Friday, January 14, 2011

More Random Thoughts on the Giffords Shooting

It’s been a week now, since the attempted murder of Congresswomen Giffords.

A week for things to shake out.

Couple of observations:

- You know what I said about Second Amendment solutions at the beginning of the week.  That view hasn’t changed and is quite unlikely to.  I think people, especially people in positions of power, who speak of Second Amendment remedies should be investigated exactly the same way as anyone who pens a threateningly letter to the President. Do that, and you can go to jail, even if you don’t mean it.  Words should have consequences. Abuse of power should have consequences. And it is long past time for the radicals on both sides of the aisle to be held accountable.  It is long, long past time for the fear-mongers to be held responsible for their rhetoric, especially those whose only real purpose is to grow rich off of the hysteria and hatred they themselves stir up.

- Tea Party backed politicians have demanded that each new bill before Congress contain a clause specifying the precise provision in the US Constitution that gives Congress the power to enact that law.  I think this is unnecessary, and so did the men who wrote and ratified the Constitution and formed our first government, but so be it.  I can see no reason not to.  Here’s what I want in return:  A federal law that requires all officials, elected or appointed or candidate for, at both the state and federal level, to be required to provide references for their public statements and to be held accountable for deliberately propagating verifiably false information – or be required under penalty of law to admit up front and unequivocally that their statements are baseless and made up.  Similarly, I want a modification to US FCC regulations that requires all public information outlets to list their references. I’m talking about those information entities that are governed by federal regulation, i.e. broadcast media, not private individuals.  Product manufacturers have to do so, drug manufactures have to include a disclaimer and a list of side effects, financers have to disclose the terms of the loan – hell, even the Wikipedia requires some kind of citation – I see nothing unconstitutional about making Glenn Beck write down the specific source of his information on his little chalkboard when he says that “The Liberal Food Police” have “outlawed fried food in New York,” or he should have to admit up front that he just made it up.  I’m not talking about curtailing anybody’s freedom of speech, including FoxNews, I’m simply saying that if you are going to propagate falsehoods and rhetoric to tens of thousands of people every night it should be clearly marked as such, no fine print. Period.  I can’t see anybody on the Right objecting to this, being the staunch Constitutionalists that they so fervently are all of a sudden, after all does not the very first sentence of the Constitution say: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America?

- I note a common trend among commenters on conservative sites such as Fox and on the crazy “we just love guns and NASCAR and we fucking HATE Obama” sites like Yahoo: the President declared a moment of national silence for the victims of Tucson (I.e. democrats) but not for the victims of Fort Hood (i.e. Conservatives), AH HA! therefor the President hates the military and is unAmerican.  Seriously? No, seriously? This is the best you’ve got. Seriously? Is the converse true? George W. Bush went to Fort Hood in the wake of the shootings there to comfort the victims, but he didn’t go to Tucson, does that mean he hates nine year old girls and moderate congresswomen? What the fuck is wrong with these people? 

- It would appear that Conservative pundits are not, in any way, responsible for Jared Lee Loughner’s actions.  Loughner was a nut.  He lived in a fantasy land of his own making, literally.  He shot Congresswomen Giffords, allegedly, because she didn’t answer one of Loughner’s questions to his satisfaction at a previous Q&A session.  It wasn’t Rush’s fault. It wasn’t Glenn’s fault. It wasn’t Sarah’s fault.  It wasn’t the hateful extremist toxic battlefield of modern media fueled politics.  Well, that’s good.  Guess we can just keep on with the hate speech then. Yeah, that’s good. 

- I read a comment under an article on Yahoo yesterday, I can’t find it again today and I really wish I could because it sums up something I’ve been seeing, and it sums it up better than any other comment on the subject. It went something like this: This is exactly why I carry, Boy, if I’d been there, that shooter would have died in a hail of bullets.  Uh huh.  Ok.  Question: how come Jared Lee Loughner didn’t die in a hail of bullets?  Arizona has the most (heh heh) liberal gun laws in the country, you can carry concealed there without a permit. Until Loughner pulled the trigger, he was perfectly legal. Guns are a big damned deal in Arizona. Man should have a right to defend himself and all that. All free men carry guns, yadda yada.  But nobody, nobody, shot Loughner down. Nobody.  Where are all these pistol packing people, locked and loaded just in case something exactly like this happens? Where are all these free men, these heroes, ready and able to take out the bad guys and the commies and the crazies? One of the men who eventually tackled Loughner and held him down until the cops arrived was supposedly armed, legally. Didn’t do much to prevent the carnage, did it? In Tucson, on Saturday, it would appear that the only person empowered by Arizona’s lax gun laws was, well, the assassin

- But let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that everybody who was legally able, was armed last Saturday morning in Tucson. Untrained. Uncertified. But legal gun owners and packing heat, you betcha. And let’s say they all slapped leather when the shooting started and cleared their holsters with those 30 round Glocks and 14 round Berettas and they returned fire in a jackstraw jumble of laser-sights and hot lead. There in that grocery store.  Yeah, right there, in that crowed grocery store. In the midst of chaos.  Screaming and running, panic. Crying children. Blood and smoke and confusion. Oh hell yeah, a dozen folks armed and brandishing weapons and no clear idea of what the hell is happening and no idea who the crazy grammar assassin is and who is just some other hero wannabe with a gun.  Then imagine the police pulling up and stepping into the fray with their guns drawn.  Yeah, sign me right for that. Sign me right the fuck up. 

- I wonder, I really do, how many more times this kind of thing is going to happen before we finally stand the hell up to the NRA and the lobbies and beer-bellied hero wannabes and start passing sane gun laws in this country.  I’m not talking about getting rid of guns, I’m talking about adding some goddamned sanity to the equation. Frankly, I’m not holding my breath.


Gabby Giffords has opened her eyes.

One wonders when we will do the same.


  1. There was at least one other person with a gun there, Joe Zamudio. By his own account, he came very close to shooting the hero who had just taken away the shooter's gun.

    (I thought we'd discussed that here, but don't see it. Apologies if I'm presenting redundant information.)

  2. I can't remember where I first read it, but apparently there was someone there with a gun, who heard the shots, drew his trusty gun and came charging round the corner, weapon at the ready... And very nearly shot the guy who had just wrestled the gun away from the actual shooter.

  3. We were just discussing that on Facebook.

    It was on Slate among other places

  4. Did I fall into spam hell? I left a comment, with the Slate link, and it was the FIRST comment and everything.

    But I see it nowhere.

    And yet Blogger is sending me everyone else's comments, so it obviously knows I tried to say something.

    Ah, Blogger.

  5. That comment shows up, meaning that I have not been banned from Jim's blog for crimes unspecified. (Well, I know what I did...)

  6. Hmmm, I have no idea. I see that you left the following comment:

    There was at least one other person with a gun there, Joe Zamudio. By his own account, he came very close to shooting the hero who had just taken away the shooter's gun.

    (I thought we'd discussed that here, but don't see it. Apologies if I'm presenting redundant information.)

    at 12:08, but I have no idea why it didn't post - I have no record of it posting. You, Phiala, and all of the UCF are on the permanent whitelist. Odd, somekind of malf.

  7. And I know what you did too, and I'll get you for it, oh yes, I will.

    Flying monkey, Phiala, flying monkeys.

  8. Aw, you're slipping. Last night it was "diseased flying monkeys".

  9. These are different, they're Conservative New Earth Creationist Flying Monkeys.


  10. How are Conservative New Earth Creationist Flying Monkeys NOT diseased?

    I will guarantee the right antibiotic can cure conservative new earth creationism.

  11. Apparently so can Rentboy and some romantic music.

  12. Jim, check your spam folder under "comments" in blogger. I suspect blogger has decided that Phiala is actually a Chinese rhino horn salesman. Once you release her comment from purgatory, it will appear again, in order.

  13. Don't do it Jim. It's much worse than Janiece thinks. Phiala is actually a horny Chinese Rhino salesman. (The rhinos are Chinese and horny, if that's not clear.)

    I wouldn't let that loose if I were you. But, then again, I live in NY; I must be hiding something!

    WV: teleeph (pronounced tele-eph)- a communications device solely for anonymously telling people to fuck off.

  14. I don't need no horny RINO issues, we've had quite enough of those kinds of shenanigans already thank you very much

  15. Janiece was right, go figure.

    I didn't even know that blogger had added a spam blocker - I've been using a third party spam/troll blocker plug-in, one that I had to pay for. Hmmmm, blogger added one for free? When did that happen?

    Be nice if they'd add comment editing too.

  16. "I think people, especially people in positions of power, who speak of Second Amendment remedies should be investigated exactly the same way as anyone who pens a threateningly letter to the President."

    If not more so - some lone guy pennning a threatening letter is one thing - very few other people would know or care. Get some person in power saying such things and some lone guy thinks - "hey, so & so says that this is an ok way to resolve things" and maybe that's all the justification he needs to turn thought into action. What kills me is that these same people raise hell any time a pop or film star encourages people to do irresponsible stuff.

    "Tea Party backed politicians have demanded that each new bill before Congress contain a clause specifying the precise provision in the US Constitution that gives Congress the power to enact that law"

    I would sure love to see those clauses for some of the shit Shrub and his cronies pulled - especially all the homeland security shit and whatever bill it was made it impossible to fast-forward through the trailers and ads on a DVD.

    As for politicos and broadcasters providing references - HELL YEAH! That is a provision I would vote for (were I allowed to vote, which for some trival reason, like not being a citizen, I'm not allowed to do).

    Of course, it would end up like those drug company disclaimers

    "Voting for this candidate make cause unwanted side effects such as loss of income, reduction in human dignity, raised blood pressure each time he appears on TV...." in 6pt type, in light grey on a white background and scrolled past so fast you get dizzy even trying to focus.

    Some people do provide citations. My wife (who is American) and I were in an antiques shop a few years ago (during the Bush era) and the elderly lady who ran the store, after hearing my wife's accent and complaining that her president was stirring up trouble, then proceeded to tell us that "there are more Muslims in London than there are white people." Her citation? If I recall correctly, it was "her son-in-law's brother's mate's girlfriend who used to work as a secretary at a police station." Mind you, that's probably more verifiable than anything Beck says :)

    Roll on proper gun control laws with mandatory training, including being made to watch footage or photos of what guns do to people. Trouble is, that would probably turn some of those people on.

  17. ...and whatever bill it was made it impossible to fast-forward through the trailers and ads on a DVD.

    You just earned yourself a beer on me.

  18. I would be honoured to drink it (and quite a few of its mates) with you :)

    (Still Ian Walden, but I think I accidentally created a blogger account while trying to sign in with my Google ident[1]. Last week, I used my LiveJournal (OpenID) - Luis_mw..

    I'll get the hang of this one day

    [1] - Firefox locked up on me claiming my comment was too long, so I was trying to get back in to retype it - obviously FF lied.

  19. Part of the reason for mentioning the DVD thing was that I remember reading somewhere that that bit was tacked on to some obscure part of some anti-terror/TSA/Homeland Security bill for some reason.

  20. Requiring citations? LOL! Rush's radio show would be a one-liner. The rest of the hour would be disclaimers.

    One of the more batshit things I've read on the subject you touch on is a NYT article from June (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/20/us/politics/20watch.html) indicating that we can't even stop people on the terrorism watchlist from scoring an AK at a gun show. Think we'll see legislation this year to close that loophole? Not just no, but hell no. Every time the NRA drops their grade on a politician a thousand checkbooks snap shut in unison.

    The thing that gets me is that the military won't shove a weapon into a recruit's hands until they have made damned good & sure that he or she knows how to load, unload, disassemble, clean, reassemble maintain & store it, and knows where to point it at all times. We require citizens who wish to own & operate a car to pass a written & practical exam prior to putting them behind the wheel, but for firearms? We care whether they're a felon. We consider whether they're mental (it depends on *how* mental, though). Competent? Who cares? They'll figure it out as they go (or the unlucky fucker walking downrange from them will).

    I believe that the 2nd Amendment is a critical & sacrosanct portion of our Constitution, but I agree that our country has a bizarre relationship with it, though.

  21. Most states, or at least Minnesota, require gun safety courses for people under 16. I don't see why we can't extend that to adults. I remember having to go through it one summer before Grandpa would give me my shotgun.

  22. I was pulling out of the parking lot in San Ysidro, CA when the maniac had entered McDonald's to "hunt for humans." I've been carrying a gun every since. I've taken it out twice - once to stop a guy from beating up his girlfriend in a parking lot, and once when a guy kept following me in the mall, then followed me out to my car. I've never had to use it for anything other than target practice. I'm a retired Marine so I definitely know what I'm doing with a weapon. But the one thought in the back of my mind echoes what you said. If I had been in Tucson, and I took out my weapon to shoot the bad guy, who's to say that a cop wouldn't have mistaken me for another wacko and shot me? How do you know, in situations like that, who's the bad guy and who's the good guy? If you're right in the middle - it's kinda obvious - but what about the folks that come running in to help? It's a scary scenario. But I'd still rather have the OPTION of being able to defend myself and others.

  23. Beverly, absolutely. As someone with extensive training in small arms, and who was a military combat arms instructor for 20 years, and as somebody who routinely carries here in the wilds of Alaska, I agree. I want the option - even if I rarely exercise it. I want others to have the option. But if there are going to be people around me with guns, I want to know - just as I did in the military - that they've had at least basic instruction and a demonstrated minimum ability.

    The person I really, really don't want anywhere near me is the wannabe hero - you've met him, Mr. I Could Have Been A Marine, but... Joe Fucking Militia and his buddy Bob Guns and Ammo and his other buddy Larry Tea Party, I don't want that asshole anywhere within effective range of me or mine. Period.

  24. @Beverly:

    It's a tricky question. As I was reading it, I was considering only private citizens, but then I thought about plain-clothes detectives, FBI agents etc, most of whom are trained persons, entitled to carry concealed weapons, and might not necessarily be easily identifiable as such (as opposed to uniform police etc). They too, could be at risk of being shot in mistake for the "wacko".

    I have noticed from TV shows that they tend to yell "Police" or "FBI" and such like, but I don't know if they are required to do so before using their weapons. To do so might be a good idea to stop the uniforms shooting at them. Maybe we should come up with a suitable identification for others - yelling "bona-fide competent armed citizen" might take too long :)

  25. MAYBE an inflatable yellow vest that pops open when we grab our weapon with GOOD GUY written in red!! LOL!! I don't know. But as I said. I want the option. I always think about that massacre in Kilene TX - where that woman left her gun in the car and had to sit there and watch her parents murdered and was shot herself. Can't remember her name. Linda . . .??? All I know is if the tea baggers have guns, I AM GOING TO HAVE A GUN. Those people scare me.

  26. @Beverly: LOL! Well, one Tea-Bagger we don't have to worry about is Sarah Palin. You get a lot of lead time to find cover when you see her hand her rifle over to the guy standing next to her (you know. The one who actually knows how to cycle a round into the thing?) & he hands it back to her. Makes a guy feel lucky to live 4K miles from Alaska. :)

  27. OK, let's say you're that guy, the one with a holstered pistol openly displayed at your belt.

    When I first started working on films in NY in the 80's (when it was a much more dangerous place than it is today), I was told by a cop that I should never leave my walkie talkie turned on when I walked into a convenience store. Furthermore, he told me I should hide it under my shirt tail. He was concerned that some random robber walking into the store would assume I was an undercover and shoot me before even getting to the robbery part of his evening.

    I still turn it off and hide it, out of force of habit.

  28. Nathan, I sure get your point! I can see three cases for open carry, one is like Jim, carrying in the back-country where only the coyotes and bears will see it. The others are for Military or Uniformed Police where it is already clear that you are likely to be an armed person, and you don't care who knows it. But for regular folks, carrying openly just flags you as "Shoot Him First". And that kills the deterrent value of concealed carry, where the thug has to think that everybody wearing an NRA cap, or driving a pick-up truck, COULD be carrying, and maybe he should find a safer career.

  29. Serious question:

    Is there even one example of a "good guy" who's not a law-enforcement officer taking out a bad guy during a shooting in public?

    It seems to me that this is more of a wishful thought than reality. Shootings happen in seconds. There really isn't time to take out a bad guy unless you have training.

  30. Absolutely, I agree with you. You must have served in the Navy... lol... like me and lots of other smart people... :)

  31. @Megan, I personally can not think of one single incident where a CCW holder was useful in a public shooting. On the other hand, Kansas received CCW back in ’06 here are two cases that it was used just in my home town (yes, I know, it’s where the phelps’ are based). One. Two. CCW is not about stopping public shootings, just like the police cant stop public shootings. Such things are over before most people can even react. It is about personal defense.

  32. But in a dire emergency, wouldn't everyone instantly be like Bruce Willis in Die Hard: shooting at the right people at the right time, not missing, not hitting the wrong people, and cracking one liners to show what cool heads we have in the middle of the mayhem?

  33. Rightwing Christians as well as some other conservatives have conniptions over language and sex (not violence so much) on TV, in movies, and fiction like Harry Potter because they are positive it is corrupting. Yet they refuse to acknowledge fear-mongering and God-approved indignation through the media seven-days-a-week fosters paranoia, anxiety, even increased violence, because it contributes to community/cultural anxiousness and depression. A steady diet of unfounded, hyperbolic rhetoric hurts anyone, so it most certainly does contribute to increased stress, anxiety, paranoia, anger, and delusions in individuals already suffering compromised mental health.

    Rightwing public figures and ministers intentionally use inflammatory, accusatory language to elicit images of enemies out to get us, enslave us, hurt us, and/or that are an offense to God and they do so in order to justify anything said about and done to the "other." Regardless of motives, they add credibility to the dangerous antigovernment, racist/nativist, and antiabortion fringe groups seeking recruits and action.

    Relentlessly spewed misrepresentative labels slapped on everyone with a differing point-of-view, especially as if legitimized, hurts our communities at the most personal level. For example, people who actually like me and know that I am not stupid use derogatory labels while talking to me. It doesn't register in their brains that they are talking about people like me—that they are calling me the derogatory, disrespectful name. They've come to believe theirs' is acceptable behavior because they are righteously justified. Regurgitating one-dimensional conclusions and accusations is appropriate because their fear and anger entitles them. I'm not talking about bad people, but basically good people accustomed to a steady diet of half-truths, lies, and inflammatory rhetoric.

    Not only does this incessant rhetoric hurt our collective mental health and contribute to delusional desperation in the mentally unstable, but it also impedes a collective recognition of genuine threats against our democracy, way of life, and individuals. Wound-up and angry every day over imaginary threats confuses and dulls our senses to true threats.

    Furthermore, it diminishes our caring for each other. Neighbors don't care what happens to each other if they view the other as bad merely because of political and religious differences. For instance, only a "libertard" would point out how the words "freedom" and "choice" are routinely used together to take away our freedoms, as well as our consumer, economic, and environmental protections! Must be an ecoNazi or femiNazi out to destroy America by trying to interfere with Sarah Palin's free speech! If something happens to that neighbor or his or her family members, it was probably deserved. Screw 'em.

    Sarah and her pretend journalist colleagues are responsible for their intentional and profitable participation in creating the toxic political and social environment they've encouraged. They are responsible for fostering an environment that's turned neighbor against neighbor over imaginary boogie-men. They are responsible for adding to the accusatory, demonizing, false, fear-provoking propaganda that feeds into and lends credence to the arguments of domestic terror groups who will blow up government buildings and temples, shoot perceived domestic enemies, and shoot doctors.

    Intentionally escalating negative emotions and histrionics over elections and government policies, Sarah and her cohorts are not entirely blameless.

  34. Beemodern, yes, that exactly. Well said.


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