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About the Guns

December 21, 2012 8 comments

In the week since the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary, we’ve heard a lot of crazy ideas (as we do in the wake of every mass shooting)  about how best to protect innocent unarmed civilians from nutters with guns.  Today we’ll be hearing from the NRA, whose position we already know will be that “guns don’t kill people; crazy people with guns kill people.”  A true statement, but one that doesn’t solve or even suggest a solution, which would have to involve keeping the most lethal weapons out of the hands of crazy people, which is a bridge too far for the NRA.*

There’s a genuine conflict here:  we do have a constitutional amendment guaranteeing people the right to own guns.  Clearly we aren’t going to be able to declare all of them illegal and force people to hand all of them over.  Even if we could, I don’t think I would favor it – there are millions of hunters in the country and many millions more who are responsible gun owners, who keep their weapons secure and own them only for home protection.  In many cases, this is an imagined need, but nonetheless it’s one that’s not entirely unreasonable and it’s a right that goes all the way back to British common law, which makes it a bit hard to argue against from a legal standpoint.

By and large, hunters and the owners of well-secured guns kept for home protection aren’t the problem.  They also aren’t the ones buying semi-automatic weapons.  Let’s be honest:  a semi-automatic rifle or handgun is an offensive weapon designed for military use, and as such, is not an appropriate weapon to allow anyone and everyone to own.  There’s a contingent of crazy that insists that one of the things the Founders had in mind when drafting the Second Amendment was keeping citizens armed in case of the need to overthrow a tyrannical government.  Again, there may be truth in this – the Founders themselves had only recently thrown off a government they considered to be tyrannical, though its offenses and predations fell far short of the tyrannies we’ve seen enacted over and over again in the modern world.

penis-extender of extreme prejudice

Consider the context:  the Founders lived in a time where the most powerful personal weapon was a muzzle-loader, which could fire off one shot every couple of minutes, or perhaps once per minute if the guy handling it was particularly adept at re-loading.  It was an age where parity in firepower was possible – a group of average citizens, all armed with muzzle-loaders, would, with the exception of cannons, be as well-armed as an organized military of the same numbers.

That parity is not possible these days and indeed hasn’t been for a century or more.  It goes without saying that it wouldn’t be desirable, either.  We can’t very well allow every citizen the right to own and keep any variety of weapons, including but not limited to hand grenades, shoulder-fired rocket launchers, or nuclear warheads.  Those are all “arms” as well, and somehow we’re able to agree that not everyone should have them and that there are no legal uses for them outside of a battlefield.

So why the hangup when it comes to semi-automatic weapons?  They aren’t used for hunting, and for home protection you don’t need something that can fire off 30 – 100 rounds per minute.  In fact, while handguns are the weapons most often chosen for home protection purposes, for most people, a shotgun would be a better choice, owing to less need for accurate aim (and really, just playing a recording of a shotgun being pumped would be enough to persuade all criminals aside from psychopaths to clear the premises immediately).

Once we’ve ruled out hunting and home protection, the semi-automatic’s sole use is unavoidable:  it is an offensive weapon, not intended for personal defense so much as for killing the other guy.  Given that murder remains illegal, it’s insane to insist that a weapon designed solely for killing multiple human beings in a minute or less should be readily available and legal to own for an average citizen.  About the only purpose I’ve heard gun enthusiasts advance for which these types of weapons might have even a borderline legitimacy is that they are “fun to shoot.”  Perhaps so, but the Second Amendment isn’t concerned with your personal enjoyment of any particular weapon; as such, I’d have to say that the right of crowds of citizens to not be slaughtered greatly outweighs any “fun” an enthusiast might experience in firing one of these weapons at a shooting range or elsewhere.  People who have a burning desire to handle these types of weapons have the option of joining the military; outside of that, they don’t need to be handling them.

for that mental-health database, start with the guy who created this

As for those who persist in clinging to the idea that they have a “right” to own these types of weapons in the event that the evil gubmint gets too oppressive what with the seat-belts and the motorcycle helmet and the required food labeling laws and so forth, add them to the mental health registry:  their belief that they could, with a semi-automatic weapon, fight off the fighter jets, targeted missiles, tanks, and other weaponry in our awesome military arsenal should the need arise, clearly marks them out as both paranoid and delusional; they are precisely the type of people who should NOT be running around with powerful, rapid-fire weapons.

Here’s the thing:  the Second Amendment says you have the right to own and keep a gun.  It doesn’t say what type of gun, and none of the guns in production today could have been anticipated by the Founders.  If pistols were available in the late 1700’s, they had only recently come on the scene; certainly there was no gun at the time capable of firing more than one shot without being re-loaded.  The Second Amendment could be interpreted as the right to own a more modernized version of the single-shot firearms available when the Amendment was drafted, and nothing else – if we had a sane majority on the Supreme Court or in our political discourse.  Instead, we’ll probably spend the next weeks, months, and perhaps even years listening to ridiculous suggestions about how we can turn every public space into an armed camp to “protect” us against armed lunatics who should never have access to weapons in the first place, instead of dealing with the issue of having too many, too powerful, guns floating around.  Already ruled out is the idea for a real ban on semi-automatics such as the one used in last Friday’s shooting; we are told that even a ban on future sales of these weapons would do nothing to take care of the estimated 8 million of them already in citizens’ hands.  In other words, a buy-back program coupled with hefty fines for anyone caught with one after the deadline for turning them in, as was successful in Australia, is off the table.  We don’t know what number of murdered children would be required in order to even begin a serious political discussion about taking this very reasonable step, but the correct answer to the question is obviously “> 20.”

I’m not going to belabor the transparent insanity of the suggestions being put forward by those who value cold hard steel more than young children’s lives, but I will briefly recount them.  First there’s the camp who believes that the answer to mass shootings is more guns.  According to these fine patriots, if all of us were packing heat, some citizen-Rambo would pick off the crazy guy with the gun before the body count gets too high.  Never mind that never, not even once, has an armed civilian stopped a mass shooting by taking out the gunman.  There have been a few times in low-profile cases where an off-duty policeman, former Marine, or other individual with career training in handling firearms stepped in and stopped a bad guy; there are about as many similar cases in which the would-be hero either almost shot the wrong guy or determined that an innocent bystander would be at risk if he took the shot.  In other words, thanks to these guys not being average civilians with guns, the gunman was stopped without harm to innocent parties.  Substituting the average citizen into these scenarios, most of whom have had nothing like the extensive training of police or members of the military, the likelihood in these scenarios is that even more people would get shot in the crossfire, law enforcement arriving on scene might mistake the hero for the bad guy, and so on and so forth.  That’s all true, but beside the point, which is:  your right to own a weapon designed for offensive purposes does not trump MY right to not live in the Wild West or an armed camp.  There’s nothing in the Second Amendment to suggest that it trumps the express goal of the overall document, which I will remind the brethren, is to:

“…insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty…”

I feel that continuing to indulge the fetishes of a fringe group of maladapted, insecure and fearful people endangers or denies all of the above goals to the great majority of people in this country.

you'll never have to hear the cries of derisive laughter about your tiny, tiny dick again, because everyone will be too frightened to bring it up 

Then there are the proposals to turn schools into windowless bunkers patrolled by pistol-packing teachers and other school personnel.  This one is interesting primarily because it’s being advanced by the same folks who insist teachers are a bunch of overpaid incompetent boobs – but you can count on them to handle a gun around your kids every day! 

We’ve heard again how “an armed society is a polite society,” for all values of “polite” which equal “being afraid to say anything out of fear that the gun-toting Cletus at the next table in the bar might disagree.” 

The final, the piece de resistance of dumbassitude, goes to one Megan McArdle, formerly of The Atlantic, now decamped to The Daily Beast (Tina Brown sure knows how to pick them, doesn’t she?), who suggested that we should teach children in this situation to rush the shooter.  Because, according to Megs, it will unbalance him and throw him off if a bunch of people, even small ones, are running at him from different directions.  It’s also a sneaky way of blaming the victims – in this case six- and seven-year olds – for failing to save themselves when a guy who had no business with any type of  gun managed to get his hands on a very powerful – and legal – one.

That’s an awful lot of flailing FAIL to go through to arrive at the conclusion that the only thing that CAN’T be part of the problem is the gun itself, despite the fact that in these mass shootings, the gun is a tool performing the function for which it was designed, and that function is an illegal act for civilians.

We don’t have to put up with this crap.  We can insist on reasonable gun laws which both protect the rights of sportsmen and people to be secure in their homes while recognizing that some weapons have no place in civilian society.  We can insist on background checks for any sale or trade of arms at any venue.  We can insist that gun buyers be required to register their weapons, and that they demonstrate that they’ve completed some sort of training on safe handling and keeping of firearms, in order for those weapons to be legal.  We can insist on not just a ban, but a buy-back program designed to get most of the most lethal weapons out of circulation.  We can insist on a law that imposes heavy fines upon people found to have those types of weapons after a specific buy-back deadline.  It won’t get them all off the street, but getting 75 – 90% of them would be a good start.  Sure, criminals will continue to get these types of weapons – but it’s not criminals who have been shooting up our congressional meet-and-greets, our movie theaters, our houses of worship, our malls, and our schools.  Criminals use guns primarily to help them obtain money or other goods illegally – they aren’t interested in shooting little kids, or really anyone else, unless it furthers that goal.  Crime is down overall, while mass shootings are up, and none of the gunmen in these cases have been hard-core criminals.  If these types can’t get their weapons legally, they’re not likely to get them at all.

Finally, we can insist that the right of the majority for domestic tranquility trumps the right of a vocal minority to own a tool for which there is no constructive legal purpose.

In closing, I’ll note that I lived a full third of my life in a home that was a virtual arsenal of guns.  My father was an avid collector – mostly of military-issue guns from WWI and WWII – and other military paraphernalia.  He didn’t have any semi-automatics, because he was more a collector than a “mah gun gives me POWER” fetishist.  I have no idea how many guns Dad had, but when they were auctioned after his death almost 20 years ago, they went for over $75,000.  In short, it was a lot of guns.  He wasn’t a hunter and he rarely took out any of the guns and fired them.  He did occasionally target practice at a gun range or other safe location, and for a time, he headed up a group for teenagers wanting to learn target shooting.  The entire time I lived in the same house with him, I never saw a gun lying around unattended.  In fact, I never saw a gun unless he had it out and was in the same room with it.  If I had seen one out, I already knew that I wasn’t to touch it.  I learned how to shoot, but also knew I was never to have a gun in my hand unless my Dad was there and had handed it to me.

But the guns were a constant menace anyway.  When we lived in Georgia, he stored his collection in an attic space that was fairly easy for him to access, and which he kept securely locked.  After the move to Arkansas, he had no appropriate place in the house to store them, and so for the last 15 years of his life, they were packed away in crates that took up one end of the family room.  We were instructed from a very young age to never tell anyone about Dad’s guns.  They weren’t even insured, because Dad didn’t want anyone knowing about all of them.  His fear was more about robbery than government.  So I grew up surrounded by an arsenal, which didn’t make me feel any safer; we were far more likely to be murdered by gun thieves than by anything else.

After Dad died, the guns worried me even more, because now my Mom was alone in the house with a commodity eagerly sought-after by criminals.  She contacted an auctioneer with some expertise in weapons, and within a year of my Dad’s death, the collection was auctioned off in Illinois.  It provided a great sense of relief to all of us.

Just a few years after my Dad’s death, a gun collector in a town about 40 miles away went missing with his wife and young daughter at the same time his gun collection went missing.  Some months later, the family’s bodies were discovered in their vehicle, submerged in an abandoned flooded gravel pit.  The crime was eventually traced to white supremacist  Chevy Kehoe, after his infamous shoot-out with Ohio police.  Proceeds from the theft went to fund terrorist activities, including bombing a government building.  Just a few months after Dad’s death, there was another robbery in a town only 75 miles away.  No one was murdered in that theft, but the proceeds from it went to fund the Oklahoma City bombing.  The trail of violence and terror from the flood of guns in this country doesn’t end with the guns themselves.

Before Dad’s collection went to auction, Mom offered each of us the chance to select anything we’d like to have.  I didn’t choose anything.  Even one gun in close proximity would make me feel less secure than not having one.

*The NRA held its non-apologia before I was finished drafting this post; as expected, the guns aren’t the problem.  It’s the mentally ill; better to compile a list of them than to stigmatize people who want to own deadly weapons by forcing them to register them.  Video games are the problem; that’s why all those kids are dead. 

Mom and I had a discussion a few days following the Sandy Hook shootings.  She said this event was finally going to change things; I was less sanguine.  But something about that press conference felt like a Schiavo Moment.  At one point, LaPierre is actually advocating for armed volunteers to police our schools.  The insurance premiums to cover the risks associated with having armed non-employees on school property when children are present…well, he didn’t offer any advice on where schools should go for the millions of dollars that would be required for that, should anyone be stupid enough to take such a dumbshit idea seriously and try to implement it.

Enough is enough.  It’s time, and well past the point, for us to stop allowing the radical, the paranoid and the profiteers to dictate what our policy will be.  They can only get away with it again if we don’t speak up and demand that they accept responsibility, and the limits to freedom that it sometimes requires in the real world.

Ruh-Roh, Rmoney

March 21, 2012 3 comments

As if things weren’t already bad enough, what with most people not being able to figure out who he really is, and those who have deciding that they don’t like him and people making fun of him on the internets with things like this:

…now comes word that, after the Bataan Death-March which this year’s GOP nominating contest has become, following a divisive and dispirited convention in which Dog-on-Car battles Man-on-Dog to the preordained Pyrrhic victory,  both he and Republicans in general face an astounding 55 point gap* with the President and the Democrats among Hispanic/Latino voters.  Add that to the pre-existing gap with women, which has grown into a chasm in the midst of a quixotic national slut-shaming campaign by conservatives (slut = any woman who ever has, or has ever had, sex – or thought about it) and it all adds up to no way this guy can win, probably not even with the assist of the most aggressive attempts to stop the wrong people from voting that we’ve seen since the days of Jim Crow and unlimited superPAC funds.

In a way, you almost have to pity Romney.  He seems like he’s not a horrible guy, just one who’s very out-of-touch with the daily realities and concerns of people who aren’t quarter-billionaires.  Unfortunately, the only principle he seems to be able to hold firm is that he should be the president, and this opens him to a world of ridicule.  There’s just something unseemly about a guy with that much wealth debasing himself with awkward greetings of “Mornin’, y’all” and visibly insincere paens to “cheesy grits” (note, Mitt – they’re cheese grits, not “cheesy” grits).

Even in a Republican party not gone insane, Mitt would still be a less-than-compelling candidate.  But he has the misfortune of having his turn come up at a time when the party faithful will accept nothing less than barking lunacy in a candidate, and to his discredit, he’s tried to accomodate – which has earned him a slight plurality in the nomination race.  The Beatles were right all those years ago – money can’t buy you love, but it can certainly insulate you from those who don’t love you – if only you’ll let it

On second thought, maybe Romney’s as crazy as the rest of the bunch – he’s sought this out, when he could just be hanging out around the pool at his 11,000 sf seaside mansion, playing with his grandkids and secure in the knowledge that his fortune will keep them wealthy to the end of their lives.  Instead, he spends his time on the road, sleeping in motels and probably eating fairly crappy road food, to pander to people who don’t really like him under the pretense of being a fellow Wal-Mart shopper. 

In the larger sense, Romney’s tragedy is the tragedy of the Republican party.**  As I noted elsewhere, back in the Reagan era, Evil drove the conservative bus; Stupid just paid for the gas.  That’s completely reversed now; Stupid is driving the bus, and it’s being funded by Evil in the form of the Koch brothers and folks like Sheldon Adelson, Gingrich’s pimp daddy.  Reagan had to pretend to be smarter than he was to win; Romney has to pretend to be dumber than he is to secure the nomination.  I remember thinking back at the beginning of the whole teabagging thing about Churchill’s quote:  “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount.  And the tigers are getting hungry.”  I thought then that encouraging the expression of sheer id the party had appealed to for the past 30 years was probably not a very good idea; but encourage it they did.  It now appears that the 2012 election will be one where we witness the tigers feeding upon the entrails of their former riders. 

One can always hope, anyway.

*This is a Fox News poll, so it doesn’t have any of that icky liberal media bias on it.

**For all values of “tragedy” which fit the Mel Brooks definition (paraphrased):  “Comedy is when you fall down a flight of stairs and break your neck.  Tragedy is when I stub my toe.”

Comcast Sucks! And How This Seemingly Unconnected Fact Relates to Rupert’s Little Problem

July 19, 2011 3 comments

Thanks for the birthday wishes; I would have reciprocated yesterday except for the fact that, for my birthday, Comcast gave me yet another day of non-working internet service.  (It’s gone out in the midst of composing this post, so who knows when I’ll be able to put it up.  Meanwhile, I’m watching the Murdoch Follies on MSNBC.) 

I went through the same crap with them for 2 months last summer, and even though THEY aren’t worried about figuring out the problem, I have figured it out:  their system doesn’t work when the weather gets hot, either as a result of degraded cable or connections somewhere along the line.  Because investing anything into their system to keep it working isn’t part of their budget, though, instead they have things set up to where a customer whose service isn’t working has to 1) call in to report the outage, remaining on hold for an average of 20 minutes per call before speaking to a REAL!  LIVE!  HUMAN!; 2) accept the only option offered – Comcast will “send a tech” out to the house, provided that you agree to sit home and wait for them for the ENTIRE DAY, and 3) if the system is working when said tech shows up, they will do nothing.  When the service goes out again 20 minutes after the tech leaves, you get to repeat steps 1-3 forever, or until the weather cools off and their piece of shit system starts working again.  Because they aren’t going to do anything else to fix it if they can’t locate the problem right there on the lines outside or inside your house.  This is why they insist you have to be home, because “the problem MIGHT BE inside the house.”  Never, since cable has been invented, has the problem for anyone EVER been “inside the house.”  The “inside the house” line is one they use to make it inconvenient to request the service you’re paying for, because who wants to sit home waiting on them all day?

They’ve gotten even craftier in the past year or so about ways to get out of service calls; now they robo-call repeatedly just to “check in” and see if you still want them to come out.  Apparently the hope is that, if your intermittent service happens to be working when you get the call, you’ll cancel the appointment and they won’t have to bother coming out.  They’ll call 3 or 4 times on the same appointment, and if you don’t respond to the call, they’ll CANCEL the appointment – which can leave you sitting at home all day on the appointed date waiting for a tech who never shows up.  I pointed out to them that calling the home phone of someone who has that phone running through their non-working internet connection probably isn’t the best way to verify an appointment.

After a month, I’ve had my fill of this crap.  So, yesterday morning, during the brief window while I could get online, I went and ordered AT&T DSL service.  Don’t know how it will compare with Comcast speed-wise, but if I can access the internet AT ALL during hot weather, it will be an improvement.  Plus, they have a first-12-months deal for $25 per month for 12 mbps download speed, which is going to cut the bill by close to 2/3.  After the first year it will go up by $23 per month, which is still cheaper than Comcast.  But even if it cost more, it would be worth it to never again have to deal with these yutzes.

The sad part of all of this is, imagine that you worked for Comcast and actually WANTED to do a good job of providing service?  I’m not a complete pessimist; I like to believe that most people want to do a good job.  Comcast has their system set up to override whatever helpful impulses their employees may have.  My experience has been that the people on the phone have been nice, when I can reach them; the techs have been polite and have done what the company empowers them to do.  The problem is that the company either doesn’t give any of them leeway to really fix anything, or trains them so poorly that they can’t think of anything to try besides option A, and probably most of them are paid so poorly that a certain discouraged portion can’t be arsed with bothering to try thinking beyond option A.  Whatever way you look at it, it comes down to money and the company’s desire to not spend any of it on service or fixing problems.

How does this relate to Rupert’s Little (but growing) Problem, you ask?  Just this:  there are a large number of companies out there whose business practices would make anyone with the slightest pride in their work or with even a rudimentary conscience ashamed to be associated with them.  I can’t imagine working for an outfit like Comcast, knowing that the company’s policy is to avoid providing service to their customers whenever possible, in return for what they’re charging.  If you’ve ever seen Michael Moore’s film Sicko, you’ll remember the woman who broke down in tears while describing how, in her job for a large health insurer, she would have to field calls from hopeful people she knew would be declined for insurance.  Another testified to Congress about the “incentives” she was offered in return for finding ways for the company to get out of paying for customers’ legitimate covered medical conditions.  We know this stuff goes on in a lot of companies, and that it bothers a lot of the people who work for them. 

Working for a company or person who expects you to daily do things you know are wrong, under threat of termination, can leave deep scars on some people’s psyches.  For others, it just makes them boiling mad.  Either way, you’re going to end up with some folks, maybe quite a few of them, looking and waiting for any opportunity for payback.  In every company that operates more like a criminal enterprise than a legitimate business, there are going to be some malcontent pollyannas – there’s just no way to screen out ALL the moral people when hiring – and quite a few more whose morals may be a bit more flexible, but who will eventually over the course of their employment see some things that, for them, cross the line.

This, I believe, is what is currently going on inside Murdoch’s organization.  I’ve seen a lot of people speculating on what finally caused the “dam-burst” we’re seeing, and I think this explains it:  for years, a lot of people on the inside have been appalled by a lot of what they saw going on.  But the organization was too powerful for them to speak out against it on their own.  Let’s face it – Murdoch owned a good bit of the British establishment and, god willing, it will out that he owns a good deal of ours as well.  (Which is to say, it’s a fair bet that he owns ours as well, whether they succeed in keeping it under wraps or not.  My bet is that it will out before all is said and done.)  So for years, ill-will against Murdoch and Co. had been building, not only among employees and former employees, but also among Murdoch’s targets – politicians, celebrities, and basically everyone they ever smeared or blackmailed into silence.  All that was needed was for a chink in the armor to appear, and there were legions waiting in the wings to pile on.

We can only hope it all unfolds here in the same way.  I’ve heard some speculate that, if it was revealed that News Corp or any of its subsidiaries had hacked the phones of 9/11 victims, that would bring them down.  But even if that’s not proven, we already know that News Corp was in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, because we know they were paying off police in the UK.  Already some in the US press are rallying to Murdoch’s defense:  according to an op-ed in the Washington Post this weekend, the problem wasn’t in the phone hacking – it was in the law that made phone-hacking illegal.  If the UK didn’t have a law against phone hacking, well then, Murdoch’s organization never would have been “forced” to break the law.  I wish I were making this up; unfortunately I’m not.  It makes one wonder:  have most of them here been doing the same type of thing?  Because otherwise, it’s hard to understand why the Post would trot out this type of weak tea in defense.

In short, we can’t rely on the US media outside of Murdoch’s holdings to either give this the coverage it deserves or to report it in an unbiased way.  I’m sure the Post would claim their concern is all about protecting “sources.”  But in effect, they’re trying to create a firebreak to protect Murdoch’s US media properties.  Probably our best hope is that The Guardian  will wade into the practices of Murdoch’s US properties.  The story in the UK might well have fizzled out if not for the persistence of the Guardian.

The other thing that makes me quite certain that there’s a lot of bodies buried on this side of the pond as well is the public behavoir of News Corp outlets in the US.  Fox makes no bones about using bullying tactics or observing basic fairness or ethical guidelines; the NY Post has long had a reputation for sleaze, and under Murdoch’s ownership the Wall Street Journal has become much more agressively conservative-fundamentalist, catapulting the most egregious bullshit.  People – or companies – who don’t value truth or fairness or ethics do not learn to value them more simply because they are legislated as legal guidelines, and hence they are more likely to ignore technicalities like the law.  There are no limits, no lines that can’t be crossed in pursuit of advancing the agenda.  We’ve seen those tendencies, on public display, in Murdoch’s US media outlets and it seems unlikely that, while wide-ranging criminality was occuring in a Murdoch-owned UK outlet, Murdoch’s employees on this side of the Atlantic were content to just skate up to the line but not cross it.  It just isn’t a fit with what, it is emerging, has been the culture inside News Corp. 

It’s too early to tell yet what, if any, assistance we will have from the US press in uncovering News Corp malfeasance here in the US.  What we can do, however, is encourage the Department of Justice to pursue an investigation into News Corp activities both here and abroad by demanding it under the auspices of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  If you want to be heard, you can send a letter via snail-mail to:

US Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20530-0001

Alternately, you can call the Attorney General’s public comment line at 202-353-1555.

There’s an email address as well, but if you want to be heard that’s not an effective way to communicate, so I’ll leave that out.  I’ve already sent my letter and I hope a lot of other people will get on board.

Because what this entire episode teaches us is this:  a big corporation can get away with only as much as its employees and the public will allow.  It doesn’t seem that way when we see so many big crimes go unpunished, but in large part that’s our fault for not throwing a big enough tantrum and demanding investigation, prosecution, or whatever the appropriate remedy is.  A corrupt company can only indulge in corrupt practices for as long as its employees are willing to keep its secrets.  When they begin to reveal those secrets, a tsunami of outrage from the public can insure that the responsible parties are punished.  In testimony today, Rupert himself has sworn up and down that he had no idea there were sleazy things going on in this tiny little 1% of his empire, and that he doesn’t consider himself responsible for it.  It’s fitting then, that public outcry more or less forced him into shuttering News of the World.  Whether he ever admits any responsibility or not, he’s already had to pay for the misconduct, through loss of one property and having to drop his bid for sole control over the UK’s BSkyB satellite network.  That is exactly how this kind of thing should work, and just imagine what salubrious effects could devolve from similar developments here in the US.  It’s been an awful long time since any financially healthy corporation has been forced to shut down due to illegal practices – in fact the only one I can think of is Arthur Andersen, which was killed by the Enron scandal (Enron itself failed due to financial reasons, though these were brought on by illegal practices).  I think it would be a wonderful example for other large multi-nationals. 

But in large part it’s up to us to push for this outcome.  So if you feel the same way about it that I do, let the DoJ know you expect to see some action.  Really, is there any better way to spend your summer vacation?

P.S.  It has come to my attention, via comments from the last post, that somehow B^4’s recent birthday went unremarked here.  For this, our apologies.  Happy Birthday, you Magnificent Bastard, whenever it was!

Freedom’s Just Another Word for Murdering Your Fellow Citizens

July 3, 2011 6 comments

 Well, Jim “the Gateway Dumbfuck” Hoft’s put up his 4th of July post, with the moron-appropriate title of “Celebrating Independence Day – Happy Constitutional Weekend,” as if he seems to think he needs to remind us of how little he knows by conflating the date the Declaration of Independence was signed with the other event, which didn’t occur until over a decade later and not on July 4th.  But I digress – there’s more meat here.

Somehow, I doubt that any of the brave men & women who fought and died for this country had this in mind

Curiously for one who so cherishes freedom and rights, Mr. Hoft doesn’t set much store by the one that’s enumerated just before the one he celebrates in the photo above – which is to say, freedom of speech is less to his liking, particularly when someone is disagreeing with him.  So much so that certain persons are no longer allowed to disagree with him in the hallowed hall of reason which is his blog.  I’ll not quibble with him on that score – as his blog, it is not a public forum and as such, he can make and enforce any rules he likes.  Though it is instructive to see the type of comments he finds perfectly acceptable.  These include the following:

 

#7 July 2, 2011 at 8:04 pm

John03 commented:

Hope there were a few liberals out there.

 #12 July 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Ginger commented:

Jim…this is why we love you!

This stands as a warning for you traitors who thinks they are going to take our country down. We are a nation of the strong and the brave.

Muslims go home! Mexicans who votes for the kenyan fraud will only lose their illegal vote and will be shipped back to your home land. If you vote for the kenyan fraud you will only be used! You can see where he is taking our country and it does not include stupid Mexicans.. so wake up!

 #21 July 3, 2011 at 12:11 am

Miss Red White&Blue commented:

There’s nothing hotter than a guy with an AK47! Can’t wait until you get a chance to use it on the libtards ruining this great nation.

#25 July 3, 2011 at 6:56 am

#1AMERICAN commented:

you should have invited odumbass to go with you… :)

#34 July 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

DaMav commented:

that swishing sound you hear in the blogosphere is the background ripple of nervous libtard petticoats…

:-)

 #39 July 3, 2011 at 10:51 am

Carlos commented:

#35
Wave them impotently? I think not.
Wait until the autumn of 2012: Bammy boy foments a crisis, giving him an excuse to declare martial law. We won’t seem impotent then, you libdem troll.

 When the revolution comes in this country, I predict it will look a lot like the one in Cambodia.  Who can imagine any excuse that will suffice for these fine specimens when, upon search of your home, they discover that you have more than 5 books – and none of them are by Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, or Rush Limbaugh?  About the most we can hope for is that this buck-toothed Buford brigade won’t go full Pol Pot on those who wear prescription lenses, since this sure-fire sign of pointy-headed intelleckshualizm is shared by their Dear Leader.

Let me repeat the conclusion of my Independence Day post from last year, which, because I am lazy but even more because I’ve looked at it again and see nothing I’d like to change I will be re-posting tomorrow:  You cannot love your country while hating your fellow citizens.  A nation is made up of people – not flags, not real estate.  If you hate the people – and Hofttards, you DO – then you hate the country, and you’re no patriots.

Happy Independence Day, you goddamned traitors.

(P.S. – check out the tags!  There’s one there that I originally invented for Fox News, but…it fits the photo so well!)

Update:  Also, too:  kudos to 3ws sometimes-commenter jim for the succinct and fabulous description of the above photo: Voguing On The 4th Of July.

History’s Greatest Injustice:

October 25, 2010 3 comments

…a black “liberal” gets fired from NPR after repeated reprimands and suddenly, the right discovers that it has been the champions of black liberals all along.

Frankly, the real injustice here is that the guy didn’t get shit-canned for this almost two years ago:

And it’s not the first time Mr. Williams has been reprimanded by an employer, as it happens. Almost 20 years ago,* Juan stirred up some shit over at the WaPo:

Washington Post Magazine reporter Juan Williams said yesterday that the newspaper has disciplined him for what he called “wrong” and “inappropriate” verbal conduct toward women staffers and he apologized to his colleagues.

In an open letter to the newsroom, Williams said: “It pained me to learn during the investigation that I had offended some of you. I have said so repeatedly in the last few weeks, and repeat here: some of my verbal conduct was wrong, I now know that, and I extend my sincerest apology to those whom I offended. I have committed to Post management, and I commit to you — and to myself — to change my ways.”

Williams’s letter came several hours after about 50 female employees met with Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. …

… The disclosure came five days after a Williams column on The Post’s op-ed page in which he said that Anita Hill had “no credible evidence” for her allegations of sexual harassment by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, but that Hill was “prompted” to make her charges by Democratic Senate staffers. The Post’s personnel inquiry had begun more than two weeks earlier, but the column angered many women in the newsroom, and several came forward to say that they had also had problems with Williams. Post editors say they decided to make a public statement after WRC-TV aired a report on the controversy.

Williams returned to the newsroom Monday after working away from the office for two weeks, and the controversy seemed to have died down. But emotions began running high again Wednesday when Williams was quoted in USA Today as saying the complaints stemmed from “my attempts at being friendly” and saying “Hi. How are you? . . . Hey, did you have a date? How was your weekend?” He also said The Post had “said basically, ‘Come back to work. We’re sorry this happened.’ ”

A letter to Downie signed by 116 newsroom employees yesterday said: “We feel Juan’s unrefuted false statements to the national media continue to cause anguish and professional harm to the women involved. They have also left many people inside and outside The Post with the impression that either the complaints were not serious or were not taken seriously . . . . The Post has an obligation to set the record straight by refuting such comments.”

In a letter to The Post, 11 female employees, including senior reporters and editors, dismissed the notion that “the women bringing the complaints were victims of some sort of mass hysteria perpetrated by an identification with Anita Hill.” They said the recent complaints were made “before the world ever heard the name ‘Anita Hill.’ ”

In his letter, Williams, a frequent television commentator, said that “there was no suggestion that I ever engaged in offensive physical contact, or that I attempted to abuse my position at The Post, or that I discussed pornographic materials, or called women employees at home, or the like.” But, he wrote, “I do not mean to belittle the inappropriateness of the verbal conduct which I have acknowledged.”

Williams expressed hope that his letter “will be seen as the first step toward restoring those relationships.”

Seven women said in on-the-record interviews yesterday that Williams had repeatedly made hostile and sexually explicit comments to them, in some cases over a period of several years. All of them said they believed the comments were meant to embarrass them, not an attempt to date them, and most said that Williams persisted despite their protests.

Jo Ellen Murphy, art director of the Weekend section, said that “he was obsessed with my sex life and that’s all he wanted to talk to me about . . . . I raised my voice at him and said, ‘Just don’t talk to me again.’ ”

After Williams made some “hostile remarks” in late September, Murphy said, a male co-worker reported it to an editor, which triggered the personnel inquiry.

Nancy McKeon, the magazine’s features editor, said she told Williams that “you’ve got a little problem here” after she complained about a sexual remark he made to her. Karen Tanaka, an assistant photo editor, said Williams had been “nothing but nasty to me.” Deborah Needleman, the magazine’s photo editor, said that when she objected to Williams’s “demeaning” comments, he said: “What’s wrong with a little flirting?”

In the Oct. 15 editor’s note, The Post said that Downie and other top news editors “mistakenly failed to inform” Editorial Page Editor Meg Greenfield about the inquiry before Williams’s column on Thomas was published. Downie said he regretted that he did not read the column before publication.

Williams, who was told about the allegations after he wrote the column but before it was published, said at the time that his view of the Thomas nomination was “completely unconnected” to the Post inquiry. He also called the allegations “absolutely false.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the delicious synchronicity here:  within just a few short hours of Clarence Thomas’ wife drunk-dialing Anita Hill to suggest that Hill “apologize” to her husband for events 19 years in the past, Juan Williams not only sticks his foot in his mouth, but swallows it up to the knee.  It’s like he’s the Manchurian Candidate or something, programmed to make bigoted and/or offensive statements any time there’s embarrassing news about Clarence Thomas.

And also, too:  you start to get the feeling that Williams has problems with women, and specifically, black women.

All of which of course only increases his value for Fox News – but also gives one the impression that perhaps NPR had quite a few reasons for wanting him gone.

But perhaps the most humorous aspect of the entire kerfluffle was the reaction of Fox News’ robotic minions, who on cue called their local NPR stations to inform them of their status as outraged viewers who pledged to “never watch NPR again.”

Somehow, it doesn’t seem all that surprising that faithful Beck and Hannity viewers have been trying to “view” NPR.  Watching to see if the nefarious “liberal” network was censoring news of the Taliban Monkey Menace, no doubt.

*h/t to PhoenixWoman in comments at TBogg, who makes the most excellent suggestion that every mention of the name Juan Williams be hyperlinked to this 1991 WaPo article – all the better to google rank it, my dear.

Next on Fox & Friends: Osama and Saddam’s Gay Wedding!

October 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember a few weeks ago when I pointed out that the only thing separating Fox from the Weekly World News is the fact that Fox points out to viewers when they photoshop something such as…oh, I don’t know…a monkey with a gun in its hand?  Well, we now know that Fox isn’t just emulating the WWN; the WWN is a Fox source:

Now everything makes sense.  I always kind of suspected that Bill O’Reilly and Ed Anger were the same person.  I can’t wait until they replace Glenn Beck with BatBoy.

And in monkey news from China tonight …

August 3, 2010 4 comments

Monkey saves dog. PeeWee saves snakes.

Even if this isn't Photoshopped, how do we know the monkey isn't kidnapping the dog? Or carrying him up into a tree for a snack?

My hero! rescuing reptiles from the pet shop. (click it -- please)