2:00PM Water Cooler 2/19/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, after putting on my yellow waders and forcing myself through Andy Slavitt’s tsunami of drivel, I’m all tuckered out. So talk amongst yourselves; this is an open thread. –lambert

I’d be especially interested to know if any of the high schoolers in your area are involved in anti-gun activities or marches prompted by the Parkland shootings. This is why: The Democrats adroitly decapitated the Black Lives Matter movement, which started spontaneously with enormous efforts from unknown locals, was then taken “national” by “leaders” primarily from charter schools and Teach for America, met with Obama at the White House, issued some (good) policy papers on policing, and then quietly vanished, leaving matters on the ground exactly as they were before. So, I wonder if the same process will happen with any movement deriving from the Parkland shootings. (After all, if the Democrats plan to win by electing Blue Dogs, they can’t actually do anything on gun policy; but it will be necessary for them to posture and virtue signal to keep their base agigated, and keep small donations coming.)

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (KH):

KH writes: “Not sure what these are, still, they’re gorgeous against the Hawaiian winter sky.”

It is a great moment when you look up at tree branches against the sky, and see buds. And the moment always does come, even though some of us are not there yet…

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. dcblogger

    I would not say that matters on the ground are “exactly” as they were before. Several prosecutors lost their elections, I suspect there have been other changes we do not know about as they are local matters. But yeah, the militirization of police continues.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        only loosely connected to guns(maybe, in the same way that bullying is):
        our local Da just met with all the teachers and told them they were required to be spies and to report all sexual activity between students to the sheriff.
        she specified, “All sexual activity…even consensual”.
        The instigation was apparently another town in this district where two 16 year olds were deeply in love and bumped uglies and a teacher overheard…and the girl got pregnant, and her parents sued the teacher and the school.
        So now we’ve got to have teachers as unpaid informants for the sex-stazi .
        It is as yet unknown if the sheriff’s office will be hiring more staff, or really how this enormous intrusion is supposed to work.
        and, just a reminder, almost everybody out here is either apathetic about politics, or a republican…and I’m sitting here thinking about “small government” and “personal responsibility” and “tort reform to combat frivolous lawsuits” and a bunch of other long term rhetorical motifs in Rightyland….and marveling at how everyone seems to fall from the turnip truck anew, each day.

        1. Tom Stone

          I find it interesting that the protests are “Anti-Gun” and not “Anti-Violence”. And that there’s no call for better mental health treatment, or for actually enforcing the existing laws…
          I ran across a recent articl in the sacbee about a convicted felon who sold half a dozen home made AR-15’s to a BATF agent ( Since he installed the sight backward they might not have worked real well).
          Toward the end of the article it was mentioned that he had been busted by the Sherrif’s department in late 2017 for a significant amount of nasty drugs, including meth, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
          Being a Felon in possession of a Firearm is punishable by 10 years in the pen…and he was out in months.
          This is something i see quite often when I read these crime stories all the way through.
          The Murder of 72 year old Michael French comes to mind as does the career low life that started the Santa Cruz fire last fall.
          There should be no bail for a Felon caught in Possession of a Firearm.

          1. Yves Smith

            Mark Ames’ book, “Going Postal,” the first on mass shootings, found that none of the shooters had evident mental health problems. They were above average IQ. The only common element was that they skewed heavily male (there was one woman shooter) and had been very badly bullied.

            The Las Vegas shooter had no history of mental health issues. His MD had deemed him “odd” and he did take some anti-anxiety meds. So are you suggesting criminalizing the occasional use of Valium? One of my buddies has former FDA commissioners/MDs as partners who use Valium occasional as opposed to drinking to deal with overly stressful days. They’ve read all the research and deem Valium the least bad option.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              I was that overly smart and picked on kid, and I’ve often ruminated(after these terrible events) what is different?
              why didn’t I go postal?(given my Wild Years, perhaps I went nonviolently postal)
              I’m sure “mental illness” has a part to play(we have so many to choose from), but that doesn’t feel like it.
              Columbine is the first of these incidents I remember, in 1999…and it’s not like guns were less available, or mental issues less present in the population. so what is different? what changed?
              i lean towards the fact that the system selects for psychopathy(i usually only apply that maxim to bidness and gov)…all the things we talked about in your cri de coeur the other day…the anomie and alienation and disconnection from family and society and the natural world…to say nothing of the divine ground of being(or whatever).
              That loss…that’s what I think it is…and it’s a child of many fathers and mothers. I think about the marked differences between the WW2 vets I have known, and those of Viet Nam. The former believed, more or less in what they were doing…the latter have been trying real hard to, but failing.(stepdad weeping when he came to an epiphany that the hippies were maybe right all along, and that he sacrificed his legs for an evil cause dressed up as a patriotic duty)…lots of little things like that that we either ignore or are unaware of…because the frelling humanities have been hounded to ground, or pressed into service of empire….or because we don’t talk about important things because the game takes up the whole dam^ed day, or because uncle joe is a commie and uncle kurt is a fascist.
              or we’re too busy rushing around.
              for the first half of my life(up to around 99-2001) people my age still tried hard to believe in the whole american dream…work hard, get ahead. I reckon that matters.
              That was noticeably lost at some point…folks couldn’t pretend any more.
              now, kids look forward to a lifetime of debt and scrabbling and all the while pretending that everything’s cool.
              there’s a reason the Greeks left Hope in the Jar.

              as far as what Tom said, about felons getting set loose…yes. I’ve noticed that with even child molesters.
              gotta make room for the potheads, I guess.
              which points to even more screwed up priorities.

  2. Rob P

    An Indicted Russian Picks Up the Phone, and Mocks the Idea That Russia Meddled

    >“I think it’s бред ),” he said, using a Russian word for nonsense. I was struck by the parenthesis at the end, which is the smiley face emoticon on the Russian Internet. He seemed, in general, sanguine about the case, mocking the idea that he might have played a role in the U.S. election. He said that he lives in Russia and doesn’t know anything about the U.S. besides “Washington is the capital of USA.” “I think that if the USA democratic system was broken buy several Russian people–it’s very bad for American political system,” he wrote, calling the notion “fantastic.”

    If Putin’s really a political mastermind, maybe he’ll convince one of these guys to volunteer to stand trial here on these charges, to publicize how ridiculous all of this is. Mueller’s team probably isn’t expecting to actually try this case in court, it would be interesting to watch them try.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Why would a Russian volunteer to come here to be tried for this “Russian 13” indictment? How could such a Russian be sure that he wouldn’t be fake-tried, fake-convicted, and then imprisoned for real in a real prison?

      1. bun


        Just ask Noriega how his trial went, when he promised to ‘reveal everything’.
        What, you didn’t hear about it? funny that…

        Don’t know what is actually going on here, but certainly is has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘subversion of democracy’

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          it’s cover for the real subverters of democracy, of course.
          the tell is the part of the indictment where they lament that the bad ol ruskis made amurcuns mad at their own overlords.
          I don’t know about others, but I’ve been pretty darned irate at the powers that be and all their various shenanigans for decades, and didn’t need poorly done russian facebook posts to arrive at that attitude.

      2. Peter Pan

        I suspect that any evidence in a trial would be considered a government secret. So the trial would be closed to the public.

  3. polecat

    Re. democrats/marches/anti gun …

    Of the Democrat$ .. the ones that count anyway, I’m 99.9% sure that THEY have ALL the access THEY need where firepower is concerned, what with security detail, both publicly funded through MY tax dollars, and privately, ALSO through MY tax dollars, so as to keep the rabble @ greater than arm’s reach …. but hey .. lets take little jane and john’s popguns, as they sit at their table at the back of the theater, right next to that shimmery cloak covering that hard, bloodied brick wall !!!!

    Sheep .. meet Slaughter Bros, both fast, and slow.

  4. Amateur Socialist

    I would further suggest the Democratic pattern of containment really got its start with the successful sidelining of the Occupy movement. Veal-fattening pen anyone?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Ah, veal-fattening pens. Thanks, Amateur Socialist, for bringing back some fine memories of the late, great Firedoglake.

          1. Webstir

            Hmm. I don’t know about that. I’ve had Shadowproof bookmarked for years now & for some reason don’t find myself frequenting it very often. I think it’s the site organization. It just tries to take too much on, I think, and ends up leaving the reader a bit overwhelmed.

            Looking at the comment sections in the articles, it looks like it’s not really bringing in readers. Which sucks, b/c I think the site has serious potential. I think they need Ian Welsh to come in and redesign their interface, or take the site over altogether.

            Anyone have any idea why Ian didn’t just take the reigns when Jane Hamsher stepped away.

          2. Webstir

            Oh crap. Sorry AZ slim. My dyslexia strikes again. My first read thought you said it “is” just as good a FDL. Noting my error. I completely agree.

        1. Yves Smith

          Jane Hamsher developed serious health problems. The site also depended on union support and they may have withdrawn funds after the Dem establishment told her boyfriend Andy Stern to dump her as bad for his career. Not making that up.

          1. JBird

            Being told to dump someone for the the sake of their political career? That is just crass.

            I don’t know anything about Jane Hamsher. I take it she has inconvenient beliefs and tends to express them. If he did dump her especially if she was ill, she got to see how worthless he was.

      1. Eclair

        Firedoglake and ‘Redhead’ got me started on reading blogs. Back in the day when we had AOL and dialup, I would sit at our enormous desktop in the early hours of the mornings and feel like I was not alone in the universe, as all our friends were cheerleading for the invasion of Iraq and I was, like, reading the World Almanac entry on the country and thinking, but they have practically no industry or power production, so exactly how can they be a threat to the USA?
        There was, for a time, Just a Bump in the Beltway, too.

  5. cocomaan

    The only activism I’ve seen has been on the internet regarding gun violence.

    BBC had an article about cancelled gun auctions (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43112771) but there didn’t appear to be anyone on the ground about it.

    Contrast that to, say, people protesting the infamous “Google memo writer” James Damore. http://www.wweek.com/news/2018/02/17/no-violence-brief-disruption-as-fired-google-engineer-speaks-at-portland-state-university/

    But for those who think youth aren’t engaged, the teens involved with the Parkland shooting are speaking out https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/19/opinions/parkland-shooting-voting-age-opinion-douglas/index.html I don’t agree with everything they say, but it’s interesting to see. Not sure how much is influenced by parents. Much, I assume, but not all of it.

    1. Arizona Slim

      If my Faceborg feed is any indication, people are really hot -n- bothered about this issue. As for taking action? Ehhh, not so much.

      OTOH, I admire the Parkland teens because they aren’t being meek little victims. Uh-uh. They are fighting back — good for them!

      1. cocomaan

        Exactly my observation. “DO SOMETHING” is the cry to government, but all the solutions are complex. None of them are perfect, all of them have downsides for certain constituencies.

        1. mle detroit

          With all respect, so f*ing what? It’s more than time that we admit our technology for killing at a distance does not consist of muskets. And background checks do not constitute a well-regulated militia. We need to rewrite the Second Amendment.

          1. Baby Gerald

            THIS! Dissect the argument using the very words of the amendment. The gun lobby and the vastly over-represented minority of Americans they supposedly support, but instead use to do their dirty work, studiously ignores the whole ‘well-regulated militia’ section of the text.

            Let’s make all guns made after, say 1790 completely illegal. Melt them down for scrap so we can build schools with the steel we recover. Muskets were the guns the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote this amendment, not AR-15s with bump stocks, laser scopes, flash supressors and 50+ round magazines.

            The late, great Robert Parry wrote an article on ConsortiumNews after the Sandy Hook massacre and it was re-posted there recently called The Right’s Second Amendment Lies. It gets at the original reason this stupid amendment was added to the constitution in the first place.

            1. cocomaan

              The reality was that the Framers wrote the Constitution and added the Second Amendment with the goal of creating a strong central government with a citizens-based military force capable of putting down insurrections, not to enable or encourage uprisings. The key Framers, after all, were mostly men of means with a huge stake in an orderly society, the likes of George Washington and James Madison.

              As a second amendment supporter, I’m fine with this. Disband our worldwide, pax americana military and save us a tremendous amount of time and treasure.

      2. dcblogger

        these students watched as some of their friends and teachers were gunned down. maybe we should show a little respect for their experience.

      3. Arthur J

        Well I don’t know about action, but my wife told me this morning that on her Facebook feed there was a post about a school club in Missouri I believe it was. They are selling tickets to a fundraising lottery where the prize is an AR-15.

        As a Canadian, I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment on their sagacity.

      4. ArcadiaMommy

        I think it’s a feeling of complete impotence. If almost every citizen in the country wants a radically different gun control situation, yet elected officials deliberately create the opposite situation, even at the cost of countless lives lost and damaged, then what can be done? There is a lot of fear about what gun owners will do. Gun owners also have insanely convoluted arguments that are hard to comprehend, let alone refute. I am desperate to rid myself of this worry, but I don’t really know of a good way to connect with others who feel the same way I do so that we could accomplish anything. There really is a fear of what the nra will do to you via their influence if you speak out against them.

    2. marym

      Protest outside WH today https://twitter.com/ReporterBlayne/status/965638490317877248

      On-line organizing starting for March on DC and local marches 3/24 https://www.marchforourlives.com / https://www.facebook.com/March-for-Our-Lives-1685651718144665/ (These appear to be new and very basic sites right now)

      Two existing organizations https://twitter.com/Everytown / https://everytown.org and https://twitter.com/MomsDemand / https://momsdemandaction.org (founded in response to Sandy Hook)

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        This is an early report, but there are more if you google ‘FBI + investigate + NRA + russia + trump’. Note this is only about a month old :

        If my radar are at all accurate, up to now, all school shootings were so emotionally overpowering that people were numb with shock, and still had a morsel of faith in Congress or federal leadership. Trump’s incapacity to even demonstrate any kind of emotional connection (and try to blame the FBI!) seems to have jolted things to a whole new level of outrage. People that I know are either: (a) too upset to even talk about it, or else (b) a level of furious that I’ve not seen before.

        It’s as if we’re moving through some kind of Punctuated Equilibrium in terms of public fury and determination to see this problem addressed in a meaningful way, nationwide.

        I also have to credit media reports that have begun to include the obscene NRA contributions to the very same electeds who are failing the public.

    3. Oregoncharles

      High school kids do have minds of their own – and a big personal stake in this issue. I assume the parents mostly agree.

    1. audrey jr

      Thanks for that, JCC. Wish our Governor Moonbeam had cajones as large as your Governor. Nestle’s been stealing from the Lake Arrowhead region – sans fed permits – for decades.

      1. Lost in OR

        Sorry, I’d have to say Gov. Brown lacks cajones. She’s not much of an environmentalist either. Very much like a recent neolib pres.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Moonbeam is so establishment now, I think the 1970s version of himself would hate the current version

          Or maybe he’s been the same all along. Would either outcome surprise anyone at this point?

    2. Means and Goals

      Note that it was for fiscal reasons not concern about the nature. The put Al Capone out for tax evasion. Whatever works.

    3. Oregoncharles

      The key: Voters in Hood River County passed a measure in May 2016 to ban large water bottling operations.

      The initiative is a big deal in Oregon.

  6. Robert Hahl

    What Makes This Song Great? Ep. 3 Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne

    This breakdown is fun, every single part grooves like hell. Wish I could say what “groove” really is. It’s a bit like charisma.

    Mickey Jupp (of Legend) was a British rocker who didn’t get much attention in the U.S. but had (and still has) a terrific voice and guitar.

    Legend – Cheque Book

    Live – 1982

    Legend – Five Years

  7. Polar Donkey

    A friend who is a teacher said her students are very interested in gun control now. Teaches high schoolers in Mississippi. Almost all her students watched videos from students in the florida shooting. Those videos were graphic. The Mississippi students had a lot of questions. Did it used to be like this? Why is it like this now? etc, etc. The NRA may have a lot of influence over republican politicians still, but they have lost the future. Terrorist organization is not too far off from what high schoolers think the NRA is. Tomorrow is the day the schools do active shooter drills in Mississippi and around the country. Students are taking this very seriously now. There is talk of a student boycott in April for gun control. In MISSISSIPPI!

    1. Judith

      I wonder is it possible for the children interested in gun control to do something similar to the constitutional climate lawsuit filed by Our Children’s Trust in Oregon (and something similar recently in Washington).


      “Their complaint asserts that, through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.”

    2. Arthur Dent

      I think there are some analogies with the Vietnam War here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_to_United_States_involvement_in_the_Vietnam_War

      The high school students are starting to figure out that they have been set up as ducks in the shooting gallery by their elders and don’t like it. The protests build slowly, but if the killing continues, expect it to build further. Three years after the first protests, LBJ announced he wouldn’t run for a second term. Nixon was elected to two terms but eventually had to figure out how to bail out of Vietnam and ended up resigning to avoid impeachment.

      I don’t think it is accidental that these shootings and protests are beginning during a period when we have employment malaise as well as an increasing fear of nuclear war for the first time in many decades and growing concerns about environmental crises.

      So I don’t know what will happen, but the increasing slaughter in suburban predominantly white schools is reminiscent of the increasing toll taken by white draftees in the Vietnam War. I saw an analysis once where presidential approval rating dropped about 10% every order of magnitude of increase in Vietnam War casualties. We are still in the early days of school shootings, but they are increasing in frequency so as the total casualties get into the thousands, I expect public opinion will turn even more. The suburbs have viewed guns as a purely inner-city issue but that may be changing.

        1. JBird

          The Greg Palast piece was suggested by my and the reason I suggested it to Lambert is because of Palast’s and his son’s observations that heavy gun violence happens in (mostly poor) countries with great inequality that strictly regulate, if not outright ban, private gun ownership while countries that don’t have extreme inequality (usually with good safety nets) do not have gun violence even when their is ready access to guns. For instant, Iceland, Switzerland, or Finland. All have high rates of gun ownership with few or no gun deaths but all have pretty fair economy equality and and a very good social safety net.

          That’s all great especially as I am a supporter of gun rights.

          But it is horrifying also. I was hit hard by how bad it has become in my country. We can all argue about guns and gun violence all day long. We could go to every home in America and take all weapons even BB guns, but it would not change how bad it has become and is likely to be in the future.

          The proud, confident, and capable country of my parents’ generation is gone; I do not know what it is but it reminds more and more of México or El Salvador and I am making no reference to ethnicity.

          Damn, I am feeling incredibly sad and nostalgic. I just hope I don’t become some maudlin fool.

          1. todde

            I would say it is the drug war. Countries who use ‘military’ methods to fight drug use have a high rate of gun deaths.

            1. JBird

              Good point. The United States does have a War on Drugs. I don’t know how much that contributes, although the last major upswing in violence here was in the crack wars of the 1980s. Of course, very large numbers drugs users have been sent to prisons since then under very harsh sentences.

            1. JBird

              That’s not relavent to Palast’s thesis that it was the economic conditions, not the mere presence of guns. He says that that those countries with legal ownership of large numbers of guns concurrent with low inequality, not the countries with low or no levels of legally owned guns with high inequality, that had low levels of violence.

              Restated. Low inequality, little violence even with broad legal gun ownership; high inequality, much violence even with restrictive or complete bans of ownership. All the countries mentioned either had stronger gun safety laws or much more limited legal ownership than the United States.

  8. clarky90

    State Prosecutor, Comrade A. Y. Vyshinsky, State Attorney of the U.S.S.R., addresses the Court

    The Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center (Zinoviev-Kamenev Trial, 1936)


    Vyshinski: Comrades judges, comrades members of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union: For three days you have very carefully and with the greatest attention examined the evidence and proof submitted to you by the State Prosecution against the people sitting here in the dock charged with having committed the gravest crimes against the state. With the greatest possible care you have subjected to investigation and judicial scrutiny every one of these proofs, every fact, every event, every step taken by the accused, who in the course of many years added crime to crime in their struggle against the Soviet state, against the Soviet power, against our Party and against the whole of our Soviet people.

    Horrible and monstrous is the chain of these crimes against our socialist fatherland; and each one of these crimes deserves the severest condemnation and severest punishment. Horrible and monstrous is the guilt of these criminals and murderers, who raised their hand against the leaders of our Party, against Comrades Stalin, Voroshilov, Zhdanov, Kaganovich, Orjonikidze, Kossior and Postyshev, against our leaders, the leaders of the Soviet state. Monstrous are the crimes perpetrated by this gang wich not only made preparations to commit terroristic acts, but actually murdered one of the best sons of the working class, one of the most devoted to the cause of socialism, one of the most beloved disciples of the great Stalin, the fiery tribune of the proletarian revolution, the unforgettable Sergel Mironovich Kirov.

    But monstrous as these crimes are, and however profoundly we may have been stirred and digusted by this nightmare of horrible crime, you, comrades judges, as befits a Soviet court and Soviet justice, have been weighing and appraising very calmy the facts which came before you in connection with the criminal activities of these persons whose names have long ago been covered with contempt and disgrace in the eyes of the whole people….

    We are building a new, socialist society, a new, Soviet state, under the difficult conditions of class struggle, amidst the fierce resistance of the last remnants of the exploiting classes which we have routed and utterly crushed.

    Every step in our progress is accompanied by desperate resistance on the part of our enemies who rouse against us all the forces of the old world, all the filth, all the scum of the old society, who mobilize and throw into the struggle against us the most criminal, the most hardened, the most incorrigible, decayed and dishonest elements…..

    Comrade Stalin warned us that:

    “We must bear in mind that the growth of the power of the Soviet state will increase the resistance of the last remnants of the dying classes. …This may give ground for the revival of the activities of the defeated groups of the old counter-revolutionary parties: the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Mensheviks, the bourgeois nationalists in the centre and in the outlying regions…

  9. savedbyrirony

    I was hoping for an open thread one of these days for the opportunity to thank the NC commentator who recently recommended a number of books to read on the Vietnam War. As of right now, i have read thru about half and especially appreciated “Dispatches” and “Long Time Passing”. Brings back many memories, especially the later, as well as a wealth of new info. Thanks again.

  10. Craig H.

    The most interesting piece I have seen in the last few days that I missed if it was posted here:

    China’s Dystopian Tech Could Be Contagious; Adam Greenfield; The Atlantic; 14 Feb.

    It’s about their implementation of a citizen Social Credit score which assigns everybody a sincerity rating. Pretty sure they don’t give anybody credit for reading Naked Capitalism. If you saw the scene at the airport ticket counter in Black Mirror, it works kind of like that although they would have to be pretty stupid to let a airline clerk or an airport security guard ding your social credit score at the drop of an f-bomb. Cathy O’Neil Weapons of Math Destruction contains many variations on this theme.

    1. Ed Miller

      It’s been here. I think last week some time but a different link that draws attention to the implications for US citizens (plebs). Don’t have a link handy.

  11. Andrew Watts

    In recognition of this glorious American holiday of President’s Day and the ongoing concern that the proper amount of decorum isn’t being observed by the current occupant of the White House I thought I’d dig up some presidential sh– talking. In the presidential election of 1800 John Adams said the following about Thomas Jefferson.

    “[He was] the son of a half-breed Indian squaw sired by a Virginian mulatto father.”

    Oww, hopefully nobody got triggered. Jefferson proved that he was no mere amateur in flinging poop by speculating about Adams’ nature.

    “…a hideous hermaphroditic character which has neither the force and firmness of a man nor the gentleness or sensibility of a woman.”

    How’s that for observing political norms ladies and gentlemen?

        1. pretzelattack

          french dressing is also suspect, and omg roquefort. only ranch is safe, and that sucks, but freedom isn’t free.

          1. Wukchumni

            Any good reason why there is no ‘American dressing’ and sorry, but if ranch was worthy, why wouldn’t it get elevated to national status?, and don’t get me started on thousand island dressing.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Salad dressing is for salads which are often composed of vegetables. We didn’t kill the buffalo to eat like rabbits, hence no need for “American” dressing. USA! USA! USA!

  12. dcblogger

    I think this observation by Mark Ames is spot on:
    Much better is to pour arms unrestricted into the population, give them legal cover and political encouragement to take political matters into their own hands with laws like “Stand Your Ground”. That way you wind up creating a political culture of atomized, fear-fueled citizens who think they’re literally at war with each other, and their only way out is to fend for themselves and their family.

    the kleptocracy loves gun culture because gun idolatry is about fear.

    1. todde

      When my friends sister was murdered the cops told us ‘exactly’ who did it, although he was never arrested.

      It was almost like they wanted to us to take care of it ourselves.

      And when you murder a gang banger, the police will shake your hand before they put you away for it

    2. Eclair

      Nice observation, dc.

      Further, it might serve the interests of those who would like to do away with public education (as detrimental to running a tightly controlled authoritarian state) to encourage an atmosphere of fear and mistrust surrounding public schools. How long before parents begin to think that it is madness to send their children off every day to an institution in which they are likely to be gunned down? Home schooling anyone?

  13. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

    Regarding Mle detroit’s comment:

    We Brits don’t have a constitution. Looking at how things pan out in the USA, I’ve now come to the conclusion that the situation there could be alikened to trying to drive a modern car with an instruction manual for a Ford model T.

    Better evolution of government than hallowed-set-in-stone-ism.

    Pip – Pip

    1. c_heale

      The situation in the UK could likewise be alikened to trying to drive a modern car with no instruction manual and no idea of what it is. Look at Brexit! BTW I’m a Brit, too.

      1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

        Re: Guns, the gaming of hallowed anachronisms (Mle detroit) & buyer’s remorse.

        The ‘instruction manual’ regarding guns in the UK puts a hefty brake on the subjects of Her Madge killing each other a-go-go. I would hazard a guess that there haven’t been too many deaths as a direct consequence of Brexit. However, if Brexit goes ahead, I imagine that there might be quite a lot of Tories watching their backs if the British government does not generously compensate those who invested heavily in them over the years.

        Pip Pip
        ps The British car industry died decades ago through arrogant bad management. Please try to keep up! (British management certainly didn’t).
        Can someone remind me of the acronym for Lucas?

        1. blennylips

          The Lucas motto: “Get home before dark.”
          Lucas is the patent holder for the short circuit.
          Lucas – Inventor of the first intermittent wiper.
          Lucas – Inventor of the self-dimming headlamp.
          The three position Lucas switch – Dim, Flicker and Off.
          The Original Anti-Theft Device – Lucas Electrics.
          >Lucas is an acronym for Loose Unsoldered Connections and Splices.

          Though I spent an afternoon in Miles Montana thanks to Lucas, I did not know the acronym till I just dug it up.

          (hat tip to http://www.mez.co.uk/lucas.html)

  14. John Zelnicker

    I would like to start changing the language we use when talking about how to deal with gun violence.

    We have reached a point where the very language we use has become polarizing and seems to elicit visceral reactions on both sides of the issue, preventing rational discussions.

    If we would all start talking about gun safety proposals, gun safety rules, gun safety regulations and gun safety generally, we might be able to use effectively the framework of vehicle safety. IMNSHO, this framework is our best bet for imposing some kind of rationality on gun ownership without actually infringing on the rights of those who want to own them, while keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

    No one seriously argues that people should be allowed to drive a vehicle without some training and successfully passing knowledge and skills tests. Yet, I often see gun rights advocates pointing to deaths from vehicles when gun deaths are in the news while asking what steps are being taken to reduce those vehicle deaths. The lethality of these two machines is very much the same, but only one requires a license to operate.

    In addition, the vehicle safety framework imposes greater training and knowledge requirements for operating more dangerous or hazardous vehicles.

    Yes, I have scrupulously avoided the trigger phrase for this issue. ;-)

    1. Jen

      I stopped reading Stone Kettle Station regularly when Jim Wright started going all in on the Russia Russia Russia thing, but his take on gun violence resonates with me. We can debate whether or not we ought be an armed nation; the reality is, we are. His idea is to make the NRA’s safety rules national law.

      “We need gun laws that give society legal recourse by making each gun owner/user personally accountable for their own actions.

      Those laws should be designed to change our gun culture over time in order to make gun violence less likely. And, of course, those laws should not keep those of us who take responsibility for our own actions from exercising our Second Amendment rights.

      Now, what exactly does such a law look like?

      Well, it looks like the NRA.

      On my range, on any range, military, law enforcement, or civilian, the first rule of gun safety is this:

      Always assume the gun is loaded, unless you personally have verified that it is unloaded.

      Everything depends from that anchor point.


      You always assume the gun is loaded. Always. Every time. Even if you just watched somebody else unload it. When you pick up a weapon or accept it from somebody else, you assume it is loaded until you, yourself, personally unload it or verify visually and physically that it is unloaded. Period. No exceptions.

      Now, I doubt anybody would want to argue that rule.

      “I thought it was empty” is the single most common excuse when somebody “accidentally” discharges a weapon.

      There are no accidents with guns.

      There. Are. No. Accidents.

      It’s a killing machine. You’re responsible. Period. No exceptions.

      We start right there: anyone who picks up a gun is responsible for its condition. No excuses. Misdemeanor for failure to know the condition of your weapon if only property damage is involved, felony negligence if somebody is injured including yourself, manslaughter if somebody dies. ”


      1. Richard

        Oh. I see that the problem is that the NRA hasn’t been involved enough in writing legislation? Please help me understand this man’s point.
        Who would it save? What is the point? What part of the horrific problem of mass shootings, that don’t happen anywhere else in the world, would it address? We are way beyond framing this as a personal responsibility issue.

        1. Jen

          @ Richard. Upwards of 30K people die from gun injuries every year; only a very small percentage in mass shootings. Almost 2/3 are suicides. Last year, 110 people were killed in mass shootings. Compare that to 987 people who were shot and killed by police officers. Mass shootings are horrific, and even if we stopped every single one from occurring, it would reduce the overall number of deaths from gun injuries by .004% assuming 30K deaths per year.

          Mr Wright’s point is that making something against the law won’t stop it from happening, and further, that the purpose of the law is not to prevent crime, but to give society legal recourse against people who engage in activities that endanger the health and well being of others.

          I don’t agree with him on every point. I think we should ban people from owning the types of weapons whose only purpose is to kill as many people in the shortest time possible. I also agree with John Z on vehicle safety as a framework.

          As to the NRA, of which I am decidedly not a fan (nor, if you read the post, is Mr. Wright), their gun safety rules are coherent. Mr. Wright would add to these, in codifying them into law:

          “Never provide a gun to someone not authorized to have it.
          If you purchase or otherwise obtain a firearm for another who you know is not legally able to own/operate a gun, you are responsible for that person’s resulting actions with that weapon.”

          We have larger problems as a society that none of this will address – again, suicide is far and away the most common type of gun death, but ensuring that we, as a society, have legal recourse against people who either through negligence or willful conduct put others at risk seems, to me, like one place to start.

          Gun violence statistics:

      2. John Zelnicker

        February 19, 2018 at 8:02 pm
        Jim Wright has some good ideas in that post. He does a good job of relating gun safety to vehicle safety as I suggest. However, I didn’t see him mention any requirements for training or licensing. Instead, he seems to expect that people will figure out what they need to know to safely handle firearms all by themselves or will seek out that knowledge.

        I’m not so trusting. If we’re going to use the vehicle safety framework, I think we need to do so completely, which means requiring licenses, training, and insurance.

        He is correct in stating that we need to bring about a cultural change and that it will take time, but making NRA safety rules into laws is only one small step in that process. Much more is needed, now.

  15. Lee

    And then there’s this:

    The New Face of the NRA

    And let us not forget that the California law against openly carrying a firearm, the 1967 Mulford (R) act, was signed into law by then governor, Ronald Reagan, in response to this:

    From the pages of The Bee, 1967: Armed Black Panthers invade Capitol


    Conclusion: Racism trumps gun fetishism. The more that PoC actively and publicly support the private possession of firearms, and their legitimate use for self defense, then the more gun control there will be. Full disclosure: I am a gun owner that supports stricter gun control.

    1. John Zelnicker

      February 19, 2018 at 5:28 pm
      Kali Holloway at Alternet had a good article up this week saying that if you want to see gun safety laws passed really fast, just get behind a movement to arm the black community.

        1. JBird

          The gun control laws have often been selectively enforced. Whites not much at all unless you’re some socialist trouble maker or poor. Blacks are always hammered. So middle class conservatives whites have little to worry about.

          And have you ever noticed how many celebrities or wealthy people manage to get concealed carry even in California counties that have a de facto ban and if they screw up it’s handled with kid gloves.

    2. Oregoncharles

      There weren’t only the Panthers; there were also the Deacons, in Mississippi and, IIRC, Alabama. Unlike the Panthers, they were quite successful in making the Klan back off. There was also an incident in N. Carolina in which a Klan rally was broken up by shotgun-toting Cherokees.

      As far as I know, neither led to anti-gun laws.

  16. Wukchumni

    Somebody asked why there are anti-gun protests and no anti-violence protests?

    What’s the largest tally in our country for a knife mass murder spree, or a crossbow mass murder spree, or any other sort of spree*, where the assailant brandishes a weapon in his arms?

    *McVeigh holds the record, but we’re not talking about explosives here.

    1. Baby Gerald

      I’m working to create a list of all the straw-man arguments, false equivalencies, and downright historical lies gun supporters trot out every time we see a massacre like this. How violent crime in Australia went up after they banned guns, how the term ‘assault weapon’ is a manufactured term (well it is, originally used by the manufacturers themselves to sell their product), how more Americans die from falling down stairs every year than by gun violence, how anything can be turned into a deadly weapon, or– my personal favorite– how the Nazis in Germany banned guns, thus implying somehow that a well-armed Jewish population would have prevented the holocaust if only they were armed to the teeth or some such utter nonsense.

      The list of lies and distortions goes on and on, so the rebuttals to all of them need to be learned and repeated with the same zeal, with facts, figures, and charts backing us up. Ask an NRA member why they don’t allow guns to be carried into their national convention. Are they afraid there won’t be any good guys with guns to stop an act of violence should one occur? By all their accounts, that place should be the safest on earth. The contradiction is staggering.

      I realize there are responsible gun owners on this site and I probably come off like a totalitarian nutcase in the eyes of honest hunters and target shooters who keep their weapons unloaded and in a locked safe and all that, but if we want to call ourselves a civilized society (I know that’s up to contention, as well) then we should take these killing machines away and should have decades ago.

      Let me be clear– I’m not some city-slicker who doesn’t understand that ‘the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding, responsible people’. I grew up around guns. My dad hunted deer and turkey, took me target shooting since I was five years old, taught me all the rules of gun safety, locked his guns in a safe and kept the ammo in a separate place, and all that. But we’ve proven that our society can’t be trusted with these things around, that they instantly make us all less safe in their presence, and that they should be taken away from us because we’ve proven ourselves as private citizens incapable of shouldering a responsibility that is better left to our armed forces and law enforcement.

  17. bob

    This is very, very funny-


    In their efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton, the suspected Russian troll accounts uncovered by NBC retweeted MSNBC morning host @JoyAnnReid roughly half as many times as they did @realDonaldTrump, and 21 times more than they did @SenSanders.

    Here are the numbers: RT @JoyAnnReid: 267 RT @realDonaldTrump: 578 RT @SenSanders: 27

    1. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for this tweetstorm, bob. Very telling. BTW, gotta love the handle ‘Working Class Putin Bot’ who appears deeper in the thread.

  18. The Rev Kev

    What concerns me about the school kid’s protest is that it will be simply hijacked as yet another tool to bash Trump with and thus fizzle out. I have already read that people are calling it the Children’s Crusade but I remember reading what happened to the original ones in the middle ages. Sure, Trump is acting again like a bit of a dill but did people really go after Obama after Sandy Hook which I would argue was far worse because of the ages of the children killed? Both parties give the NRA a free pass.
    Ron Placone was commentating that if single payer health care had the same political power as the NRA, that it would be introduced tomorrow which is probably right. What I do personally wonder about are news stories that you never seem to hear about. What I mean by that, for example, is one of these open carry guys walking around a Walmart with his AR-15 being killed by a cop who said that ‘he was in fear of his life’. I never read stories like that. Or some guy ‘going postal’ but instead of a bunch of kids or other innocents, doing it in the boardroom of a company whose actions may have tipped him that way.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Workplace shootings do frequently target a boss – usually along with fellow workers.

      Schools are childrens’ workplaces.

      Sandy Hook was unusual in that he went after much younger children, rather than peers. Probably a psychotic break, like Thurston – though he did attack peers.

  19. upstater

    Suppose there are 10 million assault rifles — a number sometimes quoted.

    How about a $50 billion assault rifle buyout?

    What if only ten of our billionaire class — Gates, Bezos, Buffet, Zuckerberg, Ellison, Koch-1, Koch-2, Bloomberg, Page, Brin contributed $5 billion a piece — only 10% or less of their net worth. They could fund a $5000 per weapon buy-back program.

    At 5 grand pop, the AR15s and AK47s would come out of the closets and gun safes by the millions.

  20. allan

    Grand Old Patriarchy: Idaho senator yells at students lobbying for birth control [AP]

    A state senator shouted at University of Idaho students affiliated with Planned Parenthood trying to schedule a meeting with him to discuss birth control and sex education.

    Republican Sen. Dan Foreman said he would call law enforcement officials if they attempted to visit his office at the Capitol again.

    The students, who had traveled nearly 300 miles (483 kilometers) from the Moscow campus to participate in a Boise lobbying event, were trying to schedule a meeting with Sen. Dan Foreman to discuss birth control and sex education.

    Foreman, a Republican from Moscow, emphatically refused to speak with them in an exchange that several people recorded on camera.

    “Abortion is murder. I’m a Roman Catholic and a conservative Republican,” Foreman is shouting on the video. “I think what you guys are doing stinks.” …

    “You’re damn right it’s my choice, so stay out of my office,” Foreman said. “Next time you walk into my office, you’ll be dealing with Idaho State Police.”

    Paul Dillon, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, said in a phone interview that Foreman’s response to their meeting request was scary and students were not at the Capitol to talk about abortion.

    Instead, the students were encouraging lawmakers to vote in favor of a bill that would allow women to receive up to a 12-month supply of prescribed birth control and promote better sex education on college campuses. …

    This isn’t the first time Foreman has been recorded having an outburst. Last year, bodycam video from the Latah County Sheriff’s Department showed Foreman swearing and shouting insults with an unseen and unidentified male on Sept. 14 — the first day of the county fair in Moscow.

    “Go straight to hell, you son of a bitch,” Foreman can be heard saying in the footage. …

    Video. Seems nice, although a bit on the moderate side for the Idaho GOP.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for this, dcblogger. As a current disgruntled member of SEIU, their anti-activist stand comes as no surprise to me at all. Without a vote from their members they threw their considerable financial and organizational support behind the heir apparent in the last democratic primary.

      SEIU represents us via the local 1199. Conveniently enough, they are not only our union but also our health insurance provider. Every time our contract comes up for renewal with our employer, we hear cries about how much our insurance costs have gone up since the last contract. SEIU sends a second-tier negotiator who then tells us that we can’t get decent raises because we want to keep the no-copay health insurance for which they control the rates.

      When those of us lucky enough to retire go off into the sunset, we get dumped onto Emblem Health, making us jump through all the hoops of finding a new primary care physician and and any specialists we might require. So the good old union screws us coming and going and we get to pay monthly dues for the honor.

  21. allan

    Some economics departments are reclassifying their programs as STEM fields, in part to make them more attractive to international students [Inside Higher Ed]

    Some economics departments are changing the formal classification of their programs so that international students have more opportunities to work in the U.S. after they graduate.

    It may seem like the most bureaucratic of changes, but changing the formal classification — what’s known as the federal CIP code — for an economics program from the one for “economics, general” to the one for “econometrics and quantitative economics” means that international graduates of those programs can work in the U.S. for two extra years after they graduate while staying on their student visas.

    That’s because the Department of Homeland Security considers econometrics and quantitative economics — but not general economics — to be a STEM field. International graduates of designated STEM programs are eligible for what’s known as the STEM OPT extension, which enables them to work in their field for a total of three years in the U.S. while staying on their universities’ sponsorship. By contrast, students with degrees in non-STEM fields are only eligible for one year of OPT, which stands for optional practical training. …

    Any bets on how long before this bit of regulatory arbitrage
    leads to the acronym becoming STEME (or even ESTEM)?

  22. El Hombre

    Every time I hear these kids demand “action” – awful feelings wash over me. The gun control most people talk about doesn’t seem as though it would have kept guns out of Cruz’s hands – he didn’t have prior convictions and although he’s mentally ill, it’s not clear he was able to see a medical professional and get a diagnosis to that effect (to speak nothing of treatment). The only action that would solve the problem is mass gun confiscation and I really think that would cause the country to collapse. America couldn’t stomach the cost.

    The ‘action’ that would have certainly averted this fate was the action of reaching out to a loner and making an effort to include him. The “you can sit with us” campaign probably averted more school shootings than every single member of “moms demand action” combined. I get it, it’s easy to demand other people do something, but every socially minded person has the capacity to steer a would-be school shooter away from the dark side.

    Heck, students at the school gave interviews where they admitted some of them had joked around that Cruz would be a shooter. If Cruz managed to kill any one of his tormentors, I sympathize and think “better them than a person who’s innocent”.

    The facts are murky, but it appears as though the school had disciplined Cruz in the past. I wonder if his tormentors had been sanctioned? My experience with schooling is “no”.

    There are so many problems at play here –
    * lack of access to healthcare
    * incompetent security apparatus
    * incompetent school administration
    * access to guns
    * wickedness

    the list goes on. It seems so partisan to view this as a gun control issue when a gun control solution might be the hardest to effect. It seems as though this is the closest stick to beat the dog – these people want gun control more than they want to reduce school shootings. They ignore solutions at their own peril.

    1. Anarcissie

      The gun thing seems to divide along urban-rural lines. I don’t see what problem the capitalist ruling class would have with increased, indeed, very strict gun control, since they and their immediate servants would always be able to have all the weapons they wanted. I am used to the interests of capital dominating every other concern, so I believe the r.c. doesn’t care much one way or the other, but that there is strong resistance to gun control at a popular level which it is not worth their while to engage. One might want to compare the interest in ‘cultural weapons’ which used to be and maybe still is an issue in South Africa.

    1. JBird

      With sales tax, registration, and the state’s surcharge for such cars, it is ⅓ of a million dollars. I understand car lust, do I ever. However, seeing the 14 year old Beverly Hills kid’s bright face made me…queasy.

  23. Isotope_C14

    Hey water cooler!

    So I’ve been very confused by this set of data.


    I’m trying to wrap my head around how Gary, “Where is Aleppo” Johnson was able to win 2:1 against Jill Stein – In Madison, WI.

    Madison, I’ve heard is not as left as it used to be, but I would think that this data would be difficult to believe, as we used to call it “The People’s Republic of Madison”.

    So do any of you know any Gary Johnson voters? I know tons of Stein voters, can’t think of a single person who voted Libertarian.

  24. Phil in KC

    I’ve often wondered why the pro-gun lobby doesn’t try to repeal the restrictions on owning automatic weapons, such as machine guns, which are highly regulated. After all, if the right to bear arms is indeed a god-given right, then shouldn’t one have the right to own a Thompson without background checks, registrations, and all that? And moving to increasing lethality, why not SAM missiles, tanks, artillery, and so on? I use the argument ad absurdem to bring up the seeming arbitrariness of drawing the line between semi and fully automatic weapons. Seems the line could be moved a bit without seriously infringing on one’s rights.

    Which brings up two other points:
    1. With the heavy regulation of automatic weapons, none, or very few, have been used in these mass slaughter events, proving that gun control works. At least it works to the extent that it keeps even more lethal weapons out of the hands of killers, which is a good thing, right? I mean, it probably keeps the body count down, at the very least.

    2. I wish we had a lobby that was equally effective and fervent as the NRA about our 4th amendment rights. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if it were indeed true that the FBI lied to the FISA courts re the Carter Page wiretap and surveillance warrants. The Patriot Act and all of its iterations is a desecration of the Bill of Rights.

    1. JBird

      You are being silly. No right is completely unregulated even speech. The right to arms cannot be infringed not unregulated.

      And I wish we had an effective 4th Amendment lobby also.


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