Saturday, December 12, 2015

Something For Everyone In The NYT/CBS Poll

1,275 primary voters were surveyed between December 4 - 8, 2015. Many of the responses followed patterns we've seen in prior polling: Mr. Trump holds a commanding lead over his rivals, Secretary Clinton is still 20 points over Senator Sanders, Senator Cruz has gained ground, and now it's Senator Rand Who?

The questions also addressed terrorism and gun control. Not surprisingly, the percentage of respondents who expect a terrorist attack inside the USA in the next few months jumped from 28% to 44% in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, and 70% think ISIS is a major threat.

It's the gun control results that leave a lot to interpretation. Commentators on Townhall have pointed out that for the first time support for a ban an assault weapons has dropped to 44% while opposition to a nationwide ban has spiked to 50%. With evidence that Americans are nervous about another terrorist attack, concerns about access to high-powered weapons seem understandable.

But those same respondents think, by a significant majority, that laws governing gun purchases should be more strict (51%) versus less strict (10%) and a plurality think stricter gun laws would help reduce gun violence, particularly if better mental health screening was implemented.

My Take: San Bernardino has rattled our nerves about ISIS and the natural reaction to that is keeping access to military-style weapons. At the same time, we're concerned that crazy people have too much access to firearms and we'd like laws to prevent another Aurora Theater or Sandy Hook massacre. In short, the foreign threat presented by ISIS is evil while Americans who commit far more mayhem on us are mentally ill.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Thought We Weren't Going To Talk About Social Issues

Republicans, from GOProud to Scott Walker, have urged their party's candidates to avoid social issues on the campaign trail. Still smarting from the "war on women" theme that put a polish on the GOP's image of Old White Men trying to run the country, Republicans were advised to avoid certain topics - marriage equality and abortion, for example - that would energize their aging voter base at the cost of, as Rudy Giuliani phrased it, "we lose the suburbs." 

But it isn't easy to follow that advice with presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee raising those issues. Indeed, it's likely to get a whole lot more difficult in the heat of the 2016 campaign for the White House. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a major decision on the single most volatile social issue of them all - abortion.

In Whole Women's Health v Cole, the Court will address abortion rights for the first time in a generation. At issue are Texas laws that impose strict standards on clinics that provide abortions and the doctors who staff them. The new rules may cause up to 75% of existing clinics to close, imposing what the plaintiffs call an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions while the state of Texas insists the law will promote women's health. A decision is expected by next June.

The Court's decision will absolutely impact women's healthcare in Texas and undoubtedly influence lawmaking in many other states in the years to follow. Pro choice and anti-abortion advocates will, I'm sure, energetically respond to the decision no matter which way the Court rules.  

But the more immediate concern for Republicans will be how to respond to the decision without appearing to take unpopular sides on this fundamental "social issue."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

We Don't Know What We're Dealing With

It's pretty simple: to fix a problem you have to understand it.

I can't say I've run across anyone who thinks mass shootings are a good idea. I can say I've heard an enormous range of opinions on what to do about them, ranging from "nothing" to "close mosques." Would any of those work to reduce the chance of random death by gunfire? Who the hell knows - research, the kind of thing that would actually answer questions about mass shootings - has been discouraged by law since 1998.

It's time for that to change. The Dickey amendment, which prohibits federal funding of any research that might lead to gun laws, must go. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the National Institutes of Health must be given permission and funding to figure out why 4 or more people are wounded or killed in gun violence events every day in America.
This ban, supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), has effectively silenced researchers at both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) for conducting any comprehensive studies on what causes violence — and what can be done to prevent it — since 1998. As expected, it’s left public health experts and policymakers with little to lean on as they attempt to craft new legislation to help quell the fatal trend.
There's no reason to treat this carnage as inevitable. There's plenty of reason to treat it as a public health problem. We know how to deal with public health problems. We recently saw dozens of Chipotle Grill restaurants closed because of diarrhea, for pity's sake. Multiple homicide should rate at least the same level of attention.

The Dickey amendment has to go. Research has to begin. Answers have to be found.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dr. Carson's Winter Vacation

Sorry, Dr. Carson, but instead of sounding like the Wise King comparing advice from Royal Advisers, you're coming off more like a Fool being Played by Powers Behind the Throne.

"It doesn't mean you don't need to know a lot of stuff," he said, "and you know I've been spending a lot of time boning up on stuff."

Quit now before your earning power as a motivational speaker is ruined.


I am fucking over it.

All of you self-absorbed assholes who think your pretend unlimited "right to bear arms" is worth any number of other people losing their lives can kiss my ass. You demonstrated your moral bankruptcy in the person of Joe the Plumber, who shared these kind words to the grieving parents of the dead in Isla Vista, California, “Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights.”  Fuck you, Joe. If there's anything like karma in this sad world you'll taste your own blood before you choke on it and die. Asshole.

And fuck NRA Nazi Wayne LaPierre, the "good guy with a gun" shill for the arms industry who thinks it's just dandy when he can whip up a little terror from time to time that drives up gun sales, and if he can promote the completely stupid conceit of needing personal firearms for when tyranny rears its head, all the better. Even more appalling than his absolute dedication to profit at the expense of lives is the staggering number of neckless illiterates who actually think that Glock on the bedside table is gonna help when the Apache helicopter opens fire on their trailer park from miles away. Fuck those guys, too.

I'm done waiting on the dickless wonders we elect to Congress, who crumple like Big Lots aluminum foil under gun lobby pressure after every massacre when citizens with a legitimate expectation of protection from their government ask those sad sack cocksuckers to do their fucking jobs and protect us. Hey, Congress, I've got 535 "Fuck You" ornaments for your Christmas trees. Try not to get electrocuted and die while you string up lights on that tree. I hear standing in water while handling electrical wires will protect you.

And news media! I'm used to Fox News following the money instead of the story but the rest of you corporate whores have no excuse. What the fuck is it with your industry-wide ADD? If there's anything on the fucking planet more callous and self-serving than your "if it bleeds it leads" attitude I sure as shit have no idea of what it might be. Can't you puerile pukes see a fucking trend when it's bleeding on your fucking shoes? Can't you follow this slow motion massacre of innocents to a logical conclusion instead of dropping the latest mass shooting story whenever Kim Kardashian decides to show her ass to a camera? Jesus Christ, you're as much a part of the problem as that money-grubbing simpleton who doesn't even ask for ID when he sells a Bushmaster at a backwoods gun show.

Fuck all of you. I'm done waiting for you to get your shit together and do something about this chronic Holocaust.

President Obama. Look, dude, you're in the Zero Fucks Left stage of your presidency. Make some executive actions to clampdown on who can buy a gun, beef up the database used in background checks, set the FBI to sniffing out these despicable fucking domestic terrorists. Get the NSA to listen in the NRA cell phones. Have the IRS audit Smith & Wesson. Who cares if a court over rules you or the next White House occupant undoes it. You can still save some lives. Fuck your legacy, take some fucking action. It can't anybody's best advice to you to do nothing and wait on those unmitigated dickwads in Congress to take up legislation. Those fuckers are part of the problem.

Congressman Scott Tipton? You're gonna get to know me really well 'cause I'm not gonna stop letting you know how fucking inadequate you are when it comes to preventing mass murder in Colorado - twice in one fucking month in Colorado Springs! Why aren't you pissed, you lame-ass douche nozzle? Waiting for instructions from the Republican Study Committee? Take a fucking stand for the people you represent, not the special interests who seem to own you.

Senator Michael Bennett? Stop being the Ben Carson of the Senate and take a goddam stand for your constituents. I'm on your ass, bro, until you grow a pair and make something happen.

And you, Senator Cory Gardner. Spit out that NRA cock and do something for us instead of to us. You showed everybody your Inner Weasel when you ran for the office, but I'm not gonna settle for that level of insipid follow the leader behavior from you. Stand up for us, you weak-kneed pussy and attack the gun problem like you would an expansion of Social Security.

Fuck it. I'm done with the status quo. Not. One. More.

Instead of New Gun Law, Let's Enforce the Ones We Have

In Providence, Rhode Island one police detective is tasked with tracing the history of every firearm seized by the police department. His findings will be reported to local and state government next year, but what he's learned so far is troubling.

A member of the Oriental Rascals gang shot and wounded a member of the Tiny Rascals gang in the West End in April. The Oriental Rascal had legally purchased his gun in Cranston; the Tiny Rascal was carrying a gun last sold to someone in West Virginia.
A convicted felon who had been tailgating two officers in the violent crime task force in Elmwood in June tossed a 9mm pistol into a trash barrel. The gun was linked to a homicide investigation in Boston.
Kyle Machado, 38, died Sept. 12 during a fight on Trenton Street. The Ruger .357 revolver used to kill him was found wrapped in a T-shirt on Smith Hill less than a week later. It had been reported stolen in Cranston in 1997. Where it spent the next 18 years is anyone's guess.
How do so many weapons end up in irresponsible hands? Part of the problem might be inconsistent or unenforced guns laws.

State law requires people to report their firearms lost or stolen within 24 hours, but many go unreported. The crime is a felony in Connecticut. In Rhode Island, the penalty is a $50-to-$100-fine — far less than the $500 fine for parking illegally in a handicapped spot.
Unquestionably, a major contributor to the problem of untraced guns in circulation is a lack of gun registries. In Rhode Island, for instance, state gun registries have been prohibited by law since 1959.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Singular "They"

And I was rooting for "Yo."
Now comes word via Washington Post style sage Bill Walsh that Washington’s paper of record will allow employees to use “they” to refer to “people who identify as neither male nor female.”  

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