What a shocker!

OMG YOU GUYS GUESS WHAT?? The Texas shooter had a history of domestic violence and investigators say his killing rampage was linked to a “domestic situation”:

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Tex. — Investigators said Sunday’s church massacre in Texas occurred amid an ongoing “domestic situation” involving the gunman and his relatives, at least one of whom had attended the church.

Kelley, 26, was court-martialed in 2012 and sentenced to a year in military prison for assaulting his spouse and child, making him the latest mass attacker or suspect with domestic violence in his past. He was reduced in rank and released with a bad-conduct discharge in 2014.

This has never happened before! It’s just a shame that virtually every mass shooter in recent times doesn’t fit a profile like, say, “violent entitled men who abuse women and children” or something. Then it might be easier to do something to address it? We could maybe ensure such exemplars of American masculinity never have access to guns? Too bad, so sad that they’re each a Lone Wolf living in a cultural vacuum without any common behavior in their backgrounds to trigger an intervention.

Well. At least we have an endless supply of thoughts-n-prayers to offer the victims and their families.

Recent reads.

library4The (Socialist) Malala Yousafzai the US Media Doesn’t Quote. Norton, B., bennorton.com via The Greanville Post (Oct. 2014). (“When the courageous activist speaks of the importance of education and nonviolence, the West shouts her words loudly from the media mountaintops. When that same activist criticizes predator drones and, that most sacrosanct entity of all, capitalism, the silence is deafening.”)

Feminist cancels USU talk after guns allowed despite death threat. Alberty, E., The Salt Lake Tribune (Oct. 2014).

After California decriminalized marijuana, teen arrest, overdose and dropout rates fell. Ingraham, C., The Washington Post (Oct. 2014). (“marijuana decriminalization in California has not resulted in harmful consequences for teenagers, such as increased crime, drug overdose, driving under the influence, or school dropout. In fact, California teenagers showed improvements in all risk areas after reform.”)

The Government War Against Reporter James Risen. Solomon, N. and Wheeler, M., The Nation (Oct. 2014). (“The vendetta against him and whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling reflects an antidemocratic goal: the uninformed consent of the governed.”)

DHS raids investigative journalist; seizes confidential list of whistleblowers. Police State USA (Oct. 2014). (“I never in my wildest dreams thought something like that could happen in this country.”)

5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men. Christina, C., AlterNet (Oct. 2014).

Meet the CIA’s 10 Favorite Drug Traffickers. Alexandrov, N., AlterNet via Substance.com (Oct. 2014). (“The agency has supported — even created — many of the world’s most notorious drug kingpins. Just as long as they serve U.S. foreign policy.”)

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Finally, a little Nietzsche for our Quote collection. Yes that Nietzsche, who held some, *ahem*, problematic views. But the man also had some good ideas and expressed them so well:

There is not sufficient love and goodness in the world to permit us to give some of it away to imaginary beings. –Friedrich Nietzsche

After coming into contact with a religious man, I always feel I must wash my hands. –Friedrich Nietzsche

Mystical explanations are considered deep; the truth is, they are not even shallow. –Friedrich Nietzsche

When we hear the ancient bells growling on a Sunday morning we ask ourselves: Is it really possible! This, for a Jew, crucified two thousand years ago, who said he was God’s son? The proof of such a claim is lacking. Certainly the Christian religion is an antiquity projected into our times from remote prehistory; and the fact that the claim is believed — whereas one is otherwise so strict in examining pretensions — is perhaps the most ancient piece of this heritage. A god who begets children with a mortal woman; a sage who bids men work no more, have no more courts, but look for the signs of the impending end of the world; a justice that accepts the innocent as a vicarious sacrifice; someone who orders his disciples to drink his blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetrated against a god, atoned for by a god; fear of a beyond to which death is the portal; the form of the cross as a symbol in a time that no longer knows the function and ignominy of the cross — how ghoulishly all this touches us, as if from the tomb of a primeval past! Can one believe that such things are still believed? –Friedrich Nietzsche

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. –Friedrich Nietzsche

One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear. –Friedrich Nietzsche

When virtue has slept, she will get up more refreshed. –Friedrich Nietzsche

In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments. –Friedrich Nietzsche

The reasons and purposes for habits are always lies that are added only after some people begin to attack these habits and to ask for reasons and purposes. At this point the conservatives of all ages are thoroughly dishonest: they add lies. –Friedrich Nietzsche

God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. — And we — we still have to vanquish his shadow, too. –Friedrich Nietzsche

In the mountains of truth you will never climb in vain: either you will get up higher today or you will exercise your strength so as to be able to get up higher tomorrow. –Friedrich Nietzsche

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NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

“Sweat now or bleed later.”

Via a Greenwald tweet today, I read a story from July about Oath Keepers, “a coalition of current and former military, police, and other public officials [who] have pledged not to obey unconstitutional commands.” The group has launched a billboard campaign, including putting up three massive, pro-Edward Snowden ads in the Pentagon’s subway station. Here’s one:

snowden-oath-keepers

SNOWDEN HONORED HIS OATH
HONOR YOURS! STOP BIG BROTHER
EXPOSE UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTIONS
oathkeepers.org/expose

The group’s press release reads:

Oath Keepers has placed three back-lit signs on the subway platform in the Washington Metro Pentagon Station, group founder Stewart Rhodes announced today.

“The first sign at the Pentagon Station is done in the style of the theater scene from George Orwell’s 1984 and features Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, as ‘Big Brother,'” Rhodes wrote, stating the “sign makes it clear that by exposing the NSA spying on Americans, Snowden honored his oath.”

“This artwork will also be going on a billboard along a major freeway in Maryland, near the NSA headquarters at Ft. Mead within the week,” Rhodes added.

The second sign now in place at Pentagon Station is aimed directly at CIA employees, reminding them that their oath is not to a “corporate culture of secrecy,” Rhodes continued. “The third sign is intended to reach our military personnel within the Pentagon, and any other government employees who have ever served in the military, using the Iwo Jima flag-raising as a backdrop to the message.”

“This is part of a broader effort to place billboards at strategic locations throughout the United States,” Rhodes added, citing current locations including near military bases at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base, Fort Benning, Fort Hood, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.

Now before you dismiss Oath Keepers as deranged wingnuts or libertarian kooks, I beg you to consider that they just may not be so kooky after all. Or perhaps another way to look at it is that they might be just the kooks we need. Of course, it should surprise no one that a coalition of cops and soldiers would tend to lean rightward, and indeed they certainly get a little too close to Teabag-flavored swill for my personal taste. But their mission is the very antithesis of violent, right-wing militia movements. To wit:

[T]here are ten commands the Oath Keepers have forsworn. Those who join the group must refuse

• to disarm the American people

• to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects

• to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal

• to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state, or to enter with force into a state, without the express consent and invitation of that state’s legislature and governor

• to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union

• to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps

• to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext

• to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people

• to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies, under any emergency pretext whatsoever

• to do anything that would “infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances”

Of course most liberals will bristle at the refusal to “disarm the American people.” And as this writer points out, the state secession thing is sure to raise a few eyebrows. And for sure, a few of these commands are exceedingly unlikely to be heard outside the fevered dreams of conspiracy theorists (foreign troops on U.S. soil? Yeah, I think…not. But if I am wrong about this, I would be most grateful for the Oath Keepers refusing to assist them). However, some of these commands are more than just likely: several of them have already happened.

If the Oath Keepers are overly prone to see secret plots against our liberties, that’s because open plots against our liberties have been so successful. American police forces infringe on free speech and assembly at almost every major political summit. An American citizen, José Padilla, was famously tried before a military tribunal as an enemy combatant. Cops confiscated legal firearms from peaceful citizens following Hurricane Katrina. And speaking of Katrina, if you thought the item about blockading cities belonged on the “not very likely” list, think again. When victims of the storm attempted to flee across the Crescent City Connection bridge to Jefferson Parish, they were forced back by armed agents of the Gretna, Louisiana police. If there had been some Oath Keepers on the force that day, those refugees might have escaped the devastation.

“Liberal” media organ Mother Jones calls them treasonous. The Southern Poverty Law Center insinuates that they’re domestic terrorists. A guest on MSNBC called them “malcontents” who think they can “break the law and not follow orders if they don’t like what they’re being told.” Say, what? The most charitable explanation I can come up with for these nonsensical ramblings is that they reflect the fevered dreams of Obamabots. For what is treasonous would be issuing or following commands that are clearly illegal under the U.S. Constitution. None of this should be remotely controversial. And it’s really quite rich to call them terrorists when the ten commands the Oath Keepers refuse to obey are explicit refusals to commit violence. Except, perhaps, in the very specific scenario where the U.S. government turns its weapons on We the People in response to an uprising:

Search the group’s founding document and the closest thing you will find to a call to violence is the statement that, should a dictatorship be imposed and a popular uprising break out, its members will not only refuse to fire on the dissenters but will “join them in fighting against those who dare attempt to enslave them.” And even then the “fighting” needn’t necessarily be armed. (They also say they aren’t “advocating or promoting violence towards any organization, group or person.”) Otherwise, the manifesto is a call to stand down, not to rise up. Not every Oath Keeper would appreciate the comparison, but the group has more in common with those dissidents of the ’60s who refused to go to war than with any paramilitary cell.

If we find ourselves under a dictatorship with the American people in open revolt, I don’t know about you but I would welcome any and all resistance against the illegal regime. It would, by definition, have to be made up of ginormous assholes.

And that refusal to fire on dissenters? It’s critical. In light of my post earlier today regarding flashmobs as effective nonviolent protest, Loyal Readers™ may also recall my July post excerpting an interview with Chris Hedges:

Q. Congress seems a wholly owned subsidiary of the multinationals. Obama is pimping for GE in Africa. The Koch brothers have made a downpayment on the Supreme Court. Money will control the next federal election, and most of the state elections. Is there any scenario you see that will return this government to the people?

A. Mass protests that begin to scare the hell out of these people, and begin to disrupt systems that they care about. That really is the only solution.

I think they’re very fragile. I think internally they know how corrupt they are—which is why they passed the NDAA, because they want to be able to put the military on the streets. Because I think ultimately they don’t trust the police to protect them. And those are the sentiments of a dying elite.

So I think when we begin to organize against all the formal structures of power, I think that they may crumble as the Stasi state in East Germany, which, when I was in East Germany, appeared monolithic. [It] fell in about a week. And it fell in a week because Erich Honecker, the dictator for 19 years, sent an elite paratrooper division down to Leipzig to fire on 70,000 demonstrators, and they refused to do it… In the same way that the Tzar sent the Cossacks in to crush the Petrograd bread riots, and they fraternized with the crowd. Both Honecker and the Tzar only lasted another week in power. Once the foot soldiers of the elite will not protect the elite, they’re done.

And that’s why we have to be nonviolent. Because ultimately what we are doing is trying to create a paralysis within systems of power, whereby we speak truth, we appeal to conscience, we expose corruption, fraud, lies by those in power, so that when those forces are called into the street to stop us, they refuse to do so. That’s how all revolutions happen. And that’s really in the end what I’m calling for. I’m calling for the overthrow of this system. Let me say that again for Homeland Security: that’s what I’m doing. And I’m calling for it through nonviolent means, through mass protests. Because as a father of four children, I know that if we don’t stop these forces, they will kill us. They will destroy the ecosystem on which the human species and my children will depend for their life. And that is really the stakes that lie before us, and why there is an imperative for all of us to take risks. I don’t like going to jail, as I have. Going to jail is more time than I care to donate to my government. But it really is the only option left. Because if we fail at this, then it’s not just this particular civilization that will be extinguished, but human habitation.

Jesse Walker, writer for the libertarian* rag, Reason, inquired in June about the group’s thoughts on Snowden’s NSA spying revelations:

Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder, has emailed me a statement about Snowden:

He is an example of what needs to be done by anyone who has knowledge of such gross violations of our rights. We need more to stand up, because this is surely the mere tip of the iceberg of the infrastructure for a police state that is being built over us.

This is about far more than supposed attempts to ferry out al Qaeda operatives. This is part of a growing Stasi and Checka style surveillance police state which tags, tracks, and prepares plans to detain dissidents with the “Main Core” database of millions of Americans who the regime considers a “threat.”

And this is also really about the absurd claim that the U.S. is a battlefield and the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to the President’s “surveillance of the battlefield.” That was the claim of neocon, government-supremacist Bush lawyers, like John Yoo, and that idea that the Bill of Rights is trumped by Executive war powers has also been the consistent claim of Obama lawyers such as Harold Koh, justifying even the targetted killing of Americans.

And that absurd view, that so long as they call it “war’ they can sidestep the Bill of Rights and act like Stalin, is shared by both Republicans (like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, and Rep. Peter King), and Democrats like Harry Reid (who tells us it’s been going on for seven years, so don’t worry about it).

Unless we the people purge out these oath breakers from BOTH parties, we will find ourselves in a nightmare dictatorship and we will have to fight to throw it off. Sweat now or bleed later. Purge them all.

Very, very interesting. No?

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* Of course we generally loathe libertarianism ’round here, for these reasons and more. It would be sheer folly, however, to dismiss them as allies on such vital issues as civil liberties or the Drug War. Consider: if Chris Hedges is right that we need mass protests to scare the hell out of America’s Owners—and I think he is—we must recognize that they are precariously reliant on a distracted and divided U.S. public. That’s how the game is rigged, so that Goldman Sachs always wins: we pretend to have meaningful elections and fight amongst ourselves while our common enemies plunder the Earth on an epic scale. Strange bedfellows coming together in common cause is both an extremely threatening state of affairs for the status quo, and absolutely necessary as a matter of math anyway. (Despite popular misconceptions, at best the Palace Army consists of a dismally small number of unarmed pacifists and one unconscionably lazy cat.) My own view is that if the revolution is peaceful—IF—some form of democratic socialism will ultimately prevail over the spectacular flameout of Free Market™ ideology. It’s that very failure that will have sparked the revolution in the first place.

MOST SHOCKING NEWZ EVAR!!!11!!!!1!

Via AlterNet:

George Zimmerman Taken Into Custody for Reportedly Threatening Wife With Gun

George Zimmerman has been taken into “investigative custody” reportedly following a domestic incident involving his estranged wife, CNN reports.

“As of right now, (George Zimmerman) has been placed in investigative detention,” Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson told CNN.

According to the Associated Press, Shellie Zimmerman, who filed for divorce last week, called police Monday claiming that Zimmerman had threatened her and her father with a gun.

No. Way. A racist asshole who gets away with murdering an unarmed black teenager still has access to guns violently threatens his wife and her family?

I DON’T BELIEVE IT.

Ask Iris: Why are liberals so rude to the right?

When I read this in The Guardian today I nearly choked on my organic fair trade soy decaf latte. The whole thing really has to be read to be believed, but here are some, um… “highlights”?:

Too many people who lean left would rather crack nasty jokes than actually be liberal and listen to other views.

People who lean left have listened to your views. This is the precisely reason they mock you.

They look at us with disdain, thinking we’re unenlightened conservatives and never hesitating to say so.

If it walks like a duck…

As the lone conservative at the tennis courts, I cringe at the Sarah Palin jokes and the jabs at Mormons.

That poor lone conservative at the tennis courts! Jeezus. #firstworldproblems

Wouldn’t it be better for America if liberals really were liberal, and listened to other points of view?

Hardly. It would be better for America if conservatives kept their odious views and terrible policy ideas to themselves out of fear of instant public shaming, relentless ridicule and mockery. You know, like racists now do.

Is prayer in public places really so awful?

Yes. Yes, it is. It’s bad enough that the practice insults and excludes citizens who are non-believers or followers of other faiths. It’s bad enough that it’s blatantly unconstitutional. But worst of all, the state endorsing religion in any manner perpetuates the terrible idea that religion is automatically deserving of respect, instead of mockery. Tsk-tsk.

Isn’t it possible to have legitimate concerns about the effects of gay marriage?

No.

Hasn’t Sarah Palin earned some respect for her successful fight against corruption in Alaska?

Not really. Just because the Pope is right about capital punishment doesn’t mean he deserves any respect. Broken clocks right twice a day, and all that.

Perhaps the best response to global warming is to adapt to it, rather than spending billions to fight it. Think about it.

Listen, dumbass. We’re already going to have to “adapt to it” regardless of any hypothetical billions spent fighting it. You have no idea what you’re even talking about. Global warming isn’t going to be pretty: Massive human migrations. Food and water shortages. Ecosystem failures and habitat destruction. Coastline devastation. Unprecedented weather events. Catastrophic species extinctions. Resource wars.

No, I’m afraid you will need to adapt. To my farting in your general direction.

Which brings us to the latest edition of Ask Iris.

Q: “Why are liberals so rude to the right?”

A. Because conservatives foisted Bush/Cheney on the country and the world, and many, many thousands of people are dead, maimed, displaced and impoverished because of it. Because you openly support a status quo that benefits a tiny, overprivileged few at the expense of everyone else, including the nation’s children. Because you either believe human-caused climate change isn’t happening or that “the best response to global warming is to adapt to it.” Because you would force women to constantly give birth to unwanted children or seek out deadly alternatives out of desperation. Because you deny equal rights to LBGTQ citizens. Because you block even the most minor tweaks to gun laws while kids are being slaughtered. Because you reject reality in favor of your toxic, destructive and disproven dogmas, such as deregulation and for-profit healthcare. Because you support taxpayer-funded religious schools in lieu of excellent public education. Because you wage a war on drugs instead of a war on poverty, enriching private prison profiteers while your fellow citizens suffer unimaginably.

I could go on.

But by all means, let’s focus on the real tragedy here: your tender fee-fees get hurt when lefties mock you. Oh, the humanity!

Liberals are not rude enough to right-wing conservatives. Not nearly.

We hope this edition of Ask Iris has been helpful.

Ask Iris: Do people who identify as male and own 10+ guns take boner pills disproportionately more than people who identify as male and don’t own that many guns?

In response to SJ’s post entitled Musings on Newtown and Beyond: The Deadly Mix of Gender and Gun Culture, a Loyal Reader™ writes:

I think a very interesting survey would be to determine the proportion of male owners of, lets say, ten or more guns (because the gun nuts seem to own them by the dozens) who take Viagra/Cialis with the proportion of non-gun owners who do.

Fuck, I don’t know.  It’s a good question, though.  Here:  I’ll do my part (for SCIENCE!!11!!!) and survey my totally random sample of completely unbiased and in no way self-selecting Many Tens of Loyal Readers™:

 

Stay tuned for our groundbreaking results!

(Yes, apparently I am in a contest with Don Ardell for the record for longest post title.)

Musings on Newtown and Beyond: The Deadly Mix of Gender and Gun Culture

“The gender of the perpetrator is the single most important factor, and yet it’s not talked about in that way in most mainstream conversations.” – Jackson Katz

“One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns.” – John Oliver on TheDaily Show with Jon Stewart

“There are large segments of the population that want nothing more than to eliminate subsidies to the poor and then await the desperate masses who will supposedly come to their doorstep with a lead welcome.” – David Atkins

At some point during the G.W. Bush administration my longstanding ambivalence about the U.S. ratcheted further down to the level of cynical pessimism. The election of a “transformative” President in 2008 briefly raised dormant hopes and dampened foreboding; but now that Obama’s had four years to serially disappoint me (and other progressives), I’m less hopeful than ever in some important ways. So at this point even an event as soul piercing as the massacre at Newtown does not shock to the degree it once would have. What it does is strengthen my conviction that the country and its political leaders are evading the most serious problems. Or, in the case of conservatives, actively obstructing responsible action or, when it comes to guns, aggressively promoting the problems. The Newtown murders and their aftermath have intensified my well-developed loathing for conservatives. Their self-serving, politicized reactions have been nothing less than despicable.

Now whenever someone condemns an entire nation, as I just did, they’re unfairly condemning by association a great many good people who don’t deserve it. I realize that, but I still want to ask, where are the thoughtful, unselfish, independent, public-spirited political leaders we need to step forward in these perilous times? Politicians like Rep. Alan Grayson, of Florida. Oh, wait, there are no politicians like Mr. Grayson. Are there?

I frequently read in progressive publications words written by and about good and honorable men and women. They contribute much; their words and efforts no doubt helped elect and re-elect President Obama, thus delaying the right-wing apocalypse. But does anyone want to argue in all seriousness that his administration has not betrayed progressives’ hopes and trust? Or that the Democrats have not sold out to the 1 percent?

But right now I really want to say this: Much of what’s wrong with this country is the persistence and glorification of a harmful, vestigial trait in males I’ll call macho mentality. It’s a public health problem that afflicts a broad spectrum of mostly right-wing types: teabaggers, corporate CEOs and crony/casino capitalists, fundagelical preachers, and especially lunatic gun lovers craving the opportunity to play out their ”tactical” fantasies. It is also destructively prevalent in our inner cities. It permeates and poisons all levels of American society.

A Real Ad from Bushmaster Firearms, copped from Upworthy.com.

A Real Ad from Bushmaster Firearms, copped from Upworthy.

Women don’t get off the hook entirely; but hell, no one does – we can all do more good and less harm, individually and collectively. But make no mistake: it’s men raised in a macho atmosphere who make us the most violent society among industrial democracies and one of the most violent nations on earth. And possibly the most destructively irresponsible. Consider, for example, that it’s powerful, conservative American men who are behind the unconscionable and suicidal denial of global warming.

That’s a subject I will follow up on in coming posts. For today, I’m calling your attention to three excellent, informative articles I just read:

Each piece in its way makes the point that the most salient feature of the many-decades-long series of mass killings in this country is gender. The mass murderers are men, mostly younger white men, mostly middle class men. Yet it has to be more than gender, there must be cultural factors or our numbers would not dwarf other nations’. And indeed there are, including the obvious one, the ease of procuring just about any kind of firearm.

But predictably, the strident conservative opposition to any gun regulation goes on, sometimes linked to their perverted idea of freedom or a faux-patriotic non sequitur like “The greatest country on earth,” which in any case needs parsing.

Okay, we are the greatest military power and the dominant economic force (for now); and our graduate-level higher education and government-funded research are tops, and . . . and . . . surely there has to be more. But other than boasting about freedom as if other countries don’t have any, just what can proponents of the “America is the greatest” hypothesis claim in support of that position? I’m not aware of any indexes relating to physical or mental health or quality of life that put us anywhere near the top. “Most religious,” perhaps? Oh, wait, that’s not a positive. Besides, most religious leaders complain that we’re not religious enough. Like masculinity, Americans just can’t get enough vestigial superstition.

We do lead the world in the category of most lawyers per capita. I can’t find the quote, but a public figure a while back noted – and don’t hold me to these made-up numbers – that while the U.S. trained ten attorneys for every engineer, Japan graduated ten engineers for every attorney. He then observed that history had recorded no instance of a nation suing itself to greatness. I love that line.

Anyway, I don’t think there’s any dispute that we’re the most violent of the first-world nations; and there is, obviously, a much greater number of embarrassing statistics on the negative side of our ledger, including the highest teen-pregnancy rate, highest child-abuse death rate, the highest percentage of prisoners, etc. So I’m not buying into that “greatest country” conceit. Never have. That would be stupid.

The authors of the three blog posts are highlighting the long-overdue question that needs open discussion: Why is it always men who commit mass murder? For what it’s worth, here’s my take: On average, male genetic makeup is associated with a greater innate tendency towards violent solutions to problems (and please note, that’s tendency, not destiny). But when maleness is embedded from birth in a culture that has a near-psychotic obsession with guns and violence, the result is a peculiarly American style of manliness that has become an increasingly dangerous force at home and abroad.

Which assault rifle would Jesus own?

The title of this post has been shamelessly stolen from a Jeremy Scahill tweet (although I very much doubt that this sentiment originated with him).  Nevertheless, it poses an interesting question — what would the infamous fictional character of Jeezus think of the recent shooting deaths?  I know exactly what you’re thinking:  maybe we should inquire with a Baptist seminary student dropout in order to find out?

As we noted yesterday, former Arkansas governor, Fox News host and Baptist seminary student dropout Mike Huckabee opined that the Connecticut shootings took place because “we’ve systematically removed God from our schools,” adding, “Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end, and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done.”  What a flaming doucheweasel, amirite?  No, not Mike Huckabee (yeah, okay, him too), but this god character.  In response to Huckabee’s weird assertions I mused:

Now so far, I remain unconvinced by this god theory of theirs.  For one thing, it doesn’t account for the 2007 mass shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.  Or the 2008 killings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville.  And that’s to say nothing of the military bases, restaurants and workplaces, where as far as I am aware gods are generally permitted unfettered access.  But more importantly, if some god demands American schoolchildren recite mandatory prayers to it in exchange for protecting them from violent massacres, then clearly that god is a sadistic, narcissistic @$$hole — and we should do everything in our power keep it as far away from kids as possible.

Obviously the governor has now taken my critique to heart, because he no longer believes the shootings were caused by a lack of mandatory prayers in public schools.*  Nope.  He has retooled his hypothesis and determined that the Newtown massacre was the result of “tax-funded abortion pills.”

Christian-owned businesses are told to surrender their values under the edict of government orders to provide tax-funded abortion pills. We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are sinful and we call them disorders. Sometimes, we even say they’re normal. And to get to where we have to abandon bed rock moral truths, then we ask “well, where was God?” And I respond that, as I see it, we’ve escorted him out of our culture and marched him off the public square and then we express our surprise that a culture without him reflects what it’s become.

Of course our culture is so god-soaked we’re all drowning in it, but no matter:  nothing can ever be Jeezus-y enough for the Mike Huckabees of the world.  Even if American schoolchildren were forced to grovel daily in unison to a malevolent Sky Daddy like good little fascists, there would be Mike Huckabee shrieking about the need for corporal punishment, sex segregation, and a thousand other biblical rules and regulations with no proven benefits (and in fact proven harms) in reality.  And speaking of reality, that magical land where Mike Huckabee dares not tread:

In reality, there are no “government-funded abortion pills.” The Obamacare contraception mandate, which is what Huckabee is likely referring to, does not provide coverage for any abortifacients — and will actually help reduce abortion rates.

Clearly there is not enough mockery in the world for the likes of Mike Huckabee.  But the Palace will continue to contribute whatever small amount of ridicule we can to this worthwhile endeavor.

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* Incidentally, there is a whole lot of praying in public schools: ask any kid unprepared for a test.

What digby said.

Like nearly everyone else I know, I’ve been reacting with numb shock and sickening horror to the massacre in Connecticut.  I had wanted to say something insightful — especially in light of my glib comment the other day urging that liberals get over their aversion to guns, as it seems the only people carrying them are either criminals, militarized police forces and/or CPD cases — but it turns out I have precisely nothing to add to the conversation already taking place.  And so it is elsewhere that I will direct your attention, if I may.

In Shut down the pump: a little parable for our time, digby tells two true tales: one of a deadly cholera epidemic in 19th century Britain, and another of gun laws in modern Australia.  Obviously the stories are not analogous in some key ways, but the takeaway is nonetheless provocative.  In the first one, the cholera epidemic did not end by finding a cure for the disease; it ended when authorities shut down a water pump that drew from a contaminated well (after much denial, disbelief and delay, I might add).  In the second, after a massacre in 1996, newly elected Australian Prime Minister John Howard forced the states to adopt a sensible National Firearms Agreement:  a ban on semi-automatic rifles, a ban on semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and a tightly restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls.  digby ends with this (emphasis mine):

This did not solve the problem of mental illness or end the primitive capacity of human beings to commit murder and mayhem. Those are huge problems that their society, like all societies, is still grappling with every day. But it did end the epidemic of mass shootings. They have not had even one since then.

The lesson is this: End the epidemic and then we can — and must — talk about root causes and mental health facilities and our violent culture. But first things first — shut down the damned pump.

And speaking of “the damned pump,” we learn from Lee Fang writing at The Nation (also via digby):

The National Rifle Association portrays itself as an organization that represents “4 million members” who simply love the Second Amendment. The truth is much more murky. In reality, the NRA is composed of half a dozen legal entities; some designed to run undisclosed attack ads in political campaigns, others to lobby and collect tens of millions in undisclosed, tax-deductible sums. This power has only been enhanced in the era of Citizens United, with large GOP donors in the last election reportedly funneling money to the NRA simply to use the group as a brand to pummel Democrats with nasty ads. (As The Huffington Post’s Peter Stone reported, even the Koch network now provides an undisclosed amount to the NRA.)

Despite the grassroots façade, there is much evidence to suggest that corporations that profit from unregulated gun use are propping up the NRA’s activities, much like how the tobacco lobby secretly funded “Smokers Rights’” fronts and libertarian anti-tax groups, or how polluters currently finance much of the climate change skepticism movement. In a “special thanks” to their donors, the National Rifle Association Foundation lists Bushmaster Firearms Inc., the company that makes the assault rifle reportedly found with the shooter responsible for the mass murder today in Newtown, Connecticut. How much Bushmaster Firearms Inc. (a firm now known as Windham) contributes is left unsaid.

The Violence Policy Center has estimated that since 2005, gun manufacturers have contributed up to $38.9 million to the NRA. Those numbers, however, are based on publicly listed “sponsorship” levels on NRA fundraising pamphlets. The real figures could be much bigger. Like Crossroads GPS or Americans for Prosperity, or the Sierra Club for that matter, the NRA does not disclose any donor information even though it spends millions on federal elections.

“The damned pump” is comprised of weapons manufacturers and their lavishly funded servants in elected office.  Here’s a helpful list of NRA funding recipients in the last election cycle, three pages long:  if you find someone on it who was elected to be your servant, why not give them a little ringy in protest?  Tell them to support sensible gun control legislation and give the NRA its money back.  It’s blood money — literally — and the blood is on their hands.

In another short post, digby debunks the failed hypothesis of gun proponents that the solution to gun violence is more guns.  Citing this piece at thinkprogress:

[E]ven as more Americans now own more guns than ever before and can easily and legally obtain powerful firearms in almost all of the states, mass shootings have continued unabated. 2012 now has the highest number of incidents, with six mass shootings.

In 1995, “there were an estimated 200 million guns in private hands. Today, there are around 300 million” — a 50 percent jump during a period when the population grew by just 20 percent, but gun laws were drastically loosened. In the past four years alone, “across 37 states, the NRA and its political allies have pushed through 99 laws making guns easier to own, easier to carry in public, and harder for the government to track.” Eight states now allow firearms in bars. Permit holders in Kansas “can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools, and Louisiana allows them in houses of worship.” Michigan may soon “make it easier for people to receive a gun permit and open up “gun free zones,” including schools.

Since 1982, the nation has experienced at least 62 mass murders in 30 states and in at least 49 cases, “the gunmen obtained the weapons legally, and the majority of those weapons used were semi-automatic.”

A Mother Jones analysis of 61 mass murders over the last 30 years found that “in not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.” As one leading expert explained, “given that civilian shooters are less likely to hit their targets than police in these circumstances,” arming civilians could often lead to more chaos and deaths.

“In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.”  And there are 300,000,000 of them.

Not surprisingly, others have a slightly different prescription for ending the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S.  Via the liberal Christian group Faithful America:

As the nation grieves for twenty schoolchildren gunned down in Connecticut, the religious right has the audacity to blame America’s public schools for protecting students’ religious freedom.

The American Family Association’s leading spokesman used his radio show to argue that God allows violence in public schools because the Supreme Court has prohibited mandatory school prayers.

And speaking live on Fox News, Mike Huckabee said that this shooting happened because “we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.” He added, “Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end, and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done.”

Now so far, I remain unconvinced by this god theory of theirs.  For one thing, it doesn’t account for the 2007 mass shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.  Or the 2008 killings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville.  And that’s to say nothing of the military bases, restaurants and workplaces, where as far as I am aware gods are generally permitted unfettered access.  But more importantly, if some god demands American schoolchildren recite mandatory prayers to it in exchange for protecting them from violent massacres, then clearly that god is a sadistic, narcissistic @$$hole — and we should do everything in our power keep it as far away from kids as possible.

The Palace flags remain at half mast.

Breaking news in Conservative Personality Disorder.

Today brings extraordinary news in combating the scourge that is Conservative Personality Disorder — while simultaneously eliminating the deficit.

I know:  it sounds too good to be true.  And maybe it is, at least in terms of unforeseen consequences.  But the Palace Lab has recently uncovered an astonishing manifestation of CPD that may lead to its containment and permanent quarantine, if not outright eradication. For it turns out that extreme CPD cases will voluntarily band together and isolate themselves in remote fortresses, rather than breathe the same air as liberals.  My Beloved Loyal Readers™, I give you the Citadel:

What is the Citadel?

The Citadel is a developing community of Patriots in the mountains of Idaho who believe in Jefferson’s Rightful Liberty and have chosen to live amongst one another, who have sworn their Lives, their Fortunes and their Sacred Honor to defend one another and Liberty.

Not just patriots, mind you: “Patriots.”  And not plain old liberty, either: “Liberty.”  And Lives!  And Fortunes!  And Sacred Honor, too!  [Editor’s Note:  CPD symptom cluster 16 = poor facility with native language:  writing characterized by excessive or unusual capitalization…]

Oh, but there’s much, much more:

Patriots understand that an epic storm is coming to America.  Economic collapse is imminent.

Meanwhile, everyone else understands that an epic storm already came to America when conservatives reached critical mass in government, and that economic collapse happened in 2008 (again) as a direct result of conservative economic policies.

Disruptions of Just-in-Time supply lines will lead America into chaos. Violence along racial, ethnic, religious and economic class lines will bring forth famine, disease and a fundamental reset of life in America.

Sounds like a conservative wet dream:  disaster capitalism FTW!

A group of Patriots have decided to build a community off the most likely lines of peril, a bastion of Jefferson’s Rightful Liberty where we may remain safe, warm, healthy and comfortable while American society suffers the inevitable destruction that must accompany the decades of degenerating morality of our Countrymen.

[See above re: “inevitable destruction” and 2008.]

The cornerstone of the Citadel is III Arms Company, an industry to support the first wave of Patriots who will become modern American Pioneers. We will build Fighting Arms and ammunition for Patriots and around us a town will begin to grow. Other revenue streams are already in the works.

Oooh, Fighting Arms!  But here’s where it gets very, very interesting:

Our intent is to purchase at least one thousand acres, and construct a walled town of at least one square mile to withstand any potential violence from hungry, diseased Souls. Obviously the Citadel is not being built to defy any laws of the United States or the State of Idaho, or to withstand any .gov or .mil attack. Our fortifications are merely defensive for a SHTF [SHTF = “Shit Hit The Fan” -Ed.] world.

The Citadel will have between 3,500 and 5,000 households within the walls, with a single gate permitting access. The Citadel is not to be a closed society, instead a refuge for genuine Patriots who wish to live without neighbors who are Liberals and Establishment political ideologues, open for tourists who will be welcomed into our town to visit our planned Firearms Museum, shop in our Town Center, stay in a B&B or hotel while vacationing and exploring the wonderful skiing, hunting and fishing opportunities in the area, and many other attractions we will offer.

OMFG I CANNOT WAIT TO VISIT THE CITADEL!  (Provided, that is, the “hunting opportunities” are not directed at liberals.  Or at Liberals.)  Seriously:  in a single day this blog will have gathered enough material to supply multiple lifetimes of mockery.

If you are a patriotic American who believes in Jefferson’s Rightful Liberty, who believes in the Constitution as written, who believes in the Declaration of Independence, and who wishes to live in a beautiful, secure mountain town that bans Liberals from living among us, consider exploring the Citadel as we evolve and build. If you need to escape your suburban life and the vulnerabilities your family faces, consider the Citadel.

By all means, if you wish to live in a town that bans liberals (or, alternatively, Liberals), consider the Citadel!  PLEASE CONSIDER THE CITADEL.

Ours is a community of Riflemen and Patriots. Living in a house, townhome or condo within the Citadel requires residents to voluntarily assume responsibilities for the common defense.

Oh, yes.  I’m quite sure many people will want to invade.

Our community is not for everyone.

Well, it’s not for liberals — and it’s definitely not for Liberals!  Or for anyone else who holds a modicum of sanity, an understanding of primates, and/or a commitment to constitutional democracy.

But if you think you and your family would like to live among real Patriots and to be prepared for an America when the SHTF, consider the Citadel.

Or consider that you might be the S that hit the F.  In 2008.

If you are looking for a fresh start, a place to open your dream business in a community where Free Enterprise reigns, a home in a place that will be safe when the rest of America begins to suffer from the long train of abuses endured for several generations, consider the Citadel.

You know, Riflemen and Patriots alike could save themselves a whole lot of time, trouble and money if they would instead consider moving to the conservative paradise of Somalia.  (We will happily hold swanky fundraisers at the Palace to raise the money for one-way tickets.)  As I wrote here:

Somalia [is] the very epitome of “small government” paradise.  Paul Ryan, eat your heart out:  the Somali government has the conservative dream budget: “revenues: $NA. expenditures: $NA.”  Government education expenditures are non-existent—males average three years of schooling, females two—so it is not surprising that only half the male population is literate, and only a quarter of females.  With no government public health system, there is a high risk of contracting major infectious diseases such as hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, dengue fever and malaria; lack of government funding for sanitation and sewage systems fuel epidemics of waterborne diseases like bacterial diarrhea.  As we all know from history, wherever and whenever there is no strong central government to prevent it, human apes tend to go fractally tribal: they devolve into violent patriarchal clans that fight each other for resources, with strict local hierarchies headed by alpha thugs who make (and break) all the rules, dispensing their own brand of “justice” with impunity.  The conservative utopia of Somalia is no exception.  According to the U.S. State Department, armed banditry, road assaults, kidnappings for ransom, shootings and grenade attacks on public markets, detonations of anti-personnel and-vehicle land mines, outbreaks of civil unrest, and illegal roadblocks resulting in serious injury or death are exceedingly common.  Women and children fare particularly poorly in conservative paradise: maternal mortality is second in the world (behind Afghanistan), and infant mortality is fourth.  With no government justice system to punish perpetrators, the violent rape of women and children is beyond an epidemic—it’s a social norm.  Poverty is ubiquitous; life spans are short.

They will love it.  I also hear the winters there are better than Idaho’s.

But whether they move en mass to Somalia or prefer to do the whole Citadel thing in Idaho, the benefits to the country cannot be overstated:

  • Think of all the tax money we’ll save now that we won’t need to fund all those FEMA camps we thought we needed to round up and incarcerate conservatives: remarkably, they intend to extricate themselves from society — and on their own dime!
  • With conservatives concentrating themselves in small, rural enclaves the electorate will swiftly tilt leftward, hard and fast enough to induce vertigo.  All sorts of previously unthinkable things will be featured on the menu.  Single payer health care.  Massive defense budget cuts.  Ending the drug war.  Ending the other wars.  Clean energy and infrastructure investments.  Environmental defense.  A return to the rule of law.  Impeachment (and/or mooning) of conservative Supreme Court Justices.
  • Public education will benefit broadly as school boards and teachers will no longer have to defend against teaching creationism and other really stupid stuff.  Scientific and historical literacy will soar.
  • As Red States become Blue, teenage pregnancy rates, divorce rates, religiosity and a whole host of other social ills will plummet dramatically.
  • Without the constant siphoning of Blue State surplus funds to all those Red State self-made bootstrappers, we will have a healthy, economically secure and well-educated populace — and zero debt — in a matter of a decade.  Maybe two.

Of course we will need to set aside generous provisions for those scaling the walls to escape the Citadel, especially women and children.  But if this isn’t the most exciting news you’ve heard in years, well, you’re obviously at the wrong Palace.

__________

On a somewhat related note:  am I the only lefty alarmed that the only people packing serious heat these days are either criminals, militarized police forces and/or wingnuts?  Liberals just might want to get over their natural aversion to guns – right quick.  Consider the 9mm semi-automatic.

[h/t digby]