Monday Reads: and the beat goes on

5a07c9c80ea19b926bd8bac117a57dbbWhat can be said about the violence erupting around the country and around the world these days?  Words can fail us. We’re losing hearts and minds along with lives.  How did we get here?  I hope we don’t have to wait on historians to deconstruct the causes because we’re careening towards a future that seems better imagined by George Miller and Byron Kennedy of Mad Max fame.  Dystopian fiction should not actually portend reality. It should be a harbinger of possibilities we can avoid; not outcomes we bring on to ourselves.

Today will be another reminder that one of the two major parties has completely lost its ability to govern and is stuck some where  we should not be.  We have the Republicans about ready to nominate a dude that reminds me of the Dennis Hopper character in Water World.   Trump sounds as crazy as that character.  I’m waiting to hear his big convention floor speech and wondering if he’ll be waving a cigar and a bottle of Jack and be wearing an eye patch, frankly.  We’re losing our sense of community and our sense of responsibility as members of community.

Our sense of alienation perhaps comes from  a world where we are more likely to connect with technology than with a human being and where our jobs are continually dehumanizing us. This generally makes us susceptible to folks that play on our anger. We’ve had two very angry pseudo populists on the national stage who really represent privilege that have done a great job of stirring up resentment.   They’ve also stirred up some insane reaction to that visible resentment.  I personally am watching my neighborhood be torn apart by already rich people looking to make more money by dismantling everything and every one deemed unprofitable.  I feel like I only exist to many of them as a possible source of monetization although I can tell I’ve outlived my usefulness for that as an aging woman of little means these days.

How did we get to a point where one of the two major parties is actually going to nominate a man whose speeches call for the dismantling of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth amendments to our Constitution? Are we so far down the rabbit hole that we’ll actually sell out the rule of law for guns and anger?

Trump has from the start of his campaign sparked controversy with statements, actions, and proposals that disregard the First Amendment. He and his aides have created blacklists of journalists, and the candidate has expressed an interest inrewriting libel laws in order to intimidate, punish, and potentially silence critics of powerful individuals and interests. Trump has, as well, proposed schemes to discriminate against Muslims and to spy on mosques and neighborhoods where Muslims live—with steady disregard for the amendment’s guarantee of protection for America’s diverse religious communities.

But that’s just the beginning of Trump’s assaults on the Constitution. Trump has encouraged the use of torture and blatantly disregarded privacy protections that have been enshrined in the founding document since the 18th century. He has attacked the basic premises of a constitutionally defined separation of powers, with rhetorical assaults on individual jurists and the federal judiciary so extreme that House Speaker Paul Ryan described one such attack as  “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He has proposed instituting religious tests. He has shown open and consistent disregard for the promise that all Americans will receive equal protection under the law.

Many of us have long harbored the idea that today’s Republican Party only cares about the idea of a Second Amendment on steroids and Waterworld-Hopperthe rest of our civil liberties and rights should be damned.  The realities of what I used to believe were brief moments of paranoia are just on full display this week.  Have you seen the pictures of the up-armored bicycle police in Cleveland?  I mean, how Clockwork Orange is that? Don’t even get me started on the entire idea of letting folks with assault rifles into the protest pits to strut around like dildo-toting S&M bondage RPers who are likely trigger happy. We just had three police officers ambushed and killed in Baton Rouge and the response is to let more crazies out on the streets with guns?  Really?  Really?

Hours after the head of Cleveland’s police union pleaded with the governorto suspend Ohio’s open-carry laws during the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s spokesperson told ThinkProgress she is “not nervous at all” that people are walking around the city with assault weapons.

“I am recommending that people follow the law,” Katrina Pierson said Sunday when asked whether she believes people should arm themselves in the convention zone. Under Ohio law, residents over 21 years old who legally own a firearm can openly carry it in public.

In light of the shooting and death of three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association asked for an emergency suspension of the state’s open-carry law for the duration of the Republican National Convention.

“We are sending a letter to Gov. [John] Kasich requesting assistance from him,” union president Stephen Loomis told CNN. “He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.” Kasich denied the union’s request.

The violence in Louisiana on Sunday was only the latest in a series of deadly clashes between police and civilians over the past few weeks. When an angry, heavily-armed civilian began shooting at police during a Dallas Black Lives Matter protest earlier this month, the state’s open-carry law made it difficult for police to track down the assailant. Officers mistook at least one legally armed resident for a suspect, and the proliferation of guns made it more difficult for them to determine who posed a threat.

In the weeks leading up to the RNC, Cleveland officials expressed concern that Ohio’s law, like Texas’, would create a dangerous and hectic environment outside the convention.

2002-British-TVI’m going to put up a few links about what’s been going down in my state but I really have gone past words at some level. I have a few scattered thoughts. First, the two most recent shooters–while being black men–remind me more of Timothy McVeigh than anything coming from BLM.   These recent institutional shooters all have a military background and appear to have spent extensive time in theater over in the Middle East.

The Dallas police shooter was an army Vet and a “loner”.   The Baton Rouge Shooter was a former Marine.   Here’s a list of 22 serial killers with military backgrounds.  Are we really doing a good job of identifying vets with problems and helping them before setting them loose on society again?  Don’t we owe them and ourselves something at all?  If we broke them, shouldn’t we fix them or at least help them in some way to cope with their experiences?

There’s a lot of studies and work that’s been done that show PTSD contributes to violence. Are we just beginning to see some more of the real costs of invading Iraq and Afghanistan and sustaining a brutal ground war?

At the end of their 15-month tour in Iraq, the Lethal Warriors returned to Fort Carson with an impressive battlefield record, having cleared one of the worst parts of Baghdad, in some cases digging up IEDs with little more than screwdrivers and tire irons. Unfortunately, the Lethal Warriors achieved a kind of notoriety that was less for their battlefield exploits than for the battalion’s connection to a string of murders. In December 2007 two soldiers from the unit, Robert James and Kevin Shields, were killed, and three fellow soldiers were charged with murder. The killings were part of a larger pattern of violence extending back to 2005, including 11 murders, in what was the largest killing spree involving a single army base in modern U.S. history.

The increased violence around Fort Carson began at the start of the Iraq war. A 126-page Army report known as an “Epidemiological Consultation” released in 2009 found that the murder rate around the Army’s third-largest post had doubled and that the number of rape arrests had tripled. As David Philipps wrote in Lethal Warriors, his 2010 book about the crime spree, “In the year after the battalion returned from Iraq, the per-capita murder rate for this small group of soldiers was a hundred times greater than the national average.” Tellingly, 2-12’s post-traumatic stress disorder rate was more than three times that of an equivalent unit that had served in a less violent part of Iraq. The EPICON summarized all this in classic bureaucratic language, noting dully that there was “a possible association between increasing levels of combat exposure and risk for negative behavioral outcomes.”

Put another way, war has a way of bringing out the dark side in people.

Road-WarriorOur institutions seem to do be doing that to a lot of people.  Combine that with easy access to military grade weapons and candidates whose stump speeches bring on anger and resentment and you’ve just got some kind of accelerant to death and violence imho anyway.  Mother Jones has started to keep a database on mass shootings and the profiles of the perpetrators is really quite enlightening. This is from 2012 to get you situated.   Here’s the list of the deadliest Mass shootings from 1984 to 2016.  The US is resplendent with well-armed rampage killers. Many of them are trained and experienced killers, quite damaged, and have easy access to weapons.

This is a 2013 Wired article that shows that a lot of the killings at that time were associated with folks with no military experience at all.  A lot of these killers have a fascination with military life styles but that is more along the lines of militias rather than the US military.

The basic pattern found by the New Jersey DHS fusion center, and obtained by Public Intelligence (.PDF), is one of a killer who lashes out at his co-workers. Thirteen out of the 29 observed cases “occurred at the workplace and were conducted by either a former employee or relative of an employee,” the November report finds. His “weapon of choice” is a semiautomatic handgun, rather than the rifles that garnered so much attention after Newtown. The infamous Columbine school slaying of 1999 is the only case in which killers worked in teams: they’re almost always solo acts — and one-off affairs. In every single one of them, the killer was male, between the age of 17 and 49.

They also don’t have military training. Veterans are justifiably angered by the Hollywood-driven meme of the unhinged vet who takes out his battlefield stress on his fellow Americans. (Thanks, Rambo.) In only four of the 29 cases did the shooter have any affiliation with the U.S. military, either active or prior at the time of the slaying, and the fusion center doesn’t mention any wartime experience of the killers. Yet the Army still feels the need to email reporters after each shooting to explain that the killer never served.

How will these recent, targeted shootings of police change our ideas of mass, rampage shooters?  The Baton Rouge shooter has left a huge manifesto on various social media outlets that will likely be analyzed by crime profilers  and psychologists for some time.

Long posted dozens of videos and podcasts on his webpage “Convos With Cosmo” in addition to regularly tweeting and posting on Twitter and Instagram under the pseudonym “Cosmo Setepenra.”

In a video titled “Convos With Cosmo on Protesting, Oppression, and how to deal with Bullies” that was posted a week before Sunday’s shooting, he rants about “fighting back” against “bullies” and discussed the killings of black men at the hands of the police, referencing the death of Sterling, who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge earlier this month.

No matter what kinds of lessons we learn about motives or triggers to these kinds of horrible shootings, the one thing we do know is that we have scads of damaged men that have easy access to incredibly powerful weapons wrecking havoc on our communities.  We also know that there is a hard core group of gun fetishists and profiteers that don’t give a damn about that.  While ignoring the perpetual drip drip drip of lost rights from other amendments, the second amendment is being hyped, dosed, and morphed into something that it was never meant to be.  The Republican party is complicit to each and every murder victim.  Machine Guns are not protected by the Second Amendment.

A Texas man who sued the federal government because it wouldn’t approve his application to manufacture a machine gun doesn’t have a constitutional right to possess the automatic weapon, an appeals court ruled.

Jay Hollis sought permission to convert his AR-15, a popular semi-automatic firearm, into an M16 — an automatic firearm that is banned under federal law, except for official use or lawfully obtained pre-1986 models.

After he was rejected, Hollis mounted a constitutional challenge to the Gun Control Act of 1968 — which Congress amended in 1986 to make it illegal to possess or transfer newly manufactured machine guns. Among other things, he argued that an “M-16 is the quintessential militia-styled arm for the modern day.”

In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rejected Hollis’ arguments, categorically noting that “machine guns are not protected arms under the Second Amendment.”

The court explained that the leading Supreme Court precedent on the right to keep and bear arms, 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, only protected individual handgun possession for “defense of hearth and home.”

“Today … ordinary military weaponry is far more advanced than the weapons typically found at home and used for (self)-defense,” the court said, adding that machine guns are “dangerous and unusual,” and nothing like what militias might have used at the founding of the republic.

“Heller rejected a functionalist interpretation of the Second Amendment premised on the effectiveness of militia service,” the court of appeals said.

Aided by a number of gun rights groups, Hollis had pressed a number of other arguments — that anything that is “ordinary military equipment” is protected, that the Second Amendment really exists to allow a rebellion against the government, and that machine guns aren’t really “dangerous and unusual.”

The 5th Circuit was largely unimpressed, calling the last argument “tantamount to asking us to overrule the Supreme Court.”

We’ve got some major dysfunction in this country that can’t be more clearly represented than by the toxic Trump/Pence ticket.The problem is that a huge portion of our citizenship feels so disenfranchised that they seem to be in search of the end times.  Their viewpoints appear to be funded and shaped by the very folks that are making this happen.  The one thing that’s discouraged me most is that leftists are playing into a similar narrative.


It seems unlikely that Trump will be president.  I’d like to think that Hillary Clinton will be our shero. But, without a full functioning set of government institutions, how are we going to get beyond the Thunderdome? Why are we electing officials whose goal in life appear to be sabotaging our country?  If most people reject Donald Trump, why do we have a Speaker Paul Fucking Ryan whose favorite dystopian fiction writer has an overwhelmingly negative impact our US Policy?

As the GOP convention gets underway in Cleveland today, three national polls released over the weekend showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump: A CNN poll putting Clinton up by 49-42; an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll putting her up by 46-41; and a Washington Post/ABC News poll putting her up by 47-43.

But buried beneath the toplines is evidence of another dynamic that gets at something important about the state of this race: While both Clinton and Trump are very unpopular, large majorities in two of these polls believe that only one of them is qualified for the presidency, and equally large majorities believe that the other one is not.

The new WaPo poll finds, for instance, that Americans say by 59-39 that Clinton is “qualified to serve as president,” but they also say by 60-37 that Trump is “not qualified to serve as president.”

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Again, my hope is that Trump/Pence go down yugely and take the likes of Paul Ryan with them. You can’t have one set of them without the others who basically feel the same way but signal their intent with weasel words.

So, obviously, we down here in Louisiana are reeling from all the recent killings.  I think some of the policy prescriptions are obvious otherwise it will be upward and onward with “a bit of the old ultraviolence.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


41 Comments on “Monday Reads: and the beat goes on”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Your moment of hope and zen:

    21st Century Fox responds to report that Roger Ailes is out at Fox News

    Read more:
    Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

    • Fannie says:

      Thanks for putting the info on those serving in the military who are becoming involved in terrorism in this country. Terry Nichols, conspirator with Timothy McVeigh both met while in the service, Nichols was indeed a member of sovereign movement. He’s doing life at the Supermax in Florence, Colorado.

      I believe for a lot of the military it is related to mental stress, or a helplessness they might have upon returning home from service. We had a incident here in Boise, with an former military serviceman suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. They face horrible amount of emotions and end up with reputations that do not allow them back into the main stream, especially with jobs.

      As I stated earlier, many of the Sheriff’s department feeling like that ought to have the ultimate authority when it comes to crime and the penal codes, and government. Their oath, and their bullets seems to confront not only government, but citizens, and in this case in Baton Rouge, police officers being the target. The Christian militia groups are all over this country, and they are dangerous, as we have seen here in Idaho with Ruby Ridge.

      These men, these mass killers are taking a toll on our society, and it seems like all they do is shrug their shoulders like it’s normal. Just like in Ohio, the head of Police Union asked that their be a ban on open and carry weapons, but the Governor said No, he couldn’t consider a ban, not for one minute. Our heads keep reeling, and I am so saddened to hear the screams coming from family members, the crying, the sobbing, and all the pain, and continual anxiety.

      • Beata says:

        Current treatments used for PTSD are inadequate. For example, EMDR ( eye movement desensitization and reprocessing ) has little scientific research to support it and exposure therapy can have dangerous consequences if not used properly. We need to put much more money and research into PTSD treatment. Now.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Good post Dak. FYI…..My wife made the same Thunder Dome observation.

    The situation in our country leaves me speechless.

  3. William says:

    A good and heartfelt essay. Yes, it does seem as if things are falling apart. There are so many factors, it would be impossible to unravel them. Lack of historical knowledge and perspective among the populace. An insane Republican Party which seemingly would rather destroy the country than actually work with the Democrats. The internet, which allows for crackpots of all kinds to meet and support each other’s deranged philosophies. Violent video games. Too many movies and TV shows which glorify violence, and which perepetuate an “us vs. them” philosophy. Gun laws run amok, so that virtually everyone owns an assault weapon. And candidates who fuel and feed on anger, a sense that “we are being cheated, everything is rigged against us.”

    That kind of stoked up anger appeals to ignorant people. The media (how could I forget the media’s role?) does not explain or educate, it profits off the anger. The Sanders people are angry, the Trump people are angry, most interest groups are angry. It is legitimate to be angry at injustice, and want things to improve. But it is cheap and self-indulgent to be angry because you are not doing as well as people you think you are watching on TV. And the hucksters feed off this, like people selling bottles of colored water at a fair. Sanders told them that they should expect free education, single-payer health care, many things, without ever telling them that this would require tax increases which someone would have to vote for and pass. Trump feeds a general hatred of “the other,” and the ignorant belief that being tough will make all the problems go away. They are solutions for adolescents, but the adults of today are people who disdained learning; and who, like Trump, are too busy to read a book, and who think that they can get their knowledge from various websites. The flat earth society could easily make a comeback in this climate. All we can hope for is that there are still enough rational people out there to outvote the other ones, and who are open to learning things about the world, and governing, and reasonable solutions. Maybe these people will be less susceptible to the next group of con artists and demagogues who inevitably will come along. Let’s see if the young Sanders supporters show enough maturity to vote in great numbers for Hillary, and to keep a respectful silence when and if she chooses a moderate like Kaine or Vilsack ( certainly not my choices, but not unreasonable ones) as VP. I didn’t hear anyone complaining from Hillary’s side about Biden being chosen in 2008. You don’t get everything you want just because you get angry about it, and try to condemn and destroy those things which frustrate you.

    • dakinikat says:

      Thanks. I think we’re all trying to make sense of all of this. I’ve seen so many knee jerk comments on social media that I’m glad that we have our forum here to discuss things in long form.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think tearing down public education is part and parcel too. They want us job trained not educated.

    • Beata says:

      William, I don’t share your bleak view of society in general. People I know and talk to don’t seem angry. Neither do they seem stupid. They are living their lives peacefully. A lot of them are doing good works and trying to make the world a better place. Social media ( in which I do not participate ) can certainly make the country appear to have gone totally mad. However, it represents a small percentage of the American people and often creates false impressions. Of course, the Trump phenomenon is very disturbing but I’m not running down the street with my hair on fire about it yet. Indeed, I have serious doubts that Trump will be the Republican candidate come November.

      My 2 cents. I know you think it is worth much less. LOL.

      • William says:

        Not at all. I am always interested in reading your thoughts here. I agree that there are many people who go along and try to live decent lives. But there are too many angry people who grab at simplisstic solutions. If this were a reasonably sane society, Hillary would get 70% of the national vote, since Trump is an insane megalomaniac fascist, and I am being literal. The fact that the race is so close now is testament to people being so intransigently partisan, as well as not having the interest and/or ability to actually understand American social and political history. There is no excuse for anyone voting for him. So in that sense it indeed feels like some nightmarish dystopian novel. One can only hope that it has a better ending. If Trump is not nominated and some other Republican is, that one may well win; which would save us from a true madman, but would pretty much doom the country and planet even so.

        • Beata says:

          Well, “we shall see”, to use one of your favorite phrases. I think polls that reflect a close race now mean very little. Hillary will win in November because the majority of Americans are reasonably sane.

  4. janicen says:

    Yay. He’s tweeting:

  5. Beata says:

    If Hillary picks Tom Vilsack as her VP, I think his wife Christie Vilsack will be a fine addition to the campaign and the future Clinton administration. Ms. Vilsack is the USAID’s senior advisor for International Education.

  6. Fannie says:

    I wanted to see who else was listening to the bull shit at the Republican Convention……….excuse me, Rudy Gulliani, has got me reaching for my barf bag.

  7. janicen says:

    OMFG, Melania’s speech (which went pretty well when she delivered it) was ripped off, almost word for word, from Michelle Obama’s ’08 convention speech. This convention is a goat rodeo.

  8. ANonOMouse says:

    Is there ANYTHING about Melania that is original?

  9. Fannie says:

    She might be a model on a runway, but she is no model as wife, or mother. If she couldn’t think of words for her 17 years of married life, and motherhood, well, she made a huuuge mistake.

    Her and the Brief Master, Antonio Sabato, who lied about Barack Obama being a muslim for the last year, need to get back on the runway. And get the hell out of politics.

  10. vger says:

    I know that electing a President is serious business. I know the danger of a Trump presidency. I know what is at stake here. But I have been LMAO all morning with tweets and video clips about Day 1 at the RNC convention. (janicen…love the post.) Is this all for real? I will get serious and back to the issues but in the meantime, I am thankful for the laughs.