Frivolous Lawsuits!

My second trip into the gun memory hole involves the infamous gun-makers liability shield which our own ex-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pushed through, and George W. Bush signed, just before Democrats took back control of the Senate.

Frist said the legislation was needed because frivolous lawsuits were a serious threat to the poor, beleaguered gun-manufacturers:

“Without this legislation, it is probable the American manufacturers of legal firearms will be faced with a real prospect of going out of business,” Frist said.

“These frivolous suits threaten a domestic industry that is critical to our national defense, jeopardize hundreds of thousands of jobs and put at risk that law-abiding citizens have access to guns for recreational use,” he said.

“The gun lobby says it needs protection because it’s faced with a litigation crisis,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., an opponent of the measure. “The facts tell precisely the opposite story.”

Reed cited recent Securities and Exchange Commission statements by gunmakers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. indicating that litigation posed little threat to their bottom lines.

And here we are, eight years later, and gun makers are in trouble. Vector Arms declared bankruptcy in February (lawsuit-related, but not a liability lawsuit). Colt Defense has been downgraded as it tries to avoid declaring bankruptcy for the second time in 25 years. Sales are down across the board as the fearmongering about Obama taking everyones’ guns away has subsided.

So, I guess the “frivolous lawsuits” weren’t such a threat to firearms manufacturers after all. Seems to me the firearms industry has a flawed business model. There are only so many guns one household needs, and it’s not like they’re going to wear out or fall apart the way, say, a new pair of shoes does. That means the only thing that can drive sales are a) wartime government contracts and b) fearmongering to the general public that Nobummer is gonna take your guns/scary brown people are coming for your women, etc. That kind of thing only works for a small (and declining) group of people for so long, though. After a while even the most rabid tin-foil hatter has to feel like they’ve got enough weapons stockpiled to take on the coming Zombie socialist apocalypse.

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The Last Time Science Looked At Gun Violence

Harvard studies. They’re old. This is the kind of stuff that was coming out when the NRA got its minions in the Republican Party to put the kabosh on research into guns, gun crimes and gun safety. Hopefully we’ll be getting some new data now that Obama signed an executive order lifting that ban. But Congress still holds the purse strings, and we all know who’s in charge over there. Plus, after a 20-year funding drought, there just isn’t anyone doing that kind of research anymore. And there’s been a concerted effort to quash any research outside the CDC, too.

Here’s what they don’t want you to know:

We use epidemiological theory to explain why the “false positive” problem for rare events can lead to large overestimates of the incidence of rare diseases or rare phenomena such as self-defense gun use. We then try to validate the claims of many millions of annual self-defense uses against available evidence. We find that the claim of many millions of annual self-defense gun uses by American citizens is invalid.

And …

Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Center, we examined the extent and nature of offensive gun use. We found that firearms are used far more often to frighten and intimidate than they are used in self-defense. All reported cases of criminal gun use, as well as many of the so-called self-defense gun uses, appear to be socially undesirable.

And ….

Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, we investigated how and when guns are used in the home. We found that guns in the home are used more often to frighten intimates than to thwart crime; other weapons are far more commonly used against intruders than are guns.

And ….

Using data from surveys of detainees in six jails from around the nation, we worked with a prison physician to determine whether criminals seek hospital medical care when they are shot. Criminals almost always go to the hospital when they are shot. To believe fully the claims of millions of self-defense gun uses each year would mean believing that decent law-abiding citizens shot hundreds of thousands of criminals. But the data from emergency departments belie this claim, unless hundreds of thousands of wounded criminals are afraid to seek medical care. But virtually all criminals who have been shot went to the hospital, and can describe in detail what happened there.

The lead author on these Harvard studies is David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health. He was interviewed by ABC New about his work in 2013 and the news was grim. He said:

The act of inserting a single gun question into a survey has become increasingly difficult for Hemenway over the years, he said. For instance, when he asked to include whether families owned guns in a survey that had questions about how many alcoholic beverages people drank and how many cigarettes they smoked, he was turned down.

“If you want to know the simplest things, we don’t know,” he said. “We’re not sure even what percent of houses have guns.”

Sure. Because what we don’t know won’t hurt us. And allowing the NRA to control the debate means they can flood the narrative with their own cooked books:

[Dr. Arthur] Kellermann said he’s watched as bumper stickers and slogans replaced statistics and facts over the past two decades. In the last week, a YouTube video of a 15-year-old Maryland girl’s pro-gun speech attracted more than 2.3 million views. She cited statistics, but it’s not clear where they came from.

Oh, I think we know where they came from.

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Was Discovery Communications Complicit In Covering Up A Crime? Inquiring Minds ….

I first wrote about the Quiverfull movement waaay back in 2009. I called it a cult, and it is a cult, a creepy pedophilia cult (if you aren’t familiar with this group or its beliefs, Gawker has a handy dandy rundown under the headline “Quiverfull of Shit.”)

I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that Josh Duggar has admitted to sexually molesting children as they slept — some of them his own sisters. I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that one of the leaders of this movement, Bill Gothard, has himself been accused of sex-based offenses.

What I do find interesting is that it’s become increasingly clear that The Learning Channel/Discovery Communications knew of Josh Duggar’s sex offenses years before the first show of the reality series aired, while the Duggars were starring in specials on sister network Discovery Health. And, despite knowing this information, they still signed the family to star in their own reality show, falsely promoted the family as some kind of wholesome Christian novelty, misrepresented the family to the public, and profited from it. They lied to their advertisers and they lied to their viewers. How is this not fraud?

According to the police report published by InTouch, the investigation was sparked when someone tipped off an Oprah Winfrey staffer in 2006, in advance of a taping by the family on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Here’s how it all went down:

The Duggars told police that at the time Josh was accused of, and admitting to, these sexual acts, “a family friend aware of what had happened had written down in a letter what he knew of [redacted, Josh’s] actions…That letter had been placed in a book and had subsequently been forgotten about. Just recently [in 2006] the book had been loaned to someone else with the letter in it and another person discovered the letter.

The Duggars refused to tell police who wrote the letter and who found it.

When the family was scheduled to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in 2006, an email was sent to the show warning them about the alleged molestation. The email was written by a 61-year-old female who is not identified.

Harpo Studios faxed the letter to the Department of Human Services hotline. The report was then opened for investigation, leading to the investigation by Springdale police.

When police asked Jim Bob to bring Josh in for an interview in 2006, he attempted to hire a lawyer and refused to produce his son for questioning. At least two lawyers refused to take his case. “Det. Hignite received a voice mail from Mr. Duggar stating that [redacted] had hired an attorney and would not be coming in for an interview.”

Oprah Winfrey has been very open about her own history of being a survivor of child sexual abuse. So good for her and her staffers for starting this whole ball rolling. And shame on everyone who subsequently covered it up: the Arkansas state trooper who let Josh Duggar off the hook and two years later was himself jailed for child pornography, and most especially Discovery Communications. Because it defies belief that TLC and Discovery didn’t know about this — indeed, after the Oprah cancellation, the internet was on fire with rumors about Josh Duggar’s sexual offenses. At the very least, Discovery Health would have wanted to know about the abrupt and last-minute Oprah cancellation.

This needs to be investigated. The FCC needs to look into this. If a basic-cable network is covering up crimes against children and then promoting a pedophilia cult into the popular culture, they are not acting in the public interest. This is far worse than Bono saying an award is “fucking awesome” or Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. These are real crimes, and it appears the network not only knew about it, but ignored it so they could promote this creepy, far-from-wholesome family for their own financial gain.



Filed under cults, culture wars, media, religion

Congratulations, Unidentified WI Man! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Just as the Founders intended:

3:05 p.m. — A 19-year-old Onalaska man was accidentally shot in the leg on the 200 block of King Street by his 22-year-old roommate, who was making the cat chase the red dot produced by his handgun’s laser sighting system.

Repeat after me: Guns are not toys. Guns are not toys. Guns are not toys. Guns are not toys. Guns are not toys. Guns are not toys. Guns are not toys.

etc. etc. etc.


Filed under gun control, Guns

What $46,000 Can Buy

Apparently, a super crappy logo:

7835634_G - Version 2

Seriously, our state government just paid $46,000 for that? Excuse me, I got so bored looking at it that I fell asleep. Someone wake me uuu… oh wow, I did it again.

This is a seriously shitty logo in every way a logo can be shitty, chief among them being it’s so generic it could be Indiana if they just added a bottom to the “T.” It also kinda looks like the LP Building Products logo, which not coincidentally the marketing company that designed the state’s new logo also represents. I wonder if they designed their logo, too. This logo is so utterly lacking in any creativity that I have to think there’s another agenda at play. Like someone’s favorite PR company needed some work to do, or some big donor’s daughter needed a class project.

I can’t imagine what was wrong with our old logo:


I liked this. According to Wikipedia, the three stars represent East, Middle and West Tennessee. It’s distinctive. The circle and stars is our state flag. It’s simple but we all know what it means.

So, why change what ain’t broken?


Reaction has been swift:



This being the age of social media, the new logo has a Twitter account. A sample:


I’ve also seen some funny logo parodies. For instance:



Filed under Tennessee

Congratulations, Michael Vickers! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Our armed society is just getting politer and politer:

According to a news release, a deputy and social services agents went to a home after getting a call about a five-year-old girl who had a gun pointed at her. They said an investigation revealed Vickers pointed a gun at the child for splashing too much water out of her bathtub.

The deputy said Vickers told them he didn’t think it was “a big deal” to point the gun at his step-daughter.

This is what happens when any asshole can have a gun, no training or education required. They use them for really stupid, assholey reasons.



Filed under gun control, Guns

Oh Lookie, Tennessee Grew A Terrorist & He’s Been Arrested

Oddly, I haven’t heard anything about this in our Tennessee news media, and a part of me wondered if it weren’t some weird hoax. But then, it’s Tennessee, and nobody does crazy like we do:

An American man who stood in elections for the US Congress has admitted plotting to attack a Muslim community, shooting residents and burning down a mosque.

Robert R. Doggart, 63, was arrested by the FBI before he could carry out the plan to “utterly destroy” Islamberg, a village in New York state.

Posts on his Facebook page, tapped phone calls and conversations with police sources revealed the plot to attack on 15 April, setting fire to key buildings and killing anyone who resisted with guns or machetes.

According to a plea agreement filed at the US District Court of the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doggart wrote a Facebook post in February saying: “Target 3 [Islamberg] is vulnerable from many approaches and must be utterly destroyed.”

He met several co-conspirators in different parts of the state, justifying the carnage by claiming that residents were “planning a terrorist attack”, legal documents published by Heavy said.

They planned to burn down buildings including a mosque, a school and a cafeteria, shooting anyone who tried to stop them.

In a phone call to an FBI source on 6 March, Doggart was recorded saying: “Those guys have to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down. If we can get in there and do that not losing a man, even the better.”

He issued advice on guns, telling people to arm themselves with AR-15 and M-16 rifles.

Doggart, who ran as an independent candidate for the 4th Congressional District of Tennessee in 2014, admitted planning to carry an M4 carbine and offered to arm the FBI source with “the meanest shotgun on Earth”.

Doggart ran for Congress in 2014 to represent Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district, the seat currently heald by Scott “abortion for me but not for thee” DesJarlais. According to Ballotpedia, Doggart only got 9,238 votes. He’s apparently an engineer in the energy industry and spent 17 years with TVA.

His platform reads like your typical Fox New-watching Tea Party wackaloon:

Doggart said his platform calls for the integrity of the Constitution, the protection of the people, land and form of government by the military; fair distribution of appropriations; reversal or revision of the Roe vs. Wade court decision allowing abortion on demand; limiting immigration or amnesty to reasonable numbers supportable by the economy; and full disclosure related to the Benghazi incident.

So, you know, just your standard-issue Tennessee Republican. Off to slaughter Muslims in Islamberg, New York. Looks like Tennessee has its own home-grown terrorist now, plotting to attack a community in New York. Of course, if the local media ever does get around to reporting on this story, do you think they’ll use the “T” word? I’m thinking …. not.


Filed under Islam, right-wing hate, Tennessee