Let’s Arm Teachers, They Said

Oh, what incredible irony:

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A chemistry teacher at the Florida school where 17 people were shot to death has been arrested. Authorities say he left a loaded gun in a public restroom, where a drunk homeless man picked it up and fired it.

No one was injured, but the teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is now charged with failing to safely store his weapon.

A Broward Sheriff’s report says 43-year-old Sean Simpson, who carries a concealed weapons permit, left his Glock 9 mm in a restroom at the Deerfield Beach Pier on Sunday. He told deputies he was returning to get it when he heard a gunshot, and found the man holding the pistol.

Thanks for keeping us all safe, asshole! (<—- that's an evergreen …)

A teacher at the very school which has touched off this whole “will arming teachers make kids safer” debate has proven that no, arming teachers does not make kids safe!

It’s almost as if Goddess has a sense of humor, or at the very least is screaming from the mountantop: DON’T ARM THE TEACHERS! CONTROL THE GUNS!

I don’t know why the gun loons, NRA, conservative Republicans, etc. seem to think that having a concealed-carry permit somehow makes people stop being ordinary, flawed, forgetful humans. It doesn’t. It doesn’t endow anyone with superpowers of super responsible gun ownership, as we have seen time and time again.

I don’t care how much training you get. We see stories in the paper every day about solders and police officers doing fucked up things with their guns, and they get way more training than the ordinary citizen or high school chemistry teacher. People are people and you can’t change that. The problem is the guns.

4 Comments

Filed under gun control, Guns

Thanks For Keeping Us All Safe, Asshole

A California high school teacher who is also a reserve police officer accidentally fired his gun during a class on gun safety. Three students were injured. The money quote:

The teacher had just told the class that he wanted to make sure his gun wasn’t loaded, when the gun fired, according to Gonzales.

So much fail.

7 Comments

Filed under gun control, Guns

Chickens Coming Home To Roost, Trade War Edition

Donald Trump’s plan to enact stiff steel and aluminum import tariffs has caused alarm among economists and pundits alike, which is really odd, since this is one issue he actually ran on and talked about all the time. This seems to be another case where people heard what they wanted to hear and ignored the rest.

Be that as it may, the announcement caused the stock market to crash (again, totally Obama’s fault, or maybe Hillary’s right?) and there have been some other, more immediately damaging repercussions for Tennessee Trump-lovers:

Electrolux puts $250 million U.S. investment on hold over Trump tariff hike

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s Electrolux (ELUXb.ST), Europe’s largest home appliance maker, said on Friday it would delay a planned $250 million investment in Tennessee, after U.S. President Donald Trump announced tariffs on imported aluminum and steel.

On Thursday, Trump said the duties — 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum — would be formally announced next week, although White House officials later said some details still needed to be ironed out.

“We are putting it on hold. We believe that tariffs could cause a pretty significant increase in the price of steel on the U.S. market,” Electrolux spokesman Daniel Frykholm said.

Electrolux buys all the steel it uses in its U.S. products domestically.

“So this is not the possibility of tariffs directly impacting our costs, but rather the impact it could have on the market and that it could damage the overall competitiveness of our operations in the U.S.,” Frykholm said.

Electrolux’s Tennessee plant is in Springfield, a hard-right, deep-red district that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. It is represented in the U.S. Congress by the pro-Trump Diane Black, now running for governor, a woman who said helping Trump pass his tax cuts was the “proudest moment of her life” but who has remained silent about Electrolux putting investment in her district on hold.

You know, it’s so rare that these chickens come home to roost in the deep-red districts that are the source of such wingnuttery. Usually when a far-right policy is enacted in, say, a statehouse, the repercussions are felt in the blue urban areas. For example, when our state legislature passed an anti-LGBT counseling bill, the rural districts whose homophobic reps pushed this hate leg got off scott-free, while major conferences pulled out Nashville — represented by Democrats in the legislature, who had voted against the bill. As I’ve said more than once, boycotts and national shaming don’t work if they hurt your allies, not your adversaries.

But when it comes to trade policy and tariffs, those chickens are going to come home to roost in red districts, because global companies located their plants in cheap-labor, cheap-land rural areas. So far, Tennessee Trump voters have been able to have their cake and eat it, too. But globalism is a fact of life everywhere — even in rural Tennessee. Electrolux is anticipating higher U.S. steel prices and higher inflation. So, too, will Nissan USA, Toyota, Volkswagon, Mercedes-Benz, BMW … all of the major car brands who have plants across the rural South, and all of their multinational suppliers: Germany’s Mann+Hummel, which builds car parts at its plant in Dunlap, TN. Or YAPP Automotive Systems, a Chinese company with U.S. plants in Gallatin and Chattanooga. They make gas tanks for cars. Or the Spanish auto parts manufacturer Ficosa, which has a plant in Cookeville, TN where they make rear-view mirrors.

Do these companies use steel and aluminum? Some may, some may not, but that’s the thing about trade wars: when the bombs detonate, the repercussions are felt across all sectors. Beware the unintended consequences of your trade war, Trump lovers. The rhetoric of “America First” may sound good, but the reality will be far less pleasing. And there will be no blaming the Democrats this time.

23 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, Tennessee

Zombie Ideas Never Die

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: after yet another mass shooting involving an assault rifle, Republicans and the NRA come up with a brilliant idea to solve the problem: Oh, I know! Let’s arm teachers!

I know, right? We’ve certainly never heard that one before (except, well, after every single school shooting. In 2014, 2013, 2012 ….)

And of course the dim bulb in the White House thinks it’s a brilliant idea!

It’s just so perfect that after all of this national discussion and amazing student activism we’ve seen over the past week the NRA and Republicans return to their standard solution: more guns! That is how terrified they are of even the teensiest bit of restrictions on their weapons.

And the media is acting like this is some completely new idea they’ve never heard before. Guys: we’ve had this discussion a bazillion times already. We’ve already talked about how teachers don’t want this, how it’s not an effective solution, how the problem is all the goddamn guns, not the lack of guns. How we already force teachers to pay for their own school supplies, and now you’re going to ask them to buy guns and ammo and training?

Let’s remember that at Columbine High School there were not one but two armed officers on-site:

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Neil] Gardner [the school’s community resource officer], seeing Harris working with his gun, leaned over the top of the car and fired four shots. He was 60 yards from the gunman. Harris spun hard to the right and Gardner momentarily thought he had hit him. Seconds later, Harris began shooting again at the deputy. After the exchange of gunfire, Harris ran back into the building. Gardner was able to get on the police radio and called for assistance from other Sheriff’s units. “Shots in the building. I need someone in the south lot with me.”

An armed guard shot at Eric Harris. It didn’t work. Two students murdered 13 people and injured 21.

There’s more:

Virginia Tech, the site of the deadliest U.S. gun massacre ever committed by one person, has a police department on the grounds. According to the AP, the shootings in that incident took place over just 9 minutes — it took the campus police 3 minutes to reach the building, and five minutes to break into the building, which had been locked by the gunman.

At the Colorado cinema shootings earlier this year, it took police officers just 90 seconds to get to the scene of the shooting, but 70 people had already been shot; 12 fatally.

That’s how long we’ve been talking about this. How many more school shootings will there be before we stop rehashing the same, tired ideas?

The NRA’s answer is always ALWAYS going to be “more guns.” They don’t have any other ideas than “more guns.” But the problem isn’t that we have too few guns. The problem is too many guns.

Times’ up on these idiotic zombie ideas.

13 Comments

Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, NRA

The REAL Victims (Sarcasm Alert)

Aren’t school shootings a big bummer? Yes! They are! But, dear readers, be sure to save a few of those Thoughts’n’Prayers® for the real victims of this week’s school shooting in Florida: Michael and Lisa Morrison, owners of Sunrise Tactical Supply of Coral Springs. That’s right, the people who sold Nikolas Cruz his AR-15:

The shop, whose displays had been stripped of any rifles or other guns Thursday evening, will remain closed indefinitely.

Its owners, who live in Coral Springs, are distraught, Rudman said.

“The tremendous sense of responsibility in this situation and just horribleness that they feel that one of their weapons fell into the hands of this maniac,” Rudman said. “They are scared — not just for their safety — but more importantly about how the reaction is going to be for the rest of the community as they try to reenter it.”

They are scared for their safety, you guys. As they try to “reenter” the community.

Give me a fucking break.

They sell weapons to people but they are scared for their safety? Oh boo fucking hoo. Conservative tears, you guys. What, thoughts and prayers aren’t good enough for you? Amazing.

Let me also add, one of their weapons did not “fall into the hands of this maniac,” as the lawyer says. They sold it to him. It was a retail transaction. Maybe you guys should think about opening an ice cream shop next time. Something a little less lethal.

8 Comments

Filed under Housekeeping

Banana Republicans

Fresh from calling Democrats who didn’t applaud for him “treasonous,” Cadet Bone Spurs has gone full-bore Tin Pot Dictator and ordered the Pentagon to begin planning his military parade:

The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

Shows of military strength are not typical in the United States — and they don’t come cheap. The cost of shipping Abrams tanks and high-tech hardware to Washington could run in the millions, and military officials said it was unclear how they would pay for it.

“The one in France” was the Bastille Day parade that Trump attended last summer, complete with soldiers in uniform marching in formation down the Champs-Elysees, followed by tanks and other military hardware. He’s so desperate to be like his BFF Vlad, isn’t he? So pathetic. Guys, we are *this* close to him showing up somewhere in a fake general’s uniform with gold epaulettes. I’m telling you, it’s gonna happen.

The lengths that Trump’s fluffers and enablers will go to appease their baby POTUS is depressing. This is the end, folks. America doesn’t do military parades. We honor the military at every single sporting event, every Veterans Day and Memorial Day, every corporate freebie and discount from coast to coast. This parade isn’t about honoring the military, it’s about honoring Trump. Get real.

This isn’t who we are. If you haven’t read it yet, let me direct you to The Atlantic’s recent piece urging everyone to “boycott the GOP.” The article isn’t directed at people like me, who have always boycotted the Republican Party, but rather normal Republicans (you know, pre-Tea Party), the ones who believed in low taxes and deregulation but weren’t fascist dictator wannabes with friends in the Klan. Those people have been awfully quiet when it counted lately, and it’s time for them to step up, hold their noses, and vote straight-ticket Democrat to teach this current brand of crazies a lesson. Because electoral losses are the only thing the current bunch of GOPers holding office will hear. They are only in it for the power, so it’s the power they must lose:

The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates. We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers, and of saving the Republican Party from itself, is to do as Toren Beasley did: vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former).

These are strong independents saying this, people who agree with many Republican policies. They’re saying that Trump and his enablers are destroying too many political norms, tearing apart too much of our political fabric. They must be stopped, and the ballot box is where we do these things in a civilized country. Even if you love Neil Gorsuch, even if you think the tax cut is Groovy McSmoothie, you should STILL vote against the Republicans because the price of these gains is too high.

A military parade is the kind of authoritarian, bullshit dictator move that is a visible step down a very dangerous path. We’ve already taken too many steps in that direction. Stop it now. Pull the plug.

17 Comments

Filed under military

Girtherism: America’s Cry For Help

[UPDATE]:

DTw02QwX4Agz5FT.jpg

It’s already starting, you guys:

The report considers only those incidents motivated by international terrorist groups — so instances of domestic terrorism are not counted. Moreover, individuals captured overseas, extradited and brought to the United States to face trial are included in the same category as people who emigrated to the United States and were charged with terrorism offenses years later.

For example, Ahmed Abu Khattala, convicted in November in connection with the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, is counted in the same category as someone who successfully applied for a visa to enter the United States.

“Doing that intentionally confuses the threat of domestic terrorist attack with the number of foreigners, by increasing the number of foreigners,” Greenberg said. Extradited terrorism suspects are not immigrants, she said, and should be taken out of the sample.

What next, yellow stars on the jackets of immigrants? It’s happening again.

—————————————————————-

In a hilarious take on the Obama birthers, there is a new conspiracy in town: “Trump Girthers.”

These are the folks calling bullshit on White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson’s obviously falsified report following Trump’s annual physical:

But he did say that Mr. Trump’s weight is 239 pounds and that he is too sedentary. His cholesterol is too high, despite medicine to lower it, and Dr. Jackson said Mr. Trump would be increasing the 10-milligram dosage of Crestor to better control it.

At 6 feet 3 inches tall, Mr. Trump has a body mass index of 29.9, which is just shy of officially being obese. A New York driver’s license issued in 2012 listed him as 6 feet 2 inches tall, which would put him just into the obese category.

More than just a piece of delicious karma or even, as some are claiming, “fat shaming,” what we have here is lie shaming. A 70-year-old man is not going to grow an inch in six years unless, of course, that inch is the difference between being medically obese and just “overweight.” The internet has had a lot of fun with this; “Guardians Of The Galaxy” Director James Gunn offered to donate $100,000 to Trump’s favorite charity if he would “get on an accurate scale” (a take on Trump’s own $5 million birther promise. By the way, whatever happened with that?). Gunn later quipped,

I would be afraid that it’s the Ku Klux Klan but there’s no way in hell he’s 239 pounds, so I don’t have to worry about it.

And the internet has been quick to post photos of Trump next to other 6’3″ people, or even the 6’1″ President Obama:

Tempting though it may be to laugh at this nonsense, it actually illustrates a far more nefarious tendency in this administration: a need to lie on behalf of a president who has so obviously made lying a job requirement. And make no mistake: history is filled with examples of how dangerous this can be in the hands of one with tremendous power.

From day one we’ve had Trump and those associated with him saying demonstrably, stupidly false things purely to fluff the Trump ego. It literally started on Day One with Sean Spicer lying, repeatedly, about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd, then lying to cover up his lie. These are silly, unimportant things to lie about and also easily verified, yet someone who works for the president of the United States has been forced to trash his own credibility in a humiliating way so that Trump can continue to live in an alternate universe where he is respected and adored.

We have politicians in Trump’s own party trying to curry favor by sending jars of candy, his favorite flavors hand-selected by an aide who, I dunno, probably had more important stuff he or she could have been doing that day besides separating out the red and pink Starbursts (we pay these peoples’ salaries, don’t forget). It has now become cliche to say, “imagine the reaction if Obama had done this…” but seriously, imagine if a Democratic Senator had given Obama jars of M&Ms with the brown ones removed. Heck, they lost their shit when he spoke to crowds of thousands (raise your hand if you saw one of these bumper stickers after the 2008 election; I sure did).

And it continues today, with Trump falsely claiming that his support among African Americans has doubled. It hasn’t. The folks at Breitbart and Fox & Friends just can’t do statistics.

This is how dictators and authoritarian leaders of Banana Republics behave, not leaders of free democracies. Toadies and sycophants debasing themselves so Dear Leader’s fantasy of being adored is not something we Americans have experienced before and it undermines America’s institutions. We saw it yesterday with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s amnesia on the “shithole” controversy.

If you’re going to publicly humiliate yourself and undermine your credibility on things like whether the president is obese or had the largest crowd size in the history of crowds, ever, period … I mean, where does it stop? He’s already lied about illegal votes, who’s to say he won’t do it again?

Be careful about writing this stuff off as silly internet fun and games. It’s not. It’s democracy’s cry for help.

11 Comments

Filed under Housekeeping

He Hires The Best People

Your Office Of National Drug Control Policy

Look who’s been appointed to help lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy: a 24-year-old recent college grad whose “relevant experience” appears to be organizing a benefit golf tournament.

Hey ‘Murrica, if you’re hoping the opioid crisis plaguing your rural areas is being taken seriously by Donald Trump, think again.

Trump has pledged to marshal federal government talent and resources to address the opioid crisis, but nearly a year after his inauguration, the drug policy office, known as ONDCP, lacks a permanent director. At least seven of his administration’s appointees have departed, office spokesman William Eason said. Among them was the general counsel and acting chief of staff, some of whose duties were assumed by Weyeneth, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post.

[…]

The official, who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, said that Weyeneth has been primarily performing administrative work, rather than making policy decisions, and that he had “assumed additional duties and an additional title following staff openings.”

One might almost think that the White House and Republican Party really aren’t interested in addressing the opioid crisis at all. (One might have been thinking that ever since it was revealed that Republicans like Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn dismantled DEA oversight of drug companies at the height of the opioid epidemic. But I digress ….)

Young Weyeneth is an interesting character. Apparently his family owned a health food business that processed chia seeds and somehow got involved in an illegal Chinese steroid scam:

In the summer and fall of 2011, the firm was secretly processing illegal steroids from China as part of a conspiracy involving people from Virginia, California and elsewhere in the United States and one person in China, federal court records show. Weyeneth’s stepfather, Matthew Greacen, pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge last year and received two years probation and a fine.

Why is there always something fishy with everyone associated with Trump? Something involving prison time or federal charges? Even more bizarrely, Matthew Greacen is apparently a cousin of actor Alec Baldwin, who wrote the judge in this case on Greacen’s behalf. Just can’t make this shit up.

All of this is a sidebar to our story’s main point, which is that Trump and the Republican Party really don’t care about the opioid epidemic at all. That this is an epidemic perpetrated on the American people by pharmaceutical companies which profit handsomely from an addicted populace is, I’m sure, purely coincidental.

7 Comments

Filed under Donald Trump

Experience Matters

People, I love Oprah Winfrey too, but can we please shut up about her running for President? Never mind she’s said she’s not interested. Even if she were to embrace the idea, please just say no to this nonsense.

Have we learned nothing from President Reality TV “Star”? This country doesn’t need some vaunted “outsider” who doesn’t understand how government works. That isn’t the person to “fix things”! We don’t need someone who doesn’t understand that the Attorney General is not the president’s personal attorney but rather the nation’s attorney. Someone who doesn’t know enough not to fire the FBI director investigating his campaign. No! We need someone who knows our institutions and our traditions. Who knows why we have the laws that we have and why we have the traditions that we do.

Here is what this country needs: a boring old politician. Yes, I said it! I know that’s anathema to the populists in the heartland. It’s not what the kewl kids are saying or the conventional wisdom among political pundits, but it’s the straight truth. We need someone who knows government and therefore knows how to govern.

Here is who I want for president in 2020: a boring old Senator who’s held office for a while.

I think President Obama would agree with me. He’s said his biggest disappointment was that he was unable to change the culture of Washington. That’s a tall order for anyone, but particularly someone with as little experience inside Washington as he had. As much as I adore Obama, and as much as I think we are a better country for his two terms in office, the reality is, he was unable to accomplish a lot of what he and the voters wanted because of unprecedented resistance from Republicans. And I can’t help but wonder if he might not have been better equipped to run interference around the roadblocks put up by old-timers like Mitch McConnell if he’d had more time in the Senate to forge relationships.

That will be left for the historians to decide. But the bottom line is, people like Oprah Winfrey, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and even Mark Cuban have no business running for the highest office in the land. Start small, if that’s your ambition. Run for the House of Representatives, or state office. Learn the ropes. Then come talk to me.

Right, left, center — I don’t care. It’s disrespectful to the office. Yes! It is! It disrespects the work of government to think anyone can waltz in and “fix things” just because we like their TV show or want to have a beer with them or find their personalities pleasing or can identify with their personal struggles or find ourselves nodding in agreement at their latest Entertainment Weekly interview. That isn’t governing. It’s a path that leads directly to President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho and if we don’t want to end up an Idiocracy we better nip this shit in the bud now.

26 Comments

Filed under 2020 Election

DIAF, 2017

How glad are we to see 2017 come to a close? VERY GLAD. This year was bad on every level. There was Donald Trump. I got in a car accident in April. I had surgery in August. Donald Trump. My favorite cat started having seizures out of nowhere and died. Puerto Rico got obliterated.

Donald Trump.

The year’s only redeeming qualities were my beloved Nashville Predators making it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in June and the solar eclipse in August. A Stanley Cup Final was sort of on my bucket list, so I was thrilled when the Preds pulled off a miracle and went to their first-ever finals. We lost to the Penguins but honestly, it was so exciting to see this city turn out for their hockey team that I almost didn’t care.

The eclipse happened a couple days after my surgery and, being late August, it was a bazillion degrees outside. I toddled outside and sat on my front porch waiting for totality. First the birds stopped singing and then, as we hit totality, the streetlights suddenly came on. The funniest thing was when the sun came back: they’re building new houses both behind and across the street from us, and when the sun came back, all the construction workers cheered and then, without skipping a beat, resumed their interminable hammering. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

And that’s something else that sucked: Nashville’s growth has metastasized like a tumor. They’re building what we call “tall skinnies” everywhere, which are 3-story houses crammed onto tiny lots. We have two of these obnoxious towers behind us now, and what was once a privacy fence has now been rendered useless. This city is no longer livable. The “big city with a small town feel” was always Nashville’s unofficial motto but nowadays it’s just one long-assed traffic jam, overpriced housing, and woo girls on pedal taverns (how did Nashville become ground zero for bachelorette parties? I have no clue.)

And then of course there’s Donald Trump. Where to begin with this guy? I just can’t. Everything he touches turns to shit, it’s his own reverse Midas touch. I can’t even enjoy watching the Republican Party swirl the drain as he drags them into supporting pedophiles and neo-Nazis. This has been the least fun political death watch ever. One cherished institution after another has fallen under the wheels of the greed bus. Goodbye, free and open internet. Farewell, Children’s Health Insurance Program. Ta-ta, healthcare. Next on the chopping block? Medicare and Social Security, you can bank on it. It’s too depressing for words. I don’t even know if I can do a New Year’s Burn List this year, I don’t want to put the neighborhood at risk.

I can only hope that 2018 will be better. And 2017? All I can say to you is, fuck you.

18 Comments

Filed under Holidays, New Year's List