Contributors

Friday, July 31, 2015

Zero Outrage

So, everyone's outrage level is at maximum over a lion being killed yet the 418 children ages 0-11 that have been killed so far just this year due to gun violence gets nothing. Wait, I'm sorry...there is outrage over the children being killed by guns...it's "FUCK YOU, DON'T TAKE MY GUNS!!!"

The contest on social media right now as to who can be more outraged at a dentist who killed a lion nauseates me.

Meanwhile, in the land of human beings, we've had 207 mass shootings so far this year and 419 children ages 0-11 killed or injured by gun violence. Hey, let's all go blow a bowel about a lion...yay!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Trump Is Winning

Check out this focus group of New Hampshire voters.



A "classy" presidency? Wow. Yet in many ways this makes sense, right? Consider all the reasons I've discussed as to why Trump is doing so well with GOP primary voters. Their comments in this video confirm all of it and more. Like any good marketing person, Trump understands exactly what they want and he gives it to them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Truly Grateful


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

So They Did a Study About Defensive Gun Use...

With the NRA constantly claiming that more guns are more better, someone actually did a study about the effectiveness of untrained gun users. It turns out that untrained people are really bad at defending themselves with guns:
They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios. They didn't take cover. They didn't attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy -- they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough -- they didn't shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.
It was a relatively small study, so the statistical significance isn't the greatest. But it backs up what every gun owner should already know: without effective, consistent and repeated training, carrying a gun is useless at best, and will get you killed at worst.

The Concealed Carry University (which sells training DVDs) outlines several gun myths that amateur gun owners fall victim to:
  • The “find the gun that works for you” myth. At least 60% of the guns and gear out there were designed with sales and popularity in mind, not effectiveness in a fight. Which are good, which are bad, and what makes them poor choices for self-defense combat?
  • The myth of “Accuracy in Combat = Accuracy at the Range." Statistically, 77 percent of shots fired in self-defense situations will miss their targets, even when fired by trained gun-handlers
  • The “I’ll see him coming" myth. Roughly 67 percent of the time, the bad guy is the first one to use lethal force. They ambush us. This tells us that a gunfight is not a clear-cut incident where a target pops up from behind a barricade.
  • The “I’ll have time to think and decide” myth. The average violent attack is over in 3 seconds. They are “blitz” attacks, designed to blindside and overwhelm us.
  • The myth of ‘Fight or Flight’. The reason criminals prefer these ‘blitz attack ambushes’ is because it forces our minds into a state of reflexive reaction. The problem is, our bodies don’t only choose between Fight and Flight, but instead between Fight, Flight, and Freeze. And without specific training, many (if not most) of us are prone to freezing for 3 or more seconds when confronted with a sudden, psychologically and physically overwhelming attack.
  • The myth of one shot drops. 93% of single-gunshot wounds are survivable, and in the majority of recorded gunfights, good and bad guys report not even knowing they’ve been shot until after the fight ends. Handguns do not have “stopping power”. A bullet hits with exactly as much force as the recoil of the handgun that fired it. In order to effectively stop a threat, we must destroy something in the attacker’s body (or destroy his psychological motivation), that he needs to continue attacking us. This must be ingrained at the reflexive, muscle-memory level.

But perhaps the most important consideration is your willingness to kill. If you buy a gun, you have to want to kill someone, and do so without having any time to think about it. You can't pull your pistol out with the expectation that you will scare the bad guy away by simply waving it at them. 

The problem is that civilians will never have enough training to safely and effectively wield handguns. They can't afford either the cost or the time to maintain an adequate skill level. Cops are constantly being trained and evaluated, and all too frequently even they shoot bystanders or suspects who are unarmed and harmless.

The final thing civilians are missing is constant psychological evaluation. Police forces constantly monitor the performance and mental state of officers. Bad cops don't just up and kill someone like Walter Scott out of the blue. They typically have a track record of excessive violence and civilian complaints against them.

Civilians have no such oversight. When someone like John Houser, the Lafayette theater shooter, buys a gun there's no one making sure he stays on the straight and narrow. Even when a Houser is reported to the police for violating a restraining order, they frequently don't take his guns away. And in the rare occasions when guns are confiscated, the NRA has forced lawmakers to pass laws that return them in short order. Police departments are made to err on the side of "let the kooks have their guns" in most states, 'cuz it's the Second Amendment!

The NRA wants people to buy lots of guns and go the whole hog and get into the killer mindset. To do that right requires serious training -- not just on the shooting range, but tactical training that simulates real life situations. Anyone who buys a gun should be required to undergo that on a regular basis. However, the vast majority of us would never do that: we don't have the inclination, the time, the money, or the emotional makeup to become ruthless killers.

Unless you plan to become a soulless killing machine like John Houser, having a gun will only make you a menace to yourself and everyone around you.

Someone Please Notice Mike Huckabee

With the GOP clown car filled up to max cap, Mike Huckabee needed to do something to get noticed. This task was especially difficult given the Donald's suckage of all of the air out the room. So, he offered up some right wing blog commenting porn and compared Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler.

I was not offended by what he said as many others are now pretending to be in the media. For me, it was simply another shining example of the type of people are country has to deal with on a daily basis. They start with a straw man (Obama is helping Iran) and then sashay into appeal to fear (Obama is helping Iran kill Jews). They top it off with a false equivalency (Obama is helping Iran kill Jews like Hitler!). This tactic works every time for the audience he is targeting: the GOP base.

Conservatives become more animated when anger, hate and fear are all involved.

The Trump Bubble Has Still Not Burst

Recent polls show Donald Trump as the clear front runner of the GOP nomination. He's ahead of Jeb Bush in New Hampshire by seven points and has pulled to within 2 of Scott Walker in Iowa. Conversely, he would get his ass kicked by Hillary in a general by 16 points and, most surprisingly, by Bernie Sanders by 21 points! The other interesting note about the polls show Jeb only beating Bernie Sanders by 1 point, certainly within the margin of error, while a Sanders-Walker matchup (wouldn't that be something?) has Sanders coming out on top by five points.

Predictions of the Trump Bubble bursting have not come to pass. It's not really that surprising given that he truly is the epitome of the conservative base. He's aristocratic, authoritarian, wealthy, arrogant, loud, angry, fear peddling, hate filled and has one conviction...his own vanity. The words he uses and how he uses them are nearly identical to those we see in the major right wing forums. Any facts presented that directly refute what he says are ignored with hubris.

He's the pissed adolescent's wet fucking dream.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Good Words

Now it’s routine for gun lobby commentators and politicians to blame mass shootings on the existence of so-called “gun-free zones.” This is a red herring, pushed by the gun lobby to advance a “guns everywhere” agenda, which insults the dead and mocks the living by reducing tragedy to a mere trope. 

It’s past time to lay this fallacy to rest.

So-called “gun-free zones” are not the problem, and victim-blaming is not a solution. Dangerous people’s continued access to guns is the problem, largely due to the gun lobby’s extreme agenda which harms everyone, including law-abiding gun owners, military members, and law enforcement. So let’s work on the real problem, together. 

The solution is to strengthen our common-sense gun violence prevention laws, like legislation pending in Congress right now to ensure background checks occur on all gun sales. It won’t prevent every tragedy – nothing will – but it would go a long way toward making Americans safer.

--Peter Read, Ex-Air Force officer: Gun laws, not ‘gun-free zones,’ are the real problem.

Agreed. And thank you for your service.

Trump on Scott Walker

AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAHHHAHHAHAHAHHHAAA!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chattanooga Good Guys Had Guns After All

The conservative meme is that five men died in Chattanooga because big bad government wouldn't let them have guns. However, the FBI reports that some service personnel in the Chattanooga shooting were armed:
A Navy officer and a Marine fired their sidearms hoping to kill or subdue the gunman who murdered five service members last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to multiple military officials familiar with internal reporting on the tragedy.

It remains unclear whether either hit Muhammad Abdulazeez, who was shot and killed on July 16 after he gunned down four Marines and a sailor at the Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga. It's also unclear why they were armed, as it is against Defense Department policy for anyone other than military police or law enforcement to carry weapons on federal property.
Other independent news outlets have the same account, including the Chattanooga paper and U.S. News and World Reports. Yet gun nuts around the country have been insisting that if only the service members had guns everyone would be saved, and some of these kooks have been standing "guard" at recruiting centers against the advice of the Pentagon.

In fact, the shooter was being chased by cops with guns, some of the victims had guns, and people died anyway. This proves, for the thousand and first time, that guns are not armor: they do not protect you from bullets.

Abdulazeez attacked two military facilities: no one was killed at the recruiting center where the gunman shot up the windows with a Kalashnikov. Then he drove to the Navy support center, while the cops were chasing him, and killed five guys:
According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Ed Reinhold, who spoke at a press conference July 22, Abdulazeez plowed his rented car through the gates, and with Chattanooga Police chasing close behind, the gunman got out of the car and stormed into the building. Abdulazeez wore a vest with extra ammunition and carried an assault rifle and a handgun. An additional gun was found in his vehicle.

A service member inside the building saw Abdulazeez approaching and fired at hi[m], Reinhold said. The investigator's description of this incident matches account of White's actions that day, as relayed by officials close to the investigation to Navy Times. The gunman shot back and then proceeded inside.

Once inside, he fatally wounded a sailor and "continued to shoot those he encountered," Reinhold said.

As police followed the gunshots, he then walked out the back door into a gated motor pool area, where troops tried to scramble over a fence to safety, and it was here that the four Marines were killed.

When the shooting first started, troops inside the building went room to room to rush their colleagues to safety, said Maj. Gen. Paul W. Brier, commanding general of the 4th Marine Division. Then, some rushed back into the fight.

Two guns belonging to service members were recovered at the scene, he said; shots were fired from at least one. It's unclear if the gunman was hit by one of those weapons, Reinhold said. The military will investigate whether the service members were authorized to have those weapons, he said.
This is a text-book example of how guns provide no form of "protection" in mass shootings.

The bad guys will always have the advantage: they are calm (usually described as having "dead eyes") because they're suicidal nutjobs trying to take out as many people at they can before killing themselves. They shoot first and have surprise.

The targets of shootings like the ones in Chattanooga and Lafayette are busy doing their jobs, or watching a movie. They're not expecting to be shot at. A lot of the time they're not even sure they're hearing gunfire. They're not psychologically prepared for combat mode. They are slow to react.

Most of the time, therefore, even when intended victims are armed, shooters will be able to empty their entire clip before anyone has a chance to respond -- semiautomatic weapons can easily discharge two to four rounds per second. That's a big reason why once upon a time there were laws that limited ammo capacity.

Preventing kooks from getting guns in the first place will save more lives than killing them after they've already shot ten people.
These are the simple facts. Being armed will not prevent all deaths in mass shootings. At best, it can only reduce the number of victims. By the same token, making it harder for nuts like Houser in Lafayette and Abdulazeez in Chattanooga to buy guns won't stop all killings -- but it will reduce the number of victims.

After the Chattanooga shooting everyone was screaming about self-radicalized Islamic terrorists, even though it's clear that Abdulazeez was a mentally ill drug and alcohol abuser. He was basically the same as any other loser who shoots up a mall or high school.

Contrast that with the reaction to the Lafayette theater shooting, when a right-wing white man shot up theater and killed two women. Officials could only bemoan the sorry state of mental health care in this country.

The mental health history of both these men was known before they bought their weapons: that should have made it impossible for them to buy guns legally. And when these mentally ill men attempted to buy guns it should have sent off alarm bells, bringing the FBI and local law enforcement in to evaluate their mental state.

The problem isn't mental health care as much as the sheer ease with which mentally ill Americans can buy massive amounts of firepower. One possible solution: hold gun stores culpable when crooks and kooks use the guns they sell to murder people.

Conservatives blamed "the government" for the sorry state of the mental health care system, but they made it that way.
In the wake of Lafayette conservatives blamed "the government" for the sorry state of the mental health care system, but conservatives made it that way. They constantly rail against Medicaid and the ACA, which is exactly what funds the mental health care system that they insist should stop these shootings. Then they don't want to change the gun laws to make it harder for these nuts to get hold of guns in the first place.

Conservative policies are the direct cause of these shootings: that's why there's a cluster of mass shootings in the South, where gun laws are lax and spending on mental health care is nil.

Nothing will prevent all mass shootings. Tougher gun laws will stop some. Better mental health care will stop some. Better reporting by local governments to federal databases will stop some. Tighter background checks will stop some. Holding gun sellers responsible for selling guns to crooks and kooks will stop some. Adequately funding police departments to improve their response times will stop some.

And, yes, shooting the bastards when they open fire in a public place will prevent some tiny number of additional deaths.

But if you look at the tens of thousands of deaths due to the profusion of guns -- due to suicide, domestic disputes, children getting hold of guns, stupid gun accidents (dropped weapons, cleaning "unloaded" guns), guns stolen from honest citizens' houses and then used to commit murder -- the number of lives armed civilians might save in relatively rare mass shootings would be dwarfed by the carnage caused by our gun-crazy culture.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why Aren't Republicans Going After Trump's Mob Connections?

I found this article from four years ago about why Donald Trump wouldn't run for president in 2012. The upshot: Trump's connections to organized crime connections would torpedo a serious run.
With lawsuits pending, Trump's business empire could not withstand the close scrutiny of a presidential campaign, and even his kids might have been muddied. Wayne Barrett, who first exposed Trump’s ties to organized crime in his 1992 book, looked into the Donald’s most recent business dealings and discovered:
  • One associate who was an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a massive 2000 stock swindle  — and escaped prison only by helping to convict 19 others, including six members of New York crime families
  • Two associates who served prison time on cocaine charges
  • Another partner prosecuted for trafficking underage girls after a dramatic helicopter raid on a yacht off the Turkish coast
  • A pending lawsuit against Trump Soho that alleges daughter Ivanka, among others, made fraudulent misrepresentations
When Trump dropped out the last time, he said:
"Nobody said it was going to be easy, but I had no idea I would get hammered in the way I've been hammered the past few weeks," Trump said in Nashua, New Hampshire. 
Much of that was due to the ridicule Trump suffered after President Obama released his birth certificate. So why is Trump so popular this time around? And why aren't Republicans hammering him?

I get that some Republicans are quaking in their boots after he issued his extortion threat last week -- "Be nice to me or I'll  run as a third-party candidate and hand the election to the Democrats." But the Republican who takes down Trump will be a hero to the rest of the party -- why are they so afraid of this blowhard?

It should be trivial to dethrone Trump. Just have your lawyers look into any one of his golf courses or hotels or casinos on the East Coast -- they've all got to be riddled with corruption of some sort or other, or based on sweet-heart deals he cut with the Democratic office holders to whom he contributed campaign dollars. They could take out Trump and embarrass some Democrats at the same time.

And does anyone seriously believe Trump is is no longer connected to organized crime? As a casino owner and real estate developer in New York and New Jersey, how can he not be all mobbed up?

Finally, Trump brags about what an unreliable, underhanded and dishonest businessman he is -- it's his definition of "smart." Trump is a crook six ways to Sunday. He's a shell of a human being: all blustering ego and native cunning with a marginally average intelligence. He succeeds only because he's a soulless, narcissistic sociopath without the conscience that prevents most people from swindling everyone they deal with. There must be dozens of people that Trump has screwed over who are just itching to get back at him. Why haven't Republicans dug any of them up? They might start looking into his four bankruptcies.

The Democrats certainly will if Trump is the nominee.

Republicans are constantly complaining about us becoming Greece, but with Trump as president we'd become Italy. Trump is just Silvio Berlusconi with more hair glued on his head.

Take Down Future John Housers

Here are a couple of reports (#1 and #2) that detail John Houser's all too familiar ideology.

Educated in accounting and law, he owned bars in Georgia — including one where he flew a Nazi banner out front as an anti-government statement. He tried real estate in Phenix City. But Houser's own resume, posted online, says what he really loved to do was make provocative statements at local board meetings and in the media.

Anti government...posted online

On an NBC television affiliate's call-in show in the 1990s, Houser encouraged violent responses to abortion and condemned working women, host Calvin Floyd recalled. He was an "angry man" who spoke opposite a Democrat and really lit up the phones, he added.

Anti women and anti abortion...

In recent years, Houser turned to right-wing extremist Internet message boards, where he praised Adolf Hitler, and advised people not to underestimate "the power of the lone wolf," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose hate-group watchdogs spotted Houser registering to meet with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in 2005.

Right wing extremist message boards...

The man Bone once knew as a church-going neighbor had grown into someone better known by neighbors and colleagues as an angry provocateur. Police say his anger culminated Thursday night in a slaughter at The Grand 16 theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, leaving two women dead and nine other people hurt.

Angry provocateur...

It was then that he regularly appeared on a local television show, appearing opposite a Democrat as a radical Republican railing against women in the workplace and calling for violence against abortion providers.“He made a lot of wild accusations,” said Calvin Floyd, who hosted the show on WLTZ-TV in Columbus for more than two decades. “He could make the phones ring.”

Violence against abortion providers...

Houser sums up the conservative base today. They are a very angry, hate and fear filled lot who are a direct threat to our country's security. Their support of continued gun violence makes them even more of a threat to national security as they are responsible for thousands of deaths every year. You can add the victims of John Houser to the list.

It's time we started taking these fuckers out and by out, I mean prison. And I don't mean a minimum security place. Perhaps since we can't get Gitmo closed, we send some of them down there for awhile. That should chill their American Taliban asses out and send a message to those individuals out there who wish to perpetuate continued attacks on our country.

I say we start with Clive Bundy and his followers...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hey Governor Jindal, What Did You Think Would Happen?

My kind of campaign stop; Capital Armament in Sibley. #IAPolitics pic.twitter.com/26VDrrr9sY

Another Right Wing Nut Job

AP News is reporting that John Houser, the shooter at the theater in Louisiana, was a right wing nut job.

In the 1990s, he frequently appeared on a local television call-in show, advocating violence against people involved in abortions, said Calvin Floyd, who hosted the morning show on WLTZ-TV in Columbus, Georgia. Houser also espoused other radical views, including his opposition to women in the workplace. Floyd described Houser as an "angry man" who made "wild accusations" about all sorts of topics, and said he put him on to counter a Democratic voice because "he could make the phones ring."

I could have seen that one coming from a mile away. As soon as I heard "white man in his late 50s," his ideology was obvious. The question is...why was it so easy for him to still own a gun? Given the failure of Manchin Toomey to pass and the relaxed gun laws in the South, he clearly didn't have any trouble figuring out some sort of loophole.

Ilooks like his wife hid his guns and his family had him committed at one point. I'm calling on all wives of Gun Cultists to do the same. You never know when your husband might snap.




A Look at Ronald Reagan's Iran Weapon Deals

As Congress debates the deal that the was worked out with Iran and the rest of the world over their Iran's nuclear program, one of the major criticisms Republicans are leveling against the deal is that it didn't include the release of four American hostages.

Iran takes hostages in order to extract concessions from the United States. If you include hostages as part of these deals, then that only encourages Iran to kidnap more Americans.

There was, however, an American president who did cut deals with Iran for hostages, setting the stage for endless abductions of Americans by Iran: Ronald Reagan.

Obama's nuclear weapons deal isn't the first weapons deal the United States has made with Iran. During the Iran-Contra affair the Reagan Administration sold missiles to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon:
In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. [National Security Advisor Robert] McFarlane sought Reagan's approval, in spite of the embargo against selling arms to Iran. McFarlane explained that the sale of arms would not only improve U.S. relations with Iran, but might in turn lead to improved relations with Lebanon, increasing U.S. influence in the troubled Middle East. Reagan was driven by a different obsession. He had become frustrated at his inability to secure the release of the seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. As president, Reagan felt that "he had the duty to bring those Americans home," and he convinced himself that he was not negotiating with terrorists. While shipping arms to Iran violated the embargo, dealing with terrorists violated Reagan's campaign promise never to do so. Reagan had always been admired for his honesty.
The arms-for-hostages proposal divided the administration. Longtime policy adversaries Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz opposed the deal, but Reagan, McFarlane and CIA director William Casey supported it. With the backing of the president, the plan progressed. By the time the sales were discovered, more than 1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. Three hostages had been released, only to be replaced with three more, in what Secretary of State George Shultz called "a hostage bazaar."
Yes, Reagan sold thousands of missiles to hostage-taking terrorists even as they continued to take more hostages. Reagan not only cut deals with terrorists, he was duped by them. Then he lied about it, only to be forced to admit it a week later.

At the time Reagan was publicly backing Saddam Hussein (yes, that Saddam Hussein) in the Iran-Iraq War, but Reagan was secretly selling missiles to Saddam's enemy.

Bibi Netanyahu has utterly condemned the current nuclear agreement with Iran. But who funneled the weapons to Iran during the 1980s? The same country that constantly makes hostage deals, sometimes even exchanging Hezbollah terrorists -- Iran's proxies in Lebanon -- for Israeli corpses: none other than Israel:
It was planned that Israel would ship weapons to Iran, and then the United States would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of the U.S. hostages. The plan deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages. Large modifications to the plan were devised by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council in late 1985, in which a portion of the proceeds from the weapon sales was diverted to fund anti-Sandinista and anti-communist rebels, or Contras, in Nicaragua.
The Contras were right-wing death squads who killed indiscriminately; they were most famous for the murder of nuns, including an American, in 1990.

There are also credible allegations by Abolhasan Banisadr, the former president of Iran, as well as former National Security Council officials, that Reagan made back-door negotiations with Iran to delay the release of American hostages taken by the Iranians at the American embassy in Teheran until the day of Reagan's inauguration, again in exchange for weapons funneled through Israel.

Unquestionably, this arms for hostage deal won Reagan the presidency. It was never completely exposed because the main actor -- William Casey, Reagan's CIA director -- was conveniently dead by the time the accusations came to light.

Given the venom and vitriol Republicans are leveling at Obama over this Iran deal, how can Republicans continue to venerate someone like Ronald Reagan?

And the "He didn't know what his underlings were doing" line doesn't cut it: George H. W. Bush pardoned the officials charged in the Iran-Contra affair before their trials were complete in order to cover up Reagan's and Bush's roles in the scandal.

Another Shooting...Oh Well

We had yet another mass shooting last night and another one in a movie theater. The location was the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana and the shooter was named John Houser, an older white male who has been described as a drifter. He stood up about twenty minutes into the film "Trainwreck" and started firing. He killed two people, wounded nine and then killed himself.

At this point we don't know much about the circumstances behind the shooting. We do know, however, that Louisiana is an open carry state that does not require a license to own a firearm. Their laws are very lax in terms of gun ownership. Before the shooting, the president gave an interview with the BBC and had this to say about gun violence in the United States.

"That is an area where …I feel that I've been most frustrated and most stymied," he said. "It is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings."

He added: "If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it's less than 100. If you look at the number been killed by gun violence, it's in the tens of thousands. And for us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing. But it is not something that I intend to stop working on in the remaining 18 months."

At this point, it's getting hard to keep track of the regularly occurring mass shootings. It's simply stunning to me that we have now accepted this as part of our culture with shrugs, oh wells, and don't take my fucking guns!!! I've stated previously that the only way things are going to change is if the Gun Cult is affected personally and has some sort of tragedy of gun violence within their community. Yet Chris Mooney and his Republican Brain research shows me otherwise.

Because of this sad truth, I think the only way to deal with this ideology is through the only language they understand: force. They have repeatedly demonstrated a complete unwillingness to compromise in the face of repeated violence heaped upon American citizens. They are partly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people and should be held accountable for it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#loserswithguns

So, the Gun Cult got themselves the idear that THEY should be the stalwart Murcans to stand watch (and their ground!!) in front of military recruitment centers since Barack Obama and other librals have taken away their right to be idiots. Even though the US Marine Corps asked them to get the fuck out, they are still there.

In a statement Tuesday, the U.S. Marine Corps said, "While we greatly appreciate the support of the American public during this tragedy, we ask that citizens do not stand guard at our recruiting offices. Our continued public trust lies among our trained first responders for the safety of the communities where we live and work."

Not surprisingly, this happened.

Civilian guards ordered to leave shopping center after one accidentally fires rifle

Message to #loserwithguns:

You are overly emotional, irrational, and don't know what the fuck you are doing. 

Go Home.

Sad Words

A very good friend of mine just posted this on Facebook regarding Sandra Bland.

To me, one of the most haunting things about the Sandra Bland tragedy is how just another normal sunny day can so swiftly turn to darkness and death. That so quickly one could slip the dividing line between the world we see and share to one with no exit or escape. 

And, most haltingly, that there are people among us who this can happen to so much more easily than others. They can sense the menace behind the quotidian, and they never know when it will loom out and grab them. Cross the river, Sandra, and rest in peace under the trees. I fear we failed you.

The more we hear about Sandra Bland, the worse it gets. It absolutely sickens me that shit like this happens in this country...

Amen

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Scott Walker's New Scandal

When Scott Walker was elected he promised to attract tons of new jobs to Wisconsin. That didn't happen, for a lot of reasons. But one of the big ones is that Walker eliminated the Commerce Department and replaced it with the Wisconsin Economic Development Agency, a "public-private partnership" which he apparently used to funnel state money into the wallets of campaign contributors and cronies:
Agency projects have also come under scrutiny for political ties, with major Walker donors receiving handsome payouts.

Cheese manufacturers controlled by the Gentine family, which has cumulatively given $104,000 to Walker's campaigns, have received five separate deals totaling more than $1.5 million in loans and more than $9 million in financing. A $2 million tax credit went to a company ultimately owned by Diane Hendricks, a billionaire construction magnate who contributed $500,000 to Scott Walker's campaign during the 2012 recall, when there were effectively no donor limits. And companies represented on the board of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, a business trade group that spent undisclosed sums against Walker's recall, are regular awardees.
Walker was in such a hurry to shovel state money into dump trucks that didn't bother to vet the companies he put on the government dole:
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation awarded $1.2 million in grants and loans in 2011 and 2012 to Green Box NA Green Bay LLC, a company that said it could produce recycled products, electricity and even diesel from fast-food waste.

"Gov. Walker and I are firmly committed to doing everything possible to expedite the processing and awarding of this incentive award," then-agency Chief Executive Paul Jadin wrote in a September 2011 letter to Green Box.

There were warning signs. Green Box told the state that the company and its founder, Ron Van Den Heuvel, had no recent legal troubles. But court records showed that Van Den Heuvel had been sued 27 times in the prior five years by banks, business partners, state tax officials and even a jeweler. Green Box said it held seven patents, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists no patents granted or assigned to Van Den Heuvel or the company.
Four years later, the 116 jobs the company promised to create don't exist, according to a recent legal deposition of Van Den Heuvel, though in another setting the company has said it created all 116 jobs. Green Box is in court-ordered receivership, and its attorney told a court that sheriff's deputies had seized five truckloads of documents from its offices, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Monday.
Nonpartisan state audits have determined that the agency doled out tax breaks, loans and grants in ways that ran contrary to its own rules and state law. Expected jobs never materialized, with some award recipients receiving payouts even as they outsourced Wisconsin jobs overseas. Awards appear to have gone to Walker's political supporters and allies-- at least in one case, after a high-ranking Walker appointee interceded on an applicant's behalf. 
WEDC wasn't some obscure government agency that Walker inherited. He created it, he was its champion and chairman until July 12 of this year. He appointed six of the 15 board members, all but two of whom are Republicans. Walker's adviser, Eileen Schoenfeldt, also has complete access to every detail of the agency's grants and loans.

WEDC is Walker's baby, the crux of his unfulfilled promise to create jobs. He ignored all the warning signs of catastrophe in his pet project. Instead he spent all his time busting unions, kowtowing to mining interests and the Koch brothers, and running for president.

Republicans carp about the government loan program Solyndra used (which was started under George Bush, not Obama). Solyndra failed because Chinese companies dumped solar panels on the world market. Walker's WEDC failed because of graft and fraud.

Walker's very own creation is the epitome of crony capitalism and corporate welfare. And it's all on Walker: he was either party to the fraud at WEDC, or he was totally oblivious to it. Either way, he's clearly not competent to be governor of Wisconsin, and especially not president of the United States.

Checking His Watch


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

No, Polygamy is Not the Next Step

Now that gay marriage is the law of the land, people keep bringing up that red herring: polygamy.

Conservatives kept telling us that if we allowed gay marriage, next there would be polygamy, then people would start marrying horses and blowup dolls.

When the gay marriage debate started conservatives trotted out the idea that the only purpose of marriage was to have children. Children are necessary for the good of society. Since couples of the same sex can't procreate, the logic went, they shouldn't be allowed to marry.

Yet there are millions of opposite-sex couples who cannot have children, due to infertility. Those husbands and wives adopted children, or used sperm or egg donors, or engaged surrogate mothers. Gay couples can do these same things. In this technological age, biology is not destiny. And we've never stopped heterosexual couples past their childbearing years from marrying, so it makes no sense to deny gays and lesbians the same basic right.

The basic moral argument for gay marriage is that every person should have the same right to marry the person they love. Singular.

When conservatives tried to dredge up reasons for why gay marriage was bad, the only reason they could deduce, other than they didn't like it, was that it was harmful for the children. Why? Because conservatives would mistreat the children of gay couples.

Yes, their actual rationale for denying gay marriage was, "You can't get married because our children will harass your children."

Unlike gay marriage, polygamy has several detrimental social and biological effects.

The primary problem is that of hoarding of women. If a small number of men have a large number of wives, that means a large number of men have no wives. The consequences of this imbalance would be severe: it would force straight men into gay or polyandrous marriages. (Or be made into eunuchs so that they could manage the harems of the wealthy?)

Every extra wife a polygamous man hoards steals another straight man's right to happiness by denying him a family. (Gay marriage doesn't have this problem, as the ratio of gay men to lesbians appears to be close to one.)

If you believe -- as many conservatives do -- that being gay is a choice, polygamy could potentially force some men into gay relationships and marriage because they cannot find wives.

If you look at polygamous societies (Islam and Mormon cults like Warren Jeffs'), you find other social harms. Polygamy demeans the role of women: rich men would arrange to be married to younger women and girls. This would encourage the treatment of women as broodmares; some husbands would force them to selectively bear daughters after they get their first-born son to sell wives to other polygamous men. As the men age they go after younger and younger girls, marrying twelve- and thirteen-year-olds.

Wealthy men would pay large "dowries" to parents of attractive young girls to stock their large harems. These would create what amounts to a sex slave market for underage girls. There would be an Uber-like app for parents looking to sell their daughters.

That leaves a large number of men without any outlet for sexual tension. In the United States men would never stand for having no access to heterosexual sex, so polygamy would force the legalization of prostitution.

There are historical antecedents that show a large population of men who cannot marry causes major social upheaval.

This has occurred more than once in China. During the Qing dynasty in the 19th century a famine caused widespread female infanticide. The Chinese considered daughters less valuable than sons because girls wouldn't carry on the family name, or support their aged parents. Over time that resulted in more than a quarter of young men being unable to find wives.

This was particularly short-sighted. They failed to realize that when large numbers of parents killed girl babies, there would be no women for their sons to marry. And the result was the same: their sons could not carry on the family name.

But that wasn't the only problem. These wifeless men (called "bare branches") formed militias and raised havoc, ultimately bringing down the Qing dynasty.

China is making the same mistake again today, with many parents having aborted female fetuses or abandoning girl babies in the cold to die due to the strict one-child policy. By 2020 it's estimated that there will be almost 4% more men than women in China. That's 30 million men who won't be able to marry. (Some of them are seeking wives from other countries, like Korea, but that just spreads the problem across the world.)

Already, in the areas of China where the male-to-female ratio is the most lopsided there is considerably greater violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, as well as kidnapping and trafficking of women.

We had the same sort of problems in the United States in the Wild West, when there were far more men than women in the new territories.

So, too many men is obviously bad. What about polyandry?

The idea that women with multiple husbands would somehow make up for men with multiple wives is ludicrous: the simple facts of biology make that impossible. One woman just cannot bear children for several husbands; it's just too hard on women (the sheer creepiness of the Duggar baby factory should dispel any notion that this is desirable). And I seriously doubt any significant percentage of American men would ever voluntarily submit to being one of several husbands. The male ego is too fragile -- they would go without rather than submit to such an embarrassment.

There are also practical, biological and economic arguments against polygamy. It would increase inbreeding: more and more children would have the same fathers. This would reduce the gene pool in general and the Y chromosome in particular. Society would be more prone to genetic diseases and in general less genetically diverse, which leads to greater susceptibility to disease.

Political and economic power would become even more unequal as polygamous dynasties passed power from father to son.

Then there are legal ramifications for divorce and inheritance. Wherever polygamy reigns women are treated as chattel. Clearly that won't stand in America. But what happens in a modern society like ours when a wealthy man marries 20 women and the wives disagree with the husband on how to manage their affairs? He can't just have his way because he's the man, not in this day and age. Majority vote? The wives will win every argument. What man would put up with that?

Oh, you say, a prenuptial agreement would solve these problems. No. Typically polygamous marriages are arranged by parents. Parents aiming to make money off their daughters will sign the girls to unfair prenups and sell them off at age 16 or 18 to some rich guy. These things will wind up in court 10 years later when the wife wants a divorce and take "her" children with her. But in a polygamous family where all the children are raised by half a dozen wives as if they were their own, which children are hers? Two-way custody battles are already a nightmare. Imagine what a six-way custody battle would be like.

Biology makes polygamy inherently asymmetric, and therefore inherently unfair. (Some would argue that it also makes heterosexual marriage unfair, but sometimes you have to yield to biology.)

Marriage between two spouses has demonstrable societal goods: married people -- whether gay or straight -- are more economically stable and responsible. Married people live longer and are in better health. Married people provide a better environment in which to raise children. Unmarried couples living together have many of the same benefits, but these unions tend to be less stable.

Having extra wives around to care for children in a polygamous marriage is touted as a benefit. But is that really true? Two-spouse marriages are frequently stressed by jealousies, inequitable distribution of labor, disputes over sex, expenses and child-rearing techniques. Imagine what a mess it becomes if you have four or five wives bickering with themselves and their husband over these same things. How will the older wives feel when the husband wants to get another young new wife, who they know will get all the attention and have all the fun while they are stuck taking care of the kids and cleaning the house.

The only women women who would submit to such conditions would have been up in polygamous households and brainwashed from birth into thinking that they have to defer to the husband in all things and that his word is law. But if polygamy went mainstream, that wouldn't fly in this country.

The attraction of polygamy is the idea of a man having all these women at his beck and call. Practical American polygamy wouldn't work that way. It would be more businesslike and practical, and that defeats the entire purpose, which is to stroke the ego of the polygamist male. Most women wouldn't stand for it, and the men who wanted polygamy wouldn't stand for a fairer version of it that America would allow.

Because total subjugation of women to the will of a man is the entire point of polygamy. It is sexual slavery. And we just don't cotton to that anymore.

If people want to live together in their own freaky version of polyamory, they can do that. But they don't need the blessing of the government to do it.

Racism From The Cradle To The Grave

Here's a very sad and eye opening piece about the Texas county where Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell.

“This is the most racist county in the state of Texas which is probably one of the most racist states in the country,” said DeWayne Charleston, a former Waller County judge who in 2007 ordered a black funeral home to handle the burial of an unidentified white woman, sparking controversy when activists claimed that other officials intervened to stop a white person being buried next to black corpses. A federal lawsuit alleging that the county seat of Hempstead neglected historically black cemeteries while maintaining white ones was settled in 2004, resulting in the city committing more resources to their upkeep. 

“You’ve got racism from the cradle to the grave,” Charleston said.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why Carrying A Gun Accomplishes Nothing

From a recent question of mine on Quora...

Bo Schembechler, storied football coach of the University of Michigan was once asked why he ran such a conservative offence rarely throwing the football. His answer was, when you throw the football there are three possible outcomes, two of them are bad. Now this story may be apocryphal but the point is that when assessing options it wise to understand the odds you are up against. 

The notion that more guns in the hands of good people as a general solution to gun violence is crazy in this context. First of all the odds that one will ever get in a situation where having a gun has even the most remote possibility of being useful while you are out in public (let alone saving your life) is spectacularly slim. 

The first rule is, if a place is so dangerous that you feel you need a gun, then it's not safe to be there even with a gun. People carrying a gun tend to feel as if the gun the gun will protect them. Further, most gun crime is criminal against criminal or between two people who know each other. In the first situation "good guys" don't have to worry. Sure you could get caught in the crossfire but your gun won't help you against a random stay round. In the second scenario you are dealing with a friend, family member, acquaintance where you won't really feel threatened until things turn seriously bad. In the overwhelming majority of these situation you are in them because you have failed to extricate yourself from it before things got out of hand. The psychology of domestic violence is only exacerbated by the presence of firearms; firearms are almost never the solution. As all things with guns you can point out the few and rare situations where someone defend themselves successfully from a domestic violence situation but these are not the norm and only serve as the rare exception that proves the rule.

But let's say you find yourself alone, at night, in a bad part of town (this is your first mistake by the way) and all of a sudden you are confronted with a bad guy holding a gun. Here is where the good guy with a gun logic gets turned on it's head. A good guy with a gun is pretty useless if he or she can't shoot. One of the most egregious troupe of films is that one shot from a gun stops an assailant cold. It won't, unless you are a point blank range it's pretty difficult to get off a shot that will stop someone allowing them to shoot back. Most people who carry don't spend an awful lot of time at the range and even fewer have actually shot someone. It very difficult to understand how your emotions will not serve you well when you find yourself in an actual life threatening situation. It is almost inconceivable that, without intense training, most people will do anything other than soil themselves when confronted with an actual life threatening situation. The assailant is probably a sociopath and cares not for you life, or his for that matter. Maybe he or she is a drug addict and is high right now. The point is here are all the things that can go wrong for the "Good Guy"

  • You could shoot and miss, and you get shot
  • You could shoot and not bring the perp down, and they shoot you back
  • you could shoot, miss and kill someone else
  • Someone else with a gun could come along and mistake you for the bad guy and shot you
  • The perp could take your gun away from you and shoot you with it
One the other hand you could take the assailant down, but statistically the best you will do is frighten them off to try again. The problem of the good guy is that 9 times out of 10 the bad guy will have the drop on you and then you have to count on the assailant  being mind-bogglingly careless to even have a chance. Again people do actually succeed at this and those are the stories you hear about you rarely hear about the other side where the good guy get's it (the media loves a hero).

But let's say you carry a gun all the time and come accross a crime in progress. This is where you can be the hero right? Well first of all carrying a gun is a staggering commitment. Right off the bat let's all hope you actually know how to shoot. I will admit that most people who do this are committed people who follow safe shooting procedures, and sped at least some time at the shooting range. You have to have your gun with you at all times wearing clothes that will conceal the gun. Remember when we talked about the likelihood of being the victim of an armed assailant? Well just randomly coming across a crime in progress is makes the first scenario look like a daily occurrence in comparison. Not bloody likely.

But lets say you do come across a crime in progress, it does happen. Again your heart is pounding, you have to think quickly and clearly (yes I trust the random untrained guy on the street to get this right) but in addition to all the possibilities in the first scenario here are some additional things that could go wrong when coming across a crime in progress (say a hold up):

  • You shoot the wrong person (maybe a guy who works there came out of the back)
  • Much more likely to shoot an innocent bystander
  • You don't know if there isn't another shooter you can see and you get shot (this has happened recently).
In fact in the best case scenario you will only get a shot off at a fleeing suspect which is moronic in the extreme because a fleeing suspect isn't a danger and would never justify deadly force.  But all of this is beside the point, a "good guy" with a gun whose first thought is about trying to defuse the situation themselves is more often a menace to himself and those around him.  He should be using that time to call the police. Any trained officer knows that the first thing you do is call for backup, not pull your gun.

Once again do not misunderstand me, I am completely aware that people can, and do, stop crime with their guns. My argument is that those cases, though they seem to happen pretty regularly, when you break it down on an incident per 1000 basis it's just not all that common; not close to anything like common . Further when you take into consideration whether or not they actually saved a life, even rarer still. Criminals are every bit as stupid as everyone else. Most of the time they are just as untrained as the guy who carries a gun, but rarely, if ever, actually spends time at the gun range. The Media loves to glorify these accounts due to the obvious heroics of the people involved (which is why you can find a lot of stories like this which make it seem like it's happening all the time in the aggregate)  but on careful reading  of these accounts you find some similar threads:

  • Involvement of active duty or ex military or law enforcement
  • Shooting at fleeing assailants
  • Shooting at unarmed assailants (or at least those without a gun)
  • And the fact that they are very very rare in the overall scheme of things
  • or mistakenly innocent people which are almost never reported in the media (but in fairness these cases are pretty rare too)
The cases the media doesn't like to report are situations where the good guy loses like this: Family mourns man killed while trying to stop shooting spree. Or the cases where no one was really in danger as they were fleeing at the time  (they do get reported but they understandably tend not to make headlines 86-year-old won't be charged in concealed carry shooting, prosecutors say).
 
The point of all of this is that whatever the solution to gun crime in america is, it's definitely, most assuredly not putting more guns in the hands of untrained citizens who have no background in dealing with high stress situations with dangerous tools that they are ill prepared to wield safely and accurately. Google Gun went off at gun safety demonstration.

I believe, and current 2nd amendment jurisprudence backs this up, that states have the right to set the terms and conditions under which a person can legally carry a firearm in public. And that those conditions should be strengthened not relaxed as the current trend seems to be.  Guns may not be the problem per se, but I'm pretty sure they aren't the solution are not the solution. And the idea that founding fathers thought that strolling around target with a loaded AR-15 slung around your back is an appropriate expression of your 2nd amendment right is just off the scale crackers. 

People ask me if I think gun control (whatever that means) is the answer. I think that is a complex question given the penetration of firearms in this country. But here are a few things I do know:

  • If you look at all of the mass shootings going back to the 1966 clock tower shooting at U of T, not one of them has been perpetrated with a very heavily regulated fully automatic weapon. Not one and that God.
  • The best defense against being the victim of crime is Situational Awareness is Everything. This one thing will cut your chances of being a victim in half or more.
  • We simply cannot not and should not accept a world where carrying a gun is the solution to crime. That is the mindset of surrender
Finally (Did you think this was ever going to end?), Crime is down, vastly down, we are living in an era that has less overall crime then at any time in recent history while at the same time individual gun ownership is at an all time low (gun sale are conversely at an alltime high, chew on that for just a moment and draw the inescapable conclusion). I'm not in anyway saying that this is the reason for lower crime, that would be nonsense,what I am saying is that the problem of crime tends to stem from culture and you can't fix that with more guns.

And my comment...

Fantastic points! They really align with objective reality. Unfortunately, reality is not where gun rights folks live. A tremendously insecure lot, the gun gives them the illusion power they so desperately need. This fantasy continues as they all believe they can be Jack Bauer or John McLean, saving themselves or others in an active shooting situation. 

But when you break it down so logically as you have here, their illusion shatters

Good Words

Donald Trump, finally a candidate whose hair gets more attention than mine. But there’s nothing funny about the hate he is spewing at immigrants and families — and now the insults he has directed at a genuine war hero, Sen. John McCain. 

It’s shameful, and so is the fact that it took so long for his fellow Republican candidates to start standing up to him. The sad truth is if you look at many of their policies, it can be hard to tell the difference. (---Hillary Clinton, at a recent Democratic Dinner in Arkansas)

Indeed. And that's because they are essentially adolescents.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trump's Bridge Too Far?

Okay, Republicans. Is your infantile fascination with Donald Trump over yet?

On Saturday Trump said of John McCain:
“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
John McCain isn't my favorite guy. He's egotistical, selfish, self-centered and constantly blustering about attacking any country that looks at the United States sideways. But you can't criticize his war record.

And Donald Trump, in particular, has absolutely no right to criticize McCain's war record: Trump got four college deferments and a "medical" deferment, like all rich white boys in the Sixties all did (I'm talking about you, Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney and all the rest of those chickenhawks).

Trump is a total dick, the worst kind of vile New York street thug. He claims to have the bestest, most fabulous business acumen, yet he was forced to declare bankruptcy four times, screwing creditors and investors in his casino and real estate scams out of millions of dollars.

Trump is a rich (though not as rich as he says) narcissist who doesn't give two craps about anyone but himself. He threw all Mexicans under the bus because he thinks that will make the racist base of the Republican party swoon over him. Now he does the same to John McCain for stating the obvious about Trump's pretend presidential campaign.

Exactly who does Trump think this criticism of McCain is going to impress? He gets the lead in the national polls and the first thing he does is turn the campaign into a kindergarten name-calling contest. And McCain isn't even running against him.

Trump is either the biggest dick on the national stage, or he's trolling the Republican Party to see how far he can sink them in order to give the White House and Senate to the Democrats.

Actually, it's probably both.

The Most Consequential President in US History

Vox has a great piece up regarding the president and his now very consequential place in US History.

Obama has reestablished productive diplomacy as the central task of a progressive foreign policy, and as a viable alternative approach to dealing with countries the GOP foreign policy establishment would rather bomb. He established a viable alternative to the liberal hawks that dominated Democratic thinking during the Bush years, and held positions of influence on Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign. And he developed a cadre of aides who can carry on that legacy to future Democratic administrations, and keep a tradition of dovishness alive.

History tends to more prominently note those presidents who achieve great diplomatic goals. Cuba is opening for business as well. Add in that the president has literally saved people's lives with health care reform and, more or less, saved the economy, and the GOP's worse fears have come true.

Barack Obama is a massive success.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Still #1!!!

Donald Trump is still #1 in the GOP nomination according to yet another poll, this time from Fox News. He is most definitely resonating with the GOP base and sucking away support from the likes of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie. In fact, he's really made this a three horse race now and defined an elite tier (himself, Bush, and Walker).

Even more interesting is that he's not really spending any money and getting all sorts of free press. I guess I'm wondering (still) if the average conservative voter realizes that this type of candidate has virtually no chance of winning the presidency. It's fun to hang out in the clubhouse where mouths foam and bowels are blown but anger, hate and fear don't play very well with the general election voter, especially the folks that make up the demographic of his pet cause-immigration:)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

So, NOW It's Terror

I guess when a guy named Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez goes on a shooting spree, it's terror. When thousands of other Americans do it, we have either shrugs, oh wells, or fucking crickets. Check out the headline on Fox News

TERROR STRIKES CHATTANOOGA 
 Kuwaiti-born gunman opens fire on Tenn. military centers, kills 4 Marines

And Drudge...

MUHAMMAD SHOOTS UP MARINES IN TENNESSEE; 4 DEAD'MOTIVATED BY ISLAM'

And any of the other right wing sites...

Sense a pattern yet?

Oh, and were there guns at either of the military facilities? Y'know...the whole gun free zone dealio...

If conservatives are serious about stopping guys like Abdulazeez from shooting people, maybe we should refine our gun laws. Once again, another example of someone who not have been allowed to own a gun had we passed Manchin Toomey.

I Wonder Which Political Party They Belong To...















In Oklahoma, protesters greet Obama with Confederate flags 














San Francisco Dude Kicks Fox News' Ass

Check out this story...

He didn’t want to answer the questions because he knew Fox News was not going to make a good faith effort to cover the issue. He didn’t want to just duck his head and hide, because he knew how that looked on TV. So he addressed Fox News directly: “Fox News is not real news. And you’re not a real reporter.” This short clip has made Wiener a hero in his city. The response in San Francisco has been “overwhelmingly and enthusiastically positive. People are thrilled. There is such a deep seated frustration with Fox News and the fringe it represents,” Wiener said, saying he’d also received messages of support from around the country.

And, not surprisingly...

Response from Fox News fans has been less positive. His social media feed has been flooded with “really extreme fringe hateful” posts. His office voicemail is also filled to capacity.

Again, force is the only language these people understand...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Another Shooting At A Gun Range

So, we've had the Chris Kyle shooting...the little girl with the Uzi accidentally kill her instructor...and now this.

Shooting of Firearms Trainer by NYC Woman Exposes Gun Range Loophole

Not only does this continue to illustrate that the "gun free zone" assertion is an ever growing pile of shit, this incident could have been avoided and a life saved had we passed Manchin Toomey.

Another Study Torpedoes Defensive Gun Use

A recent study published in The Journal of Preventative Medicine offers new support for the argument that owning a gun does not make you safer. The study, led by David Hemenway, Ph.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examines data from the National Crime Victimization Survey — an annual survey of 90,000 households — and shows not only that so-called “defensive gun use” (DGU) rarely protects a person from harm, but also that such incidents are much more rare than gun advocates claim.

Contrary to what many gun advocates argue, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) data reveals that having a gun provides no statistically significant benefit to a would-be victim during a criminal confrontation. The study found that in incidents where a victim used a gun in self-defense, the likelihood of suffering an injury was 10.9 percent. Had the victim taken no action at all, the risk of injury was virtually identical: 11 percent. Having a gun also didn’t reduce the likelihood of losing property: 38.5 percent of those who used a gun in self-defense had property taken from them, compared to 34.9 percent of victims who used another type of weapon, such as a knife or baseball bat.

What’s more, the study found that while the likelihood of injury after brandishing a firearm was reduced to 4.1 percent, the injury rate after those defensive gun uses was similar to using any other weapon (5.3 percent), and was still greater than if the person had run away or hid (2.4 percent) or called the police (2.2 percent).

Who Actually Gave Weapons To Iran?


Trump is #1

Donald Trump is leading the GOP nomination race?

BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH!!!!!

I guess we know where the GOP is these days...where I've always said it's been:)

Obama As Nixon?

As conservatives foam at the mouth about appeasement, the recent agreement with Iran (full text available here) reads less like appeasement and more like Nixon's pivot to China. The president himself has channeled Ronald Reagan using Gip's "Trust but verify" line but the comparisons to China are closer to objective reality.

China was a pretty awful country on a number of levels when Nixon went to China and already had a small cache of nuclear weapons. Nixon gambled that bringing China into the world economic community would tame their more militaristic intentions. He was right. Making money in a global economy based on capitalism using tends to chill people out. This is exactly what President Obama thinks will happen with Iran.

With sanctions set to fall apart anyway, this was the best route to take even though it isn't a perfect deal. Iran will not get a nuclear weapon in the next decade. Take note of how criticism of the deal is now centered on Iran being able to fund terrorism not get a nuclear weapon. That speaks volumes...

The GOP Legacy


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jeb! Wants Us to Work!

Last week Jeb! Bush said that Americans need to work more hours to get our economy to grow at 4%.

He doesn't seem to get that Americans are already working some of the longest hours among the world's advanced economies. In Europe most governments mandate four to six weeks of vacation a year, plus numerous official holidays, plus sick leave, plus paid family leave, and so on. Most full-time American workers get a maximum of two weeks of vacation, plus whatever sick leave and family leave policy your company deigns to give you.

If you have a part-time McJob you get a lousy salary and nothing else. These workers want to work more hours, but they can't because their employers don't want to give them full-time employees benefits. Clearly, Jeb! cannot be talking about these people.

He must therefore be talking about exempt employees, the full-time employees who are office workers, managers, engineers, programmers, accountants, etc. Exempt means exempt from overtime. Which means if they work more hours they get absolutely nothing for it.

Since 2000 average Americans are working 25% harder for no more money.
So the question is, what incentive do Americans have to work even harder? From 2000 to 2012 the wages of real working Americans did not go up, while productivity (the thing Jeb! wants us to crank up), increased from a relative base of 100 in 2000 to 124.9 in 2012.

All the extra effort of American employees have put in over the decade and a half isn't showing up in their paychecks. But it's showing up on their employer's bottom line. And their employers aren't sharing. So why should the average working stiff work harder?

Something similar is true at the other end of the economic spectrum. The tax rate tables show why:

Tax rate ordinary income Single Tax rate on capital gains
over to
10.00% $0.00 $9,225.00 0.00%
15.00% $9,225.00 $37,450.00 0.00%
25.00% $37,450.00 $90,750.00 15.00%
28.00% $90,750.00 $189,300.00 15.00%
33.00% $189,300.00 $411,500.00 15.00%
35.00% $411,500.00 $413,200.00 15.00%
39.60% $413,200.00 20.00%
Married filing jointly /
Qualifying widow or widower
over to
10.00% $0.00 $18,450.00 0.00%
15.00% $18,450.00 $74,900.00 0.00%
25.00% $74,900.00 $151,200.00 15.00%
28.00% $151,200.00 $230,450.00 15.00%
33.00% $230,450.00 $411,500.00 15.00%
35.00% $411,500.00 $464,850.00 15.00%
 39.60% $464,850.00 20.00%

I've highlighted the tax bracket of the average American family. If you're doing real work, you pay taxes at 15% rate. If you get your income from tax-free bonds, long-term capital gains and qualified dividends (i.e., you've got a big pile of money) you pay zero federal tax.

The tax cuts passed during the Bush administration were made to benefit the idle rich. The system screws people who do actual work for the benefit of trust fund babies, hedge fund managers, stock market jockeys and layabouts. 

These preferential tax rates can have a huge affect on how much people work.

By age 45 or 50, intelligent, married professionals in the medical, legal, engineering and management fields can quit the salary rate race and have sufficient investment income to live comfortably without paying any federal taxes.

These people are usually considered our most productive citizens, and the tax system provides every incentive for them to quit their jobs outright.

Our tax system penalizes labor, giving preferential treatment to capital. If Jeb! wants middle class Americans to work harder, they should get a bigger piece of the pie for their efforts.

As it stands, all the income gains over the last 15 years have gone to the top 1%, and Republicans have cut their taxes in half, by using various scams to convert their salaries to long-term capital gains (e.g., getting paid in stock instead of a salary).

So why should regular Americans knock themselves out to make the rich even richer?

Predictable Responses

Now that an agreement has been reached with Iran regarding its nuclear technology, bowels are being blown all over conservative land. The race to see who can denounce it best is on! The responses have been all too predictable and I have to wonder if people are even paying attention to what conservatives are saying anymore. It's always the same "Obama succeeded again so we have to act like 8 year olds" response. I mean, have they even read the agreement yet? How can they denounce it?

I haven't had the time to read through it yet so I don't have an opinion either way but I am interested to see what their alternative is to the pact. Will it be a bitch fest with nothing at all to replace it...AGAIN?

Monday, July 13, 2015

The False Flag Candidate?

Donald Trump is leading the Republican presidential race in many national polls. He's doing this by espousing the most cliched Republican memes, becoming the very caricature of a conservative that Democrats love to ridicule.

Many are speculating that Trump will drag the Republican Party into such a deep, dark hole that they'll never be able to crawl out of it. The consensus is that Trump can never be president; far too many Republicans despise the man.

The question is, why is Trump doing this?

Unquestionably because he's a greedy narcissist who thrives on attention. In that way he's the same as the other 20 Republicans running for the nomination.

But Trump's "campaign" is costing him real money. He doesn't have billionaires like the Koch brothers pumping money into his Super PAC. Many of his business deals have been sunk because of his comments. If he's as brilliant as he tells us he is, he must have some ulterior motive.

Trump's right-wing credentials are called into question by conservatives who are capable of remembering anything that happened before the last Indy 500:
“I truly, honestly, and with all my heart and mind think Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters are making a yuuuuuuge mistake. I think they are being conned and played,” Jonah Goldberg, the author of Liberal Fascism, wrote. “I feel like a guy whose brother is being taken advantage of by a grifter. I’m watching helplessly as the con artist congratulates him for taking out a third mortgage.”

Other National Review writers concurred. “Donald Trump has been a conservative for about ten minutes,” Jim Geraghty wrote.
They cite his Ivy Leauge and Manhattan background, his previous support for abortion, immigration, assault weapons bans, government health care, as well as his backing of Democratic politicians.

Sometimes, as people age they become more conservative -- whether that's due to the wisdom of age, an inability to adapt to the new realities of a changing society, or atherosclerosis is still open to debate. So maybe Trump is sincere in his racism and intolerance.

On the other hand, there's speculation that Trump is running a false-flag campaign: he's pretending to run for president to sabotage the rest of the Republican field with his outlandish stances.

If so, Trump wouldn't be the first to fool conservatives. Comedian Stephen Colbert is famous for duping conservative viewers with his parody of conservative talking heads like Bill O'Reilly.

I guess we'll find out if Trump is punking Republicans when he announces his running mate: