Friday, August 28, 2015
As noted in the previous post, the usual "family values" organizations and "news outlets" that pander to them are ecstatic that a rainbow flag was found among the possessions of Roanoke shooter, Vester Flanagan. The presence of the rainbow flag is being used to fan the meme that Christians are under persecution, especially by gays. The irony is, of course, that Christians have a documented history of oppressing and in some instances murdering LGBT people, not to mention Christianity's history of forced conversions and enslavement of indigenous peoples not to mention the genocide inflicted on "pagan" and "savage" Native Americans. Looking back over history, if anything is a symbol of hate, one could argue it is the Christian cross. The sickness of the far right and so-called fundamentalist Christians is festering and becoming more and more of a threat to the rest of society. The good news is that more and more of the general population are coming to recognize the toxicity of fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity in America. Joe Jervis looks at some of the batshitery from Breitbart:
These folks truly are living in a fantasy world and a scary one at that. Nothing seems likely to deter their increasingly strident demands to be above the nations laws and any and all opposition to such special rights will be labeled as the persecution of Christians. .Thousands of Breitbart commenters are posting the usual Christ-filled responses.The gay pride rainbow flag reportedly found in Flanagan’s apartment is seen by many as a symbol of anti-Christian hate. After a white racist terrorist in South Carolina murdered nine innocent black churchgoers, photos of the racist with the Confederate Flag resulted in a media frenzy to ban the flag. Like the Confederate flag, the provocative gay pride flag, a symbol of religious oppression, has flown on government property. The Confederate Flag has since been taken down in South Carolina. Thus far, other than a mention in the Telegraph, the media has not reported on the fact that Flanagan might have owned the LGBT rainbow hate-flag.
While the far right continues to have near orgasms over the fact that the obviously mentally disturbed Vester Lee Flanagan II was gay - Brietbart is calling the rainbow flag a "hate flag" - there has been a studious avoidance of the reality that the emerging facts that make it painfully clear that Flanagan should NEVER has been able to purchase a gun. Yet Virginia's shameful gun laws made such a purchase all to easy. Flanagan may have been the shooter, but the Virginia GOP also has blood on its hands. A piece in the New York Times looks at the delusional Flanagan and the ticking time bomb that he represented. What is frightening is that there are likely countless Vester Flanagans out there and in Virginia they can all easily buy guns to go on a shooting spree. Here are article highlights:
For two years after losing yet another television job, Vester Lee Flanagan II lived in a nondescript apartment across the street from WDBJ Channel 7, the station that had fired him. He worked in modest jobs at several insurance companies nearby. As thoughts of murder and revenge were swirling around his brain, he did his best to keep them out of sight.Sadly, Virginia's gun laws fail to protect the public and help set the stage for tragedies like the one that occurred near Roanoke.
But he was, in his own words, putting on “a smiley face to disguise what was to come.” Three separate suicide notes, typed within the last few weeks and sent to a news organization on Wednesday, document the homicidal rage that had apparently been building for years, culminating when Mr. Flanagan shot and killed a reporter and a cameraman for his former station before shooting himself in the head as the police closed in.The fax, along with letters and photographs from his childhood, and interviews with people who have known him over the years, reveal someone who was consumed for much of his life with an encyclopedia of grievances. He was a black man who saw racism in every workplace; a gay man who felt demeaned, especially by other black men; a floundering son who addressed his accusatory suicide note to his successful father; an aspiring television newsman who, despite some talent, could not succeed at work or get along with his colleagues.There were arguments and confrontations at work, periodic eruptions, including a road rage episode captured on video and a sacrifice of his two pet cats, killings that Mr. Flanagan said he carried out because of anger at his firing. And then the final horrific explosion, broadcast live on television and posted on Facebook.By the summer of 2012, managers at the station had begun to document problems in his employment file, accusing Mr. Flanagan of “misinterpreting” the actions and words of his co-workers. “Under no circumstances should you engage in harsh language, demonstrate aggressive body language, or lash out at a photographer in front of members of the public,” the station warned in one memo.The station also ordered Mr. Flanagan to get employee-assistance counseling and warned: “It is your responsibility, going forward, to work at repairing these relationships, as the station cannot be put in the position of making assignments based on the inability of team members to get along.”After he was fired from the Roanoke station in February 2013, Mr. Flanagan seethed again. He filed another harassment lawsuit, and served as his own lawyer. So angry one day after what he called “an awful chain of events,” he writes that he killed his two cats and drove to a forest, where he dug a grave and covered the bodies with leaves and a flower.The anger occasionally spilled out. A video of a road rage incident this summer shows Mr. Flanagan apparently following another driver and confronting him after they get into an argument. The video, taken by the other driver, was posted online after Wednesday’s shootings.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
With oil prices plummeting and economic sanctions in place due to Russia unlawful annexation of the Crimea and unofficial invasion of Ukraine, Russia's economy is headed towards potential collapse and consumers are facing a possible return to a consumer market akin to that of the bad old days of the Communist era. One of Putin's retaliation against European countries that have applied sanctions against Russia for its Nazi regime like behavior is to ban the import of various meats, cheeses, fruits and food stuffs form nations imposing and/or supporting sanctions against Russia. Now, both the government and self-styled vigilantes are penalizing those who have continued to purchase and consume such foreign foods. With all of the huge problems that face Russia, one would think that Putin would have larger worries to dwell upon. Cynics - or perhaps they are realists - believe there is a method to Putin's madness: he is preparing the Russian public for the harsh austerity that is looming in the future in no small part due to Putin's own mismanagement. A piece in The Atlantic looks at Putin's outwardly insane behavior. Here are highlights:
Russia’s Federal Customs Service has drafted legislation classifying banned foreign foods as “strategically important.” Until now, that label only applied to weapons, explosives, poisons, and radioactive materials.
If it becomes law, the new classification will mean those caught importing banned fruits, vegetables, meat, and poultry can face up to seven years in prison. French cheese is apparently now just as dangerous to the security of the state as plutonium, uranium, assault weapons, and dirty bombs.
And speaking of cheese, the Interior Ministry this week released footage of a bust of what it called a “major cheese-smuggling ring.” Some 470 tons of forbidden cheese was found and six members of the alleged cheese mafia were arrested.
And why stop with food? The head of the Russian Association of Textile Manufacturers says contraband foreign clothing should also be destroyed. Russian authorities have also begun removing household products manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, and other leading Western companies from stores, claiming health risks.
It’s hard to wrap your head around all this craziness. At first glance, the Kremlin’s jihad against all things Western looks like the post-imperial temper tantrum of a regime that is truly losing the plot. And perhaps it is. Russia’s leaders want their empire back, dammit, and if they can’t have it they’re going to smash their dinner plate on the floor and trash their room.
“All the falling regimes share an interesting pattern. Before a fall they start acting crazy, they are struck by the epidemic of mass idiocy,” political analyst Valery Solovei wrote on Facebook.
Or perhaps there is a method to the madness. Perhaps Putin’s Kremlin is preparing society for what is coming in an era of low oil prices, a weak ruble, sanctions, and a long-term confrontation with the West. Consider it reverse shock therapy.
[T]he director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Studies, wrote that the Russian economy was heading for an era of austerity and autarky, with thousands of private businesses going under and the state sector expanding.
“The real consequence will be Russia’s retreat from the global market and its economy’s transformation into one which is much more closed,” Inozemtsev wrote. “This way leads us towards a quasi-Soviet economy detached from the world and, at the same time, proud of its autarky; towards a deteriorating economy which compensates for the drop in living standards with pervasive propaganda.”
How long the regime can remain stable, to a degree, depends on people like Nikolai the food snitch and Polyakov the food vigilante. It depends on how long patriotic fervor can keep the population supportive with patriotic appeals as living standards plummet. But much of it also depends on how long the elites—who have become accustomed to their comfortable globalized lives—remain cohesive.
We should soon learn whether we are witnessing the death throes of the Putin regime or the birth of a new fortress Russia.
Putin's one misjudgment may be that he has forgotten that Russia's inferior standards of living compared to the West and the Communist police state led to the fall of the Communist regime. Ironically, Putin is reinstating the exact situation that led to the downfall of the system he so reveres. The tsars learned to their chagrin that calls for patriotism only go so far when standards of living are falling and oppressive government control is riding. I know that Putin sees himself as Russia's new tsar, but does he really want to emulate the policies of Tsar Nicholas II (who had good intentions compared to Putin)?
With Donald Trump spouting some crazy, racist or misogynist virtually every day, one would think Republicans would be up in arms protesting the batshitery. But they are not. Instead they remain largely silent and the reason for this is simple: Trump is spouting the beliefs of the swamp fever sickened GOP base. To attack Trump would be to attack the Christofascis/Tea Party base of the party and few Republicans dare face the wrath of these hate and fear driven extremists. Meanwhile, the GOP continues to alienate more of the rest of the country. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the phenomenon. Here are excerpts:
Wednesday was Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote 95 years ago. And how have Republicans marked this egalitarian milestone? Why, with another bimbo eruption, of course.
The perpetrator, as usual, was Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, who, in his three-week-old feud with debate moderator Megyn Kelly, circulated a tweet late Monday once again referring to the Fox News star as a “bimbo.”
Fox News boss Roger Ailes, who had already had words with Trump over his sexist attacks on the anchor, fired back Tuesday with a statement saying Trump’s “surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing.” He went on to call Trump’s Twitter attack “crude and irresponsible.”
Trump’s response, at a press conference in Iowa: “It is a very small element in my life, Megyn Kelly. I don’t care about Megyn Kelly. No, I would not apologize. She should probably apologize to me, but I just don’t care.” Right. The victim of Trump’s misogyny should apologize to him.
[T]he character of the [other GOP presidential] candidates already has been revealed. Trump is acting like a sexist and a bigot — and the rest of the candidates are, with occasional exceptions, too timid to call him what he is.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus even praised the contribution made by Trump’s candidacy. “I think it’s a net positive for everybody,” he said in a radio interview.
A net positive? That’s an intriguing calculation, considering all the gross negatives:
Describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and thugs.
Kicking one of the nation’s leading Latino journalists, Jorge Ramos, out of a news conference, telling him, “Go back to Univision.”
[A]s the Trump outrages continue, they tend to be met more by eye-rolls and a Trump-will-be-Trump acceptance — and less by condemnation. After this week’s bimbo episode, a Washington Post search for responses by the candidates as of late Wednesday found only George Pataki (yes, he’s still in the race) weighing in, saying Trump was “over the line” and displaying a “demeaning attitude towards women.”
The way to combat Trump’s bigotry and misogyny is to denounce it as loudly as he spews it.
While much of the far right is obsessing over the race - and sexual orientation - of the shooter in the shocking on air murder of two TV journalists outside of Roanoke, Virginia yesterday, sane people are once again citing the problem that made the murders far more likely: America's insane gun laws that continue to make America like something out of the Old West and an international embarrassment. The far right loves to bloviate about "American exceptionalism." When it comes to our gun control laws, America is exceptional: exceptionally stupid. A column in the New York Times looks at the ridiculousness of the current gun control laws and things that could be readily done to drastically reduce gun carnage if politicians would grow a spine and stand up to gun manufacturers and the lunatics of the GOP base. Here are highlights:
The slaying of two journalists Wednesday as they broadcast live to a television audience in Virginia is still seared on our screens and our minds, but it’s a moment not only to mourn but also to learn lessons.The horror isn’t just one macabre double-murder, but the unrelenting toll of gun violence that claims one life every 16 minutes on average in the United States. Three quick data points:■ More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides every six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.■ More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.■ American children are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries, according to David Hemenway, a Harvard professor and author of an excellent book on firearm safety.Bryce Williams, as the Virginia killer was known to viewers when he worked as a broadcaster, apparently obtained the gun used to murder his former co-workers Alison Parker and Adam Ward in response to the June massacre in a South Carolina church — an example of how gun violence begets gun violence.Whether or not Williams was insane, our policies on guns are demented — not least in that we don’t even have universal background checks to keep weapons out of the hands of people waiting to go boom.The lesson from the ongoing carnage is not that we need a modern prohibition (that would raise constitutional issues and be impossible politically), but that we should address gun deaths as a public health crisis. To protect the public, we regulate toys and mutual funds, ladders and swimming pools. Shouldn’t we regulate guns as seriously as we regulate toys?Gun proponents often say things to me like: What about cars? They kill, too, but we don’t try to ban them!Cars are actually the best example of the public health approach that we should apply to guns. Over the decades, we have systematically taken steps to make cars safer: We adopted seatbelts and airbags, limited licenses for teenage drivers, cracked down on drunken driving and established roundabouts and better crosswalks, auto safety inspections and rules about texting while driving.This approach has been stunningly successful. By my calculations, if we had the same auto fatality rate as in 1921, we would have 715,000 Americans dying annually from cars. We have reduced the fatality rate by more than 95 percent.Yet in the case of firearms, the gun lobby (enabled by craven politicians) has for years tried to block even research on how to reduce gun deaths. The gun industry made a childproof gun back in the 19th century but today has ferociously resisted “smart guns.” If someone steals an iPhone, it requires a PIN; guns don’t.The United States is an outlier, both in our lack of serious policies toward guns and in our mortality rates. Professor Hemenway calculates that the U.S. firearm homicide rate is seven times that of the next country in the rich world on the list, Canada, and 600 times higher than that of South Korea.We need universal background checks with more rigorous screening, limits on gun purchases to one a month to reduce trafficking, safe storage requirements, serial number markings that are more difficult to obliterate, waiting periods to buy a handgun — and more research on what steps would actually save lives.Australia is a model. In 1996, after a mass shooting there, the country united behind tougher firearm restrictions. The Journal of Public Health Policy notes that the firearm suicide rate dropped by half in Australia over the next seven years, and the firearm homicide rate was almost halved.Here in America, we can similarly move from passive horror to take steps to reduce the 92 lives claimed by gun violence in the United States daily. Surely we can regulate guns as seriously as we do cars, ladders and swimming pools.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
By now I suspect almost anyone in America who is not living under a rock has heard of the horrific murder of two WDBJ-TV (Channel 7) employees - reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27 - during an on air broadcast by a disgruntled former WDBJ-TV employee. The shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan II’s, a/k/a Bryce Williams, obviously had serious mental problems, yet under Virginia's ridiculous gun laws was able to easily purchase a gun. Governor MsAuliffe (who I saw last evening) has rightly cited the murders as yet more proof that Virginia needs to change its lax gun control laws - Virginia is a major source of illegal guns in New York City. The Christofascists and whores of the gun lobby have a different take. According to them, the whole tragedy is the result of the evil of disaffected gays (and by inference, cry baby minorities) and the Democrat Party. First, blogger friend Joe Jervis looks at the poison being disseminated by Christofascists and right wing extremists such as little twerp Ben Shapiro who seemingly has no credentials to make him a knowledgeable commentator on anything. Here are highlights:
According to Ben Shapiro, the Virginia shooter was driven to murder by the left’s enabling of his gay black victimhood status.
Bryce Williams’ self-described victim status, even while murdering innocents, will merit no rethinking of the divisive politics in which he apparently bathed. We won’t have a conversation about whether pushing a perennial picture of victimhood for blacks and gays in the most black-friendly, gay-friendly country on the planet could drive supposed victims to violence.It is true that statistical outliers should not be used to club entire movements into submission. But leftists protesting at the linkage between Williams and their favored political causes have no ground on which to stand – they consistently blame conservatives for outlier events with no statistical basis. Moreover, Williams’ violence is part of a larger trend, not of black men killing white people (that still happens disproportionately, but the numbers are down), but of black men using supposed American racism as a rationale for violence more generally, and of gay people using supposed American homophobia as a rationale for violation of others’ rights.Sample Breitbart comment: “Who should I despise more? Sick queers or low IQ blacks?”
Not a word out of Shapiro on Virginia's lax gun laws which have seen little change since the Virginia Tech massacre. Likewise, not a word out of Shapiro on the role racism and the murders in Charleston by white supremacist Dylann Root played in today's carnage. As ABC News reported, a portion of the shooter's rambling manifesto stated as follows:
Flanagan "writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:"
“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”
“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them."
It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.
I am in no way condoning today's murders, but in must be noted that those like Shapiro have consistently supported unlimited guns access to crazies under the guise of "protecting" the 2nd Amendment and have regularly fanned the flames of homophobia and white racism yet then complain about the consequences of their own handiwork and, as seems to be the norm, immediately play the role of the victim even thought they are the real aggressors.