Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ending With A Whimper

I was all set to write about the end of the occupation in Oregon and what a waste of both time and life — and loss — it was, but Josh Marshall said everything I wanted to say and a lot better.

When I heard that [LaVoy] Finicum had died my own feeling was some mix of sadness and disgust – not because I sympathized with Finicum, he clearly seemed to want to end his life like this, but because of how sad and stupid it is to throw away your life over bullshit. He had a wife and eleven kids. No doubt they’re devastated. Even with the rankest violent white supremacists or jihadis who blow themselves up or get themselves killed, I can get that there’s a thing they’re doing, a set of beliefs, albeit crazy and totally evil. Here, though, these guys have this bucket of nonsense hocum about Magna Carta and Sheriffs somehow being the true “sovereigns” over state governments, federal governments, the people themselves and all of this means the federal government can’t manage and charge grazing fees for land that it in fact owns. These aren’t archaic ideas that were once true but are now outdated. This stuff was never true or even made any sense. Clearly, there’s a sense of alienation and entitlement and a cultural posture driving these beliefs but I’m sorry, that’s just a complete f’ing pile of nonsense that isn’t based on anything. Like I said, it’s sad to see someone throw their life away over bullshit. Not because Finicum matters to me but because senseless bloodshed is sad and stupid and with any life ultimately tragic.

There are still some holdouts at the Malheur facility, but I hope that it is now over.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oregon Update

After more than three weeks at a standoff, things are coming to a boil at the occupied federal bird sanctuary in Oregon.

NBC News:

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, the brothers leading anti-government protesters occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, and six other people were arrested Tuesday, state and federal authorities said. One person was dead, the FBI said.

Shots were fired about 4:25 p.m. (7:25 p.m. ET) when the FBI and Oregon State Police began an “enforcement action” in connection with the occupation, the FBI said.

Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, 54, was killed, his daughter, Challice Finicum Finch, confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday night.

“We all thought it would end, but not like this,” Finch said. “My dad did stress that they wouldn’t pull a gun on them [officers] unless they pulled a gun. They were all committed to not firing on federal agents.”

Finicum himself told NBC News the same thing in an interview Jan. 6. In the interview, he said that he had no intention of being taken into custody, preferring death to jail.

“There are things more important than your life, and freedom is one of them,” he said at the time. “I’m prepared to defend freedom.”

Three other people were arrested in addition to the Bundys in the initial incident, authorities said: Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada; Shawna Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana.

Two more — Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona, and Peter Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati — were arrested later in separate but related incidents, the FBI said.

Let’s hope that is the end of it.

Short Takes

Cleveland Police fires, suspends officers over deadly 2012 shooting.

Lead pipes not being removed from Flint water system.

F.B.I. arrests Milwaukee man for planning temple attack.

Denmark approves seizing refugees’ valuables.

Italy covers up nude statues during Iran presidential visit.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Armed and Treasonous

Charlie Pierce on the current occupation of federal land by anti-government seditionists in cammy-jammies.

This is an act of armed sedition against lawful authority. That is all that it is, and that is quite enough. This is not “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” Flipping off the governor as he drives by is “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” What Alex Jones does every day is “an expression of anti-government sentiment,” and god bless them all for it. That’s what the Founders had in mind. This is not an “occupation” following “a peaceful protest.” That would be all those folks who got bludgeoned and pepper-sprayed out of Zuccotti Park a couple of years back. (And when exactly did ABC News decide it wasn’t a news organization anymore?) These are men with guns who have declared themselves outside the law. These are men with guns who have taken something that belongs to all of us. These are traitors and thieves who got away with this dangerous nonsense once, and have been encouraged to get away with it again, and they draw their inspiration not solely from the wilder fringes of our politics, either. Ammon Bundy and his brothers should have been thrown in jail after they gathered themselves in rebellion the first time.

This is another step down the road that leads to the broken shell of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. There are respectable people in our respectable politics who have been shamefully silent on the subject, and there are respectable people in our respectable media who seem terrified of calling this what it is. You want an example of the deadening effect of “political correctness” in our politics? Watch what the people running for president have to say about this episode. Look at how it is being framed already—or ignored entirely—by the elite political media. There is a constituency for armed rebellion in this country that is larger than any of our respectable political and social institutions want to admit. It is fueled by reckless, ambitious people who engage in reckless, ambitious rhetoric.


There is no actual tyranny in this country against which to take up arms. There is bureaucratic inertia. There is pigheaded bureaucracy. There even is political chicanery. But there is no actual tyranny in the Endangered Species Act, or in the Bureau of Land Management, or in the Environmental Protection Agency, or in the Affordable Care Act, or in IRS dumbassery, or even in whatever it is that the president plans to say about guns in the next week or so. Anyone who argues that actual tyranny exists is a dangerous charlatan who should be mocked from the public square. Anyone who argues that there is out of political ambition, or for their own personal profit, should be shunned by decent people until they regain whatever moral compass they once had.

It does us no good to ignore what is going on in this obscure little corner of the Pacific Northwest. It does us no good to refuse to hold to account the politics that led to this, and the politicians who sought to profit from it. It does us no good to deny that there is a substantial constituency for armed sedition in this country, and to deny the necessity of delegitimizing that constituency in our politics, and the first step in that process is to face it and to call it what it is.

And, in related news, of course, Tamir Rice is still dead.

If these clowns were were black, brown, or not Christian, there would be body counts and Fox News carrying on like white trash in a hurricane.  But these are white dudes and therefore they are freedom fighters.

Short Takes

Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran after attack.

Armed group vows to continue occupation of federal wildlife refuge center.

President Obama plans executive action on gun violence.

6.7 magnitude quake hits near India-Burma border.

Winter will finally arrive in the East as the Midwest cleans up.

Top aides to Ben Carson quit his campaign.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tough Call

There seems to be a bi-coastal debate on whether or not the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District did the right thing in closing the entire system yesterday because of a bomb threat.  The New York City school system received basically the same threat, yet they remained open.

Did LAUSD overreact and play into the jittery nerves of a public already ginned up by recent events and bloviating presidential hopefuls, or did they do the right thing by being better safe than sorry?  Did New York tempt fate by staying open, or did they do a better job than LA of evaluating the situation and determining that it wasn’t a credible threat?

As you probably know, I work for a pretty large school system; the fourth largest in the nation, in fact.  I imagine we get situations like this on a regular basis, but so far we have yet to be shut down completely by something like this, and I know that we have a plan in place for how to deal with it should it happen.  I am sure that it would be implemented based on the knowledge at hand in the moment, not on the political climate.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bratton made their decision based on their situation, not on how Los Angeles dealt with it.  So getting into a debate about who was right and who was wrong is beside the point.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Short Takes

San Bernardino couple plotted attack two years ago.

Chicago Mayor Emmanuel demands sweeping police reforms.

President Obama took a swipe at Donald Trump while commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on a University of Texas affirmative action case.

Planned Parenthood shooter proclaims he’s a “warrior for babies.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Short Takes

Trump calls for complete ban on Muslims entering America.

F.B.I. talking to man who bought the guns used in the San Bernardino massacre.

Supreme Court refuses to hear assault weapons ban case.

Opposition wins big victory in Venezuela.

Global emissions of greenhouse gases were down slightly last year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Just Another Day In America

Charlie Pierce:

I don’t even know what to say anymore. The only things that seem newsworthy about what happened in San Bernardino are the circumstances of the murders. The facts on the ground as first reported are as strange as they are garish. At the moment, we are being told that there were as many as three shooters, that they were wearing body armor, that they were carrying “long guns,” that they were wearing “tactical gear,” and that they got away, leaving a “suspicious package” lying around the Inland Regional Center conference facility where 14 people (at last count) were shot to death. All of this is, of course, subject to change. There may only have been two shooters, but there also may be more people who died. Otherwise, it’s just another day in America, another day with another mass shooting, another day in which people decided to exercise their Second Amendment rights in very inconvenient ways.


Very nearly three years ago—​damn near three fcking goddamn years ago!​—Adam Lanza shot up the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and we all were supposed to learn something. What we learned is that this country’s insane attachment to its firearms is well-nigh unbreakable. Less than a week ago, Robert Dear shot up a Planned Parenthood facility, and we were all supposed to learn something. What we learned is that the people who deal in inflammatory mendacity for their own political advantage are well-nigh unshakable. No matter what “motive” ostensibly was behind what can legitimately be called the “attack” in San Bernardino, there is no question that there is murder in this country’s heart now, not buried very deeply at all any more, and that there are people who are more than willing to act on it. This is a ferocious loss of faith in democracy, in the project of creating a viable political commonwealth. It is aided and abetted by a revolting firearms fetish that is exploited by cheap and miserable politicians. I don’t care anymore about pointing out who may or may not have blood on their hands. It’s knee-deep, and we’re all in it.

By the numbers:

Mass Shootings in America 12-03-15

The worst part of this is that we have become so numb to this. The body counts, the “breaking news,” the meaningless search for sense. We’ve gotten way past outrage and just given up.

Short Takes

The death toll is 14 in the shooting in California.  Two suspects dead; one detained.

House passes sweeping reform of No Child Left Behind.

New arrests in corruption investigation at FIFA.

Britain votes to join air strikes against ISIS.

Texas sues to block resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Yet Again

Another mass shooting, this time in San Bernardino, California.

Police were searching for up to three suspects Wednesday in connection with a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, where up to 14 people were killed and as many as 14 more were wounded, authorities said.

“The suspects have fled,” said San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan. “We don’t yet have a motive.”

At least one of the suspects was believed to be wearing tactical gear, the NBC affiliate KNBC reported.

“I know we do have some fatalities,” Lt. Richard Lawhead of the San Bernardino police told KNBC. “But I don’t know the numbers.”

It’s too late to talk about gun control.  Let’s talk about madness and mayhem.

Short Takes

Chicago police chief fired in the wake of murder charges against officer.

Four men charged in shooting incident near Black Lives Matter protest.

State Department warns U.S. citizens against travel to Mali.

Bipartisan talks in Congress come up with $300 billion highway bill.

Jury still out on the verdict in the Massey mine explosion trial.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

“They Got What They Deserved”

When someone shoots up a medical clinic and three people are killed, you’d think that civilized people would condemn that as a horrible thing.  But there are those who shrug it off as collateral damage.

The National Right to Life Committee said it “unequivocally condemns unlawful activities and acts of violence regardless of motivation,” and Americans United for Life said, “We categorically condemn this violence.” But in interviews with MSNBC, some grassroots abortion opponents across the country also pointed the finger at legal abortion itself.

“After all these years and millions of babies that have gone to their death, violence is to be anticipated,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League, in a phone interview with MSNBC. “Because it’s acceptable to violently kill a baby, so why isn’t it acceptable to violently kill other people?”

“We never approve of violence against anybody, whether it’s the unborn babies or the clients of Planned Parenthood or anybody else,” Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League, told MSNBC. But, she added, “it’s not the fault of the pro-life movement that someone found out that Planned Parenthood is doing these things. It’s the fault of Planned Parenthood for selling the baby parts.”

Abortion is still legal in this country, as is the use of fetal tissue in medical research.  There are strict guidelines for both and Planned Parenthood, by all accounts, including through investigations conducted by states with anti-choice legislatures and attorneys general, has been doing both within those legal guidelines.

Justifying the death of people by the terrorists is terrorism itself.

Short Takes

In Paris, President Obama urged world leaders to follow the U.S. in dealing with climate change

Karma: Smog covers a large portion of Southeast Asia as the climate summit begins.

Suspect in the Planned Parenthood shooting appeared via video in a Colorado court to be arraigned.

Officer in Chicago shooting makes bail.

Chinese renminbi approved as a main world currency.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Monday, November 30, 2015

They Can’t Figure It Out?

There seems to be some hesitation about saying what the motivation might have been behind the shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic last Friday in Colorado Springs.  At least on the part of some in the media.

The shooter who killed three and injured several others at the site of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs remains something of an enigma, and while both sides of the political aisle have chimed in about the shooting it isn’t clear at all that he was particularly or specifically motivated by politics to commit his crimes…

So suddenly the mantra is “no rush to judgment” as to the motives of this killer?  Well, that’s fine, but the next time — and there will be a next time — that there’s a mass shooting done by a person who isn’t white or against a target that harbors conservative ideology, let’s all stroke our chins and wait until all the evidence is in, shall we?