Category Archives: Guns

Guest Post: Lobby Day; A Peaceful, Queasy Feeling

My old friend Parenthetical grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He currently resides in Charlottesville. In 2017, he wrote a guest post about the prelude to the Charlottesville white supremacist riot: Lost Cause Fest, Virginia Style.

The punny title for this post was his idea, I didn’t force it on him. I suspect, however, that he was pandering to me. If so, it worked,

Here are his thoughts about the gun nut non-riot in Richmond on MLK Day:

You knew this Richmond Gunpalooza was going to be big after Governor Northam told the press that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

I’m sorry, I’m being told that was Governor Ronald Reagan upon signing 1967’s Mulford Act prohibiting open carry in California, enacted in direct response to the Black Panthers’ armed visit to the state’s capitol.

As for Virginia’s own Locked n’ Loaded LinkedIn event, certain folks have been doing online victory laps on behalf of the thousands of gun enthusiasts who packed the area on Lobby Day, a traditional day for coming to speak with one’s state representatives. Compared to the Unite The Right rally three years ago, the day’s lack of homicides and beatings warrants a hearty huzzah, to be sure, but let’s put some context around this “accomplishment.”

  • The governor declared a state of emergency days in advance, due to out-of-state unwelcome “militia” members.
  • Neo-Nazis with a machine gun and reported designs on attending were arrested the week prior, and who knows what other advance intel proved fruitful.
  • State and local police coordinated well ahead of time, a lesson learned the hard way in Charlottesville.
  • Fencing went up around the Capitol, and access was controlled.
  • Streets shut down.
  • Some nearby business shut down for the day, accepting the financial hit in an abundance of caution.
  • Area residents stayed indoors, and people in other parts of town stayed away.
  • Counterprotestors largely skipped the event, zero counteraggression present.
  • Organizations who would have otherwise participated in Lobby Day exercised caution and stayed away.

At the end of the day, everyone from taxpayer-funded authorities to residents to Antifa made choices and/or absorbed expenses to keep the peace or steer clear. The result? A crowd full of tactical fashionistas had the place practically to themselves in a highly unnatural environment, and now they’re all, “HEY MY GUNZ AND PALS AND ME MADE A PEACEFUL!”

Obliviousness to privilege on Capitol Square for Dr. King’s birthday, what a thoughtful gift.

One photo captured the extremely small police presence near the rather cramped throng of protestors, and from here, that looked like the last stroke of genius in the law enforcement’s strategy: Pack them close and give them nobody to fight with, not even the police. People I know who went appeared to have a lovely time. One likened it to tailgating.

Of course, it did overshadow and undercut Lobby Day itself. Citizens had to choose ahead of time: be a part of Lobby Day sans firearm, or walk around with your favorite appendage outside of Lobby Day. The vast majority opted for the latter, wanting their outrage over gun measures to be “heard” rather than actually going in and, you know, being heard.

By the way, I know 99% of attendees consider themselves freedom-loving patriots, so I figured they’d be very supportive of my Monument Avenue compromise: Find a nice new home for Stonewall Jackson, and replace it with a new monument to Nat Turner.

If you’re into Virginians fighting for personal liberty, it doesn’t get much more Sic Semper Tyrannis than Nat Turner, right? And yet, my proposal seems to have fallen flat. Confounding.

At the end of the day, if you want to lobby, you come and lobby. If you want to protest and show strength in numbers, you protest and show strength in numbers. But when a vastly white, vastly male crowd of over 20,000 elects instead to convene downtown with firearms and all the combat trimmings including flags of varying insurrectionist relevance, a lot of them are trying to do something else.

These people who want personal judgment to replace public policy in all aspects of firearms ownership and usage are the same people who post Civil War 2.0 videos to their social media.

Who believe Alex Jones.

Who shared reports that busloads of false flaggers have rolled into town to make trouble and fool the lamestream media.

Who told me that Mike Bloomberg and George Soros had bought up all the public parking.

Who think the world is neatly divided into fixed pools of Law-Abiding Citizens and Criminals.

Who look up and down Monument Avenue and see forefathers’ encouragement instead of a lost cause.

(Is it just me, or are some folks only going to let go of the last Civil War if they get another one to grab onto?)

I’m sure several of the day’s attendees have a somewhat better grip on reality, but Virginia is increasingly not interested in catering to that mindset, as it demonstrated at the polls. Have fun at the range and in the woods, guys. Ignore the data about firearms in the house, because of course it won’t happen to you. Posture and get your gear on all you want. But maybe next year, leave Lobby Day for the people who actually want to lobby. And if you’re chafing at the prospect of background checks and other popular measures so badly that it just might spread to your trigger finger at the wrong time, consider an ointment.

Guns at the Statehouse

One of my earliest memories is of a dead deer.

I think it was a deer. Might have been an elk.

Anyway, big dead animal. Hanging suspended from the garage ceiling, its blood draining into a bucket below.

Smelled pretty bad. My mom wasn’t thrilled. That was the spot, after all, where she was supposed to park her car, and my dad killed this critter, dragged it home, and was now preparing it to be made into sausages. Stew meat. Salami.

Plus a taxidermy head, to be mounted on the wall in the living room.

Dad had bagged this thing and we were gonna use every inch of it, because that’s what you do with something you kill. You eat it, or wear it, but you sure as hell don’t waste it. You respect it, and the process by which it arrived in your driveway, your freezer, your belly. Somebody earned that.

I thought about that deer watching hundreds of assclowns parade around downtown Richmond, VA comparing extremely mild firearms regulations to Jim Crow laws, heaving their camo-coated butts up and down the streets in front of the statehouse wearing riot shields against, I dunno, a run on the Applebees salad bar or something.

It was the kind of protest where the organizers had to beg people not to wear Nazi shit or carry Confederate flags, lest someone come to the conclusion that a big group of pasty pantloads in MAGA paraphernalia was in some way racist. Some people, of course, brought Confederate stuff anyway. Others just went the “racially tinged” route and stuck to teabagging.

And they’re all so exhausting. These fucking toolsheds, pointing loaded weapons in the air and at each other, with the trigger discipline of 8-year-olds in a video arcade, in their Kevlar vests with the plates all removed so they could stuff snacks and water bottles in the pockets. The tactical vests on the service dogs. The night vision goggles in broad daylight. The way the ammo belts stretched and strained.

I saw a lot of people calling this stuff cosplay. Calling this international exhibition of braggadocio and dumbassery cosplay is insulting to cosplayers, who generally a) care about the accuracy of their costumes b) wear custom gear that fits them c) make sure their weapons are clean.

Then there was all the yelling about tyranny. Just fucking … just stop. The American Revolution was not a reaction to wife-beaters being denied their fourth Glock. Crispus Attucks and co. did not die so that you could open fire on the wicker reindeer in the Christmas section at Menards.

Those guys were fighting the entire British Army with four sticks and a bucket of snowballs, you don’t get to put on their clothes, not when you duck and cover every time somebody in your cube farm makes microwave popcorn. Samuel Maverick called, and he said your mom has musket balls.

But back to the dead deer at the beginning of this post.

You see, back when I was growing up, the guys who went hunting and ate what they killed mocked the kind of urban cowboys whose trophies all had powder burns. Buy some deer meat from a guy, that’s fine, but sit in a tree drinking beer all day waiting for a buck to wander underneath so you can shoot down on it, or worse, go to a “preserve” where you can kill it in a cage, like screw you, pal. Work for your supper.

Hunting for food and shooting for sport were presumed to be actual pursuits, engaged in deliberately. You go to the range or some deserted area to practice. You have a rifle for deer, handgun for bear or mountain lion when you’re camping. You lock them up away from your kids. You sure as shit don’t keep them loaded. And you don’t jaw on all day in public about what guns you have and where. That’s a good way to get robbed, or worse.

At some point in the past 30 years these guys who knew how to handle their weapons made common cause with a whole bunch of other people, who were loud and scared and stupid. The latter group weren’t into shooting for food or for fun. They were into it because it was life and death, them or the brown hordes, and in order not to die, they had to arm themselves however they saw fit. As was their inalienable right.

When people who actually did deal in life and death, like officers of the law or members of the military, pointed out that their weapons were subject to processes and procedures, the people who saw a buck to be made lobbying legislators ginned up the usual phony “savages coming to steal your white women and children” nonsense and suddenly everyone who wasn’t a member of the NRA was a wine-sipping communist puss.

That we can’t see that it was about money, that people benefited from this fear and rage and it sure as shit wasn’t the ordinary hunters and sportsmen, will never fail to make me crazy. As much as I make fun of those guys up there, those angry morons, they’re only buying the bullshit. The NRA and gun manufacturers and the GOP are shoveling it, and they don’t even have the tiny shriveled sack to stand on the street for it.

They leave that to the men and women who, really, should be home with their kill, making salami.

A.

Screw Your Smarter-Than-Thou Cynicism and Your Nihilism and Your Fear

How fucking dare you: 

Federal agencies will receive $25 million from Congress to study gun violence in a government spending deal reached by House and Senate negotiators — a major win for Democrats who have long pushed for dedicated funding to research the issue, a source told The Hill.

“Democrats have broken the ban on funding for the first time in decades,” the source said.

The deal includes $12.5 million each for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health to study gun violence and ways to prevent it.

It’s the first time in more than 20 years that Congress has appropriated money for gun violence research.

How dare you mark the anniversary of Sandy Hook, as so many people did last week, by posting variations on this stupid garbage trash?

How dare you yell at “Congress” to act when what you need is Republicans to act?

I am so sick of hearing that there’s no difference between the parties, that they’re both beholden to the same people, that it’s all corporatist money and control and so we might as well elect a fascist to teach the normies to suffer. I am so sick of people shrugging off this, that or the other reports of shootings and tragedies with “well yeah, what do you expect,” as if humans didn’t design this system and are helpless to change it.

THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT. They want us to think change is impossible. They want us not to notice it’s happening every single day, all around us, as one person by one person decides they’ve had enough. Seven years ago Moms Demand was a frickin’ Facebook group. How dare you tell them it’s over? If they’re not tired ain’t nobody gets to be tired.

Twenty-five million is nothing, of course. It should be the size of the budget of the U.S. military or at least what we spend keeping Trump and his grifter family safe; it should be whatever the doctors say they need. But it’s not nothing and it’s not the end and you have to wedge a crowbar in the door before you can bust it open.

This happened because people elected Democrats. Not just leftists; boring old milquetoast Joe-Biden-esque people who aren’t tough enough on the banks and say stupid shit on the regular, who give Trump more judges than he deserves and disappoint us every single day. This happened because people voted in people with a basic desire to KEEP OUR CHILDREN ALIVE so how dare you say there’s no difference?

There are real differences, and they matter, and they’re going to matter more as this year drags on, and I just don’t want to hear it, about your feelings, when this is what’s on the table. Stop being so scared and stop thinking it masks the fear, your “it’s over, there’s no point” bullshit.

I get you say that kind of thing so you don’t have to fight. I deeply, deeply get it, and I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t MATTER. You’re dead at the end of this either way, why do you think proving your intelligence and superiority over your fellow live-children enthusiasts are important? Get the fuck out there and embarrass yourself and invest in people who aren’t everything you want, because this is what can happen.

Twenty years, and then a break. How dare you count this out.

A.

Don’t Say It’s Over

A reminder that your nihilism is embarrassing: 

The activists’ progress was often slow. The group launched a campaign against Kroger and Walmart in 2014; one ad ran in national newspapers and on billboards in Kroger’s home city of Cincinnati showing a girl holding an ice-cream cone in a Kroger store next to a man with a rifle, pointing out that only the girl was violating the store’s policy. They gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions. But both stores were unwilling to change. “I went and met with their executives in 2015,” says Watts. “And it was very clear that they would not consider changing their policy. But we just kept the pressure on. And then after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, we began conversations again with Walmart executives and gave them counsel on policies that would make their store safer.” After Walmart announced its new policy—including, beyond the new open-carry policy, a plan to stop selling ammunition—the group pivoted to pressure Kroger, which made its announcement the next day.

This is how work gets done. I get that it’s not as Capra-film inspiring as someone rising on the Senate floor and saying I HAVE HEREBY CHANGED MY MIND and then we all applaud and cry and the law is changed and no one dies anymore, but this is how the work gets done. In living rooms. In grocery stores. Day after grinding day.

It’s slow and it’s miserable and you lose more often than you win and you risk looking just RIDICULOUS, but if you don’t care how much of a ridiculous miserable loser you are, if you’re not afraid of how long it’ll take, if you see the passage of time not as proof that you’ve lost but as a record of how long you stayed standing, you will change the goddamn ridiculous miserable motherfucking loser WORLD.

What has happened with Moms Demand and Everytown is what happens when you just stop believing that despair is the only option, when you stop expecting the avalanche and start chucking rocks. It’s so EASY to tune out the horrors of the world. It’s so EASY, most of the time, to convince yourself to do nothing because there’s nothing you can do.

But then comes the hour between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. When you can’t sleep, and you realize that none of us get out of this alive, that none of us are in this for peace, that “there was nothing I could do” isn’t an answer but an excuse and not a good one, that you are literally presented with a hundred thousand things a day that are chances and if you pass them by you are doing something, and that something isn’t good. When that hour comes, you’ve got to answer for what you’ve done with every minute, and let’s be honest, most of us can’t.

You can face that and dig even deeper into your despair or you can pick up an axe and get to work. Or you can send out that horrible tweet again about how Sandy Hook was the end. I’m not telling you how to live your life, but these women are making it harder to lie to yourself that nothing will change and that’s really quite something, now isn’t it.

A.

Garry Wills On The Rights Of Guns

Garry Wills is one of the smartest people and best writers in the country. He’s spent a great deal of time pondering the role of guns in American culture. He nails it in this piece for the New York Review Of Books:

“Gun rights,” as used by devotees of an absolutist Second Amendment, means their right to own guns. But as used in real American life these days (or real American deaths), it means the rights of guns. Guns themselves possess even more rights than persons do.

<SNIP>

Guns’ exemption from common-sense legislation guarantees them not only rights, but also rites. Guns are sacred objects. They should not even be insulted, which is blasphemy. They are “the American way.” They are more than things, more even than persons. They are an unstoppable force, a god. They are, indeed, Our Moloch.

Those are the first and last paragraphs in Wills’ recent piece, The Rights Of Gun. How right is he? Totally. The NRA has become a cult whose second amendment absolutism verges on idolatry. A good example is the fetish some gun worshipers have for strapping on their weapons to go shopping. Who the hell needs a long gun whilst thumping melons at Wal-Mart? Mercifully, they’ve banned such performative rituals and other retailers have followed suit.

I know many gun owners; none of whom feels the need to strut about in public with their weapons. Some hunt, others like to target shoot but they all lock their guns up. OTOH, at an estranged friend’s house, I once sat on the couch and felt something beneath me: a package of bullets. I think he was just a rotten housekeeper but I was not amused.

I’ve never owned a gun. They were verboten in my house. My father was a veteran but he disliked guns. Since he was an interpreter, I doubt if he ever shot anyone but he knew what pistols are for: to kill people. And rifles are for hunting, not grocery shopping. Assault weapons are for the military, not civilians.

I admit to being mystified by the religious fervor exuded by the more extreme gun worshipers. Perhaps it’s a result of having the man who played Moses, Charlton Heston, as NRA president for five years. Whatever it is, it’s creepy and the country is overdue for some sensible gun control measures. It’s time for people to have rights, not guns.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – random hysteria edition

Let’s go back and look at an older thread, shall we?

For anyone wondering what the Freeper reaction to the shooting massacre du jour was – I present – Code Toady!

Active shooter reported in Odessa, Texas
Newswest 9 ^ | August 31, 2019 | Victor Blanco

Posted on 8/31/2019, 4:50:31 PM by LUV W

ODESSA, Texas — UPDATE: ACTIVE SHOOTER REPORTED STAY INDOORS FOR BOTH cities

Police confirm a second shooter is in the areas driving a stolen mail van.

Officials are responding to an active shooter in Odessa.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the shooter is in all Gold Passenger car armed with a rifle and headed from Odessa to Midland.

Several people [now reporting 30 shot in Midland and Odessa] have been injured including police and civilians.

1 posted on 8/31/2019, 4:50:31 PM by LUV W
Before we get started, I’d like to compliment long-standing Freeper LUV_W for not changing his/her handle.
Obviously crafted from ancient hand-tooled artisanal stupid, this tribute to once hero / now despised GOP-e icon Dubya shows long-time dedication, and short-term memory loss.
To: maxwellsmart_agent

Where are armed citizens to defend themselves?

8 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:01:16 PM by Reno89519 (No Amnesty! No Catch-and-Release! Just Say No to All Illegal Aliens! Arrest & Deport!)

From someone driving down the highway blasting away with a long gun?  Um – yeah.
To: LUV W

My local news is quoting the New York Times about 2 deaths…they are clueless!

26 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:20:10 PM by KittenClaws (“There is no 1502 Johnson” ~ Joan Hamilton)

How DARE they?? There will be a nasty letter about this tomorrow in the New York………….hmmm.
To: LUV W; null and void
Just in time for the September reconvening of the House and Senate!

Imagine that coincidence!

52 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:39:28 PM by Lazamataz (We can be called a racist and we’ll just smile. Because we don’t care.)

DAMN those deep state congresscritters!!  They’re all in cahoots!
To: LUV W

I know I don’t get out enough, but why do I never get an active shooter loose in my area?

58 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:42:29 PM by Trailerpark Badass (There should be a whole lot more going no than throwing bleach, said one woman.)

Lucky at cards, unlucky at love?
.
“KittenClaws” takes exception to “Trailerpark Badass”s flippancy :
To: Trailerpark Badass

This is the last time I report on local happenings. I’m live in Odessa…and you bunch of chit chats don’t give a crap.

59 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:44:38 PM by KittenClaws (“There is no 1502 Johnson” ~ Joan Hamilton)

This diverts the discussion a tad :
To: KittenClaws

FR is not the friendly community you imagined it was. I know.

62 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:47:27 PM by HalfIrish

Duh.
.
And now, everyone – as promised – CODE TOADY!!
.
To: KittenClaws
“and you bunch of chit chats don’t give a crap.”

What exactly were you expecting, a bunch of caterwauling and FReepers losing their minds???

71 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:51:39 PM by CodeToad ( Hating on Trump is hating on me and Americans!)

That’s tellin’ her, by jingo!
To: CodeToad

Get Bent Toad

77 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:55:04 PM by KittenClaws (“There is no 1502 Johnson” ~ Joan Hamilton)

And – we’re off!
To: KittenClaws

It seems you are bent. Maybe you need to straighten out and stop being such an emotional liberal wanting to cry over everything and demand everyone else joins you.

80 posted on 8/31/2019, 5:56:21 PM by CodeToad ( Hating on Trump is hating on me and Americans!)

Yeah, you liberal whiner! Just because you’re in Odessa and a potential target is no reason to cry over things like mass murder and 17-month-olds getting shot in the face.
.
More below the mouldy fold…

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Extra! Extra! Screed all about it!

My HD65 rep Michelle Beckley (along with other Texas Democrats who were part of the Blue Wave that kicked out a crapload of right-wing nutcases from the Texas legislature in the last election)  has been pushing for gun registration/background check/red flag  legislation, but in this State, it’s an uphill battle.  My personal views?

First of all – I’m a gun owner.
.
I own a Glock G21 handgun, a single-shot .22 that
belonged to my Grandfather, and a .410 that was used
in my days as a ranch hand to dispatch armadillo, and
put rabbits, duck, and pheasant on the table.
.
I also trained with M1 Garand and the original M16
jam-o-matic in my Allen Military Academy days.
I shot marksman with the 1911 – with both hands.
So let’s just disarm (see what I did there?) the “You want to take
away all our guns because you HATE THEM” trope right now.
.
I have as much use for a modified (full-auto and burst
settings disabled) assault rifle as I do for a
flamethrower or hand grenade. And unless you are in
the military, a police SWAT team, or are planning to kill a whole
shitload of innocent people, neither do you.
.
It’s a bit like someone with a Piper Cherokee saying
that people want to take away his plane, just because
you can’t buy a non-demilled A10 Warthog.
.
Ain’t the same thing, numbnuts.
.
ShallNot
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Under My Thumbs Up

We all know that the Insult Comedian was raised by wolves. He whines endlessly about his own suffering but is incapable of even synthetic empathy. He had a helluva time at the hospital in El Paso bragging about the size of his rally 6 months ago. Then there’s this:

None of the adult victims of the Trump-inspired terrorist attack would meet with him so an orphaned baby was brought back to the hospital to pose with Trumpberius and his Slovenian Julia the Elder. Missing from the scene are his Caligula (Don Jr.) and Nero (Jared). Life once again imitates I, Claudius. The Trumps are certainly fiddling while America burns.

It’s all smiles and thumbs up from the Trumps. Worst photo-op ever.

The last word goes to the Who:

Surprised you, didn’t I? The Who covered Under My Thumb in protest when the Rolling Stones were busted in 1967.

Hey Congress, Do Something

I just: 

During the goal celebration after he scored in today’s D.C. United-Philadelphia Union match, Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya picked up a pitch-side microphone and said into it,“Hey Congress, do something, now! End gun violence!”

“Congress” isn’t going to do shit. THE DEMOCRATS have been passing bills and urging action since THE DEMOCRATS banned assault weapons in the first goddamn place. Republicans are holding hearings about how anime porn makes you violent or something, this morning, about how mental illness is to blame, like my crazy ass can shoot you with a trigger lock on. Hey Congress. Are you kidding me.

If you want “Congress” to do something, what you really want is REPUBLICANS to do something. To pass the bills in the Senate that Dems have passed in the House. To support the prevention of gun violence through common sense shit like “let us perhaps not give you a gun if you hit your wife” and “until you can legally smoke and be drafted no ammo for you,” like really radical stuff there, chief.

I don’t want to bag on this sportsball fellow who I never heard of until this moment and don’t know at all, because what he’s saying — that “Congress” needs to act — is what he’s been told by our irresponsible, lazy, clueless, cowardly national press, led by the nose by Republican partisans and pundits. “Congress” is the problem, “government” is broken, and once more and for all the marbles BOTH SIDES ARE TO BLAME.

By refusing to name and shame Republicans for this, by perpetuating the myth that somehow our government just magically polarized its own damn self, by never once naming and shaming the assholes who are responsible for every single day of gridlock since 2010 (straining to remember who was president then, and what that might have had to do with this) they’ve made sure that while both sides are not equally at fault, they’re equally blamed.

Shit, even supposedly smart people get this wrong. Jon Stewart came and lambasted “Congress” for not protecting 9/11 first responders, as if Mitch McConnell wasn’t holding up the bill. Every goddamn totebagger on the planet, who listens to NPR and thinks Trump of course is just the worst, will still shake their head and lament the lack of civility and comity in “government” as if the Tea Party rallies never happened.

As if Sarah Palin never said Obama “palled around with terrorists.” As if those Purple Heart Band-Aids appeared by magic.

People get this wrong, and get frustrated and angry at the wrong people, because they’re never told in plain language what the holdup is or who is causing it. They’re enraged at inaction and the perception of paralysis without knowing why there’s no action, no movement. They feel powerless because they can’t exercise power without knowledge, and the information the press could be providing them about who is blocking gun law reform would give them power.

It would also upset some wingnut screamers and Very Reasonable Sensible People, which I guess is what really matters.

For God’s sake, though. Asking “Congress” to do something about this when half of Congress would love to do something about this is just enraging. Half of Congress and 2/3 of the country wants to move on this, and instead of saying, “you could if not for these six people” we’re watching TV shows about how everything is terrible but nothing can ever change.

A.

Still Numb

It’s been awhile since I wrote about an American mass shooting. The reason is genuinely horrible: they’ve become so commonplace that we’re *almost* getting used to them. That’s an appalling place to find ourselves in, but that’s how things stand in the summer of 2019.

The El Paso shooting is particularly horrific: the shooter went to that Walmart because so many people cross the border to shop there. It’s what happens when Mexicans are demonized by a sitting president* for his short-term political advantage. As always, the GOP is offering thoughts and prayers without informing the public what will happen when they stop thinking and praying. We all know the answer to that: nada, bupkis, nothing.

It’s not just the ascendancy of white nationalism that’s causing this. It enjoyed a comeback in after Bill Clinton’s election victory in 1992 as well: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was a white nationalist. The difference is that 1994 saw the last piece of major gun control legislation passed: the assault weapons ban, which was allowed the expire during the Beavis-Duce administration,

We keep hoping that there will be an inflection point in the ongoing gun violence crisis. This could be the beginning of one: the NRA is imploding because of internal strife and drama. It’s unclear if they will have the resources to be a major player in the 2020 election cycle.

It’s time for another full-court press to restore the assault weapons ban. It won’t pass Moscow Mitch’s Senate but it could prove to be a powerful issue in 2020.

The right is fond of talking about American exceptionalism. Is this what they have in mind?

As long as there are military-style assault weapons in the hands of civilians, I’ll keep writing the Still Comfortably Numb series:

2015: Still Confortably Numb.

2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

2017: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

2019: Post Mayhem Rituals.

I’m not sure how I missed 2018. I must have been numb. I still am.

Update: I did write a mass shooting post in 2018. It was one of my better efforts: Kristallnacht In Broad Daylight.

Even Now

Even today. Even now things are being done:

I saw it again, this stupid dumbass tweet being shared by people I respect, and I can’t tell you how angry it makes me on behalf of the people who are fighting and working and busting their asses every day to change this. I can’t tell you how angry I am to see them — us — erased. That we haven’t won the war doesn’t mean we’re not fighting it. Stop saying it’s over.

That’s WHAT THEY WANT. Good God, do we really have to point this out? Now, today, in 2019, do we really have to point out that all anybody who’s trying to get you to lie down is trying to do is get you to lie down? Stop making it easy for them with your goddamn fucking sophomore year cynicism.

Hope isn’t a plan, goes the criticism, but guess what? Despair isn’t either.

Despair isn’t a plan and it isn’t an excuse and it doesn’t make you look one iota smarter than anybody currently out in the fucking streets. It doesn’t even HELP, good god, have you tried sitting with that feeling, all it does is poison your mind and rot your heart from the inside.

Get up, make some phone calls, get out there, feel foolish, and lose lose lose lose lose until you die if you have to but don’t just sit there talking to yourself about how nobody could ever do anything to change anything and it’s all hopeless, God, it’s so small and sad and gross.

People are fighting. Even now. Even after 24 hours and another 30 dead and do you HEAR yourselves, saying there’s no point. What if it was you and yours tomorrow? Would there have been a point to fighting, today?

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: What’s Going On

Jazz Fest is in its second weekend. I used to love this event, but it’s like an ex-girlfriend who I still like but am not always eager to see.  It’s become just another pop/roots rock/kinda sorta jazz festival in the last decade, which has made me lukewarm about attending. I broke up with Jazz Fest a few years ago and have an awkward relationship with it. I still may go this weekend but the thrill is gone, y’all.

In other New Orleans news, a water main broke a few miles from Adrastos World HQ. We had no water pressure for a few hours and are still under a boil water advisory. The pipe was laid in 1905. I should make a crude joke at this point but I try to ignore my inner Beavis and Butthead.

This week we celebrate the music of Marvin Gaye who would have turned 80 on April 2nd, which was the day that the USPS issued the Marvin Gaye stamp. I remember the dark day in 1984 when I heard about Marvin’s death at the hands of his father. It was April Fool’s day so I wondered briefly if the news was a cruel hoax. It was not. I even shed a few tears. I rarely cry but I wept that day. Rage, jealousy, and firearms are a toxic combination. For Marvin, they were fatal.

This week’s theme song was the title track of Marvin’s best album.  We have two versions of What’s Going On for your listening pleasure: Marvin’s original followed by a swell 1986 cover by Cyndi Lauper who really rocks Marvin’s composition.

Now that we’ve seen what’s going on, let’s jump to the break with our eyes wide open. I’ll skip the obvious Kubrick joke.

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We’ll Do Literally Anything To Avoid Gun Control

Is there a right this doesn’t trample on? 

A company called ZeroEyes out of Philadelphia markets a system to police departments that can detect when a person is entering a given facility carrying a gun. It integrates with any number of closed-circuit surveillance systems.  But machine learning algorithms don’t just come out of a box knowing how to recognize a firearm any more than a drug dog arrives from the breeder knowing the difference between marijuana and oregano. To teach the algorithm, a team from the company shows up on location and proceeds to stage mock attacks. Slowly, the algorithm begins to learn what a gun looks like in that specific setting, depending on light, angles, and other conditions. They’re currently working with New York City Schools and have a contract with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, but are not yet deployed to the border, said Kenny Gregory, a software engineer at the company.

We’ll stage mock attacks on schoolkids, shoot teachers and call it a training exercise. We’ll further stigmatize the mentally ill, suggest that everybody with a diagnosis is just a murderer in waiting. We’ll make people carry bulletproof backpacks and put dogs and guards on every train. We’ll create fucking PRE-CRIME SOFTWARE in order to watch people every second of every day.

We will do all of that, to avoid doing the one thing that might make a difference.

While some polls show that 70 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws, that number is far lower, about 31 percent, among conservatives. And so the political debate, while fiery, has stalled. Gun-detection algorithms that alert security personnel when an armed person arrives might reduce the number of victims — though likely not as much as if there were no armed shooter in the first place.

Because of the gerrymandered stranglehold the dying GOP and the fascist NRA have on our discourse, we have to have fucking mind-reading algorithms tell us if someone’s carrying a gun because literally anyone might be carrying a gun.

Let us never underestimate our willingness to avoid solving a goddamn problem. Do we really not see how stupid this sounds?

A.

Post Mayhem Rituals

There are things that happen after every mass shooting. Right thinking people deplore the violence and call for changes to gun laws. If the incident involves a minority religious community, the outcry is even more fervent and leads to shows of inter-faith solidarity and unity. These are positive post mayhem mass shooting rituals, and they’re happening in the aftermath of the New Zealand mosque attack.

As to negative post mayhem rituals, right-wingers sent their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims but refuse to acknowledge any role their pro-gun, Islamophobic ideology might have played. When Barack Obama was president, they insisted that he use the T word (terrorism) to describe every incident in which white people were hurt. He did so whenever it was appropriate, but Obama liked to think things through as opposed to the daily flow of diarrhea spewed by the Current Occupant.

These right-wing post mayhem rituals are writ large in President* Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy. He usually claims ignorance despite his conspicuous cable news consumption. His response to the Christchurch massacre is similar to his reaction to Charlottesville. While it’s true that white supremacists who shoot up mosques are a small group, that’s precisely why it should be easy to condemn them. Trump will not because he sees them as part of his base, which should be worshiped and deferred to at all times. This is, of course, crazy but so are they.

My post mayhem ritual is to write a post deploring the violence and urging people not to be comfortably numb. I did so after the 2015 San Berardino massacre and the 2017 Vegas concert bloodbath. I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write but I do. I wish to retain my capacity for outrage in the face of repetitive violence.

These sort of attacks are even more shocking when they occur in countries we don’t associate with gun violence such as Norway and New Zealand. But white supremacists are everywhere and the Norwegian butcher, Anders Breivik, has become a demonic hero to many.

I applaud the response of Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the mosque massacre. She’s proposing common sense gun control reforms, which will ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons. But the mosque murderer was able to buy his weapons legally, which he could not have done in his native Australia, which is why he exported his crime to New Zealand. Score one for the Aussies.

BUT white supremacist thinking is widespread in Australia and has gone mainstream there in recent years. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a noted xenophobe and has whipped up Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment nearly non-stop since being ousted from the top job. That’s why it’s no surprise that this happened:

Good on the egg teen and boo to the racist senator. We have more than a few of the latter and need more of the former.

One answer to mass shootings are tighter gun control laws BUT New Zealand’s laws were already restrictive and it happened there. We need to stop othering people who look, act, and pray differently than ourselves. It won’t be easy with leaders like Trump, Abbott, and Orban whipping up hatred but nothing worthwhile is easy. It beats the hell out of being comfortably numb.

The last word goes to Pink Floyd with a song that the band described as part of “the violence sequence” as it was written for Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie Zabriskie Point. The director rejected the song as “beautiful but too sad.” We need more beauty and less sadness in the world, y’all:

 

Butina Your Lip

Former Gret Stet Governor Bobby Jindal with Maria Butina.

I have been accused of constructing posts around a punny title. I plead guilty as charged. There’s a lot of that going around this week. The latest to cop a plea is Maria Butina. I have abandoned my futile attempt to popularize the Russian spelling of her name. She’s Two-I Mariia no more. Life goes on and on and on; much like this introduction.

The facts of the Butina case have become somewhat murky. Initially, I compared her to Elizabeth Jennings of The Americans but it looks as if she was more of an influence peddler than a spy; as much K Street as Kremlin.

The prosecution has even withdrawn some of the more sensational characterizations of her activities:

Yet even as prosecutors secured Ms. Butina’s conviction and cooperation, they faced questions about their initial portrayal of Ms. Butina as something like a character out of “Red Sparrow,” the spy thriller about a Russian femme fatale.

Prosecutors had already been forced to back off the most salacious accusations against Ms. Butina — that she used sex as spycraft — and acknowledged in court filings this week that she genuinely wanted a graduate degree, and was not simply posing as a student to live in the United States. They also dropped accusations of her being in contact with Russian intelligence agencies, and that she was only using Mr. Erickson to gain access to other influential Americans.

Agents come in many forms: from the covert to the overt. Butina appears to have been the latter. She bamboozled American gun nuts in broad daylight, revealing them as gullible fools willing to fall for a pretty face and a ridiculous story: a gun rights group in Putin’s Russia? Yeah, right.

There was even a memorable public exchange with the Insult Comedian:

While I still hope that Butina can damage the NRA, it’s unclear how much she knows and who, other than her boyfriend/whatever Paul Erickson, she can hurt. She certainly played them for fools, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Those pictures with PBJ, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, and Wayne LaPierre are priceless.

The minute I heard that she’d agreed to co-operate, I knew that she was not a spy. We usually trade their spies for our spies. I’m puzzled by Butina’s motives in co-operating with prosecutors as she still faces deportation. Failed Russian agents tend not to have a long shelf life when they return home.

Our readers have surely noticed by now that my mind works in weird ways. This time, it has connected Maria Butina and the Rolling Stones. Her American adventure involved making connections with the NRA in the hopes of influencing the Republican party. That, in turn, evokes a song from the 1967 Stones album, Butina the Buttons:

The album’s real name is Between the Buttons and, in the end, the real connection Maria Butina made was with federal prosecutors.

The post title is also Stones inspired. The opening line of Mixed Emotions is “button your lip, baby.” It wasn’t much of a leap to Butina Your Lip.

The Rolling Stones get the last word:

Tweet Of The Day: PBJ Meets Mariia Butina

I keep waiting for former Gret Stet Goober Bobby Jindal aka PBJ to re-surface as a member of the Trump administration. I believe he’s already grovelled his way out of trouble for calling the Insult Comedian names when PBJ was a presidential candidate. PBJ is an expert brown noser when need be. It’s part of his kiss up, kick down persona.

Thanks to Shannon Watts, PBJ is back in the news after the indictment of Russian agent/NRA fan girl Mariia Butina. FYI, I conferred with a Russian speaker of my acquaintance and was informed that Butina is a 2-i Maria. You’re not seeing double, it’s spelled Mariia. That reminds me of the fine Louisiana name Couvillion. There are two-i and one-i Couvillions. My main man Eddie was a two-i Couvillion. The ayes apparently have it.

Ms. Watts is a pro-gun control/anti-NRA activist with 245K twitter followers. This week she posted a series of pictures of the Russian redhead with well-known wingnuts including the man who sacrificed the Gret Stet’s economy on the altar of his futile national ambitions.

One of the ginger influence peddler’s specialities is posing for pictures with defeated GOP presidential candidates. Here’s one with former Senator Man Dog Sex:

Rick Santorum is still a colossal dick as well as a Russian dupe.

Here’s Doc’s buddy Scott Walker with the gun nut femme fatale:

Finally, it’s the Grand Vizier of gun nuttery’s turn in the Butina barrel.

I’d like to thank Shannon Watts for posting this treasure trove of tweets. Keep up the good work.

I suspect PBJ may even be grateful for the attention. Unlike, Mariia Butina, he can’t even get arrested.

All This … Or The Guns

We’ll take away every civil right you have, in the name of safety, before we pass some fucking gun laws that make sense in this country: 

Under the Salem method, threats are evaluated at a Level One stage by a school-based team that may include school police. If it is determined that parents would be constructive, they can be brought in during the process, the handbook says.

The handbook outlining the Salem method that Parkrose uses advises that aggression exists on a continuum, from a low end of “scratch, bite, hit” up to “rape, strangle, stab, shoot, bomb, kill.”

If school professionals remain unsure at Level One, the protocol goes to Level Two. A broader team completes a second analysis. In Sanders’ case, that included representatives from local police agencies, the county mental health office, a  child welfare agency and the county developmental disabilities office.

Proponents of threat assessments say they’re more effective than security measures that make a school feel like a prison. But their impact on students assessed as threats, rather than their value to the school as a whole, is rarely considered.

The impact on this student and his family is horrifying, and the impact on the school, equally so. I’d like to talk about the money.

Because of course, capitalist, but bear with me.

The school spends on school police. They spend on threat assessment protocols and handbooks and they spend on staff time going to meetings and trainings and I’m sure somewhere in here was a seminar/webinar with an insufferable powerpoint and the word “utilizing.”

When, if we had gun laws that made any sense at all in this country, if we had any kind of laws that made any kind of sense, we’d have guidance counselors, not threat assessors. For students with special needs like the one described in the story above, we’d have trained aides and accommodations that would make school and everything that goes with it a learning experience, not a motherfucking gauntlet.

Yes, we’d still worry about violence, about kids with knife collections or irrational grudges, but we wouldn’t worry about them re-enacting the opening of Saving Private Ryan on Senior Skip Day, because we’d do what these idiots up in that story are trying to do with “threat assessments,” and take care of our goddamn kids.

We could do all of that with the money we spend on the things we do instead of taking the guns. We are making these endless end-runs around the thing we think we can’t address and it’s so exhausting watching us lie to ourselves that we’re powerless, that we HAVE to do the threat assessments and the stupid meetings and spend more on school police when what we have to do is take away the guns.

It would be CHEAPER, Jesus, if that’s your only metric, if the flagrant civil rights violations aren’t apparent, if the counterproductive nonsense detailed above isn’t enough, if all that persuades you is the spreadsheet, think of how much time it would save.

We can do all of that, or we can take the guns. You tell me which sounds better. And then you vote in November for the people most likely to SOLVE the problem, instead of assessing the threat.

A.

Malaka Of The Week: Ralph Norman

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A friend asked me the other day why I’m doing fewer malaka of week posts. Surely, he said, malakatude is not decreasing. It is not. There’s been an explosion of malakatude in the Trump error era. Norms are being discarded willy nilly, especially on the subject of guns and that is why Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina is malaka of the week. Yeah, it happened last week but let’s not be pedantic about dates. Genuine malakatude is timeless.

It’s a pity that the Congressman’s parents didn’t name him Norman Norman. Not only would that get him a shout-out at Cheers, I could call him Norm Norman while pointing out the pulling out a loaded gun in a room full of constituents is not normal, Norman.

From the Charleston Post & Courier’s Palmetto Politics section:

A South Carolina Republican congressman is not backing down from critics after he pulled out his own personal — and loaded — .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun during a meeting with constituents Friday.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, told The Post and Courier he pulled out the weapon and placed it on a table for several minutes in attempt to make a point that guns are only dangerous in the hands of criminals.

“I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” Norman said afterward, referring to the former Arizona Democratic congresswoman who was shot outside a Tucson-area grocery store during a constituent gathering in 2011.

That was a real low country low blow as Malaka Norman seems to imply that it was Ms. Giffords’ own fault that she was shot. A scathingly polite reaction to that came from Jeff Flake who served in the House with Giffords:

Palmetto state pols have long been known for their bravado, bluster, and bullshit. Who among us can forget Joe (You Lie) Wilson? Then there was that Southern charmer Congressman Preston Brooks who attacked Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in 1856:

That may be a low country low blow but Malaka Norman deserves whatever he gets for mocking Gabby Giffords and for this bit of Palmetto state poo-poo:

Norman said he pulled out the gun, pointed it away from the meeting attendees and put it on a table for about five minutes while they continued their conversation over breakfast.

The move, Norman said, was intended to prove “guns don’t shoot people; people shoot guns.”

Norman is a state concealed carry permit holder and said he regularly brings his gun with him when out in public.

If anyone walked into the diner and started shooting, Norman told the attendees, he would be able to protect them because of his gun.

“I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back,” he told The Post and Courier.

I’m not sure if that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard but it’s on the list. Repeat after me: gun nuttery is an ideology and the NRA is a cult. What would this bozo do if an angry white man with an assault weapon came after him? It’s unclear if Norman can do anything but shoot off his mouth. He’s good at that. In my experience, braggarts are rarely heroic. Remember the last politician who waved a gun around in public?

Norman may not be a pervert like Roy Moore but he *is* a real estate developer. That figures: they’re world-class assholes who make car dealers look honest. Exhibit A is the Insult Comedian, the braggingest man on the planet. Norman is on that list as well. And that is why Ralph Norman is malaka of the week.

They Can’t Help Themselves

In the spirit of the week after Holy Week, I thought I’d write about the disgusting attacks on the Parkland kids by adults. The attacks keep backfiring, leading to apologies from Frank Stallone, Laura Ingraham, and others. Ingraham famously apologized  in the “spirit of Holy Week.” Does that mean she wouldn’t apologize for sliming David Hogg on another week? All Ingraham and her lorons care about is saving advertisers and her shitty show.

Attacking teenagers, tweens, and even younger chirren is not a good look for grown ass adults, but it’s not uncommon on the right. Fox News is a repository (suppository?) of attacks on younger Americans. (It’s particularly  weird for those of us who experienced the young conservatives of the 1980’s who saw Reagan as their political grandpa and became tribal Republicans.)  And it’s not just in the more out of sorrow than anger”kids today” manner, it’s out-and-out hostility:

In the month and a half since the shooting in Parkland, FL, Ingraham herself has said the Parkland students should not be given “special consideration” on gun policy; told her viewers that the March 14 student walkout wasn’t some sort of “organic outpouring of youthful rage,” but rather “nothing but a left-wing, anti-Trump diatribe”; and complained that anti-abortion protesters didn’t get the same attention. Two of Fox’s other primetime hosts, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, both dismissed the students as pawns being manipulated by gun control advocates. Carlson went a step further, calling the students “self-righteous kids” who “weren’t helping at all” and comparing them to Mao’s Red Guards. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, who is also a Fox News contributor, dismissed the students as just “children, not founts of wisdom,” and Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth responded to the student-organized March For Our Lives by angrily commenting, “Spare me if I don’t want to hear the sanctimoniousness of a 17-year-old.” Fox’s sustained and hostile attacks on students in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting fit right into the network’s years-long pattern of insulting and belittling students and children.

Wingnuts have only one mode: attack mode. They do it when it won’t work and when it will backfire with anyone *outside* the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, and their ilk don’t understand how they sound to average Americans because they seem to only talk to people who agree with them. They certainly only care about those people. It’s why they can’t help themselves.

The 24-hour (minute? second?) news cycle and social media can be wonderful things. They can also be dangerous when used by people with no impulse control who don’t seem to realize that what they say and/or tweet is public and archivable. It’s getting harder and harder to trash talk people behind their backs because slurs live forever on the interweb. Impulse control is out of fashion because of the Current Occupant who was born in a bubble and basks in the glow of the bubbly right-wing echo chamber. The Insult Comedian sets the tone for his acolytes, which is why it’s ugly out there and getting uglier every day.

Remember when we had a president who thought before speaking and didn’t trash everyone who disagreed with him? It wasn’t that long ago. It can happen here again.

When I say that the wingnuts and gun nuts can’t help themselves, I’m not excusing their malakatude and verbal diarrhea. It’s a feeble attempt to explain why they do the things they do.  Attacking the Parkland kids is not going to work. It would be better for the flying monkeys of the far right to say something like, “I’m sorry they’ve been traumatized but I disagree with them.” How hard is that? Too hard for them, apparently. Since they live inside the bubbly right-wing echo chamber, they can’t help themselves.

Rise Up

We forget, all the time, what we’re capable of.

How often, how many times a day, do we tell ourselves won’t, can’t, doesn’t? How many times do we say inevitable, impossible, never?

And then a girl stands in front of the whole world and she shakes their windows and she rattles their walls.

Do you know what it takes to hold a stage, to hold a crowd in your hands, for even one minute? To have them breathing with you, every indrawn breath yours to control? There are veterans of Broadway who can’t do that, not on nights when they’re visited by God himself.

I get the cynicism. I get the fear. I get the worry that somebody else will succeed where we’ve failed and I get the shame that drives us to push that away and I don’t care about any of it anymore, I reject it wholeheartedly, I shaven’t it, you can see what I see. Something happened there and when the world brings you a moment like that you thank God you were alive to witness it and you put your feet flat on the ground and you stand up.

We have been telling these children stories, telling ourselves stories, all our lives about those who rise above, about becoming heroes, about fighting back, and we’re still so astonished, almost offended, when someone listens. You told me I could be anything, so I became, and you don’t believe? How dare we?

We have eight months, and then the rest of our lives. Listen to that silence, and I don’t want to know you if you don’t hear the roar.

A.