"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Friday, February 23, 2018

Giving Up Hopelessness For Lent

Did anybody mention this to Trump at the presser with Turnbull?

Before I went out this morning, I knew this:

1)  A major private held bank in Nebraska cut ties with the NRA, declining to continue it's contract to issue an NRA branded VISA card.

2)  Enterprise car rentals, which operates three brands, decided to end its discount to NRA members.

3) Wayne LaPierre falls flat at CPAC, an event mostly populated by twenty-somethings just slightly older (and certainly more conservative) than the activist kids from Parkland, Florida.

“The room was not with Wayne LaPierre yesterday,” Peters said. “Actually, at one point he stopped and he said, ‘I sense it’s a little quiet out there.’ It was quiet, he said, because they must be scared and all gun owners should be. But the reason they were quiet is because they weren’t buying what he was selling.”

I came back to learn this:

a)  Avis, Budget, and Hertz are all out of the "NRA discount" business.
b)  Chubb Insurance, which underwrites the NRA's Carry Guard firearms insurance, wants nothing more to do with the NRA.
c)  Symantec, though LifeLock and Norton, have cut ties with the NRA
d)  Allied and North American Van lines no longer offer discounts to NRA members.
e)  MetLife no longer offers them discounts, either.

The pressure is on Google, AT&T, Apple, Roku, and Amazon to stop providing access to NRATV.

And, going back to news from this morning, the "kids from Florida" have, in just 4 days,  succeeded in raising $3.5 million dollars in aid of their effort to lead a march on Washington, and continue their fight for sensible gun laws.  Gucci has since added $500,000.00 to that amount.

Oh, and in the afternoon there is also this news:

"We are well on our way to solving the horrible problem" of mass shootings, President Trump said Friday at a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House.

Trump said he had spoken Friday morning with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about possible ways Congress might respond legislatively following last week's shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead. "People are looking to really energize," Trump said of his discussions with the two top Republicans on Capitol Hill and GOP legislative efforts following the school shooting.

The man is a black hole of information. But the kids are alright; and no law mandating or even allowing teachers to carry and shoot in schools is going anywhere, especially if nobody is going to pay for their training, firearms, and liability insurance.  I mean, even Rick Scott isn't supporting an "arm the teachers" bill in Florida.

One last thing:  I heard different numbers than this in the morning, but I can't verify them now (300% increase in turnout for Democrats, 25% increase for GOP), so this will do:

More Democrats have cast ballots than Republicans since early voting began this week in Texas, according to state election figures released Thursday, and turnout among Democrats is up 46 percent over the last midterm elections in 2014. For Republicans, meanwhile, turnout is basically flat.

Democrats have not been turning out to vote since the Gov. Miz Anne lost to W. because: why bother?  And the state Democratic party has been relentlessly useless at inspiring them.  But Trump's approval is evenly spit, 46% in favor, 46% opposed; and Democrats in Texas despise Trump in numbers equally to the Republicans who admire him.  Which means there are a lot more Democrats here than have been voting in many years.

That might change.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Why Does The Media Keep Talking About This?

I presume the teachers would still have to buy the guns, just as they have to buy classroom supplies.  Sure, what teacher with a roomful of 5 year olds wouldn't want to keep a gun in a gun safe in the corner?

Of course, the teacher would have to supply the gun safe, too.  And pay for the training and the license to carry; but that's what the bonus is for.

Now, where is that bonus going to come from.....?

You really have to start thinking of the President as wholly irrelevant for any of this to make sense.

"you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

Wayne LaPierre at CPAC this morning:

“What is hard to understand is why nobody at the FBI stood up and called B.S. on its rogue leadership,” LaPierre said. “I mean, really, where was the systemic resistance that should protect every powerful institution that serves us? The lowest ranking marine knows to resist an on lawful order. The rank and file in every powerful institution must police its own leadership.”

LaPierre then said FBI agents’ purported complicity was part of a broader plot to implement socialism on the United States.

“In too much of today’s Washington, nobody speaks out,” he said. “Nobody challenges authority. Everyone keeps their mouth closed and their heads down, and that is exactly how socialistic societies function.”

Diane Loesch at CPAC this morning:

“Many in the legacy media love mass shootings,” she charged. “White crying mothers are ratings gold.”

“I call B.S.,” Loesch added, mocking a line from Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonazlez. “I represent 5 million plus members [of the NRA], average everyday Americans, moms and dads. They do the school run, go to the grocery story, they’re students, they’re hunters. They are people like me who simply don’t want to be assaulted in the parking lot if we go to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk at night!”

Before finishing her remarks, Loesch revealed that she needed armed guards to safely exit the CNN town hall.

“You heard that town hall last night, they cheered the confiscation of fire arms,” she explained. “And it was over 5,000 people. I have to have a security detail to get out. I wouldn’t have been able to exit that if I did not have a private security detail. There were people rushing the stage and screaming ‘burn her.'”

I know I never leave for the grocery store without my AR-15 slung over my shoulder.  I've seen the dairy aisle, it's no place for the faint of heart.  Or the unarmed.  Amirite?  And when are FBI agents going to take the law into their own hands and rise up against their oppressors?  They have nothing to lose but their chains!

Wait a minute.....

What You Heard Is Not What I Meant!

I didn't say we should arm teachers; I said we should arm teachers!  See?  Completely different!

It took three more tweets to make that point:

“This is a president who doesn’t just listen, he acts,” she said. “So, I predict on his watch, things will change. And people will feel like school safety and public safety are much enhanced because he is the president.”

Well, he listens when he's reminded to listen:

“The small discussion yesterday about the possibility of allowing some educators and administrators to be armed at some schools, to focus on that alone today is disingenuously covering the fuller discussion yesterday,” Conway remarked. “And frankly, it’s disrespectful to the people who are in that room raising any number of different issues.”

You notice she's not defending the idea; she's denying it.  And she's denying that the President made that the focus by tweeting about it four times.  Nope.  That's not what happened.

“I think it benefits us all that you have a non-politician in the White House behind me because he can see this with a certain clarity that others perhaps cannot,” she concluded. “There cameras were on the whole time too and everybody should appreciate that.”

Yes, the cameras did tell us exactly what was going on, right down to Trump's notes to remind him to show empathy and feign interest.

Phil Mudd was right; this President is completely irrelevant.  He holds the office, but the lights are on and nobody's home.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Every time I think I'm done, it turns into a darker nightmare

I feel better already, just knowing he "hears" us:

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect — but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” Trump said.

“Gun-free zone, to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us,” Trump said, wondering aloud about arming “20 percent of your teaching force.”

You know, you can't say that people who shoot up public places are "maniacs" who are also rational enough not to want to take return fire.  Either they are "mentally ill" (but only if white!) or they are vicious heartless killers.  I go with the latter, but I don't think the act itself is in any way rational, and most such shooters end up killing themselves rather than be caught alive.  So I don't think a "gun-free zone" is the allurement Trump thinks it is.  Then again, I'm more rational than Trump, obviously.

“You can’t have 100 security guards in Stoneman Douglas, that’s a big school,” he said. “It’s a massive school with a lot of acreage to cover, a lot of floor area, so that would be certainly a situation that is being discussed a lot by a lot of people.”

“You’d have a lot of people that’d be armed, that’d be ready, they are professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force, and they are very adept at doing that. You’d have a lot of them and they would be spread evenly through the school.”

So they'd have positions as armed guards?  Rather than being teachers whose duties keep them in a classroom or moving about the campus at different hours?  Basically we make our schools into armed camps?  This is your solution?

The President said he believed “that if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of having pretty much professionals with great training, I think they wouldn’t go into the school to start off with.”

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

Should we remind him of the guy who walked into a military base and shot the place up?

“So we’ll be doing the background checks, we’ll be doing a lot of different things, but we’ll certainly be looking at ideas like that.”

Don't do us any favors.

I know a lot of ex-Marines. My brother in law is ex-Green Beret.  Sure, they'll take jobs as school teachers for suck pay, just for the chance of shooting a bad guy one day at school.   Sure, the schools can pay mercenaries to stand around like bodyguards, waiting to gun down anybody who looks suspicious, because, if you're armed and waiting for somebody to start shooting, you won't wait until the shooting starts, to start shooting.

What, you'd have a death wish?  The guy who shoots first wins.  This ain't the movies.  And we have about 98,000 public schools in the country; we'd need about 980,000 ex-Marines and ex-Army and ex-Air Force to put just 10 such people on a campus.  And would that be enough?  Do we have 980,000 ex-military waiting to be armed school guards?

So a minimum of 1 million armed guards, paid for by, what?  School taxes?  Sure, who needs textbooks, we gotta provide safety!  And imagine the gun contracts alone!  The NRA would die from the orgasmic bliss of the very thought.  So sure, that'll work.  We just need 1-3 million ex military  "adept at firearms" walking our school campuses like they were prison camps, ready to shoot the person they think is shooting up their school.

God help them if they get it wrong:

I was in the sound booth inside the auditorium when the fire alarm rang. I decided I would stay behind because what could possibly go wrong? I then hear the banging on the doors of the auditorium, and I run downstairs to see a hundred people banging on the door. I quickly opened the doors to let the people in and see my coach running inside for safety.

I was scared, and I ran to the safest place possible, which was the sound booth again. I start to pace back and forth because I did not know what was going on ― and the people in the audience saw me. They saw me, and they panicked because I was matching the same description of Nikolas Cruz. I had the same clothes, same hair color, same facial structure somewhat. ... And they reported me.

I was just hiding up there. I had no idea what was going on. Then the door started to rattle. At first, the only thought that came to my mind was,“I’m going to die, the shooter is going to kill me.” But then SWAT comes in, and I thought they were here to rescue me. But then as I go down the stairs, I find out that I was wrong.
I found out that they thought it was me that killed the 17 people. I go down the stairs, they tell me to put my hands up. I, being the fool that I was, tried putting my phone back in my pocket. They demanded again, and I, not trying to be one of those news stories of someone dying wrongfully because they refused to put their hands up, I just dropped my phone at that moment and kept going.

When I went out those doors, I had six SWAT members pointing their guns at me. I was tossed to the ground. I was unjustly cuffed and held at gunpoint for the degrading and depreciating action of the disturbed individual Nikolas Cruz.

I was then put in a corner with a policewoman guarding me. I knew any move I made would be the end of my life. Throughout the entire event, I only felt two things: I felt fear, as I did not know my future. I did not know if i was going to be let go. I did not know where the terrorist was. ... A the second thing was guilt.
The SWAT team was there after the shooting stopped.  What if it was an armed guard, instead, and the shooting was still active?  Would he shoot first and ask questions later?  Or not shoot, and get blamed for not stopping the shooting sooner?

Now look carefully at that photo.  Notice the President of the United States has his shirts monogrammed with "45" on them.  So he won't forget his place in history.  Wonder if he kept his place on the notes.  At what point did he say "I hear you"?  Inquiring minds want to know.

A few (hopefully) last words on guns

Well, last words for awhile, anyway.

1)  That teenagers anger about what adults have done (or not) about gun control is perfectly valid.  As Anderson Cooper pointed out, the bullets from an AR15 shred human bodies.  People don't die neatly and discretely the way they do in movies (and when Quentin Tarentino shows us how much damage bullets do, we denounce him for reveling in gore.  Funny, that.).  Cooper's solution is to make people see what guns do, though I'm not sure putting the whole nation into PTSD is going to improve our attitude about gun laws.

2)  It's only, as Van Jones pointed out, a "mental health" issue when a white man wields the weapon.  Black people are proof we need more prisons, or even that they need to be shot in the streets.  "Mexicans" are proof we need a border wall.  White people?  Well, that person must have been crazy, because no true white person.....

Will this change?  I'm not sanguine.  Massive areas of Harris County flooded after Harvey; but equal portions of the county suffered no damage at all.  While I was enduring 5 hour traffic jams trying to make a trip that should have taken 30 minutes, because of street flooding that lasted for weeks, other parts of town were unaffected.  While in that traffic jam I was listening to people on the radio talk about how little damage Harvey did to Houston, how quickly the city had returned to normal.  "Normal," especially in a city as sprawling as Houston, is very much a matter of location.  I know people whose entire neighborhoods were destroyed by the release of water from the reservoirs designed 80 years ago to protect the city from flooding.  Other parts of town, however, suffered no such damage.  And now over 50% of county residents, per a poll, don't want to pay higher taxes in order to enact flood control.  If we don't, of course, we'll go down in popular opinion as the city on the flood plain, and our economy will start to decline as companies and people decline to move here.  But even after Harvey, taxes are anathema.  Which is partly understandable, as the only tax the local governments can raise is property taxes, and people whose property has been reduced to bare ground aren't anxious to pay more taxes on that property.  But, of course, we made this bed for ourselves decades ago, consistently refusing to allow any other basis for taxes (such as income).  We created this dilemma for ourselves, in other words, and three years of consecutive 500 year floods, capped in the third year by over a year's worth of rainfall in 36 hours, is still not enough to make us look up and around and think fundamentally about what we are doing.

So, will the kids make us reconsider our political and governmental and societal (it's not a Constitutional issue, despite what you've heard) fundamentals?  Well, my generation thought it would change the national attitude about war and race, and now we have one of the most openly racist Presidents in American history in the White House, and consider a movie about a science-fiction African country directed by an African American to be, not just a major cultural event, but a major world event, largely because it is proving popular outside of America.  No shade on "Black Panther," but it's success ain't exactly the equivalent of Obama's first election to the Presidency or the end of, and certainly doesn't erase the election of Trump after him.

I'd like to see things get better.  I want them to get better.  But this mad identity of guns with life itself, with the reason to exist and the basis of our freedom, did not spring sui generis from the brow of Wayne LaPierre, and it won't be blown away by the righteous indignation of teenagers who have seen first hand what bullets do to bodies.  They are standing up to the obscene nonsense that they are actors and dupes in a "deep state" conspiracy.  Constituents are reacting to the shooting in Florida in Pennsylvania and Colorado.  Even CPAC is feeling the heat.  Will it be enough this time?  Only if we make it so. Heat burns, but heat doesn't last.  The NRA knows this, which is why they are quite now.  We can't rely on heat alone, on anger, on outrage.  If we end up satisfied that "the kids" are alright and "the kids" tried but, after all, what can you do?; we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.

It's going to take much attention to what got us into this mess, and such a commitment to changing fundamentals because we can't continue to live this way.  Can we do that?  Yes.  Will we do it?

Aye; there's the rub.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"OK, Einstein, you got a better idea?"

So, here's the thing:  people who commit "mass" shootings are mentally ill, because the best defense against them (the NRA sanctioned defense) is to not let them have guns because they are mentally and only mentally ill people shoot strangers en masse (which doesn't explain the Las Vegas shooter, except that he was "mentally ill" after the fact, showing no signs of such illness before he killed so many strangers), and so the breakdown in the system is letting them have guns in the first place (but we don't know they are mentally ill until the bullets stop flying, because only mentally ill people commit mass murder, but until they do, they have a 2nd Amendment right to be heavily armed).

People who commit "mass" shootings are rational actors who would be deterred if they knew their target was not "soft" but rather bristling with people carrying guns and ready to use them at a moment's notice.

Which is it?

"When a crazed gunman arrives on campus with murder in his eyes, the deed is done within two to five minutes," [Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd] said, adding that criminals will think twice if they suspect someone else on campus might have a gun under the county's so-called "Sentinel program."

But if he's already a "crazed gunman," will the idea that there are gun wielders there slow him down?

"We would have (shooters) apologizing for even showing up with the gun by the time they have four or five rounds in them," he said. "God forbid that terrible day ever occurs. But we would have a group of people armed with guns to run to the threat and neutralize it before they reach our children."

I understand trained police officers only hit their targets about 40% of the time.  I'm also old enough to remember the pursuit of the Boston Marathon bombers.   One brother was finally run down with a vehicle, the other escaped to be found hiding in a boat.  Over 250 rounds were fired before the brother escaped to the boat, but none did serious damage.  The brother captured alive survived a second hail of bullets from a number of police officers.  He not only didn't end up with "four or five rounds in" him, almost none of the bullets managed to hit him.  And what if the shooter is smart enough to wear body armor, as happened in Tyler, Texas many years ago?  Police there fired 116 rounds and had a trained sniper on hand.  All the police officers available couldn't bring that guy down, or stop him from shooting and then fleeing the scene.  This is what happens in real life.

Life is not a movie, Sheriff, and you don't get to write the script.  The solution of "more guns" is like the solution of "more drunk drivers," because a drunk driver will think twice about getting behind the wheel if he knows there are other drunks out there driving who might kill him, right? Sure, that'll work......

Please pay attention

And the response:
No, not the issue of the "tapes" (although, as James Comey said, wouldn't it be great if there were any?).  The "lobby of the Trump Tower 12 years ago" v. "the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank."  It's a slight shift, but an intentional one.  Sometimes Trump lies because he truly believes his lies.  Sometimes he lies because he knows what he's doing.

It's rather obvious which one this is.

Or Just To Hold A Parade

Can we get any more banana republic than this?

If Trump insists on a military parade through Washington involving thousands of troops, armored vehicles, missiles and other heavy weapons the event could disrupt crucial military training schedules, according to a defense official directly familiar with the initial planning efforts.

There are also concerns over the cost of the event, and a second defense official tells CNN that the Pentagon is considering seeking out private donations to offset some of the non-military costs of the event. The donations could not cover military salaries or the cost of moving equipment but they could be used to pay for other aspects of the parade.
I'm guessing donors would require logos on the tanks and planes, a la Trump's beloved NASCAR.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Among the Dead

Scott Beigel’s fiancee, Gwen Gossler, told mourners at his funeral on Sunday that they were watching news coverage of another school shooting when he made the comment.

“Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth — tell them what a jerk I am, don’t talk about the hero stuff,” Gossler said Beigel teased, according to the New York Post’s account of the service at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton.

“OK, Scott, I did what you asked,’’ Gossler continued tearfully. “Now I can tell the truth. You are an amazingly special person. You are my first love and my soulmate.’’

Isn't it better to tell her that she has lost her fiancé to a gunman, than to tell a gun owner he has lost his right to own certain guns?  Isn't it better if our thoughts and prayers go to Ms. Gossler, than to some poor, bereaved gun owner mourning the loss of his favorite assault rifle?

I can't believe we have to have this conversation in this country.   The madness of the GOP to loot and pillage the commonwealth is as nothing compared to this insanity we insist on foisting on ourselves, and our resolute determination that nothing will be done about it, so let's blame the schools for not protecting our children as if school should be a combination prison and fortress.

This is not the country I was born into.  I don't know what happened to it, but the madness of this country is so far beyond the election of Donald Trump it's almost an insult to the dead to mention him in the same conversation as this.  I will note the news pointed out this is the third mass shooting since Trump took office, and that's only been 13 months ago.  There have been 18 school shootings since the year started.

This is evil, and we are all complicit in it.  

And the toothpaste is out of the tube and the horse is out of the barn and....

Little Marco speaks:

Asked about a ban on guns like the AR-15, the semi-automatic assault rifle alleged to have been used in Parkland, Rubio said: “Number one, the law would not prevent these mass shootings. Number two, there are millions of them in the street already. They’re here to stay. The genie’s out of the bottle.”

People can buy liquor, people can drive cars.  That genie's out of the bottle.  There's nothing we can do to prevent, or even reduce, drunk driving.  That genie is literally out of the bottle.  Right, Senator?

He added: “That said, do I believe it should be harder to get one? Do I believe it should be impossible for someone to get one if they are under the condition that the shooter was in Parkland? Absolutely. And one of the problems we have there is we don’t have the complete mental health picture in the background check system.”

Please define the conditions under which "mental health" would prevent one from having access to a firearm.  Especially since we don't allow those under 21 to have access to liquor (because of DWI) simply because they are presumed to be mentally and emotionally immature for such substances, but we do allow them to have access to an AR-15.

Rubio brought up that same point later in the interview: “I don’t think people like this guy or people like him should have any gun. Not an AR-15, any gun. We need to create a system that keeps them from getting it. We don’t have one now that does that. That’s what I’m in favor of.” 

Based on the fact he used his rifle to shoot up a school?  What other basis would you use?

The Florida Department of Children and Families was tipped off about Cruz after he cut his arms on a Snapchat video and indicated that he planned to buy a gun, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The department even visited Cruz and questioned him before eventually determining that he “was at a low risk of harming himself or others.”

Because that one didn't work.

There is one gun control measure Rubio told DeFede he supports, one he wouldn’t have to vote on it either way: a state level proposal to allow police, with a judge’s order, to remove guns from the homes of individuals suspected of being mentally unfit to handle them.

“That is an example of a state law, that in this case, if it has been used could have prevented this,” the senator said.

No, it really, really couldn't.  People at low risk of harming themselves or others sometimes do harm themselves, or others; and sometimes they don't.  All the Senator is asking us to do is rely on a crystal ball.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Goin' back to school

The tweet Emma Gonzales was asked to respond to.

Or out behind the woodshed:

“I think the best way to deal with this is to ignore him,” [Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma] Gonzales asserted. “I think we can all agree that the things that President Trump tweets is nothing that will have a lasting impact — unless it’s a negative lasting impact — on the people around us.”

"At this point especially, the things that he mentions when he brings up talk of the FBI, he’s trying to blame somebody,” she added. “And we can’t let him do that. So, the best thing for us to do is to ignore him and to continue fighting our fight, the fight that he refuses to acknowledge. The fact that he refused to even tweet the word ‘gun’ in any of his tweets. And yet, he insists on tweeting, and he insists on blaming the Democrats for something that he did wrong — looking back into the past instead of looking forward into the future.”

“It’s disgraceful,” Gonzales concluded.
Trump's Twitter feed from last night puts me in mind of a small child hiding under the covers, yelling at the monsters to go away.  This young lady is more mature than he is.

How disgraceful is that?

And by the way:

Democratic chances of keeping one House seat in New Jersey and winning two more have improved, according to one of the Washington-based publications tracking congressional races.

While a president's party traditionally loses congressional seats in an off-year election, President Donald Trump is having an outsized influence in a state where only 34 percent in a Gallup poll approve of his performance in office.

"President Trump is fueling the Democratic Party right now," said Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections. "He's the reason for the energy. He's the reason for the campaign donations. He's the reason some of these candidates are getting into the race."
What's going on?

In 2013, 34 Republicans ran without major-party opposition. In 2015, that number rose to 44. But in 2017, it dropped to only 12. Six Republicans who lost their seats in 2017 held seats that were not contested in 2015.

Now in Texas, which recently had a filing deadline, Democrats are contesting 14 of 15 state Senate seats and 133 of 150 state House seats. In 2016, 60 Republicans ran without a Democratic challenger (out of 150 seats up for election) in the state House while six of the 29 state Senate seats up for election were uncontested (state Senate terms are staggered). 

"Donald Trump is fueling the Democratic Party right now."  I'm getting campaign material from Democrats for the Texas primary in amounts I've never seen before.  They mean to win the primary, and they mean to win in November.  What was once a lost cause is now a mission.

Thanks, Mr. President!

Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later

Predicting the future is hard!

As if to prove what I said earlier:

The Florida Department of Children and Families was tipped off about Cruz after he cut his arms on a Snapchat video and indicated that he planned to buy a gun, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The department even visited Cruz and questioned him before eventually determining that he “was at a low risk of harming himself or others.”
The future is really hard to predict:

“We did. Time and time again. Since [the accused shooter] was in middle school,” [Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez] replied. The accused gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been reported previously to the FBI.

“Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn’t know this kid! OK?” she shouted. “We did. We know that they are claiming that there are mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this is not just a mental health issue.”

“He wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife,” Gonzalez added.

“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said, sparking cheers and applause.

“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!” she added. A chant started up among those gathered: “Shame on you!”

“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this: We call BS!” Gonzalez said.

Probably another reason the POTUS is tweeting up a storm this morning.

The President Was Up Late Last Night

Because there are only three agents in the FBI (aside from Scully and Mulder) and they all work for Mueller. Right?

Yeah, it just slipped his mind. And that makes a HUGE difference in the investigation. Right?

The guy is scared shitless:

Black man in the White House!


U.S. officials blamed North Korea, saying the attack was likely a response to the planned release of a comedy film depicting a fictional plot to assassinate the country's leader, Kim Jong Un. The administration responded — publicly at least — with only additional economic sanctions, rather than a similar cyber retaliation.

"I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention," Schiff said during an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Russia's unusually brazen and "ham-handed" cyber campaign against the U.S. unfortunately coincided with a Republican candidate willing to embrace the help of an adversary, Schiff said.

"I'm certain that had John McCain or Mitt Romney been the nominee in 2016, they would have said, 'Russia, butt the hell out,'" Schiff said. "But that's not who Donald Trump was. 

"A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."--Paul Simon

Oh, so you do know what Schiff said!

Yes, Donnie, it's still all about you.

Gee, I wonder what prompted this twitter storm?

It's Worse Than We Thought

Trump took the same picture three times, and gave a "thumbs up" each time.

And puts them all on Twitter, because he is so proud.

Worse yet, apparently all his time was spent taking these pictures.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wait, What?

(Trump in Florida giving the thumbs up with first responders. He's so proud of this it tops his Twitter feed.)

Am I Mentally Ill Now?

Do I look mentally ill to you?

Q:  How do you know when someone is "mentally ill" and should not have access to firearms?

A:  When they have committed a mass shooting.

If the FBI had investigated Nikolas Cruz and taken action to dispossess him, legally, of his AR-15, imagine the outcry from the likes of Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.  Imagine the cries of the NRA, of every politician in Florida who has taken money from the NRA, of the President of the US, who was elected with the help of NRA money donated from Russia (you could look it up!).  Imagine the cries about jack-booted government thugs rappelling from black helicopter to take away the 2nd Amendment rights of this innocent adult (he was old enough to legally own the gun).

Because until somebody commits an act of mass homicide, how do we know they are "mentally ill" and shouldn't be in possession of a firearm?  We cannot jail people for their thoughts or their intentions.  I could announce today my intention to commit a criminal act and, if I did, the FBI or some law enforcement might come calling to talk to me, might even open a file on me.  But unless I was quite intent on engaging others in my plan (needing supplies, materiel, etc.), law enforcement couldn't infiltrate my plans and arrest me after I had assembled the illegal bomb but before I could plant it; or take me before I left the house that morning with the gun.

And they certainly couldn't begin proceedings to have me declared "mentally ill" (the preferred term of NRA apologists), and even if they did, I could rush to the school and start firing before the first court date.

So what is this crap about "mentally ill" people not getting guns which is meant to protect the 2nd Amendment from being shredded and is meant as the only way we can keep people from firearms in this country?  Because it only works in retrospect.  Nikolas Cruz was expelled from school, and reports are his mother called the police about him several times before she died.  Because he was mentally ill?  Or because he was violent?  Is violence a mental illness?  Is that how we should adjudge who gets a gun and who doesn't?  Had the FBI investigated Nikolas Cruz, could they really have done anything?  Might they have driven him to act sooner, rather than later?

"Mentally ill" is a dodge, and a cruel one.  It indicts people with illnesses that can't be cured by antibiotics, and it presumes people with true mental illnesses are necessarily violent and dangerous.  Nikolas Cruz was perfectly capable of planning his violence and carrying it out methodically, right down to his escape.  Whatever drove him, he couldn't have done it with easy access to a semi-automatic rifle, and the ammunition to load it.  His mental state is relevant to the crime he is charged with; it is not relevant to his ability to commit the crime.

We should not take the question of mental illness and firearm possession seriously.  It's not meant to be a serious issue.  It's meant to prevent us from doing anything to decrease gun violence in America by decreasing access to guns in America.

If it wasn't the weekend, he'd be reading it right now

“The president is right, in part of that response, in that that the efforts did start in 2014, but they heated up in the midst of 2016 when the Russians were instructed to help President Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton according to these indictment documents,” Phillip noted.
Or, to quote directly from the indictment:

By early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton.

Doesn't really matter when they started; it's what they did.

But it's still a hoax and a witch hunt, right?  These 13 indictments are fake news, right?  Maybe if our President could read.  Then again, 37 pages is beyond his attention span.  (Otherwise he might note the indictment says the actions begun in 2014 continued to the present.  Not really important when they started, it's when they stopped that matters.  And they haven't.  Now, about those sanctions on Russia you refuse to impose.....)

Morning Prayer

Somebody asked Antony, "What shall I do in order to please God?" He replied, "Do what I tell you, which is this: wherever you go, keep God in mind, whatever you do, follow the example of holy Scripture; wherever you are, stay there and do not move away in a hurry. If you keep to these guidelines, you will be saved."
I will kindle my fire this morning
In presence of holy angels of heaven,
In presence of Ariel of the loveliest form,
In presence of Uriel of the myriad charms,
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
Without fear, without terror of any one under the sun,
But the Holy Son of God to shield me.

Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
Without fear, without terror of any one under the sun,
But the Holy Son of God to shield me.

God, kindle Thou in my heart within
A flame of love to my neighbor,
To my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all,
To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall,
O Son of the loveliest Mary,
From the lowliest thing that liveth
To the Name that is highest of all.

O Son of the loveliest Mary,
From the lowliest thing that liveth
To the Name that is highest of all.

--from Carmina Gadelica