  he isn't a product of American black poverty; he's a product of the American military-industrial complex.  He follows the training he has received as an agent of destruction and chaos, a tool of American international relations.  But Killmonger is also a proud mass murderer.  That picture above doesn't show Killmonger in some kind of super-hero skin armor; those bumps are self-inflicted, one for every person he has killed.  He is a killer; and he is proud of it.

And the difference between him and Nicholas Cruz is....?

There is the problem of using the master's tools to dismantle the master's house, but that's not the only issue here.  We cannot discuss "toxic masculinity" in the same culture where we praise the "complexity" of a movie villain who is a mass murderer, who tattoos himself in order to count coup, to mark his kills, to display his prowess in dealing death to others.  No, "Black Panther" is not responsible for violence being as American as cherry pie, any more than "The Dark Knight" is responsible for the theater shooting in Aurora.  But we can't have a discussion of ideas like "toxic masculinity" without getting at ideas of what power is and how it should be wielded.  Killmonger, after all, is a product of American military training, and yet nobody wants to touch on that (too "liberal," too "soft," too "not talking enough about using power to get what my group wants!" for America, I guess.)  Indeed, the whole question of "toxic masculinity" in connection with mass shootings is as disingenuous as the discussion of "mental health," even the discussion about removing guns from people adjudged a threat to themselves or others.  I mean, I have nothing against that standard, but it wouldn't have taken the guns from the shooter in Vegas (who had no known mental health issues) or Nicholas Cruz (whom the state of Florida investigated, but decided was not a threat to himself or others).  I mean, it's a lovely idea to regulate guns like that, but the only regulation that works is:  DECREASE THE NUMBER OF GUNS!

America doesn't have a "toxic masculinity" problem or a "mental health care" problem (well, we do, but not related to the number of shootings that go on daily), we have a gun problem.  Plain and simple.  And we have it because of our culture, not just because of our politics or our Constitution or the NRA.  We have it because we want it this way, because we want to still believe power exerted for the right reason ("liberation!"  Black or otherwise....) is good, an attitude we share, frankly, with terrorists and third world dictators.  But because we have the notion, because our hearts are pure, because our motives are sound ("Liberation!"), we will use our power to kill correctly.

Or at least learn to use it masculinely; without being toxic about it.  After all, didn't T'Challa decide that Killmonger had a point?

Yeah, that's another problem with that movie.  As for the national conversation on violence and guns, we keep missing the target!

So maybe that "teachers with guns" thing...

is not such a good idea in the particular:

A high school teacher in Georgia who barricaded himself inside a classroom on Wednesday with students locked out in the hallway was arrested after the principal tried to force open the door and the instructor fired a gunshot, police said.

No students were hurt, except for a girl who suffered a minor ankle injury while running in the pandemonium that followed from the lunchtime incident at Dalton High School in Dalton, Georgia, about 90 miles (145 km) north of Atlanta, the state capital, police said.

After responding to reports of gunfire at the school, police said they found the teacher holed up inside a classroom.

Students were specifically not in danger, as the teacher wouldn't let them back in the room after lunch, and it isn't clear, despite the gunshot, that anyone was hurt besides the ankle injury.  And maybe this teacher has "mental health" (I continue to use that phrase advisedly.  It tends to apply to people we approve of; people we don't approve of are just "bad guys with guns.") issues (most gun deaths in America are suicides, I understand).  Here again, the "mental health" issues that should (presumably) keep someone from having a gun are only readily apparent AFTER the gun is used.  Because that's the way "mental health" works with guns:  always a posteriori.

What is safe to say is that this wouldn't have happened if he hadn't had a gun.  Why did he have a gun on campus?  Why did he have a gun at all?  My father lived to 90 years and died in a hospital, without ever owning a gun while I've been alive (in his childhood?  Maybe a .22, I dunno.).  I don't need a gun, it won't protect me from anything.  What did it protect this teacher from, or the principal, or the students?

And did he have a "talent" for guns that failed him?  Isn't that a possibility?  Wouldn't it be better if he'd never had a gun?  Certainly it would have been that much safer at this school.

Maybe vague and glittering generalities about what people will do with weapons that can indiscriminately kill is not the best foundation for public policy.  Ya think?

Yeah, pretty much

I'm not sure what it means.....

No, I'm still not quite sure what that means, either.  Maybe he's inviting us to one....

So in September, this happened:

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that President Trump’s proposal to expedite construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border violates laws aimed at protecting the environment.

The AG of California couldn't have been more clear about his intent:

Becerra announced the legal challenge standing in front of the existing border fencing at Border Field State Park near San Diego, saying the federal government failed to comply with federal environmental laws and relied on federal statutes that don’t authorize border wall projects in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Yesterday, the judge ruled against the state:

US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has cleared one potential obstacle to President Donald Trump's long-promised border wall, ruling Tuesday that the administration has the authority to waive a host of environmental laws and other regulations to begin construction.

Curiel's 100-page order does not mean construction of the wall will begin immediately. Congress has yet to authorize or provide funding for any new wall to begin the project. Thus far, the Department of Homeland Security has built several prototypes in San Diego -- which was the focus of the lawsuit Curiel rejected.

Still, the ruling is a win for the administration as it seeks to get money to build its wall, a centerpiece of Trump's campaign. The President hailed the "big legal win" late Tuesday, tweeting that the "important project can go forward."

Yup, that's what Trump did alright:

Except, maybe not:
So:  we won?  Or does the President think petulance is leadership?  I guess the next step is to pull ICE out of California?  Because that whole oath to uphold the laws doesn't apply to punishing your political enemies, right?

"You know what, I'm thinking about doing it," Trump said at a roundtable with state and local officials to address ideas to stop gun violence in the wake of the Parkland school massacre. His comments came after he decried the state of law enforcement in the Golden State.

"We're getting no help from the state of California. Frankly, if I pulled our people from California, you would have a crime nest like you've never seen in California. All I'd have to do is say 'ICE, Border Patrol, leave California alone,'" he said during a listening session at the White House.

"You would see crime like nobody has ever seen crime in this country. And yet we get no help from the state of California. They are doing a lousy management job," he went on to say. "They have the highest taxes in the nation. And they don't know what's happening out there. Frankly it's a disgrace."

I guess the Border Patrol protects California, not the United States, and the President can decide which states deserve to have federal law enforced on their borders, and which don't?  Yeah, that could be a problem.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Downside Of Having an idiot President

Trump offers a helping hand:

“You know, in the old days we had mental institutions. We had a lot of them. And you could nab somebody like this,” Trump said at a meeting with governors. “But you used to be able to bring them into a mental institution and hopefully he gets help or whatever. But he’s off the streets. You can’t arrest him, I guess, because he hasn’t done anything, but you know he’s like a boiler ready to explode, right?”

Trump did not explicitly call for the government to fund mental institutions for those who appear poised to commit mass atrocities, but he suggested that lawmakers begin discussing mental institutions.

“We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions, because a lot of folks in this room closed their mental institutions also. So we have no halfway. We have nothing between a prison and leaving him at his house, which we can’t do anymore. So I think you folks have to start thinking about that,” he told governors.

No charge for the idea!  And no help paying for it, either.

Meanwhile, back at the schools:

[Oath Keepers founder Stewart] Rhodes wants the military and police veterans who make up Oath Keepers’ membership to volunteer for unpaid, rotating shifts at schools of all levels, and colleges, throughout the country. He and two other representatives of the fringe militia community will hold a webinar Monday night where they plan to encourage Oath Keepers to station themselves at schools “to protect the children against mass murder, and to help train the teachers and staff.”
“What I tell our people is don’t ask for permission,” Rhodes continued. “Let ‘em know what you’re doing and be as friendly as you can. But this is the reality we’re in right now.”
Yeah, this'll keep us all safe:

Mark Cowan, an Indiana-based member of the Oath Keepers and an Army veteran, has since Friday posted himself outside North Side High School in Fort Wayne, wearing an Oath Keepers baseball hat and carrying a handgun and an AR-15.

“If somebody comes to this school or another school where we’re at, that school shooter is going to know, we’re not going to play games,” Cowan told local station WPTA. “You come to kill our kids, you’re dead.”

In other interviews with local media, Cowan has said he is complying with state law by parking his car just off of school grounds, and that he plans to remain there until the school, which already has an armed resource officer, introduces additional safety measures.
Since Friday?  Give him another week, he'll get bored and leave.

Maybe if we bought each of these idiots parked near a school a Batmobile, they'd go away and leave our kids that much safer.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Annie Git Your Gun!

We just need Annie Oakley in the classroom!

Some of this just bears repeating:

“You have to be trained to want to get up and go into fire, that’s what the armed forces does for you,” Nance said. “I went through SWAT officer training when I got out of the military, and the first thing they do is they teach you is to really lock up and then move in on a target. That’s what active shooter training is for in law enforcement. But if you’re not really trained, you’re not proficient, it’s not like in the movies. The movies have nothing to do with reality. You’re putting yourself where you can be killed.”

Ruhle pointed out that mass shooters frequently used military-style firearms to carry out massacres, which would put teachers armed with concealed weapons at a distinct disadvantage.

“We have a lot of people going on, you know, what they think they see in the movies,” Nance said. “If you’ve got a handgun and that’s all the tool you have, you have to be extremely well trained to go out and engage someone who has a fully automatic or semiautomatic weapon.”

He said movies did not adequately depict what a real firefight would be like.

“Depending on the distance that you’re away, civilians don’t understand, in close quarters, the first thing you have to experience is the explosive sound of the weapon going off — not yours, the shooter’s,” Nance said. “It practically deafens you in an urban environment, inside a school building or something like that. It’s not like in the movies, where can you hear. It’s like somebody stabbing your ear a knife. If you can get past that and still move you’ll be conducting a gun battle, a firefight with people running back and forth in front of you. It’s just — unless you’re very skilled soldier or a police officer who has already been through that, through simulation or an actual incident, you cannot even start to predict the effect. ”

Even if the teacher managed to survive a firefight with a shooter armed with a high-powered rifle, they’d face danger once law enforcement arrived.

“If you are a teacher who thinks you’re doing a defensive, you know, pose and protect a student, law enforcement will just assume you’re the shooter,” Nance said. “If we start introducing five, 10 guns into that school, the complexity of target identification and clearance and knowing whether that individual is safe or whether they’re actually complicit and waiting for you to turn your back, it’s absolutely mind-boggling. Law enforcement will go the default — which is to shoot the person with the gun.”

Like, oh, you know, this:

The shooting happened shortly after 9 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Faith City Mission, a faith-based outreach organization. Police said Joshua Len Jones, 35, of Amarillo, barged into a church building at Faith City Mission, pulled out a gun and was holding about 100 congregants and church staff hostage.

In the time between when police were dispatched and when officers arrived, a handful of churchgoers wrestled Jones to the ground. One of the congregants was able to grab Jones' gun.

Officers entered the building and saw the churchgoer holding the gun and opened fire, according to the Amarillo Police Department. The churchgoer was hospitalized in stable condition.
In addition to being overworked and underpaid, I want to be the one the police shoot at by mistake.

Gov. Jay Inslee, responding to Trump's comments to the governors:

“I have listened to the biology teachers, and they don’t want to do that at any percentage,” Inslee said. “I’ve listened to the first-grade teachers who don’t want to be pistol-packing first-grade teachers. I’ve listened to the law enforcement officials who say they don’t want to train teachers as law enforcement agencies, which takes about six months.”

The man who would bravely charge an armed gunman didn't think much of that:

Yes, that's Trump listening to the comments of Gov. Inslee.

So, sure, school districts which can barely afford teachers (West Virginia, represent!) will pay bonuses for the training it takes to carry firearms and use them to shoot people, training which better take refreshers (at least).  We really shouldn't be having this discussion, because it really doesn't get any stupider than this.

Small Man Talks Big

Trump last week at CPAC, via Charlie Pierce:

Last, he went out of his way, as he had all day, to question the courage of the deputy on the scene in Parkland who didn’t go in and confront Nikolas Cruz.

"And something I thought of this morning, you know what else, I thought of it since I found and watched [Scot] Peterson, the deputy who didn’t go into the school, because he didn’t want to go into the school, okay. He was tested under fire and that wasn’t a good result. But you know what I thought of, as soon as I saw that, these teachers, and I’ve seen them, and a lot of schools where they had problems, these teachers love their students and the students love their teachers in many cases. These teachers love their students. And these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns. And that’s — they feel safe. And I would rather have somebody that loves their students and wants to protect their students than somebody standing outside that doesn’t know anybody and doesn’t know the students, and frankly for whatever reason decided not to go in even though he heard lots of shots being fired inside."

He tweeted pretty much the same thing before his speech, and he took another shot at Peterson later at a press availability with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia. This is the president of the United States shaming a guy who must be going through hellish guilt right now without having Cadet Bone Spurs heaping more on him by questioning his courage. Jesus H. Christ, what a bag of rancid sins this man is. Of course, we knew damn well he was a snake when he got elected.

Trump today, via AP:

Yeah, sure:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Empty Suit Flaps Its Arms...oh, no, that's the breeze

(Didn't CPAC elect Ted Cruz President a few years ago?)
Donald Trump's tweets since Friday night.  The New York Times articles about this weekend tweet barrage:

The Washington Post articles about this weekend tweet barrage:

NPR made one mention of them:

 And not surprisingly, Donald Trump tweeted about it, saying the democratic memo was a bust. And he went back to calling the investigations a witch hunt.
And that's it.  9 pronouncements by the President (and one announcement of a TV interview) and nobody pays attention to more than one of them.  Which raises an important question:  how relevant is President Donald Trump?  I mean, if he wasn't the POTUS, nobody would be reporting about any of these tweets.  NPR discussed his "strategy" in raising the issue of teachers carrying guns in school, but Trump has already dumped that one on the states.  Besides, how much of a "strategy" is it if the White House staff isn't interested in turning it into policy Congress can make a law about?

He's now put it front and center into the debate, even though the White House says they're not planning to make any kind of a legislative proposal on this. It hasn't gone through a policy process. He's just talking about it. 

Sure, it makes Trump feel important, but what does it really do?  While Trump has gone back to insisting the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, that doesn't seem to be the opinion of the people who have plead guilty to criminal charges.  So, how relevant is what the President says, really?

Seems to me we're all learning to ignore him.  Which is a good thing for this President; but not necessarily a good thing for the Office of the President of the United States.

Where Laws Really Don't Reach

I was listening to a Yahoo on NPR discuss "Constitutional rights" with regard to guns, and realizing he doesn't understand the first thing about the Constitution or the 2nd Amendment.

But he's quite sure he does.

The Heller decision did establish an individual right to "keep and bear arms."  It did not establish that as the unfettered right of the fever dreams of fools like the man being interviewed on NPR.  It established a limited right to keep and bear (but not fire!) a handgun, and placed restrictions on what government can do to restrict possession of such weapons (but not usage, a key issue here).  Heller did not apply its ruling to rifles, shotguns, "assault rifles," etc.  All of those are still regulated, and in fact it has taken the passage of laws in the states to make it legal to carry such guns publicly, although I know of no change in the law regarding "sawed-off shotguns" or carrying fully automatic "machine" guns (the whole idea of a "bump stock" is to render a semi-automatic an almost fully automatic weapon).  There are a number of limitations on guns that exist quite comfortably under the 2nd Amendment and have done for decades.  As Mark Joseph Stern points out, "the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence... guarantees only the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense."

This is not a Constitutional issue.  It is misunderstood as one by gun advocates:  

Paul Paradis, a Trump supporter who owns a gun store in Colorado Springs, is furious that bump-stocks may be banned.

“Trump can propose anything he wants but it’s got to get through two houses of Congress and the Supreme Court,” Paradis stated.

The bump stock ban will only work if Congress passes a law about it.  But Mr. Paradis is going to sorely disappointed in the courts if that law is passed.

You are allowed to possess as many motor vehicles as you can afford.  You are not allowed to drive them in violation of vehicle regulation and safety laws.  Likewise, you are allowed to own as many guns as you want, with limitations as to type (likewise you can't drive certain vehicles on the road).  You are not allowed to use them as you see fit.  The "militia" in the 2nd amendment (a word I still think Heller simply erased in its decision) meant irregular armies called into service in time of need, rather than the standing army popular in Europe (and despised by the colonists, who also despised the use of the charge of treason against them, a charge usually defined by what the Crown wanted to prosecute.  There is a connection, and a reason why treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution, where its elements are difficult to alter, and the 2nd Amendment, meant to preserve the existence of militias and discourage the existence of standing armies.  The 3rd Amendment is the other part of this triad.  The drafters had very different ideas about these things than we do today.).

This is a political matter, not a Constitutional one.  The NRA was described as one of the most effective corporate/grassroots organizations in the country, and I think that is right.  But notice how seldom Wayne LaPierre invokes the 2nd Amendment, and how often he talks about 'freedom' and 'security.'  He knows how this argument is conducted, and he knows he won't win with a team of lawyers ready at the drop of a hat to go to court and defend a gun owner's 2nd Amendment rights a la the ACLU.  It is also why they are going to be in trouble if their political clout diminishes.

I listened to that, then I found this post by Josh Marshall.  He makes an argument that the current argument on guns is similar to the 19th century argument about slavery, which morphed from slavery as a necessary evil (and the Southern fear freed slaves would, en masse, endanger the lives of white former slaveowners, a fear still reflected in white fear of brown people) to slavery based on race as the way of the universe:

We can see some of this evolution in the speech Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens gave on the founding of the Confederacy. Speaking of the central role of slavery Stevens said this …

"The new [Confederate] constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago."

In retrospect, this evolution seems inevitable. People can’t go to literal or figurative war with an ambivalent commitment. The need for a positive defense of slavery was critical.

In retrospect, I believe Lott’s work and those who built upon it played a similar role in the post-Columbine evolution of the firearms debate. (And to be clear, I’m not equating them substantively. I’m talking about the need for a ‘positive good’ version of pro-gun advocacy.) Indeed, Lott’s first article was published in 1997 and his first book More Guns Less Crime in 1998, just a year before the Columbine Massacre in 1999. Though his first work just preceded Columbine, it filled a critical, necessary role for “gun rights” advocates in the post-Columbine world. The NRA wasn’t always against all gun restrictions. In the 1980s and 1990s, it didn’t oppose some very limited restrictions. That changed over the course of the 1990s, for a variety of reasons. Paradoxically, I believe one reason was the historic crime drop of the latter half of the 1990s. As long as crime seems out of control a lot of ordinary people want a gun to protect themselves, regardless of the larger societal impact, regardless of studies that might suggest you’re more likely to be killed by your own gun than saved by it.

But I think the main reason for this change is that as long as you recognize the basic reality that guns are dangerous, fighting even the most minimal kinds of restrictions is inherently difficult. You need to change the game. You need a theory that is coherent and in line with your goal. Lott’s theory created a logic for that. The problem with massacres isn’t too many guns. It’s too few guns. Guns aren’t the problem. They’re the answer. It was the NRA’s ‘positive good’ argument, comparable to the one pro-slavery intellectuals devised in the 1850s. It’s the origin of virtually every argument the NRA makes today, from arming teachers to the “good guy with a gun”, to the need for permissive concealed carry nationwide.
It's a sound argument, but I think it overlooks how much this is an argument of class in America, not just of emotional or intellectual need.  My neighborhood is across the freeway (about 22 lanes, with service roads.  It's quite a physical and psychological dividing line.) from some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city.  My side is not poor, but it isn't nearly as wealthy, and is much more ethnically mixed:  Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican and South American, African American, and white, are the dominant categories.  Across the freeway non-whites are mostly maids and gardeners who arrive and leave again.  When the grocery store a few blocks from me opened, it was a draw to the other side of the freeway dwellers, but they were afraid.  The store had to post off-duty policemen in uniform, and even place cameras on 30 foot poles, to persuade those from across the way it was safe to park in their parking lot and enter their store.  That level of fear as long abated, but it was based on location, on the area around the store, on fear that somebody somewhere wants to take away what they have there.  In all the years I've lived here, the bank robberies (in a bank facility in a grocery store) and shootings (a man who drove to the neighborhood, spent the night in his car, and got up to shoot whoever he could find) have all happened on "that side" of the freeway.  But it is "this side" people have to be afraid of, because....well, because it's how people make sense of their privilege, of their position, of their ability to live in exclusive areas, areas exclusive by property values if nothing else.  Stephens' argument is an argument for class power, for the right to be superior, legally and morally and physically, to others.  It is an argument for hierarchy.

And that is part of the argument for guns:  to be superior in all those ways to the people seen as dangerous.  Stephens wasn't just making an argument for the convenience of slavery to the Southern way of life before the Civil War; he was making an argument for the superiority of wealth over poverty, of power which means someone must be powerless (else where is the power of power?).  The "positive good" argument is always an argument for me above you, for my group being above your group, for my power dominating yours.

The man on NPR representing the "gun culture" (NPR's term) asserted his 2nd Amendment right as he understood it over the rights of schoolchildren not to fear a shooter on their campus.  That right makes him superior to those who don't own guns, who, in his mind, will get shot (he won't.  Everyone knows the hero of the movie doesn't get shot, he only shoots others.).  It makes him superior to the other countries of the world who don't respect this kind of "freedom," a freedom that is illusory, but is purchased in the coin of human lives.  In truth, like the slaveholders of hold, like the Confederacy Alexander Stephens championed, a government dedicated to the proposition of the persistence of the "peculiar institution," he is more slave to his fears than the schoolchildren are to theirs.

They grow up, and go on with their lives.  He spends his time prattling about an idea that is indefensible and inarguable and immoral, having to convince himself ceaselessly it is none of those things, and wondering why the world won't approve him.  Like the people across the freeway, terrified what they have will be lost to fate or foul deeds, he lives in a fear that is constantly finding new reasons to be rekindled, a fear that he is not superior after all.

There is a legal issue here, and a political one, but also a spiritual one:  why are so many people so afraid?  Violence in movies?  Have you seen Asian action movies?  Violence in news?  What country doesn't report on violence within its society?  No, there is a deeper problem, and until we get to that, this problem won't even start to be solved.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I kinda figured

This is where the money would come from.  Cheap because Congress doesn't have to approve it, right?  States that barely pay teachers a living wage can pony up for "Armed Educators," right?  Pay for the training, the gun, the ammo, the insurance (liability's gonna go WAY up!) and the bonus on top of all that?

That'll happen. And he washes his hands of it now:  "Up to States."

What a weasel....

"Wakanda Forever!" If you can keep it....

So I saw "Black Panther" and yes, it is a paean to Africa and Africans (and African-Americans), and it is an almost all-black cast and women are powerful figures equal to men, and it has wonderful lessons about community and authority and even the idea of a commonwealth.

All of which the critics who sympathize with the villain in the film (he's so right but so wrong!) miss entirely.  The villain is a ruthless killer who thinks the world owes him a better outcome and deserves to have him in charge because his father died and he grew up in Oakland fatherless and poor in the 1990's.  The villain of "Black Panther" wants to rule the world and oppress anyone who disagrees with him, starting with the people of Wakanda.  He's not a savior of oppressed blacks around the globe, he's a tyrant, plain and simple, and he'll kill anyone he thinks blocks his goal.  Come on, people, this guy's certainly not Martin Luther King, Jr., but he's not even Malcolm X.  Malcolm X advocated justice by any means, but he understood he was leading people; the villain in "Black Panther" just wants to be in charge.

And worse, he wants it because he grew up poor.  It's the old middle-class stereotype of poor people wanting what we have, and if they can't get it, they'll destroy what we have so we can't have it, either.    In reality, poor people can't afford to be crazed ideologues:  poverty doesn't motivate anger and a passion to run the world; it enervates and crushes the soul.  As Patton Oswalt said when his wife died, his grief didn't turn him into Batman, committed to a cause unwaveringly.  It crushed him and left him on the couch eating tubs of ice cream.  Osama bin Laden was a rich kid who could afford his ideology.  Poor people don't scrabble to rise to the top and be in charge and punish the world; they scrabble to stay alive from day to day.  "Black Panther" romanticizes poverty and makes it clear the only life worth living is one with lots of technological toys and the power technology gives you.

That's an uplifting message?

But it's how it ends that's even more disappointing.  Wakanda is a paradise, made so by technology and a sharing of the wealth that keeps everyone comfortable and no one envious (the love of money really is the root of all evil).  It is hidden from the world precisely because it has access to the power to make a paradise.  By the end of the movie, our hero has decided to share that secret with the world.  He wants to bring the nations to his holy mountain (literally a mountain) where they will learn to live in peace and comfort as Wakanda does.

Which is a lovely idea, but it's built on an entirely false premise.  Wakanda has remained hidden for fear of what people with access to their source of power would do.  They were right to be hidden.  They should fear the future their king has decided they will have (in this, our hero acts like the villain, deciding what is best for the people because it makes him feel better).

The vision of Isaiah's holy mountain is of a place the peoples (read "nations" in the KJV translation) of the world will want to come to, because there will be such peace, harmony, contentment, and stability in living, in other words, such wisdom, the peoples of the world will want to learn from it.  Wakanda doesn't offer wisdom first, it offers power.  The nations of the world will descend on Wakanda like a plague of locusts, hungry for their power.  The first guy to steal their secret has it stolen from him in an earlier movie, and used to almost destroy the world.  He returns in this film to use that power for himself, proving people who have it will abuse it.  Well, people outside the traditions of Wakanda.

That's an uplifting message?

I mean, it's a comic book movie, I get it:  you can't have a comic book story without conflict, and the conflict needs to be external more than internal.  Nobody's putting Hamlet in a bulletproof suit and sending him out to fight bad guys while he stands paralyzed pondering his reasons for doing so.  "Black Panther" is a good movie, a serviceable entry in the Marvel canon (I still find "Thor:Ragnorak" and "Captain America:  Civil War" to be better stories), and it's certainly a pioneer in black films, shattering barriers and ceilings (glass and otherwise) that need to be shattered.

But the message is depressingly mundane.  The villain is not sympathetic unless you think violence and murder of everyone around you is the way to peace and prosperity for all (all who want your version of peace and prosperity, anyway).  The solution at the film's end, that material power will create wealth will create prosperity will create paradise, is so blinkered and hobbled and broken it's almost sad to imagine who quickly it will come crashing down, and how looted Wakanda will one day be.  Even in Wakanda there are political divisions, which are healed at the end only by defeat, not by consensus.  But the lesson of the film's villain is that the defeated are never disposed of; they always find a way to make their voice heard.

So will Wakanda lead the world?  If the film tries to be realistic at all, Wakanda will be pillaged by the world.  It is inspiring to see Wakanda as what Africa is capable of; it will be fantasy if the world becomes Wakanda, rather than Wakanda becoming the world.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Giving Up Hopelessness For Lent

Did anybody mention this to Trump at the presser with Turnbull?

Before I went out this morning, I knew this:

1)  A major private held bank in Nebraska cut ties with the NRA, declining to continue it's contract to issue an NRA branded VISA card.

2)  Enterprise car rentals, which operates three brands, decided to end its discount to NRA members.

3) Wayne LaPierre falls flat at CPAC, an event mostly populated by twenty-somethings just slightly older (and certainly more conservative) than the activist kids from Parkland, Florida.

“The room was not with Wayne LaPierre yesterday,” Peters said. “Actually, at one point he stopped and he said, ‘I sense it’s a little quiet out there.’ It was quiet, he said, because they must be scared and all gun owners should be. But the reason they were quiet is because they weren’t buying what he was selling.”

I came back to learn this:

a)  Avis, Budget, and Hertz are all out of the "NRA discount" business.
b)  Chubb Insurance, which underwrites the NRA's Carry Guard firearms insurance, wants nothing more to do with the NRA.
c)  Symantec, though LifeLock and Norton, have cut ties with the NRA
d)  Allied and North American Van lines no longer offer discounts to NRA members.
e)  MetLife no longer offers them discounts, either.

The pressure is on Google, AT&T, Apple, Roku, and Amazon to stop providing access to NRATV.

And, going back to news from this morning, the "kids from Florida" have, in just 4 days,  succeeded in raising $3.5 million dollars in aid of their effort to lead a march on Washington, and continue their fight for sensible gun laws.  Gucci has since added $500,000.00 to that amount.

Oh, and in the afternoon there is also this news:

"We are well on our way to solving the horrible problem" of mass shootings, President Trump said Friday at a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House.

Trump said he had spoken Friday morning with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about possible ways Congress might respond legislatively following last week's shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. "People are looking to really energize," Trump said of his discussions with the two top Republicans on Capitol Hill and GOP legislative efforts following the school shooting.

The man is a black hole of information. But the kids are alright; and no law mandating or even allowing teachers to carry and shoot in schools is going anywhere, especially if nobody is going to pay for their training, firearms, and liability insurance.  I mean, even Rick Scott isn't supporting an "arm the teachers" bill in Florida.

One last thing:  I heard different numbers than this in the morning, but I can't verify them now (300% increase in turnout for Democrats, 25% increase for GOP), so this will do:

More Democrats have cast ballots than Republicans since early voting began this week in Texas, according to state election figures released Thursday, and turnout among Democrats is up 46 percent over the last midterm elections in 2014. For Republicans, meanwhile, turnout is basically flat.

Democrats have not been turning out to vote since the Gov. Miz Anne lost to W. because: why bother?  And the state Democratic party has been relentlessly useless at inspiring them.  But Trump's approval is evenly spit, 46% in favor, 46% opposed; and Democrats in Texas despise Trump in numbers equally to the Republicans who admire him.  Which means there are a lot more Democrats here than have been voting in many years.

That might change.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Why Does The Media Keep Talking About This?

I presume the teachers would still have to buy the guns, just as they have to buy classroom supplies.  Sure, what teacher with a roomful of 5 year olds wouldn't want to keep a gun in a gun safe in the corner?

Of course, the teacher would have to supply the gun safe, too.  And pay for the training and the license to carry; but that's what the bonus is for.

Now, where is that bonus going to come from.....?

You really have to start thinking of the President as wholly irrelevant for any of this to make sense.

"you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

Wayne LaPierre at CPAC this morning:

“What is hard to understand is why nobody at the FBI stood up and called B.S. on its rogue leadership,” LaPierre said. “I mean, really, where was the systemic resistance that should protect every powerful institution that serves us? The lowest ranking marine knows to resist an on lawful order. The rank and file in every powerful institution must police its own leadership.”

LaPierre then said FBI agents’ purported complicity was part of a broader plot to implement socialism on the United States.

“In too much of today’s Washington, nobody speaks out,” he said. “Nobody challenges authority. Everyone keeps their mouth closed and their heads down, and that is exactly how socialistic societies function.”

Diane Loesch at CPAC this morning:

“Many in the legacy media love mass shootings,” she charged. “White crying mothers are ratings gold.”

“I call B.S.,” Loesch added, mocking a line from Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonazlez. “I represent 5 million plus members [of the NRA], average everyday Americans, moms and dads. They do the school run, go to the grocery story, they’re students, they’re hunters. They are people like me who simply don’t want to be assaulted in the parking lot if we go to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk at night!”

Before finishing her remarks, Loesch revealed that she needed armed guards to safely exit the CNN town hall.

“You heard that town hall last night, they cheered the confiscation of fire arms,” she explained. “And it was over 5,000 people. I have to have a security detail to get out. I wouldn’t have been able to exit that if I did not have a private security detail. There were people rushing the stage and screaming ‘burn her.'”

I know I never leave for the grocery store without my AR-15 slung over my shoulder.  I've seen the dairy aisle, it's no place for the faint of heart.  Or the unarmed.  Amirite?  And when are FBI agents going to take the law into their own hands and rise up against their oppressors?  They have nothing to lose but their chains!

Wait a minute.....

What You Heard Is Not What I Meant!

I didn't say we should arm teachers; I said we should arm teachers!  See?  Completely different!

It took three more tweets to make that point:

“This is a president who doesn’t just listen, he acts,” she said. “So, I predict on his watch, things will change. And people will feel like school safety and public safety are much enhanced because he is the president.”

Well, he listens when he's reminded to listen:

“The small discussion yesterday about the possibility of allowing some educators and administrators to be armed at some schools, to focus on that alone today is disingenuously covering the fuller discussion yesterday,” Conway remarked. “And frankly, it’s disrespectful to the people who are in that room raising any number of different issues.”

You notice she's not defending the idea; she's denying it.  And she's denying that the President made that the focus by tweeting about it four times.  Nope.  That's not what happened.

“I think it benefits us all that you have a non-politician in the White House behind me because he can see this with a certain clarity that others perhaps cannot,” she concluded. “There cameras were on the whole time too and everybody should appreciate that.”

Yes, the cameras did tell us exactly what was going on, right down to Trump's notes to remind him to show empathy and feign interest.

Phil Mudd was right; this President is completely irrelevant.  He holds the office, but the lights are on and nobody's home.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Every time I think I'm done, it turns into a darker nightmare

I feel better already, just knowing he "hears" us:

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect — but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” Trump said.

“Gun-free zone, to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us,” Trump said, wondering aloud about arming “20 percent of your teaching force.”

You know, you can't say that people who shoot up public places are "maniacs" who are also rational enough not to want to take return fire.  Either they are "mentally ill" (but only if white!) or they are vicious heartless killers.  I go with the latter, but I don't think the act itself is in any way rational, and most such shooters end up killing themselves rather than be caught alive.  So I don't think a "gun-free zone" is the allurement Trump thinks it is.  Then again, I'm more rational than Trump, obviously.

“You can’t have 100 security guards in Stoneman Douglas, that’s a big school,” he said. “It’s a massive school with a lot of acreage to cover, a lot of floor area, so that would be certainly a situation that is being discussed a lot by a lot of people.”

“You’d have a lot of people that’d be armed, that’d be ready, they are professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force, and they are very adept at doing that. You’d have a lot of them and they would be spread evenly through the school.”

So they'd have positions as armed guards?  Rather than being teachers whose duties keep them in a classroom or moving about the campus at different hours?  Basically we make our schools into armed camps?  This is your solution?

The President said he believed “that if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of having pretty much professionals with great training, I think they wouldn’t go into the school to start off with.”

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

Should we remind him of the guy who walked into a military base and shot the place up?

“So we’ll be doing the background checks, we’ll be doing a lot of different things, but we’ll certainly be looking at ideas like that.”

Don't do us any favors.

I know a lot of ex-Marines. My brother in law is ex-Green Beret.  Sure, they'll take jobs as school teachers for suck pay, just for the chance of shooting a bad guy one day at school.   Sure, the schools can pay mercenaries to stand around like bodyguards, waiting to gun down anybody who looks suspicious, because, if you're armed and waiting for somebody to start shooting, you won't wait until the shooting starts, to start shooting.

What, you'd have a death wish?  The guy who shoots first wins.  This ain't the movies.  And we have about 98,000 public schools in the country; we'd need about 980,000 ex-Marines and ex-Army and ex-Air Force to put just 10 such people on a campus.  And would that be enough?  Do we have 980,000 ex-military waiting to be armed school guards?

So a minimum of 1 million armed guards, paid for by, what?  School taxes?  Sure, who needs textbooks, we gotta provide safety!  And imagine the gun contracts alone!  The NRA would die from the orgasmic bliss of the very thought.  So sure, that'll work.  We just need 1-3 million ex military  "adept at firearms" walking our school campuses like they were prison camps, ready to shoot the person they think is shooting up their school.

God help them if they get it wrong:

I was in the sound booth inside the auditorium when the fire alarm rang. I decided I would stay behind because what could possibly go wrong? I then hear the banging on the doors of the auditorium, and I run downstairs to see a hundred people banging on the door. I quickly opened the doors to let the people in and see my coach running inside for safety.

I was scared, and I ran to the safest place possible, which was the sound booth again. I start to pace back and forth because I did not know what was going on ― and the people in the audience saw me. They saw me, and they panicked because I was matching the same description of Nikolas Cruz. I had the same clothes, same hair color, same facial structure somewhat. ... And they reported me.

I was just hiding up there. I had no idea what was going on. Then the door started to rattle. At first, the only thought that came to my mind was,“I’m going to die, the shooter is going to kill me.” But then SWAT comes in, and I thought they were here to rescue me. But then as I go down the stairs, I find out that I was wrong.
I found out that they thought it was me that killed the 17 people. I go down the stairs, they tell me to put my hands up. I, being the fool that I was, tried putting my phone back in my pocket. They demanded again, and I, not trying to be one of those news stories of someone dying wrongfully because they refused to put their hands up, I just dropped my phone at that moment and kept going.

When I went out those doors, I had six SWAT members pointing their guns at me. I was tossed to the ground. I was unjustly cuffed and held at gunpoint for the degrading and depreciating action of the disturbed individual Nikolas Cruz.

I was then put in a corner with a policewoman guarding me. I knew any move I made would be the end of my life. Throughout the entire event, I only felt two things: I felt fear, as I did not know my future. I did not know if i was going to be let go. I did not know where the terrorist was. ... A the second thing was guilt.
The SWAT team was there after the shooting stopped.  What if it was an armed guard, instead, and the shooting was still active?  Would he shoot first and ask questions later?  Or not shoot, and get blamed for not stopping the shooting sooner?

Now look carefully at that photo.  Notice the President of the United States has his shirts monogrammed with "45" on them.  So he won't forget his place in history.  Wonder if he kept his place on the notes.  At what point did he say "I hear you"?  Inquiring minds want to know.

A few (hopefully) last words on guns

Well, last words for awhile, anyway.

1)  That teenagers anger about what adults have done (or not) about gun control is perfectly valid.  As Anderson Cooper pointed out, the bullets from an AR15 shred human bodies.  People don't die neatly and discretely the way they do in movies (and when Quentin Tarentino shows us how much damage bullets do, we denounce him for reveling in gore.  Funny, that.).  Cooper's solution is to make people see what guns do, though I'm not sure putting the whole nation into PTSD is going to improve our attitude about gun laws.

2)  It's only, as Van Jones pointed out, a "mental health" issue when a white man wields the weapon.  Black people are proof we need more prisons, or even that they need to be shot in the streets.  "Mexicans" are proof we need a border wall.  White people?  Well, that person must have been crazy, because no true white person.....

Will this change?  I'm not sanguine.  Massive areas of Harris County flooded after Harvey; but equal portions of the county suffered no damage at all.  While I was enduring 5 hour traffic jams trying to make a trip that should have taken 30 minutes, because of street flooding that lasted for weeks, other parts of town were unaffected.  While in that traffic jam I was listening to people on the radio talk about how little damage Harvey did to Houston, how quickly the city had returned to normal.  "Normal," especially in a city as sprawling as Houston, is very much a matter of location.  I know people whose entire neighborhoods were destroyed by the release of water from the reservoirs designed 80 years ago to protect the city from flooding.  Other parts of town, however, suffered no such damage.  And now over 50% of county residents, per a poll, don't want to pay higher taxes in order to enact flood control.  If we don't, of course, we'll go down in popular opinion as the city on the flood plain, and our economy will start to decline as companies and people decline to move here.  But even after Harvey, taxes are anathema.  Which is partly understandable, as the only tax the local governments can raise is property taxes, and people whose property has been reduced to bare ground aren't anxious to pay more taxes on that property.  But, of course, we made this bed for ourselves decades ago, consistently refusing to allow any other basis for taxes (such as income).  We created this dilemma for ourselves, in other words, and three years of consecutive 500 year floods, capped in the third year by over a year's worth of rainfall in 36 hours, is still not enough to make us look up and around and think fundamentally about what we are doing.

So, will the kids make us reconsider our political and governmental and societal (it's not a Constitutional issue, despite what you've heard) fundamentals?  Well, my generation thought it would change the national attitude about war and race, and now we have one of the most openly racist Presidents in American history in the White House, and consider a movie about a science-fiction African country directed by an African American to be, not just a major cultural event, but a major world event, largely because it is proving popular outside of America.  No shade on "Black Panther," but it's success ain't exactly the equivalent of Obama's first election to the Presidency or the end of, and certainly doesn't erase the election of Trump after him.

I'd like to see things get better.  I want them to get better.  But this mad identity of guns with life itself, with the reason to exist and the basis of our freedom, did not spring sui generis from the brow of Wayne LaPierre, and it won't be blown away by the righteous indignation of teenagers who have seen first hand what bullets do to bodies.  They are standing up to the obscene nonsense that they are actors and dupes in a "deep state" conspiracy.  Constituents are reacting to the shooting in Florida in Pennsylvania and Colorado.  Even CPAC is feeling the heat.  Will it be enough this time?  Only if we make it so. Heat burns, but heat doesn't last.  The NRA knows this, which is why they are quite now.  We can't rely on heat alone, on anger, on outrage.  If we end up satisfied that "the kids" are alright and "the kids" tried but, after all, what can you do?; we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.

It's going to take much attention to what got us into this mess, and such a commitment to changing fundamentals because we can't continue to live this way.  Can we do that?  Yes.  Will we do it?

Aye; there's the rub.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"OK, Einstein, you got a better idea?"

So, here's the thing:  people who commit "mass" shootings are mentally ill, because the best defense against them (the NRA sanctioned defense) is to not let them have guns because they are mentally and only mentally ill people shoot strangers en masse (which doesn't explain the Las Vegas shooter, except that he was "mentally ill" after the fact, showing no signs of such illness before he killed so many strangers), and so the breakdown in the system is letting them have guns in the first place (but we don't know they are mentally ill until the bullets stop flying, because only mentally ill people commit mass murder, but until they do, they have a 2nd Amendment right to be heavily armed).

People who commit "mass" shootings are rational actors who would be deterred if they knew their target was not "soft" but rather bristling with people carrying guns and ready to use them at a moment's notice.

Which is it?

"When a crazed gunman arrives on campus with murder in his eyes, the deed is done within two to five minutes," [Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd] said, adding that criminals will think twice if they suspect someone else on campus might have a gun under the county's so-called "Sentinel program."

But if he's already a "crazed gunman," will the idea that there are gun wielders there slow him down?

"We would have (shooters) apologizing for even showing up with the gun by the time they have four or five rounds in them," he said. "God forbid that terrible day ever occurs. But we would have a group of people armed with guns to run to the threat and neutralize it before they reach our children."

I understand trained police officers only hit their targets about 40% of the time.  I'm also old enough to remember the pursuit of the Boston Marathon bombers.   One brother was finally run down with a vehicle, the other escaped to be found hiding in a boat.  Over 250 rounds were fired before the brother escaped to the boat, but none did serious damage.  The brother captured alive survived a second hail of bullets from a number of police officers.  He not only didn't end up with "four or five rounds in" him, almost none of the bullets managed to hit him.  And what if the shooter is smart enough to wear body armor, as happened in Tyler, Texas many years ago?  Police there fired 116 rounds and had a trained sniper on hand.  All the police officers available couldn't bring that guy down, or stop him from shooting and then fleeing the scene.  This is what happens in real life.

Life is not a movie, Sheriff, and you don't get to write the script.  The solution of "more guns" is like the solution of "more drunk drivers," because a drunk driver will think twice about getting behind the wheel if he knows there are other drunks out there driving who might kill him, right? Sure, that'll work......

Please pay attention

And the response:
No, not the issue of the "tapes" (although, as James Comey said, wouldn't it be great if there were any?).  The "lobby of the Trump Tower 12 years ago" v. "the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank."  It's a slight shift, but an intentional one.  Sometimes Trump lies because he truly believes his lies.  Sometimes he lies because he knows what he's doing.

It's rather obvious which one this is.

Or Just To Hold A Parade

Can we get any more banana republic than this?

If Trump insists on a military parade through Washington involving thousands of troops, armored vehicles, missiles and other heavy weapons the event could disrupt crucial military training schedules, according to a defense official directly familiar with the initial planning efforts.

There are also concerns over the cost of the event, and a second defense official tells CNN that the Pentagon is considering seeking out private donations to offset some of the non-military costs of the event. The donations could not cover military salaries or the cost of moving equipment but they could be used to pay for other aspects of the parade.
I'm guessing donors would require logos on the tanks and planes, a la Trump's beloved NASCAR.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Among the Dead

Scott Beigel’s fiancee, Gwen Gossler, told mourners at his funeral on Sunday that they were watching news coverage of another school shooting when he made the comment.

“Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth — tell them what a jerk I am, don’t talk about the hero stuff,” Gossler said Beigel teased, according to the New York Post’s account of the service at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton.

“OK, Scott, I did what you asked,’’ Gossler continued tearfully. “Now I can tell the truth. You are an amazingly special person. You are my first love and my soulmate.’’

Isn't it better to tell her that she has lost her fiancĂ© to a gunman, than to tell a gun owner he has lost his right to own certain guns?  Isn't it better if our thoughts and prayers go to Ms. Gossler, than to some poor, bereaved gun owner mourning the loss of his favorite assault rifle?

I can't believe we have to have this conversation in this country.   The madness of the GOP to loot and pillage the commonwealth is as nothing compared to this insanity we insist on foisting on ourselves, and our resolute determination that nothing will be done about it, so let's blame the schools for not protecting our children as if school should be a combination prison and fortress.

This is not the country I was born into.  I don't know what happened to it, but the madness of this country is so far beyond the election of Donald Trump it's almost an insult to the dead to mention him in the same conversation as this.  I will note the news pointed out this is the third mass shooting since Trump took office, and that's only been 13 months ago.  There have been 18 school shootings since the year started.

This is evil, and we are all complicit in it.