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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 8

Will Munny: It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.
The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming…
Will Munny: We all got it coming, Kid.
     - Unforgiven, 1992

 


Update at the end of the post.


 

So, a guy walks into a crowd and starts killing people…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

What?

Oh, you have. Well, yeah, I guess it’s been done to death by now, hasn’t it?

Honestly, you have to wonder if nowadays the news media just keeps a generic boilerplate for American gun violence:

<Insert Location>, <insert time/day>, a young <white/black/Latino/Asian/other ethnic minority> <man/woman (it could happen)> wearing <all black/tactical gear/fatigues/body armor> stormed into <his former place of work/his ex-wife’s place of work/a mall/a school/a movie theater/other crowded public venue> and started shooting people with <(liberal audience) a fully automatic assault rifle/(conservative audience)semi-automatic AR-15 Chinese-made clone>.  Witnesses say that the <(liberal audience)gunman/(conservative audience) terrorist> was shouting <”Obama is the Anti-Christ!”/”Allah Akbar!”>  as he methodically moved from room to room shooting <(circle all that apply): co-workers/family members/ethnic minorities/gay people/former bosses/children/teachers/government employees>.  <Police/Forensic Experts/Random people on the street> say that the gunman had enough ammunition and high capacity <(if reporter actually knows anything about guns)magazines/(knows nothing)clips> to <kill dozens/render New York a lifeless wasteland>.  After killing <insert number> and wounding <insert number>, the gunman <was shot dead by police/turned his weapon upon himself/taken down by a heroic good guy with with a concealed carry permit/captured alive but is now in a coma from his injuries>.  A <(liberal audience)rambling letter/(conservative audience)manifesto> found on the gunman’s body declared his hatred for <the mind destroying evil of Monsanto and Big Oil/the gay agenda FEMA death camps of the New World Order>. Friends and family say he was <a nice quiet guy with mental problems/a murderous raving lunatic with mental problems).  <Roger Powderburn from the National Man-Gun Love Association/Sally Tofuburger from Mad American Mothers Against Mass Murdering Machine-Guns!> called for <mowr guns!/mowr gun control!>.  Powerburn was quoted as calling the women of MAMAMMMG gun grabbing <Nazis>. Tofuburger called the men of NNGLA child murdering <Nazis>.  <Talk radio pundit> immediately declared the shooting to be <a staged event/false flag operation> by <”crisis actors”/the nefarious machinations of cats/Illuminati/FEMA/Barack Obama/Dick Cheney/Nazis/All of the above). In response to the increasing gun violence, the US House of Representatives voted for the <42nd/49th/101st/etc> time to repeal Obamacare.

Ten (fifteen? twenty? I dunno, I lose track) mass shootings back, I wrote The Seven Stages of Gun Violence.

In that essay I said:

Mass killings are still big news. I have no idea how much longer this will be so, Americans quickly grow bored with sequels. Unless the next act of mass murder is done by a guy in a Bruce Willis costume shooting a chain-gun from the back of a crashing stealth fighter in the middle of Times Square, I suspect that eventually we’ll just stop watching.

I don’t know that we’re entirely bored with gun violence just yet, but we Americans are certainly suffering from gun violence ennui.

In Los Angeles, last Friday, a young white male wearing fatigues stormed into Terminal 3 of LAX Airport and started killing people with a semi-automatic civilian version of the AR-15 assault rifle. Witnesses say the the gunman asked people “Hey! Are you TSA?” as he methodically moved through the crowd shooting at security agents. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the gunman had enough ammunition to “have  literally killed everyone in that terminal.”  After shooting a TSA agent dead and wounding two other security personnel, the gunman was himself shot multiple times by police and taken into custody. The gunman is currently in the intensive care unit of a local LA hospital and unable to talk to police due to his extensive injuries.  A rambling manifesto found on the gunman declared his suspicion of the government in general and the TSA in particular and mentioned fears of a New World Order. Friends and family say that he’d always been a nice guy but they’d grown worried in recent weeks over his sudden raving lunacy and they were concerned that he might be suffering from mental problems.  Gun advocates led by the National Rifle Association blamed restrictive gun laws and called for the arming of TSA agents.  Gun control advocates called for stronger measures to restrict widespread access to assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Alex Jones speculated that this latest shooting is part of a false flag operation by the United Nations to take away American sovereignty in preparation for the New World Order in advance of an invasion by alien reptiles from Zeta Reticuli. A spokesman for the US House of Representatives condemned the attack and spoke at length about congress’ ongoing inquiry into the manifold failures during the rollout of President Obama’s signature Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act…

By Sunday, headlines for the shooting had dropped below the front page fold.

By Monday, news of the shooting had fallen off the front page entirely – despite the fact that there was yet another incident of gun violence that evening at a mall in Paramus, New Jersey. 

By Tuesday, the LAX Airport shooting didn’t appear on any of the major news media feeds – a direct measure of public interest, or lack thereof (though late Tuesday afternoon, the media did mention the memorial service for slain TSA agent, Gerardo Hernandez). And there was yet another mass shooting at a barbershop in Detroit and another one in Mississippi.

image

 

By today, Wednesday, the big new feeds are full of speculation about Twitter’s IPO and Chris Christie’s landslide victory in New Jersey and the shooting has become mostly forgotten history.

Even the usual conspiracy mongers are mostly quiet, though the paranoia-porn fetish site Infowars posted an article about the unfair persecution of those folks who trade freely in unhinged gibbering psychosis – charmingly, it only took two comments under the article for the Hussein Obama Hatin’ New World Order conspiracy nuts to point out that the LAX shooter’s name, Ciancia, contains the three letter abbreviation for the Central Intelligence Agency. Not once, but twice.

lol ...
.CIAnCIA ..

the Progressive steaming pile-- do they think nobody would ever notice or have the guts to point out his name?? or are they just that arrogant?? --

if the shooter is connected to the Government they die right then and there ---while the patsy icon shooters always survive so the media can refer to their status instead of discussing real news

meanwhile a kid carrying a toy gun is riddled with bullets -- or a man with a knife in his own front yard is executed--

Paul Ciancia.

Ciancia.

Get it?

Because apparently Obama’s One World Illuminati Bilderberg Space-Reptile Magic-Negro Government secretly rules the world from their hidden lair beneath the Denver Airport while constructing clandestine FEMA Death Camps and monkeying with our healthcare, but just somehow isn’t creative enough to name their suicide agents “Smith” or “Johnson” or even “Mohammed.”

No, apparently the only name Obama could come up with for his CIA false flag agent provocateur was, uh, “CIA ‘n CIA.” 

You want to actually feel your brain cells dying? Go read the rest of the 500+ comments under the article on Infowars, the above commenter is one of the saner ones – maybe he’s getting free meds through Obamacare. 

Question: If the law mandates that we put warning labels on cigarettes, booze, and HipHop albums, why isn’t conservative talk radio required to be labeled in a similar fashion? 

No seriously. 

Before the blood was even dry at Sandy Hook, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre blamed the violence on video games and Hollywood,

"There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows violence against its own people."

LaPierre went on to call out specific Xbox and PlayStation games such as Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat.

So why isn’t LaPierre this morning condemning  conservative talk radio (and his own NRA for that matter) for their unending hysteria fueled conspiracy theories, their repeated strident calls for “Second Amendment Solutions,” and their constant urging of armed uprising against the democratically elected government of the United States?  After all, wasn’t the LAX shooter carrying their literature and ideas?

Wayne? Hello? Anything?

No, I thought not.

For the most part, other than among the Alien Reptile Armada waiting behind the moon for Obama’s signal, interest in the LAX shooting dropped off within a day or so.

Now, obviously I can’t prove that this is the far end of the curve I predicted when I penned The Seven Stages Of Gun Violence. We’ll need a couple more public shootings to be sure.  Maybe one more elementary school, one more congresswoman shot in the head, one more movie theater, a couple more mass shootings on military bases, to be sure I mean.

So, at the current rate of gun violence and public shootings, figure what? A month, month and a half?

Cynical? Who me?

I could be wrong of course.

In fact, I probably am.

Likely the rapid decline in interest pertains just to this particular incident.

After all, the gunman was targeting a government organization despised by both the Left and the Right.

Sure, the gunman opened fire in a crowded airport, but he only targeted the people that we all hate, right?

And besides, it’s not like the they didn’t have it coming, right?

The only government agency more hated than the Transportation Security Administration is the Internal Revenue Service – and even that’s open to debate.

Since the first day of operation, November 19th, 2001, the TSA has been routinely compared to the Nazis.

Glenn Beck has directly stated that he believes that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration are the shock troops of some secret army answerable only to Barack Obama.  A large number of his followers apparently regard this idea as a given. Wading through the various theories on how exactly Obama plans to have this unarmed “army” take over America when they can’t even defend themselves from a single gunman is an exercise in raving unhinged spittle-flecked insanity – i.e. just another day in the comments section of The Blaze and at Infowars.

Anne Coulter declared airport screenings “Hitler’s last revenge” – because apparently der Fuehrer was deeply concerned that terrorists might hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings in America 70 years after his own death. 

Beck, Coulter, Limbaugh, Jones, Savage, and conservative talk radio et al wield the Nazi label with wild abandon, conveniently forgetting that they themselves loudly demanded airtight security with regards to public transportation after the horrific events of September 11th, 2001 and in response to every single airline security issue since – from the Shoe-bomber to the Underwear Bomber to imagined boogymen like exploding Islamic breast implants and Improvised Explosive Sikh Turbans.

Back in 2010, a Libertarian Party candidate for New Jersey governor, one Murray Sabrin, penned a piece for the Economic Policy Journal titled “We Are All German Jews Now."  Because, obviously, the next step is for Obama and the TSA to start herding airport passengers into cattle cars on the way to Texas gas chambers. And if you think think that kind of hysterical libertarian fear mongering is past us, get a load of Rachel Burger, writer for the Feminist Libertarian site, Thoughts On Liberty

Burger writes of Gerardo Hernandez, the slain TSA agent:

[…] Hernandez died in a terrible reminder of how horrible people can be, but that does not mean he was guiltless.

Burger goes on to say that the LAX shooter, Ciancia, didn’t have a beef with the travelling public or innocent civilians, only agents of the hated TSA. Which in Burger’s mind means that Hernandez was a legitimate target and that he got what was coming to him:

Paul Ciancia was a sick and violent murderer, and Gerardo I. Hernandez, the slain TSA agent, was an actor on behalf of the American government that is denying rights to its people.

Least you think I’m reading too much into that, Burger specifically restates and clarifies her reasoning in the comments under the article. She specifically says Hernandez had it coming:

Saying Hernandez was not guiltless and that he had it coming/deserved to get shot are two very different ideas, and I only subscribe to the former.

(Edit: I’ve been accused of misrepresenting Ms. Burger’s position. Addendum at the end of the post, see below)

Burger justifies this ridiculous and despicable worldview by dredging up the Nazis,

As a Jew, I am consistently reminded of the Nuremberg Trials. Those who slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust were “just following orders,” but that did not mean that they were any less accountable. Just following orders, just doing the job that they signed up for, did not excuse their actions. Of course, the Nuremberg Trials specifically addressed war crimes, but I think that the idea of just following orders extends beyond that. Being an ethical person requires critical thinking about everyday actions, whether commanded or not.

Hernandez signed up to the TSA, an organization devoted to “protect” travelers from terrorists. He could have had very good reasons to do so: he could have believed in the mission and needed to support his family (and on not very much, I might add). He was not a decision maker—he was an everyday guy doing his job. Hernandez, when infringing on Fourth Amendment rights, was “only following orders.” He might have been a good guy at home, but he was not entirely innocent in this situation. Doing without introspection does not absolve evil deeds.

Too bad, as a Jew and all, Burger doesn’t have a better grasp of the fact that those on trial at Nuremberg were there not only because they “were just following orders” but also because they were the type of people who justified murder and violence by stereotyping groups of people they hated and with the logic of “Jawol, it vas a terrible thing, but … vell, you know, ze Juden had it coming.”

Burger tosses in a caveat, a quick get-out-of-jail-free card, by saying that she doesn’t condone what Ciancia did.  Violence, Burger says, is never the answer, however…

And there’s always that however, isn’t there?

[…]Infringing on life and liberty can come at a high cost, and that includes death. Ciancia did not object to the TSA in the right way, but he did have every right to feel disdain for their agency […]

How, exactly, the TSA in general and Hernandez specifically, were “infringing on Ciancia’s life and liberty Burger leaves as an exercise for the reader. Last I checked, TSA agents were confined to screening airline passengers in airports, not dragging ethnic minorities from their homes in the middle of the night and shipping them off to death camps. 

Maybe it’s just me.

She concludes with this bit of dazzling logic:

The answer is not stricter gun laws or mental health screenings, the answer is a smaller state.

The answer, my shiny electronic friends, is not laws that keep weapons out of the hands of crazy people, it’s less government

The logic apparently being that if there wasn’t any TSA, there wouldn’t be any TSA to hate and kill.

Sort of like, if there aren’t any Jews … well, you can do the rest of the math for yourself, remember to divide by Hitler and factor the result by the square of a logical fallacy times the Second Amendment.

Burger’s bio says, “When Chuck Norris needs advice, he comes to Rachel Burger.” 

That might indeed explain Norris’ behavior during the last election, but I digress.

The comments under Burger’s article are informative. Many, including Burger’s own friends, vehemently disagree with her premise. 

But many others piled on:

[…] Agencies like the TSA (or law enforcement, or the "private" corrections industry, etc.) are increasingly becoming employment holding facilities for otherwise-unemployable Americans who are largely unable or unwilling to reflect on the ethical ramifications of their nine-to-five.

It never occurs to any of these commenters, or Burger herself, or the talk radio pundits, that ethics aren’t an absolute.  That, in point of fact, the only people who attempt to codify ethics into rigid black and white terms, into my way or the highway, into you’re either with us or against us, are folks like, well, Hitler.  It never occurs to any of these libertarian patriots that liberty, freedom, means that other people are going to choose differently than you. If you require men like Gerardo Hernandez to work only at jobs that meet your definition of ethical or risk a well deserved death then I’m not sure exactly which political system you’re referring to but it’s for damned sure not liberty.  And where, exactly does this end? Where does the twisted reasoning of “they have it coming” end? What other undesirables have it coming? Oh, yes, Ms. Burger, do let us go down that road, let’s follow it all the way to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen – as long as you’re speaking as a Jew and all.

It never occurs to any of these commenters, or Burger herself, or the talk radio pundits, or those that so utterly hate and despise men like Gerardo Hernandez, they they are engaged in the exact same stereotyping and bigotry they claim to hate, the exact same form of stereotyping and bigotry that leads directly to the very purges people like Burger claim to fear.  When you justify “they have it coming” with reasoning such as “otherwise-unemployable Americans who are largely unable or unwilling to reflect on the ethical ramifications” without any shred of supporting proof for your position, then that’s exactly what you’re doing. They seem utterly incapable of seeing their own staggering hypocrisy and they write off men like Hernandez and his fellow agents along with law enforcement, the military, and other selected government workers, as dim witted Morlocks incapable of getting either a “real” job or of examining their own lives in the kind of ethical detail Burger reserves for herself.  So, of course, those people just have it coming. Of course they do.

It never occurs to any of these commenters, or Burger herself, or the talk radio pundits, or those that so utterly hate and despise men like Gerardo Hernandez, that perhaps those members of the military, of the Transportation Security Administration, of Homeland Security, of law enforcement, have examined the ethical ramifications of their chosen profession. In detail. That they wrestle with the ethics of their profession every single day as they set about doing their best to prevent another 9-11, another Pearl Harbor, another mass shooting, another dead American.  Perhaps they see it as unethical to allow another airplane to be turned into a weapon of mass murder, to allow another innocent to die at the hands of insanity. Perhaps they see themselves as standing between their homes and war’s desolation. Perhaps they see it as their duty to protect their friends, their families, their country, and the very people who hate and openly despise them and who compare them to Nazis each and every day.

So, a guy walks into a crowd and starts killing people…

I don’t know what the answers are, but I do know this: blaming the victims is exactly, exactly, what the Nazis themselves did.

And there’s absolutely nothing funny about that punch line.

At all.

 

 


Addendum:

Readers, both in the comments and in some truly obnoxious email, have accused me of misrepresenting Rachel Burger’s ideas.

Allow me to clarify:

Burger makes it clear in the context of the overall article, including its title, that she does very clearly believe that as a member of the hated TSA Hernandez did indeed have it coming.

Now, it’s true that she did not say that he “had it coming.” 

In fact she denies that’s what she said or meant – this being the point of contention.

She’s just plain full of it.

And so are her apologists.

They’re just playing at semantics. 

Allow me an illustration, one applicable to a self-declared feminist-libertarian like Burger:

This woman, she’s a decent person at home, at work.  But she’s attractive and she dresses in a manner that shows it off.  She likes to go clubbing on the weekends. She likes to dance provocatively, but she goes home by herself.  Men say she’s nothing but a cock tease. One night she has a bit too much to drink, she staggers out to the dark parking lot alone … and is attacked and violently raped.  The rapist is sick and violent, we can all agree to that, right?  But, see, the woman, she’s not guiltless in this matter.  If she hadn’t gone out wearing a short skirt and low cut blouse, if she wasn’t attractive, if she wasn’t a tease, if she hadn’t been drinking, if she hadn’t walked out to her car alone, if she’d had a male as a protector like any decent moral woman – if she hadn’t been engaged in evil deeds – well, she wouldn’t have gotten violated.  The woman certainly didn’t deserve to get raped, but, she was sort of asking for it, wasn’t she? If she hadn’t made the choices she did, she wouldn’t have gotten raped, would she?

How about it?

Are you going to let me off the hook on that bullshit? Are you really?

Wait, I didn’t tell you what she did. I said she was a decent person at home and at work, but what if she was a lawyer? One that specialized in defending the mob or former Concentration Camp SS guards or maybe child rapists? What if she was an exotic dancer and she spent all week half-naked wrapped around a pole for money? How about if she’s a doctor? One that works for the Virginia Attorney General? One that believes and publically states that any woman who wants an abortion should be subjected to a forced inter-vaginal ultrasound as a condition for the procedure? Would that change your mind? Would you think she maybe had rape coming then?

Would you let me off the hook if I made her into an employee of some hated profession?

Would you really let me off the hook if I tried to say, well, hey, you know, I’m not saying she deserved it, but you can kind of understand how she might have had it coming and all…

Do you think that a self-declared feminist libertarian would let me off the hook on that bullshit?

If I protest that, hey! Whoa! Hang on, let me repeat I didn’t say she deserved it. I’m just saying that if you’re a member of a sick society, if you behave in a certain manner, if you work for certain people, there’s going to be consequences. If I say that, if I use that to defend my position, are you really going to argue that I’m not blaming the victim? Are you really going to argue that I didn’t in fact specifically imply that she had it coming – whether or not I used those exact words? Really?

Because that’s exactly, exactly, what Burger is saying regarding the death of Gerardo Hernandez. 

Her essay makes absolutely no sense otherwise.

It’s the core message of Burger’s entire article: Hernandez made himself a target because he chose to work for the TSA.

The TSA is the new Gestapo. The TSA are just like the Nazis – and Burger as a Jew knows what she’s talking about when it comes to Nazis, doesn’t she? She makes that quite clear when she attempts to argue from a position of authority, i.e. by specifying her particular religion and how it gives her perspective on the Nuremberg war crimes trials at the end of WWII. The people who work for TSA are incapable of understanding the ethics of their actions.  Therefore, if you work for the TSA you’re guilty of being a Nazi by association – this is the specific unambiguous conclusion of Burger’s very first statement:

Hernandez died in a terrible reminder of how horrible people can be, but that does not mean he was guiltless.

Burger specifically says that even if you’re “just following orders” you’re no less accountable.

He might have been a good guy at home, but he was not entirely innocent in this situation. Doing without introspection does not absolve evil deeds

Evil deeds. Accountable. No less guilty.

Ciancia only targeted the TSA. Because the TSA is engaged in evil. Hernandez wouldn’t have gotten killed if he didn’t work for TSA.

He might not have deserved it per se, but by default he sure had it coming.

Whether Burger and her supporters want to admit it or not, that, right there, is the message of her essay. 

Murder, rape, they just go to show you how horrible people can be, but that doesn’t mean the victims are guiltless. Right?

Hernandez had it coming. 

Just like the woman who got raped had it coming.

Burger’s apologists want me to let her off on the former statement, but would (I hope) never let me off on the second.

Burger can deny her meaning all she likes, but she’s just arguing semantics.

 


Addendum 2:

In her most recent comments, Burger says, “In fact, the word "Nazi" does not appear once in my post…”

Talk about complete and utter disingenuous bullshit.

As a Jew, I am consistently reminded of the Nuremberg Trials. Those who slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust were “just following orders,” but that did not mean that they were any less accountable

If Burger is not talking about Nazis, as a Jew who exactly is she talking about?

As a writer, Burger fails at both logic and integrity so utterly that it boggles the mind.


I stand by what I wrote. Burger is a tool.


 

The first seven parts of this essay are here:
Bang Bang Crazy, Part One
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Three
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Four
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Five
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Six
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Seven

And the article referenced in the text above:
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

114 comments:

  1. Best comment of the article : "If you require men like [slain TSA agent] Gerardo Hernandez to work only at jobs that meet your definition of ethical or risk a well deserved death then I’m not sure exactly which political system you’re referring to but it’s for damned sure not liberty."

    Great piece, Jim. I see you're studying the Declaration of Independence. That's cool.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The addendum is spot-on, too. I say this speaking as a professor of English (I teach writing) and as a linguist (re "playing at semantics"). People try to hide their bullshit behind "I didn't use those exact words" all the time; all it takes to see through their idiotic cover is two or three spinal vertebrae & an IQ higher than 15. Next they'll be saying "I'm going to kill you" & "I'm gonna kill you" are, omg, two totally different things, how could you ever think I might say the latter, it would be improper!

      Delete
    2. Re addendum #2 : Burger says she didn't even use the word "Nazi"! I think I nailed that one in advance.

      Delete
  2. love how you think! if only i was this articulate. since i am not just imagine that i am thinking 'yeah' 'YEAH' and 'HELL YEAH' (with the occasional fist pump) throughout my reading of your posts.

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  3. I honestly believe that people who throw around the term "Nazis" and compare getting (mostly) non-invasively screened to make sure your underwear isn't wired for detonation to being robbed of all you own, shoved into a cattle car with a bucket for sanitation, railroaded to a death camp, gassed with your family and having all the gold ripped out of your teeth and your skin made into a nice lampshade…people who make these obscene, imbecilic, insane comparisons, should be made to go through the Holocaust Museum and visit all the sites of the Nazis death camps and read every damn book on what really happened there before they are ever allowed to speak in public or write another damn word EVER AGAIN.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. A-freaking-men Rebecca!

      Beth

      Delete
    2. Also gotta love how he basically goes "I'm a Jew, THEREFORE I can make all the holocaust and nazi comparisons I want and you have to accept my arguments as valid."..

      Debating does not work that way.

      Delete
    3. "She," not "he," Rens -- Rachel Burger, writer for the Feminist Libertarian site, Thoughts On Liberty.

      Delete
    4. Oops, missed that. My bad.

      My argument stands, regardless.

      Delete
  4. I have missed (well, not really) comments on other sites that have recently upgraded and my old, slow, soon to be replaced computer cannot access comments anymore. I think I should be thankful for that. I really don't need to read such bile as the RWNJs and their dittoheads put out. The blinding, screaming hypocrisy is amazing. Where were Beck, Coulter, etc, when TSA was formed? Oh, wait, there they were, demanding the formation of the TSA. Now that there is a different (way different) man in the White House, they forget about ever advocating for the TSA. Surely in internet world there are videos of these hypocrites praising TSA as a necessary step to keep ourselves safe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hooah Jim! Alas- debating with conspiracy theorists and far right wingers is like having a logical discussion with a paranoid schizophrenic. When a person lives in a world not based in reality and has fear of the rational world there is no reaching them. I find it apalling so many people follow what these ranting fearmongers spew. THAT is the dumbing down of America. I live in Virginia. We just had a gubanatorial election and had to choose between a driven narcissist with perfect white teeth and a bible beating lunatic. The red in the state chose the bible beating lunatic, and the blue in the state chose the narcissist. If you look at the map the blue seems to be centered around college towns, DC, and military bases. The rest is red. The fact the blue edged out the red seems a triumph of the educated over fearmongers. For now. The victory was 2%. I suppose the answer of my very red leaning neighbors is to just give everyone rapid fire weapons and let them duel it out, since rational debate cannot be had. Sad commentary on my beloved country.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Whoa. I also live in Virginia and while I won't quibble too much with your characterizations of the gubernatorial candidates (I call it two chumps and a fake independent) you really go way too far in saying that all the red in the state, seen on a map, are explicitly fearmongers and (implied) uneducated. Apparently because they voted for a bible beating lunatic over a driven narcissist (is that not also a mental condition?). I don't quite think the evidence is there to support your characterizations and conclusions, and would caution against stereotyping all the red as uneducated fearmongers.

      Also, if you take another look at the map you might notice that Virginia Beach is the home of Naval Air Station Oceana, not an inconsequential military base, as well as a couple of other military bases. Yet it is red on that map. Without checking every military base in Virginia I'm willing to bet there are others in red counties/cities as well.

      A more accurate geographical generalization, if such is needed at all, is that areas with high population densities tended to be more blue, and lower population densities tended to be more red. But rather than draw conclusions from geographies, I recommend demographic comparisons instead, and avoiding terms like uneducated and fearmonger altogether.

      Delete
    2. On might note that the blue voting areas on the map follow the VRE and AMTRACK commuter lines to DC bedroom communities serving the Capitol, while three of the counties in red are home to the scientists and engineers of two major R&D facilities, so the correlation between education and county voting patterns may not be valid.
      The candidate spectrum ranged from an unknown, to a guy who came across as having just unloaded a questionable used car and finally one that seemed to really want to be somewhere else. Pretty hard to get inspired overenthusiastic about any of them.

      Shadow

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    3. I stand by my characterization. No it is not official - I am no reporter- I am giving my opinion. And I was afraid- yes very afraid- that a bible beating, misogynistic candidate only lost by 2%. And yes- DC bedroom corridors or not- college towns went blue outside of large population centers. I am willing to bet that blue areas around military bases included votes by ticked off civil servants- like me- who were furloughed. And yes- I hate it that Virginia has resisted any regulation of firearms whatsoever- causing consternation to our neighboring states that do have some rational checks in place concerning the purchase of firearms. Thus my statement that dueling may be reinstated- it would make as much sense.

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    4. Merely pointing out a salient observation based on local transportation arteries. That one finds blue areas around colleges and universities is unsurprising, I remember what a number of my colleagues, outside STEM, were generally like, back when I was teaching.
      Myself, I see the furlough and sequestration as a production of all the federal elected officials, executive and legislative. One side refusing to even have meaningful discussions, the other having excessive demands.

      Shadow

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    5. "One side refusing to have meaningful discussions..." About what? Giving congress a second crack at a law it had already passed without passing any additional legislation?

      Yeah, let's discuss that. How 'bout we do that with the Patriot Act RIGHT FUCKING NOW. How about the wiretap immunity law? Let's get right on that, 'kay?

      This "both sides" nonsense is pure bullshit.

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    6. I respectfully disagree: that the law has already been passed is immaterial, laws, acts and codes are constantly modified, amended and repealed, it's one of the great strengths of our system. This one has already been so treated via executive order and Health and Human Services regulation.
      I have absolutely no objection to revisiting the Ptriot Act or any other law, act or regulation.

      Shadow

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  6. Thank You, Mr. Wright!

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  7. "You want to actually feel your brain cells dying?" Loved that line. That intro was brilliant, too. Excellent article as always.

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    1. I think that pretty accurately describes what happens on reading almost any news media comments thread. You can almost feel the oxygen being wasted.

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  8. Small typo noted in this sentence Jim: The logic apparently being that if there wasn’t any TSA, there would be any TSA to kill.

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    1. Fixed. Thanks.

      Think I got most of the rest.

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    2. There's still that "Least you think that I'm reading too much into..." part.

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  9. Despite the typo (-;, still a fantastic article.

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  10. First time reader. You're a clear thinker and a brilliant writer.

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  11. It does irk me that the same people that said nothing during the Patriot Act and TSA start up are now whining about freedom. And to the Nazi theme, if you are ignorant of the real Nazis, please visit Nuremberg and see the Nazi propaganda filming stadium...it is chilling. The museum there is a grew resource for those that care enough to become enlightened. Thanks for the great post.

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    1. Yeah, well, back then the president wasn't, you know, black.

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    2. That is exactly right... the racists and the xenophobes and the misogynists love to cry "tyranny" when they don't like the race or gender of a political leader.

      When the political leader is a 'god-fearing' white man, who's super friendly to business and high on de-regulation, well then, domestic surveillance programs are just the price of "freedom." [insert eye-roll here]

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  12. How could anyone blame Mr. Hernandez or indicate that he "deserved what he got" and actually write about it or hold their head up in public (or private)?. Stupid question, I know.
    I don't enjoy going through the security lines but I know it is for a reason however much I do or don't agree with it. We ARE a nation of laws and if a law annoys me or you, it is a small annoyance. If it (the law) helps even one other in any way, it is something we (all of us) can at least tolerate and endure. Such a small thing in the overall events of our lives.
    I just don't understand these people who believe that their life or their existence is all that matters on this planet.
    I'm not expressing myself well. My only excuse is that this has touched me deeply and I'm not able to be totally rational at this point. Sorry.
    surfpnsbch

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    1. You expressed yourself just fine. "I just don't understand these people who believe that their life or their existence is all that matters on this planet." Exactly.

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  13. As usual, a good and thought provoking essay. Thank you.

    A few typos:

    ethnic
      A large number of his follows apparently regard this followers

      A large number of his follows apparently regard this Think too much/many

    regards,
    Mapache

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  14. Sorry, the first typo came from this: "......"

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  15. Blogger isn't cooperating.

    "... A large number of his follows apparently regard this..."

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  16. Sorry


    correcting the correction: white/black/Latino/Asian/other ethic minority

    Should be ethnic minority

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  17. "over his sudden raving lunacy": how can it be avoided when millions of Americans are repeatedly subjected DAILY & HOURLY to conservative nutty talking heads going the extra 500 miles to scare the hell out of them with conspiracy theories of the worst kind, apocalyptic predictions of threats so over the top it would require a straightjacket?

    There is absolutely NO surprise whatsoever that some snap at some point. Even I can only take progressive pundits in small dosages, cause the continuous hammering on ANY political point becomes way too much for my sanity.

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  18. Burger wrote: "Hernandez, the slain TSA agent, was an actor on behalf of the American government that is denying rights to its people."

    What rights might these be? Carrying an explosive device or a loaded firearm onboard a plane? It's barely 12 years since 9/11 and already conservatives (who back then went nuts and no security measure was ever enough) want to go back to basic security movie theater style??

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    1. Not exactly. What they want is for themselves not to be treated like everybody else who they demand be profiled, waterboarded, detained, subject to rendition, strip searched, and limited in rights.

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    2. Precisely, Jim. When these nutballs think about security, they are always thinking about it in terms of inconveniencing others, never themselves. So it's never, "Everyone ought to be searched," it's "THOSE PEOPLE ought to be searched." Because, you know, it's always "those people" who are a danger. Oh, and Nazis!

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    3. Is there really a Constitutional right to board an airplane? If the TSA screening bothers somebody that much, maybe they should consider driving, taking a bus, a train or a boat.

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    4. Yeah, they're really upset that the "But not us" clause didn't make it into the final draft...

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  19. I personally think that the panicky post-9/11 stampede to crank out bad laws like the Patriot Act was the terrorists biggest win. They wanted us to alter our lifestyle and compromise our ideals and we certainly accommodated them. The TSA, as necessary as some aspects of its duties may be, is part of this reflexive reaction to the Towers falling and the Pentagon getting hit. Militarily, the terrorists took the initiative from us with that strike and we are still playing catch-up, and not very successfully. That's because politics is the first priority in DC and getting re-elected is every Congressman/Senator's first job. Legislating thoughtful, well-considered and balanced laws is the farthest thing from their minds. And, getting back to the gun violence issue, we all know that the Right is simply dancing to the tunes played by their lobbyist friends from the NRA, etc. So until we come up with a really radical alternative way to fund political campaigns, I see little hope for constructive change. We really need to make it impossible for a given elected official to know just whom donated what to him...we could do that by making all donations go into anonymous pools, which are then doled out equally between candidates for office. But of course, this would require an amended Constitution, so there's precious little chance for that. But that's how I see it: all the evils eventually come down to our officials being for sale to the highest bidder, and that leads to the situation where their last concern is what is best for the nation and for their constituents.

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    1. Gunner Goz, I think you're spot on. The other post 9/11 change that has forever damaged the U.S. is the other ways we've compromised our ideals in areas great and small. And by allowing our "elected" officials to be purchased by the highest buyer, they no longer govern but manage for their buyers.

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  20. Excellent post Jim. It really struck home for me especially Rachel Burger's. It's a variation of the same hateful rhetoric I and my comrades got hit with after we came home from Vietnam. I remember one particularly obnoxious specimen who was quite vocal about how wrong it was for us to have survived that war. In his opinion, we were all war criminals and deserved whatever happened to us. He was subsequently dealt with in a quiet parking lot. Nothing really lethal. Just a good old fashioned ass whipping to let him know that his BS had consequences.
    Rachel Burger and the rest of these Phony Ass Patriots are cut from the same cloth.

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  21. Jim, I don't often disagree with you this strongly, but it seems to me you have really misrepresented Ms. Burger's essay. You repeatedly claim that she thinks the victim "deserved to die" and "had it coming", but in her text that you quote, she explicitly says that she is NOT saying that. It seems almost like you are trying to force her into a black-or-white, instead of shades-of-gray, position.

    The victim in this case was a behavior detection officer. In some airports, these people primarily manufacture reasons to haul targeted ethnic and religious minorities off to the back room. My own lily-white cousin, however, recently got himself secondary screening by daring to set limits to what he would tell the government. While traveling from the East Coast to the Midwest, he got the kind of grilling that one normally expects if trying to get into (or out of) Israel: who did his company do business with there? who did he stay with while he was there? He said it was none of their business who he stayed with - well, obviously he must be a terrist! I'd be inclined to draw the same line, since I collaborate with lots of people with non-white names; why simultaneously give the TSA ammunition against me and perhaps get my colleagues' names entered into a database, when refusal will do only the first?

    So yes, the public is angry with the behavior and emotion police and reasonably so. If the x-ray machines, assume-the-position scanners, fondling and bag-searching actually do the job of excluding guns, bombs, knives, frosted cupcakes, etc. from the plane, it does not matter why we travel or who we saw while traveling. You could have just vacationed with Osama bin Laden, but if you have no weapons on you, you cannot harm that plane. OTOH, if the screening does not keep weapons off the plane, The Terrorists need only send an armed operative whose [color, name and] work and social history do not arouse the suspicion of the questioners. Or they could just train him to lie about his work and social history.

    We are seeing the Israelification of American security practices, and frankly, I wouldn't want to live in Israel even if I belonged to the right group to be a first-class citizen there. That's not the kind of country I grew up in, and it seems to be a very stressful and hostile environment. No, I don't want the behavior police killed; certainly not. I just want them to be freed to seek productive employment that makes our society better rather than worse.

    Dewey

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    1. Dewey said: "but it seems to me you have really misrepresented Ms. Burger's essay. You repeatedly claim that she thinks the victim "deserved to die" and "had it coming", but in her text that you quote, she explicitly says that she is NOT saying that."

      Here's the quote in question: Saying Hernandez was not guiltless and that he had it coming/deserved to get shot are two very different ideas, and I only subscribe to the former.

      The break is after the slash, not the connector. Ms Burger made it explicitly and abundantly clear both in the context of her original post and in her comment responses below the post that she believes the TSA agent got what he deserved specifically because he was a TSA agent.

      In point of fact, if you read the essay she wrote in its entirety, it makes no sense unless Ms Burger does indeed believe that Hernandez got what he deserved. It's her entire point, and why she used the word "blowback" in the title. She can whore it up all she likes, and she can pull the "I'm a Jew so I think I know Nazis" card, but that exactly what she means.

      The victim in this case was a behavior detection officer. In some airports, these people primarily manufacture reasons to haul targeted ethnic and religious minorities off to the back room.

      So?


      So yes, the public is angry with the behavior and emotion police and reasonably so.

      Again. So?

      Maybe Hernandez was just an ordinary guy trying to do his job. Maybe he was good at it. Maybe he was kind and polite and conscientious and courteous to the flying public. Or maybe he was an asshole who enjoyed his little empire at the check-in desk. So what? Either way, his wife is a window and his sons have no father, and you go right ahead and explain to me how Hernandez's senseless death is any less tragic than a teacher's or a classroom of school children or a liberal Congresswoman. Why? Just because he worked for TSA? Really?

      Whether or not we're seeing the "Israelification" of America is irrelevant - and I'm not sure exactly what your point is with that statement. Israel's airline security was implemented in direct response to a very, very real ongoing and pervasive terrorist threat that attacked both from within and from without. Same as us. What exactly do you suggest? If not the TSA, then what? Give up flying? Or just arm all the passengers and hope for the best? How exactly do you screen more than a million people per day, every day, and keep a lunatic from turning another jetliner into a missile? Please, enlighten me, I'm all ears.

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    2. I did go read Ms Burger's essay.
      It is a very poor attempt to use this event as a platform for a particular libertarian ideology's stance on 4th amendment rights and the like.
      She avoids any discussion of Mr Ciancia's likely mental health issues and focuses on a messy explication of what-do-you-expect-when-you-trample-peoples'-rights? type crap, with lots of Nazis! shit thrown in .
      The disclaimer that she is not advocating killing TSA employees but really only thinks Mr Ciancia objected to the TSA in the wrong way ? Pffft!
      This IS a gun violence issue with the usual possible problems of availability of firearms, mental illness, and the like. We should not, especially in the early days of little real information, derail off into a whole other set of issues because we despise the "victim". The messy way Ms Burger ties the real human victim to the outfit he worked for and makes him responsible for his own death is horsepunky. Period.
      We will not have discussions about gun violence and come up with any useful solutions if we let the Ms Burgers flap this kind of garbage without calling them out.
      I have real problems with a number of the programs and methods we have allowed to be set up to keep-us-safe but NO information we have about this case so far moves it out of the realm of the all too familiar gun violence story.
      Alaska Pi

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    3. Well, Jim, I can't explain why this man's death was less tragic than a teacher's death; fortunately, I didn't say anything of the sort and have no a priori reason to assume it to be true. And I think you are distorting Ms. Burger's meaning by declaring that when she refers in the singular to the former of two ideas, it includes both "was not guiltless" AND "had it coming", yet that she intended to clearly distinguish the latter of two ideas, "deserved to get shot", from the apparently identical "had it coming." It seems obvious to me that the slash was intended to separate two different formulations of the same, second concept, which she may or may not secretly believe but did explicitly repudiate.

      Blowback is a fact of human nature. Certain actions and conditions can increase the odds that other actions and conditions will occur. We feel like it is blaming the victims to point out that there might be any root causes for acts of violence other than "Them are eeeevil" - unless, of course, the violence is done by Us or people we like. Thus, after 9/11, it was verboten to publicly express not only the disgusting idea that the victims as Americans deserved to die, but the question of whether America's decades of stomping on Muslim peoples and arming the Taliban and al-Qaeda to use them against the Soviet Union might have helped lead to that point in history. After we kill civilians with drones ... too soon? Okay, then: why is there now very little Irish terrorism against the UK, if it had been motivated by intrinsic hatefulness rather than British abuse and oppression? People who respond to abuse by lashing out against inappropriate targets may be fairly called evil, crazy or both; nevertheless, whatever capacity for meanness may be in people's hearts, they are more likely to lash out if they or their loved ones are mistreated, exploited, or threatened than if they are left alone.

      We simply are not in the same security situation as Israel - but Israel might not be in such a bad spot either if they didn't spend so much effort in trying to acquire other people's resources and ensure that some ethnic groups were more equal than others. We are a much more diverse nation, and the portion of our population who must be able to travel unhindered in order to conduct business that contributes to our national well-being are more diverse. We also have a much larger population and a much larger country that does more international business, leading to an annual number of long-distance trips that's several orders of magnitude larger. The kind of time and manpower that would be required to spend hours grilling, searching, and reading documents carried by each of those travelers (including the time travelers spent submitting to it) would make anyone who is aware of Tainter's hypothesis that excessive complexity gains a negative marginal value very nervous. Yes, we'll always need airport security, but I might dare to suggest that if we let our inevitably declining empire fold up gracefully and stop trying to extract wealth from and make life miserable for foreigners, we might be able to go back to the lackadaisical and carefree days of the distant 1990s.

      Dewey

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    4. I've added an addendum, Dewey, my answer is there.

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    5. I saw that. It's eloquently written, and your comparison to rape is a very good one. One could write an ugly victim-blaming paragraph like your imaginary paragraph - and it does sound like Ms. Burger may have skewed in that direction - or one could, without dishing out improper blame in past occurrences, remind young women that getting drunk with young males then going to isolated places with them does increase the risk of being raped. A Slate columnist got bashed a few weeks ago for making just that point, in fact, but unfairly in my opinion, since women who place a high priority on avoiding rape might want to hear all relevant facts even when they are ugly.

      Politically, my interest is in the long term. I read a fine article online about British historians of imperial and civilizational collapse. One, I think Arnold Toynbee, argued that empires thrived by extracting wealth from peripheral states and using some to keep their own proletariat happy. When empires cease to be profitable, because they overextend themselves or face more effective resistance, the domestic trickle-down slows and the domestic proles stop enjoying the benefits of empire while continuing to bear the costs (e.g., military service), so become increasingly fractious. The ruling class tries to maintain control with escalating repression at home and brutality abroad, leading to more rage and desperation, until finally, "the internal proletariat and external proletariat make common cause" - I imagine they often do so accidentally while continuing to spew hatred towards each other - to pull down what's left of the system.

      I'm sure that everyone who contributed to the fall of Rome, except the Roman elite, were at the time called criminals, traitors, or terrorists. Still, from a historical perspective the most salient fact is that Rome fell. If you take it as a given that soon the United States will not be dominating most of the world, the urgent question becomes, will the United States exist in its present form fifty years from now? If not, given present attitudes, one of the most likely means is a civil war, something I devoutly hope not to live to see, especially given the nature of the most likely secessionists. The best hope of avoiding such a fate is probably for the ruling class to accept loss of power gracefully and gradually, but this seldom happens. In trying instead to tighten its grip at an escalating cost, the U.S. government is following a historical pattern that leads to catastrophe more often than salvation.

      To me, if nuts who attack the government are to be looked at any differently than nuts who attack anyone else, they ought to be seen as canaries in the coalmine. Only a few losers are so disaffected now, but what might the numbers look like after another few decades of decline and increasing poverty, with the government offering nothing but bullshit and teargas in response?

      Dewey

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  22. I think perhaps David Neiwert's extended essay, "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism," has some relevance here.

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    1. That was a very interesting read, I must say. Kinda chilling how it predicted the recent rash of right-wing terrorism.

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    2. Thank you. This has been Neiwert's beat for near-on 20 years now and he knows his subject well. He's still writing over at the liberal blog Crooks and Liars and his own blog, Orcinus.

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  23. I'd love to hear your take on the "Stand Your Ground" laws. When we are legally able to rationalize killing somebody because we were afraid, then all pretense of a civil society is on its way out the door. Kind of does make me want to start carrying. Remind me to start practicing my quick draw.

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    1. I'd love to hear your take on the "Stand Your Ground" laws.

      I've made my position on that issue clear in my published responses to the Trayvon Martin case and in the previous seven entries to this series.

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    2. And in just the last several days, we have seen two people shot to death for the crime of being black, and seeking assistance after traffic accidents. That's what we get when people think they can rationalize shooting someone just because they are afraid.

      Bruce

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    3. (My computer hiccupped, and I think this reply got moved way down the thread to where it doesn't make sense. My apologies if I'm posting twice. Anyway...)

      And in just the last several days, we have seen two people shot to death for the crime of being black, and seeking assistance after traffic accidents. That's what we get when people think they can rationalize shooting someone just because they are afraid.

      Bruce

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  24. What infuriates me about the Nazis, as an amateur historian who has only read Shirer, Black (IBM and the Holocaust), et. al., is that people treat that regime as if they were all Aliens from Space, Invaders from Mars that did something no human being has ever done.

    The magnitude of what they've done is indeed sui generis. We hope never to see its like again. Except that we have. In Rwanda a radio host used to talk a lot, in every one of his air shifts, about "chopping down the tall trees." It's just talk, right? Get the people riled up, right?

    Except that this was a nice euphemism (or not) for whacking your Tutsi neighbors with a machete. Genocide in your town--join in, it'll be fun! Or not.

    Mr. Talk-show-host is residing at a new address. In prison. Congratulations are due to those who get convicted for war crimes. He never thought it'd happen. Streicher and Goebbels thought the same.

    Their spiritual descendants are all over the radio, all over message boards, from Beck all the way down to that stupid shit that is making your local newspaper's comment section such a cesspool.

    But they aren't space aliens. They're us.

    I just remember that the Hunt brothers put a full page ad in the Dallas Morning News on the morning of that terrible day in November, charging JFK with communism and treason. And that it was only the latest of such charges, thanks to the John Birchers.

    Did I forget to say the Birchers are now undead, with a chapter in my very blue city in my very blue state? And that a dear friend of mine is a Bircher? A dear friend that has a local cable TV show that I have worked on with him for many years?

    Yeah, I know--FML! Right?

    With all the hatred from Rush and Alex and Glen, Goebbels is dancing a jig in Hell. And having a beer with Lee Atwater. They all seem destined for Hell, and to make America join them.

    I'm just glad nothing worse has happened. Yet.

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  25. I got it! We could close the TSA and do the screenings ourselves!!!! All of the passengers and their luggage get shuttled to a transit lounge where the wanna be passengers snap on their blue nitrile gloves and get with the rifling through the luggage and patting down their fellow wanna be passengers. I got dubs on the cute one.

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  26. Hang on there, Cowboy.

    I find myself in the extremely unusual position of thinking you've overreached on one of your points. Perhaps you can clarify for me.

    You wrote:
    "Least you think I’m reading too much into that, Burger specifically restates and clarifies her reasoning in the comments under the article. She specifically says Hernandez had it coming."

    In support, you quote Berger as follows"
    "Saying Hernandez was not guiltless and that he had it coming/deserved to get shot are two very different ideas, and I only subscribe to the former."

    Now, unless I'm completely misreading something here, it seems Berger is specifically saying she does NOT endorse the idea "he had it coming".

    Please advise.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. The text has been updated to clarify the statement in question.

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    3. Ac, as Jim explained above: Berger "subscribe/s to the former." The "former" is that she thinks Hernandez "was not guiltless." So Berger thinks he was guilty.

      Freckles

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    4. Ah. Should have known I was on thin ice not taking the time to track back and look at the original quotes in context.
      Thanks for the clarification, Jim.

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    5. Look at Burger's comments in the rest of the site. Jim is very obviously misinterpreting what she had written.

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    6. The context of the site is the entire point.

      There's now an addendum to my essay above that clarifies my analysis.

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  27. My husband works for Homeland Security, ICE in particular, and it pisses me off that these conspiracy freaks can even compare ICE, TSA, CIA, etc as Nazis.
    I'm sure if Ms. Berger ever really experienced what her grandparents, and even maybe her parents experienced in Europe during WWII, she would not be flinging that "Nazi" label around quite so easily.
    As for government employees, including those those branches that serve Homeland Security, I admire them every day as they wade into the quagmire of keeping our homes and country safe. I say quagmire because it's so incredibly complicated on so many levels to sift out those who are truly dangerous to our country...to those whose visas just ran out, to those trying to become citizens, and to mix in these conspiracy nuts who think a pat-down before boarding a plane is some sort of infringement on their inalienable rights, and you get what can be a very dangerous job...obviously.
    Personally, I feel better knowing that these people are serving our country...even if they are just checking your bag at the airport...I want to know that everything has been done in this country's power to make our borders and our air traffic safe. It's not an infringement to make sure you will land at your destination in one piece than not at all...
    In regards to FB...a definate Louis Wu, go with the gold eyes...

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  28. Where does the justification stop, if you don't believe that it should be necessary to have a driver's license, is it okay to go shoot up DMV? If you think you shouldn't need to show ID to purchase/consume alcohol, is it okay to shoot the server? Prices too high, shoot the cashier, after all they are the ones taking your money...

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  29. It seems the knee jerk reaction after 9-11-2001 has come around to haunt some people in this country, They got more than they bargained for.

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  30. Another wonderful post! Being that you live in Alaska, what are your thoughts on what is going on in Japan and the soon to be felt effects to all of us in this closed system we live in?

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  31. "It seems almost like you are trying to force her into a black-or-white, instead of shades-of-gray, position."

    i'm very much a shades of grey guy (probably more like psychedelic colour display - chemists get to have lots of fun), but i don't really see how there can be shades of grey here. Either Ms Berger believes that there should be a right so kill an unarmed man, who's job causes neither death nor injury (and if he was to cause those things he should be dealt with appropriate process)... or she doesn't support that course of action. This is one of those few situations that it's pretty hard to see how there can be a "except..." - you either accept that killing unarmed uniformed people who are not sanctioned to cause harm to others is a legitimate form of protest, or you don't.

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    1. You're quoting my message above. To avoid getting into issues that involve current American interests or prejudices, I think it's useful to consider Irish terrorism under British occupation. Consider some case in which a random British soldier or cop got killed by the IRA - not terrorism by the dictionary definition, but parallel to the current case. Assuming that he personally had not killed or brutalized local civilians, he absolutely did not deserve to die, and his death was a tragedy. But it is a fact that his murderer was inspired to do violence by seeing acts of oppression by others wearing that uniform. At the time, the British used Irish violence to justify perpetual occupation and oppression, whereas, as we now know, the right course was to back off on it, and IRA violence precipitously declined after that was done. We of course cannot cease having any airport security, or FBI or BATF or any number of federal agencies that sometimes engage in ham-handed actions - but if they limit their ham-handedness, the rage they inspire in some people will also be limited.

      Dewey

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    2. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredNovember 10, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      I disagree with this completely. Every situation is different and the comparison of British "occupation" of Ireland to the TSA - an organization authorized and given charter directions by the Congress of the United States, INSIDE the United States is just as inappropriate as the Nazi (I mean, those tried at Nuremburg) comparison. Exactly what acts of oppression, besides a consensus arrived at set of security protocols to protect travelers and the public from another 9/11, is the TSA guilty of? Or the FBI? Or ATF? Since when does "ham-handed" (a subjective and not absolute term) actions justify random capital punishment?

      Regarding a slightly separate excerpt from a previous post - "We are a much more diverse nation, and the portion of our population who must be able to travel unhindered in order to conduct business that contributes to our national well-being are more diverse." . . . I'm not sure "unhindered" is where we need our diverse population needs to be in order to actually conduct business. I think they can conduct business perfectly fine under the current security protocols. Travel security, up until 9/11, was mostly a response to armed hijackers with guns or bombs. Everything was turned upside down after 9/11 and it would have been incompetent to do little/nothing in the wake of 9/11. You can make an argument that security was taken a little too far back then, but it seems that the ebb and flow of security measures and threats has sort of settled on some pretty commonly known and easily complied with protocols for travel.

      On my first Navy ship, during our first Western Pacific (WESTPAC) cruise, our first port of call was Pearl Harbor, HI. After the mandatory Port Brief, our more experienced sailors gave us junior sailors some simple, sage advice, "Don't go out alone, don't got to the Hotel Street area, and don't mess with the local Samoans." I had the duty the first day in port and served as Duty Driver. My first "run" of the day was go to the local Shore Patrol and pick up one of our sailors who'd gotten into a little scrape that evening. Upon arriving, we found that same sage advisor, beaten up and bedraggled. Turns out HE had gone out alone, gone to Hotel St, gotten drunk in a local bar playing pool and antagonizing the local Samoans.

      The point of that story is that there are some reasonable steps, that everyone knows (at least if you've been paying attention) to make your air travel go smoother through the necessary security protocols. Don't carry what you know you shouldn't. TSA has reported a significant rise in the number of people who attempt to carry guns in their carry-on luggage for Pete's sake. Cooperate - it'll make both your travel smoother and the screener's day a little easier. Plan ahead. You know you're going to have to take your shoes off (thank you shoe bomber), so wear slip-ons and clean socks. You know you may get a pat-down (thank you underwear bomber), so just be prepared. The list could go on.

      I understand the 4th Amendment objections. I get it. Unreasonable search and seizures, secure in your person and property, etc. But I don't consider these security protocols unreasonable, given the threats of a determined terrorist. And they're certainly NOT ham-handed actions of an oppressive government, an occupying army, or the Nazis. And, lastly, none of these things are capital offenses.

      Just my humble opinion.

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  32. Great article Jim....as usual! My favorite line: "the gunman/was shot dead by police/turned his weapon upon himself/taken down by a heroic good guy with a concealed carry permit (with strikethrough)/captured alive but is now in a coma from his injuries/". I have thought this for years. For all the talking "they" do about needing guns for personal protection, none of those guns seem to be around when mass shootings happen. No citizen wielding an AK-47 ever shows up to foil the bank robbery, no AR-15 bearing civilian ever beats the police to the rescue at the school, or convenience store, or movie theater, or... or... or... No "Uncle Ted" is in the house! I'm sure it happens but wouldn't you think in a country with over 200,000,000 guns, many of which owned by good ol' red blooded, patriotic, fearless 'mercans, someone would show up almost immediately (Super hero style) to save the day, with some degree of regularity? How is it the bad guy always seems to run into the theater full of anti gun advocates? Where are all you gun rights nuts and your guns when people need help? Where are these magical guns you hold so dear to your heart, so vital to your daily survival? These mass shootings are your time to shine, your time to prove you are right. Yet, they rarely appear to do the thing you claim they do. I will answer my own question. Your gun is in the top of your damn closet. It is "Home Alone" during the middle of the day when (ironically) home burglaries are most likely to happen. You claim personal protection but almost never practice it. (Not counting the 5 days a year you are at the corner market putting ice and beer in a cooler to go out target shooting) Those are the ONLY days you are prepared to defend yourself or others from a terrorist, teen gone wild, angry former employee. The rest of their ramblings are just that. Ramblings. I'm going to finish my toast and coffee now and head off to work. Thanks again Jim.

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    1. Where are all you gun rights nuts and your guns when people need help?

      Careful what you wish for. Remember a while back when NYPD shot 9 freakin' bystanders trying to put down one bad guy? And they're the professionals...

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    2. Well, I'm not sure you can call the NYPD exactly professionals. Their trigger-happy policing helped give New York its first Democratic mayor in 30 years.

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    3. "needing guns for personal protection": whenever I read a comment on a blog by someone mentioning needing guns to protect himself and his family, I always ask the SAME question:

      "If a decorated Navy SEAL such as Chris Kyle, the American Sniper with the most recorded kill, a man who undergone what is considered to be the most difficult training in the world, who is trained to use all weapons and to kill, even with his bare hands, if that Navy SEAL was NOT able to stop "the bad man with the gun" while he was himself armed, what makes you think that YOU are so special that YOU will fare any better?"

      Guess what: I have yet t get a response to my question...

      Freeportguy

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    4. Anonymous Freeportguy, here's a response to your question.

      First, though, let me say up front that I'm not trying to defend the idea of having a gun for personal protection. I'm addressing only your logic because, metaphorically speaking, the gun called your argument isn't loaded.

      However astronomically talented and trained Chris Kyle may have been, his was still only one case out of very, very many. Your argument may easily and rightly be used to disarm the claim that having a gun for protection confers absolute and total immunity upon its bearer. People making that claim, though, actually aren't smart enough to be making many claims at all, so on that front, it's kind of a moot point. You, though, seem to be trying to make the point that the failure of this sort of protection in one case somehow invalidates the practice of this sort of protection in all cases, and this just doesn't work. True, a single exception can completely destroy a supposed but faulty rule, but that destruction most surely does not establish the validity of any equal and opposite rule : proving that a mode of protection isn't perfect doesn't simultaneously prove that that mode of protection is useless.

      To answer your question from another angle : I don't believe being special or not special has anything to do with the efficacy of the given mode of protection. I believe far more relevant is the simple law of averages. Mathematically speaking, a highly talented and trained person with a weapon has more protection than the same person unarmed, whether the weapon be a rifle, a shotgun, a handgun or a sharp stick. On average, the better the weapon, the better the defense. This is pretty well inarguable. It's simple fact.

      In short, if the people you're asking can't answer this question, it's because they have insufficient critical thinking skills, not because the question is so potent or meaningful. Modern America isn't exactly the Land of Awesome Thinkers some of us seem to think it is.

      Again, all I'm addressing is your logic. Your position may be fine, but your support for it as stated above simply doesn't exist.

      Delete
  33. That's it. From now on, I will refer to the National Rifle Association as the National Man-Gun Love Association.

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    1. I'm sure there are enough Canadian gun nuts that we can call it the North American Man-Boom Love Ass'n. I dare the "real" NAMBLA to sue...

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  34. "There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows violence against its own people."

    No shit, Sherlock. But if I was you, I'd refrain from badmouthing the people that sign your paycheck...

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  35. This is the never-ending childish Libertarian "I don' wanna you can't make me go-way leemeelone waaaah!!", TSA-NAZI version. Burger is a child with an adult vocabulary, but no dictionary, trying to sound like a grownup.

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  36. The TSA, specifically, and the Department of Homeland Security, generally, seem to me an instance of "Be careful what you wish for." Homeland Security's extensive and invasive policing is what the radical right has pressing for for as long as I can remember and before. Now that they have it, they have discovered that they are also the objects of that policing, and they are up in arms.

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    1. It's not just the DHS; it's like it never occurred to them that any powers they give to a Republican-controlled government can also be used by a Democratic-controlled government.

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  37. The demonizing of federal employees has got to stop. Good for you, Jim, for pointing out the obvious: "I don’t know what the answers are, but I do know this: blaming the victims is exactly, exactly, what the Nazis themselves did."

    I assume Ms. Burger mentioned that she is Jewish to immunize herself against criticism. Otherwise, I don't understand why she would mention her ethnicity in the context of such a hateful screed.

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  38. You have missed Ms. Burger's reasoning entirely. The TSA was a noble profession until January 20, 2009 when the Kenyan, Muslim usurper ascended. At that point any moral individual would have resigned until such time as a Tea Party, god fearer succeeds to the Presidency by ballot or force, as needed.

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    Replies
    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


      freckles

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  39. I lost my shit with a leftist friend/acquaintance some years back when his party was...OK, not cheering, but certainly sympathizing with the asshole who crashed his private plane into a Texas IRS building.

    I don't like the TSA. I don't like - hell, I LOATHE - the abrogation of the Fourth Amendment that they represent. (On a purely personal note, I resent like Hell that I have had to pay several hundreds of dollars to the TSA's contractor Lockheed-Martin for a Transport Worker Identification Card duplicating the security check carried out when I swore my oath as a Merchant Marine Officer - and that that card means exactly Jack Shit when I hit the TSA checkpoint at the airport. Never mind that every TSA employee carries the same TWIC.

    But obnoxious as that is...it still isn't worth one man's life.

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  40. Neatly turned, Jim. And from where I'm sitting (STILL not having taken the time to read her original essay) certainly clarifies any "fun with language" confusion she may have employed to disburse the scent trail.
    Did I mention I'm anti-semantic?

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    1. I had to read that last sentence 3 times before my brain registered what my eyes ACTUALLY saw ... :-)

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  41. I've been bantering back and forth with this woman on her blog. She does like to make a statement the deny that's what her statement was. Example: she speaks of "those who persecuted the Jews". When I mentioned to her that the Nazis also blamed their victims, she retorted that she never even mention Nazis in her piece. No, she didn't come right out and say Nazi, but just does she think "those people" are?
    Every point I made with her she came back and said that's not what she meant and I didn't get her piece. I think she uses a different dictionary than I do!

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    1. I've been watching you do it.

      Never even mentioned Nazis in her piece. Talk about complete and utter disingenuous bullshit:

      As a Jew, I am consistently reminded of the Nuremberg Trials. Those who slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust were “just following orders,” but that did not mean that they were any less accountable

      If she's not talking about Nazis, who the fuck is she talking about?

      Delete
    2. Get out of my head, Jim, I was just working a response to her making the same point.

      Delete
    3. I think she's using the the Nazis as an example of authoritarianism, which isn't—quite—calling the TSA Nazi.

      She's eliding the role of the radical right propaganda that our society is saturated with in creating Ciancas. If the media tell enough people that violent self-defense against abuses of state power is legitimate then, sure enough, some people will decide to be violent against what they perceive as abuses of state power.

      Looking back at her history on ToL, her thinking has a lot of internal contradictions; I wonder which way she will jump when the Great Squidger comes down.

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    4. I've put up a few remarks on her blog. I suspect they will go nowhere. Personally, I indict the absolutism of right-wing thought in creating both the TSA and Ciancia and I believe it is all, in the end, extensively rationalized panic.

      Delete
    5. But they did. She replied, and was as evasive with me as she has been with you and Carmen, if not even moreso.

      Sigh.

      Delete
    6. As I said, the woman has a problem with integrity

      Delete
  42. Hi Jim, I'm a new follower and I just have to say.. that was EXCELLENT!!! I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon buried in your blog!

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  43. I think you are 210% correct in not only your original post, Jim, but BOTH addendums, as well. It doesn't matter what SPECIFIC words she used. That's the core of what she said. It most CERTAINLY is what she said. Her back-peddling doesn't change that and her "apologists" as you call them, just don't want to hear that.

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    1. Hey, if the apologists conceded that Jim was right, then the next step would be to admit that maybe, just maybe, they were also guilty of some contemptible thinking. And we can't have that!

      Delete
  44. Hey Jim, the term you're looking for is "Narcotizing Dysfunction" as per my sociology book... "The phenomenon in which the media provides such massive amounts of coverage that the audience becomes numb and fails to act on the information, regardless of how compelling the issue."

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  45. I said this at Jim's Facebook entry on adding the addenda, and decided to put it (with one small elision) here, too:

    Having reread your essay, as well as the comments and your addended responses, I am put in mind of what Gandalf said when Frodo exclaimed that Gollum deserved to die: "Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

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  46. Burger is an idiot. The SPLC has an article up about this shooter. It's a worthy read. He identified with the 'Patriot Movement', much like McVeigh did.

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  47. Your analysis of Burger, makes me think of this recent incident, where the response of 40 "Tea-Patriots" (patriots in their minds only) respond to a group of 4 mothers trying to recruit for Mothers Against Gun Violence by surrounding them, fully armed to the teeth, in the mall parking lot.

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/11/10/2921121/dallas-gun-advocates-protest-restaurant-gun-control-advocates/

    They are literally acting like the very armed tyrants they imagine. Today, it is no longer inflated euphemistic rhetoric to say that the Tea-Party agenda has embraced the tactics of terrorists. When these people, actually come armed and willing to kill unarmed civilians that they don't agree with for their beliefs, these people have actually become terrorists, and the scariest sort of terrorists, domestic terrorists, using intimidation and violence while hiding behind the very laws and freedoms they insist are being threatened or taken away.

    they actually believe that the only freedom they have is at the end of their gun barrel - their 2nd amendment solution. "Freedom" for them doesn't mean freedom for others, it means "their" freedom, theirs and theirs alone, everyone else is either implicitly taking "their" freedoms, or an agent of an imagined fascist government. "Tyranny" to them means a democracy where their ideology is seen as laughable and is marginalized by the majority of others; their candidate didn't win the election? "TYRANNY." Can't legally buy an aircraft mountable mini-gun? "TYRANNY." Affordable health care for the poor, young, or underprivialged gaurunteed by the government, and protections against losing health insurance just for being sick? "TYRANNY.""TYRANNY.""TYRANNY." [insert over the top eye-roll here]. "Republic" to them means State and local authority above Federal law; "screw the sick, the poor deserve to be poor, and the failing economy is due to immigrants" (And while I am loath to compare those I don't agree with to Nazis, the tea-party rhetoric is EXACTLY the rhetoric used by Hitler and the Nazi party shorty before they rose to power and took over the government) ...

    They have become so convinced by their own invented version of history that they have come to insist that their persecution fantasies are the one and only reality.

    These people actually believe that they are "protecting" civil liberties by intimidating 4 unarmed mothers in a mall parking lot, surrounding them, armed and ready to use deadly force. These are the acts of fascists in the making, certainly not people interested in concepts like "justice" or Freedom" or even "democracy."



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  48. 1- Everyone is missing the main point. The TSA has committed the Ultimate American Sin: they are ... inconvenient

    2- Dammit Jim, (and you may read that in your own best Dr. McCoy voice) because of you, I followed that link & actually READ Ms. Burger's rambling pile of crap! I now must excuse myself and go shower.

    Bruce

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    1. Bruce - I unfortunately felt compelled to do the same. Jesus she is spinning a tale, and whining, and pretending she didn't say what she DID in fact say.

      I'd have had more respect if she'd said either 1.) I'm sorry, I was wrong; or 2.) Fuck you all I stand behind my TSA=Nazi argument.

      When did integrity get to be such a rare trait? Oh, hell, Cruz, Tea Party, NRA, birthers, bengazi-wampus....never mind

      Delete
  49. (((((hugs))))) ... Just 'cause I'm sad that you've had to write EIGHT of these darn things and nothing much is changing.

    Well, you are, at the very least, accomplishing one very positive thing. There's even a meme going around for it. A quote along the lines of: 'I didn't post this thinking I could change your mind, I posted it to let people who think like I do know that they aren't alone'.

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  50. You had me at " the paranoia-porn fetish site, Infowars "

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  51. I'm a little late to the party. Last week was rough. But I still feel the need to comment, because my husband is a TSO (Transportation Safety Officer), and he has a very good grasp of what he is doing and why he does it. He does it so that some jackwagon with a hunting knife and a grudge doesn't stab the woman in row 14 who kinda sorta reminds him of his ex-wife. He does it so that some kid with a system full of coke, a pocket full of weed, and a head full of resentment doesn't live out the fantasy he came up with in chemistry class. He does it so that someone (or someones) who thinks America is the devil doesn't get the chance to broadcast that hateful bullshit across the world in the form of mass murder. I'm thinking all of those are perfectly ethical reasons to do a job that doesn't pay well, subjects him to constant abuse from the general public, and only occasionally allows for the admiration of adorable toddlers or the petting of puppies. He is polite, professional, dedicated, and patient. I know not all TSOs are, but that shouldn't be surprising, considering how much vitriol they receive every day. My husband is a stand-up guy, loyal, thoughtful, generous, and kind.

    I don't give a rat's ass what this lady's background is, if she thinks my husband deserves to die for doing something that everyone in this country cried out for (before they got slightly inconvenienced and decided it was the root of all evil), if she thinks I deserve to lose my husband and my children deserve to be without their father, then she is extremely unbalanced and needs mental health intervention every bit as much as that guy with the gun at LAX.

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  52. Did you see this?

    http://thepeoplesrecord.com/post/69124491418/iceland-grieves-after-police-kill-a-man-for-the

    Wierd, eh?

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