Sunday Reads: FFS, It has to stop.

 

Today’s post is a bit all over the place…so I hope you can follow it…my brain is feeling the effects of the tRump presidency and it has become almost debilitating. I feel like I have some form of OCD, there is the constant itch in my thoughts. I can’t get rid of it. Like some kind of diseased earworm that has set root deep in my mind. I cannot stop thinking about tRump and what he is destroying. Everything is crumbling before me. The itch is so bad, that I almost feel like grabbing an ice pick and jamming it in my ear. If only to get these tRumptonian thoughts out of my mind.

So let’s try and get through this thread…

China Says All Trade Progress Is Off If U.S. Imposes Tariffs – Bloomberg

All commitments made so far in talks with the U.S. over trade will be withdrawn if President Donald Trump carries out his threat to impose tariffs, China said Sunday.

While both sides reported some progress in discussions this weekend about how to reduce China’s $375 billion goods-trade surplus with the U.S., Trump’s revival last week of a plan to slap tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports has cast the talks into turmoil.

“If the U.S. rolls out trade measures including tariffs, all the agreements reached in the negotiations won’t take effect,” state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday, citing a statement from the Chinese team that met with a U.S. delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Does that also include the agreements made regarding the new tRump Tower and all those convenient new trademarks Ivanka was granted…(which we will touch on in a moment.)

The Xinhua report came after Ross met Sunday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He for talks that Ross called “friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items.” At the same time as negotiators focus on technical steps to reduce the U.S. deficit, Trump’s swerve has rattled Beijing as it raises the possibility that any agreement made could be simply torn up by the president.

“China is concerned over the U.S.’s unpredictability, especially after Trump turned an about-face on tariffs,” said Gai Xinzhe, an analyst at Bank of China’s finance institute in Beijing. “Trump needs to give out more goodwill in exchange for really productive negotiations. Bluff, threat, and willful moves might work in business bargaining, but they could backfire in talks among nations.”

Yada, Yada, Yada…haven’t we heard this before? I think someone who is very fond of pantsuits brought this particular negative trait of tRump’s personality up during the debates? I don’t know…maybe I am wrong, but I know we have talked about it countless times here on the blog before that anus-lipped tangerine turd was installed in the White House.

‘Speed dating’: Critics worry Trump is already handing propaganda victories to North Korea – The Washington Post

When former president Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea in 2009 on a humanitarian mission to free two U.S. journalists, he delivered strict instructions to his team ahead of their meeting with dictator Kim Jong Il: “We’re not smiling.”

In several photos, including a formal portrait with their hosts in Pyongyang, Clinton and his aides kept their game faces on — looking serious and determined, befitting the tone of the mission, according to a person familiar with the trip.

President Trump took a decidedly different approach on Friday when he welcomed a North Korean official to the White House for the first such meeting in 18 years. Trump beamed as Kim Yong Chol — a former spy chief accused of masterminding the sinking of a South Korean navy vessel in 2010 that killed 46 sailors — presented him with a cartoonishly oversize envelope containing a letter from Kim Jong Un, the nation’s current dictator.

The two posed for a photo in the Oval Office with Trump proudly showing off the envelope — an image that White House aides promptly distributed to the public.

The warm display left some former U.S. officials who’ve negotiated with North Korea arguing that Trump had already handed Pyongyang another public relations victory before winning concessions on its nuclear program.

“No question this is speed dating,” said Christopher R. Hill, a former State Department diplomat who led the U.S. delegation in the Six-Party Talks with North Korea during the George W. Bush administration. He recalled being rebuffed in his bid to personally deliver a letter from Bush to Kim Jong Il — in a standard business-size envelope.

By contrast, Hill said, the North Koreans already “have gotten the whole enchilada” from Trump.

So tRump is fucking us with his outright dangerous display of foreign relations and execution of foreign policy…

Yeah…what else is new?

 

Did you see this bit?

 

 

I feel like we have been on some kind of hamster wheel of that replays itself every day…this cycle of tRump chaos and scandal and destruction of democracy…is leading to one thing. Desensitization.

Sort of like that opening scene in Boyz in the Hood, where the kids are desensitized to the violence in the street…as they walk home from school. Calmly explaining the process of decay in a bloody crime scene.

Which later comes to a point where the bloody scene has moved beyond this to an actual dead body lying beside a railroad track, as young teens discover the body and young adults play football. The violence and murder is no longer an issue for the young adults…the teenagers are disturbed by the smell but do not react more than that, as they too are desensitized to the fact that murder and death is a common occurrence in there everyday world.

Boyz n the Hood Turns 25 – Blog – The Film Experience

That link will give you a look at the scene…from a film critic perspective. I thought it was a good one. Like I said my post is all over today.

My point being, this is a tactic. A tRump way of controlling and manipulating things, an authoritative government…administration at work. And the media is complicit in its actions in bringing about the downfall of democracy.

 

Donald Trump Has Been Lying to the American Public, and Journalists Need to Call Him Out | Teen Vogue

President Donald Trump’s lies are well documented. PolitiFact estimated that from June 2015, when he announced his campaign, until November 2016, when he won the election, almost 70% of the things he said publicly were “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” On May 1, The Washington Post reported that as of that date he had issued 3,001 false or misleading statements since taking office, averaging almost 6.5 a day, up from 4.9 over the first 100 days, when the newspaper first started keeping track. The president of the United States is basically an anti-reality Pez dispenser. So why does the media often avoid using the word “lie” when reporting on all of his false claims?

Lately there has been a reinvigorated conversation around labeling something a lie. The debate boils down to a question of intent: Journalists who are most cautious with the “lie” label argue that we cannot truly know Trump’s purpose for shitting on the very concept of facts. Is he working off of misinformation? Is he exaggerating with his “Art of the Deal” tactic of “truthful hyperbole”? Is he hallucinating an anthropomorphic pumpkin that is telling him what to say? We are not inside the president’s brain, they argue, and so we cannot know.

One such journalist is Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent for The New York Times. On Sunday, May 27, she responded to criticism about her frequent refusal to use the word “lie” in her work with a series of tweets. “I have written stories about his lies, falsehoods, whoppers, half-truths, salesman-like stretches,” she tweeted. “The reality is that what he does can be hard to label because, as anyone who has worked for him will tell you in candor, he often thinks whatever he says is what’s real.” As far as I’m concerned, all of those euphemisms for “lies” still mean lies, and if, as Haberman asserts, he really believes them, then she should report that it is also possible that the president is out touch with reality.

By the way, Haberman is one of the authors of an article in the New York Times that is getting a lot of attention recently…I have more on that later on in the thread.

Duca continues:

As the leader of the country, Trump is the core source for our perception of the state of the union. Once he took office, his abusive relationship with the truth came with the official seal of the White House, and that is of crucial importance. The Trump administration is now waging an unprecedented campaign of disinformation on the American people. The president of the United States is working to undermine our shared foundation of truth so that we have no choice but to accept his version of reality.

Trump himself has reportedly admitted that this is his aim. On stage at the Deadline Club Awards Dinner on May 21, 60 Minutes host Leslie Stahl told PBS Newshouranchor Julie Woodruff that Trump told her he undermines the press so that the public will have no grasp on what is true. During an informal meeting with then candidate Trump in 2016, Stahl said, she asked Trump why he was constantly attacking the media. “He said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,’” she told Woodruff. If this is true, and those are Trump’s intentions, the endgame is to deprive journalism of any value whatsoever.

Read the rest of the piece, it brings up the Matthew Pottinger shit too….

 

Much of Trump’s war on the truth appears to be based in exploiting widespread media illiteracy among the citizenry. Journalism is not about striving to appear fair, but maintaining a rigorous objectivity for the purpose of serving the public. The ultimate allegiance of the press is to our fellow citizens. It is crucial that journalists do a better job at explaining our purpose and be radically transparent with all editorial decision-making. That means calling a lie a lie, and if we don’t, then fully providing readers with the reason why the word “lie” is not appropriate, along with context for understanding this administration’s abusive relationship with the truth.

[…]

Authoritarianism works to corrode our shared foundation of truth, pushing us to a point where we so doubt our own sanity, it becomes too much of a chore to even care what is true. Such is the goal of the Trump administration: to bombard us with so many conflicting versions of reality that we throw our hands in the air and give up on being certain about anything at all. The falsehoods, whoppers, and salesman-like stretches all come down to this: Without the truth, we have no foundation from which to resist.

Fucking Hell…

I really should end the post on that huge point alone…but there are a few other things I want to bring to your attention…real quick.:

Trump’s Lawyers, in Confidential Memo, Argue to Head Off a Historic Subpoena – The New York Times

You have probably already read the article…here are a few thoughts on it:

 

 

Since I’ve started writing this post, the tangerine turd has hit twitter again.

 

 

A few responses to that:

 

 

Philippines Duterte tells U.N. human rights expert: ‘Go to hell’ | Reuters

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has told a U.N human rights expert who said the country’s judicial independence was under threat to ‘go to hell’, warning against interference in domestic affairs.

If the UN ever sends a human rights expert to the US to check up on the obvious offenses going on at our southern border…I bet we would hear the same shit coming out of tRump’s mouth.

Let’s take a look at some more tweet shit storms:

 

 

As far as tRump using Melania’s twitter account…there is precedent:

 

 

But…keep this in mind, as BB wrote about yesterday as well…:

 

 

On Ivanka Trump and her trademarks…

 

On the New York Times Bullshit:

 

 

My head is spinning…I need to stop this post now.

This is an open thread…try to have a good day.


Tuesday Reads: Jeff Sessions Dog Whistles Dixie

3-1trumpsessionsbabyjpg-ff85ad365d53b7aeThe first of our new theocratic, Putin-loving, grifter overlords is sitting in front of a Senate committee with absolutely no vetting being grilled and testified against by his peers. Neoconfederate radical christianist Senator Jeff Sessions can sure tell some whoppers and he sure does whistle Dixie.

In an unprecedented move, Senator Corey Booker has chosen to testify about Session’s treatment of the law and of black people.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is set to testify against Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday in an unprecedented move during his attorney general confirmation.

This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.”I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said. “But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”

Sessions’ confirmation hearings, which started Tuesday, are expected to raise additional questions on old allegations of racism from his past. When Sessions was a 39-year-old US attorney in Alabama, he was denied a federal judgeship because the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony during hearings in March and May 1986 that Sessions had made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”

Booker told CNN on Tuesday morning shortly before Sessions’ hearing started that it was “consequential moment.”

“This is one of the more consequential appointments in American history right now given the state of a lot of our challenges we have with our policing, a lot of challenges we have with race relations, gay and lesbian relations,” Booker said.

LIVE Trump confirmation hearings: Jeff Sessions’ first hearing

Representative John Lewis will also testify against Sessions along with my Congressman Cedric Richmond who will represent the Black Caucus and me for that matter.1-20

Several other prominent African-American figures in addition to Booker also plan to testify against Sessions, including two members of the House: Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s; and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The NAACP has also strongly opposed Sessions’ nomination, calling him “a threat to desegregation and the Voting Rights Act.”

Sessions is a hodgepodge of bad things. He’s failed to disclose his oil interests and ethnics experts are taking issue.

Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions did not disclose his ownership of oil interests on land in Alabama as required by federal ethics rules, according to an examination of state records and independent ethics lawyers who reviewed the documents.

The Alabama records show that Sessions owns subsurface rights to oil and other minerals on more than 600 acres in his home state, some of which are adjacent to a federal wildlife preserve.

The holdings are small, producing revenue in the range of $4,700 annually. But the interests were not disclosed on forms sent by Sessions to the Office of Government Ethics, which reviews the assets of Cabinet nominees for potential conflicts of interest.

crowej20161121_lowHe is currently up on the stand doing things like telling Dianne Feinstein that he really thinks Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional and badly decided but it’s established law.  He’s explaining his vote against laws to protect women victims of violence as being against the establishment of the rights of Native Americans to hold trials against accused rapists in their own courts.  He’s just a big ol’ bug hiding nasty fangs and a poison sac right out there for every one to see.

You may want to read the story of Sessions and his role in prosecuting the Klan to really understand how deep his southern roots go.  Sessions has also testified he loathes the clan today.    Sessions apologists hold this case up as proof he’s really not all that racist.

letter from 23 former assistant attorney generals cited the fact that he had “worked to obtain the successful capital prosecution of the head of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan” as evidence of his “commitment to the rule of law, and to the even-handed administration of justice.” The Wall Street Journal said that Sessions, “won a death-penalty conviction for the head of the state KKK in a capital murder trial,” a case which “broke the Klan in the heart of dixie,” and The New York Post praised him for having “successfully prosecuted the head of the state Ku Klux Klan for murder.” Grant Bosse wrote in the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leaderwrote that “when local police wrote off the murder as a drug deal gone wrong, Sessions brought in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and brought Hays and the Klan to justice.”

Sessions himself recently listed the case as one of the “ten most significant significant litigated matters” he had “personally handled” on his Senate confirmation questionnaire. And in 2009, Sessions told National Review that there had been a campaign to “smear my record,” whereas in fact, he had “prosecuted the head of the Klan for murdering somebody.”

No one involved in the case disputes that Sessions lent his support to the prosecution. “Not all southern United States attorneys welcomed civil-rights division attorneys into their districts back then,” said Barry Kowalski, a former civil-rights division attorney who was one of the main lawyers on the investigation, and who defended Sessions in his 1986 confirmation hearing. “He did, he cooperated with us completely.”

However, in seeking to defend Sessions from charges of racism, Sessions’s allies, and even Sessions himself, seem to have embellished key details, and to have inflated his actual role in the case, presenting him not merely as a cooperative U.S. attorney who facilitated the prosecution of the two Klansmen, but the driving force behind the prosecution itself. The details of the case don’t support that claim.

188054_600You can read the details in the feature I’ve linked to which came for The Atlantic.

The Sessions hearings are on CSPAN if you want an uninterrupted view of it all. The Hill has a list of five things to watch. This first one is as important as questions on policing and voting rights.

 

Does he detail Trump’s plans on immigration?

Sessions is known as the foremost immigration hawk in the Senate, so you can bet he’ll be pressed on an issue that has liberals on edge in the age of Trump.

Expect Democrats to come armed with statistics challenging the notion that illegal immigrants are flooding across the southern border; that crime is out of control among illegal immigrants; and that President Obama has not done enough to deport those in the country illegally who have committed other crimes.

In addition, while it won’t necessarily fall under his purview at the Justice Department, Democratic senators will likely look to score political points by challenging Sessions on the complications of building a border wall.

And they’ll likely look to get him to say that he won’t move to deport, en masse, the estimated 10 million illegal immigrants in the country, and in particular the estimated 700,000 young undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

As president, Trump could do away with that program by executive order.

cxkiwkrxcaar5ywI have to work and grade today but will try to follow comments on Twitter.  They are plentiful.

I could use a few donations if you have a few bucks to spare.  Our TypeKit subscription is up in January. It’s not a lot, but every little bit you can help me defray would be great.  It basically keeps our nice logo up there in its cursive glory

So, anyway, I’ve got to go warp minds and grade papers.  BB’s successfully moved to her new apartment too!  She’s patiently waiting for the cable guy.  JJ is still with her mom in the facility and is having up and down days.  We’re just happy to have you all here for breaks in our mundane lives!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


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.

Title: BLADE RUNNER ¥ Pers: SANDERSON, WILLIAM / HANNAH, DARYL ¥ Year: 1982 ¥ Dir: SCOTT, RIDLEY ¥ Ref: BLA040BT ¥ Credit: [ LADD COMPANY/WARNER BROS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

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?

 


Tuesday Reads: West, Texas; Boston; Biohazards; and Erosion of Constitutional Rights

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Good Morning!!

I thought I’d start this morning’s post with something beautiful before I get to the news of the day. I came across these amazing photos of birds yesterday–a nice reminder that the natural world can nourish us emotionally and provide respite from startling events and frustrating news that surrounds us in the supposedly “civilized” world of humans.
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Now some news…

The fertilizer plant disaster in West, Texas is still under-reported. From what I can tell from following the story on twitter though, people are hurting down there and really need help. Here are a couple of updates I found this morning.

From CBS in Dallas: West Fertilizer Plant Explosion Cause Could Take Several Weeks to Determine

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is investigating the blast along with the Texas State Fire Marshal.

State records reportedly show the West Fertilizer plant had a yearly capacity of 2,400 tons of potentially explosive ammonium nitrate.

So far, according to the ATF the only possible contributory cause that has been eliminated from consideration is the weather.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers arrived on scene Monday to assist investigators in assessing the 93 by 10 foot crater.

On Monday, the U.S. Homeland Security Department said The West Fertilizer Co. facility isn’t currently regulated under a department program that’s designed to reduce the risk of terrorism at certain high-risk chemical facilities.

CBS-11 has learned Homeland Security is now looking into whether the facility should have submitted paperwork about the chemicals stored at the plant to determine if it should be regulated.

The Christian Science Monitor says, Smoking gun in West, Texas, fertilizer blast: lack of government oversight

Although the cause of the blast is still undetermined, what is clear is that the West Fertilizer Company stored large quantities of highly reactive products, including anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate, in the middle of a small town with very little oversight from state or federal agencies. Ammonium nitrate was used by the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1995, killing 168 people. The West, Texas, explosion killed 14, and injured nearly 200.

Texas does not have an occupational safety and health program that meets federal requirements. The federalOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is therefore responsible for ensuring the safety of potentially dangerous workplaces like the West facility.

OSHA has inspected the West plant exactly once in the company’s 51-year history. That 1985 inspection detected multiple “serious” violations of federal safety requirements for which the company paid a grand total of $30 in fines. OSHA’s 1992 process-safety-management standard for highly hazardous chemicals is supposed to protect against disasters like the West explosion, but it wasn’t in place for that inspection.

Regardless, OSHA lacks the resources to undertake the kind of comprehensive inspection needed to ensure compliance with the process safety standard at small facilities like West Fertilizer Company. OSHA’s tiny staff of around 2,400 inspectors is spread so thin that it would take more than 90 years to conduct even cursory inspections of all eligible workplaces in Texas.

That’s pretty horrifying. I have to wonder how many other fertilizer plants like this one are out there like ticking time bombs.

Common Dreams calls attention to another horror story that affects all of us. “You and Your Family Are Guinea Pigs for the Chemical Corporations: How Americans Became Exposed to Biohazards in the Greatest Uncontrolled Experiment Ever Launched”

A hidden epidemic is poisoning America. The toxins are in the air we breathe and the water we drink, in the walls of our homes and the furniture within them. We can’t escape it in our cars. It’s in cities and suburbs. It afflicts rich and poor, young and old. And there’s a reason why you’ve never read about it in the newspaper or seen a report on the nightly news: it has no name — and no antidote.

The culprit behind this silent killer is lead. And vinyl. And formaldehyde. And asbestos. And Bisphenol A. And polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). And thousands more innovations brought to us by the industries that once promised “better living through chemistry,” but instead produced a toxic stew that has made every American a guinea pig and has turned the United States into one grand unnatural experiment.

Today, we are all unwitting subjects in the largest set of drug trials ever. Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself has begun monitoring our bodies for 151 potentially dangerous chemicals, detailing the variety of pollutants we store in our bones, muscle, blood, and fat. None of the companies introducing these new chemicals has even bothered to tell us we’re part of their experiment. None of them has asked us to sign consent forms or explained that they have little idea what the long-term side effects of the chemicals they’ve put in our environment — and so our bodies — could be. Nor do they have any clue as to what the synergistic effects of combining so many novel chemicals inside a human body in unknown quantities might produce.

Read it and weep.

Down in South Carolina, Elizabeth Colbert Busch and disgraced former Governor Mark Sanford met in a debate in the race for the district one congressional seat, and Busch got personal.

Read the rest of this entry »


Blueprint For Accountability, Long Overdue

Mark your calendars for this Tuesday, March 27th, 7:00 pm [EST].  Why?  The Culture Project will be running another of its Town Hall discussions, a live stream production from Georgetown University.  Stellar participants include:  Eliot Spitzer, Matt Taibbi, Dylan Ratigan, Ron Suskind, Van Jones, Heather McGhee and Jessie LaGreca.  See brief bio background here.

The discussion topic?  It’s all in the title—accountability, the very essence of a sound democracy, yet sadly, an ingredient we’ve seen purposely, repeatedly ignored and shunned by government and corporate leaders alike.

Occupy Wall St. brought public attention to the problem—the yawning divide between the 1% and everyone else.  Now, the hard work begins: how do we, public and private citizens alike, steer ourselves back to the premise that the Rule of Law is essential and applies to everyone.  How do we make our demands felt inside a broken, corrupt system, where our vote is compromised by big money, our voices drowned in the sludge of corporate and financial interests?

The plan or blueprint needs fresh dialogue, new ideas.

What precisely is the Culture Project? you might be asking. From the site:

CULTURE PROJECT is dedicated to addressing critical human rights issues by creating and supporting artistic work that amplifies marginalized voices. By fostering innovative collaboration between human rights organizations and artists, we aim to inspire and impact public dialogue and policy, encouraging democratic participation in the most urgent matters of our time.

The Accountability series is a slight departure from what the group has done before—programs addressing human rights issues.  But in a sense all of our rights are at peril, as is self-evident in the on-going Presidential campaign rhetoric.

The first of the series was launched with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in a discussion on torture and the War on Terror.  Subsequent presentations featured Robert Kennedy, Jr. ,who spoke to the continuing diminishment of American values and Cornell West last September spoke on the 40th Anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion.

I wasn’t aware of these programs.  Hattip to Alternet for bringing me up to speed and alerting readers about the program scheduled for Tuesday night

This is another example of networking getting the message out and a live stream presentation made available, reaching a far wider audience than would normally be the case.

Personally, I’m a great fan of Eliot Spitzer.  Despite his past personal problems, I think he has a true gift in explaining the financial/legal shenanigans that Wall St. adopted and continues to practice as business as usual. All at the expense of the American public.  Dylan Ratigan has his own MSNBC TV show, Monday through Friday.  He’s a former financial guy himself and has a book out “Greedy Bastards,” which has spent weeks and weeks on the NY Best Seller’s List. He’s been screaming daily about the country’s breakdown, the systemic corruption and lawlessness pervading everything—the financial sector, education, healthcare, energy, etc. Matt Taibbi writes for the Rolling Stone and has been equally merciless in calling the TBTF’s out for the highway robbers they were and continue to be.  Add the other voices on the panel and I suspect the conversation will be lively and worth the 2-hour investment of time.

Live stream program will be found here.

Should be an interesting, informative night.  Let the brainstorming begin!