(3) Our National Insanity

For your weekend:
Just Above Sunset for Friday: The Conspiracy To Destroy Our Freedom: here

Mueller and Trump: Born to wealth, raised to lead. Then, sharply different choices. from The Washington Post

More thoughts from readers about prior posts Feb 14-17, 2018:
from Jeff: I might agree on the Kent State-Parkland correlation. One would think Sandy Hook would have provoked more outrage, even Las Vegas. But Kent State happened to the motivated participants, and Parkland has done that too.

3.9 million children born in 2000. That’s a lot of votes. If they vote.

Governor of MN: I wonder if people want the same old same old. I think the race is ripe for a better alternative and could shape up if these 2 [Walz and Pawlenty] are the candidates to be pretty boring to manypeople.

Pawlenty is a suburban Republican but given his short run for President, he knows what to say to the 60% of the GOP voters
who have drank the koolaid. But for some reason I think he will look to thread the needle on this.

I saw a post on Australia’s laws on semi auto and auto guns. It belies the stupidity of simply calling for a ban on “assault” weapons. Need to be smarter and focused. Take little steps… raise the age, tighten background checks, and outlaw magazines with more than 10 cartridges. Then focus on culturally changing the tone among gun owners. Real hunters respect their prey and care about them, they typically hunt as the laws call for and want one clean shot. They aren’t interested in slamming 10 or 15 shells into a buck 100 yards away.

And you know rural folks in Ndak like I do, some of them keep loaded rifles in their pickups out in the country. Do I worry about them? Not really. But you have to make them feel comfortable by turning the talk to semi auto guns being only used for killing innocent kids and people.

More from Jeff: For all the detractors of our public schools, and I don’t know if this school in parkland is like the Edina district or something, but these kids who are being seen on TV are well spoken, logical and morally strong.


from Peter: A few remarks inspired by your careful postings…

I’ve been working on a book about the shift that is most easily understood as the displacement of the Information markets by the Audience markets.

Audience is (for example) FaceBook’s stock-in-trade, so like all “social” media, their aim is to own the space in which humanity communicates. This is complicated by the fact that users are constantly tweaked with endorphin-rewards for staying in the game — for continuing to peek through FB’s proprietary window.

All media, print and electronic, have had to abandon information-based content in favor of attention-capturing content. So nothing works the way we expect it to work, hence the chaos. McLuhan was a genius, and probably predicted this as well, I don’t know. I can’t have been the only one to notice.

The forty-fifth President got elected because of this change. He just happened to be an expert in the technologies of aggregated attention — what I’m calling Audience — in a time when a unit of Audience will out-sell information a million to one. That he is also in the last stages of attention-addiction is just bad luck for us. He will continue say and do more and more horrid things to sustain an increasing craving for all the attention available. He doesn’t care at all about the consequences, the more damage the better for his pathological purpose. And with the penetration of our social networks reaching almost everybody breathing, what is the upper limit? He has already waved nuclear weapons around recklessly, and even that will lose effectiveness soon enough. He must be restrained, or he may single-handedly end us all.

I’ve written about the frequent bloody massacres in this context. Enhanced by the supremacy of attention as the gateway to fame and fortune, this is civilian bleed-through from our many foreign aggressions.

Until we address the (temporary?) dysfunction of our social connection, our fellow-feeling, our sense of community beyond the crude algorithmic assignments our artifacts have made for us, we will remain helpless passengers in a clown car on an increasing slope, without any brakes. No matter what we do about the hardware.

As for the so-called “mental health” approach, there is an un-examined question about psychotropic prescription drugs and their impact on suicidality and psychopathy, but there is too much Pharma money involved for that conversation to go anywhere useful, especially in the Attention Age paradigm that is their natural habitat now. “Never box a boxer.”

What are we ordinary citizens of Earth to do, then? I suggest (and this is the book-in-progress) that the key is in taking on management of our personal attention, and disallowing the random capture of our endocrine systems. Look at everything with the question of “Who would want me to be excited about this, and why?”

It is exactly like dealing with appeals for your cash. Your attention is now the coin-of-the-realm.

I once asked Kurt Vonnegut: “Are things really going off the rails like they seem to be?” He got that little twinkle and said: “Not for anyone I know…” I puzzled over that for some time, and I think he was saying that it is important to distinguish your own personal, hands-on experience from the churning stories in which we are all immersed, and husband your energies for what is on your own desk.

from Bob: Thanks Dick. Just saw the Valentine post. Oh to be back in simpler times. Dropping off my Valentine by horse and buggy, what a concept. You gotta really feel the sentiment. Unlike my childhood when we made a decorated shoe box and were forced to give a valentine to every kid, even the ones you did not like or were afraid of.

Well we survived anyway.

But the generation of innocence is way behind us. The current gun talk must also take a look at how we as a society have changed, become more aggressive, Bullying, sexual misconduct, isolated with our world expanding devices, and with parenting skills missing that would help children/teens, needing attention to be guided toward positive outcomes.
Children have been abandoned, by two parents working full time, by lack of close (proximity and love) extended family.

Teen homeless stats are frightening and counter to the Great Society but consistent with the decades of failure of trickle down economics.

We need to create a new awareness that it is OK to speak up as a concerned relative or neighbor. We need to accept “better safe than sorry”.

Changing gun laws including banning non military possession of assault weapons (the very word “assault” is pretty good evidence for this argument), is only a step.

Helping people who need help, opening the nation’s hearts to compassion, sharing, helping, speaking out, and taking our convictions to the polling places, these all are part of the equation.

Carry on with your wonderful posts.

from Carol: The Supreme Court Ruling on the 2nd Amendment Did NOT Grant an Unlimited Right to Own Guns (read here)

On pp. 54 and 55, the majority opinion, written by conservative bastion Justice Antonin Scalia, states: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on … 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.”

“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”

The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

from Bruce: For the most part I think collectively we are missing the mark on mass shootings that are increasing as time moves on. Have you considered that the rise of these shootings is inversely related to the demise of the antiwar/peace movement. As the militarization of the American society grows, the peace movement declines. Its almost nonexistent. It seems to me that this relationship needs to happen for the country to be at war for over 15 years with no end in sight. A country and people that are ok with and thereby supporting the needles killing of innocent civilians in our wars, which are mostly children, shouldn’t be surprise, saddened, or angry that innocent school children in America are slaughtered every few weeks. The knee jerk reaction to this slaughter is to call for more & better gun laws or more concerns over mental health. That has been going since the 1999 Columbine massacre. Also since 1999 our wars have grown in numbers and violence, and so have our mass shootings. The solution is obvious for me. We need to demilitarize America. In order to do that we need a reinvigorated peace movement. As the movement grows our wars will subside. So will the senseless shooting of our school kids with or without new gun laws.

from Carol, about the killers as Democrats Facebook Post: Please, oh PUH-LEESE, send this to your “friend,” from me.

I gave up on cutting-pasting at some point, but he can read for himself. (Thank goodness for places like snopes and factcheck. Now if people would only READ them…)


This list has evolved since it first started circulating in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. The earliest iteration of this list we could uncover only contained five items…

It has always been rife with errors…

This list is not comprehensive. It does not include all of the shootings that have occurred in the United States, nor the political affiliations of every shooter. It ignores shootings committed by Republicans, as well as those with no political party affiliation… In other words, one could make a similar list naming nothing but Republican or politically unaffiliated shooters…

In addition to the logical problems of this meme, much of the information is also inaccurate.

We searched contemporary reports for each of the listed incidents in an attempt to uncover any mentions of political affiliations, motivations, or voting records. Many of these items can be traced back to poor reporting, articles that were later corrected, or fake news items. And although we encountered this meme (or a similar list) on a variety of web sites, none of these publications provided any documentation to back up these claims…

Here’s a look at what we found:

In 1865, a Democrat shot and killed Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States…

Shooter: John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth was a member of the Know-Nothing Party. However, some of his motivations for assassinating Lincoln (Booth was opposed to freeing the slaves) aligned with the Democratic Party at the time…

Although Booth’s motivations may have aligned with the Democratic party of 1865, they bear little resemblance to the party’s modern positions, which have changed dramatically over the past 152 years.

In 1881, a left wing radical Democrat shot James Garfield, President of the United States – who later died from the wound.

Shooter: Charles J. Guiteau

Guiteau gave what The Atlantic calls an “incoherent speech to a small group of black voters in New York City” in support of presidential candidate James Garfield. Guiteau then claimed that the speech … was the reason for Garfield’s election victory. The new administration, from Guiteau’s perspective, owed him an ambassadorship. When he was denied his request, Guiteau set out for revenge…

Guiteau was not a “left wing radical Democrat” — he was a supporter of the Republican Party.

In 1963, a radical left wing socialist shot and killed John F. Kennedy, President of the United States.

Shooter: Lee Harvey Oswald

Oswald was a Marxist and supported Fidel Castro and Cuba…

Oswald’s inclusion on this list is odd in that there is no claim that he is a Democrat.

In 1975, a left wing radical Democrat fired shots at Gerald Ford, President of the United States.

Shooters: Lynette Fromme and Sara Jane Moore

Two women in one month attempted to shoot Gerald Ford in 1975: Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a member of the Manson family, and Sara Jane Moore, a member of radical leftist circles in California and an FBI informant. Both women appear to have had mental health issues…

Although both women could rightly be described as radicals, we found no evidence to show that they were Democrats.

In 1983, a registered Democrat shot and wounded Ronald Reagan, President of the United States.

Shooter: John Hinckley Jr.

Another claim that seems to be supported only by speculation. John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt in 1981 (not 1983 as suggested by this meme) was motivated not by politics, but by his desire to woo actress Jodie Foster…

Regardless, we contacted the History Colorado… We also contacted the Colorado State Archives, but they didn’t have a record of Hinckley’s purported political affiliation either.

In 1984, James Hubert, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 22 people in a McDonalds restaurant.

Shooter: James Huberty (not James Hubert)

Again, we found no record that Huberty was a Democrat, either in terms of his official voter registration or his political leanings. The book Dying on the Job: Murder and Mayhem in the American Workplace describes Huberty as a survivalist who was paranoid about government overreach…

Another name — that of Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman who murdered at least seventeen people at a school in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 — will likely get added to this list; almost immediately after law enforcement identified him, erroneous reports circulated claiming that he was a registered Democrat…

The rumor that Cruz was a registered Democrat received a push in popularity and some unearned credibility when it was reported by the Gateway Pundit blog:

It was just discovered that the full name of the shooter is “Nicolas de Jesus Cruz” and that he is a registered Democrat in the state of Flordia [sic]. It is becoming more clear that this individual was NOT, in fact, an actual Trump supporter, as is being reported by the media as the result of the image that shows Cruz wearing a MAGA hat.
This “discovery” was based on a voter registration record available via an unofficial Florida voter database. However, if any of the internet sleuths pushing this rumor had taken a moment to examine the document, they would have realized that this voter registration did not belong to the Florida shooter.

For one, this Florida voter was named Nicolas Cruz (note that Nicolas spelled with a “c”; the suspected shooter’s name is spelled with a “k.”) Cruz’s arrest record also noted that he was born in September 1998. This voter registration is for a person born in May 1998.

The Gateway Pundit later updated its article to concede that Cruz was not a registered Democrat after all, as “some sources” (the Gateway Pundit) reported.

from Mary: I really was inspired by [Joni’s] comments. Nice solid thinking. I am, however, appalled that anyone thinks there is sanity in training teachers how to manage a classroom in chaos, an unloaded gun in a locked drawer, and the likelihood of unintended collateral damage. The cynical side of me wonders if the NRA is behind this marketing ploy. My solution is so simple that it will never be implemented……stop selling assault weapons to anyone! Not even game hunters want their quarry shredded with unnecessary damage.

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