When picking your hill to die on, choose carefully

I am very happy that the Democrats in congress have chosen to develop a spine on gun control, and are having a sit-in to protest Republican intransigence. John Lewis was inspiring.

Elizabeth Warren has been outspoken in her support.

But here’s the problem: they’re making a stand over a very bad bill, one that attaches restrictions on gun ownership to being on the homeland security no-fly list. That is a terrible, sloppy, lazy list that is more a reflection of false fears of Muslims than it is of credible concerns about terrorism. As the ACLU explains:

Because of the extreme secrecy surrounding the No Fly List, people generally only discover that they are on it when they are denied boarding on a flight – often very publicly, at the airport. The public does not know how many people are on the No Fly List, and the criteria for inclusion are so broad and vague that they inevitably ensnare innocent people engaged in First Amendment-protected speech, activity, or association. The process the government has established for people on the No Fly List to challenge their blacklisting is grossly insufficient and violates the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee.

So the Democrats finally scrape up the courage to fight back, they get the leadership of a towering figure in the civil rights movement…and it’s all to increase the authority of a secret enemies list that tramples on our civil rights? There’s something seriously wrong here.

Always listen to the Glib Sociopath


But, you ask, how do I recognize a Glib Sociopath, the better to obey their authority? That’s easy. They usually put an “R” after their name.

Almost Every GOP Senator Just Voted to Keep Letting Terror Suspects Buy Guns

I agree that that bill is problematic: when being put on the terrorist watch list seems to be a matter of whims by conservative law enforcement officers, being a “suspect” is a damned poor excuse for suspending a privilege. But I also have no doubt that the same people are against closing the gun show loophole, or requiring reasonable background checks or waiting periods, and think a history of domestic violence is not grounds to deny someone a gun.

Cui bono?

The Trump campaign is flaming out spectacularly. His campaign financials have been released, and, much as I hate the way politics is priced out of reach for most people, he’s a loser.

Donald Trump’s campaign is almost broke, and is paying an unusual amount of money to Trump-owned businesses. That’s according to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s FEC filing, details of which were released Monday night.

The report provided a number of rather shocking facts, including that his campaign raised just $3.1 million in May compared to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s $27 million.

Even worse, you might wonder where that small sum of money is going. It’s going to Donald Trump, of course.

He’s also paying himself a salary, which is really weird for a billionaire running for president, and one of his biggest outlays is $208,000…for hats.

This is a joke candidate, right? Either that, or it’s the ultimate end game of capitalism: a guy paying himself to promote himself to become president of the US.

At least I’m becoming less worried that an inflamed orange hemorrhoid will be elected president.

John Oliver explains Brexit

When he tries to tell us Americans how bad things are getting in the United Kingdom, it was a bit jarring. Doesn’t he know he’s interrupting America in its current armpit sniffing mode?

He makes a good case that it’s economically nuts for Britain to leave the European Union, but I’m personally most convinced that Brexit is a bad idea because most of its proponents seem to be bigoted wankers. Don’t you realize that if you isolate yourself and close off your borders, Nigel Farage will be trapped in there with you?

The whole Brexit thing seems to me to be as stupid as Trump’s plan to solve US economic problems by building a wall…the big difference is that while we’ll never, ever build his stupid wall, the United Kingdom is very close to committing their act of gross stupidity.

I’m feeling a bit paranoid about this

Clarence Thomas has said he’s considering retiring from the Supreme Court after the next election. Am I the only one who finds this to be a peculiarly political revelation?

Who is going to be most motivated by the possibility of losing another knee-jerk conservative on the court? This is Thomas trying to stir up fear in the far right base, increase the stakes for them in the coming election, and rouse up more desperation. The election is already disturbing enough without inducing more fervor in the ugly side of the electorate.

Of course it’s also entirely possible that Thomas is such a lackluster hack that he doesn’t care and just wants to bail out.

Why is Fox Business featuring Chachi in news about Obama and Islam?

This is just freakin’ weird. Scott Baio was brought into an interview on Fox to tell the world that Obama is a secret Muslim.

WEBSTER: We just rolled those series of sound bites, would you agree that it appears the president very reluctant to say Islamic Terror? Would you agree?

BAIO: Very reluctant? He’s absolutely reluctant. I can’t tell, Lester, if he’s dumb, he’s a Muslim or he’s a Muslim sympathizer and I don’t think he’s dumb.

“Dumb” would be getting interviewed on air by a guy called Webster and repeatedly calling him Lester.

The interview is pretty much an ad for Donald Trump featuring an old television actor who isn’t shy about demonstrating his ignorance…which probably means it’ll be effective with the Trump demographic.

He is open about the source of his information. I have conversations with my buddies about this, we sit around and shoot the breeze. Yep, that’ll resonate with the audience. Must be true.

I thought it was an American malady

A member of the British Parliament, Jo Cox, has been assassinated by a man inflamed by the recent Brexit chaos — he shouted “Britain first!” when he was arrested. The media is reporting on the case now. I’ll bet you’ve heard this familiar refrain before.

The man being held in connection with the death of MP Jo Cox has been named as Thomas Mair, who was described as a “loner” with a history of mental health problems…

Loner. Mentally ill. Yeah, that’s it. Explains everything.

No, it doesn’t.

[Read more…]

If this is the best argument anyone has for needing guns, screw ’em

A gun fondler has decided to carefully explain Why I Need an AR-15. I read the whole thing in disbelief, but I’m also seeing lots of people praising this article for its calm tone and “rational” arguments. Are you ready to see his reasons?

  • Because history. Civilians have been buying weapons of war for many generations.

    The vintage Henry lever action rifle — the quintessential 20th century deer rifle — was originally deployed to devastating effect in the Civil War.

    This makes no sense. The Brown Bess musket was used in the Revolutionary War, too. So? There’s no appreciation of the fact that military weaponry has become increasingly specialized and destructive. You could use this very same to argue that, because civilians use horses, and the ancient Romans used horses deployed as cavalry, then civilians should be allowed to drive tanks now.

    Also, he argues that he should be able to get it because it’s a really good tool.

    This is all part of the reason why I, a civilian, “need” a military-grade combat weapon. I don’t want to shoot and miss; I don’t want the gun to jam because it’s dirty or cold; and I don’t want to hit my target and then have it run off into the woods and die lost and wounded because I didn’t “bring enough gun”.

    Wait. He goes deer hunting with an AR-15? A true sportsman, he is.

    Admittedly, he’s vague about the “target”. He could be hunting chipmunks or people, for all I can tell. I’m having a hard time imagining a living target for which his reasoning is appropriate.

  • Because the police use it, so it must be OK.

    There is no conceivable circumstance in which a police officer — not even a SWAT team member — would need to mow down hordes of people. Yet the AR-15 is the “patrol rifle” of choice for modern police departments from Mayberry to Manhattan.

    Right. Because the excessive militarization of our police is not a problem. When you’re holding up the modern American police as paragons of sensible, peaceful behavior, your argument has a problem.

  • Because he needs a popular gun when he has to “shoot under pressure”.

    The M1A is an amazing gun (a closely related weapon is actually used by the Marines), but despite the fact that the M1A fires a much larger, deadlier .30 caliber bullet, if I needed to shoot under pressure I’d reach for the smaller AR-15, simply because I can operate that rifle — engage a target, change magazines, troubleshoot and clear a jam — without much thought or effort. I can do all that because the AR-15 is what I know, and it’s what I know because it’s what everyone else out there knows.

    How often does he have to “shoot under pressure”? How often does anyone? If you’re frequently in situations in which you have to engage a target, change magazines, troubleshoot and clear a jam, you’re either in the military, or you’ve made some very poor life choices, or both.

  • Because…some bizarre idea about a “defense rifle” vs. an “assault rifle”? What?

    At this point, you may be thinking: “ok tough guy, if the AR is so flexible, why not configure it to be a defense rifle instead of an assault rifle? BOOM!”

    I have never made such an argument, nor can I even imagine making an argument for this mythical “defense rifle”.

  • Because he needs to be sure to kill when defending his home.

    It’s also the case that, contrary to what you saw in First Blood, adrenaline-fueled humans are hard to kill, even with a rifle. The more fast followup shots you can get on-target, the better your chances of scoring a hit that will stop the threat.

    What kind of life does this guy lead, that he’s got to prepare to confront some “adrenalin-fueled human”, and he’s got to be prepared to shoot them lots of times?

His reasons for “needing” an assault rifle are also reasons he needs to be incarcerated or immediately drafted into the infantry. They seem to be all about living an imaginary life of constant danger, in which he needs to be able to whip out a gun and destroy a human being at an instant’s notice…or he needs the most effective firepower he can get to kill varmints.

Good work, though, Mr Jon Stokes. Your article is very persuasive. It persuades me that those who “need” an AR-15 are paranoid and delusional, and a danger to the rest of us.

By the way, everyone: calmly declaring that you absolutely need a weapon of mass destruction does not make you reasonable, and is actually just as scary as someone grunting and howling about their guns.

Make Britain Great Again?

It’s become obvious recently that the political world has descended into madness. I thought the American elections were an embarrassment, but it seems that some people, to persuade others that the United Kingdom ought to leave the European Union, thought that the best argument they could make was to sail boats up the Thames and splash water on the boats of the people who think they should remain in the Union. On the scale of the great naval battles in English history, it was no Trafalgar.

I thought it was all pretty silly, especially when I saw who was leading the Brexit Armada.


Oh, jebus, the gormless Nigel Farage. I cannot take this seriously.

Do you think he bought the double-breasted blue blazer just for this event, because he thought it was what all the high-class yachting types wear?