Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bump Stocks and the Florida Shooting

17

Seventeen

Ten and then, seven more.

Seventeen.

That's the number of people killed in the most recent horrific, obscene shooting in our nation.  Horrific and obscene evidence of our national blood-pact with the National Rifle Association and the arms manufacturers for which the NRA is simply a sock-puppet.  No longer does the NRA actually represent hunters as it's primary demographic, but instead their primary demographic is an industry desperate to make more and more sales, desperate because manufacturers have seen flagging sales after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.  Those sales have flagged because the NRA spent 8 years telling the nation, especially the rabid gun nuts, that President Obama was just about to unleash the ATF and FBI to come take their guns.

So, the NRA is seeking to prevent legal activity which closes loop-holes which would curtail straw-buying.  They may say otherwise, but make no mistake, the NRA is aware that the guns in Chicago, the most awful example of gang-related gun violence in the US, are bought outside the Chicago city limits by straw-buyers and transported into Chicago (a drive of a couple of miles) and sold.  They are aware that the best self-defense weapons aren't assault rifles, but instead shotguns (for power) or small(ish) handguns (for ease of carry).  Yet, the adamantly oppose any limitations on assault rifles, weapons designed to allow soldiers to assault enemy held positions by allowing for maximum sustained firepower for the longest period of time (outside carrying a light machine gun - an impracticality for soldiers rushing into an enemy held building).  They are aware these weapons are a mediocre choice for self-defense and a worse choice for hunting, but they are also aware that gun "lovers" want, even lust, for guns which look like military hardware.  They long for firearms which give them maximum firepower (available under current law), seemingly because those weapons help them feel tougher.  It helps them feel like we all often do walking out of a martial arts movie, that we can take on the world, like we're somehow that military-minded expert who can shoot down aircraft and black hat bad guys with our bad-ass weaponry.

And so, after seventeen more people died, our President, beholden to this same NRA and the gun manufacturers (who spent 20 million on his election), after an AR15 was again used to slaughter innocent people, 14 of them children, has advocated for....

banning bump stocks...a device used in the Las Vegas shooting, not the Florida shooting

Yep, our glorious leader, in reaction to yet more slaughter has advocated doing something about the shooting before the last shooting.  Something he could have advocated for months ago, in fact many people did advocate for months ago.  Interestingly, the NRA is fairly neutral on bump-stocks, perhaps because the gun manufacturers by and large aren't the manufacturers of bump-stocks?  Nah, couldn't be that.  Regardless, despite only moderate opposition from the NRA to regulation of bump-stocks, nothing was done by Congress or the President after the worst mass-shooting in US history.  They did nothing, nothing until yet another mass-shooting killed more children and then..

They took the safest, easiest action, to advocate for some sort of restriction on a device that modifies assault rifles so they can fire in a very nearly fully automatic mode (like many military assault rifles are able to do).  AND, they again called for arming teachers, and for investigating the mentally-ill.  As if the US has cornered the market on mental illness or the violently mentally-ill?   Is that yet more American Exceptionalism?  And if arming teachers is the answer, why do other countries not arm their teachers?  Why do they not need to do so?  These are two old saws from the NRA, say nothing can be done because it's just the mentally-ill, and say that more guns will solve things.  We have more guns here in the US than in any other country in the world, yet, somehow, we are not safer so it boggles the mind how even more guns wielded publicly will make us safer. 

A conservative friend of mine recently wrote that taking away weapons from terrorists will only cause them to find other and even worse, weapons.  Well, if true, then the argument to arm teachers is a terrible one, because and in fact as we have seen, if we arm teachers, those who would engage in mass shootings will only start wearing ballistic vests as the shooter in Texas did, or start bringing to bear ever more powerful assault weapons from vantage points difficult to stop (as the shooter in Las Vegas did), in order to avoid or mitigate the risk from "the good guy with the gun."  So NO, more guns will solve nothing at all.  It's ironic to hear this argument from a gun nut (as is my friend) considering it's the argument we have made about increasing the firepower of police as being no real solution to gun violence either.

No, the President again (and the GOP again), shows it cannot lead, will not lead, and in fact will oppose any leadership which addresses the underlying issues of gun violence in the US, especially some of the most easily constrained, mass shootings.  Nearly every mass shooting in the US has been perpetrated with either assault rifles and/or with weapons using very high capacity magazines (the Gabby Giffords shooting was done by a man using a pistol with a 30 round magazine, imagine a magazine which extends about a foot below the shooter's hands).  They nearly all also stopped either when their weapon ran out of ammunition causing them to reload, or their weapon jammed, read that again, when they needed to reload or could not keep firing - so they kept shooting until they immediately ran out of firepower.  These aren't facts in dispute.  The Sandy Hook shooter's weapon apparently jammed, Gabby Gifford's shooter's magazine ran dry, the shooter in Aurora Colorado either ran out or his weapon jammed (it's not clear).  We don't yet know what happened in Florida.  In Las Vegas the shooter brought dozens of weapons just to make sure he could keep shooting.  In NONE of these cases were the shooter's "stopped" in anything like a timely manner by "a good guy with a gun."  So, what does the President do in reaction to the Florida shooting, he doesn't advocate for limitations on these types of weapons, instead he advocated for strengthening laws which he criticized and set aside, in his 2nd act as President.

This is not leadership.  Addressing the current issue with a modest and obvious step from the last crisis isn't leadership,  it's cowardice, it's corruption and it is disgusting, and it is obscene and in the most powerful nation in the world, it is a national embarrassment.   It is a broken record to say it, and that's perhaps the saddest thing of all, but it is far beyond time for real leadership in the US on limiting firepower for civilians to what they actually need for self-defense, not in some fevered-dream of being attacked by Ali Baba and his 40 thieves, but in the 99.999999% of cases and what they need to hunt (assault weapons are terrible hunting weapons).  They do not need assault weapons and we do not need to keep watching the parade of hearses bearing the innocent young victims of our needless national obsession.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Is it true what they say about Catherine the Great?

From the BBC:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said there was no allegation that any American was "a knowing participant in this illegal activity" nor was it alleged that the meddling altered the election outcome.

Three of the people named have also been accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five have been accused of aggravated identity theft. Three companies have also been charged.
Amusingly, one of the allegations is "Promoted information that disparaged Hillary Clinton".

As if anyone needed the Russians for that one! The next quote sounds like duopoly sour grapes:
"They engaged in operations primarily to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump."
Bernie was supported by small donors: shitloads of them. He was pretty much outraising her until HER campaign pulled the dirty tricks. Remember how the primaries were called for Clinton before they had been held?

Who said "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS"? (Hint: not the Russians).

Somebody get these people a couple of the Class Action Lawsuit against the DNC and point them to democraticautopsy.org.

The Russians didn't have as much influence on the whole mess as did internal forces who are enjoying having everyone look everywhere besides where the real problems lie.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Marinus van der Lubbe is long dead.

It had to happen.
I have to point out there are things on my blog like:
Green Parties World Wide: Hey, it's nice to finally know what I am politically!
Sorry, but it wasn't the Russians that influenced my vote: look at the Duopoly for the real culprits.

Not to mention the Electoral College. Or is it true what they say about Catherine the Great?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

America Deserves Donald trump

Don't let the title cause you to think that I approve of the current US president. No, this is an affirmation that a nation gets the government it deserves.

And the US deserves Donald Trump for all its failing to properly address the issues that it faces. In particular, the failings of its rigged political system. But that is a symptom of something much larger. I would say that the anti-intellectualism which is a feature of US society is another contributing factor.

What really pissed me off isn't the election of Donald Trump and the failure to properly address the cause, but an ignorant statement made by someone in authority about US immigration. Although, not sure how much “authority" can be given to someone who is director of the US tenement museum. The comment was along the lines of people whose ancestors came here and became citizens somehow are similar to the "dreamers" of today.

Part of this was based on the fact that immigration laws weren't that strict up until the late 19th-early 20th Century; however there were still immigration laws.  That is a flawed argument for a myriad of reasons: the basic one being that laws change.  You can't legally try a case which happened in the past using current law or judge a modern case by outdated law.

Another issue at work here is the national myth that people came here for a better life, which wasn't always true.  The US needs to get in touch with its convict immigrant heritage since, besides slaves, not everyone came here for a better life.

Prior to the US War for Independence, the US was the dumping ground for England's convicts:
As the 17th century drew to a close, lawmakers sought a less harsh punishment that might still deter potential offenders; penal transportation with a term of indentured servitude became the more common punishment. This trend was continued by the Transportation Act 1717 (16 Geo. 3 c.43), which regulated and subsidized the practice, until its use was suspended by the Criminal Law Act 1776. With the American Colonies already in active rebellion, parliament claimed its continuance "is found to be attended with various inconveniences, particularly by depriving this kingdom of many subjects whose labour might be useful to the community, and who, by proper care and correction, might be reclaimed from their evil course". This law would become known as the Hard Labour act and the Hulks act for both its purpose and its result. With the removal of the important transportation alternative to the death penalty, it would in part prompt the use of prisons for punishment and the start of prison building programs. (source)
Of course, the situation here was solved by Australia, but that is an aside. The term "indentured servant" sounds a lot better than convict. it also plays into the aspirational aspect of the US myth: "your ancestors came to America as a Servant in hopes of a better life."

That plays out a lot better than your ancestors were shipped to the colonies to escape the noose.

Of course, it also puts a different light on early American immigration in that blacks weren't the only people shipped to the Colonies against their will.  And do some research into indentured servitude in the Early North American Colonies if you are going to try and argue that it wasn't as bad as being a slave.

Of course, trying to draw a distinction between slavery and indentured servitude is useful if you want to divide people up by race. Add "Bacons Rebellion" in Virginia to the reading list.

But the real issue here isn't slavery or race as much as it is the aspirational aspect of immigration. As long as the myth is that people came here for a better life, one might "forgive" a person for breaking the law because they want a better life for their family.  On the other hand, Australia used to have cheap fares for immigrants up until recently, but now has incredibly strict immigration laws. Is there a lesson to be learned here?

Personally, I don't think an unlawfully present person's life happens to be better since they know they can be deported. The "dream" if there really is one is that people will someone ignore that the unlawfully present person is violating immigration law: even if it doesn't come with strong penalties.

But the real upshot here is that the US deserves a president who gives the appearance of possibly being much more affluent than he really is (isn't that the real issue with his tax returns?).  One doesn't need tax returns since there are multiple bankruptcies and other evidence his "wealth" has not been beneficial to those around him.

But the bottom line is all about the dream.  Maybe it's time for a strong dose of reality.