Home/Tag: usa

“The nation”.

Both Froese and Stroud found pervasive anti-government sentiments among their study participants. “This is interesting because these men [gun owners] tend to see themselves as devoted patriots, but make a distinction between the federal government and the ‘nation,’ says Froese. “On that point, I expect that many in this group see the ‘nation’ as being white.”

Jeremy Adam Smith on motivations.

… yikes.

2019-04-29T12:07:57+10:0011th September, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|

Origin story.

The logic [of John Lott’s theory of Mutually Assured Massacre] goes something like this. If most people are unarmed, the guy who’s carrying has tremendous power and can kill more or less with impunity, at least in the immediate aftermath of a shooting. No one can shoot back. But if everyone is armed or any given person might be armed, you’re going to be a lot more cautious about going for your firearm and shooting someone. Because they might be armed too. They might shoot back. Or the person next to them might be armed. If everyone is armed, everyone will be on their best behavior. Because they’re all equal in terms of lethal violence. Shootings will go down, not up.

In the abstract, where no humans actually exist, there’s actually a compelling logic to this. If I know you’re armed, I’ll be on my best behavior. You will too because you know I’m armed. Of course, in practice, almost everything is wrong with this logic. It relies on an extremely crude version of economic rational action and an even cruder form of game theory. This is particularly the case when you realize that the fraught, angry situations where people impulsively kill other people are by definition not rational. This doesn’t even get into situations like school shootings where the assailant usually intends to die in the massacre. It also doesn’t get into accidents, misunderstandings. It’s completely nuts.

But this basic concept: more guns, paradoxically, means more safety informs almost every aspect of current pro-gun politics.

Josh Marshall on the “good guy” with a gun.

The point here is that the whole core argument of the pro-gun lobby in the US, i.e. that everyone carrying around guns makes society more “safe”, is traceable back to a couple of shitty books written by one asshole in the late 1990s.

2018-02-23T14:08:37+11:0023rd February, 2018|Tags: cw: mass shooting, politics, usa|

The biggest lie Law & Order ever told.

“People don’t think,” [ATF agent Charlie Houser] tells me. He’s a trim guy, 51, full lips and a thin goatee, and he likes to wear three-piece suits. They fit loose, so the overall effect is awkward innocence, like an eighth grader headed to his first formal.  I get e-mails even from police saying, ‘Can you type in the serial number and tell me who the gun is registered to?’ Every week. They think it’s like a VIN number on a car. Even police. Police from everywhere. ‘Hey, can you guys hurry up and type that number in?’ ”

So here’s a news flash, from Charlie Houser: “We ain’t got a registration system. Ain’t nobody registering no damn guns.”

Jeanne Marie Laskas on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The fact that the ATF is disallowed, by legislation bought and paid for by the NRA in 1986, to computerize any gun ownership records tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity of the “responsible gun ownership” argument…

2018-02-22T08:13:35+11:0022nd February, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|

The New Moloch.

That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. “It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch.

Garry Wills in 2012.

2018-07-27T14:30:16+10:0016th February, 2018|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, politics, usa|

Economic flip.

So just what did cause the US housing market crash? Subprime mortgages… or middle-class get-rich-quick house flippers?

Interesting because the subprime mortgage crisis is used in right-wing/libertarian circles as an argument against government policies attempting to increase housing access for poor communities…

2017-09-11T10:53:05+10:0011th February, 2018|Tags: culture, economics, usa|

No clothes.

But the other thing is that this unpopularity is still within a framework of “respect for the office” and a near-veneration of the President, whoever he happens to be. This means that it’s pretty much impossible for anyone — at least in the mass media — to talk clearly about the evident fact, that the man in the Oval Office has no understanding of the job to which he has been appointed, has no interest in learning about the job, and has neither the intellectual or emotional capacity to do it even were he somehow to be educated. Even the ostensibly left-leaning media doesn’t point out that the emperor has no clothes, and contents itself with saying that he is perhaps not as well dressed as he could be. Acts which, to anyone with a clear view of Trump, look like the petulant impulsiveness of a spoiled, not-very-bright, overprivileged white man who doesn’t actually understand or care about the consequences of his actions are, even by his enemies, interpreted as strategic maneuverings, as part of a wider game-plan. The whole set-up of the news media in the US — far more than over here — is predicated on this idea, that the person in that office is always worthy of it, no matter what.

And it is this, more than anything else, that distinguishes Fire and Fury. It is, quite simply, the first product of the USian mass media to simply take as read what is obvious to the rest of us — that Donald Trump is barely literate, has no understanding of the basics of the US Constitution, and has no concerns other than the shortest-possible-term gratification of his physical needs and his emotional desire for respect from rich and important people.

Andrew Hickey reviews Fire and Fury.

Alex asked me the other day if I intended to read this book, given my interest in politics in general and a US politics in particular. I told him no; I generally like my politics books to be dry, semi-academic talking-head-esque affairs, while Fire and Fury is basically a gossip magazine in three-hundred pages. Which doesn’t mean the book isn’t… “important” isn’t quite the right word. Let’s go with “impactful”. It doesn’t mean the book isn’t impactful, only that it’s not a polsci book per se, despite the subject matter.

Incidentally, Hickey’s comparisons with The West Wing seem apt. I’ve always had a kind of moral distaste for that show, partly because I loathe the talk-fast-while-walking filming style, partly because Aaron Sorkin is a sexist garbage person, but mostly because I hate the glossy, spin-doctored way it presents the US government and politics. The West Wing always seemed to me like a show about how Americans wanted to think their government/office of the President worked, and while that was being fed to them they could safely ignore how it did work.1 It’s basically the Law & Order Problem, but for politics, not policing.

That being said, I suppose Fire and Fury is sort of the anti-West Wing, which has its own purpose. But… it still doesn’t mean I feel compelled to read it. I’ll just skim the articles, instead.

  1. Remember that the popularity of The West Wing basically coincided with the presidency of George W. Bush, a.k.a. the previous holder of the title of “Worst. US President. Ever.” []
2018-01-10T08:11:17+11:0010th January, 2018|Tags: books, politics, usa|

The Losers.

Finally, you give up. Roy Moore is a vehicle for collecting suckers, for liberating them from their responsibility as citizens in a self-governing republic, and anybody who thinks this waterheaded theocrat belongs in the United States Senate is a dupe and a fool. Finally, you don’t care if the people behind Roy Moore, and the people in the crowd in front of him, believe you are a member of the coastal elite or an agent of Lucifer. Finally, you grow weary of the smug condescension of religious bigots. Finally, you decide to put down the twin burdens of excusing deliberate ignorance and respecting the opinions of people who want to light the world on fire to kill their imaginary enemies. And you give up and tell the truth.

These people deserve what they get.

Charles P. Pierce on growing weary.

2018-04-27T14:02:14+10:0014th December, 2017|Tags: politics, usa|


I know it’s wild that a bunch of people just died and we’re all in our feelings, but let us never forget several essential items: 1. White men are the most common culprits of domestic terrorism in this country. Full stop. 2. People who murder in this way chose to murder in this way. This “incident” did not happen to them. They happened to other people. 3. People who choose to end their lives as a tool of mass violence do not get to have a public eulogy in which they are memorialized fondly for whatever the fuck they did before they decided to aim indiscriminately into the crowd.

Kim Selling is having none of your eulogizing.

2018-02-08T08:42:25+11:0010th October, 2017|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, newsphobia, usa|