Stuff to Read (or Watch)

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blogging, firearms

The New York Times has a nice investigative piece on what happens when private equity firms take over functions like fire fighting and ambulance services.

A Tennessee woman slipped into a coma and died after an ambulance company took so long to assemble a crew that one worker had time for a cigarette break.

Paramedics in New York had to covertly swipe medical supplies from a hospital to restock their depleted ambulances after emergency runs.

A man in the suburban South watched a chimney fire burn his house to the ground as he waited for the fire department, which billed him anyway and then sued him for $15,000 when he did not pay.

In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered.

Lots of buzz in social media about the Texas mother who shot and killed her two daughters and then was killed by police.

According to Christy Sheats Facebook page, she was a gun owner and vocal advocate for the second amendment.

“It would be horribly tragic if my ability to protect myself or my family were to be taken away,” Sheats wrote in March on her Facebook page, “but that’s exactly what Democrats are determined to do by banning semi-automatic handguns.”

In other posts, she showered her daughters with praise.

“Happy Daughter’s Day to my amazing, sweet, kind, beautiful, intelligent girls,” she wrote in September 2015. “I love and treasure you both more than you could ever possibly know.”

Police who responded to reports of gunfire found the daughters lying in the street in front of their home, and the armed mother wouldn’t put down her gun, so they shot her. Authorities are already blaming “mental illness.”

British politicians who had promised everyone a pony if the UK could leave the EU are backtracking.

Before Thursday’s referendum on the country’s membership in the 28-nation bloc, campaigners for British withdrawal, known as Brexit, tossed out promises of a better future while dismissing concerns raised by a host of scholars and experts as “Project Fear.”

But that was before they won.

With financial markets in turmoil, a big drop in the pound and the prospect of further chaos, some supporters of Brexit are backpedaling on bold pronouncements they made just a few days earlier. “A lot of things were said in advance of this referendum that we might want to think about again,” Liam Fox, a former cabinet minister, told the BBC, including when and how Article 50 — the formal process for leaving the European Union — should be invoked.

See also John Oliver.

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What About That Britain?

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Europe

News from Britain is just astounding. Wales beat Northern Ireland to get into the Euro 1916 quarterfinals, for the first time ever.  And then there was that Brexit thing. Discuss.

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Are Guns Nuts Too Mentally Ill to Own Guns?

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Obama Administration

Lots of people have commented on the Senate’s failure to pass any of the four gun control measures it considered this week. And some of those commentaries pointed out that the measures were lame to begin with.

As I understand it, one of the measures would have provided for federal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or over the Internet, which I certainly support. Another would have blocked people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. This makes for a good talking point — let’s take guns away from ISIS!  But the terrorist watch list is an opaque and mysterious thing that easily could be used to unfairly jerk people around (see Glenn Greenwald on this point). And it’s highly questionable how effective such blocking would be, anyway.

But to me, the single biggest howler among these proposals was the Republican one for a “mental illness” database.

The Senate rejected first a Republican proposal to update the background check system for gun purchases, which would have required states to add more information on mental health records to a national database. …

… Some Senate Democrats warned that the legislation’s revised definition of who would be considered mentally ill could potentially still allow those with significant psychological issues to legally purchase guns.

The “revised definition” be damned; doing this at all is objectionable on several levels.

First, “mental illness” is not a tightly defined scientific term; it could apply to a wide range of brain, behavioral and mood disorders, from mild and common to severe and rare. I do not want a bunch of politicians with no background in psychology defining it, especially since I suspect at least half of Congress currently might qualify as “mentally ill” depending on where you draw parameters. And I’m not joking.

Second, given the stigma attached to any kind of psychological disorder, a list like that could visit all kinds of discrimination against the people on it.

Third, data tell us that even severe mental illness accounts for very little of our gun violence. According to this article, people with severe mental illness commit only about 4 percent of firearm homicides in the U.S. And expecting psychiatrists to report on potentially violent patients probably won’t help;  predicting which patient might become violent is an inexact science, “only slightly more accurate than flipping a coin.”

Even among our infamous mass shooters, who certainly seem to have been deranged, it’s estimated that only about 22 percent of them were “mentally ill.” And only about 11 percent had problems severe enough that they’d been reported to a doctor or another authority before the shooting. As a group, mass shooters may be less crazy than Congress. And according to this guy, only 10 percent of “jihadist terrorists” in the U.S. were mentally ill, which makes them saner than the general population.

However, there may be a connection between behavior or personality and gun ownership that does raise red flags for potential gun violence.

The more guns a person owns, the more likely they are to report experiencing serious, uncontrollable outbursts of anger and aggression. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law, which found that nearly one in ten Americans have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm.

“The new research also indicates that the 310 million firearms estimated to be in private hands in the United States are disproportionately owned by people who are prone to angry, impulsive behavior and have a potentially dangerous habit of keeping their guns close at hand,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “That’s because people owning six or more guns were more likely to fall into both of these categories than people who owned a single gun.”

It turns out that being chronically angry is the REAL warning sign that predicts a potential killer.

A number of common mental health conditions — including personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder — tend to be associated with the risky mix of pathological anger with gun access, according to the APA.
“However, only a small proportion of angry people with guns has ever been hospitalized for a mental health problem — voluntarily or involuntarily — and thus most would not be prohibited from firearms under the involuntary commitment exclusion.”

IMO an argument could be made that people — men especially but possibly not exclusively — who are militant about their unfettered right to own and carry any firearm they want are displaying behavior that ought to disqualify them from owning guns at all.

In fact, people have made that argument.

What we’re seeing is a strong correlation between pathological anger and a desire to own multiple guns. There is also a strong correlation between pathological anger and violent behavior.  Therefore, the very people who are most motivated to purchase more than one high-powered weapon are the last people who ought to be purchasing high-powered weapons.

But maybe some day the American Psychiatric Association will include “gun nut disorder” in the DSM, making it an official “mental illness.”  Then we can talk about a mental illness watch list.

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Is The Donald Going Broke?

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

Trump’s presidential candidacy appears to be imploding before it has officially started. This morning he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who hasn’t been doing much managing. According to Gabriel Sherman at New York magazine, Lewandowsky’s ouster was something of a coup orchestrated by three Trump offspring, Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr.

Scripts for an HBO original film about Donald Trump’s failed presidential campaign are already being written. I can smell it.

But the bigger mystery is, where is the money? Trump’s campaign seems to be out of it. At the end of the last reporting period, Hillary Clinton’s campaign had $30 million in hand; Trump’s  had $2.4 million. And he doesn’t seem terribly interested in raising more.

John McQuaid writes at Forbes that Trump not only doesn’t bother about fundraising; he wants the Republican National Committee to do his fundraising and campaign organizing for him. But that’s not what the RNC is for, and if they have to take on that job it will reduce resources for doubt-ballot candidates.  McQuaid continues.

Trump’s campaign is based on the vague, grandiose notion of “winning.” He’s a winner who will help us all win. We will stop losing to immigrants and terrorists and China and Mexico and then will be so much winning we won’t be able to stand it. There are two pieces of evidence for this: Trump is ahead in the polls and he’s fabulously wealthy. He could keep the illusion going during the primaries. But now, as every day brings more bad news, the first is gone. If the second is falsified, it all collapses. So if there is literally nothing – or at least, much less than $10 billion – at the center, that is something that he would feel compelled to conceal no matter what.

This informational black box at the center of a major party candidacy is extraordinary.

We’ve been asked to trust and believe in Trump because he is a genius moneymaker and manager. Yet he appears to be in the process of committing campaign suicide, in part because he has no money and no managerial talent.  As citizens, we should know whether he’s lying about his wealth. We do know he’s either stupid, or not anywhere as rich as he wants us to believe, or – probably – both.

Many people are pointing out that if Trump really is worth $10 billion, as he claims, then coughing up a few tens of millions to keep his campaign going shouldn’t be that much of a stretch.  Last year Forbes estimated he was really worth only about $4.5 billion. But even then, he ought to be able to throw $30 million into the pot to keep up with Hillary, you’d think.

But he doesn’t appear to be doing that. Josh Marshall writes,

Even if Trump can’t not be Trump, the damage of being Trump could at least be off-set by pouring money into advertising in key swing states and field work. But at this moment, the Clinton campaign (and pro-Clinton superPACs) is rolling out a barrage of targeted swing state advertising focused on solidifying and embedding the highly negative image Trump has built for himself over the last year and especially the last eight weeks. That advertising is going entirely unanswered by the Trump campaign. Trump’s been reduced to making emergency appeals to raise $100,000. …

…So it all comes down to, where’s the money? We tend to look at Trump’s threadbare campaign as a product of epic disorganization or the candidate’s mercurial personality. But as the mammoth tv ad campaigns ramp up unanswered and field operations fail to materialize, those explanations are really no longer sufficient.

Assuming Trump really is worth some number in the billions of dollars, it makes no sense for him to get this close to the presidency and then get stingy.  Josh says he has loaned his campaign over $40 million already, but what’s another $40 million when you’ve got billions?

I keep saying that Clinton is going to win. One of the reasons I keep saying that is that it’s been evident for some time that Trump has nothing even approaching a national presidential campaign organization

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Toxic Trump

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

Frank Bruni has his moments:

IN normal times, a party’s leaders and comers grovel for roles in the convention and prime time on its stage.

In the Year of Trump, Republicans are racing for the exits. It’s as if the Emerald City suddenly turned into Chernobyl.  …

… Small wonder that one of Trump’s advisers recently suggested that the candidate not wait until the climactic hour to deliver his remarks but, in a break with precedent, speak every single night. Not just double Donald. No mere triple Trump. Four luscious scoops of him.

Not only are a lot of A-list Republicans skipping the convention, a whole lot of corporate sponsors are opting out as well. Never fear; the show will go on, somehow. Bruni continues,

What a total, utter freak show this promises to be, and not in the manner that Republicans feared just months ago. They wondered then if the convention would be contested, with Trump and Ted Cruz dueling for delegates. Now they’re looking at four excruciating days that will be light on appropriate speakers, short on cash and long on God-knows-what other than the music of Trump’s voice and the shimmer of Trump’s hair.

He’s in a bind. He has expressed the desire for an event incorporating more show business than usual (shocker!), but bling doesn’t come cheap, and neither corporate sponsors nor individual donors are coming around in their usual numbers to contribute.

And then there’s the question of who might be The Donald’s Number Two.

John Weaver, who served as the campaign strategist for Kasich’s presidential bid, was more blunt: “I can’t imagine a truly credible person agreeing to be his running mate, because it would be the end of his or her political career.”

Ironically, the presumptive nominee’s own toxicity is making the job of finding a vice presidential nominee that much easier, because the short list is so short. Multiple high-level Republican sources said it is topped by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions a distant third and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin also in the mix.

It appears Christie and Gingrich top the list because they want the job. They may be the only ones.

The Vengeance of WaPo continues with this piece, The brutal numbers behind a very bad month for Donald Trump.

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Don’t Mess With WaPo

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

The Donald rescinded the press credentials of the Washington Post.  WaPo runs a story linking the young Donald Trump to Roy Cohn. And I suspect that’s only the beginning.

I love the title — The man who showed Donald Trump how to exploit power and instill fear.

Also at WaPo, we read that there are still those who want to block his nomination:

Dozens of Republican convention delegates are hatching a new plan to block Donald Trump at this summer’s party meetings, in what has become the most organized effort so far to stop the businessman from becoming the GOP nominee. …

…Given the strife, a growing group of anti-Trump delegates are convinced that enough like-minded Republicans will band together in the next month to change party rules and allow delegates to vote for whomever they want, regardless of who won state caucuses and primaries. …

… The new wave of anti-Trump organizing comes as an increasing number of prominent Republicans have signaled they will not support Trump for president.

In addition, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who is slated to chair the Republican National Convention next month in Cleveland, said in remarks released Friday that House Republicans should “follow their conscience” on whether to support Trump.

It could be a contested convention, after all. What fun! But if Trump is not the nominee, the Democrats are so screwed …

 

 

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The Fantasies of Terrorism

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Religion, Terrorism

A couple of days ago I wrote that Omar Mateen “wasn’t so much a jihadist as someone who poured his excessive rage into a fantasy of jihad.” Turns out that may have made him a typical jihadist.

At the New York Times Peter Bergen writes that he did exhaustive research into more than 300 individual incidents of terrorism to find out what motivated the terrorists. He concludes,

The easy explanation — that jihadist terrorists in the United States are “mad” or “bad” — proved simply wrong. Around one in 10 had mental health problems, below the incidence in the general population. Nor were they typically career criminals: Twelve percent had served time in prison, compared with about 11 percent of the American male population.

I found that the perpetrators were generally motivated by a mix of factors, including militant Islamist ideology; dislike of American foreign policy in the Muslim world; a need to attach themselves to an ideology or organization that gave them a sense of purpose; and a “cognitive opening” to militant Islam that often was precipitated by personal disappointment, like the death of a parent. For many, joining a jihadist group or carrying out an attack allowed them to become heroes of their own story.

The “heroes of their own story” turns out to be key.

But in each case, the proportion of the motivations varied. For instance, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, was a nonpracticing Muslim who became an Islamist militant once his dreams of becoming an Olympic boxerfaded. At the time of the attack, he was unemployed. For him, bombing the marathon seemed to allow him to become the heroic figure that he believed himself to be.

On the other hand, his younger brother, Dzhokhar, never seemed to embrace militant Islam. He smoked marijuana, drank and chased girls — hardly the actions of a Muslim fundamentalist. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s motivations for the bombings were instead largely molded by his older brother, whom he admired and feared, and by his own half-baked opposition to American foreign policy.

Nidal Hasan, the Army major who killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in 2009, seemed to be a more classic jihadist. He was a highly observant Muslim who objected to American foreign policy. But according to Nader Hasan, a first cousin who had grown up with him, the massacre at Fort Hood was also motivated by Nidal Hasan’s personal problems. He was unmarried, both his parents were dead, he had no real friends and a dreaded deployment to Afghanistan loomed. “He went postal,” Nader Hasan told me, “and he called it Islam.”

David C. Headley of Chicago, who did much of the planning for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people were killed, was not an observant Muslim. He juggled multiple wives and girlfriends. He was motivated more by a passionate hatred of India — and his enjoyment in playing the role of a jihadi James Bond, hanging out with Bollywood stars for cover while secretly planning one of the most spectacular and deadly terrorist assaults since Sept. 11, 2001.

Bergen doesn’t say if he found any examples of well-adjusted people not facing a life crisis or nursing a boiling personal grudge who decided only from their reading of the Quran that they had a duty to be jihadists, but my guess would be no.

I had said something similar in my book about the 9/11 terrorists, who were known to drink alcohol and go nightclubbing. Deep down, what they did was not really about religion. Meaning, religion didn’t provide the prime motivation. If you look closely, the “motivation” is nearly always some tangled mix of political, economic, social, cultural and historical factors with some big, honking Personal Issues mixed in. I wrote,

But it’s rarely just about Buddhism. Or Islam, or Christianity, or Judaism, or any other religion. Like any other part of human civilization, religions exist in a context of culture, society, politics, and history, not to mention the various psychological issues of the participants. Religion has been the prime driver of some violent situations, but sometimes it’s just one factor among many, and the violence probably would have happened without it.

And sometimes religion may not be the prime driver but acts more as an accelerant, or at least an excuse, giving people a moral “cover” or context for their rage, even when their rage is being driven by something else entirely. If you can persuade yourself that your vehemence is sanctified, and that you are entitled or even anointed to strike at the object of your anger, it’s a lot easier to light the fuse or pull the trigger.

And this, I think, is at the root of why so much of the mass violence in the world today has a connection to religion. Religion has become the last refuge of the furious.

In short, religion can be used to craft a cosmic permission slip and provide a kind of holy absolution (in the minds of the perps, anyway) for what would otherwise be unjustifiable savagery. And, of course, ultimately it’s still unjustifiable.  But terrorists do tend to be the world’s worst cherry pickers, as far as doctrine is concerned. They’re only interested in the parts that might be used to justify what they were going to do, anyway. The remainder can be ignored.

In the book I went back to this great quote:

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both. —  Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951) 

I propose that these factors tend to come together to form “terrorists.”

The first is some kind of association with an idealized mass movement.  As Bergen said, they seem to have “a need to attach themselves to an ideology or organization that gave them a sense of purpose.” However, this association may exist only in the head of the perp, as it did in Omar Mateen. In other words, the association may exist as a psychological factor but not a physical or operative factor, and it’s important for us to keep that straight. Otherwise you’re off into Crazy Land with John McCain, who has said President Obama is responsible for the murders in Orlando because he hasn’t bombed ISIS enough.

The idealized mass movement comes with a “holy cause.” But the holy cause is not necessarily religious; nationalism or or extremist political ideologies or white supremacy or a lot of other things will do just as well. If the “holy cause” is religious, it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot if the individual perp really believes it that much. It’s the idea of having a holy cause to rally around, rather than personal devotion, that’s important. Without a holy cause to fight for, one cannot be the hero of one’s own story.

Finally, and possibly most important of all, is the fanatical grievance. I think if you look hard enough, in the soul of every terrorist or mass shooter or anybody who feels a need to express himself through violent slaughter is a festering grievance that the world simply is not giving him what he is due. Whether this grievance is primarily personal or collective, or a little of both, may not matter.

This is why people who make Islam, or religion, out to be “the problem” don’t get it. In the presence of the other psychological factors any mass movement/holy cause will do, including (in theory) atheism. It hardly matters if atheism has no doctrines, as doctrines aren’t that important to “religious” terrorists, anyway.” What’s important is the Cause, which ultimately is just something to reflect glory on the perp’s own ego.

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A Trump Death Spiral in Progress

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Bad Hair, Republican Party

One of the more bizarre headlines I’ve seen today is at the New York Times: ‘Trump and N.R.A. Leaders to Discuss Preventing Gun Sales to People on Terror Watch Lists.”

Yes, folks, Trump is openly allowing the NRA to dictate his gun polices. The article says,

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that people on the terror watch list should be barred from buying firearms, putting himself in the center of a gun-control debate in Congress revived by the worst mass shooting in United States history.

Mr. Trump’s stance, expressed in a Twitter post, does not necessarily jibe with the positions of the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association, whose endorsement Mr. Trump frequently boasts about on the campaign trail. His tweet could be read to support measures pushed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans in Congress, reflecting the unusual nuances of the issue, which touches on public safety and civil rights beyond the Second Amendment.

“I will be meeting with the N.R.A., who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no-fly list, to buy guns,” Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, wrote Wednesday morning on Twitter. His comment came three days after 49 people were killed when a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State stormed an Orlando nightclub.

Trump’s support shows signs of sagging already, if this Guardian article is any indication.

Amid shrinking poll numbers and smaller crowds, Donald Trump’s rhetoric took a dark turn on Wednesday in Atlanta.

The presumptive Republican nominee struck an apocalyptic tone, projecting that the United States would not survive if he were not elected. He raised the notion of welcoming the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, to the United States for negotiations. And he repeated his contention that Japan might have to “go nuclear” if it did not offer the United States better pay for its military protection.

Recent polls show Hillary Clinton leading Trump by double digits nationally. And his unfavorability ratings continue to rise.

That slowdown in support seemed evident on Wednesday when Trump spoke at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, which holds less than half the audience he commanded during his last appearance in Atlanta in February. “This place is packed,” he said, shielding his eyes against stage lights. “We have people outside who couldn’t get in. Does anybody want to give up their seat?”

Apparently Trump could not see the hundreds of empty seats in the theater’s second level. A similarly reduced crowd showed up at a recent campaign stop in Virginia.

Even better, see this just-published piece at New Republic, “American Horror Story.”

By all accounts he has no campaign organization whatsoever. He’s at open war with the Washington Post, having revoked the paper’s press credentials because he didn’t like WaPo’s coverage, and Charles Pierce predicts Trump will lose to the Post.  He’s at war with a portion of the Republican Party, or at least the portion that has refrained from endorsing him. It’s obvious he has no idea what he’s doing or what he’s in for.

We’ve got just over a month before the RNC convention, which I am looking forward to watching with all my heart and soul. This is going to be weirder than Clint Eastwood and the Chair times a million. They’ll have to get Rod Serling from the Afterlife to narrate the thing. Or better, Chuck Barris. But as he shows signs of spiraling further and further out of control, I wonder if he’ll make it to the convention, or to the November election?

Also, don’t miss “How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions.” It’s fascinating.

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No More Thoughts and Prayers

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Congress, Democratic Party, firearms

Update: “Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) ended a blockade of the Senate floor after nearly 15 hours Thursday, announcing Republican leaders had agreed to hold votes on Democrat-backed measures to expand background checks and prevent suspected terrorists from acquiring guns.” (WaPo)

***

Some House Democrats walked out on the House’s “moment of silence” for the victims of Orlando, and as soon as the moment had passed some remaining Democrats shouted their frustration at speaker Paul “granny starver” Ryan.

House Democrats staged protests Monday evening in response to a moment of silence on the floor to remember the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest in American history.

After Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) led the House in the moment of silence in honor of the 49 people who died in the massacre on Sunday, the chamber erupted into shouting as Democrats expressed frustration over the lack of votes to restrict guns after repeated mass shootings.

“Where’s the bill?” Democrats chanted.

Today, Senate Dems are holding an old-fashioned filibuster on gun control.

Led by the senators who represent Newtown, Connecticut — where a gunman fatally shot 26 people, including 20 children, in 2012 — Democrats took control of the Senate floor Wednesday and vowed to keep talking until lawmakers start doing something about gun violence.

“Newtown is still putting itself back together, probably will be for a long time,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who launched the filibuster-style takeover, declaring it was time for the Senate to do something about gun violence beyond the usual ineffective debates.

He said lawmakers could not go about business as usual after a mass killing at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday claimed 49 victims.

“This is a different moment today than it was at the end of last week,” Murphy said. “There is a newfound imperative for this body to find a way to come together and take action, to try to do our part to stem this epidemic of gun violence and in particular this epidemic of mass shootings.”

This filibuster is still going on as I write this.  There’s a live feed at Wired.  It’s several hours of not-silence. A number of Democrats have participated; I don’t have a list of them yet.

So credit where credit is due. I hope this is just a beginning.

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Personal/Political/Whatever

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firearms

It turns out that the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was a regular toxic stew of Personal Issues. He wasn’t so much a jihadist as someone who poured his excessive rage into a fantasy of jihad. The Washington Post reports that in the past he had falsely claimed connections to many Islamic terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. He seems not to have understood that Sunni and Shiite militants don’t hang out on the same corner.

The real bombshell is that it turns out Mateen was gay himself, according to people who had known him a long time. He’d even been a regular at the nightclub he attacked. And he had a father who is a Taliban supporter.  Talk about raging internal conflict, huh?

He did spend a lot of time on jihadist websites, according to some sources, which no doubt added more bite to the hot pepper gumbo of loathing sluicing around in his id. Other than that, he had about as much connection to ISIS as to the Brownie Scouts.  It seems debatable to me whether the shooting itself was an act of “terrorism” as much as one more mass shooting by a poorly socialized male.

So just about everybody’s initial reactions to the shooting were wrong. Donald Trump’s reaction was, of course, colossally and pathologically wrong.  After congratulating himself for his subtle and penetrating insight that Muslims Are Bad, he again called on banning Muslim immigrants — how that would have stopped American-born Mateen is not clear — and he blamed American Muslims for not doing enough to stop Mateen.

Yes, let’s inflame more young men with Issues into hating America. Just what we need.

He also accused President Obama of secreting working with ISIS. The American Psychiatric Association may need to publish an ancillary issue of the DSM just to deal with All the Stuff That’s Wrong With Trump.

I must give credit to Hillary Clinton for saying what needed to be said — we stand with LBGT people, we must not demonize Islam, we need better gun control. Sanders reiterated his support for a ban on semiautomatic weapons. I understand the libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, doesn’t want us to “politicize” the issue, which once again shows us that libertarianism is massively pointless. It’s our “politicization” of guns as protected by the political 2nd Amendment that’s put us in this fix.

I also want to note that the word “terrorism” has lost any meaning. It appears Mateen was motivated primarily by his massive Personal Issues; jihadist rhetoric was a supporting factor only, and there were no operational ties whatsoever to ISIS or any other terrorist organization. Yet all sorts of knee-jerk analysis labeled the Orlando shooting as “Islamic terrorism.” Meanwhile, Dylann Roof, who appears to have been an average soft-headed kid who was radicalized by white supremacist websites and literature into killing nine people in Charleston, is not a “terrorist.” Why not? Well, of course, we know why, but that reason is just a reflection of our own biases, isn’t it?

The truth is, putting the Orlando shooting into a “terrorist” or “not terrorist” box doesn’t do anything to help us understand it. Nor does it help to label Mateen “mentally ill” because his wife claimed he was bipolar; that appears to have been her own unprofessional diagnosis. Nor does it help to blame passages in the Quran or religion generally. Let us instead acknowledge that human beings are infinitely complicated, and that our lives and personalities are a mix of internal and external factors so tangled it can’t be said where one ends and another begins.

All I know is,

1. Hating people because of who they are never helps anybody.

2. We’re way past needing gun control. Are we ready to amend the 2nd Amendment yet? I know I am.

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