Category Archives: Guns

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.

We Understand Gun Gulture Just Fine

This shit again: 

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — As Democrats have fled rural America — or rural America has fled Democrats — many of them, living in cities, are left without an understanding of rural culture and its core values. If it isn’t on abortion, our deepest cultural divide might be on guns. The guns issue also has a profound political dimension, reliably driving rural Americans into Republican arms.

You know, Democrats in cities understand gun culture just fine. Here, let me explain it to you:

There are hunters who like to hunt. There are hobby shooters who go to ranges. And then there are racist paranoiacs who drive around in vans covered in HITLERY stickers who can’t stop waving every single gun they own around, who eat Fox News and InfoWars for breakfast lunch and dinner, who can just never SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THEIR STUPID GUNS.

Those are three distinct groups, and when I, a city Democrat, was growing up, the first two laughed their asses off at the third and there was no major lobbying group to tell them to make common cause against the evil conspiracy of reasonable regulations on 5-year-olds owning M-16s or whatever it is milquetoast thing Democrats stand accused of these days.

If all people did with guns in “rural America” was hunt animals and protect their houses from horror-movie villains breaking in, that might not be every city Dem’s bag but it would be fine. You know why?

BECAUSE NOBODY WOULD HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT THE FUCKING GUNS THEN.

God almighty, I am right up to here with the guns right now, how much you love them and how sacred they are and your great-great-grandpappy who fought for slavery in the Confederacy and whatever else. I understand gun culture just fine and it bores the living shit out of me and the only reason I bother engaging with it at all is that lots of people are getting DEAD.

You know, for the past two years we’ve been hearing about how Republicans were so sick of having basic respect for others “shoved down their throats” that they had to vote in the current racist monster and his gang of ten-a-penny fascisti in the White House. They were so, so sick of political correctness that they had to burn the whole world down. Their dicks all fell off because women were writing words on the Internet and they had no choice but to yell LOCK HER UP and vote for Trump.

Political correctness and women voting having killed exactly nobody, I would then turn that deep understanding of others’ culture right back around and offer this.

You can have all the guns you want.

Provided you don’t shove them down everybody else’s throat all the time.

A.

That’s Why I Call Him The Kaiser Of Chaos

The word of the week in the MSM was chaos. I’ve been calling Trump the Kaiser of Chaos since last July so I guess I’m ahead of the curve. It’s not much to brag about given how many pundits and news writers are still waiting for the president* to grow in office or pivot. He shows no signs of either and seems to be shrinking the office’s stature, especially in foreign affairs.

Last week, the Kaiser of Chaos declared a trade war on steel producers thinking it was against China when it would impact friendly countries such as Germany and Australia. He also see-sawed between pro-gun control lawmakers and the NRA. It’s classic Trump: he sides with the last person he speaks to and the NRA’s lobbyist was there last. It continues to amaze me that he has an image as a tough guy when he caves at the slightest opposition from his party or the interest groups who finance it. It reminds me of an old baseball aphorism I first learned in Jim Bouton’s Ball Four: He’s has an alligator mouth and a hummingbird ass.

It was also the week that extent of Slumlord Jared Kushner’s corruption went public. Bigly. While I’m not shocked that he’s used his proximity to the president* to save his financial ass, the blatancy of these efforts surprised me. The Javanka-Kelly war was another thing that led the MSM to call chaos on Team Trump. It looks as if the kids may be losing to the asshole Marine general. I think it helps that Kelly is as big of a bigot as the boss. Believe me.

Trump spoke at the Gridiron dinner in Washington last weekend. He trotted out his Insult Comedian persona but stepped on the jokes with lame, incoherent ad-libs. Here’s one about outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

“And I know Mayor Mitch Landrieu feels right at home in Washington coming from Louisiana. I love Louisiana. … Not too bad right? Not bad Mitch! … It’s a beautiful swamp. I like that swamp. … That’s a much more legitimate swamp. But I have to say Mitch, that while you’re here in Washington, only one request. … They already hit him on the statues. I was going to say, ‘Don’t touch our statues.’ But they’ve already hit you three times on the statues. … But Mitch you did a good job tonight and honestly I love the way you finished. … I really did. I thought it was very appropriate. … Thank you.”

A swamp and statue joke from the leading swamp thing in Washington? Draining the swamp seems to be the ultimate lost cause.

A note on my use of the word Kaiser. It started back in the days of my eponymous blog. Then New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin had just appointed a windbag named Ed Blakely as recovery director. The local press insisted on calling him the Katrina Tsar. I offered Katrina Kaiser as a more alliterative alternative but it never caught on. That’s when my war on the word Tsar began It’s been a losing battle but I’ve enjoyed pointing out that Tsar and Kaiser are both rooted in Caesar. And both the last Tsar and Kaiser were world-class incompetents and losers. One of them, however, survived to a cranky old age in the Netherlands. I wonder if the Kaiser of Chaos has a golf course there?

Finally, I had some fun with the featured image. On one side, the Kaiser of Chaos with a dead nutria pelt atop his head. On the other side, Kaiser Wilhelm II with a pickelhaube atop his head and a dead animal pelt serving as a furry sash of sorts. Kaisers are kooky in a way that Tsars never are.

Today on “Obsession” – “Who’s a-fraid of the N-R-A – the N.R.A. – the N.R.A?”

Last Thursday, Michael F said :

“Hmm…you don’t often hear the person who’s job is to see the laws be faithfully executed say fuck the law…

But, best as I can tell, the wingnut response has been…crickets. Nothing.”

Well, let’s go to Wingnut Central and have a look-see. (composite thread)

‘I think you’re afraid of the NRA’: Trump blasts Republican lawmakers in bipartisan meeting
businessinsider ^ | February 28, 2018 | Michelle Mark

Posted on 2/28/2018, 3:25:32 PM by Berlin_Freeper

President Donald Trump held a freewheeling White House meeting on Wednesday to discuss various gun-control measures, at one point jabbing a Republican senator over his reluctance to raise the age of all gun purchases to 21 from 18.

“I think you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump said to Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, arguing that raising the age limit was “something we have to think about.”

“A lot of people are afraid to bring it up,” Trump said, referring to the National Rifle Association’s vehement opposition to the proposal. Some Democrats, such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, smiled and nodded at Trump’s remarks.

Toomey said his reservations were due to fear that such a regulation would punish the “vast majority” of 19- and 20-year-olds in his state who own rifles or shotguns and are “law-abiding citizens.”

1 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:25:32 PM by Berlin_Freeper
Aaand – we’re off!
To: Berlin_Freeper

 

Dumb move. He is being ill advised.

4 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:27:45 PM by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)

To: facedown

 

Ill advised? Try, these are his beliefs which is far more troubling

7 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:32:40 PM by Jarhead9297

To: Berlin_Freeper

 

Trump’s burning political capital with a blowtorch. Watch his approval ratings plummet.

9 posted on2/28/2018, 3:34:30 PM by Paine in the Neck ( Socialism consumes EVERYTHING!)

“Plummet”? How the hell do you “plummet” from < 40%?
To: facedown

>> Dumb move. He is being ill advised.

I have found that Trump’s “off the cuff” remarks are the ones that most illustrate his mindset, and Trump himself has said as much. I don’t think this is about being ill advised, I think this is what Trump believes.

Even if it’s not, Trump said it, and he’s the President.

19 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:40:14 PM by af_vet_rr
To: Paine in the Neck

 

I supported him. I have questioned some of his choices. This has done it for me. If he goes along with chipping away at the 2A, I am done.

21 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:41:20 PM by ozaukeemom (9/11/01 Never Forget. Never.)

Apparently, you’re not familiar with the Trump doctrine of “I already got what I want out of you, now fuck off”.
To: Berlin_Freeper

 

And you’re afraid of the Deep State, Mr. Trump. Hope Hicks just quit you and that just may be the beginning.

23 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:42:10 PM by TTFlyer

The Trump-fellators are quick to respond:
To: Lagmeister

 

all this fearmongering is silly.

Trump is on our side. He is playing these Demon Rat thugs.

39 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:51:41 PM by SoFloFreeper
TrumpHumpersBush
To: P-Marlowe

 

“Trump is a populist not a conservative. Sometimes popular ideas are conservative and sometimes they are idiotic. This is an example of Trump being an idiot.”

That kind of nails it.

41 posted on 2/28/2018, 3:52:10 PM by ought-six (Multiculturalism is national suicide, and political correctness is the cyanide capsule.)

To: Berlin_Freeper

 

He’s gone mad. Alas. If we wanted bs or threats against our constitutional rights we could have elected HilLIARy. We need to find a good honest reliable conservative non-GOP-e candidate asap for the next election

82 posted on 2/28/2018, 4:57:59 PM by faithhopecharity (“Politicans aren’t born, they’re excreted.” -Marcus Tillius Cicero (3 BCE))

I’m sensing a just a bit of dissatisfaction here…
To: Berlin_Freeper

 

6% approval rating by morning.

Great call. Stab your supporters in the back because CNN cries for a week.

WHERE’S MY ******* WALL!!!!

90 posted on 2/28/2018, 5:22:09 PM by The Toll

Where, indeed?
 .
After the jump – The Darnold suggests seizing guns first and worrying about due process later, and the Freeperati have a collective aneurysm.
 .

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The most pernicious force in the world is inertia

Been doing a lot of talking lately about how beholden politicians are to the NRA, and why.

Money alone doesn’t explain it. We could crowdfund in an hour what it takes to buy Marco Rubio. Stupidity doesn’t explain it either;

And I don’t honestly even think malice explains it. I don’t think Marco wants kids to die, I mean actively wants to stab a first grader in the neck or anything.

I just don’t think he’s thinking about this all that hard.

I don’t think any Republicans are. I don’t think any Democrats are, for that matter, either. They’re just … this is what you do.

If you want to run as an R in a red district, if you want to rep a red state, if you want to get elected, here’s the process. For the past 50 years, here’s the process. You take the NRA’s donations and you take their reliable voters and you take their field operations, and you offer your thoughts and prayers, and you count on nothing changing because then you don’t have to change.

Truth be told, it’s more laziness than anything else. How many people are handcuffed to “this is the way things work?” I mean how many times in your real life do you contemplate the effort it would take to tear down a workaround and start doing something new? Very few people greet that prospect with anything other than exhaustion.

 

You’re Marco Rubio, and you’re a Republican, so you take the money and what comes with it. You don’t think you’re gonna be asked by a kid in a town hall why you’re such a soulless whore, nobody does that to you, so you have no answer prepared.

In a way it’s worse than if Rubio and his ilk really were passionate defenders of the unlimited right to firearms. At least then they’d be putting some kind of principle over the lives of their constituents.

As it stands, they’re looking at the spreadsheet, deciding the numbers work out in their favor, and asking if they can skip the rest of this meeting since they already know how it goes. For years, they’ve known.

Now they don’t. Not anymore.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Love For Sale

At The Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

It’s been a relatively uneventful week at Adrastos World HQ. My cold has gone; only to be replaced by allergies since we’ve gone from winter to late spring without skipping a beat.  It’s hard to believe how damn cold it was just a few weeks ago when we’re slowly moving into air-dish season.  The good news is that a cool front just arrived. It won’t last long but we can dream, dream, dream.

The Toulouse-Lautrec featured image was inspired by a local news story. Last month, some Bourbon Street dancers staged a protest after a police crackdown on strip clubs in the Quarter. They had a lot of support in the community because New Orleans has always had strip clubs and always will. We’ve also always had people who wanted to close or tightly restrict the clubs. The beat goes on.

I suppose I should apologize for using a Cole Porter song for the second time in a month. I decline to do so: Cole was the master. Love For Sale was my earworm when I wrote the Senator For Sale post last Monday. That’s why it’s the theme song. I hope you won’t give me a Cole shoulder for being repetitive…

We have two radically different versions of Porter’s Love For Sale. First,  Anita O’Day’s torchy and sultry version recorded in 1959 with Billy May and his big band. Second, Miles Davis from Kind Of Blue featuring some of his best sidemen: Trane and Cannonball among others.

I should have mentioned the great Bill Evans but he didn’t have a colorful nickname. He was merely a brilliant pianist and arranger.

It’s title disambiguation time. That’s a big word but I bet the brainy members of Talking Heads know it:

Now that I’ve sold you love or some such shit, let’s jump to the break before you demand a refund.

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The Oaf Keepers

The Oath Keepers are a far right fringe militia-style organization that’s described thusly by the Southern Poverty Law Center:

The Oath Keepers, which claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, is one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today. While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.

In the wake of the Parkland massacre, this bunch of gun-toting nutters has volunteered to post armed guards outside schools. It’s a lousy idea cooked up by the group’s founder Stewart Rhodes:

Rhodes wants the military and police veterans who make up Oath Keepers’ membership to volunteer for unpaid, rotating shifts at schools of all levels, and colleges, throughout the country. He and two other representatives of the fringe militia community will hold a webinar Monday night where they plan to encourage Oath Keepers to station themselves at schools “to protect the children against mass murder, and to help train the teachers and staff.”

“I think it’s essential,” Rhodes told TPM in a Monday phone call. “It’s part of our responsibility to do what we can.”

“And what we can do is be outside of schools so that we’re closer if an attack happens, or when one happens,” Rhodes continued. “We’ll be there to be a fast response.”

Armed vigilantes outside schools? What could possibly go wrong? Everything. Sounds like a game of Russian roulette vigilante-style. Who you gonna call? Oaf Keepers? Hell to the no.

The Oaf Keepers held the aforementioned webinar at which they declared war, on the victims:

During a meandering Monday night webinar held by the far-right, anti-government group, the gun writer David Codrea referred to Emma González and David Hogg, survivors of the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida as “the enemy.”

González and Hogg have been at the forefront of a student activist movement urging Congress to pass gun control legislation.

Codrea, a writer for the Oath Keepers and War on Guns blogs, also said that Gonzalez’s father is a “refugee from Castro’s Cuba,” and lamented that the National Rifle’s Association 595,000 Twitter followers paled in comparison to the one million that follow “this young Communist girl.”

Has this cretin ever met any Cuban immigrants? The chances of the daughter of a Cuban immigrant being a “young Communist girl” are slim and none and slim is hoping to buy an AR-15 at Dick’s Sporting Goods next summer. If the Gonzálezes were Communists, they’d still be living in the land of old cars and even older leaders.

Codrea’s declaration of war on the Parkland kids is one of the reasons I’ve dubbed his group  the Oaf Keepers. They’re idiots with a skewed take on the constitution and modern civil society. One might even call them the real crisis actors since they always show up when there’s trouble (Ferguson, the Bundy Ranch) and make things worse with their oafish posturing. Unfortunately, they’re well-armed oafs who think they know best. They do not.

As you may have noticed, I believe that satire and ridicule are the best weapons in dealing with groups such as the Oath Keepers. This proposal is the pernicious “good guy with a gun” myth writ large. I shouldn’t even dignify it with the word proposal: it’s showboating at its worst much like the Insult Comedian’s claim that he “would have gone in there” during the Parkland massacre. Yeah, right, a chickenhawk with 5 deferments is suddenly Charles Bronson in one of the Death Wish movies:

Shooting 80'S GIF by RETRO-FIEND - Find & Share on GIPHY

Of course, Bronson with a pistol wouldn’t have stood a chance against a white dude (it’s always a white dude) with an assault weapon. Besides, that’s a bad vigilante movie, not real life. Life is unpredictable. It doesn’t always follow the script.

Guns and schools don’t mix. The last thing we need are vigilante crisis actors intervening in this volatile situation. Who you gonna call? Oaf Keepers? Hell to the no.

Tweet Of The Week: Senator For Sale

Like the rest of you, I’m thrilled by the Parkland students’ activism. They’re pretty darn good at snark too:

Admittedly, Marco Rubio is an easy target. He’s as soulless, inauthentic, and robotic as Willard Mittbot Romney. The NRA has bought and paid for his thoughts and prayers.

Florida is a fascinating place for the gun control/safety (whatever you want to call it) debate to happen. Justice Brandeis famously called the states “laboratories for democracy” and Florida is where the NRA carries out its nuttiest experiments. That’s why it’s so bloody easy to buy a “Marco Rubio” in the Sunshine State.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer is often called the real governor of Florida. Her power and influence with the lege is based on money and the power of single issue voters. Here’s how Mike Spies describes it in the New Yorker:

Hammer is the National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist. At seventy-eight years old, she is nearing four decades as the most influential gun lobbyist in the United States. Her policies have elevated Florida’s gun owners to a uniquely privileged status, and made the public carrying of firearms a fact of daily life in the state. Daley was referring to a law that Hammer worked to enact in 2011, during Governor Rick Scott’s first year in office. The statute punishes local officials who attempt to establish gun regulations stricter than those imposed at the state level. Officials can be fined thousands of dollars and removed from office.

Marion has the hammer and she uses it. The struggle between the NRA and the passionately aggrieved Parkland students will be a wonder to behold. Florida is holding statewide elections this year and it’s an excellent opportunity for voters to  break the NRA’s spell. If they can defeat pro-NRA members and elect pro-gun control legislators, it would go a long way to breaking the NRA’s hammer lock on the Florida lege.

The NRA more resembles a cult than a special interest group. Its members, pet politicians, and leadership recite stale talking points about freedom and the Second Amendment; instead of Hail Marys, one could call them Hail Gunnies.

The NRA’s deep pockets have helped them sell a lot of toxic Kool-Aid to members of Congress and state legislators across the country. The spell will not be broken by some companies bailing out on doing business with Wayne LaPierre and company. It can only be broken at the ballot box.

Here’s hoping that the Parkland students have as much persistence as pluck. They have a golden opportunity to spill the NRA’s toxic Kool-Aid by breaking the hold of the gun lobby over the Florida lege and governor’s mansion.  It’s time to take the hammer away from Marion Hammer and bring some sanity to Florida politics. I know that’s a tall order but the kids are alright.

Trying to Beat Them

Pretty much:

If the past decade and a half has taught us anything it’s the futility of trying to find common ground with disingenuous peddlers of right-wing conspiracies who make money on not being convinced of anyone’s viewpoint but their employers’. Why on earth would we want to convert them? What would we get out of it?

Oh, I supposed we’d get the fickle loyalty of a group of voters whose hold on reality is so tenuous that they continually believe some Democrat is coming to take their guns even though THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED AND NEVER WILL. I suppose we’d bask in the temporary approval of people who think every Republican president is gonna singlehandedly outlaw abortion even though NONE OF THEM EVER HAVE NOR EVEN CAN REALLY AT ALL. That and a sack is worth a sack.

I don’t want a bunch of people around me who have to be converted to the idea that you shouldn’t be able to own a goddamn machine gun if you’re a wife-beating paranoiac who has a history of terrible behavior. I don’t need to get all snuggly with folks for whom that is a controversial position. If “not giving a dude who fantasizes about shooting up 5th grade a Howtizer” is a thing you have to be talked into, please take your flatware out of the toaster, and no you can’t sit with us.

And honestly, the time spent struggling to perfectly word the Facebook post that would make your gun-nut cousin take his TRUMP THAT BITCH sticker off his truck would be better spent registering your neighbor to vote and giving her and her mom a ride to the polls.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Hesitation Waltz by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a frustrating week at Adrastos World HQ. Every time I think my pernicious and persistent cold is getting better, I backslide. I would have preferred to be really sick for a few days and then better. Make up your mind, cold.

In local news, the lame duck New Orleans City Council has been up to all sorts of mischief: voting to approve a new power plant for Entergy that won’t solve our blackout  problems and allowing taller buildings to be constructed alongside the Mother of Rivers.  I suspect that the presence of Mayor-elect Cantrell on the Council is one reason they feel free to take such votes. It does not bode well for those who hoped the incoming Mayor would be more neighborhood/citizen friendly. Score another win for real estate developers who are the worst people in the world. Exhibit A for this argument currently lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This week’s theme song is a tribute to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards who died earlier this month at the age of 74. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong and was a monster hit in 1972. Here are two versions for your enjoyment: the Temps and David Lindley.

Now that I’ve dissed real estate developers and my stupid cold, it’s time to roll over to the break. I’m too enfeebled to jump.

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Meme Of The Week: Teacher Of Fortune

The country has been buzzing this week over the notion of arming teachers. Let’s clear something up: it’s not Trump’s idea. The NRA has been floating this misguided and downright moronic idea for years. If the Insult Comedian ever had an original thought, his brain would explode thereby injuring the dead nutria atop his head.

This ridiculous idea is based on the “good guy with a gun” myth, which, in turn, comes from the movies as Michael F pointed out yesterday. Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch have obviously seen too many action movies: vigilante flicks have long been a Hollywood staple. Things don’t work like that in real life as we learned from the story of the terrified deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

I won’t go into the practical problems with this ludicrous idea because I don’t feel like writing a 2,000 word post on this subject. I think that this meme from my friend Michael Styborski sums up how preposterous the arm the teachers notion is:

Marry Me, Steve

This is a glorious evisceration of Chicago’s worst newspaper columnist, who’s typical of so many old middle-class scolds in that Kass thinks it’s just fine if people in “those neighborhoods” die so long as it doesn’t happen near him:

“Chicago police commanders aren’t supposed to be shot to death, not there, not at the heart of city business and politics.”

As with so many John Kass columns in this stage of his career, I can only wonder: Where to start?

1. Ignore the stats. Go by feel – perhaps the feel you get from Fox News.

2. People’s sense of safety is shaken by what happened Tuesday because it was downtown. What people? Downtown people, the only people who are actually people, in Kass’s construction, because a lot of other people have had their sense of safety shaken – if it ever existed – long ago.

Perhaps what Kass means is that his sense of safety has been shaken, because the killing of a cop happened so close to the office he has commuted to for decades from the suburbs.

3. Police commanders aren’t supposed to be shot to death. Who is? Thugs. They’re supposed to be shot to death.

It’s so predictable. Since, well, forever, the media expresses shock over terrible events that happen in places where they aren’t supposed to. The accretion of those events doesn’t seem to teach us that they actually happen everywhere, to all kinds of people.Certainly not with the same regularity, but then, that’s an equation the media ought to continue to examine with renewed vigor and compassion.

Go read the whole thing. The only possible response to “this shouldn’t happen here” is to ask, “Then where should it happen?” And somehow these sheltered pricks never do have an answer to that one.

A.

 

Your Sons and Your Daughters Are Beyond Your Command

I spent Saturday night in a crowded hot room above a coffee shop, writing notes to Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.

I know, right? But listen to this girl, Emma Gonzalez:

I watched an interview this morning and noticed that one of the questions was, do you think your children will have to go through other school shooter drills? And our response is that our neighbors will not have to go through other school shooter drills. When we’ve had our say with the government — and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying ‘it is what it is,’ but if us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something.

Listen to her, and be ashamed of your cynical assumption that nothing’s going to change.

I got tired of listening to people talking about how there’s nothing we can do, that this is just the way we live now, and when a meetup popped up near me offering the chance to write postcards to elected officials, I signed up. When I did, there were three people committed to come.

By the time I got there, there were 20.

There weren’t enough chairs. People shared lists. Everyone brought food. Lots of people brought their kids. A man walked around pouring glasses of water and wine. The room, above a coffee shop, was warm.

An elderly woman couldn’t make it up the stairs and sat down at the door writing postcards. To Paul Ryan. To Donald Trump. To Mike Pence. To John McCain and every other senator who took money from the NRA. To our senators. To everyone else’s.

Would they read them? someone asked. That’s not our problem, the organizers answered. We do what we can.

A group of kids sat at one table, and by kids I mean girls and boys too young for PG-13 movies, and they wrote things like, “I don’t want to be here tonight but because of you I don’t have a choice.” They wrote things like, “Save my friends. Save me.” An adult asked if there had been any communication from their school about what had happened, remembering bulletins about Columbine and Virginia Tech, asking if the school had offered counseling.

“Nothing,” one of the girls replied. “They didn’t tell us a thing.”

How dare we tell children like these that nothing’s going to change? How dare we tell them nothing IS changing? How dare we disappear the everyday work that is being done by activists at every level, from the township on up? How dare we act like our glib, snide asides are written in stone?

Listen to Emma Gonzalez. This isn’t over. It’s barely begun. Our surrender is an insult to their rage.

One of the kids offered to help with the postcards I and the women at my table were making. Carefully, onto each one, they glued tiny pictures of victims of school shootings, their small fingers pressing down on faces that could have been their own.

A.

Guns Are About Fear and Fear Is About Race

Someone pointed me at this thread and I can’t believe I missed it amongst the steaming piles of garbage flying around last year: 

After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism. The relationship between symbolic racism and opposition to banning handguns in the home (OR1.27 CI 1.03,1.58) was reduced to non-significant after accounting for having a gun in the home (OR1.17 CI.94,1.46), which likely represents self-interest in retaining property (guns).

Why does everything have to be about race, I can hear you asking, and BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT RACE. People don’t fear Chicago because it’s full of guns, they fear Chicago because it’s full of guns in the hands of young black and Hispanic men.

I can’t tell you the number of people who think I’m about to be raped and murdered every time I step out my door because my neighborhood is like 60-40, black-white, and that’s a signifier of violence. Never mind I live in Mayberry, the presence of non-white people is presumed to be a threat to white people. Which I can tell you until the cows come home is bullshit, but there’s a whole media-gun-industrial-complex devoted to making people askeered of the terrible brown threat coming for your white women.

Which is why I keep harping on the media disparity. Right now we’re having lots of hearings and all kinds of angst about Facebook and Google and Twitter bots and if they’re really Russians and all of that is fine but none of it matters if every podiatrist’s office in the Midwest is blaring Fox News and a CNN panel of five Republicans is debating which Democrat is the biggest pussy.

Fix that or all our worries about Bernie vs. Hillary vs. Keith vs. Tom vs. Whoever The Fuck don’t matter.

A.

What’s in a name and how many lives is it worth?

When we discuss the idea of “fame” as a newsvalue in my journalism classes, I make a point that famous people can actually be infamous.

“How many of you have heard the name Jeffrey Dahmer?” I ask.

Every hand goes up, even though he committed his crimes and died in prison before most of them were born.

Dahmer is a name that remains as prominent now as it was in the early 1990s. A mass murder with an eating disorder, a TV show once quipped.

I thought about the man, the name and the crime this week when I heard about the Las Vegas attack that left 58 dead and more than 500 injured. Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant with an arsenal at his disposal, hunkered down in a hotel room and fired round after round after round into a crowded concert venue.

Researchers and experts note this was the deadliest shooting on U.S. soil in modern history (whatever that means… It reminds me of “recently” which we used to define as “reporter lost the press release with the actual date.”). They also noted that in most cases the shooters wanted to make a mark, make a statement and make a name for themselves. As one expert lamented in discussing this topic, “Records are made to be broken.”

It was true for the Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes, who told a prison psychologist he wanted to be remembered as considered each death part of a score or tally. Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured 70 others on July 20, 2012, when he opened fire on in a movie theater during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

It was true of Robert Hawkins, a 19-year-old man who killed eight people in an Omaha, Nebraska mall in 2007. His suicide note explained: “I just want to take a few pieces of shit with me… just think tho, I’m gonna be fuckin famous.”

It was true for Adam Lanza, who wanted people to understand what he saw as unrelenting pain. When a forensic scientist examined the case for a reason Lanza murdered 26 children and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, the man said Lanza had a simple message: “I carry profound hurt — I’ll go ballistic and transfer it onto you.”

It was certainly true for Seung-Hui Cho, who held the “record” for the deadliest shooting carried out by a single gunman in U.S. history. This Virginia Tech student killed 32 of his campus colleagues and wounded 17 others on April 16, 2007. In his rambling manifesto, he noted: “Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people.”

Know me. Fear me. Revile me. But always, always remember me.

What’s strange is that I don’t remember ANY of them by name. Perhaps the last two names I remember were the Columbine killers: Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold, who killed 13 people in their high school in 1999 and wounded 21 others. Even as other ratcheted up the body count to an almost incomprehensible level, these two appear to be the last of the “names” when it comes to this violent ticket to fame.

Before them, it seemed we all could remember the names of people who killed and killed.

Dahmer.

John Wayne Gacy

Theodore Bundy

David Berkowitz

Charles Manson

Charles Whitman

The names were cultural touchstones. Maybe it was because we all got news from the same places or maybe it was because we used to repeat the names so often, we couldn’t forget them. Maybe it was because there were fewer of them or they had such weird shit associated with them (A cannibal, a clown, a “sex symbol,” a dog whisperer, a lunatic and a sharpshooter).

Or maybe it’s just a sad truism that our social attention span is so limited, we’re never going to commit these new names to memory unless we take the “Arya Stark Hooked on Phonics” approach to it.

Our goal is to always forget. We have to get past it. We have to press on. We have to get back into life. Clear the mechanism.

For them, it’s a desire to force us to remember them, like they’re heavily armed Heisenbergs just begging us to hold fast to their pathetic outburst. Rest assured, people do remember them. Some will never forget, like the families of the dead, the scores of wounded and the rest of us who wonder why yet get no answer.

They are in our minds, even if their names aren’t on the tips of our tongues. Constantly at first, until life presses them and their actions to a back corner of our consciousness so we can move on and forget and live again.

Until the next time.

Stop Fighting To Win. Fight to Fight.

I’ve been seeing this stupid quote everywhere and it never fails to make me want to put my fist through something:

No. No no no no no. Just no. Stop it. Stop that sickness.

I woke up same as you all yesterday morning, just as I woke up in November and again in January, crushed and tired and sick in my soul at the preventable tragedy that strikes on a daily basis around this country due to a curdling fear too deep to name.

And in response to passionate entreaties to change, I saw this stupid goddamn monstrous tweet all over the place.

You think that’s some kind of profound statement? You think that makes you sound wise? You think that makes it okay to go to brunch, or turn off the news, or go numb? Fuck all the way off with that ironic detachment and smarter-than-thou condescension and laziness dressed up as superior knowledge.

What is wrong with you? Killing children is not acceptable. Not at Sandy Hook. Not the next neighborhood over. Not with guns and not with knives and not with economics. It’s not acceptable to me and it never will be so nothing’s over, not now and not ever.

But but Republicans, and the NRA, and money, and guns, and the culture, and the laws, and the political climate and the red-blue maps and the gerrymandering and it’s all too goddamn much, right? From a practical standpoint there’s no way any other vision of America at this point can come to pass.

How many times a day do we hear this from others? How many goddamn times do we hear it from ourselves? Roy Moore is gonna be the next senator from Alabama and Democrats are going to be crushed everywhere for all time and the Supreme Court is lost for a generation and Donald Trump might actually get re-elected and fake news and Russian bots and drone bombings and nuclear war and and and and STOP. Just stop.

It’s tempting, when you’ve spent your life fighting for something that is so vital, to hunger for victory. To want, just once, to strut across the finish line. To feel you’ve accomplished something, to feel you have something to show. To put an end point on something that’s neverending. You want to say, “I did this” and know your time was well spent.

You want to avoid getting your heart broken, too. You want to create some scenario in which losing is not a devastation, so you spout this cynical crap and you think it’s wisdom.

But you aren’t going to get what you want, not now and not ever. Every single magnificent thing that has ever happened here has been called impossible. Every single unlikely victory in the face of insurmountable odds has been unlikely because the odds were insurmountable. And you will not feel one iota better by pretending to be smarter than everyone else in the room, you goddamn narcissists. I swear, if the parents who lost children at Sandy Hook can get up to fight, how dare we say anything’s over?

 

 

I re-read Trinity every year, almost, and I went back to it last evening, thinking about Doug Jones and that infuriating tweet and how every day brings some new piece of bullshit to the surface, because I needed this:

All we can ever hope for is a glorious defeat. A defeat that may somehow stir the dormant ashes of our people into a series of more glorious defeats. Every man in the Brotherhood must defy, scream, kick, die hard, bloody, shake consciences. You see, the true job of the Brotherhood is not to expand to win but to sharpen its teeth to die hard. 

Call your reps. Vote every Republican out, every one, from the township on up to the capital, and shout and protest and donate and raise your damn voice every second you can. What you think should be enough might not be, shameful though that is. But to say it’s over because we haven’t won is more shameful still.

You reading this?

You looking at the world, you’re not happy, you want different?

You breathing? You alive?

Then it’s not over. Not for gun control, not for the courts, not for Puerto Rico, not for lead, not for police killings, not for war, not for poverty, not for anything you give a shit about. Not for you and yours. Not for the wide world. This country is drowning, fighting, bleeding, dying, and being reborn every second and there’s no way out of this that doesn’t kill you, so in the meantime, keep fighting like there’s nothing but the fight.

A.

Still Comfortably Numb Revisited

It’s happened again; another atrocity. This time it’s a mass shooting in Las Vegas by a wealthy retired accountant of all people. The depressing mass shooting ritual continues with a new president* who mindlessly parrots the platitudes that his party utters after each horrific mass murder. I have my own personal mass shooting ritual: revisiting a post I wrote after the San Bernardino shootings in December, 2015 because we’re Still Comfortably Numb: 

In my first month at First Draft in 2009, I revisited  a post I wrote for my eponymous blog on July 13, 2006. It was one of my rare lucid moments as a blogger as I compared post-K New Orleans to the grand finale of Great Expectations. I borrowed the title from Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb. It struck me this morning that this theme was eerily applicable to the seemingly endless string of mass shootings we’ve had this year. Here’s a sample of the 2006 post:

Syd Barrett’s death got me thinking in Pink Floyd song titles. A scary concept, I know. Careful With That Axe, Eugene didn’t fit the situation here in NOLA but one title nailed it: Comfortably Numb from The Wall. Comfortably numb describes the state of our political, judicial and socio-economic systems here pre-K. We were muddling through at all levels but as long as we were comfortable, we were numb.

Then came Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent federal flood, which, by analogy, was to New Orleans what the last part of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was to Pip the hero of the novel. Pip had always thought that the bitter recluse Miss Havisham had been his financial benefactor. He was wrong. His real patron was Magwich, an escaped convict turned magnate whom Pip had helped while a child.

<snip>

How does this apply to NOLA? Miss Havisham is a perfect symbol of the city. For years, we allowed our city to rot and decay and instead of trying to do something about it, we turned to drama, drugs, booze, food and apathy. If I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I’ve heard “you can’t change fill in the blank it’s New Orleans,” I’d be as rich as Pip’s portly solicitor, Mr. Jaggers. I’ve heard that line applied to government, litter, crime, you name it; it’s the catchall excuse. The city and its people were all comfortably numb.

That’s where we find ourselves in regard to mass shootings in our country: we’re comfortably numb. They happen so often that they’ve become routine. President Obama urges us to not treat them as such, and he’s right as a matter of policy, but it’s human nature to seek a safe haven.  Being comfortably numb helps ease the horror of events like the San Bernardino massacre.

One worrisome thing that happens after each of these dreadful event is the ritualistic response of various segments of society. As Athenae so eloquently pointed out last night, Republican politicians make a ritual of calling for prayers for the victims. The NRA, and the people who value the abstraction that is the Second Amendment, talk about mental illness and how much safer the world would be if all the good guys were armed to the teeth. Right thinking people who *want* to do something to stop the carnage advocate new gun control measures, which are automatically rejected by the Second Amendment purists and nothing happens. This post-massacre ritual/routine is the clearest indication that we’re still comfortably numb.

Another worrisome thing is how easy it is to divide mass shootings into genres as if they were movies. The slaughter in Southern California *could* be slotted into the workplace massacre genre also known as “going postal.” Since the perpetrators were Muslims with Arab names, the flying banshees of the Right *assume* that it’s Daesh/ISIL/Al-Qaeda related terrorism. We simply do not know the motives of the shooters at this point. We *do* know that it doesn’t fit into the following mass shooting genres: schools, health care clinics, shopping malls, fast food eateries; the variations seem to be horrifically endless. It’s no wonder that people want to crawl in bed and hide under the covers. It’s why we remain either comfortably or uncomfortably numb after each of these attacks.

I’m like everybody else: I just want the slaughter to stop. It’s clearly ridiculous for civilians to have military-style assault weapons, but in a country where a police union has advocated armed football fans such a reasonable goal seems unobtainable. One thing that would help the national discourse on this subject is for us to stop reacting ritualistically and stop slotting the shootings into genres. No wonder we’re comfortably numb: we can pigeonhole the latest atrocity and move on.

David Chase used a Roger Waters-Van Morrison version of Comfortably Numb as the soundtrack for the worst thing Tony ever did on The Sopranos: using a car wreck as an excuse to murder Christopher Moltisanti. Christopher popped the soundtrack of Scorsese’s The Departed into the CD player, which triggered the accident and Tony’s actions. After killing Christopher, Tony resorted to a string of rationalizations as to why it was the right gangster thing to do. He was never quite the same thereafter: becoming an even darker and more ruthless character as well as-you guessed it-comfortably numb. Let’s hope that life doesn’t imitate The Sopranos in this instance and we can move past our numbness in a constructive manner. I am, however, not optimistic. We’re all still comfortably numb.

Your Fondest Wish Comes True. THEN WHAT?

So let’s say that tomorrow Trump is indicted, impeached, frog-marched out of the White House, and his entire team including Pence and Ryan are in prison and Orrin Hatch is president.

Let’s say this happens (not a quarter of it is going to happen) and we all watch it on TV.

Then what? I mean it, then what? Like the next day what happens? We pop the champagne and assume it’s all over?

I think a lot of my fellow pale-faced liberal types are underthinking the amount of violence people of color, young people, and women are already facing because of Trump, and that’s after a VICTORY. Their whole angry worldview was validated in a national election and it’s just made them MORE angry. I didn’t think they could get more angry but they are.

These are the people arming and prepping themselves for the apocalypse, who bought an extra AR-15 just to piss those libtards off and have been stockpiling ammo since the days of that draft-dodger Bill Clinton. We all had a good time clowning on Meal Team Six back when they seized a frickin’ bird sanctuary, but put one of those assholes in a crowded room and he could mow down a movement.

Ninety percent of Trump supporters? If he’s thrown out of office they’ll be fine as long as whatever comes after him immediately gives them jobs. They’ll go to work and they’ll have less time to be pissed off. I don’t have an answer for that other 10 percent but I think we’re downplaying the threat they represent to people already feeling marginalized and targeted.

So if I seem less openly enthusiastic about the idea of impeachment or criminal proceedings against the Trump Syndicate, it isn’t because I think they’re innocent of anything. It’s because even if they’re found guilty, they won’t suffer a fraction as much as those with so much more to lose already.

A.