Daily Gnuz

Good week to you alls, here’s the Gnuz!

9 Reasons Trump’s Tax Plan Will Hurt You
H/T AlterNet
Please use these to inform the muddled masses who are going to claim we’d be better off with HWSNBN’s tax ‘reform’ package
(HWSNBN = He Who Should Not Be Named — The sitting president. I am using this moniker, cause he is thrilled every time he sees his name..)

And

Shooting At Las Vegas Music Festival Kills 50, Wounds More Than 200
H/T TPM
Gun control, Schmun control, just offer coneffingdolences and go back to business as usual. No chance of effecting restrictions on lunatics owning weapons of mass murder…This is our Amurikka today.

Finally,

Puerto Rico is all our worst fears about HWSNBN coming real
H/T Vox
HWSNBN, channeling his inner Nero/Caligula…

Open Thread, welcome to another hell week in Amerikka
RUCerious @ TPZoo

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The Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 6 2016; Guns v. 2A

“My faith informs my life [. . .] it all for me begins with cherishing the
dignity, the worth, the value of every human life
(Mike Pence, Rep. VP Candidate)

“‘Every human life’ . . . except those stolen by #gunviolence . . .
like my mother’s. Then, you simply just don’t care”
(Erica L Smegielski; daughter of a Sandy Hook victim)

******

Guns v. The Second Amendment.

I recently ran across a fresh and novel (stupid) but still interesting “new” thesis, courtesy of Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America. Last Saturday (Oct 1)  on his Gun Owners News Hour radio program, Pratt’s guest was Don Brockett, author of a book called “The Tyrannical Rule of the U.S. Supreme Court” in which Brockett poses the proposition that the Second Amendment was written so as to allow states to defend themselves against invasion, and was added to the Constitution because of Article I Section 10, the part which reads:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, . . . engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Brockett asked,

“[H]ow can it defend itself if it’s being invaded if the people don’t have any Second Amendment right to arms? And I maintain in the book, even though some may think this is going too far, that you’re entitled to the same measure of weapons as the weapons that might be used against you. So does that mean everybody can have an RPG in their home? I don’t know. I think we need to discuss it, because how could you stop the invading army unless you have the equal weaponry? Or if you want to provide it by your national guard, which can be distributed to individual citizens when that need comes about.”

Pratt completely agreed with Brockett’s thesis, and pointed out that the Second Amendment essentially stands as proof that the Founders’ original intent was to constitutionally allow that every future man of military-age, in each and every State, be fully armed in order to confront and combat armed invaders of said State. Pratt added that in re today, the Founders would have allowed that “at a minimum,” every man should be carrying, at the least, an M-16 rifle. RPGs too, probably.

Pratt and Brockett are, of course, totally and completely wrong and off-the-wall. The Second Amendment had absolutely nothing at all to do with Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution. It was, instead, written by Virginia slave-owner and ‘Founder’ James Madison in response to Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16:

The Congress  shall have Power . . . [Clause 15] To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; [and Clause 16] To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress . . .

The 1787 Constitution assigned, in short, complete and total control of “the Militia” to Congress and not to the States, a fact which quickly became a matter of deep concern to, especially, the slave states. At the 1788 Constitution Ratifying Convention in Virginia, Patrick Henry expressed those concerns when he said:

Let me here call your attention to that part which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. . . .

If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress insurrections. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress. . . . Congress, and Congress only, can call forth the militia. . . .

In this state there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States. . . . In this situation, I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone.

Insurrection of slaves” and “property” are the key words here, given that Article I Section 8 specifically says that only the Congress shall have power . . . To . . . suppress insurrections. NOT the State(s), i.o.w., and THAT was clearly the clause most worrisome to slave owners, to slave states, in the emerging USA, because it put their property in jeopardy.

Henry was also concerned about the attitudes of the abolitionists in the “northern” States, i.e those who wanted to completely do away with slavery. As he pointed out to James Madison,

 “[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission. And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defence and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power? This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it. This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.” 

In short, arguments such as Patrick Henry’s convinced instructed James Madison to write what we now know as the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Madison’s original draft read,

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.

In the final version of what was to become the Second Amendment, Madison succumbed to the suggestions of Patrick Henry, George Mason, and other Southern State voices that wanted slave patrol militias to remain free of Federal control mainly by changing a single word in his final version:

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.

“Country” now become “State” — Federal control of Militias now back in the hands of the STATE — not to ward off an invasion, but to deal with SLAVE INSURRECTIONS via a WELL REGULATED MILITIA (and whatever happened to the concept of a ‘well regulated militia’? Where is it today? Is the concept — and its regulatory manifestations — dead? Gone? Buried?).

If the answer is left to politicians and/or gun nuts, it’s likely that we’ll never know.

In any case, for a further and much deeper analysis of the Second Amendment’s origin and purpose, see Law Professor Carl Bogus’ Research Paper 80, The Hidden History of the Second Amendment which begins with this abstract:

. . . there is strong reason to believe that, in significant part, James Madison drafted the Second Amendment to assure his constituents in Virginia, and the South generally, that Congress could not use its newly-acquired powers to indirectly undermine the slave system by disarming the militia, on which the South relied for slave control. His argument is based on a multiplicity of the historical evidence, including debates between James Madison and George Mason and Patrick Henry at the Constitutional Ratifying Convention in Richmond, Virginia in June 1788; the record from the First Congress; and the antecedent of the American right to bear arms provision in the English Declaration of Rights of 1688.

“Strong reason” indeed.

Since James Madison’s Second Amendment was clearly written for the sole purpose of addressing the perceived Constitutional issue of Militia accessibility by the Several States, and since the sole purpose of the ‘well regulated Militia’ mentioned therein was to provide slave states with the means to put down and control slave ‘insurgencies’ and/or ‘insurrections,’ and also since the Thirteenth Amendment specifically states that Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United States — and since the Second Amendment was clearly written solely to protect the interests of Slave owners — the final question becomes clear and obvious:

WHY was the Second Amendment NOT automatically invalidated  at the very moment slavery was disallowed, at the very moment  the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified (Dec. 6, 1865)  by a majority of the Several States?

Why? Why the constant misinterpretation of the Second Amendment? Why the romance with any variation of that one contrivance — the GUN — the SOLE purpose of which is to KILL something – anything – that lives? Is the ability to KILL something the main driver of ‘our’ culture? Of the entire of Human society? One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, Emily Dickinson spoke in the voice of a gun when she wrote,

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away —

[. . .]

To foe of His — I’m deadly foe —
None stir the second time —
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye —
Or an emphatic Thumb —

Though I than He — may longer live
He longer must — than I —
For I have but the power to kill,
Without — the power to die –

The Gun — ALL Guns —  thereby Defined.

I, for one, will never understand the “magic” implicit in
a tool whose sole purpose is
TO KILL.

I know. I’m weird.

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 24th, 2016: 353 and Counting

So, another day, another mass shooting. This one took place last night at the Macy’s store in the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. According to the info on Raw Story’s coverage of the shooting, four women were killed while shopping in the Macy’s cosmetics department. The shooter, described as a young Hispanic male, is still at large, and no motive or explanation has yet been reported.

But already, the “good guy with a gun”-lovers are out there shooting their mouths off – and I honestly wish that were literally true, so we sane people wouldn’t have to hear their idiocy. One example is from a guy named Michael Parker whom I’ve argued with before on various ThinkProgress threads:

“Michael Parker Had I been at this mall I would have engaged the shooter with my concealed carry weapon. Never mind…Washington State does not honor my Virginia concealed carry permit so I would have run for the hills like the rest of the sheep. Thank God Virginia recognizes Washington State concealed carry permits so if this happened in Virginia a visiting concealed carry Washington resident could have engaged the shooter. Last December, the Virginia Attorney General tried to limit Virginia’s concealed carry reciprocity to just 5 states. The NRA and the Virginia Legislators got involved…yada, yada, yada ….and now Virginia recognizes the concealed carry permits from all 50 states.”

Another commenter sarcastically said:

“Obviously we need more guns and fewer gun regulations. What could go wrong? Just suspend every one of the Bill of Rights except the 2nd Amendment and America will be great again.”

To which another gun-totin’ hero-wannabe replied:

“You are correct. That is PRECISELY what we need. Had there been a concealed carry weapon’s holder at the mall, like there was in Minnesota, the threat would have been neutralized. It’s stories like this PRECISELY why i carry a firearm.”

Apparently women shopping for cosmetics should only do so in states that allow the gun-carrying menfolk to protect the little ladies while they do so. Dog knows that going unarmed into Macy’s is just too fucking dangerous, so ladies, always expect the unexpected while you’re trying a new shade of lipstick–dontcha know, the real reason why there’s so many mirrors in cosmetics departments is so that we can scope out the folks behind us for possible shooters, not so that we can see how some silly makeup looks on us!

So, wait, how does this work with our big bad menfolk totin’ guns (concealed- OR open-carry) into a mall? As Bill Maher discussed last night – and Wayne and I have discussed before this – open-carry, at least, is quite honestly only safe for WHITE MEN to do. In an open-carry state, one probably won’t see too many men of color packing heat – or at least not for long, as SOMEONE will either shoot them ‘just because’, or report them to the police, who will come and shoot the ‘suspicious’ armed black man on sight.

As noted in the ThinkProgress thread, “There have been 353 mass shootings in the United States in 2016, according to the Mass Shootings Tracker.” C’mon, you crazy shooters, there’s still plenty of time left in 2016, let’s see how high you can make that number go before the new year! And you “good guy(s) with a gun”, Christmas shopping is just around the corner, and the malls will be packed, so get your gunz and ammo ready!

This is our daily Open Thread, so talk about gunz or whatever else you want.

The Watering Hole; Thursday June 30 2016; Gun Control? Underway!

I’ve never been shy concerning my attitudes toward the Second Amendment and the consequences of its misinterpretations by the Supreme Court; I’ve also never shied away from countering ANY argument in favor of universal gun ownership/possession. Guns have one purpose and one purpose only: to kill. Unfortunately for critters everywhere — humans especially — said purpose is massively overused, to the detriment of ‘we the critters,’ each and all. Similarly, the concept of rationality, of ‘control’ of the issue, is typically and constantly dismissed/disallowed because of the irrationality implicit in each and all of the arguments used to support the ‘universal gun ownership’ premise.

Bottom line: regardless of today’s conservative irrationality, guns are useful only to those who are interested in killing, and useless to those who are not. It remains, sadly, an essentially impossible task to do the logical thing and rid ourselves of the Second Amendment, in spite of the fact that it was written by James Madison solely to mollify slave owners concerned about the clause in the 1787 Constitution that assigned the use of militias to the federal government and NOT to the several states. Madison, himself a slave owner in Virginia, understood that militias were often used by Slave States to put down slave insurrections, a process seemingly disallowed by the new Constitution. Therefore the Second Amendment and its primary “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” clause was added in the Bill of Rights to essentially allow state militias to be continuously used for local purposes, and in the process re-open the door for Slave State ratification of the new Constitution.

In the two-plus centuries since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, the Supreme Court has ruled on numerous occasions regarding the breadth of meaning implicit in Madison’s words, i.e. 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.  In 1876, for example, in United States v. Cruikshank, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that “The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution.” Then in 1939, United States v. Miller, SCOTUS ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types that didn’t have a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court handed down a landmark decision that held the amendment protects an individual right to possess and carry firearms. Finally, in the 2016 decision Caetano v. Massachusetts, the Court reiterated its earlier rulings that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding” and that its protection is not limited to “only those weapons useful in warfare.”

It took the Supreme Court 200-plus years, but as of today its rulings have effectively erased and rewritten the meanings implicit in the original Second Amendment, disregarding any and all references to “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” and concentrating instead only on the words “the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” Stated another way, the new bottom line ignores the Second Amendment’s original purpose — to allow Slave States to use armed militias to put down slave uprisings — and has instead become what’s seen as a guaranteed  Constitutional right, one that allows each and every citizen to own and carry as many of their own preferred instruments, each designed for the sole purpose of killing the life form at which it’s aimed, as they might care to own.

And these days, rest assured that ANY attempt by ANY state or by the Federal government to control in ANY way the guns available for sale to the general public will be met with screams from every quarter — save for, of course, the tiny corner still owned by sanity.

But then, suddenly, this very day, a breath of freshness, a beam of light piercing the imposed gun-culture darkness:

Hawaii just put gun owners on an FBI database — and the NRA is freaking out

Hawaii’s governor signed a bill making it the first U.S. state to place its residents who own firearms in a federal criminal record database and monitor them for possible wrongdoing anywhere in the country, his office said.

The move by gun control proponents in the liberal state represents an effort to institute some limits on firearms in the face of a bitter national debate over guns that this week saw Democratic lawmakers stage a sit-in at the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hawaii Governor David Ige, a Democrat, on Thursday signed into law a bill to have police in the state enroll people into an FBI criminal monitoring service after they register their firearms as already required, his office said in a statement.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation database called “Rap Back” will allow Hawaii police to be notified when a firearm owner from the state is arrested anywhere in the United States.

Hawaii has become the first U.S. state to place firearm owners on the FBI’s Rap Back, which until now was used to monitor criminal activities by individuals under investigation or people in positions of trust such as school teachers and daycare workers

[. . .]

Ige’s office said he also signed into law two other firearms bills. One makes convictions for stalking and sexual assault among the criminal offenses disqualifying a person from gun ownership. The other requires firearm owners to surrender their weapons if diagnosed with a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder.

Three cheers for Hawaii, for the Kingdom of Atooi! FINALLY!! A state with enough brass to look at the gun lobby and laugh, smile and wink before taking some reasonable and easily imposed steps to finally help curb this nation’s murderous plague of gun insanity!

Yeah, I know, the measures Hawaii has adopted are minimal within the concept of honest and effective gun control, but at this point in time, the old line “any port in a storm” stands tall. Plus, of course, nothing can be more satisfying than a gun control act/law that causes the NRA to freak out! The more of those, the merrier.

As  for me, if ONLY I could write a gun control law (short of repeal of the Second Amendment), it would be a short one, word-wise. I don’t, in fact, think it would need to be verbose at all, and would require no big words. Let’s see, how about this: “Each and every time a person, any person, dies from gunshot, the gun manufacturing industry shall pay a fine of one million dollars.” If the current American death rate by gunfire remains constant — 33,000 per year, approximately — the cost to the gun industry would be a mere $33,000,000,000 (33 billion) per year. The gun industry would clearly have to raise their prices on both guns and bullets appropriately to cover their new expense, likely to levels inaccessible to all but a few. Legally, however, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” would not “be infringed.” There might even be, in fact, one or two “people” who could still afford to buy not only a gun, but also the ammo to make it functional as a killing machine! Also, of course, the value/price of existing guns — the second hand market — would soar to the point where all current gun owners would be millionaires (who could no longer afford to buy bullets. but what the hell).

What could go wrong?

I think I’ll write my Congressman and demand action! He’s a wingnut, but what the hey, gotta start someplace, right? Right! Follow in the footsteps of Hawaii, of Atooi! Who needs guns?

Wailua Sunrise, Kauai

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hawaii-Atooi —  Who needs guns in Paradise anyway?!!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 5 2016; Guns and Roses Losers

My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away . . .

Ted Cruz speaks for evangelicals and the right wing in general when he says:

“Listen, absolutely, yes. I think the first obligation of everyone in public office is to protect life. Life is foundational. In fact, as you look at the Declaration, that ordering of unalienable rights — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — I think is a very deliberate ordering.”

And when he says:

“It doesn’t make sense for grown adult men, strangers, to be alone in a restroom with a little girl. This is the height of political correctness. And frankly, the concern is not of the Caitlyn Jenners of the world, but if the law is such that any man, if he feels like it, can go in a woman’s restroom and you can’t ask him to leave, that opens the door for predators.”

And he really grabs them when he talks about what wingnuts everywhere perceive as serious threats to their Second Amendment “rights,” as in this:

“Following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama and Harry Reid lead an assault, not on going after violent criminals, which is what they should have done, but instead going after the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. And I led the fight to protect the Second Amendment in the U.S. Senate and we defeated President Obama’s efforts to undermine our rights.”

And on the campaign trail in Iowa, he wowed ’em with this bit of “wisdom”:

“The great thing about the state of Iowa is (that) I’m pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas: hitting what you aim at.”

Ah yes. As every good gun owner knows, hitting what you aim at is the PURPOSE! of guns, and that PURPOSE! is what the Second Amendment is all about! It PROTECTS our RIGHT to hit what you aim at and KILL IT!  YeeeeeHawwwww!!

Seems to me there’s a serious discrepancy embedded in the premises noted above. On the one hand, the fear of transgender people seems to DEMAND that the Declaration of Independence’s ordering of unalienable rights, i.e. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which Ted Cruz considers to be a very deliberate ordering, is an ordering that does NOT apply to everyone, and clearly not to transgender people, or to LGBT people in general. Instead he seems to reckon that to lend them the ‘impression’ that they enjoy the same rights as everyone else would be a really dangerous concession, one that would open the door for predators and put the entire rest of the nation in grave danger.

All of which is something, of course, that guns could NEVER do. Right? Right. Except — as a recent report points out

The American College of Physicians has been calling gun violence an epidemic since 1995, and though homicide incidences have decreased dramatically since the early 1990s, the medical community still remains deeply concerned, as more than 478,000 fatal and nonfatal violent crimes were committed with a firearm in 2011, according to the most recent data from the Department of Justice.

Gee. What’s up with THAT? Close to a half million violent CRIMES in only ONE YEAR were committed with GUNS? Nah, that’s just them commie democrats lyin’ to us again, trying to find a way to accelerate President Obama’s efforts to undermine our rights and confiscate our guns! — which of course has absolutely NO relationship to the fact that ALL “conservatives” everywhere know and believe that the first obligation of everyone in public office is to protect life. Right? Right.

The article also notes that

In February, several leading health associations issued a call to action asking Congress to develop policies that would reduce the incidences of gun violence. Many of the recommendations look similar to those proposed by gun-control advocates – including limiting the availability of assault weapons and closing loopholes that exist in background checks for those who buy guns at gun shows or from dealers – and they are expected to gain little traction in the GOP-controlled Congress . . .

Well, you know, they say there’s somewhere between 30 and 35 thousand people that die every year from gunshots, but prolly half o’ them’re suicides, so what’s the problem. Right? Right.

Problem obvious: 478,000 fatal and nonfatal (gun) crimes per year, 35,000 people dead from gunshots every year, but that’s nothing, really. Where our REAL problem lies is that them transgender people wanna use the wrong restroom, and if that’s allowed God will rain death and destruction down and destroy Amurkkka in the process!

And we haven’t even touched on the gay marriage stuff, and how many people are doomed cuz of THAT!

******

Has anyone published the numbers yet of how many die from gay marriage or how many transgender restroom assaults (and deaths) there are each year? Bet the numbers are really scary-scary! Most likely all-a-dem gun owners are really lucky that Life is foundational for DEM and not for THEM! Right? Right.

Actually, I’m guessing the number in those LGBT scenarios is probably zero even though I’ve not seen any confirming stats. I should ask Ted Cruz, maybe; bet he’d know. I mean, since Life is foundational, maybe there could be a tee-tiny flaw in the Second Amendment interpretation and expression? You gotta wonder.

Too bad Ted’s dropped out of the presidential race; maybe I should ask Trump. He’ll know. Right? Right.

Though I than He — may longer live
He longer must — than I —
For I have but the power to kill,
Without — the power to die –
(Emily Dickinson)

Remember always the “conservative” point of view: Guns are a RIGHT — the height of political correctness — no matter how many lives they might take. Personal Lifestyles, where no other lives are taken, are not, because “Christian Nation” and all, wherein The power to kill without the power to die is of prime import — even as the power to live one’s life as one chooses is forever open to challenge. By the righteous.

I wonder why that is?

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 1, 2016 – Super Tuesday

We interrupt our regular programs to bring you up to the minute commentary by posters of this blog on the Super Tuesday primary event. As a way of introduction and background, here is a snippet from Raw Story:

Democrat Hillary Clinton aims to build an impregnable lead on “Super Tuesday,” the most consequential day of the presidential nominations calendar, while Republicans struggle to derail their insurgent and controversial front-runner Donald Trump.

With barely 24 hours before the big day, Clinton and Trump are well positioned to secure the lion’s share of the delegate bonanza in the 11 states voting in each party’s primaries.

Trump and Hillary? Let the voters decide.

Follow the money (per NBC News):