Showing posts with label Gabrielle Giffords. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gabrielle Giffords. Show all posts

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Doubling Down

For those of you who want a very specific example of why I am a Democrat, compare Sarah Palin's speech yesterday to President Obama's speech.

Instead of taking the high road, Sarah Palin decided to double down and use her position as a powerful force within the conservative movement in this country to fully illustrate why people should be talking about her in connection with the shooting.

If you don’t like a person’s vision for the country, you’re free to debate that vision. If you don’t like their ideas, you’re free to propose better ideas. But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

So, Sarah Palin has now put herself on the same level as oppressed Jews accused of using Christian children's blood in religious ceremonies. Really? Let's compare here statement (which can be read in full here) with Keith Olbermann's statement read on the night of the shooting.

Violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our Democracy, and I apologize for and repudiate any act or any thing in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence. Because for whatever else each of us may be, we all are Americans.

You know what the above is called, folks? Taking Responsibility. 

All of this discourse over the last week has made me realize that, in general, the right wing of this country completely fails in two very distinct yet related ways.

The first way they epically fail is by loudly asserting in one breath that people need to own up to their actions and then completely failing to take ownership of any of their own actions the other breath. We saw this for 8 years with President Bush. He could never admit fault. We see it on here in any discussion of race. We see it with Sarah Palin in this situation.

Let's review some key facts:

1. Sarah Palin puts up a map with rifle crosshairs on it early last year targeting certain congressional districts for the fall campaign.

2. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' district was one of the districts targeted.

2. Gabrielle Giffords calls Palin to the map for saying this and speaks of "consequences" in an interview on MSNBC.

3. Giffords' office  is attacked along with fellow Arizona congressmen Raul Girjalva's office.

3. Ms. Giffords is shot in the head later in th year.

These four things are facts. They happened. And Palin wants to stifle any conversation about any of this? Then doubles down and uses the term "blood libel" in relation to herself. Does she know that Giffords is JEWISH? My commenters accuse me of having no shame and scoring political points. Are you fucking KIDDING me?

Imagine if Hillary Clinton had done that and someone had been shot in the head. Imagine if it were Muslims that put up a map like this. The reaction would be exactly the same as mine...likely worse...from the right. And they would be correct. The defense, from the right, for the crosshairs map is that the Democrats put one out in 2004. My question is a simple one.


The second, and equally important, way that the right wing epically fails is their titanic resistance to the idea that people don't operate in a vacuum. Palin again from yesterday.

Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election.

Wrong. David Adkisson walked into a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and killed two people, wounding seven others. During his interview, Adkisson said that he believed that all liberals should be killed because they are ruining the country. Books by Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Bill O'Reilly were found in his home. People don't operate in a vacuum. Even if Loughner had been found with Palin's books and the crosshairs map, she still would've denied any responsibility...just as Hannity, Savage and O'Reilly all did back in 2008.

As I wrote about the other day, we are the product of our socialization. The way people behave is not simply a result of their own actions but the result of a lifetime of interactions with both the people and the institutions of our country. The media is an institution of our country that is overwhelmingly influential and poweful. Make no mistake, folks. I am not saying that Hannity caused Adkisson to go out and shoot these people. It was the combination of Hannity (et al), Adkisson's own warped mind, and the failure of the various agencies of socialization in Adkisson's life. It was the combination of all these factors. As a side note, this is why I think gun control is ludicrous. The guns aren't the problem...the agencies of socialization are the problem if they fail!

So, it's a double (and most epic) fail illustrated beautifully in the form of Sarah Palin. She can't own up to her own contribution to the overall problem and she can't admit that Jared Loughner is who he is because of the culture in which he lives. This is a fundamental (and most common) flaw in conservative ideology. Quite frankly, it's a flaw that needs to be corrected if our society ever wants to get any further down the road. We need to understand that it is both.

The icing on the (hilarious) cake is that she falls back into what we clearly should all get this latest tragedy so eloquently illustrates...she blames liberals, using the term "blood libel," and once again TARGETS them as evil. And we are right back in the shit...again!

Honestly, though, it's clear why she and other right wingers are pissed. Their insecurity is glaringly obvious. Nearly every discussion I've ever had with the right has been like this. This is why they accuse Social Security of being like a Ponzi Scheme:. They don't have informed opinions...only delusions that fit their they make shit up, pulling it deep from within their asses. The real reason why she and some others on the right are PO'd about this is that they have nothing else. They have to resort to insane levels of hyperbole.  "Don't retreat, reload" is their meat. If that mode of discourse is taken away, their position will be revealed for what it is.

Full of sound and fury...signifying nothing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cold, hard facts and cold, dead hands

Video games have been blamed for much of the violence in the last decade. I have no doubt that sooner or later that someone will make that connection with Jared Loughner. But video games, as simulations of reality, can offer some insights.

Computer and role-playing games model reality in many ways, but most break down combat into offensive and defensive capabilities. Offensive capabilities have statistics such as basic to-hit chance, accuracy, weapon speed, type of damage, rate of fire, and raw numerical damage. Defensive capabilities have statistics such as deflection, dodging, parrying, and damage resistance or damage reduction.

Most games model armor and helmets as providing damage resistance and sometimes deflection. Shields more often provide deflection rather than damage resistance, and provide a chance to block attacks. Hand weapons such as swords, staves, polearms and the like have statistics such accuracy, speed, damage, parrying chance and the like. Missile weapons such as bows, thrown spears and guns have stats for basic hit chance, accuracy, damage type, total damage, and rate of fire.

Some games provide additional rules for resolving total damage inflicted based on hit location: a shot to the hand can't kill you immediately and the total damage is often limited to some fraction of a torso hit. A shot to the head will do double or quadruple damage based on ammunition type.

Note the total lack of defensive statistics that missile weapons provide.

The other thing you learn from video games is tactics: strike first, strike hard, and strike from concealment.

It's been widely reported that Gabrielle Giffords was a supporter of gun rights. After the door of her office was smashed in during the health care tirades (they were hardly debates) she apparently decided to carry a pistol. Arizona has some of the most liberal gun laws in the country: a recently passed concealed carry law allows almost anyone to buy a gun and hide it on their person almost anywhere they go.

But as anyone who plays video games knows, guns provide no defensive protection. At best they provide first-strike capability if the attacker is detected, or more likely, a retributive strike after the initial onslaught. At worst, guns provide no protection at all if the shooter is fast, agile, calm and prepared.

And that's exactly how it played out in Arizona. Giffords never had a chance because Loughner came at her from behind and capped her. With a high-capacity clip, he was then able to shoot almost two dozen people in a matter of seconds. Giffords may well have had her pistol in her purse. It didn't matter. If she had been wearing it on her hip, or even holding it in her hand, it still wouldn't have mattered.

The only way this would have played out differently is if Giffords had had an armed security detail that had identified Loughner as a potential threat. They might have been able to stop him from approaching Giffords from behind, but given Arizona's gun laws, he had every right to meet the congresswoman while packing heat. So they would have had to let him talk to her. And at any point during the conversation Loughner could reach into his jacket, pull out his pistol and shoot her in the heart. Maybe the security detail could stop him, maybe not. But there was no detail, so it's a moot point. (And I wonder how long it will be before Giffords is called irresponsible for not taking precautions? "You screwed up -- you trusted me!")

And security details can sometimes be the problem. A Pakistani politician was killed by one of his guards last week. The killer -- a conservative Muslim who despised the liberal policies of the governor of Punjab province -- is now being celebrated as a hero by many devout Muslims.

Now imagine, as I'm sure many of you are, that every person in the crowd was packing. After Loughner shoots Giffords everyone is momentarily stunned. During that time Loughner shoots the aide standing next to her. Then the judge standing in line to talk to her. Then he starts shooting randomly into the crowd.

Semiautomatic pistols fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. Someone practiced at this can fire two or three shots per second, maybe more. Loughner apparently got a lot of practice and was a good shot.

Then the crowd realizes what is happening and they all reach into their jacket holsters and purses for their pistols, fumble to find and click off the safeties, and raise their weapons to aim and finally fire. Five seconds have gone by, and Loughner would have gotten 10 to 15 shots off. He's shooting into a crowd, firing at random. His shots will find targets no matter how bad his aim is.

Now the crowd -- untrained, panicked old ladies, moms with kids, and middle-aged men -- start shooting at Loughner. It's well known that handgun accuracy among even well-trained policemen is abysmally low in live-fire situations. Here it would certainly be lower. Ninety to 95% of the bullets fired would miss Loughner. But they could very well hit other people in the crowd, or even Giffords herself.

Remember the old joke about the circular firing squad?

Then there's the problem of identifying the aggressor. Early on in the war in Afghanistan more troops died from friendly fire than enemy action. If everyone has guns and is shooting, how does anyone know who the bad guys are?

In the Arizona incident there actually was a guy with a gun who came onto the scene. Joe Zamudio heard the shots, came rushing in and saw a guy with a gun. Zamudio put his hand on his weapon and . . . did not draw it. As it turned out, the guy with the gun had just taken it from Loughner. Zamudio kept his weapon holstered as long as possible to avoid being mistaken for the shooter. If he'd had it out with a round in the chamber, giving him that much less time to observe the situation, would he have shot an innocent man? He counts himself very lucky.

This is why cops wear uniforms: so that they can identify each other easily and civilians can recognize their authority. Cops coming on to the scene of a mass shootout have no way of identifying who's who, and could easily shoot the "good" guys.

Then there's the psychological angle. If you buy a gun you have to assume you're going to kill someone some day. Because you can't just threaten someone with it. Odds are they'll see the fear in your eyes, and they'll take that gun from you. And they may use it on you and your loved ones. Unless you're prepared to kill someone, owning a gun "for protection" is foolish.

Finally there are the consequences of killing someone. Cops and soldiers often suffer severe psychological trauma after a shooting. And they're trained to deal with it, fully expecting they will have to kill someone someday. Civilians without training would be at least as devastated, unless they're already halfway down the road the Loughner is on.

The tragedy in Arizona is really no different from Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and dozens of home, postal and office rampages. Some suicidal nut job motivated by religion, politics, divorce, alienation, or revenge gets a gun and shoots people up.

Because a gun is not like a Kevlar vest or a ballistic helmet, it is not protection in any meaningful sense. It is a deterrent only because it threatens retaliation. If someone doesn't care whether they live or die, or they believe that they are faster and better and can outshoot their victims, or they are attacking from the rear, from cover or from great range, guns provide no protection whatsoever.

The one exception is in the theater of war, where it is (usually) obvious what the threats are, and threats can be preemptively neutralized. This is the proverbial best-defense-is-a-good-offense sort of protection.

But it points out the fallacy of carrying a weapon in a civil society. It is no sort of protection for the average person: the bad guys will just shoot first. Like Loughner, they will just cap you from behind if they think you're armed. Do we really want to turn our streets into warzones where people shoot first out of fear?

In Arizona there are six more pairs of cold, dead hands because we as a nation refuse to acknowledge the cold, hard facts about guns.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Complete Disgrace

"For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Gabrielle Giffords (US Rep, D) said in an interview with MSNBC.

United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D) has just been shot in the head by Jared Loughner, a "pot smoking loner who wanted to make new US currency." He also complained about the illiteracy rate in his district (translation: I don't like Spics). Take a look at the photo (left) from his MySpace page. Look familiar at all? Second amendment remedies indeed.

Giffords was the lucky one. The death toll included a 9-year-old girl, a federal judge, and a staffer for the Democratic congresswoman. Giffords's office was also vandalized repeatedly during the health care debate.

But I guess I'm just reaching, right? There's no way in hell that anyone would take Palin's crosshairs seriously. People in this country are much better than that, aren't they?

What a great place Arizona must be these days. Papers please, Jew...fuck you and your transplant (the subject of Nikto's post tomorrow)...and a nine year old girl dead. What a disgrace.