Showing posts with label Violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Violence. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Drawing Has Never Killed Anyone

The satire business took a major hit this morning. If jokes can lead to gunmen, and twelve people dead, then it really is time to think closely about what it is about Western Civilization that is such a threat to the medieval minds that have hijacked the Islamic faith.

This is not about a sly group of French cartoonists mocking people. This is about the silence and intimidation this attack just purchased. The French police have some criminals they need to capture and the whole idea of a free press capable of mocking religion and everything else has come under fire. Will this lead to more repression and fear? Will it keep people from speaking out?

I would be willing to bet on defiance from the French people. Innocent people who follow the Muslim faith will suffer because of the actions of criminals. This is a chance to speak to the idea of standing up to fear.

UPDATE: Charlie Hebdo, circa 2012:

It is here, in the far east of the French capital, that the publisher and editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have worked since their former editorial offices were destroyed a year ago in anarson attack. Although no one claimed responsibility for the crime, it was apparently motivated by cartoons about Islam that the magazine had published in a special issue under the polemical title "Charia Hebdo," a reference to Islamic Sharia law.
Now the magazine and its Editor-in-Chief St├ęphane Charbonnier, who is also a cartoonist himself, are back in the headlines. The satirical magazine has triggered a storm of indignation with its publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad this week. Representatives of the French Council of Muslims, prominent imams and French government officials have all criticized the professional polemicists, who violate political, social and religious taboos on a weekly basis. France has stepped up security at its embassies and other institutions abroad as a precaution.
The US government also expressed concern at the publication of the cartoons. "We don't question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
'Extremists Don't Need Any Excuses'
But Editor-in-Chief Charbonnier, who is known to his colleagues as "Charb," appears relaxed despite the uproar. Surrounded by TV crews from Japan, Qatar, Belgium and South Africa, as well as French journalists, he sits at his desk in the corner of a large room, where he creates his cartoons. He sees himself mainly as a journalist who is just doing his job. "The accusation that we are pouring oil on the flames in the current situation really gets on my nerves," says Charbonnier. "After the publication of this absurd and grotesque film about Muhammad in the US, other newspapers have responded to the protests with cover stories. We are doing the same thing, but with drawings. And a drawing has never killed anyone."
The cartoonist claims he doesn't want to deliberately provoke anyone. "We publish caricatures every week, but people only describe them as declarations of war when it's about the person of the Prophet or radical Islam," says Charbonnier. "When you start saying that you can't create such drawings, then the same thing will soon apply to other, more harmless representations."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Patrick Smith Weeps a Little More

Good Lord, son. Get over yourself:

I cannot be the only one to note the remarkable sequence of events in the Obama White House last week. It tells us all we need to know—for now, anyway—about what Washington is up to as it puts Russia in an illegal police chokehold. This will end neither soon nor well.

On Wednesday the president announced his out-of-nowhere move to lift sanctions against Cuba and reestablish diplomatic ties. I cannot be the only one to do this, either: I wept. Half a century of suffering pointlessly inflicted on a humane and very brave people will now come to an end.

On Thursday Obama signed HR 5859, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, into law. One is always suspicious of bills with Boy Scouty names like this, and one is always justified: Obama just gave himself permission to inflict pointless suffering on the humane and very brave Russian people more or less arbitrarily and indefinitely. And in all our names, the Pentagon will now arm Ukraine with lethal weapons. Funny, the $350 million committed as an opener just about matches what Truman gave the Greek monarchists in 1947, so commencing the Cold War.

Let us end the Cold War 90 miles off our coast and far too late. Let us prosecute it full bore against Russia and along its borders, far too irrationally and nostalgically. I find one key to Washington’s reasoning, if this is the word, on Russia in this contradiction, because it is apparent, not real.

I do not doubt that there are brave and humane Russians; I just don't think they're working for Vladimir Putin at this time. The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has been carried out with help from the inside and with conventional land forces. Ukraine is ready to try to join NATO (I doubt that it will) and Russia is a murderous kleptocracy. Ask any dead journalist in Moscow why it is so.

The reason why no one is paying attention to Patrick Smith is because of things like this, by the way. I'd kill for three reviews on any of my books.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Who Gets Shot After a Fleetwood Mac Concert?

Earlier this evening, Fleetwood Mac played the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. 

And what happened is something out of a nightmare because, when you drop off your kids so they can see the rock band play that rock and a roll music, it can all go south when someone takes the Angel Dust or the brown acid or a little of the Bolivian Marching Powder and starts confronting people about their preference for the sublime work of Peter Green...

Wait, is this 1977? Is this 2014? Because I can't tell anymore. Bizarre just ain't the word for it:

Three adults were shot and wounded near the Verizon Center late Friday night after a concert let out, authorities said.

Gunfire rang out near the intersection of 7th and F streets, in an area that had roughly 25 officers deployed over a couple-block radius in the hopes of keeping Halloween night safe, police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters at the scene.

All three shooting victims suffered non- life-threatening injuries, according to the chief.

So, the takeaway here is, when you go to a Fleetwood Mac concert, run! Bullets gonna fly!

Somewhere in an ambulance, this got said tonight. "Dude, you got shot coming out of a Fleetwood Mac concert. What did you think was gonna happen?"

What went on at this concert to freak people out and cause a shooting spree? Wavy Gravy showed up and the kids did the marijuana again, didn't they? Oh, wait. Gravy is a little old even for the Mac. Did Mick Fleetwood show up without any drumsticks? Did the bass cabinet fall over? The piano lid crashed down and a roadie lost a hand again, right? Did they fail to play Paper Doll? Did Lindsey muff a solo somewhere?

Has anyone ever gotten shot after a Fleetwood Mac concert? Ever? Well, the answer to that question is, hell yeah, because, tonight, someone got shot coming out of a Fleetwood Mac concert.

I mean, you go to see The Who and you just know you're gonna die. You go to see the Rolling Stones and bodies roll. You go to see Pearl Jam--yep, you're dyin'.  You go to see Jose Feliciano--automatically dead. You don't die when you go to see Slipnot because everybody's cool and nobody fights. You go to see Lady Antebellum--you die. Inside, you die when you have to listen to Nickelback, so we got that reference in without a fuss. The band Great White is on tour, if you can believe, it, as we speak.


Great White.

They played the Deerfoot Casino with Slaughter. Tonight. You can't make that up. How is it that Great White can still go on tour after a hundred people died because that was their only entertainment option one night back in 2003? Oh, you silly fool--they've been on the road for years. Years. It's as if nothing happened and it's not like anyone's paying attention.

You'd expect a body count after those bands. Kanye can go play and nobody dies.

But Fleetwood Goddamned Mac? Really?

I have seen Rush play three times. Nobody died. You can't get shot coming out of a Rush concert because Rush fans don't get worked up about perceived slights to Bob Welch and they can't carry guns because their fanny packs are full of Magic the Gathering cards. They carry multi-sided dice, a picture of George R. R. Martin and hand lotion. I'm sorry, but these are the things that come up between friends.

I'm an old, old man. And Fleetwood Mac are just too freakin' old for me. I mean, talk about your moldiest middle of the road sort of crap. And there's such a demand for tickets that they couldn't play Merriwether or the 9:30 Club or Wolf Trap--they had to play Verizon Center?

Really? Someone got shot coming out of a Fleetwood Mac concert.

How do you go into work next week and explain how you got shot coming out of a Fleetwood Mac concert? Explain that conversation with Human Resources and management to me.

Remember talking about it on Friday afternoon before you ducked out, found some ditch weed from six months ago, and snuck down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway with your honey and her two dumb friends, trying to remember how you ended up bringing them in the first place? Remember explaining to everyone at work who was still listening and under the age of fifty how Fleetwood Mac were once A Thing and how they used to be a really popular band?

Bigger than The Cars, they thundered? Oh, yeah. Bigger than THE CARS. Not bigger than Hootie when the first album came out but damned bigger than Hootie now. And do you recall how you had to explain why you paid money to see that tired bunch of hacks get up there and wheeze away? Because you couldn't get tickets to see the Turtles or the Beach Boys? Or tickets to see the Caps blow a 3 goal lead?

As a cultural marker, if you're getting shot after a Fleetwood Mac concert, you're carrying a particularly strange load of baggage around with you. I have sympathy, but I do not have advice or understanding.

That's gangsta. When a thug goes down in a hail of bullets after they close with Go Your Own Way, props to your homies. Or something like that.

Fleetwood Mac? They're all still alive? I love Stevie Nicks. Is she still dating Don Felder? Someone's gonna call Don and say, "hey Don--some people got shot coming out of a Fleetwood Mac concert." And all Don's gonna say is, "man, that Stevie Nicks was &^%$@! crazy but she was amazing in bed. I bet I still have one of her gypsy scarves around here somewhere."

What the hell is wrong with me?

Then you start to say, well, it's a tragedy that anyone got shot. I'm not making light of the fact that someone got shot. I'm saying you got shot coming out of a Fleetwood Mac concert. And my brain broke in half trying to process this information. I could not put it in one side of the mind and bring it out the other without going--who gets shot after watching your dad's eighth favorite band play AM radio standards?

Tragedy--yes. Culturally impossible combination of events and situations and factors--oh, the hell yeah on that one.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Isn't Jian Ghomeshi Already in Jail?

I still can't figure any of this out:

Eight women from across Canada now accuse former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi of abusive behaviour ranging from allegations of beating and choking without consent, to workplace sexual harassment.

The allegations the Star is probing range from 2002 to the present.

One of the women, popular Canadian television actor Lucy DeCoutere, has agreed to be identified. DeCoutere, who plays Lucy on Trailer Park Boys , recalls an incident in 2003 when she alleges Ghomeshi, without warning or consent, choked her to the point she could not breathe and then slapped her hard three times on the side of her head.

I have no problem believing these women and I can see a great deal of clarity in their allegations--Jian Ghomeshi is a violent man who sexually assaults women. What I cannot understand is how he has avoided accountability until now.

Scott Lemieux breaks it down, and this is what's so awful about the collision between online stalking and in-person real-life stalking--they are often one and the same. Our legal system has to come up with ways to deal with these kinds of things, privacy be damned.

All societies should empower women to make an accusation and have it handled responsibly. The first time that this happened, the person being assaulted by Ghomeshi should have felt safe enough to report it and the case should have been handled in a respectful and responsible manner. Yes, in our legal system, you can face your accuser. In Canada's legal system, who the hell knows what they can do? Is it based on the English system where old men in wigs direct barristers to and fro?

Somewhere, in this vast knowledge gap of mine, is an answer I probably don't want to know. 

How the hell is this asshole not in jail? 

Friday, July 25, 2014

ESPN Needs to Get Rid of Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith ran his mouth and what you see above is what came out. If it sounds ignorant, that's because it is. If it sounds like he's blaming women for provoking their own beating, that's because he kind of is doing that.

And that's the kind of word salad that makes it difficult to figure out what to do next, so I'll help ESPN in any way that I can.

You should let this fellow go work out his issues somewhere else. Clearly, when he had a chance to fix things, he went into a completely different mode and basically said, woman--take your beating and shut up.

Don't do anything to provoke wrong actions is another way of saying, take your beating and shut up.

One thing you can count on is that ESPN never really gets around to doing the right thing, and that's what it has in common with the NFL--a fundamental lack of courage and commitment to doing the right thing whenever there's a little money at stake.

A man who believes that it's not okay to beat a woman and then basically says woman, take your beating and don't provoke a worse one or it's your fault doesn't really believe that it's not okay to beat a woman. He believes something else entirely, and you better watch your mouth.

Good God, where do these people come from and how do they end up in front of cameras?

Shooting Up Myrtle

Did you hear? Someone shot up Myrtle, Minnesota:

Man cited for discharging gun
MYRTLE — Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office deputies cited Larry Prantner for reckless discharge of a firearm after receiving a report of gunshots fired at about 2 a.m. July 17 on First Avenue in Myrtle.

Pranter, shown above, was merely cited. Not arrested. Not jailed. Not charged with a felony. Not given a sobriety test.

No one shot him. No one brought in a fully militarized SWAT team to blow up his house and seize all of his weapons. No one even took the gun away from him that he was shooting at two in the morning, leaving him with whatever other guns he probably owns. No one beat his ass and dragged him to jail. He was not inconvenienced in any way until they had him sign the paper they gave him that indicated "your bad." They probably even called him sir.

Just cited.

For shooting his gun, repeatedly, in a municipal area in the town of Myrtle at two in the morning.

Freedom never tasted so good.

This is Why You Keep Guns Away From Assholes

No, I'm not blaming guns here. I'm blaming the asshole.

Chad Pickering of Bemidji, Minnesota is an asshole. He's a rolling freakshow on lawn mower wheels. He's lower than low. He's an asshole who used a gun to sort out his place in life, which, if we're lucky, means he'll never own a gun again and he'll spend a good amount of time in jail.

It's true--he might not actually be an asshole. He might be a drunk. I'm betting on both, and that's good enough for me with regards to taking away his right to bear arms.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Guy Doesn't Even Read His Own Newspaper

There were no "olden days."

In addition, no child in the history of Albert Lea has been abducted by a stranger and gone missing. Our city’s crime rates are about the same as 30 years ago when children roamed the neighborhoods, not the couches. Our city’s violent crime rate is about one-third of the national average.

By sheltering our children, we, as a helicopter society, are doing more harm than good. We are part of the obesity epidemic.

We are letting the pedophiles, drug dealers and other bad guys win.

Even the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights has acknowledged the importance of play in the cognitive, physical and emotional well-being of children. And here we are, taking it from them. Our children are in greater danger when we drive them at 70 mph on freeways than when they are playing unsupervised with friends at parks.
In the olden days, boys played pickup games of baseball. Now, they only play baseball as part of an organized summer league, surrounded by grown-ups telling them what to do. It used to not be that way. They used to just be kids, playing how they want to play.

Where can young people go to get away from grown-ups and be themselves? For at least one generation, they have gone to video games and the Internet. They aren’t allowed go play with friends at the park because a social worker will visit the home, so, instead, kids will find strangers online.

So because we are worried about the imagined ill will of strangers at parks, we force our kids to stay home where they find strangers over the Internet or get fat playing video games.

Way to go, society.

I happen to have lived during what Tim Engstrom calls the "olden days" and none of that is anything I recognize. I remember Jacob Wetterling. I sure as hell remember what happened to Johnny Gosch. They were regional disappearances and abductions, to be sure, but they were part of the lore of the Midwest and they changed the way parents behaved. I remember stories of kids who wandered off and were found dead because of accidents--very common in the winter and in farm communities. I remember when Loren Bellrichard was allowed to run around blowing people up, or so they failed to prove. I remember a whole lot of colorful characters who wouldn't hesitate to beat the living shit out of a kid for nothing--the history of Albert Lea is a violent one, not a lemonade dream on the front porch. I remember the racism, too, but that's a whole other can of worms.

So, the problem is, I've got a memory, too, and things are much, much better when we have laws in place that force parents to be accountable for keeping track of their kids. See, I remember a whole generation of neglectful parents--the Baby Boomers--who took a powder and didn't bother raising their kids because they were drunk or high all the time.  Their kids ran wild. The very laws that Engstrom decries exist because bad parents can't be corrected without some form of legal code in place to help people sort out who is and who is not really, really neglecting their kids. I remember a lot of stories about abused and neglected children all around us, and most of the laws we have in place now are designed to help social services deal with awful parents--the kind that go off and drink and the kind that leave their kids in hot cars, and, yes, the kind that abuse their kids or let them have the run of the place. Letting your kids go around unsupervised actually makes them someone else's problem, and that's not exactly the way things should be. Your dopey kids are your problem, and that's that.

Tim Engstrom doesn't care about any of that because olden days and playing baseball and he's tough and you're not so shut up. This is how nostalgia gets in the way of common sense. You let a kid run wild and it won't be about sports--it will be about theft, vandalism, and drinking near beer where there is no adult supervision. Each and every law he complains about is rooted in experiences that left social services and the state's law enforcement community trying to find an answer for parents who let their kids get into trouble through a lack of adequate supervision.

I mean, doesn't Engstrom bother to read his own newspaper notices about the near-constant plague of unsupervised children--some as young as fifteen--getting caught drinking? Didn't he notice the big story last week or so about the kids who vandalized the Salvation Army? Those kids were improperly supervised and allowed to take out their frustrations on the Salvation Army. I don't blame society. I blame the parents who showed them what rocks do to glass.

The problem with his nonsense editorial is that it doesn't even bother with the facts of living in Albert Lea. This would be the same city where a large number of predatory sex offenders have been allowed to locate themselves and live their lives because we can't lock them up forever. When a new one pops up, the cops don't even bother holding a meeting anymore because of the apathy of the community. Up until he moved to Austin, there was at least one good reason not to let your kids out of your sight in certain parts of Albert Lea. Does the name Paul Berg ring any bells?

Yeah, Paul Berg actually tried to abduct a young girl from the streets of Albert Lea, and he would have gotten away with it if he hadn't been beaten like a dog on the sidewalk. And if you think he was the only sex crazed maniac trying to have sex in public with children, you haven't been reading the Albert Lea Tribune.

So, you know. Olden days were better and now everything sucks. Whatever, man.

Kurt Vonnegut Couldn't Have Said it Better

When I read things like this, I can't help but wonder how much fun Kurt Vonnegut would have had with the idea that troops invading someone else's territory should be given a peace prize and that they cannot be criticized for anything at all.

Here's what he thought of indiscriminately bombing and killing people:

Every day we walked into the city and dug into basements and shelters to get the corpses out, as a sanitary measure. When we went into them, a typical shelter, an ordinary basement usually, looked like a streetcar full of people who’d simultaneously had heart failure. Just people sitting there in their chairs, all dead. A fire storm is an amazing thing. It doesn’t occur in nature. It’s fed by the tornadoes that occur in the midst of it and there isn’t a damned thing to breathe. We brought the dead out. They were loaded on wagons and taken to parks, large open areas in the city which weren’t filled with rubble. The Germans got funeral pyres going, burning the bodies to keep them from stinking and from spreading disease. 130,000 corpses were hidden underground. It was a terribly elaborate Easter egg hunt. We went to work through cordons of German soldiers. Civilians didn’t get to see what we were up to. After a few days the city began to smell, and a new technique was invented. Necessity is the mother of invention. We would bust into the shelter, gather up valuables from people’s laps without attempting identification, and turn the valuables over to guards. Then soldiers would come with a flame thrower and stand in the door and cremate the people inside. Get the gold and jewelry out and then burn everybody inside.

Clearly, humanity has jumped the shark and we're left with the crumbs at a table that hasn't been pleasantly set for a long time. Humanity is starved for substance and truth in the age of instant communication and smart phones, and a symptom of the insanity that affects us all is when far too many people accept without questioning the kind of logic displayed above. War is always a horrible, horrible last result that rarely accomplishes anything other than killing people who no one would reasonably conclude should have been killed to begin with. We're clawing at the idea of being able to believe someone about something, but the sad fact is, the only thing that sells anymore are lies.

The fellow in the suit above is one hell of a salesman for lies. He has a counterpart in a similar suit somewhere, and I wonder how ridiculous that fellow is when he talks about killing for peace.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

We Failed to Remember Our History One More Time

The Bundy Rebellion isn't over yet:

The victory a Nevada rancher claimed in a government standoff with armed militiamen has served to embolden right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists across the country, an organization that tracks hate groups said in a new report Thursday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center based its findings on online chatter among extreme right-wing groups. 

Cliven Bundy's faceoff with the Bureau of Land Management agents and Las Vegas police at his ranch in southern Nevada in April has "invigorated" an extremist movement that has exploded since President Barack Obama was elected, growing from 150 groups in 2008 to more than 1,000 last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

The report warns of the potential for more violence like the recent killing of two Las Vegas police officers by a pair of anti-government zealots — Jerad and Amanda Miller — who spent time at Bundy's ranch before they were asked to leave because of their extremist views.

"Cliven Bundy may have faded from public view, but the movement that spawned him is boiling," said the report entitled "War in the West, The Bundy Ranch Standoff and the American Radical Right."

This boiling movement has no fear of armed confrontation with the United States Government--they are actively encouraging it. How is that possible?

The example of Shays Rebellion is instructive. It was put down largely because reasonable people saw the threat to peace and stability; it led to a more powerful centralized form of government--the one we have today. The Bundy Rebellion weakens the power of the central government and exists because enough people feel the U.S. government has no legitimacy.

In other words, watch what happens when we forget American history.

How Many Troops Does Southern Command Have?

I guess Rick Perry wants to run for President:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and others are lashing out at President Barack Obama's decision not to tour border facilities overwhelmed by a flood of undocumented children, saying the U.S. leader needs to see with his own eyes what both sides agree is a humanitarian crisis.

"The American people expect to see their President when there is a disaster," Perry told CNN's Kate Bolduan in an interview that aired Thursday, citing Obama's trip to the East Coast to tour damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. "He showed up at Sandy. Why not Texas?"

Both Republicans and the White House have described the crush of Central American children as a humanitarian crisis, but Obama said Wednesday that visiting facilities where the children are processed and detained would be little more than a photo opportunity.

No Republican from Texas is ever going to be reasonable about anything. Write that down. Mail it to your future self. The President should have gone on vacation instead of Texas. Nothing reasonable can come of allowing Rick Perry the chance to speak out on anything. The President may have been smart not to go to the border, but it was foolish to go to Texas and let the man with anchorman hair look like he has control over something. Simply by holding the title of Governor in Texas, he automatically has little if any power anyway.

The patch you see above is the one used by the U.S. Army's Southern Command, which now exists in name only and has a handful of missions and no real troops or power to influence what is happening. The humanitarian crisis on the border is the consequence of pursuing policies in Central America that were insane in the 1980s and are still resonating throughout the region.

When you kill off enough reasonable people, you're left with thugs and criminals running things. That's what it is like in Central America today--the reasonable people aren't in power. When the United States dismantled Jimmy Carter's insistence on human rights, and when power was handed to the people who decried his efforts to restore sovereignty to the various countries where America's imperial ambitions got out of hand, it sent a message to the region--you're not going to survive unless you kill your enemies. That led to corruption and failed states, and it allowed criminal gangs to thrive in the absence of any rule of law. We sent troops to ensure that the killing fields would stay hidden, and we traded missiles to terrorists so that death squads could run wild.

The last time anyone cared about Central America was Christmas of 1989. I went to work at a small radio station, and found the AP wire printer running haywire, covered in bulletins from America's invasion of Panama. Since then, we haven't cared or paid attention to the growth of narco-terrorism because we're the ones who fed that machine. We have refused to end our own ridiculous war on drugs. If billions stopped flowing to the criminals, their empires would come apart. The societies they have been busy murdering are all but dead already. We prop up illegitimate regimes and forget our history. We did this to them. Now, they're mailing us their kids. Talk about an accountability moment.

At some point, someone in a uniform is going to have to go kill off thousands of heavily-armed narco-terrorists and gang members in a faraway land. They're going to have to go south wearing that patch and they're going to have to erase the situation we created by sanctioning the murders of nuns and the killing of villagers and the selling of drugs all over America. I don't suppose we have a trillion a year and an endlessly manned Army to do this, but that's what it will take for people to stop sending their four year-olds into the desert in order to wander into America, sunburned and afraid.

It's one thing for some nervous stoners to open a pot dispensary in the Mountain West and overcharge people for ditchweed. It's quite another to decriminalize drugs, make it a public health issue, and empty America's prisons of young black men and then send troops to Central America in order to kill a generation we birthed by re-electing Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How is This Justice?

The British legal system may be civilized, but how does this work if you're Joss Stone?

These men were equipped and ready to murder her and steal from her. They had the means and the intent to find her, kill her, and take what they could and flee. This was premeditated and planned out. The only thing that has saved them is, ironically, their much-remarked haplessness.

I think letting them out of prison in a few years is a huge, huge mistake for the rule of law in any country.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Life at Fort Hood is Not Easy

The story of Specialist Ivan Lopez could be the story of a killer or a mentally ill soldier. It could even be the story of both. But this is what I've seen so far:

Spc. Ivan Lopez vented about a range of subjects on Facebook before his shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, including his outrage at Adam Lanza's mass school shooting in Connecticut.

He wrote of experiencing overpowering fear after an insurgent attack in Iraq and the hatred that consumed him after getting "robbed."

Lopez took his own .45-caliber handgun onto the sprawling post Wednesday and killed three people and wounded 16 more before taking his own life, according to authorities.

We aren't exactly certain what he meant by "robbed" and we should not downplay the fear he had while deployed to Iraq. His fear of being attacked was never dealt with and he was never properly counseled by his leadership or the medical authorities. But what people don't really understand is that life at Fort Hood for regular Army soldiers is extremely difficult. It is not a quality of life assignment. By design, it is a tough assignment to a tactical unit, and with it comes a grueling training calendar and a whole lot of time spent in motor pools and in the field.

This is the Army that people can either adapt to, and thrive in, or they don't. The unit that Lopez belonged to likely has a system. Show up unannounced, looking for a leave form, and it's entirely reasonable to be turned away. Most of the comments I've seen try to play up the angle that this was chickenshit. Nope.

The days on Fort Hood are long days. Someone who hasn't been in the real Army--and that would be me--has to adapt to a training calendar that can best be described as relentless. Due to a decade of war, the brigades stationed at Fort Hood are seasoned with experienced combat veterans but, to date, only two of them have shot up their fellow solders. One was a shitbag, never-been-anywhere Major who is facing the death penalty and the other is Lopez, a Specialist who snapped because he couldn't get a leave form when he wanted one. He carried out his own death penalty.

Then there was the female who ranted and raved to the media about how bad it was on Fort Hood. I don't have a link to the video, but if she isn't on her way out of uniform tomorrow, she will be before the month is out. But yes, it is bad on Fort Hood. It's bad in Germany--services have been cut to the bone. It is bad at Fort Stewart in Savannah, Georgia. It's bad in South Korea. It's bad in Alaska. It's bad at Fort Riley, Kansas. It's terrible at Fort Gordon, Georgia, if only because it's a base with a school and whatever else. It's bad at Fort Drum. In other words, the condition of bad is endemic to the entire Army. It is a difficult profession and it requires sacrifice and putting others before your most basic needs and desires. It breaks people.

The war didn't break either of the men who shot their fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. The low standards that allowed them to join and then remain on active duty are the reason why there was violence. Lopez should have been on his way out of the Army; Major Nidal Hasan should never have been allowed to join. Neither man should have been untreated for mental illness and both should have been on medication, in a medical unit, and transitioning to civilian life. Once in that status, their right to purchase and own firearms should have been revoked.

Raise the standards and throw these people out.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

There Are Two Kinds of Law in the Military

Yeah, whatever:

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair — who struck a plea deal after being accused of sexually assaulting his former lover — was sentenced Thursday to pay $24,100 in fines and restitution, but not jailed or demoted.

One congresswoman called the sentence "laughable," but Sinclair was all smiles after learning his fate.

"The system worked. I've always been proud of my Army," he said outside the Fort Bragg, N.C., courthouse. "All I want to do now is go north and hug my kids and my wife."

The system did NOT work because justice was never served nor was credibility given to the idea that there should be a single standard for conduct. General Sinclair's colleagues saved his ass from a felony conviction and from spending the rest of his life registered as a predatory sex offender. 

This is what happens in the Army--there is a UCMJ for the enlisted and there's one for the officers. The one that they use on the enlisted scum ruins their lives, takes their money, and trashes their future. The one used on Sinclair gives him a slap on the wrist. If he had been wearing the stripes of a Master Sergeant, he would be on his way to Leavenworth right now. This is very similar to how it is in the civilian world. Instead of money, a commission as a officer gives the holder the same advantages as someone with money to spend on a good lawyer.

His family knows what kind of a man he is. God help them if he decides to actually follow through on his threat to hug them. A violent man just got away with it. His next victim will understand this, fully and completely.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


This is definitely the action language of an angry investigator:

Supervisors of the gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last year noticed his erratic behavior well before the shooting but did not reveal any problems to the government, a Navy investigation has found.

“Had this information been reported, properly adjudicated and acted upon, [Aaron] Alexis’s authorization to access secure facilities and information would have been revoked,” the report said — and the shooting might have been prevented.

An official Navy investigation unveiled Tuesday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top Pentagon officials blamed IT contractor Hewlett-Packard and its subcontractor, The Experts, for deciding not to take any action dealing with Alexis’s deteriorating “emotional, mental or personality condition, even when they had concerns that Alexis may cause harm to others.”

Someone wants to put the subcontractor (The Experts) out of business. This may damage Hewlett-Packard's immediate plans to continue to be a top-tier government contractor, but it won't put them out of business.

Newport city police officers made a note about one of their encounters with Alexis last August, in which he complained about “some sort of microwave” being used to control him. The city police even faxed a copy of their incident report to the naval base security office with the note: “FYI on this. Just thought to pass it on to you in the event this person escalates.”

Alexis’s supervisors were aware of all this as it was taking place, according to the report, and went so far as to contact his mother about his paranoid behavior. She told the company human resources office that “this was not the first episode he had experienced,” the report said.
A spokesman for HP, Michael Thacker, told POLITICO the company had no information before the Navy Yard shooting that Alexis “posed a threat to others or had a propensity for violence.” The fault lay entirely with its former subcontractor, Thacker said.

“As the Navy investigation report confirms, The Experts was aware of significant information about Aaron Alexis that was not known to HP,” Thacker said. “Yet, The Experts made a decision to send Alexis back to work after the incident in Newport, R.I., without sharing any of this information with HP or the government. Based on what we learned about The Experts’s conduct, on Sept. 25 HP terminated its relationship with The Experts.”

At the beginning of last September, Alexis exchanged emails with the “president of Freedom from Covert Harassment and Surveillance discussing, ‘constant bombardment from some type of ELF weapon,’” the report said. The Navy uses Extremely Low Frequency radio waves to communicate with deeply submerged submarines.

Both companies could face some expensive lawsuits, however. HP is desperately trying to sever their relationship to The Experts; at one time, it probably looked good on paper to pair them up and acquire a lucrative contract. The end result of that allowed a nutcase to have access to a secure facility. The language of this report is refreshingly free of doublespeak and ambiguity. The blame is leveled and the allegations are clear--someone failed to get this man out of the intelligence community.

An "FYI" isn't much of a "CYA."

Of course, this is really an indictment of the way we handle the mentally ill and how we have failed to restrict their access to firearms. No one wants to talk about that, however. If we actually had a sensible program where people who are mentally ill are prevented from buying guns, there might be fewer shootings.


The elimination of Stalin's cult of personality was undertaken with somber dedication almost as soon as he was dead; it took the Georgians sixty years to remove his statue and it served as proof that disowning a favorite son was one way to stick it to the Russians. The idea was, let's keep the empire but disavow the tactics of the architect. For a Crimean woman to brandish his photo like this is absurd; she is ignorant of Ukraine's history of being starved and purged and slaughtered at the hands of Stalin's thugs in the 1930s. She is either being paid to be happy about something she understands or she is an addled Russian woman who has hated Ukrainians all her life.

Now that Stalin is back as an icon of Russian/Soviet dominance, if I were a moderately successful young person living in the Baltic nations, my ass would be halfway to America by now. If there isn't a brain drain soon, I am guessing there will be. Nations mean nothing to the new Stalin, and Putin wants his empire restored. He is dictator for life of the new Russia and it's time to demonstrate this to the peasants.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This is How You Build a Nation

Watching what happens in Ukraine reminds me of how so many nation building exercises have failed in recent years. The people of this country are European, and wish to be European, and never Russian again. They are looking to the west but they are not exactly waiting for NATO to send troops and planes and ships to free them.

They are doing it themselves.

I wouldn't bet against the Ukrainian government in this fight--they have the weaponry to slaughter their own people. They have politicians in jail and no rule of law to speak of. They have the advantage that corruption gives to regimes that send police to kill indiscriminately. They have the power and the people have what they can pick up and throw (cobblestones piled in the background in order to throw at riot police? check).

What they no longer have is any legitimate claim to power. As soon as you are burning things down and leaving citizens bloodied like this, the slow walk to exile or the executioner has begun. Somewhere in these crowds there might be another great leader of the tragic Ukrainian people. If only they can resist their own thuggish government and the power of Vladimir Putin.

It is tragic and sad. But no one can accuse these people of not wanting it bad enough to risk death. They are building their own nation, no matter how futile.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sochi Has a Bloody History

When the attention of the world is focused on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, it would help if some of the history of that place is known and understood:

one of the most significant issues of all surrounding the Olympics has been nearly ignored: Recognition of the indigenous people of Sochi, the Circassians. 

The Circassians, who are mostly Muslim, resided in Sochi for millennia. In the 19th century, an expanding Russian Empire coveted their territory -- which is south and east of Russia proper -- and used overwhelming force to defeat them. Russia killed around 1.5 million Circassians and expelled a similar number, mostly to the Ottoman Empire, with many dying of famine and disease. Entire tribes were decimated; for example, the Shapsugh tribe was reduced from 300,000 to 3,000 people. 

The bloodiest battle of all, which Circassians refer to as their "last stand," occurred in the vicinity of Sochi, the Circassian capital, in 1864. The Circassians describe the catastrophe that befell their people as the first modern genocide. 

The few Circassians able to remain in the Caucasus found themselves a minority in their own land, which was quickly settled by Russians. Those who were expelled or escaped were forced to migrate from country to country in search of safety and stability. 

Diaspora Circassians have faced huge challenges in attempting to preserve their identity and traditions and keep the memory of their homeland alive.

Not only are terrorists running wild throughout southern Russia, but you have unfulfilled national ambitions and widespread resistance to the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin. The old Soviet policy was to force the language on the people of this region. Now, they force the corruption endemic to the Russian experience. Add to that the issues with infrastructure and the inherently poor choice of venue, and the costs of Sochi may not be fully understood.

Awarding these games to a city thick in the middle of an exceptionally violent and unhappy part of Southern Russia may turn out to be one of the worst decisions made by the International Olympic Committee. Understanding the history of the Circassians and the region as a whole might have helped make a more informed decision; why is it you never see a commercial decision ever take into account history and precedent?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What Used to be Crazy is Normal Now

There was a time when saying something like "let's use a tactical nuclear weapon to solve this problem" meant being laughed out of a room or fired from your job or voted out of office. That is no longer the case. Our foreign policy establishment is irrelevant and senile.

What has vanished is the line between dumb and capable. Saying you would use a tactical nuclear weapon to resolve anything is dumb. Saying that our options should not be limited and that we have to give diplomacy a chance before we bomb the living shit out of some brown people is still somewhat capable. Hunter passed the test of being a modern Republican: speak now, say it like you mean it, and pick your jaw up off the floor when no one calls you a batshit crazy loon.

It's a shame that Representative Duncan Hunter had to be crazy in his application of American diplomatic and military power. The Republican Party desperately needs Veterans who can right the wrongs of the last decade or so and start supporting Veterans issues. Hunter wants to bomb everyone, throw nukes at the problem, and create another million broken, neglected war Veterans that his party can turn their backs on.