Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snowball's chance in hell that we will see honest representation of science from the right

voting, just like driving - clever

Black History Month - What we don't know and are not taught: "Black Mozart"

Chevalier de Saint-Georges.JPGJoseph Bologne, lived during the era of the American Revolution, 1745 -1799. He was French, the son of a slave mother and a wealthy planter father. His father essentially bought a title in 1757, and had taken his son to France for his education, along with his mother who continued to be a slave. He excelled in swordsmanship. He was SO unusual, so excellent at this skill, that when he graduated he directly became a member of the King's bodyguard, and was knighted. He also fought duels with prominent swordsmen who insulted him because he was bi-racial.

An obvious polymath, Saint-Georges was also an accomplished violinist at an early age (hence the comparison to Mozart) and became an accomplished composer in his own right as well. Saint-Georges was subsidized during his younger years by his father, but that money went to his apparently white and legitimate half-sister when his father died, leaving Saint-Georges to support himself by what he earned from his music and from the Orchestras he conducted. He continued to enjoy both tremendous popularity, but also periodic racism against him. He became a great favorite of Marie Antoinette. Saint-Georges began writing operas, met other famous talents in the music world, including the actual Mozart and Haydn. During this time his mother, who had continued to live with him, died - apparently still at least technically a slave by legal status if not in how she lived.

Subsequently, Saint-Georges spent time in England, including rubbing elbows with the Prince of Wales. Throughout his life among the nobility and wealthy, Saint Georges was an ardent supporter of the abolition of slavery.

When the French Revolution began, Saint-Georges volunteered, and headed up a legion of 'colored' troops, holding the rank of colonel. He fought on the side of the Republic against the monarchists, was imprisoned during the 'Terror', was released when the worst excesses of the Revolution were over. Without the patronage afforded him by the nobility prior to the revolution, he was somewhat less successful.

At one point he left France for about two years when there was a slave revolt on Caribbean island where he was born. Two years later he returned to France, again tried to rejoin his legion and again began composing and conducting music, as well as resuming playing the violin. He died in 1799 in comparative poverty.  He left behind as his legacy a large body of musical compositions, including operas, symphonies, concertos, chamber music, music for string quartets, and vocal music, many of which are still performed and recorded.

Friday, February 27, 2015

His name should be changed to Bill "Oh, REALLY?"

from Youtube via Breitbart Unmasked --- funny, but it omits the latest lie about the LA Riots relating to the Rodney King beating:

RIP Leonard Nimoy

Rest in Peace Leonard Nimoy.

You inspired a lot of people when they were kids by your role of the Star Trek science officer, even if it must have been annoying wearing those prosthetic pointy ears.

Friday Fun Day -- this made me laugh out loud

via R T on FB:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Net Neutrality is HERE

FCC votes for net neutrality 3 -2!

from FB
Freedom of the net, regulating the internet as a utility, benefits us all!

The heads of conservative conspiracy theory nuts must be exploding.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pro nothing.

Remember when: Indignation versus Incarceration, and the Jeb Bush family criminal records

Sunday, February 22, 2015, the song Glory from the movie Selma won an Oscar, and the co-winners made brief speeches which addressed incarceration in this country, including an allusion to the inequality of that incarceration. The United States, land of the 'Free', has more people behind bars than anywhere else in the world. That is fact. The United States really DOES have more black people behind bars than were enslaved in the mid-19th century. That is also a fact.

ONLY in the fact-averse, reality-challenged delusions of the right wing bubble is the double standard we have in this country in question. It is extremely well documented, but of course, the same people on the crazy right who reject factual history courses reject the objective reality of incarceration past and present.

Perusing this right wing bubble, I was challenged to prove that there exists a different standard of justice for the wealthy, the privileged, and the majority of white people in this country.

I chose the following example of presidential wannabee, Jeb Bush and his family. Before and during his tenure as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush was a huge proponent of both private prisons and mandatory sentencing. If you were arrested, you went off to fill the quota that made private prisons so very profitable --- and which put dollars in the pocket of Jeb Bush.

As noted by the Daily Dot earlier in February:
While Florida crime had just begun a 20-year decline that continues to this day, Bush spent much of the 1990s pushing to build more for-profit prisons in the Sunshine State and around the country, with the stated dual-goals of putting as many criminals in jail as possible and saving taxpayer money at the same time.

...The private-prison boom came quickly in the wake of president Richard Nixon’s war on drugs. Harsher sentencing laws led to an explosion in incarceration rates and rising costs almost immediately thereafter. The U.S. now has the highest prison population on earth.

Between 1990 and 2009, private prisons took on 1,600 percent growth in prisoners, according to the federal government, due in large part to the industry spending millions of dollars on lobbying and employing hundreds of lobbyists throughout the country—including dozens in Florida alone.

On top of building for-profit prisons, Bush championed legislation that made sure the institutions were filled to capacity.

Bush boasted about his “get tough on crime” attitude on the campaign trail. When he came to office, he championed numerous landmark mandatory sentencing laws that passed early on during his first term.

In this effort, Bush was closely aligned with the goals of the private-prison lobby during his time as governor.

...Bush pushed for and passed harsher laws, like three strikes legislation and “truth in sentencing,” that an ALEC Task Force Director bragged was “based on an ALEC model bill.”

All of these laws increase the number of prisoners, increase sentences, and increase the amount of money private prisons earn in the process.

Over the course of the last two decades, the private-prison industry has spent millions on contributions to Floridian politicians, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican party during Bush’s tenure.

While crime in Florida declined in the 1990s, Florida’s prison population doubled yet again, to nearly 80,000 prisoners as sentencing rules became harsher.

Bush’s second campaign for governor was successful and he served the office from 1999 to 2007. During that time, the same trend continued: Crime fell and Florida’s prison population rose to over 100,000 for the first time in history, half of whom were black. African Americans make up about 15 percent of the Florida population. Similar sized states like New York had reduced their prison sizes during the same period.

At the end of Bush’s tenure as governor, half of Florida’s prisoners were nonviolent drug and property offenders, according to the Sentencing Project.

...As for shrinking government and saving money, Bush repeatedly raised spending on Florida’s corrections budget during his two terms as governor. In 2007, when Bush left office, it cost Florida over $979 million to imprison the nonviolent drug and property criminals of the state.

Florida overpaid CCA and GEO by $13 million, a 2005 audit showed, including for jobs that were never filled and maintenance that was never performed.

Both companies were paid $90 million annually despite audits showing the prisons weren't being run as efficiently as state law required, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

Nationwide, the industry's profits have gone up close to 500 percent since Bush first wrote about "deinventing government."

...The profits of private prison companies, by their own admission, rely on high incarceration rates: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices,” according to a 2010 annual report by the largest private prison company in America, the CCA.
There is really no basis for any factual challenge that Jeb Bush and his party took money to lock up people, for the express purpose of generating profits. There is no basis for any challenge to the facts that this disproportionately affected black and brown people, as well as the poorest of white people, while largely NOT affecting middle class and wealthier people, especially white people. In other words, there is a clear, demonstrable double standard, of leniency for some people, and harshness towards others that is not fair and equal justice.

However the right wing nuts, the RWN, challenged me to show that this was not simply a case of black and brown people committing crimes more often than other people, another way of stating the right wing racist belief that 'those people' are more criminal than other people, people who are white and more affluent.

Never mind the hypocrisy and double standard that Jeb himself was a privileged pot smoker in his day, without any apparent legal consequences.

Let's look at what happened when all three of Jeb Bush's children got arrested, one for stalking and breaking and entering, one for a non-violent drug crime, and one for public intoxication and a quite violent resisting arrest charge. Then we'll move on to the criminal troubles of Mrs. Columba Bush.

Smoking Gun has the 3 page arrest report for eldest son George P. Bush, which describe his criminal conduct:
George P. Bush might be a hunkalicious young Republican, but he still seems a bit creepy. So TSG wasn't too surprised to learn that "P" was involved in a troubling 1994 incident described in this Metro-Dade Police Department report. On December 31, 1994, Bush showed up at 4 AM at the Miami home of a former girlfriend. He proceeded to break into the house via the woman's bedroom window, and then began arguing with his ex's father. Bush, then a Rice University student, soon fled the scene. But he returned 20 minutes later to drive his Ford Explorer across the home's front lawn, leaving wide swaths of burned grass in his wake. Young Bush avoided arrest when the victims declined to press charges.
And then we have middle child, daugher Noelle L. Bush, who got arrested for forging a prescription and illegal prescription drug possesion -- multiple occasions of illegal drug possession.

Here is the news story on that criminal conduct resulting in an initial arrest, from USA Today.
She was charged with prescription fraud, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Noelle Bush has no known criminal record and was released without having to post bond.

Jeb Bush had said previously that one of his three children used illegal drugs during his first failed campaign for Florida governor in 1994. That episode prompted Jeb and Columba Bush to get involved in several drug-prevention groups, and Jeb Bush appointed a state drug czar after he was elected governor in 1998.
Noelle tried to tell police this was a one-off, apparently, in the hopes of getting away with it. It was not.
"Xanax is legally prescribed for stress and anxiety. Noelle Bush reportedly told police that she was panicked about starting a new job on Tuesday.
...Illegal use of the sedative Xanax is popular among some young people, particularly in combination with the party drug Ecstasy. It can help prolong an Ecstasy high or soften the crash that often follows. The practice is known as "parachuting" among users, says Joe Kilmer, spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami.
UNLIKE all those black and brown and poor people Jeb was putting behind bars during this time in office in Florida, Noelle went into rehab, where she went AWOL, tried to get more illegal drugs, and got busted possessing other drugs multiple times.

From Salon's article from 2002, "For Noelle Bush, a different kind of justice":

Jeb Bush and niece of President George W. Bush was found with crack inside her shoe in the Center for Drug Free Living in Orlando, where she was sent in January after being arrested for trying to buy Xanax with a forged prescription. It was not the first time she’s been busted while in rehab — her three-day jail term in July came after she was caught with a bag of prescription pills that didn’t belong to her.

Drug-reform advocates certainly don’t claim that Noelle Bush has been treated too leniently — even three days in jail is too harsh, they argue. But, they say, the punishment is even more severe for people without her money or connections. “The question is whether she’s being treated in a unique way,” says Bruce Bullington, the editor of the Journal of Drug Issues and an associate professor of criminology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. “I think she is.”

Her fellow patients seem to agree. As the Orlando Sentinel reports, Noelle Bush was reported to the police by a woman who said she was a Center for Drug Free Living client incensed by what she felt was the preferential treatment given the governor’s daughter.

“One of the women here was caught buying crack cocaine tonight,” the caller said in her Sept. 9 conversation with a 911 dispatcher. “And a lot of the women are upset because she’s been caught about five times. And we want something done because our children are here, and they just keep letting it slip under the counter and carpet … They said, you know, because it’s basically Noelle Bush … She does this all the time and she gets out of it because she’s the governor’s daughter.”

...According to the New York Daily News, one Center for Drug Free Living staffer heeded a supervisor’s advice and tore up her written statement about finding the drugs rather than show it to the police. Without the statement, the police didn’t have probable cause to arrest Bush. Four employees have been subpoenaed after refusing to cooperate with police, citing the center’s privacy policies.

... “Anyone else who they found with a rock of cocaine, they would turn it over to the police … And the courts will say there’s no second chances, or one second chance.”
The first time Noelle went to jail for violating her parole and being caught with drugs, she did only 2 days behind bars, then back to rehab. The second time she was caught with drugs, and remember we're talking crack cocaine here, she did only ten days behind bars. Black and brown and poor white people do much longer and harder time. Unlike black, brown and poor white people, despite the many drug crimes of Noelle Bush, her charges were eventually dismissed.

As noted by 'rotten' and the HuffPo:
16 Sep 2002 "While Noelle has been given every break in the book -- and then some -- her father has made it harder for others in her position to get the help they need by cutting the budgets of drug treatment and drug court programs in his state. He has also actively opposed a proposed ballot initiative that would send an estimated 10,000 non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail." Arianna Huffington.
I think we can fairly say that the Bush family received a very different Justice than did those Governor Daddy Bush was putting behind bars for profit, or that the daughters of big brother President Bush received for their respective arrests.

But let's move on to the youngest Jeb Bush son, John E. Bush and his criminal problems, from CBS News:
The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said.

John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin's Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade.

The nephew of President Bush was released on $2,500 bond for the resisting arrest charge, and on a personal recognizance bond for the public intoxication charge, officials said.

Go ahead, guess how much time Jebbie Jr. did. NONE, in spite of violent conduct; anyone still want to argue that SOME people get special treatment in our Justice system?

Let's now move on to Columba Bush, first lady of Florida, and her run in with the feds, from the Sydney Morning Herald, yesterday:
Jeb Bush's wife, Columba, once detained for not fully declaring $24,000 in jewels bought in Paris

Washington: In 1999, Columba Bush, the famously private wife of then-Florida governor Jeb Bush, was detained and fined by US customs officials for misrepresenting the amount of clothing and jewellery she had bought while on a solo five-day shopping spree in Paris.

After Mrs Bush was forced to pay $US4100 in fines and duties for the purchases she had tried to slip past customs agents at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, the governor said her shopping habits were no one else's business.
Most other people, unless wealthy or well connected, would NOT have gotten away with a mere fine.

And that's just the 'nucular' Jeb Bush family; we could demonstrate that this is the pattern of the extended Bush family privilege, but I think it more than adequately makes the point that we have an incredibly hypocritical double Justice system in this country, EXACTLY the way it was described at the Oscars.

ANYONE with a sense of fairness has to recognize this is wrong, this is completely contrary to the intent of our founding fathers, and this is horrifically hypocritical on the part of the right, ALL the right, not just the Bush boys and their families.

Always follow the money......

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yipppeeee! Lovin' this iteration of Obama

Obama just vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline!

Why do they hate us? Why do Islamic extremists recruit so successfully?

Abu Ghraib, late 2003
The radical right has made the same claim as Dubya does below -- that we're hated for our freedoms.

That is not true; no one hates us for being free.

It is a propaganda lie for the stupid and gullible.  It is part of the same mind-set that wants to eliminate AP History for taking on our failings in the past and present head on, honestly, while still loving our country. 

It is the same mindset as that expressed by Rudy Guiliani when he claimed Obama does not love America.

It is wrong. It is wilfully blind, and it is profoundly dishonest.

Sooner or later, we always have to come to terms with what we, as a nation, have done wrong, or allowed or encouraged to be done wrong, in our name and with our consent, including cover ups.

THIS described below, and other abuses like it, is why we have been hated, not our 'freedoms'.  This and other abuses, including some aspects of our drone policy and much of our policy in Iraq and Gitmo is why we see so many parts of the Iraq joining up with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.  It is why people leave other countries and go to fight with ISIS.  It is why religion and religious government appear to offer an attractive alternative to our democracy.

H/T: Abu Ghraib Prison| Featured Image: Muslim Times
Abu Ghraib
I've heard references to the following before, so it does not entirely surprise me that those rumors are true.  This does NOT appear to be the exception that proves the rule that otherwise we acted better than this, especially given the statistics on rape of our own soldiers by our own soldiers.

From If You Only News:
Classified Videos Allegedly Show U.S. Soldiers Raping Boys In Front Of Their Mothers (IMAGES)

There is a reason why the White House sent the President’s Chief of Staff to personally negotiate on what was going to be included in the CIA’s Torture Report. The Executive Summary released by the Senate was only a mere 525 pages out of the more than 6,700 pages that still remain classified.

There is a reason why top U.S. leadership was genuinely concerned about the reports release; things are much, much worse than they want you to believe.

According to multiple well-respected journalists, including Seymour Hersh, recipient of the 1970 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting and known for exposing the My Lai Massacre and its cover-up in the Vietnam War, the Pentagon has a secret video. The video was recorded at Abu Ghraib, the U.S. torture dungeon in Iraq, that dominated the headlines a decade ago, where the inhumane tactics used at the prison were first exposed.

But, the problem is, the evidence released years ago was just a fraction of what was being done, all to the full knowledge of key U.S. authorities. While the video has remained under wraps thus far, Hersh says it is only a matter of time before it comes out.

Giving a speech at the ACLU, Hersh gave some insight on what was on the tape:

Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.

It’s impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had. I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we’re dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. So, it’s going to be an interesting election year.

When you put these statements together with another speech Hersh gave in Chicago, it becomes more clear that the women who witnessed these young boys were actually their mothers:

You haven’t begun to see evil, horrible things done to the children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.

Ten years ago when the initial Abu Ghraib scandal made headlines, the Guardian published the testimony of a detainee who witnessed one of these brutal attacks.
Photo from Abu Ghraib. Pic via Left Voices

Former detainee Kasim Hilas said in their testimony:

I saw [name blacked out] f*cking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his d*ck in the little kid’s ass, I couldn’t see the face of the kid because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And, the soldier was taking pictures.

Now, over a decade later, the evidence of what has happened is surfacing, but the government is doing everything possible to still keep the most damning evidence of these soldiers’ awful behavior classified.

With the torture report still fresh in the minds of the general population, this is why it’s important, now more than ever, to put pressure on elected officials and force the release of this evidence.

Please, share this with everyone you know.

I have to believe that if this had come out along with the other scandals from Abu Ghraib, that Dubya would not have been re-elected in 2014. 

I can only speculate what this coming out in advance of the 2016 elections could mean for the candidacy of Jeb Bush, given he has hired on his brothers old, bad advisers.

And I must believe that this coming out will result in a shake up at the Pentagon for the cover up and lack of any apparent accountability for this.

But what I hope will happen, more than anything else, is that those who have excused torture will stop excusing it, and that we as a nation will re-embrace the Geneva conventions and realize, fully realize and understand, WHY there are things we do not do, and should never do, no matter what the impulse at the time to do so, and that these actions taken in our name do not make or keep us free OR safe, they only shame us and make us as bad as our enemies.

History will conclude that Dubya was THE worst president ever, and for good reason.  It will also conclude that we were bad for this happening, and for our attitudes condoning torture and abuse of the prison at Gitmo and other locations, among other things we have done wrong as a nation in the 21st century.

The only option for any regaining of even a moral molehill, never mind the moral high ground, is what we do about these events when we can no longer hide them or hide from them.

That should include not electing another Bush, but it MUST include admitting what was done wrong, and NOT VIOLATING THE GENEVA CONVENTION ANY MORE, especially in how we deal with civilians.

That tends to rule out most of the recommendations and suggestions from the right on what to do about Islamic terrorism.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Domestic Terrorism vs Foreign Terrorism

Homeland Security is announcing another round of data regarding the radical right, including the sovereign citizen movement, causing a round of exploding heads inside their tinfoil hats. At the same time, regional Islamist terrorists from the horn of Africa, al Shibab, is threatening an attack on the Mall of America like the one in Kenya.

I've been taking the time to observe some of the propaganda from the far right wing bubble, as it gins up the anger of the teabagger .......what is the opposite of elite?  Lowest common denominator might fit, but not well, but it comes closer to the drooling and gullible sheeple that form a significant hard core demographic of the base.

It has been written that the consumers of Fox News and the rest of the right wind dis-information machine are not so much UN-informed, which can be said of those who do not bother with following any current events or issues, at any level (local, state, or national), but rather that they are MIS-informed.

Plenty of ink has been spilled in documenting that the right wing, especially the far right wrong, is angry, all the time, and distrustful of government.  That is not accidental, it is not spontaneous in origin, it is not organic. IT IS CONTRIVED, FOMENTED, DELIBERATELY CREATED ANGER, DISTRUST, AND POLARIZED BEYOND RECONCILIATION.

THAT is toxic and destructive to any democratic form of government of the people, by the people and for the people.  We can not have functional government so long as we have wilfully and deliberately ignorant people operating not to participate in governing, but intent on destruction or overthrow of our institutions, principles, and our very government itself, driven by that deliberately cultivated fear and ignorance.

I was intrigued by the new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which came out around the same time that the Department of Homeland Security was announcing that Right Wing Domestic Terrorism was a greater threat than ISIS/ISL/Daesh.
A new Department of Homeland Security intelligence assessment circulated this month focuses on the threat of right-wing sovereign citizen extremist groups in the U.S. Some law enforcement groups say the threat is equal to, and occasionally greater than, the threat from Islamic extremist groups.

The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010, CNN reported Friday.
These types of extremists believe that they can ignore laws because those laws attack their individual rights, even in routine daily instances like a traffic stop or being required to obey a court order, CNN reported Friday.
...While groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda have dominated the global discussion on terrorism, a survey last year of state and local law enforcement officers listed sovereign citizen terrorists ahead of foreign Islamists and domestic militia groups as the top domestic terror threat, CNN reported.
Eleanor Clift in the Daily Beast noted that we are averaging a Domestic Terrorist Attack every 34 days.;
Would-be members of anti-government groups are instead striking out on their own—becoming ‘lone wolves’—committing 74 percent of U.S. terrorism since 2009, according to a new report.

The radical anti-government groups that thrived after the election of Barack Obama are having trouble attracting potential new recruits, who are scared off by the “social cost” of being exposed as members. That’s the good news in a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.The bad news is that these people—and they’re all over the Internet—are moving into what the SPLC calls “Lone Wolf” violence, or “Leaderless Resistance.” “What we think is happening is very large numbers of people are leaving bricks and mortar groups for the Internet,” says Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the SPLC and editor of the report. “The action is in cyberspace these days.”Potok cited the example of Republican leader Steve Scalise, who was excoriated for having spoken to a white supremacist conference. “He was able to hang on to his job and post, but it was very, very costly, and that’s what’s making people move away from these groups,” Potok says. A second factor prompting people to strike out on their own, or in very small groups, is frustration with the lack of action in bigger organizations.“They get tired of the meet, eat, and retreat crowd, all the talk about the evils of black people, gay people, Muslim people,” he says. “They get sick of all the talk, and they’re moving out on their own and begin to shoot.”...Islamist-driven terrorist attacks dominate the headlines today, but more Americans are killed by domestic non-Islamist terror, an uncomfortable reality that is documented in the SPLC’s “Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism.” The report covers 2009 to 2015, the period Obama has been in office, and finds that a terrorist incident took place or was disrupted every 34 days.
“We are not in any way trying to dismiss the jihadist threat, but there’s a huge amount of carnage that is carried out by the domestic radical right, and let’s not forget that.”

Of the 63 terrorist acts documented, 74 percent were committed by a lone wolf. Once pairs were included, a man and a woman, or a couple of buddies, 90 percent of all domestic terror was accounted for, whether it was Islamist or some other form of hatred or anti-government ideology. Another finding: Those who commit domestic terror are much older than those who commit other crimes. “We are not in any way trying to dismiss the jihadist threat,” says Potok, “but there’s a huge amount of carnage that is carried out by the domestic radical right, and let’s not forget that.”

The SPLC report credits Louis Beam, an early ’80s KKK leader in Texas, with popularizing the concept of “leaderless resistance” in a seminal (for the white supremacist movement) 1983 essay he wrote about the dangers of large, top-down groups. Beam urged his followers to move into single or small-cell terrorism, no more than six men, an idea that was picked up and adopted by white supremacists, and also by jihadists.

Raising the topic of homegrown terrorism in the context of the ongoing national outcry over Islamist-fueled terrorism is politically explosive. The Obama administration got an early taste of how the subject can spin out of control when then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano released a report in 2009 on right-wing extremism that said these groups are interested in recruiting returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with military skills. Construing the report as an attack on veterans, the right was outraged, forcing Napolitano to apologize to the American Legion, among others, and withdraw it.

The timing of the SPLC report is an effort to put the terrorist threat in context. The effort is likely to get pushback, just as Obama did at last week’s prayer breakfast when he reminded the religious leaders that this is not the first time crimes have been committed in the name of religion, or in his interview last week with Vox when he said climate change poses a greater threat to national security than terrorism. In releasing the report, the SPLC is seeking to “find a balance that’s in line with reality.” That’s an elusive goal when the No. 1 threat in most people’s minds is Islamist-based terrorism from abroad, not our fellow Americans.

The American Psychological Association, back in 2009, summarized some of the scientific studies focused on understanding terrorism, and it fits the radical misinformed right wing, particularly the persistent meme they are spoon-fed by right wing media that they are victimized when they are not:
For years, psychologists examined terrorists' individual characteristics, mining for clues that could explain their willingness to engage in violence. While researchers now agree that most terrorists are not "pathological" in any traditional sense, several important insights have been gleaned though interviews with some 60 former terrorists conducted by psychologist John Horgan, PhD, who directs the Pennsylvania State University's International Center for the Study of Terrorism.

Horgan found that people who are more open to terrorist recruitment and radicalization tend to:
  • Feel angry, alienated or disenfranchised.
  • Believe that their current political involvement does not give them the power to effect real change.
  • Identify with perceived victims of the social injustice they are fighting.
  • Feel the need to take action rather than just talking about the problem.
  • Believe that engaging in violence against the state is not immoral.
  • Have friends or family sympathetic to the cause.
  • Believe that joining a movement offers social and psychological rewards such as adventure, camaraderie and a heightened sense of identity.

Beyond the individual characteristics of terrorists, Horgan has learned that it's more fruitful to investigate how people change as a result of terrorist involvement than to simply ask why they enter in the first place. That's because asking why tends to yield pat, ideological responses, while asking how reveals important information about the processes of entry, involvement and leaving organizations, he has found. Potential areas to tap include examining the myriad ways people join organizations, whether via recruitment or personal decision; how leaders influence people's decision to adopt certain roles, for example by glorifying the role of suicide bomber; and factors that motivate people to leave.
...Some psychologists believe terrorism is most accurately viewed through a political lens. Psychologist Clark McCauley, PhD, a co-investigator at START and director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, has come to see terrorism as "the warfare of the weak"—the means by which groups that lack material or political power fight what they see as oppressive forces. As such, he believes that terrorist actions and government reactions to them represent a dynamic interplay, with the moves of one group influencing those of the other. As one example, if terrorists commit an attack and a state uses extreme force to send a punishing message back, the terrorists may use that action to drum up greater anti-state sentiment among citizens, lending justification to their next actions. Yet research focuses almost solely on terrorist actions and neglects the important other side of the equation, he contends. "If you can't keep track of what we're doing in response, how can you ever hope to figure out what works better or worse?" McCauley says.
When it comes to terrorism, in the words of the old comic strip Pogo, we have met the enemy, and he is us.......some of us, not all of us. But some of us would rather focus on the them half-way around the world. You can tell 'them', because they're the people the radical right wants us to believe "aren't like us", while those 'other people' are really more like the radical right than they care to admit.  The greater threat is arguably the most proximate threat, not 'those people' half way round the world.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Yes, US v. Miller isn't helpful to Scalia's opinion in DC v. Heller.

Because it totally contradicts what he claims when properly understood.

I offer Justice William O. Douglas’s dissent in Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972)
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL concurs, dissenting.

My views have been stated in substance by Judge Friendly, dissenting, in the Court of Appeals. 436 F.2d 30, 35. Connecticut allows its citizens to carry weapons, concealed or otherwise, at will, provided they have a permit. Conn. Gen. Stat. Rev. 29-35, 29-38. Connecticut law gives its police no authority to frisk a person for a permit. Yet the arrest was for illegal possession of a gun. The only basis for that arrest was the informer’s tip on the narcotics. Can it be said that a man in possession of narcotics will not have a permit for his gun? Is that why the arrest for possession of a gun in the free-and-easy State of Connecticut becomes constitutional?

The police problem is an acute one not because of the Fourth Amendment, but because of the ease with which anyone can acquire a pistol. A powerful lobby dins into the ears of our citizenry that these gun purchases are constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment, which reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

There is under our decisions no reason why stiff state laws governing the purchase and possession of pistols may not be enacted. There is no reason why pistols may not be barred from anyone with a police record. There is no reason why a State may not require a purchaser of a pistol to pass a psychiatric test. There is no reason why all pistols should not be barred to everyone except the police.

The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” Id., at 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, “must be interpreted and applied” with the view of maintaining a “militia.”

“The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia – civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” Id., at 178-179.

Critics say that proposals like this water down the Second Amendment. Our decisions belie that argument, for the Second Amendment, as noted, was designed to keep alive the militia. But if watering-down is the mood of the day, I would prefer to water down the Second rather than the Fourth Amendment. I share with Judge Friendly a concern that the easy extension of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, to “possessory offenses” is a serious intrusion on Fourth Amendment safeguards.

“If it is to be extended to the latter at all, this should be only where observation by the officer himself or well authenticated information shows `that criminal activity may be afoot.'” 436 F.2d, at 39, quoting Terry v. Ohio, supra, at 30.
Quick trivia question: What special characteristic about Justice Douglas might make him qualified to have special knowledge of the US v Miller decision? You should know this if you’ve actually read US v Miller.
You have read US v Miller, haven’t you?

Anyway, I'm surprised that this explanation of the Miller decision by someone who had been on the court when that decision was made has not had more publicity.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tammy Meyers, looking for trouble with a gun, getting herself killed

Enough of THIS mentality on our streets and highways:

Beware people who project themselves falsely as victims.

As more information comes out, we're seeing that with the shooting of Tammy Meyers, and we've seen it in the past with other gun-huggers.  Tammy Meyers was a vigilante, who instead of reporting a situation of concern to the police, went looking for trouble, found it, and as a result, she died.

I'm reminded of the Vigilante shooting Vigilante in Utah, where both ended up in jail, and instead of one person dead, one of the two vigilantes ended up in a wheelchair.  Both men claimed to be the good guy with a gun going after the bad guy with a gun; but the reality was that neither was a good guy.  In fact, both ended up in the same prison, for a variety of convictions.

Now, in Las Vegas, we find that pattern repeated.  Like George Zimmerman in Florida, going out looking for Trayvon Martin, going out looking for trouble, Meyers found it. And apparently now Meyer's son is claiming that it was an ok thing for them to go out looking for the other guy with a gun, but not for him to do the same.

Those initial reports make no mention of the road rage guy having a gun initially, or when they found him. It seems apparent they went looking for him with a gun, which was threatening conduct, and then try to claim they're the injured party when he does the same.

REALITY CHECK -- they were both wrong. That one person died, and that neighbors were put at risk is the result.

From WDAZ 8:
Police say the victim and her son pursued the suspect following an initial encounter, possibly escalating the situation.
Overnight, continued grief and outrage from the family of Tammy Meyers.

Robert Meyers/Victim's husband: "She never did nothing bad to anybody."

Firing a "volley of rounds" at Meyers, the son firing back, evidence of the exchange of fire in a nearby wall.

One more example of the flaw of stand your ground, one more example of the grossly mistaken and dangerous notion gun-huggers hold of self-defense aka vigilante-ism.

They're a danger to themselves, they're a danger to all of us.

POSSIBLY "escalating the situation"? No, definitely escalating the situation.  She went out with her son and a gun, not a plate of cookies.  There has been no reported calls to 911 or to the non-emergency police of the incident.  She and her son were being lawless vigilantes, pure and simple. 

THAT is looking for trouble, and THAT is doing something 'bad to somebody'.  That is being as much a part of the road rage as the other guy.

And like the obverse of the golden rule, when you do bad to others, you are at risk of others doing bad to you.  Or put another way, what goes around comes around, and in this case it was a bullet type round.

Not only was this stupid, not only was this a morally and ethically and legally BAD thing to do, IT PUT OTHER INNOCENT PEOPLE AT RISK.

Let me repeat the pertinent part of the news coverage:
Firing a "volley of rounds" at Meyers, the son firing back, evidence of the exchange of fire in a nearby wall.
No. Wrong. BAD.

Time to make gun ownership more restricted, more difficult, and to require liability insurance so as to put some checks and balances on these gun lunatics.

And time to arrest Tammy Meyer's son for his part, as well as the other shooter, and the hell with the we're victims whining. THEY are NOT victims, and neither is Tammy Meyers.  They're just collateral damage of a failed gun culture and failed gun culture myths.

God Given Rights

photo courtesy Brussels Bulletin
The problem is that the Constitution says that it and any laws enacted in accordance with it are law. Thus, "God Given rights" are an illusion if they are not constitutionally enacted.

Also, I should explain that the term "pre-existing right" comes from common law tradition and rights granted from that tradition. The US did not start out with a legal system created from scratch: it "received" the common law system. Thus, one needs to look to the common law for how those rights have been treated prior to the US's independence from Britain.

On the other hand, the French had to create rights when they had their revolution.

The point I am trying to make is for someone to claim a right, they must have an actual legal basis for making that claim--not merely that some deity granted it. This is especially true in the US which is a secular society.

See also:

Just sayin'

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Alarum! Creeping Sharia in Minnesota!

OH NO! Sharia law is a threat again in Minnesota. (NO, it's not.)

Conservatives worry endlessly, insanely, over thing which are not threats, while blindly ignoring the things like Global Warming, that SHOULD be of concern.

from 'now the end'

What is it this time? The latest swimming schedule.
Quick, run around with your hair on fire... or not.

I used the word 'alarum' in the headline because it reflects the backwards thinking of those who lost their minds back in the 15th or 16th century, and because implicit in the hysteria is that someone should stop this TERRIBLE threat, i.e. a call to arms, and disordered activity among the bigots on the right.

From  alarum /əˈlærəm; -ˈlɑːr-; -ˈlɛər-/

1. (archaic) an alarm, esp a call to arms
2. (used as a stage direction, esp in Elizabethan drama) a loud disturbance or conflict (esp in the phrase alarums and excursions)
 From Merriam Webster on line:

alarums and excursions


1:  martial sounds and the movement of soldiers across the stage —used as a stage direction in Elizabethan drama
2:  clamor, excitement, and feverish or disordered activity
This time it's Oakdale plotting to undermine western civilization, allegedly.  Sneaky Oakdale; they're pretending they just want to make swimming available to a wider group of people.  It's much more sinister, if you trust the idiots and fools and hysterical bigots over at creeping sharia (!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  And gosh golly, WE here in Minnesota started the whole notion of Muslim swimming classes so women and girls could get some exercise, and incidentally, not be at risk for drowning.

But that's not how the right wing nutjob aluminum foil hat wearers see this:
Oakdale is a suburb of the ever-Islamizing St. Paul, Minnesota.
This appears to be a taxpayer subsidized effort and the Educational Equity Alliance is a group that forces schools too become more multicultural (i.e., less white) by changing the demographics of such schools under the guise of “educational equity.”
Sharia swimming is just one sign of creeping sharia. Not to mention unmitigated immigration and the unwillingness of foreigners to assimilate and surrender by western dhimmis:
For those of you who don't routinely use the word dog whistle word dhimmis intended to scare the human by-products out of you that don't belong in a swimming pool:
Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination. Islamic conquests expanded over vast territories in Africa, Europe and Asia, for over a millennium (638-1683).
For those of you who are rational rather than hysterical bigots, hyping Islamophobia, here is what is really coming to Oakdale, along with a list of other places that followed the excellent Minnesota example:
If cultural, religious practices, or any other reason prohibits you from using a public swimming pool, enjoy a swim night just for girls and women. All female staff. The pool has a stairway entrance.
(Free childcare for male family members while women and girls swim).
Suggested admission*:
$3 Adult; $2 Youth/Child, $6/family of three or more
Place: John Glenn School
Time: Swimming 6:30 to 8PM
Social Hour 8 to 9PM
Fridays: January 16, February 20, March 13, April 17, May 8
*Subsidized by a grant from Educational Equity Allliance.

THIS is about as dangerous to western civilization and specifically to Christianity and Judaism as this, from Facebook:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

GIGO: Islamophobia, the Ridiculous Radical Religious Right, and Hate Crimes

Remember when....... pick one.......the state of (blank) passed laws banning Sharia law?  There's more coming.
A panel of local Muslims last week denounced the state’s ban on a foreign law designed to bar Sharia or Islamic law.
“Folks were in this hysteria thinking that the minority Muslim Community here in North Carolina could somehow impose our laws, laws taken from the Sharia,” Imam Khalid Griggs of Community Mosque said at a forum on the subject held Tuesday, Jan. 27 at the Polo Recreation Center
...Proponents of the bans say they protect the Constitution, but many disagree. Muslim groups have been joined by Jewish organizations in their opposition to the bans. The Anti-Defamation League in Florida opposed that state’s foreign law ban, which passed last year, for fear of its potential effects on alimony, child custody and even the ability to remarry for Jews who divorce in Israel."
The right is wrong, and has been wrong since Barry Goldwater said this:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
But Goldwater was correct when he noted, as an ardent opponent of the religious right:
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies.
Ironically, both quotes are from Goldwater's presidential nomination acceptance speech in San Francisco waaaaay back in 1964.

That right wing extremism has resulted in actual hate crimes.  No, not the shooting of the three Muslim students in North Carolina, but in more clear and obvious and genuine hate crimes like the burning of a Mosque in Ohio by an Indiana man 'riled up' by Fox News.

But there is plenty of hate to go around with out actual violence, like regarding the arson attack on a Muslim Center in Texas, where a person misrepresenting himself to be a fireman used social media to post this:

We have plenty of hate, by the right, from the right, riling up people with purely evil right wing propaganda full of lies.

There is a real tragedy that OPPOSING the evils and abuses of religion, like the ones below, from any and every religion, wherever it occurs, is being miscontrued as a hate crime in what appears to be an ordinary, every day case of gun violence by a man in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the tragic shooting deaths of three Muslim students by a man obsessed like George Zimmerman with trying to dominate and intimidate a wide variety of people in his immediate neighborhood with his excessive gun collection, a man who had apparent anger issues.

There are a lot of things to criticize Craig Hicks for, but being an Islamophobe is not one of them, nor should being Anti-Theist.   This is a case where the Left wing media has it wrong, in generalizing that being Anti-religion generally for what is wrong with religious oppression and conflict is the same as being Anti-Muslim.  And of course the Right has it wrong as well.  The promoting of Islamophobia was one of the things Hicks opposed.  Hicks was indicted by a grand jury yesterday, per MSNBC news:
A grand jury indicted a North Carolina man on Monday for the shooting deaths of a newlywed Muslim couple and the wife's sister last week, a court official said.
Craig Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill, was charged by a grand jury with three counts of first-degree murder and one of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, said Angela Kelly, an assistant clerk of the Durham County Superior Court.
Investigators have said initial findings indicate a dispute over parking prompted the shooting, but they are looking into whether Hicks was motivated by hatred toward the victims because they were Muslim.
A new law to ban Sharia law is being introduced in Montana, following passage in other states, and of course the overturning of such a ban after Oklahoma passed one. From another apparent Islamophobe/ bigot, in the Examiner:
Montana's Senate Bill 199–also called the Primacy of Montana Law–would prohibit the state from abiding by foreign religious customs and foreign laws within the court system. Well there's an idea! A United States that follows United States laws. I'm getting excited already. Maybe we'll even follow the Constitution one day. Janna Taylor, a Republican state senator in Montana, said that the bill is modeled after a similar anti-Sharia law that has been passed by Republicans in three other states so far: Tennessee, Kansas and Louisiana.
Of course, the islamophobe bigots CLAIM, wrongly, that they support the U.S. Constitution as well as their state constitutions. They just forget that we have the supremacy clause, which establishes that where there is a conflict between Federal and State law, Federal law 'wins' aka usually supersedes state law.

We have in this country, and have always had, religious courts in parallel to our secular court system.  In Christianity it is Canon law, versions of which are practiced by Roman Catholics, Eastern Rite Christianity, Anglicans and Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists, Lutherans, and in some forms by Quakers and the Amish.  Judaism has Halacha (aka Halakha) law and courts, and Islam in this country has Sharia.

An example of how a religious court operates would be the requirement for both a SECULAR legal decision and a religious one to end a marriage, either by divorce or annulment in some faiths and the requirement to do so by secular courts as well, before one can marry, IF one's religion has that requirement (and some do).  In other instances religious courts are purely advisory, for example on the finer points of keeping Kosher or Halal.

If you don't want to go through the religious courts, then no one requires it for secular purposes; it is entirely voluntary as a matter of religious faith and conscience.

But the ridiculous radical religious right deliberately misrepresents this, ginning up fear that Sharia law is somehow a threat to replace secular law.  It never has been and never would or could be; this is pure propaganda, complete ignorance pandering to the gullible, looking for an excuse to express their hatred for anyone who does not conform to their belief or will. From the same source above:
At least individual states are finally taking matters into their own hands to stop the travesty of Sharia law in America. The Christian Action Network noted on its website that Sharia law, also called Islamic law, has been used in United States courts multiple times to override America's law under the guise of Freedom of Religion. Of course! Freedom of Religion is suddenly important when it involves catering to the violent religion of Islam. However, if you take your Bible to the public square you better have on a bullet proof vest and when you demand protection from your President against foreign and domestic threats you get psycho-babble about the Crusades.
The Christian Action Network site went on to say: “Montana may be on the brink of accomplishing what Congress, the federal court system and all but three other states could not: Banning Islamic Shariah law from being used in state courts.”
There is NO case, whatsoever, ANYWHERE in the United States, its possessions or territories, at any time, that any religious law, Sharia, Halacha, or Canon law, has been used to override American law.

Another example of this kind of fear mongering and hate peddling is occurring across right wing media over a Sharia court in Irving Texas.  Specifically, a proposal for a ban on Sharia law in Mississippi is referencing that religious court, from the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN):
Lawmakers in Mississippi are proposing legislation that would ban Sharia law from the state.
"I think we need to make a stand and a statement that we are not going to allow it to be used in our court system," state Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, said.
More than two dozen states have considered similar bans on the laws followed in Muslim nations.
A group of Muslims in northern Texas has created what may be the first official Sharia law system in the United States
The Sharia tribunal in Irving, Texas, said they're not planning to follow the type of Sharia practiced in Muslim countries, where severe punishments are handed out for even small crimes, women have very few rights, and blasphemy against Mohammed can result in a death sentence.
But in Mississippi, Rep. Moore recently introduced a meaure that blocks any foreign laws from being enforced or applied in the state and country.
He made clear that Sharia law is a big concern and wants to make sure it never gets argued in a Mississippi courtroom.
He said a Muslim defendent could try to use Sharia law as a defense against a U.S. criminal case.
This is a right wing lie; no one has succeeded in using such a defense, nor is it a defense attempt unique to one religion.  The closest we have come to a problem with a religious law interfering with the function of civil and criminal secular law was the abuse by the Roman Catholic church in conducting their own investigations under Canon Law instead of immediately reporting all accusations of sex crimes.  This led to priests being protected by the Church from legal action, including prosecution  under cover of priests being subject to Canon Law rather than civil and criminal secular law, as we see in the findings of subsequent law suits and investigative reports by journalists.

So we see the ridiculous, radical, religious right engaging in the most vile hypocrisy when it comes to outlawing Canon Law, and instead obsessing factually falsely about Sharia Law, as a justification and pretence for raging bigotry and Islamophobia.

RIP, Lesley Gore

from a 2012  psa that is as appropriate now as it was a few years ago:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day to All Our Readers

A special wish for happy valentine's day to my co-bloggers; I'd like to offer my sincere appreciation for their work here, and their support and friendship.

Friday, February 13, 2015

GIGO 3: It's Friday the 13th, a look at 21st century superstition on the right, and some amusing videos

GIGO = Garbage In, Garbage Out, or my alternative version, Garbage Information, Garbage Opinion.

Do you remember any of the many examples of the radical right believing not in a true spiritual faith, but in foolish superstition, of the kind which denies real cause and effect, and replaces it with made up silly stuff? Here are a few, a little fun for those who are still superstitious about on Friday the 13th. Laugh at the superstition, and have a good laugh at the right wing nuts too.

This is one of my favorites, expressing the notion apparently that all that hard work, death and sacrifice, expense and effort to win the Civil War was unnecessary. Because the ridiculous religious right and the radical right generally believes God picks favorites; they believe HE doesn't love all his children, at least not equally. And until Lincoln made his prayer, depending on your interpretation of God's motives and reasoning, God was just flipping a coin as to which side of the Civil War to choose, until Lincoln lobbied Him or bribed Him with better prayers than the other side.

I don't know about you, but I find that offensive as a religious premise, I find it offensive because it is the dumbing down America by grossly misrepresenting our history. This is especially appropriate here on the day after Lincoln's birthday; he must have been rolling in his grave at this monstrous representation of the events of his presidency. This is not history, this is right wingnuts making up rubbish, and stamping it with the false approval of God, to make it appear something else.

A little historical information for comparison, George Washington lost a lot of battles -- most of them in fact, did not have a day of prayer, and still won the Revolutionary War. Because that's often the way the pattern of wars goes, early losses, later wins. Another example, Napoleon won a lot of battles, lost at Waterloo, end of Napoleon, effectively. This is rubbish, this is crap history, this is crap theology, this is religion as superstition, this is a serious break with reality, and cause and effect.

This is FAILED reason, this is FAULTY thinking, this is WRONG WRONG WRONG, but it epitomizes the failures of the right on every topic to seriously address our important issues of the day.

Let me give you a few more examples of right wing insanity under the claimed authority of religion:

and this:

or this:

or this:

there's this, advising irrational thinking regarding major financial decisions:

and this one, one of the many 'end days', aka the world is ending that don't come true:

and of course the one where Robertson ignores the science of earthquakes entirely - and maybe a whole lot less than sincerely:

and the most hilarious of the lot:

These people want you to be afraid, they want you to be emotional not rational, they want you to be superstitious, like worrying about when the 13th day of the month occurs on a Friday.

I think I'll celebrate by a litte binge watching of the two old classic ghost busters movies. Pop some popcorn and find your own version of laughing at the ridiculous superstitious nonsense.

There is no point in attempting bi-partisan efforts until the side that is nuts gets better, returns to normal, rational thinking, and embraces reason regarding science and the most fundamental notion of cause and effect. They can't do that while following crackpots like this, or pursuing their current ideology, or thinking like it's the Dark Ages.

The Right has to change. Too many of them think like this, and too many of them who don't pander to those who do, for money and votes, and then let these people shape policy.

They are failures, their ideology is faulty, their beliefs do not stand up to the test of observation of results.

There can be no meeting of the minds when one side has lost theirs.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

GIGO 2: Guns, Islamophobia, and the Politics of Atheism

Craig Stephen Hicks is charged with murder in the deaths of three Muslim students.
Old, White, Crabby and Flabby Craig Stephen Hicks,
concealed carry permit holder, and gun obsessed alleged murderer
photo via the WSJ
Craig Stephen Hicks (allegedly) shot three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this week.

A lot of fuss and fury on the right has focused on him being an atheist.  He was an atheist, and more recently an anti-theist.  That means he called out the bad things done in the name of religion and underlined how religion contributed to the sense of justification for doing those bad things.

But he was not an Islamophobe.  Rather he railed against extremism, including BOTH Christian and Muslim extremism and fundamentalism, equally.  He did not single out either as being the unique in that regard, but rather saw the problems as being similar and coming from the same root causes of the Abrahamic faiths.

Hicks was pro-civil rights for the LGBT community, and he came out in support of the inaccurately dubbed Ground Zero Mosque.

Where the source of the problem with the shooting of the three students, who were apparently incidentally Muslim comes from is the obsession Hicks had with guns, owning them, carrying them, along with an intense interest in other weapons, drones, knives, body armor etc.

Hicks is reported to have confronted the three people he shot on prior occasions, making it clear he was wearing a gun, an implied threat.

Hick's now-estranged wife says this was all about parking issues.  His social media accounts show him to be obsessed with weapons, especially guns, and quote the local PD as saying Hicks was a legal carry permit holder, who was observed by multiple people in the course of his parking place obsession carrying a gun.

This is almost certainly the most pertinent information in this shooting.  From the WSJ:

Alleged Chapel Hill Shooter Had History of Parking Disputes, Tow-Truck Driver Says

Local Driver Says His Company Regularly Received Requests From Suspect to Tow Cars

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—A local tow-truck driver said that the man accused of killing three Muslim students Tuesday night had a history of reporting neighbors for parking in spaces that weren’t theirs and creating “a lot of drama.”
Christopher Lafreniere said his company had a contract for towing in the Finley Forest neighborhood where the alleged shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, and two of the three victims lived. Mr. Lafreniere said the company was called “every day, or at least several times a week” for more than a year by Mr. Hicks with requests to tow cars that Mr. Hicks said weren’t parked in the proper spaces. In one incident, Mr. Hicks had a gun, Mr. Lafreniere said.
“This guy towed an obscene amount of cars,” Mr. Lafreniere said. “It got to the point where we stopped answering his calls.”
Mr. Lafreniere said he was shocked when he saw coverage of Tuesday’s fatal shootings in the quiet neighborhood. “The news is saying, ‘hate crime, hate crime,’ but then I found out it was that guy and I thought, ‘Hmm, it actually might have been a parking issue,’ ” Mr. Lafreniere said. “He was all about towing.”
Mr. Hicks brought a gun into the small parking lot outside his condominium during a parking dispute on the night of Dec. 14, 2013, Mr. Lafreniere said. A report in the online database of the Chapel Hill Police Department naming Mr. Lafreniere and Mr. Hicks confirms that there was an argument that night involving a tow that Mr. Lafreniere had been called in to make in the small parking lot outside Mr. Hicks’s apartment.

Spaces in the Finley Forest condos are assigned and it was inconvenient for people coming home at night to have a car in their space, Mr. Lafreniere said. Mr. Hicks was by far the most frequent person to request a car be towed in the sprawling neighborhood dotted by small lots.

Mr. Lafreniere said he went to Finley Forest that night to tow a Toyota Prius parked in the wrong spot. The request was called in “for once” by a different neighbor, he said. The Prius owner was upset about being towed, and Mr. Hicks called the police to report noise in the parking lot, Mr. Lafreniere said.
“He comes out with a gun and says, ‘I’ve called the police,’ ” Mr. Lafreniere said. “I heard sirens from miles away.”
The story reminds me quite a bit of George Zimmerman the self-appointed boss of the neighborhood watch, and his gun carrying proclivities, along with the history of anger issues.  These people get a little power crazed, thinking they have some authority they don't, and then eventually shooting people because of it.

These gun obsessions are never healthy.  For those who will argue that guns don't kill people, people kill people, without the gun and without the obsession over guns, and without the carry permit that entitled him to parade around with his gun to try to order people around who were not armed, it is unlikely three people would be dead.  People WITH GUNS kill people; it's much harder to do it without guns, especially if you're old, white, flabby and crabby.