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.

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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?

It’s a start

Has your representative accepted money from the NRA? It’s easy to find out at Who is my voice?. I discovered that my rep, Collin Peterson, did not, which is about the first good thing I’ve heard about him…although it may be because, as the representative of a small rural area, the NRA didn’t feel the need to bribe him. My senators, Franken and Klobuchar, also did not — and there, it’s safe to say, it’s because they wouldn’t support an organization that is basically Murder, Inc.

But look yours up, and if they’re free of the NRA taint, write and let them know you appreciate it. And if they are owned by the NRA, let them know of your displeasure, and most importantly, NEVER VOTE FOR THEM AGAIN.

Here’s another site that lists the recipients of NRA money. It also tells you their approval rating from the NRA, and whether they’re up for re-election.

Unfortunately, this site does say that Peterson has received NRA money. I guess I won’t be voting for him again!

Gun control NOW

There’s been another mass shooting, at a night club in Florida, with about 20 dead so far. There is something rotten in the USA, and part of it has to be this culture that regards owning an assault rifle as a right, and the use of that weapon as an expression of masculine power.

It needs to stop.

The only problem is that trying to take their guns away sets the gun-fondlers to squealing as if they’re threatened with castration, and the glinty-eyed madmen at the NRA get more money thrown at them to buy up congress. Maybe what we also need is huge reforms in campaign finance so that our representatives would listen more to the people who are moaning in fear in the electorate, than to the smug parasites with bags of money.

Because you know already that no government, state or federal, is going to change a damn thing now.

More information is trickling out. The death toll is up to 50, and the shooter is named Omar Mateen. The story is that he was infuriated to have seen two men kissing.

Now the take-away from all that should be that a) assault rifles in the hands of a single madman can cause horrific casualties, and b) this was a hate crime against the gay community. Unfortunately, I predict that all that will reverberate through the media is that he had an Islamic name, therefore we’ve got to do something about the Muslims.

The narrative has been set. The headline on CNN right now is “GUNMAN WAS PRO-ISIS”.

Jake Tapper wants you to be sure to know that this was caused by radical Islam.

“There are a lot of members of that community and supporting friends and family who are very worried,” Tapper explained. “Obviously if this was radical Islam, which the special agent in charge of the FBI suggested it may have been, that is a community that has been under siege from radical Islam.”

Do they even know that this hatred of LGBTQ people is a property held in common by radical Islam and radical Christianity? Except of course that radical Islam is thankfully marginalized in the US, while radical Christianity is happily legislating against queers from a position of power.

Governor Rick Scott doesn’t want to say openly that this was an attack on the gay community, and thinks the proper response is to “pray”.

Fuck “thoughts and prayers”.


Donald Trump has reacted to Elizabeth Warren’s speech. How, you might wonder? Guess.

If your bet was placed on “demeaning nickname, ethnic slur, and fact-free insult”, you’re a winner! Unfortunately, everyone bet that way, so this was basically an even odds gamble, and you just get your money back.

I was tempted to put a nickel on “substantive, intellectual response” because the odds on that meant I’d be a millionaire now, but decided it would just be throwing away five cents.

Warren replies.

And now for the deeper dose of reality

Here’s the basic political reality right now: Hillary Clinton has the nomination. Trump is a colossal raging goon. I think the Democrats are going to have a field day romping over the Republicans.

But there is danger in that attitude, the problem of complacency and of being able to continue in the same old unsuccessful way, because the opposition is a lunatic. Matt Taibbi explains the problem brilliantly. If there’s anything we should learn from the Democratic campaign so far, it’s that there is a rising insurgency, a dissatisfaction with business as usual, and the victory of the establishment candidate means that the conservative leadership of the Democrats can heave a sigh of relief and can avoid making substantive changes in how power is administered.

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