Political Shorts

1. SAFE ACT: Not Dead

Earlier this week, the Federal Appeals Court for the 2nd Circuit upheld most of New York’s and Connecticut’s firearms statutes passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. Anti-gun control groups brought suit challenging them, and they now plan to appeal this partial defeat to the Supreme Court.

One might ask, what part of “shall not be infringed” does the 2nd Circuit not understand?

The court found that banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines comports with the “important — indeed, compelling — state interest in controlling crime.” It continued,

“When used, these weapons tend to result in more numerous wounds, more serious wounds, and more victims. These weapons are disproportionately used in crime, and particularly in criminal mass shootings,” according to the ruling written by Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes. “They are also disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers.”

The three-judge panel noted that the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting in December 2012 occurred when 154 rounds were fired in less than five minutes, killing 20 first-graders and six educators and renewing a nationwide discussion on the role of guns in America and how to diminish the threat of large-scale shootings.

The court upheld a lower court’s ruling striking down the 7-round limit in 10-round magazines. The SAFE Act contains a severability clause, so if any portion of it is stricken down by a court, the remainder survives and remains in effect. The list of SAFE Act provisions is broken down here. Its purpose is to avoid and prevent mass shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook elementary where a lone terrorist shot and killed twenty little kids within seconds. It does this by limiting the types of weapons that can be bought and possessed, requires registration of some, mandates that mental health professionals report to authorities if they believe a patient might be planning to commit a violent crime, and requires background checks for all firearms and ammunition purchases. From the Buffalo News,

The court rejected the arguments by the plaintiffs – which included the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the Sportsmen’s Association for Firearms Education and other groups, businesses and individual gun owners – that the law “will primarily disarm law-abiding citizens and will thus impair the very public safety objectives they were designed to achieve.’’ The court said there is a “dearth of evidence that law-abiding citizens typically use these weapons for self-defense” and that the state tailored the two key components of the law “to address these particular hazard weapons” that it said has a higher chance when used to inflict more numerous and serious wounds to more people than other weapons.

The court said there are still “numerous alternatives” for people to purchase weapons with magazines capable of holding up to 10 rounds and to use them for self-defense. “The burden imposed by the challenged legislation is real, but it is not severe,” the court ruled.

While the Supreme Court in DC v. Heller affirmed an individual right to bear arms, (thus jettisoning the “well-regulated militia” language in the 2nd Amendment), the decision clarified that, like other rights, the right to bear arms is by no means absolute.

Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms

The right to bear arms is further limited to weapons, “in common use at the time”. Heller stands for the principle that people can own weapons for personal protection in the home, and since handguns are in “common use”, they cannot be banned altogether. On the other hand, military grade weaponry such as machine guns, tanks, RPGs, etc., can be, should be, and are banned from personal possession and use. The 2nd Amendment isn’t an absolute and unlimited right, just like the right to free speech doesn’t protect libel and the right to free exercise of religion doesn’t protect Rastafarian pot use.

2. All Quiet on the Preetsmas Front?

The investigation into campaign finance illegality that led to the May 28th raids of three prominent political operatives is still very much alive, despite the expiration of the statute of limitations for any misdemeanors. Rumor has it that state and federal investigators are excitedly trying to wrest a Pigeon associate from being represented by a private lawyer, and to convince him instead to take on a public defender and turn state’s evidence against his (former?) associates. This person knows where a lot – if not all – of the figurative bodies are buried, so if this succeeds, it would be huge. Law enforcement has to prove that these guys didn’t simply accidentally forget to make necessary election disclosures in the proper way, but that they knew exactly what they were doing, and that it was part of a continuing, chronic scheme to trick and defraud opponents and the public at large. It’s not over yet.

3. Vice President Biden

The Vice President announced that he would not be running for President in 2016, and gave a heartfelt barn-burner of a speech that left a lot of Democrats wishing that he actually was. Biden is a centrist Democrat who has fought for the beleagured middle class his entire career. Hillary Clinton and the Freedom Caucus and the entire GOP Presidential slate take note:

I believe that we have to end the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart. And I think we can. It’s mean spirited, it’s petty, and it’s gone on for much too long. I don’t believe, like some do, that it’s naive to talk to Republicans. I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition. They’re not our enemies. And for the sake of the country, we have to work together.

Hillary Clinton is breathing easy, not only because Biden is out, but the Benghazi witch hunt is unraveling hour by hour in advance of her second round of testimony about a tragedy – not a scandal.

4. Canada goes Trudeau

Stephen Harper’s 9 year-long government is over, he will stay as an MP but resign as head of the Conservative Party he helped to re-formulate. As so often happens in left/right North American politics, the grueling 11-week Canadian general election pitted Harper’s fear against the hopeful vision of Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau. With a clear majority, Trudeau can form a majority government and actually implement the policies for which he advocated. The parliamentary system may not be perfect, but it’s certainly fairer and more efficient in many ways than ours.

5. Wikileaks

Let’s say you believe it’s wrong for the NSA to have the ability to snoop on people’s emails and phone calls and text messages, etc. We can agree that warrantless government searches of the substance of people’s private communications is illegal. So, in what way is it newsworthy or reasonable or fair for Wikileaks to publish the private emails from CIA Director John Brennan’s personal AOL account? No one has found or identified any classified or secret information there – it’s all private stuff, including his application for a security clearance that contains intimate details of his personal life. Wikileaks obtained the information from hackers – criminals – and is simply publishing it all for everyone to see. Wikileaks defenders, defend this. You can’t. It’s a stunt designed to keep these people relevant.

If you want to understand what Wikileaks is, consider this, from John Schindler: Wikileaks is a front for Russian Intelligence. There exists no other reasonable explanation at this point. One need only compare Wikileaks’ published secrets of the Russian Federation vs. the secrets of the United States it has revealed.

An important gap has been filled this week by Julian Assange, who admitted that Snowden going to Moscow was his idea. Ed wanted to head to Latin America, Julian asserted, especially Ecuador, whose London embassy Assange has been hiding out in for years on the lam from rape changes in Sweden. As Assange explained, “He preferred Latin America, but my advice was that he should take asylum in Russia despite the negative PR consequences, because my assessment is that he had a significant risk he could be kidnapped from Latin America on CIA orders. Kidnapped or possibly killed.”

Only in Russia would Ed be safe, Julian counseled, because there he would be protected by Vladimir Putin and his secret services, notably the FSB. One might think that seeking the shelter of the FSB — one of the world’s nastiest secret police forces that spies on millions without warrant and murders opponents freely — might be an odd choice for a “privacy organization.” But Wikileaks is no ordinary NGO.

Now, the private phone numbers and social security numbers of innocent private civilians are being revealed by this phony, hostile “privacy” organization. Its justification for publishing the substance of all of Brennan’s AOL emails is weak, if it exists at all.

Just because you enter public life doesn’t mean that it’s ok for a hostile government’s PR arm to publicize your personal emails. Wikileaks has proven Schindler’s thesis beyond reasonable doubt.

America’s Mass Shooting Leitmotif

okwiththis

Active shooter drills are to my kids what “duck and cover” was to boomers.

Fifty years ago, we feared Soviet nuclear armageddon, now we don’t have to be wary of expansionist Leninist communism, but random assholes who can arm themselves to the teeth if they have a working PayPal account.

Yesterday, it was a mass shooting at an Oregon Community College. Before that it was Charleston, Fort Hood, D.C., Newtown. It’s constant. It’s chronic.

The United States is unique in the developed world: it guarantees its citizens a right to own and possess firearms. It is also unique insofar as we don’t have one uniform rule across all 50 states, so the ease with which one lunatic can amass his arsenal varies from state to state. So, it’s very difficult to point to the experience of the UK or Australia in order to do something about the public health scourge of gun violence.

I wrote a piece around the time that New York’s SAFE Act – “Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement” Act – a gun control measure passed in response and in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass murder of 20 innocent first graders. I saw gun enthusiasts and 2nd Amendment absolutists declare the SAFE Act to be the most horrible and egregious infringement on Consitutional rights, ever. I called the piece “Fuck Your Gun” to be provocative.

The SAFE Act limited gun magazines and implemented universal background checks for any gun transfer in any context. The 2nd Amendment absolutists declared it to be the end of everyone’s Constitutional rights. Meanwhile, here’s a chart of mass shootings in the US since Sandy Hook. Since Sandy Hook, the US has tolerated one school shooting just about every single week.

That is a nothing short of a scandal. Thoughts and prayers aren’t working.

The second amendment. The one that helps enshrine perpetual violence and revolution. Its purpose – clearly stated – was to make sure that our new country, which at the time had no standing army, could protect itself from attacks by Britons, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and whatever Indian tribe or nation from which we were trying wrest control of land.

You want a gun for hunting? Target practice? Skeet? To ward off robbers or burglars? That’s fine. You should not, however, get to keep a military arsenal.

Those on the deepest fringes of the right wing – the people who think lunatic Alex Jones is an influential and sane voice about guns – love to bring up the notion that the 2nd Amendment exists to protect you from “tyranny”. No one gets too worked up trying to define what “tyranny” is, or who gets to decide when “tyranny” becomes a clear and present danger. The anti-government Oathkeepers group threatened to murder federal officials executing a lawful court order against anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. This crowd loves to cite the Declaration of Independence – a document that was a declaration of war against a monarch who brutally exploited his American colonies. The Declaration, however, ceased to have any legal effect the moment that Britain lost the war and recognized American Independence.

So, no, proud patriot, you don’t have a right to take up arms against the government. Indeed, Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution makes that sort of thing a very serious crime.

One more gun control effort, and one more gun fetishist makes some broken, semi-informed analogy about how if the Jews were armed in the 30s, they could have somehow halted their own genocide in the face of a German war machine. One more gun debate, and one more person suggests that our representative democracy – flawed though it might be – is or could oh-so-easily-be the equivalent of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. One more effort to limit the firepower we so casually make available to lunatics, and one more person expresses his idiot fever-dream of single-handedly taking on the FBI or One World Government or ZOG, notwithstanding the fact that the government could – if it wanted to – easily take out your entire neighborhood with an unmanned drone operated by a teenager nursing a Monster Energy Drink in a dank, smelly basement in Northern Virginia.

One more gun fetishist, one more clumsy analogy made to some other object with a large capacity or capability of doing harm that we are allowed to own, but the primary purpose for which is not “putting holes in things at breakneck speed”. Gas tanks, fast cars, pencils. False arguments backed by the tyranny of the gun lobby.

And what of tyranny? We’ve had plenty of tyranny in this country, but when the Black Panthers agitated for blacks to arm themselves during the civil rights struggles of the 60s, the NRA was happy to support the Mulford Act, which limited the Panthers’ ability to carry arms and inform black citizens of their Constitutional rights. The NRA supports your right to bear arms, so long as you’re of European descent and not too uppity.

If you want a gun to “protect yourself” (a statistically, epidemiologically false notion) knock yourself out. But you don’t need to keep a Kalashnikov under your pillow.  Gabby Giffords’ would-be assassin had a 33-round magazine in his possession. He was subdued only as he tried to reload; by that time, six people had been killed.

I get that violence is an integral part of American society and history. We’re not like Japan, where the society and infrastructure are such that little kids are still free to travel independently and safely. But I also recognize that you don’t get to own an F-15 or a nuclear missile just because it makes you feel safe or helps you ward off “tyranny”.

The United States is also exceptional and unique in its willingness to tolerate us being inhuman to each other. Another mass shooting and we simply shrug.

I am of the controversial opinion that homicidal lunatics shouldn’t have access to military weapons and equipment; shouldn’t be able to waltz around your town with enough firepower to put 11 holes in a first grader. Shouldn’t be able to get so many rounds off in so little time that the first grader’s jaw and hand are disappeared.

If you like guns, good for you. I don’t want to confiscate your gun. After all, it’s legally impossible to do so unless you commit some crime or threaten violence.

But the United States is exceptional and unique not only in how tolerant it is of mass shootings, but because homicidal maniacs have the easy ability – if not the right – to amass small arsenals and commit unspeakable horrors. Other countries also have homicidal lunatics, but they can’t easily obtain firearms; a Belgian can’t just pop down to Luxembourg to buy all the guns and ammo he needs to take out a 1st grade classroom.

Our easy access to guns and our gun culture make our society a particularly violent one; not video games or TV shows – those are safe avenues of expressing the reality of warfare. We love war and conflict. We can’t get enough of it. Somehow, other societies are able to function without it.

New York now limits your ability to transfer your guns to the angry and insane, and you have to reload more frequently while you’re shooting up whatever it is you’re pointing your gun at. The 2nd Amendment, however, is not absolute. The 1st Amendment isn’t absolute, either. You can’t defame someone or incite riot with your words. Likewise, the 2nd Amendment may guarantee your right to own a firearm, but government can put restrictions on that right.

And what rights to the victims of gun violence have? Did the Sandy Hook parents have a right to have their kids come home from school? Did the victims in Oregon have a right to go to school and then go home? How are those rights less valuable than the right to arm oneself to the teeth?

We could maybe aspire to be like Honduras, Jamaica or El Salvador – third world nations with massive income inequality where the building blocks of civil society are inept, corrupt, or both. More guns lead to more violence and killings. More guns don’t make a polite society, they simply make an arrogant and armed society – a society where it becomes much easier to bring about permanent retribution for even perceived slights.

“A society that is relying on guys with guns to stop violence is a sign of a society where institutions have broken down.”

What law would prevent these mass shootings? After all, criminals don’t obey the law. I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure that we have a great country filled with smart people who could put something together. But we first have to decide – as a society, as a people – that these mass shootings of innocent people are simply no longer to be tolerated.

Right?

Last night, President Obama challenged the press to publish the statistics comparing American deaths from terrorism – a threat at which we’ve thrown lives and treasure – and gun violence. Here it is:

American deaths from terrorism are fewer than 100 for every year but 2001.

“We spent over a trillion dollars, and passed countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so” Obama said. “And yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”

More guns means more killing – factually and statistically. This is doubtlessly terrorism, but it’s the kind we have, as a society, decided we can live with.

We have decided to live with it because we have decided that the right of people to bear unlimited arms without restriction is greater than the right of average people not to be shot.

NY-27 Candidate O’Donnell: S.C.O.P.E. is a Conservative Party Front

Budd Shroeder is the head of “Shooters Committee on Political Education“. SCOPE is chartered as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit issues advocacy organization. It states in its own “about” statement

While SCOPE role is focused primarily on the political process, it is an issues oriented organization.  It does not align itself with any political party nor does it endorse any candidates for elective office.  Our function is to counter assaults on the right of firearms ownership.  This entails providing legislators and executives with timely and accurate information to support sound decisions.

The notion that SCOPE is not aligned with any political party is utter and unadulterated nonsense. Here is what Congressional candidate for NY-27 JimO’Donnell – a pro-gun, anti-SAFE Act – Democrat found out, and has to say about SCOPE (emphases added): 

The Truth About S.C.O.P.E.’s Chairman:

Today a neighbor brought me SCOPE’s ratings and asked why it listed me as a B and my opponent was given an A+. After all, my opponent was “accidently” a founding member of one of the groups that helped write the SAFE Act, and I, unlike him, am one of the citizens who actually owns one of the guns made illegal. You would think on those facts alone, I would get an A and he would get an F. So why the discrepancy?

A few weeks ago Budd Schroeder, chairman of SCOPE came up to me and introduced himself. He came up to me on his own, and introduced himself and asked me not to be too hard on my opponent. “He may have made some mistakes, but you don’t want to dwell on them. Just be civil.” I had always planned on being civil, but I thought it was odd that the head of SCOPE would be asking this of me. A few days later, Budd introduced me to a SCOPE gathering as “a candidate for NY State Senate.” This was after he introduced my opponent as a close friend, whose son Budd taught to shoot his first gun.

Never mind Collins being “snookered” into being a founding member of a group that supported the SAFE Act, he has done absolutely nothing legislatively to promote 2nd Amendment rights. I, on the other hand, have written and shared with SCOPE legislation that would help their cause. So why give him a better grade than me? Because Budd is more interested in helping his friends than repealing the SAFE Act.

That’s not where it ends. I have been saying all along that the only way to repeal the SAFE Act in NY is to show all of the democrats who are opposed to it, which from going around this district, is a huge number. I brought this up to Budd and said he should try to reach out to those Democrats, this was his response:

“I have friends who are Democrats. Some close friends. I am a registered Conservative and like having friends on both sides of the aisle. I am also on the Executive Board of the Erie County Conservative Party. Been a Second Amendment activist for almost a half century. Some habits are hard to break and I don’t want to break this one. Thanks for checking in.
Budd”

By this comment, it is clear that Budd does not want to repeal the SAFE Act. It is the single greatest fundraiser for the Conservative Party ever. Budd doesn’t want that to end. I have sat through a few SCOPE meetings, unlike my opponent who received a higher grade than me, and during it I witnessed Budd and others offer flat screen TV’s to the groups who registered the most new people as Conservatives. That is the only goal Budd has, growing the Conservative Party and thereby growing his influence.

People opposed to the SAFE Act: Stop supporting this man – he is wasting your money.

Thanks for checking in.
Jim

I don’t even get what Schroeder’s response to O’Donnell is supposed to mean. Which “habit” is hard to break? Being a Conservative Fusion Party Shill?

The issue isn’t whether Schroeder showed undue and improper favoritism to Chris Collins. That’s pretty typical for a conservative front group, to prefer the Republican candidate over the Demonrat. Even nominal Democrats who are really Paladino Republicans like Johnny Destino have been the victims of SCOPE anti-Democrat animus.  SCOPE decided to “downgrade” Destino’s score because people supporting him are in favor of gun control. That’s simply pathological

In the meantime, SCOPE seems to have listened to O’Donnell and upgraded him from a B to an A, but Collins gets an A+. I mean, based on what, except party affiliation or Conservative Fusion Party endorsement? It’s all nonsense. For instance, in 2012, Brian Higgins received an A+ rating from SCOPE.  This year, he gets an F and Weppner Clownshoes gets an A+.  Ballotpedia says that Higgins supports an “absolute right to gun ownership”. That gets an F? 

What I want to hear more about is the TV giveaways for Conservative Fusion recruitment at SCOPE meetings. If true, it would likely be a clear and absolute violation of the group’s 501(c)(4) mandate to be a non-partisan issues advocacy group. As for the SAFE Act being a great fundraising tool for the Conservatives, well, of course it is. 

I sent a message to Mr. Schroeder asking him for his reaction, and received no reply. 

What Do We Do?

Some lunatic shot up a school in Oregon Tuesday. It was only the 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook

Two right-wing eliminationist Infowars listeners shot two cops in Nevada.  The cops were oppressing everyone by eating lunch, and the Alex Jones acolytes covered their bodies with Gadsen flags, screaming about the revolution. 

Some rancher out in Nevada won’t pay his bill to the government for the privilege of having his cattle graze on land held in the public trust. A bunch of Alex Jones types weren’t going to let the federal government essentially stop this man from being a deadbeat. 

A company is going to sell bullet proof blankets for kids to use during school shootings. Because ours is totally not a third world country and this is totally not a banana republic in which we live.  

All the freaks who scream about how the “other” (fill in your own blank for that one) are dragging real America down don’t realize that they have it backwards. It’s not illegal immigrants or Obamacare or black welfare queens or gays or N0bummer himself who are turning this country into a third world backwater.

Instead, I’d argue that our creeping third world status is brought about by the people who believe lawless wild west gunslingin’ justice should act as a template for contemporary society. It’s the notion that a “good guy with a gun” – and they sure as shit don’t mean a cop – is the only thing that stands between you and a “bad guy with a gun”. The cops in Nevada – they were armed. A shooter in Washington State – he was subdued with pepper spray. While he was reloading (remember how the NY SAFE Act limits magazine capacity?) 

But the best we can do is to throw a kevlar blanket to a kid and say, “play dead?” 

Let’s just cut through the bullshit. An armed society isn’t a polite society; an armed society is a dysfunctional, failed state.

Oh, but SWITZERLAND!!1 Right? 

Right. Switzerland

Let’s pretend for a moment that a comparison with Switzerland is apples to apples. Let’s make-believe that the libertarians don’t really mean Somalia when they’re describing their dream governmental structure. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in Switzerland. I have family who lives there. Switzerland is an officially quadrilingual confederation with better schools, better social services, better foreign policy ideas, better medical care, better access to medical care, and excels at just about anything it touches. Switzerland is a wealthy and law-abiding first world functional state. Less than 8% of Swiss live below the poverty line – in the US it’s 15%. Unemployment in this country with a private health insurance mandate is 2.9% – in the US it’s 6%. The Swiss have this whole “functioning society” thing down pat. They do share our mistrust of foreigners and immigrants, however. 

The Swiss are armed, because they have what we call a well-regulated militia. And the Swiss know from regulation. 

And they own their extremely well-regulated guns to protect their country – not to overthrow their Cantonal or federal governments because some asshole on the radio decided there’s tyranny afoot. 

If Sandy Hook didn’t convince you that we have a serious problem, or if the almost weekly spate of mass shootings didn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.  Instead, we have a bunch of guys carrying semiautomatic rifles into Target and Starbucks, because arglebargle. 

Maybe the $100 billion annual cost to taxpayers from gun violence will convince you, if nothing else. 

Will stricter gun laws make a difference? I don’t know. 50-state uniformity would be nice. Expanded background checks would be swell. 

What about expansion of mental health services – that’s the one the gun people like to highlight.  Ok, folks. I’ll go for that. But you realize you have to pay for it. You have to set it up right, run it properly, and fund it adequately. Given the ease with which Obamacare was passed and implemented, please don’t insult my intelligence by pointing to “mental health treatment” as the answer because you know and I know that you don’t want to pay for it. 

How about legislation that allows, say, the families of the slain Las Vegas cops to sue Alex Jones and his corporate empire into bankruptcy? Oh, I’d love to see guys who yell “fire!” in the most crowded of lunatic theaters every single day have to pay for the natural results of their incitement. 

What do we do? 

I don’t know. 

But what I do know is – whatever we’re doing isn’t working. 

Kathy Weppner’s Clownshoes : Now With Guns and Corn!

As we learned yesterday, Kathy Weppner’s online campaigning is as haphazard as it is opaque. Not content with scrubbing all evidence of her radio show and pre-2014 online existence from the internet, Weppner posted – and removed – her rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ 2nd Amendment video from her husband’s YouTube account – all within the span of about 16 hours. (Her YouTube accounts are here, here, and here.) 

She also now boasts two separate Twitter accounts – @kweppner and @weppner4ny26. She recently added the latter, in a likely move to try to counteract the blistering parody account of @kathyweppnerny26. Both of Weppner’s Twitter accounts have blocked me because “Str8 Talk”. 

It’s just getting to that tipping point where funny turns into crazy. This campaign is unlike any other I’ve seen since moving to western New York 13 years ago, and that includes Paul Fallon announcing his congressional run in the nude.

Weppner isn’t joking. She’s serious, and that’s what makes it so bizarre. 

To underscore the completely unprofessional embarrassment that the Weppner campaign has become, consider that the Tweets reproduced below remained online at least 6 hours after she scrubbed the video itself, and as of Friday morning, the @weppner4ny26 Tweets were still touting a non-existent YouTube link. 

This is “Common Core Kathy“, so concerned about how the evil gubmint and how the N0bummer goons are ruining not only America, but childhood itself. “Amendmet“. 

 

I don’t think the 2nd Amendment covers the country’s right to bear arms, but the people’s” right to bear arms – and that’s precisely the sort of distinction people like Kathy would make if a dirty librul made that same error. People like Kathy also now conveniently pretend that the “well-regulated militia” piece is just a throwaway, and make-believe that the 2nd Amendment was set up to let people overthrow the duly constituted representative democratic republic, rather than to protect it. 

She Tweets it again: 

Wait for it…

The video itself, posted to YouTube within hours of a madman taking his guns out for a spree, was absolute artistry. As with all of Weppner’s YouTube offerings, the lighting was horrible, the sound echoed, and the read was wooden – as if someone had told her to take it slowly because she usually comes across as unhinged. The emotionless stuffing of the pistol in her pants then led to painfully awkward camera angle changes. Many of you likened it to an SNL skit. 

Weppner only appears in front of friendly audiences. She can’t take the heat on Twitter, she can’t take the heat on Facebook, and so far she hasn’t been seen anywhere except on YouTube (when not immediately scrubbed), and in front of Republican audiences – Republican audiences that, if serious, should be completely embarrassed by her. 

They tolerate it, though, because she is the right’s unfiltered id. The Republicans know they have no shot against Higgins whatsoever, so they let Weppner run a self-funded hobby campaign on her own. What she does is placate the Palinist tea party wing of the party and gives them something to do this summer. 

At least they’re taking an interest in the environment, since Kathy has made the Lake Erie algae blooms a campaign issue. Never mind that the blooms are due to phosphorous fertilizer runoff, septic tank leaks, dog feces, and storm drains. The phosphorus comes into Lake Erie almost exclusively from Ohio’s Maumee River. The solution is for Ohio to urge its farmers to switch to a different fertilizer, or to more carefully apply existing ones. But somehow, Weppner blames Brian Higgins because corn is used to make ethanol, which is added to most gasoline blends. What Weppner ignores is the fact that just about every report also blames weather patterns and overall climate change for the algal blooms

Researchers are now closing in on what caused the spike in dissolved phosphorous. “What we found is that it is a combination of agricultural practices that have been put in place since the late 1980s and into the 2000s, combined with increased storms, particularly higher intensity spring rain events,” Don Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan, told Circle of Blue. Scavia is the principal investigator of the EcoFore Lake Erie project.

According to models used in the EcoFore project, climate changes alone would not be enough to create the observed rise in dissolved reactive phosphorous. Instead, the models showed that current weather patterns, when coupled with agricultural conditions in the 1970s, did not create a problem.

“We reversed the order of the years in the model and we did not get a big influx of DRP,” Scavia said. “So it’s not the storms alone, but rather a combination of storms and new agricultural practices. At least, that’s what the model shows.”

Changes in agricultural practices include:
• A shift toward more fall fertilizer applications instead of spring applications.
• The use of broadcast fertilizer applications that do not incorporate fertilizer into the soil.
• An increase in no-till field management that leads to a build-up of phosphorus in the top layers of soil.

I think someone told Weppner that the waterfront is Higgins’ strongest issue, and that she should try to attack that first. But the “report” she posts can only be described as an unreadable piece of nonsense that seems more at home in an online bulletin board than a campaign website. For his part, Congressman Higgins has been working to protect Lake Erie as far back as the time when Weppner’s radio show archive was still online. More here and here and here and here

I’m somewhat at a loss to explain how a Congressman from New York is responsible for corn growing in Ohio for ethanol, but I’m sure Kathy will post a video about it and then promptly scrub it!

2nd Amendment and Kathy Weppner

According to the silly lady, the founders of our country supposedly included the 2nd Amendment so that our servicemen and women could keep their arms and use them to commit treason and insurrection. 

I’m pretty sure the intended purpose of the 2nd Amendment was the exact opposite of that. But here’s a chillingly awful video that Tea Party Kathy released on her husband’s YouTube account. My favorite is when she stuffs the pistol in her pants. 

UPDATE: As you can see, Weppner removed this video. I looked at her other accounts – Friends of Kathy Weppner and Weppner for Congress, and it doesn’t appear there, either. Most of her videos appear on an account labeled “Dr. Weppner”

Weppner has already made herself famous by scrubbing just about any trace of her pre-2014 existence from the internet. Now, the scrubbing takes place in real time. 

Guns and Fun Unter dem Totenkopf

Waffen und Spaß!

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Shown above are three images from Assemblyman David DiPietro’s (R-Gunhug) recent gunapalooza fundraiser. A supporter posted them to Twitter, and they seem to have been taken during the “free gun” portion of the event.

Note the skull & crossbones – the Totenkopf – behind DiPietro.  Reading “2nd Amendment 1789 America’s Original Homeland Security”, that flag is as ugly and ominous, and makes believe we still live in a postrevolutionary frontier. Our original homeland security was made up of state militias, well-regulated.

It must be so horrible to live a life so perpetually in fear of imminent danger and violence that you feel the need to arm yourself to the teeth, and then tell people it’s all about “sportsmen”.  Then, when Cuomo says a sportsman doesn’t need 10 bullets to kill a deer, you mock that. Because it’s isn’t about sportsmen or target shooting or hunting, it’s about protecting yourself from Obummer and Hitlery Klintoon and il Duce Cuomo.

I don’t have a problem with legitimate sportsmen or people who want to keep a gun in their home for protection. I do have a problem with the paranoid freaks who demand the right to own an arsenal so they can kill all the people. I have a problem with nuts like the guy in Minnesota who, sick of break-ins, sat in the dark, with tarps at the ready, to shoot and kill the next people to do so. Now, he only used one gun that he purportedly kept in his house for “protection”. If you listen to the nauseating audio of the actual double murder, towards the end he gives a speech.  In it, he regurgitates all the NRA propaganda he can muster. You get a window into what it’s like when the gun lobby takes a legitimate self-defense right and turns it into a license to murder.

Thankfully, the prosecutors and the jurors saw through this and convicted this ignorant monster of murder. As a society, we’re trying to make it more difficult for unhinged lunatics to commit mass-murder. We’re trying to make it more difficult for the criminals and the insane to obtain, own, and possess firearms and ammunition. I frankly don’t understand why the DiPietroite gun nuts and the gun lobby are standing in the way of those goals.

 

Mincing Upper East Siders for DiPietro

Western New York’s most hilarious Assemblyman, the dry cleaner-turned Fredo-turned Obamaphobe tea party Assemblyman David DiPietro, is going to be holding a fundraiser in the wilds of East Aurora, and there’ll be a gun raffle, to boot.

Donald Trump and wife Melania Trump

Upper East Side man with Consort, Mincing in Tuxedo

Because nothing says “re-elect my homophobic Assemblyman” more than the ability to fondle a long, hard shaft.  To touch it; caress it and wonder what sort of explosive wonders it might be capable of.  There will also be chicken and booze. Possibly a 50/50, and an exponentially increased risk of catastrophic injury.

When the Buffalo News asked DiPietro to comment, he mouth-shat:

I know this fundraiser raises a few Upper East Side eyebrows, but I represent rural Western New York. Here, we don’t mince around in tuxedos. We hunt and fish so why not? We didn’t know when we came up with the idea but this turns out to be a really fun event

So, playbook. It’s rural “real America” versus the pointy-headed tuxedoed wealthy on the Upper East Side. Urban liberals. Jews. Blacks. You know – other. No word yet on whether there will be any Freudian therapists on hand to assist what will likely be predominately white male attendees with their palpable subconscious castration anxiety.

Let’s backtrack for just a second and recall that DiPietro spent about a month massaging Trump’s prostate recruiting Donald Trump to run for Governor. Donald Trump – a rich blowhard who wears tuxedoes and lives on New York’s Upper East Side.  Trump is a notorious tack merchant who has yet to prove that he is not the offspring of an Orangutan.

But this whole sportsman meme that DiPietro has concocted for himself is somewhat enchanting.  Go to his campaign webpage and the only issue to which he’s devoted more than just a picture caption is guns. Gun rights, gun raffle, gun this, gun that. Everything else is given less than a complete sentence.

The reason, of course, is that as a Republican member of the Assembly, DiPietro is paid about $80,000 in state money, plus a pension if he makes it 10 years in the system, sweet benefits,  a $9,000 stipend as “ranking member of the small business committee”, a staff, and a travel per diem, to do nothing except pontificate about guns. Because of Albany’s antidemocratic structural dysfunction, DiPietro’s presence in Albany is reduced to that of loudmouthed seatcover.

(But you’ll never, ever see all those Republicans who rail against public sector employees and their unions bitch and moan about worthless GOP Assembly members making 100 large per year to drive to Albany and park their cars. Now ask your Republican Assemblysitter whether they’ve done anything to, e.g., promote the reforms set forth a decade ago by NYU’s Brennan Center. Then tell me what the crickets sound like.)

David DiPietro is an Italian-American dry cleaner from the tony Buffalo suburb of East Aurora – home to the Roycrofters and Fisher-Price. He’s not some outdoorsman hero who gets to pretend like he’s any more or less a real American than anyone else.

Even tuxedo-mincing Upper East Side alleged-billionaire elitist Donald Trump.

Guns, Mental Health, and Fascism

1. If you went on the Facebook to try and politicize the stabbing of kids in Pennsylvania, using it as a springboard for a “debate” about gun control,  implicitly mocking and defaming the 20 1st grader victims of Sandy Hook – you’re doing everything wrong. 

One of the goals of gun control advocates is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill; like kids who go on stabbing sprees or shooting sprees.  There’s a big difference between the two – in Pennsylvania, no one died. 

2. Many people are calling for better mental health services in this country in the wake of the Pennsylvania stabbing, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Fort Hood shooting. That would be fantastic – oftentimes the first thing that state and municipal governments cut and shrink to balance their budgets are the very costly mental health services offered to people who desperately need – yet can’t afford – them. When services are cut and facilities closed, where do you think they go? How do you think they function in society? The mentally ill are, furthermore, often uniquely unable or unwilling to stand up for themselves, their medical needs, and their rights. 

I think it’s a great goal for society to better serve our most vulnerable. It’s sort of the point of programs like SNAP and WIC, and mental health services need to be taken more seriously.  Of course, this costs money. So, let’s agree to expand mental health services while simultaneously not complaining about the cost of doing so, or denigrating the mentally ill recipients of these services because we resent them receiving them. 

Furthermore, mental health services should be available to anyone who needs them, on demand and for life. The best way to accomplish this is to expand mental health coverage throughout the health insurance spectrum. 

3. At Fort Hood, a troubled soldier shot three people and injured 16 others. The right wing – locally led by the increasingly shrill and dangerous operations director at WBEN (see below) – has recommended that soldiers at the facility be allowed to carry sidearms at all times to protect themselves against a deranged shooter. Is that a good way to run a society – by encouraging shootouts? Have we not progressed at all since the post-civil war frontier times? These men and women have signed up to serve our country. We can’t trust our servicemen and women to not shoot at each other? Nowhere is 100% safe all of the time, and it’s ridiculous to live your life waiting to fend off an attack. Everybody’s Chuck Norris, all of a sudden. Just relax. You don’t need a gun all the time. 

4. Kathy Weppner changed her campaign website yesterday and touted it on Facebook and Twitter. It looks like a 12 year old was let loose on a Livejournal account. Weppner is going to run against Obamacare, which is interesting since it’s expanded health insurance so that the number of uninsured is at its lowest point in years. It’s also interesting since more people with health insurance means more patients for her husband to treat. 

The next report will be on the economy, jobs and Obamacare job loss. This landmark legislation has been changed 40 times. The chaos, uncertainty and cost of this massive piece of legislation and last minute changes has resulted in thousands of job cuts, reduction in fulltime employment, and employer fear of hiring.  The cumulative impact of Obamacare, on top of the highest corporate taxes in the world, and constant Washington interference is devastating to our small business job creators.  Obamacare, as it impacts the medical care you receive, will appear as a separate report.  

And you thought she was just a benign kook. She has no idea what she’s talking about, and is simply vomiting up Fox News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. 

5. Back to that Operations Manager at WBEN. Regard: 

That protester didn’t do a damn thing to those Marines. He didn’t attack them or disrespect them (an upside-down flag is a distress signal, (36 USC §176(a)), not a sign of disrespect to the flag or to those who fight under her). Furthermore, whatever that protester was doing is protected political speech. What that Marine did to the protester is simple assault & battery; also, larceny. Robbery, possibly. That sort of intimidation and assault of someone with whom you disagree is straight up fascism. 

I haven’t received a reply to this yet: 

Shane Kinney’s NRA Shirt and Your Rights

A public school cannot stop a kid from wearing this

The Bill of Rights in our Constitution – it’s easy to cherry-pick the parts of it you want to defend. It’s also easy to see who cherry-picks what. 

Western New Yorkers have tested the First Amendment on two occasions in the past few weeks. I highlighted one of them already – the efforts of a handful of people in the Clarence community to censor books, censor parts of the curriculum, and demagogue the disease prevention unit of the sex education curriculum. The other is Shane Kinney’s NRA t-shirt on Grand Island

Kinney was asked to remove a “Protected by Smith & Wesson” sweatshirt, and then to turn a pro-NRA t-shirt inside-out. The school apparently gave Kinney a suspension when he refused to do so. 

I don’t like the gun lobby, and I don’t like guns. I detest the gun culture in all of its incarnations. I don’t like Freudian allusions whereby one extols the virtue of self-protection with killing machines and their long, cold, hard shafts. As point of fact, I hate guns. 

That doesn’t mean Shane Kinney’s rights to free speech should be infringed. 

Eugene Volokh explains that at least one federal circuit has declared school prohibitions on shirts that display guns. The issue is a tricky one for schools. A school is a government entity, but it deals almost exclusively with minors. A school is well within its rights, for instance, to censor a child’s clothing if it, for instance, glorifies or promotes violence, drugs, alcohol, or some other inappropriate or harmful behavior. When it comes to guns, the Constitution is invoked, and it’s a matter of degrees. 

An NRA t-shirt that quotes an excerpt from the 2nd Amendment is completely acceptable in all aspects. There is nothing objectively controversial about it, regardless of whether or not you like guns. The issue in cases such as Kinney’s revolves around the depiction of actual firearms. Here, you run into an analysis that requires you to parse the definitions of terms like “disruption” and “violence”.  A picture of two crossed rifles is not a big deal. On the other hand, a t-shirt depicting, say, a trenchcoated figure using an assault rifle to shoot a schoolkid in the head would be patently objectionable. 

But if you look at the Grand Island school district’s own dress code, it doesn’t really say much about guns. It prohibits “vulgar” or “obscene” t-shirts, and clothing cannot “promote and/or endorse the use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs and/or encourage other illegal or violent activities”.  Courts use a case from the mid-60s to handle these sorts of issues. From the case Volokh cites,

Because most public school students are minors and school administrators have the duty to provide and facilitate education and to maintain order and discipline, the Supreme Court “has repeatedly emphasized the need for affirming the comprehensive authority of the States and of school officials, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools.” Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 507, 89 S.Ct. 733, 21 L.Ed.2d 731 (1969). Consequently, while a public school student does not “shed [his] constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the school-house gate,” id. at 506, those rights may be limited as long as the limitation is consistent with constitutional safeguards…

…”conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason — whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior — materially disrupts class work or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.”Id. at 513, 89 S.Ct. 733. Accordingly, Tinker “requires a specific and significant fear of disruption, not just some remote apprehension of disturbance.” Saxe v. State Coll. Area Sch. Dist., 240 F.3d 200, 211 (3d Cir.2001). In sum, “if a school can point to a well-founded expectation of disruption — especially one based on past incidents arising out of similar speech — the restriction may pass constitutional muster.” Id. at 212.

Courts have upheld, for instance, students’ rights to wear black armbands to protest war, and also upheld a school’s ability to restrict or punish lewd and inappropriate language.

Arguably anything involving firearms is by definition “violent”, but in Kinney’s case, the firearms were merely depicted – in the image, they were not being fired at anyone or anything. The “protected by Smith & Wesson” sweatshirt was likely closer to the line, as it specifically invoked a threat of deadly force in response to a provocation. Even deadly force in self-defense is, by definition, violent, and under the “substantial disruption” standard in the Tinker case, that invocation of violence might be legally restricted, depending on whether the school could establish that the restriction was based on ” something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint,” and instead on whether the shirt would “materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.”

I remember I was once handling a criminal matter in Massachusetts and a man with an Irish surname was being arraigned on an assault & battery charge. He had been arrested while wearing a Notre Dame jacket, which depicts an angry leprechaun with his fists up, waiting for a fight, and I thought to myself that it was an especially funny thing to be wearing under those circumstances. Does that belligerent Irish stereotype violate high school dress codes because it glorifies violence? I doubt any principal would punish a kid for that. 

But while local right-wing media have been milking this NRA shirt thing for a week now, even causing it to go national, they’ve been completely silent (as far as I can tell) as far as efforts to violate the 1st Amendment when it comes to banning award-winning literature in Clarence schools. They’ve not said anything about protecting the sex education unit recommending that kids who have sex use condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. (Abstinence is part of the curriculum, incidentally, but not the entire curriculum because that would be insane). 

So, Shane Kinney should be free to wear his NRA t-shirt and probably even his Smith & Wesson t-shirt.  It’s not my favorite thing in the world, nor something I would send my kid to school in, but my sensibilities and opinions can’t be the arbiter of what is and is not appropriate or legal. The school district likely owes Kinney an apology. 

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