Sunday, January 31, 2016

Iowa Predictions

With little more than 24 hours to go before the Iowa caucuses of 2016, it's time for some predictions and prognostications. 

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton will win, besting Bernie Sanders 50% to 43%. I base my prediction on two pieces of data. The first is the last five polls which show her ahead of Sanders. The second is Nate Silver's polls plus model which gives her an 80% chance of winning. Bernie may have surged late last week and earlier into this week but he appears to be dropping a bit right before the voting.

The Republican side is a little trickier. Even though Trump has been ahead in the last few polls and Silver has him with a better chance of winning than Cruz, I still say it's going to be Cruz. The evangelical vote in Iowa is very strong and most of them are supporting Cruz. Cruz has all the makings of an Iowa winner...staunchly conservative, as far right as the 1 yard line on the right side of the field, deeply religious, direct appeal to old, white values voters. In addition, the unaffiliated will flock to him over Trump when their caucuses are too small to be viable. 

Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Shot In The Head!

Unanswered Questions Regarding Hillary Clinton's emails.

Yesterday, the Obama administration confirmed that 22 of Hillary Clinton's emails contained information that was highly classified. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the documents, totaling 37 pages, were not marked classified at the time they were sent, but are being upgraded at the request of the Intelligence Community because they contain sensitive information.

This statement leads me to wonder why, again, we must go through more hyper ventilating about Hillary's emails. In fact, I have several questions that still remained unanswered or vague.

Why were these documents not marked classified at the time they were sent?

Why are these documents being upgraded now?

Why does retro classification occur?

Were these emails available publicly in any way? Via the recipients of the emails who used .gov emails?

What was the email policy regarding personal servers when Hillary took over as Secretary of State? What did other Secretaries of State do?

Have Hillary's critics read any of the emails that have been released?

For those of you out there who are convinced that Hillary Clinton is a criminal because of these emails, failure to adequately answer these questions means your accusations are purely emotional.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Little Boy Takes Ball, Goes Home

In yet another shining example of the maturity level of Republicans these days, their leading contender for the nominee in the 2016 presidential race has thrown his self a little temper tantrum and decided that Megyn Kelly is too much to handle. Thus, he will not be participating in the Fox News debate tonight.

After this latest outburst, one has to wonder...if he can't handle Kelly, how is he going to handle Putin? Or any leader for that matter? He's really coming off here like a spoiled, rich brat which is kinda what he's always been and no one has seemed to notice.

I didn't think he was going to win Iowa anyway and this incident hurts him. The Iowa Republican voter is more a Cruz type than a Trump type (hard right, evangelical). I say Cruz is now firmly in line to win this caucus. Not that it really matters much because the Iowa winner in the past couple of elections has gone nowhere.

Here's a great quote from Fox News (which I can't believe I just said...)

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”


All of this school yard stuff makes the Democrats, who are certainly having their own issues right now, come off like the adults in the room.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How To Beat Donald Trump

Ross Douthat has the best idea I have seen so far on how to stop Donald Trump. Now apply that model to the Inevitable Nominee.

Calling Mr. Trump a creep and jerk and self-promoter clearly doesn’t work, because his voters have decided that someone with his business chops and middle-finger-first attitude is exactly what they need. To attack him effectively, you have to go after the things that people like about him. You have to flip his brand.

And what is his brand? Why, it's being a self made rich guy who is a great deal maker.

Tell people that he isn’t the incredible self-made genius that he plays on TV. Tell them about all the money he inherited from his daddy. Tell them about the bailouts that saved him from ruin. Tell them about all his cratered companies. Then find people who suffered from those fiascos — workers laid off following his bankruptcies, homeowners who bought through Trump Mortgage, people who ponied up for sham degrees from Trump University.


Sounds like a good tactic for the Democrats!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

It's Mental Health

Monday, January 25, 2016

Solving Problems With Guns (Ground Stood Edition)

So, this guy named Marvin Lee done got his car stuck in a ditch in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jefferson Deavner stopped to help him push it out. Lee turned into a dick after this and when the police were called to help him out of the ditch, he shot Deavner and killed him.

Ground stood!

This story is a great example of what happens when you allow the fever dream of gun rights activists to take over a country. A person like Lee should never be allowed to own a weapon but he does because of his 2nd amendment rights.

How many thousands of Lees are out there being supported by the Gun Cult?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Shootout At...A Gun Shop?

The Gun Cult wails away about gun free zones, mouth foaming to anyone who will listen that bad guys will think twice if there are guns at an establishment.

So, it is shocking, I tell you, SHOCKING, that there was a shooting at a gun shop in Mississippi.

Mississippi authorities say a gun shop owner and his 17-year-old son died in a shootout over a $25 service charge. Another man and his 29-year-old son are hospitalized.

I simply can't believe that the Gun Cult was wrong...again.

How To Derail A Conversation in a Comments Section

Useful information for blog commenting.

It's always prudent to understand your adversary!

Martyrs Without A Cause

It will never cease to amaze me how similar the far left and the the far right are in their reasoning process...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

One Long Right Wing Blog Comment

If you want a great example of what exchanging ideas is like with right wing blog commenters, check out the analysis here by Colbert of Palin's endorement speech. My only minor critique is that Palin is funny enough on here own without the added commentary. And then there is this view...

At this point, I may be leaning towards this second video. Can you please just leave us the fuck alone?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Donald Gets An Endorsement!

Donald Trump has received his first official endorsement.

Sarah Palin endorses Trump for president

Whew...thank goodness...I was worried he wouldn't get any endorsements:)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Another Man-Made Katrina, Courtesy of a Republican Governor

During the 2012 election campaign Republican hit men produced a video about how the United States would fare under Obama, and how it would look in 2016. It depicted America as a dystopian wasteland where no one had jobs, which were destroyed by Obamacare and environmental regulation.

Of course, that didn't happen. The economy has been steadily adding jobs, despite dire predictions that increased access to health care would trash the economy. The stock market has been flat, but that's mostly due to plummeting oil prices, which is mostly due to reduced Chinese demand and overproduction by greedy oil barons who were too blind to foresee that their mad rush to frack every damned hole in the ground till it bled crude would lead to excess supply, bankrupt themselves.

On the other hand, we have some indications of what would have happened if Mitt Romney had been elected president and carried through on Republican promises to slash environmental and clean water regulations. Because such an experiment was carried out by a Republican governor in Michigan in 2013.

Back then Flint, Michigan was going broke. It was in such bad financial shape that the state took over and Governor Rick Snyder appointed Michael Brown as Emergency Manager to run the city. To save a hundred bucks a day, the water supply was switched from Detroit's system (which gets water from from Lake Huron), to the Flint River. The water from the river was four times more corrosive, and Snyder's Department of Environmental Quality did not take measures to mitigate the corrosion.

Immediately the people of Flint complained that the water smelled and tasted terrible. It was brown and disgusting. Flint's mayor, Brown and Gov Snyder insisted there was nothing wrong with the water.

Further testing showed that the acidic river water was eating away at lead pipes in the city's water system, increasing lead levels in the water. Lead and other heavy metals are highly toxic, and causes permanent brain damage in children. For months the governor denied the evidence, stonewalling long after it was obvious children in Flint were suffering mental retardation from lead in the water.
Last week Snyder finally admitted that he had poisoned Flint's water. He asked President Obama to declare a federal disaster, begging the federal government to bail him out.

The damage Snyder's penny-pinching caused to the Flint water system will cost $5 billion to repair.

For years now the Republican Party has been calling for eliminating most of the EPA's clean water and clean air regulations. They describe these regulations as job killers. Some GOP presidential candidates have called for the EPA to be abolished completely.

Some of these "job-killing" regulations that the EPA put in place include the ban on lead paint and leaded gasoline. These sources of lead in the environment were more insidious that Flint's toxic water, because you can't see or taste the lead in the air.

Other regulations Republicans want to eliminate require coal power plants to reduce emissions of heavy metals like lead and mercury, as well as sulfur dioxide and CO2, which cause acid rain (killing forests and fish) and climate change.

There have been many calls for Snyder to resign. In an interview Snyder admitted that the Flint water debacle was his Katrina.

Republicans claim to be pro-life, but every time there's a choice between the health and welfare of living, breathing human beings, and the profits of the oil, gas and coal industries, Republicans side with King Coal and the oil barons.

The EPA isn't entirely blameless in this. An EPA official learned about the high lead levels in February, 2015, but it wasn't announced to the public immediately. Was EPA waiting for further testing to confirm the finding, afraid of causing public panic before they were sure? Or did they want to cover their asses because of Republican criticism of their entire clean water program?

What this episode shows is that -- far from the Republican assertion that the EPA is overstepping its bounds -- the EPA isn't acting aggressively enough protect the American public from the hazards of tainted air and water.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Republican Lack of Foreign Policy Savvy

Iran released five American prisoners over the weekend. This was the result of years of negotiations, conducted mostly by John Kerry, but made possible by the nuclear deal that finally reached the final "implementation" stage.

True to form, Republican candidates for president proved they have no talent for foreign policy. Marco Rubio said it set a "dangerous precedent," and put Ronald Reagan forth as an example of how to negotiate for hostages. Ted Cruz said we released nuclear terrorists. At his most ridiculous, Donald Trump claimed credit for the release, implying that miraculous things just spontaneously happen every time he opens his yap.

The release of the prisoners on implementation day was predictable. The Iranians like to link releases to significant dates. After they took US embassy personnel hostage in 1979, they released them on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1981.

It's not clear what Rubio was talking about when he used Reagan as an example. If Rubio was saying that Reagan negotiated with the Iranians before he was inaugurated, then Rubio was admitting that the rumors are true about Reagan's future CIA director cutting a deal with the Iranians to delay releasing the hostages until after the 1980 presidential election was over and Reagan was president (the October Surprise). This theory contends that Reagan rewarded Iran for the hostage release by selling Iran hundreds of missiles in 1985, during the Iran-Iraq war.

Or was Rubio referring to Reagan's negotiations for the release of hostages in Lebanon?
[U]nder the Reagan administration, White House officials later tried to arrange the sale of arms to Iran in the hope of winning the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon. The profits from the sales were then illegally diverted to the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Discovery of the arms-for-hostages deal led to several congressional investigations. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North was convicted, but his sentence was overturned on appeal. Reagan publicly denied knowing about the operation by his staff. 
Reagan repeatedly negotiated with terrorists, often with the assistance of Israel, the darling of the Republicans in all things terrorist. Yet Israel has performed dozens of prisoner swaps with Hezbollah and Hamas over the years, even giving up prisoners accused of terrorism in exchange for the corpses of Israeli soldiers.

Cruz says that the prisoners released to Iran in exchange for the American were "nuclear terrorists." The fact is that they were charged with violating economic sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions have now been dropped, in exchange for Iran turning over 98% of its nuclear material and destroying a huge number of centrifuges used to refine uranium.

Since those sanctions have been dropped, the Iranians being held were accused of activities that are not illegal now. Does it make any sense for our government to waste money prosecuting something is no longer a crime?

Also, the men Iran took prisoner were well aware of the danger they faced visiting Iran. All are of Iranian extraction. They all knew Iran has no freedom of the press or of religion, and has equated journalism with espionage for decades. While these men seem like innocent victims and pawns to most Americans, they knew going in that the Iranian government perceives their activities to be dangerous and subversive. But they accepted the risk because they believed in what they were doing.

Trump's self-congratulations for the hostage release are absolutely preposterous. He looks like a two-year-old pointing into a potty chair, proudly crowing, "I made a poo-poo!"

It's not just the Republican presidential candidates who are clueless. The Republican Party as a whole condemned the president when the Iran deal was made months ago and Jason Rezaian wasn't released. To anyone familiar with the way the Iranians work, it was clear that the journalists were being held as bargaining chips -- an extra incentive to the United States, to be cashed in when we made good on our part of the nuclear deal.

The behavior of the Republican Party indicates that they are either completely ignorant of foreign relations, or in their thirst for partisan advantage they don't give a damn about hurting the interests of the United States and its citizens.

Either way, they've shown yet again that they're not competent to run the country.

Still Dreaming...

Every year, I put up a post on Dr. King's day about how far we have come in terms of civil rights. This year, I honestly can't do that. In the last year, we had a racially motivated act of violence that belonged in the 1930s not 2015. We had the front runner for the GOP nomination call for an ethnic group to be banned from entering the country.

And we had the stark reality of a deeply biased criminal justice system that continues to disproportionally target young, black males. Dr. King's mission is never more needed than it is today.

One of the biggest impediments we have right now is that we seem to have trouble admitting that there still is a problem. There are many people in this country (and, yes, most of them are conservatives) who think any or all of the following:

1. Blacks play the victim too much.
2. Racism is a thing of the past.
3. Race baiting occurs more often than racism itself.
4. Our criminal justice system isn't racist. Blacks just commit more crimes.
5. Black Lives Matter folks are criminals and probably terrorists.

All of this BS has one chief theme: A DODGE OF RESPONSIBILITY.  Synonymous with the age group (adolescents) they so often behave like, people who continue to have this view of the world don't have the balls to own society's problems, especially this ever present and ongoing one. Perhaps the biggest challenge we have today is destroying every one of the myths listed above. Certainly, it won't be easy. We know from all of the various neurological studies out there that people let emotion drive reason and are often not rational.

If Dr, King were alive today, he would be marshaling his forces and directing them in efforts similar to Black Lives Matter. In fact, I think he would have been one of the main people sitting in protest on I-94 in Minneapolis. Even in the age of social media, peaceful, civil disobedience still has an enormous impact.

He would also argue against the passivity that the digital age has created. Social media can be a powerful tool in support of spreading one's message. But it also can be a distraction or worse. Dr. King once said

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

As we remember Dr, King's legacy today in 2016, these are the words we need to embrace.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Sharp Rise

Take a look at the mass shootings in this country over the last 50 years.

When the Gun Cult flaps their yaps about decrease gun violence, the above numbers show just how fucking tone deaf they are. No other country in the civilized world has problems like this.

We have these problems because domestic terrorists are holding our country hostage. If you support looser gun laws, you are offering aid and comfort to the enemies of national security. Gitmo is getting mighty empty these days and, considering we can't seem to close it, perhaps we should start putting some people in it who represent more of a threat than ISIL or Al Qaeda.

How about the gun bloggers first? :)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Memo To Next President: Tougher Gun Laws

With the United States now accounting for 82 percent of all gun deaths among 23 high income countries, I was please to note that a new Reuters poll regarding gun safety had this to say.

Sixty-three percent of Americans overall said they would like to see the next president push for stricter gun laws.

Even better...

Respondents from both parties support more research into the causes of gun violence, the poll showed. Nearly 80 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans said they would support the next president, who takes office next January after the Nov. 8 election, pushing for more research.

Even Republicans are shifting...

Republicans are split on efforts to tighten gun control more broadly. Forty-four percent of those polled said the next president should work to tighten federal gun control laws, while 49 percent were opposed.

44 percent? Wow! I had no idea the number was that high. This is fantastic news and gives me a great deal of hope!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

How The Clown Car Will Doom Republicans

Most of the US has laughed at the clown car that is the GOP primary field. How can anyone keep track of all the candidates? It has whittled down a little bit since the campaign season started but there are still 12 candidates running for the GOP nomination.

Donald Trump has been the consistent leader in the field much to the chagrin of many conservatives. A big reason for this is the conservative base is filled with adolescents who love Trump's now daily tantrums. Yet, as James Pindell of the Boston Globe notes, the reason for that is very simple.

There are too many fucking people running for the GOP nomination.

There are at least four candidates that are splitting up the "establishment" vote that would likely be ahead of Trump if it was only one candidate. Many thought that having a big field was great. It's always good to have more people to choose from, right?

Probably not:)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The NRA Rules!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Greatest Response Ever

I've never been a fan of the "response" to the president after his SOTU...even when it was my party that did it. But Nikki Haley's speech last night in response to President Obama's final state of the union address was fucking fantastic.

What should be the future of the Republican party....

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Victims of Background Checks

Emotional Wayne LaPierre Honors Victims Of Background Checks

“Because of our nation’s senseless gun control laws, this poor man with a known history of domestic violence was unable to procure an assault-style weapon, despite his desperate wishes to own and operate such a weapon,” said the visibly distraught lobbyist while gesturing towards a framed portrait of a middle-aged man, one of dozens of photos of victims displayed around the conference room.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Aw, Maa...

For a long time I advanced the theory that the Republican Party wasn't a real party, but a coalition of special interest groups. It included the money-bag bankers and CEOs, anti-abortion evangelicals, gun nuts and racists. The wealthy Republicans didn't give a damn about abortion, guns or race. The anti-abortion activists didn't give a damn about tax policy, guns or race. The gun nuts didn't give a damn about business, abortion or race. And the racists didn't give a damn about anything. Yes, there was some crossover between the groups (especially the last two), but each group didn't care what the other groups did as long as each one got their hot button pressed.

That would work as long as these interests didn't come into conflict. But after the Great Recession, the fault lines in the Republican Party really started to show. The Tea Party was formed in response to the pain that the recession caused average white middle-aged Americans (AWMAAs), who were now losing their jobs left and right.

The policies that big business advanced had finally caused average white middle-aged Americans a lot of pain. Big business had always wanted free trade and lax immigration policies so they could keep labor costs down. For decades, businesses have been moved jobs overseas, mainly to Asia, and many that stayed in the US relocated to the South, where antipathy to labor unions further depressed wages of AWMAAs.

At this point many people fear the Republican Party is about to self-destruct:
The strains on Republicanism are driven home by scenes like the 1,500 people who waited two hours in 10-degree weather on Tuesday night to see Mr. Trump campaign in Claremont, N.H. And the 700 who jammed the student center of an Iowa Christian college the same evening to hear Mr. Cruz. These crowds were full of lunch-bucket conservatives who expressed frustration with the Republican gentry.

“The Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like me, even though we’ve voted Republican for years,” said Leo Martin, a 62-year-old machinist from Newport, N.H., who attended Mr. Trump’s Claremont rally. “This election is the first in my life where we can change what it means to be a Republican.”
The economic problems AWMAAs face are the same ones that their ancestors faced back in 1890s, the Roaring Twenties and the Depression, which were caused by corporate robber barons, income inequality, and economic malfeasance by the banking world.

These problems precipitated the formation of labor unions in the first half of the 20th century and the creation of a national social safety net in Social Security and Medicare. These paved the way to one of the most prosperous times in history: America in 1950s and '60s.

But starting in the late 1970s a lot of those advances were turned back. Big business, helped by well-intentioned Democrats like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, pushed the deregulation of various industries (trucking and airlines) and trade agreements (NAFTA), and Reagan waged all-out war on labor unions. AWMAAs started to lose their jobs to the Japanese, then the Mexicans, then the Chinese, then the Indians.

Some of these job losses were inevitable because of globalization. But American manufacturers took special glee in destroying unions and sending jobs overseas to cut costs. Businesses that couldn't export jobs looked to hiring foreigners who would accept lower wages, especially in the tech sector.

AWMAAs are now complaining that the Republican Party hasn't done anything for them. What they're really saying is that the Republican Party is an oligarchy run by CEOs, bankers and casino moguls who think the American public exists only to be milked for money.

Yet who do these angry AWMAAs think represents them? Donald Trump: a wealthy, money-grubbing casino mogul and real estate tycoon who got millions of dollars from his daddy. Exactly the kind of guy who caused their problems in the first place.

Wealthy elites like Trump and Ted Cruz (whose wife Heidi is one of the Wall Street bankers the Tea Party loves to hate) are pulling the same old tired bait and switch game wealthy fat cats always play. "Those rapists from Mexico and those terrorists from ISIS are the source of all your problems. Vote for me and I'll make you safe and get you a job."

Trump and Cruz are turning attention away from the real source of AWMAAs' problems -- rising income inequality -- and are goading AWMAAs into a jihad against immigrants. Trump is using poor immigrants as the scapegoats for the problems caused by wealthy elites like Trump. I'd use the Hitler/Jews analogy, but that's passe these days.

AWMAAs are mad because they feel they have no power and no say in the political process or in the economic discussion. Donald Trump, using his experience on reality TV, recognized this and is riling people up by mouthing their frustration.

Republicans always like to say that prosperity won't come from taking something from one person and give it to another. When they say this they usually mean taxing the rich won't help AWMAAs.

If that's the case, then taking jobs like picking strawberries and cleaning hotel rooms away from poor immigrants really won't help AWMAAs, who don't want those jobs in the first place.

Donald Trump is just a reality TV huckster. He doesn't represent anyone's interests but his own. Putting him in the White House will only exacerbate income inequality and make the lives of AWMAAs worse.

Because, once we kick out all the immigrants, who's going to pick the strawberries and clean the hotel rooms for slave wages?

Aw, maa... I don't want to clean that room.

Bigotry, Anger, Hate, Fear

As I have been saying for years, a political party filled with anger, hate, bigotry and fear.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Acting Out, Demanding Attention, Rejecting Curbs On Desires

The best summation of the Gun Cult I have seen thus far...and, honestly, conservatives in general...

Town Hall Frustrations

My initial thoughts on the president's town hall on gun violence are ones of frustration. While I am pleased that the issue is getting more attention and it appears that it's going to be a center piece to the 2016 presidential campaign, there are two core points that are not being addressed.

The first is illustrated in Taya Kyle's portion of this video. As Chris Mooney noted in his book "The Republican Brain," people let emotion drive their reasoning process and this was never more true than with the gun issue. I was hoping that Ms. Kyle would have learned the lesson that her husband and Nancy Lanza did not learn and that is that the gun culture creates a myopia. Neither Mr. Kyle nor Ms. Lanza used reason in their judgement regarding gun safety and allowed mentally ill people to operate firearms. The ideology of the gun rights activist (one devoid of reason and more rooted in paranoia and chest thumping emotion) is a chief cause of mass shootings and gun violence in this country.

Instead, Ms. Kyle spoke of needing a gun for protection and spoke of the hope of declining gun violence. The former is, of course, ridiculous as has been proven time and again by study after study. If you own a gun, you are more likely to kill/injure yourself or a loved one than protect yourself or a loved one. Believing the latter is, again, an emotional response driven by some sort of need for empowerment. The latter I found to be incredibly insulting to the families of the now weekly victims of mass shooting. How can anyone say it's getting better? This is especially befuddling behavior of someone who lost their own loved one to the myopia of gun rights ideology.

I think the president knows this because he's obviously an intelligent man. I get that saying something like this would be a bad PR move but it is the truth and we have to face the fact that this ideology is a threat to our national security.

My second frustration is that the NRA and other gun rights supporters are essentially getting what they want here: enforcement of current laws. Despite their faux protestations, they have successfully shifted the argument so far to the right, that "compromise" is something they've actually supported for years. They've been employing a political tactic that needs to be countered immediately.

Instead of allowing them to set the table with talk of totalitarian governments and dystopic futures (see: appeal to fear), gun safety advocates like the president should be talking about mandatory, minimum training, liability insurance, registration, and even altering the 2nd amendment so that only people who want to devote a considerable portion of their lives to community protection own firearms. These things may seem like a pipe dream now but gun safety advocates need to cease starting from a point of capitulation.

It's clear that the gun issue is going to have ongoing prevalence. I only wish that it wasn't due to the regularity of gun violence and our inability to accept what we need to do to solve the problem.

Here is the full town hall...

Friday, January 08, 2016

The Porn Theory of Guns

Conservatives have long rampaged against pornography, claiming that it causes "unnatural" urges in those who view it, warps young minds and forces them to commit unspeakable acts. The Duggar family claims sexual predator Josh Duggar was a porn addict, and porn caused him to molest his sisters and have an affair. In the minds of conservatives, it's not the suffocating and repressive conservative attitude that made sex a totally seductive taboo that caused Josh Duggar to obsess about it; it was porn.

Conservatives generally subscribe to the video game theory of mass shootings. In their minds, kids who play violent first-person-shooter video games are training to be mass murderers. They also claim that watching violent movies and TV shows are creating killers in droves. Despite the fact that the violence in most video games and movies is very unrealistic.

If that's the case, then simply owning a gun predisposes a person to committing gun violence. Gun owners regularly practice shooting targets with human figures depicted on them. They constantly think about killing people with guns. A person who buys a gun has already decided that they will kill someone. Many people say they feel a rush of power when they handle guns; some wax rhapsodic about how it feels to cut loose with a machine gun, spraying bullets across a target. (Watch most any episode of Mythbusters to watch the joyous fascination some people have with shooting up the scenery. Are endorphins being released in the brains of these people, in the same way that drugs release endorphins?)

One cannot deny that there's a connection between having a gun and shooting someone with it: no gunless person has ever shot someone. People are shot by people with guns 100% of the time. There's no question that having a gun makes you much more likely to shoot someone. The question is, does having a gun make a person more likely to want to shoot someone?

It certainly increases a person's bravado, if what people say on social media is any indication. How many times have you seen people respond to insults or threats on Twitter with something to the effect of, "Oh yeah? Say that to my face when I've got my .45" or "I'm not afraid of him, I'm a Second Amendment guy."

The statistics indicate it's likely the mere presence of guns increases the number of shootings, as was demonstrated when Australia passed stringent gun laws and the number of gun deaths plummeted. Corroborating data also comes from the United States:
Republican presidential candidates should look at the natural experiment that occurred when Missouri eased restrictions on buying handguns. The result was a 25 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate, according to a study in the Journal of Urban Health.
In contrast, Connecticut tightened regulations on buying handguns, and gun homicides there fell by 40 percent, according to the American Journal of Public Health.
This is something that scientists could research. Statistical studies could be first and easiest, looking into whether people who own guns commit more non-gun acts of aggression (though one could argue that this would merely prove that people who want guns are more violent in the first place). Behavioral studies could create social experiments to measure whether possession of gun increases aggression. Functional MRI brain scans could see whether guns activate the parts of the brain associated with aggression. Blood samples could be take from people who handle guns to test whether hormone levels associated with aggression have increased.

Many conservatives have long demanded we throw out the First Amendment and ban certain movies, video games and porn because they rot people's minds or induce them violence. If guns have the same effect, will they want to ban them too?

Nah. That's why they passed a law banning government research on guns. Because they already know what the data will show.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Wholesale Defeat

Looks like EJ Dionne is echoing yours truly.

Bullies are intimidating until someone calls their bluff. By ruling out any reasonable steps toward containing the killing in our nation and by offering ever more preposterous arguments, the gun worshipers are setting themselves up for wholesale defeat. It will take time. 

But it will happen.

The best part about it is they don't see it yet...:)

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Time To Arrest the NRA for Domestic Terrorism

Check out this image recently tweeted from the NRA.

Bullets next to elected officials...fantastic. I'd say it's way past time we started rounding up these fuckers and putting them in jail. Isn't Gitmo still open?

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Exactly Why I Voted For Him

I voted twice for Barack Obama for two basic reasons. The first reason was to fix problems that we already knew we had. He's certainly done some of that. Getting bin Laden and literally saving American lives by making health care available to everyone are two of the biggest accomplishments.

But I also voted for him because he'd work to fix the problems that we didn't know about yet. The main problem I have with conservatives is they are very limp when it comes to new problems, especially if it's domestic issues. A great example of this is the gun issue. When the president took office, guns weren't really a top priority. We didn't have mass shootings every week and violence was on a downward trend. We did have the ongoing issues of gang violence and suicides but guns aren't necessarily at the root of those problems.

Then came Aurora and Sandy Hook and everything changed after that.

It certainly did for me. The chief cause of Sandy Hook was the Gun Cult. Nancy Lanza bought into their bullshit, armed herself to the teeth, and, like most "responsible" gun owners, allowed someone access to guns that should not have had them. As a result, first graders were shot in the face. Nothing was done to change our insanely loose gun laws and look what has happened since. Can anyone really remember all the mass shootings? I can't because they happen all the fucking time now.

Today, the president issued executive orders that are going to expand universal background checks and allow doctors to report some mentally ill patients to the FBI to prevent them from getting guns. His speech was extraordinary and made me proud to be an American and have this man stand up for what is right. Here is an excerpt.

President Obama, tearing up about the Sandy Hook shooting: "Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad."
Posted by CNBC on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Monday, January 04, 2016

Military Man

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Arrest The Communists!

When you embolden terrorists, they continue to take advantage of you.

That's a line we here all the time from conservatives and I actually agree with it, taking a harder line against those who would do us harm because of stark differences in ideology. Where conservatives and I part ways, however, is the definition of what is terrorism. For example, I view people that actively support gun rights and people who vote for candidates who actively support gun rights as aiding and abetting the murders of thousands of Americans. A stark example of this is domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Dear is another example of where I part ways with conservatives. No doubt many of them view him as a freedom fighter, crusading against the evil that is abortion.

Similar to their support of Dear is their support of Cliven Bundy. Recall that Bundy is the guy who thinks that all land belongs to the people, not the federal government (see also: communism) and has still not been arrested for grazing his cattle on federal lands. This inaction by the federal government has led to another incident in Oregon where similar minded people, including Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy, have now seized a federal government wildlife facility with no intention to leave.

The federal response to both of these incidents has been lackluster at best. They need to arrest all of these people and remove them by force, if necessary. I get they don't want another Waco but these people are in direct violation of the Constitution. They are committing and overt act of sedition and need to go to jail.

In the final analysis, they are honestly communists. Property, whether owned by a person or an entity, isn't owned by the people. How that works out to be conservative in their pea brains, we'll never know. Yet we do know that they are dangerous and it's way past time to take them down several notches.

I think a tank ought to do quite nicely:)

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Trump's New Reality TV Show

A couple of weeks ago Hillary Clinton claimed that terrorists were using Donald Trump in their recruiting videos. At an event she said:
"You know, people around the world pay close attention to our elections. And if you go on Arabic television, as we have, and you look at what is being blasted out with video of Mr. Trump being translated into Arabic, 'No Muslims coming into the United States,' other kinds of derogatory, defamatory statements, it is playing into the hands of the violent jihadists," she said. "There is nothing they want more than to be able to claim that the United States is against Islam and against Muslims and that then lights an even bigger fire for them to make their propaganda claims through social media and other ways."
At the time various organizations investigated this and found that Clinton was exaggerating, and rating her claim false. Well, no more. Trump is now starring in a different kind of reality TV show:
Al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia released a recruitment video on Friday that criticized racism and anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States and contained footage of the Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump announcing his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the country.
The video, released by the militant group Shabab, appeared to be the first time that Mr. Trump was featured in jihadist recruitment material. During a Democratic presidential debate last month, Hillary Clinton said that Mr. Trump had been used in a recruitment video for the Islamic State, a claim that was later debunked.
Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are rival jihadist groups that compete for recruits and money among radicalized Muslims.
Representatives for the Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
The video was part of a series dedicated to Somali-American jihadists from Minnesota and one Canadian who died on the battlefield in Somalia. The video was authenticated by the SITE Intelligence Group, which studies jihadist propaganda, and it appeared to be aimed at the African-American community.
This is especially concerning because there are thousands of Somalis living in the United States, in my state. But the answer isn't to treat Muslim Americans as if they're terrorists and traitors as Trump is doing; that plays directly into the terrorists' hands.

The physicist Lawrence Krauss puts the whole terrorism panic currently gripping the United States into perspective:
As far as the U.S. is concerned, it has been pointed out already—by the President, in fact—that about thirty-three thousand people die each year from gunshot wounds. That’s about four hundred thousand people since 2001. By contrast, setting aside 9/11, and even including the San Bernardino shootings, only fifty-four deaths have occurred because of domestic acts of terrorism during that time. Even if you include 9/11, the total death toll from terrorism amounts to less than one per cent of the death toll from gun violence. Just before San Bernardino, the Washington Post reported that, in the first three hundred and thirty-four days of 2015, there had been three hundred and fifty-one mass shootings in the United States—that is, shootings in which four or more people were killed or injured by gunfire. That is more than one per day. It is sobering to recognize that this month’s attack in California, as horrific as it was, does not skew the statistics at all; sadly, December 2nd in San Bernardino was just another average day in the United States. In fact, with over a hundred and eighty people shot each day in this country, even a mass killing like that which occurred in Paris would not significantly affect the death toll from guns in the U.S.
For some mysterious reason Americans go nuts when a tiny percentage of Americans are killed by foreign nutjobs trying to bring about the apocalypse, but simply shrug when Americans slaughter each other annually by the tens of thousands.

Krauss makes an observation:
A cynical individual might wonder who benefits more from the terror induced by terrorism: the terrorists themselves or the politicians and governments who use the public reaction to acts of terror for political gain? Hermann Göring, interviewed during the Nuremberg Trials, said, “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” We need to be vigilant against those who seek to manipulate us—whoever they are.
To put it bluntly: ISIS and Al Shabab are the Hermann Görings of the Muslim world. Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump are the Hermann Görings of the Western world.

Extremist conservative elements in both the West and the Islamic world are taking cues from the Nazi playbook, using their opposing counterparts as bogeymen to frighten moderates in their own societies and incite hatred against "the other" to cynically bolster their own power grabs.

The recent defeat of ISIS in Ramadi by US airpower and Iraqi ground forces shows how ridiculous the notion that ISIS is an "existential" threat to the United States. If countries like Russia and the US, Saudi Arabia and Iran, India and Pakistan, would put aside their differences and turf wars for a year or two, we could wipe out the current scourge of international terrorism.

But as long as the people of the world give into their fears and give power to demagogues and tyrants like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad in Syria, the king of Saudi Arabia, the grand ayatollah of Iran, Bibi Netanyahu in Israel, Hamas in Gaza, and all the others of their ilk, we will be their pawns and the victims of their cynical, double-dealing machinations.

A Matter of Survival

If I were a conservative, here are some numbers that should concern me.

  • In 2012, Democrats made up 44.7 percent of party-affiliated likely voters, compared to 39.1 percent Republicans, a difference of about 6 percentage points, according to the analysis of 87,778 likely presidential voters polled leading up to the 2012 presidential election. The results have a credibility interval of plus or minus 0.3 percentage points.
  • Three years later, that lead had grown to nine points, 45.9 percent to 36.9 percent, according to the analysis of 93,181 likely presidential voters polled in 2015. The results in 2015 have the same credibility interval as 2012.
  • Among Hispanics who are likely presidential voters, the percentage affiliated with the Republican Party has slipped nearly five points, from 30.6 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, Hispanic Democrats grew by six percentage points to 59.6 percent.
  • Among whites under 40, the shift is even more dramatic. In 2012, they were more likely to identify with the Republican Party by about 5 percentage points. In 2015, the advantage flipped: Young whites are now more likely to identify with the Democratic Party by about 8 percentage points.
  • Meanwhile, black likely voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic, at about 80 percent. 

  • All of this data roughly translates into one thing: the electoral math doesn't add up in any way for them to win the presidency. Further...

    Friday, January 01, 2016

    Looking Back At A Great Year

    At least 265 people were accidentally shot by children in 2015.

    That works out to be an average of about 5 a week. Here's how most of the stories go...

    On Monday, three days after Christmas, the four-year-old son of an Alaska state trooper had just returned home from sledding. He was playing by himself in the living room. His mom and grandmother were not far away, in the kitchen, the Alaska Dispatch News reports. But somehow the boy, William Anderson, found a gun belonging to his father. 

    The gun went off and killed William.

    What the Gun Cult fails to grasp is that society is filled with irresponsible people who end up falling through the cracks of loose gun laws. That's why we need the entire country to adopt the law that is already in effect in 28 states and hold gun owners criminally liable if children have access to their guns.

    Research shows that these laws work. A 2005 study found that child access prevention (CAP) laws in 10 states prevented 829 injuries in 2001, saving $37 million in medical costs. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004 found that CAP laws prevented 333 teen suicides between 1989 and 2001. Clearly, this should be a federal law.

    I have a great deal of hope for 2016 in terms of gun safety. The president is going to be issuing an executive order on background checks next week. We'll find get to see how well open carry works in Texas...not that any facts or data will change the mind of the Gun Cult but at least the rest of America will. The NRA is raising their membership fee for the first time in 20 years which tells me that they are hurting for cash and expect a tougher than usual fight in this year's election.

    And every single time there is a mass shooting, the levee continues to erode for the Gun Cult. We've given them a long leash (largely due to fear and emotions) but its clear that leash is shrinking.