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Well, maybe not the only post. It depends if anything else worthy of comment develops, since there’s a lot we don’t know yet, but I may just go ahead and update this post rather than create a new one.

1. Obviously this changes nothing about the gun control debate, with the exception that the NRA has actually said, “Okay, maybe bump stocks are a little over the line for us, we’re not sure, but we’re open to discussion, maybe.”

Does it mean anything? Not really. Mass shootings will continue. And I guess if you follow Tomi Lahren’s logic, criminals and psychos won’t care if bump stocks are illegal anyway, so it won’t matter if you ban them. You can even go a step further and take the Tucker Carlson line that bump stocks actually save lives because if Stephen Paddock hadn’t used one, he might have killed a lot more people.

Anyway, it’s hard to take anything the NRA seriously when their current marketing campaign involves Dana Loesch shaking her Clenched Fist Of Truth™ at America’s two greatest enemies (i.e. liberals and the mainstream media).

2. That said, I think it’s worth passing on these two articles that add some good context to the gun debate: this one at FiveThirtyEight and this one from WaPo.

Both make points that have been made before but don’t get a lot of attention, especially in the wake of the latest record-setting mass shooting. In essence: America’s gun problem isn’t just a gun problem, it’s a series of problems (mental health, suicide, domestic violence, etc) requiring separate solutions for each.

3. One point of contention: many people I know are furious that the police and the media aren't describing it as a terrorist attack and are criticizing it as a double standard, evidence of white privilege, etc.

I disagree for a simple reason: to qualify as terrorism, an attack must have a political motivation and must be intended to create a state of fear in either the general population or the group being targeted. As far as we know, Paddock doesn’t fit that description. At least not yet.

I understand why these people are demanding it be classified as such – it’s mainly an extension of their frustration that past attacks by white American guys that actually do fit the description of terrorism weren’t initially treated as such precisely because the perps were white American guys and therefore couldn’t possibly be terrorists because as we all know terrorists are brown foreigners in turbans with funny names. Etc.

The problem is that we’ve reached a point where basically any attack even remotely like this is considered a terrorist attack. Granted, that’s in part because actual terrorists have lowered the bar to the point where you can't have a multiple-car collision without people wondering if it was terrorism-related.

I guess I’m experiencing cognitive dissonance because I grew up at a time when mass shootings were almost never motivated by political ideology – more often than not it was a guy with mental problems or a disgruntled ex-employee.

Then again, that was also a time when terrorism was still considered a crime to be prosecuted under the standard judicial system. The GW Bush admin changed that when it reclassified terrorism as a literal act of war (and therefore no different from Japan attacking Pearl Harbor) rather than a crime – which for their purposes meant you could torture them, kill them with drones or jail them without charge basically forever.

So I’m not comfortable with people redefining terrorism to fit their particular political viewpoint.

It is what it is,

This is dF 

defrog: (Default)
Lots of high-profile shootings in the news recently. Or as we call it, another day in America. It says a lot when CNN has to break away from its coverage of a mass shooting to cover another mass shooting.

So let’s get the obvious out of the way:

1. I don’t have a lot to say about the Philandro Castle verdict that I haven’t already said about similar verdicts for similar cases. Executive summary: If you support the verdict (and yr not an immediate member of the officer’s family), you basically support the legal right of the police to shoot people dead on live video not for what they did, but what the officer thought they were going to do. You may not think that’s what you support. You may think yr sticking up for law enforcement or respecting court decisions, etc. And that’s fine. But the outcome of the verdict is justification for what Jeronimo Yanez did. So own it. Call it what it is. And if that’s the law enforcement you want, that’s the law enforcement yr going to get.

2. As for the UPS shooting and the GOP baseball shooting, I don’t expect either to change anyone’s attitudes about gun control. As the saying goes, if 20 dead schoolkids didn’t convince you, neither of these really raise the stakes.

3. For my money what’s more important about the GOP shooting is that thanks to James Hodgkinson, suddenly we’re having a discussion about the consequences of taking hateful political rhetoric too far. And it’s a discussion we need to have – although not necessarily for the reasons that conservatives now want to have it all of a sudden.

For them, of course, it’s a chance to play the victim about how liberals say all kinds of mean horrible awful things about conservatives, and between Kathy Griffin and Shakespeare In The Park, it was only a matter of time before people started getting hurt. Which is jaw-droppingly disingenuous, given the state of the GOP today and who they elected POTUS. Also, the dithering over Shakespeare In The Park’s current version of Julius Caesar is just stupid, not least because it shows they have no idea what the play is actually about.

On the bright side, it’s convinced Ted “I’d Totally Rape Hillary with an M-16” Nugent to tone it down. So there’s that.

4. While I would agree that now is as good a time as any to take a long hard look at the state of angry batshit political rhetoric and where that particular road leads, unfortunately the current “discussion” seems mired in the “But THEY started it” stage. 

(Or, if yr Erick Erickson, the “I want to tone down my rhetoric but the Left is so evil I have no choice but to double down SECESSION!” stage.)

That needs to change, because insane violent rhetoric isn’t exclusive to one side of the aisle. My FB and Twitter feeds illustrate this every day. We can’t address the problem until both sides admit it’s a problem in their own camp too. It doesn’t matter at this stage who started it or who does it more. This isn’t a 1st Grade playground.

Look, I get that people get passionate about politics and when they get angry, they say stuff they don’t really mean, etc. And most of the time that doesn’t result in a mass shooting. On the other hand, when you reduce the Other Side to demonic subhuman stereotypes who are evil and dangerous and must be defeated permanently at all costs, and on top of that you actively advocate punching people for simply expressing opinions you don’t like, you can't be too surprised when people who have psychological problems go extreme with that sentiment and decide, why stop at a sucker punch?

5. Does that mean the average Bernie Bro is directly responsible for Hodgkinson? Of course not. But I don’t think the proper response should be to shrug and say, “Well, he’s just a kook, nothing to do with us,” and carry on the angry hate rhetoric as though there’s no connection.

What I’m saying is that everyone on both sides needs to stop, take a breath, take a long hard look at themselves and how they talk about The Other Side, and give some serious thought as to how far they’re willing to take it and the consequences of letting it get out of control. Because once you demonize an entire group of people as being evil and subhuman, it gets easier to justify just about anything you decide to do to them.

6. Also, the violence is really just one of several consequences of the angry batshit rhetoric that dominates sociopolitical discourse. It doesn’t just result in the occasional crackpot shooting up a baseball field – it also fuels a winner-take-all attitude to the democratic process that replaces intellectual thought with raw dumb emotion, makes compromise impossible and rips apart families and communities. Put simply, there’s no real upside to it that I can see. And I don’t see how it leads to a better place from where we are now.

The downward spiral,

This is dF
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As a blogger I’m expected to express my opinion about #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile, the Dallas shootings and the subsequent aftermath. And I’m way late on this, I know, but I’ve been busy.

And to be honest, there’s not much I can add to what I’ve posted before about #BlackLivesMatters. So much of the rhetoric on my Facebook feed and elsewhere is the same recycled talking points we’ve heard since Ferguson (which was, believe it or not, two years ago) – the #AllLivesMatter crowd are repeating themselves because they refuse to listen to what #BLM is trying to tell them, and #BLM are repeating themselves because #ALM isn’t listening.

You see the problem.

Anyway, here’s a few things to add to the “conversation”, such as it is, about the specific events last week.

1. One of the takeaways from Dallas is that when Micah Johnson started shooting, the cops did what they could to protect the protesters, and protesters did what they could to help the police. Also, considering that some of the protesters were openly armed, it says a lot that not a single cop shot anyone they saw carrying a gun. Both of these factoids do not slot in neatly with the stereotypical rhetoric that gets thrown around on TwitBook in related political memes.

2. All three incidents raise serious questions about Open Carry and the general belief of the NRA that everyone is entitled to carry guns openly because it makes us all safer.

For a start, Open Carry clearly didn’t make a difference in the outcome of the Dallas shooting, although it did make it more difficult for the police to determine who the actual shooter was (and that there was only one).

Also – and more to the point – both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were legally carrying firearms in Open Carry states. Yet the fact that they had guns alarmed police enough to use deadly force in the same way that white people with guns generally don’t alarm them. The NRA – which normally leaps at the chance to defend the right of everyone to carry a gun without being hassled by the police about it – hasn’t had a blessed thing to say about either case. And their own members are starting to call them on it (at least about Castile).

The NRA eventually released a statement about the Castile shooting (without mentioning his name), saying they don’t comment on ongoing investigations – which is possibly wise, but does come across as a blatant media-management trick to avoid saying something that people are going to use against you on Twitter for the rest of yr life.

3. There’s also the fact that the Dallas police took out Johnson with a suicide bomber robot. Which is a flashy way of describing what was the equivalent of a telepresence drone attack on a suspect, which raises all kinds of legal and ethical questions regarding due process, lethal force, militarization of the police, etc.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Dallas police were wrong to use a robot in this specific situation – and there is actually precedent for using weaponized robots, although not with the specific intention to kill. And if we agree that the police have a legal right to kill someone in a situation like this, it arguably doesn't matter if they use robot bombs, guns, 16-ton weights or their bare hands.

Still, we’re headed into unknown territory here, especially when you remember (1) the current advances being made in robot technology regarding automation and artificial intelligence, and (2) the continuing trend of police militarization, and what it means to give cops the ability to send in a robot or drone to deal with suspects.

4. Inevitably there are idiots who were hoping Dallas would spark some kind of race war – including this guy. Possibly. I’m not entirely sure what exactly Joe Walsh wants, and it’s possible he doesn’t, either, apart from something that will make BLM protesters and Obama – and thus (in his mind) America’s race problem – go away, or at least make them look as evil and terrible and violent as he imagines they are.

I’d like to think the Joe Walshes of America are in the minority, but he’s not without support. Even my Facebook feed, sadly, makes that clear – many white people I know see BLM (and Obama) as the cause of racial tension in America: “Hey, I’m not racist, THEY started it, everything was fine until they saying white lives don’t matter and started shooting white cops!”

And while that’s not the same as openly advocating a race war, it seems pretty obvious that Walsh et al would welcome any excuse to crack down on the entire movement – like, say, a couple of violent psychopaths killing cops. It seems likely they’re going to milk Dallas (and now Baton Rouge) as “evidence” BLM is a terrorist group like ISIS and was all along and needs to be neutralized before they take over the country and enslave all the white people, or whatever it is they think BLM wants.

Good thing they’re only a fringe minority that won’t be emboldened by the success of a major Presidential candidate whose campaign has been built on white xenophobic … oh, wait.

It’s all sad and stupid, really. If a race war does happen, historians 100 years from now will shake their heads sadly at how easy it was to start one.

It never ends,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
You know about Orlando. It is sad and tragic.

As usual, I’ve been waiting for enough info to filter in before posting any thoughts about it. And as usual, most of what I’ve seen is the same old talking points being recycled with the general objective of making sure the blame lies squarely with political enemies.

If you think I’m going to jump in the middle of that, you are insane.

But blogging duty calls, so here’s a few things you can exploit or ignore at yr leisure:

1. On a purely political level, it’s interesting that the shooting takes previously separate arguments about gun control, terrorism, Islam, LGBT rights and political correctness and mashes them all together into an even more incoherent mess than usual.

That said, it doesn’t seem to be changing the conversation much, with the exception that you now have people actually arguing over whether it counts as a terrorist attack or an anti-LGBT attack (as if it couldn’t conceivably be both). But again, most of that seems less about facts of the shooting and more about making sure The Right People get blamed for it.

2. While terrorist attacks in the US remain rare statistically, terrorist attacks in the US involving guns are happening more often, according to FiveThirtyEight.

This is worth emphasizing because in the early days of post-9/11 America, experts rejected the idea of terrorists using guns for terror attacks because it was too small-scale. Under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda wanted to make Epic Statements like 9/11.

With bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda having been effectively replaced by ISIS, that strategy has changed. The official ISIS line is: no attack is too small.

Gun attacks also come with the added value of exploiting a touchy and divisive subject: gun control. If one of the objectives of terrorism is to divide us as a nation, the gun control issue is a great way to do it. Combine that with other wedge issues (Islamaphobia, gay marriage and The Great Transgender Bathroom Panic of 2016) and you’ll have us at each other’s throats in no time. The very reactions we’re seeing to Orlando prove that.

So we’re likely to see more of this kind of thing, because it’s not like assault rifles are hard to get.

3. On the other hand, not all mass shootings are terrorism-related. In fact, most aren’t. Mass shootings have become more common in the US even if you exclude the terrorism-related ones.

We don’t know why this is, and one reason we don’t, according to Vocativ, is because the CDC doesn’t collect data on mass shootings to study the details and see if there’s any causes or correlations we can learn.

The reason why the CDC doesn’t do this is because, basically, Congress won’t let them. You can make a good guess as to why. This seems counterproductive to me. I mean, look, if you’re going to argue that the problem isn’t guns but people, you should at least be trying to figure out why people do this sort of thing and if there’s anything to be done about it before they do it. It’s the same old dodge – like when we say the problem is not guns but mentally ill people, and then do nothing to address mental health.

4. In any case, I’ve seen no real evidence that the Orlando shooting is going to lead to any meaningful changes in the debate that will shift the status quo. It might. But I would be surprised.

Same as it ever was,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
Meanwhile, in my home state:

Look at how long, big and powerful our state rifle is, ladies. LOOK AT IT.

The Barrett .50 caliber rifle is a powerful gun. Widely used in the military, its rounds can "penetrate light armor, down helicopters, destroy commercial aircraft, and blast through rail cars," according to a report from the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence describes .50 caliber rifles like the Barrett as "among the most destructive weapons legally available to civilians in the United States."

“Look at how long, big and powerful our state rifle is, ladies. LOOK AT IT.”

Size matters,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
Yr Chilled Speech lede of the day:

Sure, because the last place you want to challenge people’s worldview and expose them to controversial issues is a university. 

Also:

The proposed guidelines also advise faculty to not "'go there' if you sense anger" and "limit student access off hours."
"Only meet 'that student' in controlled circumstances," the guidelines state.

Well, sure. What’s the point of going to university if it means stupid professors challenging yr worldview and saying stuff you don’t agree with and you don't even have the option of the responding to their well-reasoned argument with gunfire?

The NRA Open Carry squad usually has a couple of responses to this sort of thing: (1) The faculty is overrating the actual danger of a class shootout because gun owners are responsible people and not violent psychopaths for whom the best way to resolve an argument is to shoot yr opponent, and (2) If you want to prevent a class shootout, here’s the solution: arm the teachers AND the students, then no one will shoot anyone and you can talk about whatever you want. QED.

Point 1 is probably true to a point. But there’s ample evidence that not every gun owner is responsible, and professors are likely less worried about the 98% of armed students who won’t pull a gun during (or after) a debate and more worried about the 2% who will.

As for Point 2, I don’t believe that arming everyone is a deterrent to a shootout, especially if just one student (or teacher, for that matter) is disturbed or angry enough to not care if everyone else is armed. And the likely result of one gun being pulled out in anger is ALL the other guns being pulled out in self-defense – and with most if not all of the people in that room untrained in dealing with an active-shooter or standoff situation, the result is likely to be messy and stupid.

Or not. But I think that misses the real point that the NRA Open Carry squad generally fails to understand – not everyone wants to carry a gun, and the ones who don’t are generally nervous around the ones who are not only carrying, but making a public display of it. The presence of weapons in a non-combat situation changes the very atmosphere of the room into one of tension and fear – maybe not for Mr Carry Guy, but definitely for everyone else. That’s bad enough in a Chipotles – it’s absolutely wrong for an academic setting which is supposed to be conducive to free speech. Bringing guns to class seems likely to have the opposite effect. It may not be the intention, but it’s still the result.

Age of unreason,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
Remember when the Cleveland grand jury decided that a police officer did the right thing by gunning down 12-year-old unarmed Tamir Rice after giving him one whole second to surrender? Then when the Rice family filed a wrongful death suit, the city govt responded that the shooting was Tamir’s fault for behaving in a way that got him lawfully shot and killed?

The city followed up on that this week by sending Rice’s family a bill for $500 to cover "ambulance advance life support" and other medical expenses, including mileage, related to Rice's ride to the hospital the day he was shot.

So to summarize:

“Hi Mr and Mrs Rice, our cops shot yr boy dead. We’ve decided they did nothing wrong in doing so, and in fact the whole thing was yr boy’s fault. That’ll be $500, please. When can we expect payment?”

The good news – such as it is – is that the mayor has apologized and said payment won’t be necessary. He also said the city was just following procedure, and that sending it was a bureaucratic goof. The fact that the bill went seriously viral may or may not be a factor in his decision.

The Rice family aren't having it. I probably wouldn’t, either, in their position.

Insult to injury,

This is dF
defrog: (sars)
There is trouble in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

As usual, the online discussion about it is aligning predictably along partisan party lines, and much of it is apocryphal and basically designed to score political points on other issues.

But I’m obligated by the First Amendment to say something about it, so here’s a few thoughts:

1. The #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS tags are cute, but – in this case – inaccurate. At this stage, I wouldn’t classify the Bundy occupation as domestic terrorism, mainly because it’s aimed directly at the US govt, not civilians. There are no hostages, and no lives have been threatened. You also can’t really call it an insurrection, considering the target is a wildlife refuge, not Congress. The most you can really say about it now is it’s the ultraconservative interpretation of the Occupy Wall Street movement – only dumber, heavily armed, way more paranoid and (very much the opposite of OWS) with the very real possibility that it could escalate into serious deadly violence.

2. That said, the confusion is understandable, because most protesters don’t show up armed, take over a public building and express a willingness to go down firing if the police try to arrest them. The actual presence of weapons makes this more than just a simple free speech exercise, because there is a level of intimidation involved.

This tends to be difficult for hardcore pro-gun enthusiasts to understand, because in their heads, they're thinking strictly in terms of 2A rights and self-defense: “How could openly carrying an assault rifle into a Chipotle’s possibly alarm anyone? I mean, it’s CONSTITUTIONAL!” It doesn’t occur to them that most normal people associate the sight of a deadly weapon in the hands of someone who is not a police officer with imminent danger and death. Similarly, if yr protest requires semi-auto weapons and a loud willingness to use them, it implies that you may not take “no” for an answer, and that the situation could turn ugly and possibly deadly at any moment. You may not mean for it to be threatening, but that’s how most people are going to take it.

3. It doesn’t help that at least some of the Bundy Gang seem to be looking forward to the impending shootout, and are indulging in the conservative wet fantasy that they are standing up against Evil Obama Tyranny, and that nothing would prove their point more than dying in a hail of Obama Tyranny bullets, which would galvanize “patriots” and spark the revolution that would Take America Back from … well, whatever the hell they think Obama is and return it to “real” Americans (i.e. conservatives).

5. Hopefully it won’t come to that. It’s hard to know right now if it will. We’ve sort of been here before, and no one got killed then. But that was because the Feds decided the situation wasn’t worth the risk of a shootout. Maybe this one isn’t either, but you don’t really want to have too many precedents where armed protests like this have zero consequences, either. Also, the outcome in Oregon may depend on how many other “patriots” turn up to support the Bundy Gang, how crazy some of them are, and whether the Bundys have the ability to keep them under control. In situations like this, it only takes one idiot to start a gunfight.

6. As for the people complaining that the cops haven’t already gunned them down the same way they gun down (say) unarmed black people: it’s not a good comparison, and it also misses the point – are you really arguing that if the police are going to be trigger-happy with unarmed black kids, they should have the common decency to shoot the Bundy Gang dead with no conversation?

7. That tweet from Ammon Bundy comparing himself to Rosa Parks? It’s a hoax.

8. BTW, none of this is intended to defend the Bundy Gang, or to excuse whatever racist batshit conspiracy theories some or all of them happen to believe. I just prefer to criticize their actions based on reality rather than biased and apocryphal memes and hashtags.

Home on the range,

This is dF


defrog: (sars)
ITEM: Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez – a concealed-carry permit holder who was charged with misdemeanor reckless use of a handgun after she opened fire on a pair of shoplifters as they fled from a Home Depot store near Detroit – was sentenced to 18 months of probation and stripped of her concealed gun permit.

"I tried to help," she told WJBK television after her sentencing. "And I learned my lesson that I will never help anybody again."

Translation: "Hey I tried to help stop a crime and this is the thanks I get? Well, fine. You don’t want my help? Then I just won’t help anybody else ever. Next time you get shoplifted don't come crying to me. Fuck all y'all."

I like this part:

Her lawyer was even more defiant. "We need more people like Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez in our society," defense attorney Steven Lyle Schwartz told The Associated Press.

Yes. We need more people willing to use deadly force to stop shoplifters.

As you can imagine, I’m not impressed. The argument that Duva-Rodriguez may have had good intentions and was aiming for the tires and all that is really beside the point. Whatever her intentions were, the fact remains that she made the snap decision that shoplifting was a crime that warranted whipping out a deadly weapon and firing it. It doesn't matter to me that she was aiming for the tires. No one who sees their gun as an all-purpose tool for stopping criminals should be allowed to carry one around.

This is the big flaw in the Good Guys With Guns meme currently being pushed by the NRA and its supporters – the assumption that Good Guys With Guns will respond appropriately in situations like these or ones like San Bernadino et al. Some will. Many won’t. Which is why the NRA Bullshit Fantasy World where every American is walking around armed is a disaster waiting to happen.

The more people you enable to carry guns (concealed or openly) – and the more you inflate them with Good Guys With Guns rhetoric along with a healthy dose of general xenophobia – the more yr going to see incidents like this. And they’re not all going to end with no one getting hurt.

So if Duva-Rodriguez wants to "go Galt" on this specific issue, that's fine by me. 

No help coming,

This is dF


defrog: (sars)
ITEM: Open-carry groups Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com plan to stage an open-carry demonstration next to the University of Texas at Austin. The protest will feature a mock mass shooting using fake guns, stage blood and the sounds of gunshots blasted through a bullhorn.

Organizer Murdoch Pizgatti describes it as a "public theatrical performance against gun-free zones":

"It's basically going to be a hostage situation where people are shot and then the one person with a concealed handgun will come in and save the situation and reduce the body count," said Pizgatti. "It's pretty much going to be portraying the incidents in gun free zones and why they happen. The bad guys don't obey gun free zone signs and good people do."

Which is just dumb. Even if you believe Open Carry is a good idea, it’s ridiculous to try and prove yr point by acting out a staged situation with an outcome you have full control over – which is pretty much the opposite of what an actual mass shooting situation is like, as people are actually trained for such situations will tell you.

So Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com may think they’re making some grand point to anti-gun people about how gun-free zones just invite a mass shooting and you’ll wish the Good Guys With Guns were there to save you when the shit goes down.

What they’re actually doing is acting out the Die Hard gun-fu fantasies playing in their head that have nothing to do with reality, and passing it off as an argument in favor of Open Carry. Which is about as effective as bringing AR-15s to political rallies and Chipotles.

Even some other pro-gun groups say so:

"I'm astounded that eighteen months after most of the state's open carry groups figured out that carrying rifles and shotguns into restaurants and grocery stores isn't a solid public-relations strategy, one such group apparently thinks that introducing openly carried long guns, fake blood, and the sound of gunshots into a university community that is highly uncertain about the new campus carry law and understandably concerned about recent high-profile mass shootings is a smart idea," said Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry.

Honestly, the only way they can realistically demonstrate the effectiveness of Good Guys With Guns in mass shooting scenarios is to be caught up in a real mass shooting. And frankly the track record of Good Guys With Guns in such scenarios is not that great.

BACKGROUND: Texas passed a law in June making it legal to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, but the law takes effect next August, and it comes with a number of restrictions, which means you can’t take yr concealed weapon just anywhere.

Mocking the mock shooters,

This is dF


defrog: (mooseburgers)
As we all know, Donald Trump will say anything to be POTUS. And as we all know, it’s working – at least as far as media polls go. Which has led to a lot of dithering from Democrats afraid that he might actually win and from some Establishment Republicans afraid that he might cost them the White House.

The good news is that the experts at FiveThirtyEight assure us that the odds of Trump actually succeeding are pretty slim. Election mechanics simply won’t allow it. They’re probably right about that.

The bad news is that while Trump’s numbers won’t get him elected, they reveal a particularly awful and ugly truth: if you want to lead Republican polls, all you have to do is say outrageous things honest straight talk that exploits whatever fear and loathing and racist bigotry exists in the white American majority, and run with it.

As usual, John Scalzi puts it better than I ever could, but the gist of his commentary here is this: the real problem here isn’t whether Trump might win – it’s the fact that at least 30% of Republicans are buying into his schtick so much that they’d vote for him right now if the election was today.

The percentage may actually be higher when considering that candidates like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz have similar opinions to Trump, even if they’re a little softer spoken about it.

Whatever the actual numbers, Scalzi’s point remains valid: “You can't say the man who has for months led the polls to be the candidate for president of one of the two major political parties in the United States is not in the mainstream.”

Put another way: if/when Trump drops out of the race, the 30% of Republican voters who agree with him will still be out there looking for a candidate to back (assuming Trump doesn’t go third-party). It’s a fair bet that the Establishment GOP candidates is not going to just pretend that 30% doesn’t exist. They’re going to be thinking about how to get them onside.

Doing that may not require them to go to Trump extremes in their rhetoric. And there are also signs that even some Tea Party politicos think Trump may have gone a little too far with his religious litmus tests.

On the other hand, this is the same party whose Establishment wing gave us Guantanamo Bay, enhanced interrogation, mass surveillance and a million Benghazi investigations, to say nothing of their “Syrian refugees f*** off” policy. So I don't think they have to go too far off the reservation to target Trump’s leftovers.

Meanwhile, for some anecdotal context, check out this post about House Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA), who had this to say about the evolution of his constituency:

"I used to spend ninety per cent of my constituent response time on people who call, e-mail, or send a letter, such as, ‘I really like this bill, H.R. 123,’ and they really believe in it because they heard about it through one of the groups that they belong to, but their view was based on actual legislation," Nunes said. "Ten per cent were about ‘Chemtrails from airplanes are poisoning me’ to every other conspiracy theory that’s out there. And that has essentially flipped on its head." The overwhelming majority of his constituent mail is now about the far-out ideas, and only a small portion is "based on something that is mostly true." He added, "It’s dramatically changed politics and politicians, and what they’re doing."

So Lindsay Graham can talk all he wants about how Trump doesn’t represent the Republican Party. He may not represent the whole party, but he represents a big enough chunk of it that the “real” GOP can't just write them off as the fringe anymore. The GOP likes to talk about how it has a big tent, but it’s time they admitted that at least a third of the tent is filled with people like this.



Which is just sad.

Happy Christmas is a warm gun,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
ITEM: A pastor in Detroit shot and killed a man who allegedly tried to attack him with a brick during a church service in Detroit on Sunday.

And now you can finally say you read a news story with a quote like this:

“The pastor pulled out his Glock and fired several shots. I think he hit him 4 or 5 times, and the man died."

Not much I can add to that, except this is pretty much the society the NRA currently advocates: priests with Glocks killing bad guys with guns.

To be fair, according to local reports violence against churches is a particular problem in Detroit. Still, it’s interesting that the articles I’ve read (the above link + this one) feature local religious leaders denouncing gun violence against churches – but don’t have much to say about responding to that violence with deadly force.

I feel like a preacher waving a gun around,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
ITEM: Two independent investigations from a Colorado prosecutor and a former FBI supervisory agent have concluded that the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice was reasonable and objectively justified, arguing that any reasonable officer placed in the same scenario could have concluded deadly force was necessary.

As you might expect, Rice’s family disagrees with those findings.

Note that these are just third-party investigations – the actual case hasn’t started yet. But it’s not hard to see where this is going – if the grand jury decides to press charges against officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, I would be surprised.

Vox has a good write-up here on the independent investigations, the details of the shooting, the officers/police force involved, and the legal background behind the circumstances under which deadly force is justified.

And the details make one thing clear: if the grand jury decides the shooting was justified, then we’re pretty much saying that it is legally and socially acceptable for cops to execute anyone they feel is threatening them, regardless of age.

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little. But there’s an obvious disconnect here. I can pretty much guarantee that all of the people backing the police officers involved in the Rice shooting would be less inclined to support them if it was their kid shot down in two seconds. But Tamir Rice isn't their kid. So I guess they feel they can afford to fall back on the same simplistic pro-police meme that I see on Facebook every single time something like this happens (paraphrased):

I support our brave law enforcement officers because we must have Law And Order at all costs, and once you start second-guessing the police yr only one step away from total anarchy etc and so on.

Jon Stewart has already addressed this, but it’s worth repeating: it’s entirely possible to be pro-police and anti-corruption, anti-racist and anti-shooting-unarmed-kids at the same time. And the more that bad cops are allowed to hide behind grand juries who find that their actions are technically legal under loose SCOTUS guidelines, the more it undermines the authority of legitimate law enforcement. Ask Frank Serpico if you don’t believe me.

I guess the question really boils down to this: do you want to live in a society where the police can justify shooting unarmed petty criminals and innocent people, even if they’re kids, and regardless of the severity of the crime they were allegedly and initially stopped for – shoplifting, selling illegal cigarettes, broken taillight, etc?

ADDENDUM: Yes, yes, I know some people will claim that Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott are different because they allegedly challenged or resisted the police. Like that’s an excuse to kill them. Or justifies what happened to Tamir Rice.

Don’t shoot,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
The gun debate continues. As do the mass shootings that propel it. And by “debate” I mean “rehashing the same old talking points”.

I don’t have anything to add to what I’ve said in the past, but I will take the opportunity to link to this post that addresses the perennial NRA-sponsored talking point that the way to stop mass shootings is to eliminate gun-free zones and arm everyone – the logic being that if everyone has a gun, this will either deter mass shooters, or give the victims a chance to fire back and save the day.

According to people who are actually trained for gunfight situations, this is gunslinger fantasy horseshit.

CAVEAT: The article is from The Nation, which is decidedly slanted to the Left and definitely on the side of the gun-control advocates. So of course that will make people suspicious of its objectivity (as it should). But there are other weapons experts who will independently tell you the same basic thing:

If you find yrself in a gunfight situation, unless you’ve had police/military-level weapons training – or unless yr the luckiest person on Earth – yr far more likely to panic and shoot the wrong people, or get shot yrself (either by the bad guys or by the cops who arrive and see you with yr gun out firing at people).

Think of it this way: the police have serious training for this kind of thing, and some of them still make questionable judgments in confrontational situations (whether because of stress or racism or power trips or whatever). I doubt the John Wayne wannabe performing Open Carry at the local Twin Peaks is going to handle the situation well.

To say nothing of Ben Carson.

Here I come to save the day,

This is dF


defrog: (onoes)
So this happened on the internet.
By “we’ve” I think they mean “conservatives who will shred Obama no matter what he does”. 

“What we’ve all been thinking”, apparently, is that Muslims are evil and the enemy of America, and that Obama’s strategy to fight them is to hug them until they love us, and that strategy is obviously failing because if it wasn’t, those five armed forces members in Chattanooga would still be alive, and we are all as tired of it as Tomi Lahren, because a REAL President would go over to the Middle East and kill all the Muslims us in the name of our Lord.

So by “we”, I think they mean “conservatives who hate Obama and Muslims because what’s the difference, really”.

Okay. Not just them. I’ve had a few friends I wouldn’t normally classify as Republicans forward this. They’re more representative of the “I’m from Tennessee and I support the military and my country, so I’m really upset this happened in MY state, thanks Obama” constituency.

Anyway, yes, the video has gone viral. I haven’t watched it, but I’ve seen the money quotes from it. So here’s some obligatory commentary in the popular numbered-bullet-point format.

1. The rant appears to be a rehashed update of every GOP talking point about (1) Muslims and the Middle East since 9/11, and (2) Obama ever since he launched his 2008 POTUS campaign. Even the “put the fear of God in their desert” angle was covered by Ann Coulter 14 years ago

2. It also assumes that the attack in Chattanooga is a direct result of ISIS’ current activities and Obama’s “half baked” strategy to stop them. In other words, Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez was taking orders direct from ISIS (though there’s no evidence of this right now) and if ISIS were being defeated, this attack never would have happened. 

3. It assumes further that Obama’s strategy to date has been “jihadist-friendly”. In what way, exactly? Because we haven’t deported every Muslim in the US to Gitmo? We haven’t nuked Iran already? I don’t know what this even means. 

4. Her big solution: “Let’s show them what the United States looks like up close and personal. Show them what a B1 bomber looks like flying overhead; show them what they’re messing with.”

Because if there’s one thing Obama hasn’t been doing, it’s bombing ISIS targets. Except when he has. Which doesn’t count because Obama. Also, since many ISIS soldiers are from Iraq, I’m pretty sure they already have a good idea of who they’re messing with. 

Unless Lahren is advocating a nuclear option. Which is not only inhuman and insane, but also lazy.

5. The fact that the video went viral does perhaps indicate that a lot of people who aren’t kneejerk Obama/Muslim haters are unhappy with the way Obama is handling ISIS, especially if it’s resulting in recruiting centers (well, one) being shot up. 

However, I get the feeling that displeasure is rooted in remarkably simplistic ideas about terrorism in general and ISIS in particular. Namely: if we bomb the bejeezus out of ISIS, we can end terrorism. 
No one’s really saying it that way. In fact, most of the people I know who have forwarded it aren’t really offering any detailed alternatives to the strategy he’s pursuing. But given the insane sociopolitical complexities of the Middle East in general and ISIS in particular, dealing with ISIS isn’t as simple as just bombing them all with American exceptionalism. 

Air Force Lieutenant General John W Hesterman III explains:

He said the bombing campaign should not be compared to past wars because the adversary is neither a state nor an established army.

“The comparison is not valid,” he said, adding: “This enemy wrapped itself around the civilian population before we even started.”

The military has never had a blueprint for how to use airstrikes in such a setting, he said.

“With this enemy we have to be available 24/7 with coalition air power, differentiate them from the population and go after them every time we find them. It’s an order of magnitude more difficult than what we’ve done before.”

6. Those armed civilians “protecting” recruitment centers? That might be a great idea if there were an actual organized plot to attack all the recruitment centers, instead of just one guy attacking one center who is now dead and therefore unlikely to attack more of them. And even then, it’s not really that great an idea.

Think of it this way: the Chattanooga shooter carried out the easiest kind of attack there is in America. We get mass shootings in America every week. We got one while I was typing this post. The vast majority of them since 9/11 were not carried out by jihadists. That illustrates how small the problem is, and how unlikely it is to happen again.

So either these people haven’t really thought the situation through, or they have but see it more as an opportunity to grandstand and make some half-assed point about Open Carry and Obama won’t let soldiers protect themselves so it’s up to us and doesn’t Obama just suck.

Even the Army has said, “Thanks, but we’d rather we be guarded by people with, you know, training.”

(NOTE: A few people on my Facebook feed have claimed that the civilian guards in their neighborhood are actual combat vets, not redneck wannabes. With respect, that doesn’t mean they have proper training for that specific situation. I’m pretty sure the rules of engagement in a war zone in a foreign country are way different than a shopping center in America.)

7. I have five American dollars that says the same people who support civilian guards at recruitment centers will use the fact that no other recruitments centers have been attacked since Chattanooga as proof that they’re an effective deterrent against attacks.

8. Probably my biggest grievance against Lahren’s rant is that it’s essentially an attempt to restoke post-9/11 fear and loathing disguised as righteous anger. Remember what that led to – disproportionate violence, mass round-ups, restrictions of civil liberties, Guantanamo Bay, torture and irrational paranoia every time you see a Muslim-looking person on yr plane or when some Muslim group suggests building a mosque in yr city.

No thanks. If yr letting terrorism scare you into doing things you would find reprehensible if dictatorships did them, guess what – the terrorists are winning.

No emo,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
And the part of the .44 Magnum will be played by …

Rod Serling tells you what’s up.

[Via I Belong To The ___ Generation]

Works every time,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)


[Via The Cult Of Ray]

Wild boys,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)


[Via Vintage Vixen Obsessed]

Drink safely,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
Possibly. Don’t hold me to that.

So. As a US citizen, I’m required by law to blog my opinion about recent events in Ferguson, MO. I’m also required to express it instantly, and as angrily as possible, preferably without having all the facts of the incident.

Well, I never was good with rules. But I do have a few observations:

1. Public relations: yr doing it wrong

There’s little doubt that the St Louis County police have handled the aftermath of the shooting badly – refusing to release information, breaking out the military hardware to deal with protesters, arresting journalists for filming cops on the grounds that it’s illegal (it isn’t), and so on and et cetera.

Jelani Cobb at the New Yorker – who provides some helpful context to the Ferguson situation – sums it up rather well:

From the outset, the overlapping bureaucracies in Ferguson handled the case in ways that suggested ineptitude. Yet subsequent developments—the stonewalling followed by contradictory statements, the detention of reporters, the clumsy deployment of sophisticated military equipment—all point not to a department too inept to handle this investigation objectively but one too inept to cloak the fact that they never intended to do so. One protestor held a sign that said, “Ferguson Police Need Better Scriptwriters.”

Dude’s got a point. When you assemble the narrative the police have put together, it reads something like this:

Okay, so Brown was a suspect in a convenience store robbery, but Officer Darren Wilson didn’t actually know that at the time, he stopped Brown cos he was jaywalking, and Brown wouldn’t stop jaywalking, and also he was on reefers, and he attacked Officer Wilson – because you know how wild and violent people who smoke reefers can get – and so Officer Wilson had to shoot him a lot, and oh there’s a curfew now kthxbye.

It’s possible the narrative would make more sense if some missing details were plugged in. But as it stands, the story boils down to this: Michael Brown was shot at least six times for one or more of three things: (1) jaywalking, (2) stealing some cheap cigarillos (possibly, even though the store owner didn’t think it was worth calling 911 over) and/or (3) shoving a cop back into his cruiser and trying to steal his gun (something that, BTW, no one actually does unless they are insane or whacked out on PCP – neither of which apply to Brown, as far as we know).

No wonder the people of Ferguson aren’t buying it.

I get that in situations like this, the police leadership may not be clear about what happened and need time to piece it together. Still, when yr credibility is already hanging by a thread, yr side of the story shouldn’t sound like yr just making stuff up – especially when you’ve been sitting on it for close to a week.

2. Yr very own tank

I can't really add to what John Oliver has already said about St Louis County’s militarized police force.

I will add that the outrage is a little disingenuous since militarization of police forces in America has been an ongoing trend for a long time now. And the consequences have been pretty horrifying.

3. Yr very own journalism

Some people have been heralding the Twitter coverage in Ferguson as proof of the viability of citizen journalism as a replacement for traditional news media.

I’ve heard this before, usually from people who criticize “traditional” news media for being corporate shills who don’t fulfill their own personal biases and indignant outrage.

Anyway, I get the appeal of “the people as journalism”. The only problem is, journalism requires an editorial role to ensure reports are reliable. Otherwise, this happens. And when that happens, the consequences for innocent people can be severe

So I’m not all that impressed, no.

To be sure, Twitter is great for broadcasting information in situations like disasters and volatile situations like the Arab Spring (especially when govt censorship is in play). It’s also good for calling attention stories like the Brown shooting and organizing protests and vigils. And yes, “proper” media gets stuff wrong too.

I’m just saying there is (or ought to be) more than a fine line between “citizen journalism” and “Twitter tsumani that could be true, apocryphal, exaggerated or outright false, and yr just going to have to decide that for yrself”.

And that's all I got for Ferguson and Michael Brown.

I could go on about the sillier aspects of all this, like the select (white) pundits complaining about black people making it a race issue whilst also pointing out that Michael Brown wrote rap lyrics, cos we all know about rappers, especially black ones, and especially when yr black president is a fan of them, or the hilarious conspiracy theories about false flags, but, well, that’s enough, isn't it?

Developing

Don’t shoot (I’m a man),

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
This is a bit dated, but I only just found out about it:

On July 4 in Dallas, a local musician staged an Open Carry Guitar Rally.

And 300 people showed up with guitars.

OpenCarryGuitar1.jpg

OpenCarryGuitar2.jpg

OpenCarryGuitar3.jpg

Obviously, the object was to parody gun owners staging open-carry protests, although the actual event wasn’t an anti-gun rally in itself. You can read the details here.

The local open-carry group, Open Carry Texas, was of course supportive of the rally in the sense that “we totally support the First Amendment” – which implies that yr now supposed to return the favor and support their 1A right to freak people out in Target and Chipotle and wherever the hell else they feel like carrying iron.

Ha ha. No.

It’s a shame the Open Carry Guitar Rally didn’t get nearly as much coverage as the open-carry gun protests. But anyway, it’s a great idea. I like the concept of showing how people react differently when you carry a guitar over yr shoulder en masse than an AR-15.

Of course, I’ll admit when I heard about it, my first thought Robert Rodriguez’s Mariachi Guitar Army.



And also this song by Deadbolt.



Don’t shred on me,

This is dF

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