Thoughts On Today’s Shooting

I’m just going to repost my post from 14 June 2017, the day that the Republican congressional softball practice was shot up, as it pretty much covers my take on these things.

I’ve done a technical post on mass shootings before. Specifically what simulations and simulated recreations can tell us in terms of potential outcomes. And as the author of the US Army report on Soldiers who commit mass shootings (authorized by the Office of the Provost Marshall General and US Army Corrections Command via my former office at USAWC), I’ll most likely have another technical post on the subject in a few days. And I’ve done numerous posts here on stochastic violence and terrorism – domestic, international, right wing extremist, religious, etc. And it is the stochastic element that I want to talk about right now.

As numerous others have referenced today there is a lot to unpack behind today’s events. Both the shooting targeting Republican members of Congress in Alexandria and the active shooter/mass shooting in San Francisco. And we’ve seen a variety of calls for comity and a reduction in heated and divisive political rhetoric and pointing of fingers as to who is responsible for what. I’m not linking to all of it as I don’t feel like going to dig up the different reporting, but we’ve seen it all day. All of it misses the point.

The real reason we see so much stochastic violence and terrorism in the US is because it is part of our foundational myths and ethos. We rightly, as a point of pride, celebrate our revolutionary success against the British. We turned the first verse of a hard to sing song based on a poem about a slightly obscure battle against the British in a subsequent war into our national anthem. And we have carried through the decades a mistaken belief that citizen militias, still often considered or referred to as the hallmark of American civic pride and engagement, were actually an effective force during the American revolution. As opposed to the actual professional army that General Washington required his aides and lieutenants create – two of whom weren’t even American, because the militia was absolutely useless for his needs in stopping the British forces.

We have a deep seated tradition of civic engagement that refers back to and is rooted in political violence. The first use of stand your ground as a defense was from the 1790s in Philadelphia. It was related to and rooted in this tradition. In this case a radical localist – an extreme, minority offshoot of the anti-Federalists –  member of a citizen militia decide to use his firearm in self defense while posting political handbills. His defense argument – that he had an enumerated right to self defense through using his firearm – was rejected by the court. The actual coverage of the event and trial from one of the local Philadelphia papers at the time is attached as a pdf at the bottom of the post.

The reason we have so much stochastic violence and terrorism is because we’re Americans. We have a civic inheritance that includes the justifications for it. Including that of the radical localist offshoot of the anti-Federalists that teach us that all government above the municipal level is always potentially tyrannical and the purpose of the armed citizen, as part of the citizen militia, is to provide a check on tyrannical government. We are the inheritors of a revolutionary state and society. And the inheritors of political traditions that are rooted in the revolutionary politics of the Founding – the Federalists, the anti-Federalists, and the radical localists. Each had different understandings and views of the citizen militia, of the proper role for an armed citizenry, but each were reflections of and responses to the revolutionary ethos that led to the split with Britain and the founding of the US.

And we have stochastic violence and terrorism because Americans just aren’t joiners. Despite Putnam’s argument in Bowling Alone, where he makes the mistake of understanding American social interactions solely through the forty to fifty year window between the end of WW II and the late 90s/early 00s, and ignores everything that came before the 1940s, Americans just don’t like to belong to groups. We self atomize. We don’t like to associate. And while modern technology has made it easier to form new associations, it also makes it easier to isolate ourselves into groups that are insular and insulating.

What happened today, and what will happen next week with the next mass shooting or terrorist attack or hate crime, isn’t an aberration. It is pure Americana. It is at our core of who we are as a people. If you spend enough time promoting the idea that one’s political opponents aren’t really even human or that the 2nd Amendment exists to prevent governmental tyranny, then you’re going to get what happened today in both Alexandria and San Francisco. It doesn’t matter if the people making the assertions were just being hyperbolic or really didn’t mean it. Nor does it matter if you were actually and only messaging to the people who you identify as your side. All that matters is that someone hears the message over and over and over again, internalizes it, and then acts on it.

What happened today has happened many times before in the US. The ideas and messaging that promote and produce it have a long lineage in the US. And it will all happen again. The saying that “G-d made man, Samuel Colt made all men equal” doesn’t just apply to people that look like you, vote like you, worship like you, and behave like you. And, as a result, you get what happened on both the east and west coast today.

And all of this is why you get this type of paradox. Senator Paul in June 2016:

Versus Senator Paul today as quoted by NBC:

“We’re just like normal people, I go to the grocery store like a normal person. I buy my groceries. I go to the gas station. We practice out there and we just … we live in a country where we hope there’s not such hatred or craziness and, I don’t know, disappointing, sad.”

Here’s the pdf:

Duane 1799 – Report of extraordinary transactions at Philadelphia (1)

Open thread!



Breaking News: Mass Shooter Apprehended After Shooting At Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School

About an hour ago Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida went into lockdown. The reason was a reported shooter on site. The suspect, a white male, has now been apprehended.

From WSVN Channel 7 News:

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) – The Broward Sheriff’s Office has confirmed they have a suspect in custody in connection to a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that may have injured as many as 20 people.

 Margate Fire Rescue has deemed this a mass causality incident, which means at least 20 people have been injured.The Broward Sheriff’s Office sent out a tweet Wednesday, just before 3 p.m., calling this an “active shooter” situation.

The shooter was described as wearing a black hat, a maroon or burgundy colored shirt and black pants. He was last seen on the west side of a three story building on campus.

Authorities had identified a student as a person of interest, but they have yet to officially confirm the person’s identity.

A student, who was not identified, said he knows the shooter. “He’s been a troubled kid, and he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling.”

The student went on to say the suspect had shown him pictures of guns on his phone. “I stayed clear of him most of the time. My time in alternate school, I did not want to be with him at all because I didn’t want to cause any conflict with him because of the impression he gave off.”

The extent of injuries remain unknown.

MSNBC is also reporting that the shooter pulled the fire alarm to drive people into the hallways and increase the potential targets. It is unclear right now just how many people were injured or killed, though the local emergency responders were placed on MC (mass casualty) level 3, which means expect 20 or more casualties.

From NBC:

Authorities were responding to an active shooter at a Florida high school on Wednesday afternoon. The situation still was not secured, more than an hour after it began.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told MSNBC just before 4 p.m. that “there were a number of fatalities,” citing Broward County officials, and that the shooter was not in custody, although authorities believed they knew who he was.

“This is a really bad day,” Nelson said.

Earlier, the sheriff’s office tweeted that “there are reports of victims,” but did not say how many people were injured. Broward County Public Schools said on Twitter that the sound of gunfire broke out shortly before school was dismissed for the day, and that it received reports of “possible multiple injuries.”

The high school went on immediate lockdown, Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky told NBC Miami. She did not have details on casualties or who the shooter was.

“It’s sad. It’s sad that these tragedies happen in our country,” she said. “Many of the students have been in touch with their parents. We have, many many parents out here.”

A parent of a student told the station that her son was hiding inside a closet at the school with classmates, and that teachers had told them not to leave the building.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/963878055969198080

As have Governor Scott:

And Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio:

This will, of course, be a fast moving information environment. Details are likely to change over the next 24 to 72 hours as they interrogate the suspect and more information is released to the news media.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.



Browser Outrage Dump

Time for another thread, I’d say, and I don’t have the functioning synapses to come up with anything new to say about the moral and intellectual crater that is both the Republican Party and the right’s public intellection bunch. (Did you know that Ron Johnson’s mug is being considered as the “After” portrait in the upcoming “Don’t Eat Tide Pods” campaign? Or that Rod Dreher’s thought leading crunchy conservative Christianity is racist to its root?)

So here I’m just going to lock and load some stuff I’ve kept open in my browser, waiting for the moment to foam in rage over here.  Think of this not so much as considered analysis (don’t think of it as all). Rather, it’s a very partial catalogue of how much damage decades of GOP anti-government, and worse, anti-society sabotage has done.  A goad, perhaps, though I hope no new one is needed, to crush these sorry f**ks come November, and forever after.

So here they come, in no particular order:

From Stat: “Drop in U.S. life expectancy is an indictment of the American health care system”

According to the CDC, the average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. fell by 0.1 years, to 78.6, in 2016, following a similar drop in 2015. This is the first time in 50 years that life expectancy has fallen for two years running. In 25 other developed countries, life expectancy in 2015 averaged 81.8 years.

The article acknowledges the impact of the opioid epidemic on those figures but notes that cross-country comparisons reveal systemic failures that make the disaster so much deeper here.  And then there’s the way we treat — or don’t — our elderly:

It is widely accepted that the accessibility and quality of medical services strongly affect life expectancy among the elderly and elderly Americans fall behind their counterparts overseas when it comes to being able to get and afford the health care they need.

This may seem surprising given that Americans over 65 enjoy universal health insurance coverage under Medicare. But as valuable as Medicare is, it provides far less protection against the cost of illness, and far less access to services, than do most other Western countries. In a recent cross-national survey, U.S. seniors were more likely to report having three or more chronic illnesses than their counterparts in 10 other high-income countries. At the same time, they were four times more likely than seniors in countries such as Norway and England to skip care because of costs. Medicare, it turns out, is not very good insurance compared to what’s available in most of the western world.

Next: that GOP assault on environmental regulation and protection?

Read more



Russia and the NRA

McClatchy reports today that the FBI is investigating whether the National Rifle Association received money from the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. The NRA, of course, backed Donald Trump heavily. I’m going to work through the article in some detail, because it’s hard to get at the bottom line.

The news is that there is an investigation into Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is closely connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The sources did not say whether there was evidence that the NRA received Russian money.

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

In late 2015, [Torshin] hosted two dinners for a high-level NRA delegation during its week-long visit to Moscow that included meetings with influential Russian government and business figures.

The article details connections between Maria Butina, who is connected to Torshin and has set up a pro-gun group in the US, and an NRA lawyer. Torshin is also a friend of Dana Rohrabacher, the California congressman who loves Russia. Read more








Breaking News: Federal District Court Judge Gloria Navarro Dismisses All Charges in Bundy Trial With Prejudice

From Maxine Bernstein at The Oregonian:

U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro methodically listed the prosecution’s six separate violations of the Brady law, which requires turning over evidence potentially favorable to the defense. The judge further ruled that each violation was willful.

If ever there was a time when federal prosecutors needed to make sure they acted with complete integrity it was in the high-stakes Bundy case, legal observers say. The defendants already held a deep suspicion of the government and had successfully rallied followers to their cause.

Now, the question becomes whether prosecutors can pursue a new trial, and the judge’s finding of deliberate misconduct gives the Bundys a good argument to seek an outright dismissal and walk away free men, legal experts said.

In the meantime, the dissection has begun: How could prosecutors have lost sight of due process, one of the basic tenets of the legal system.

The judge’s rebuke of Nevada’s Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, the lead, and two seasoned veteran Assistant U.S. attorneys, Daniel Schiess and Nadia Ahmed, was remarkable in and of itself.

“This is every prosecutor’s nightmare,” said Kent Robinson, a retired federal prosecutor who served six years as chief of the criminal division in Oregon’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.

When a judge makes a finding of misconduct by a prosecutor, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigates and determines if discipline is warranted, which can range from a reprimand to a suspension.

That scrutiny is underway. Ian D. Prior, deputy director of public affairs in the Justice Department, announced that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions “takes this issue very seriously.”

Sessions “has personally directed that an expert in the department’s discovery obligations be deployed to examine the case and advise as to next steps,” Prior said.

Much more at the link.

JJ McNab, a journalist and scholar of domestic right wing extremism, has this preliminary analysis:

This is going to be a fluid situation. Expect the analysis to continue throughout the day before it firms up. Also, given what we know of the Bundy’s, they’re likely to overplay this – badly. They have an uncanny knack for creating the conditions for trouble, having it find them, having others get in trouble for it – several others are already serving jail terms for both the Bunkerville standoff and the Malheur standoff as well – and walking away themselves with no real legal consequences. This will embolden them, their fellow travelers, and their supporters.

Things are likely to get lively in Nevada.

Stay frosty (or warm if you’re where it is really cold).

Open thread!

Also, obligatory:



Here’s a Possibility- Maybe We Have a Policing Problem

Fer fuck’s sake:

The call to the police sounded dire: a violent dispute at a house in Wichita, Kan., a person shot to death, an armed man holding hostages and threatening to burn the place down.

Officers raced to the scene and surrounded the house. A man emerged and the police commanded him to put his hands up. Moments later, an officer fired a deadly shot.

The whole encounter on Thursday night had been based on a hoax: There had been no shooting before the police arrived, no hostages, no threat of arson. Instead, it was a fatal incarnation of “swatting,” in which people report fake crimes in hopes of getting a SWAT team to raid a rival’s house.

“If the false police call had not been made, we would not have been there,” Deputy Chief Troy Livingston of the Wichita Police Department said at a news conference on Friday. The police did not say whether they knew who had placed the prank call, but said that it was a key part of their inquiry.

Obviously, this does not excuse the evil behavior of those who called in the hoax, but jesus fucking christ, maybe we have a policing problem when they show up and start shooting before they even know what the hell is going on? What if that had been a hostage coming to the door (as it was, it was already a completely innocent person)? Why bother calling the cops in a hostage crisis if they are just going to open fire, kill ’em all, and let god sort it out.

Just thinking outside the fucking box, here, but maybe decades of pretending the police are infallible and deserve our complete unflinching support and that we bow down at their feet for people who have a job less dangerous than a lumberjack combined with shitty pay, long hours, no chance of punishment for fuckups, and arming them to the teeth with weapons they do not need is also a problem here?








Floriduh Man! Steps Up His Game

Several of you have sent me, or recommended to me in comments, some potential Floriduh Man! posts. And I appreciate it very much. But for tonight’s installment we’ve got this enterprising young man who may have won the Floriduh Man! of the Year award.

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who is running for U.S. Congress, sent the Miami Beach Police chief a flurry emails demanding a major donor to her campaign not be arrested for an alleged spree of machete destruction, according to text messages and emails New Times obtained this week.

Saturday, September 16, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Miami Beach-based arms dealer and shooting-range owner Erik Agazim strapped on a Kevlar vest and military helmet, hung an assault-style rifle from his body, and grabbed a machete. According to police, Agazim proceeded to slash 11 blaring fire alarms with his long knife, terrifying his Sunset Harbour neighbors. According to cops, power outages from the hurricane had caused the alarms to malfunction.

Destroying a fire-safety device is a felony, but before he was arrested, Agazim fired off a text message around 11:15 p.m. to Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez, who is running in the Democratic primary for the seat that will vacated by retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In May, Agazim had donated $2,700 to Rosen Gonzalez’s congressional campaign — the maximum amount an individual may donate in a federal race.

Rosen Gonzalez was quickly spurred into action by the text from Agazim, who owns both an arms-supply business — the National Police Equipment Exchange — which sells guns to local police departments such as Miami Beach PD, and the Lock & Load shooting range in Wynwood. Using her city email address, she demanded that police stop investigating Agazim.

“Please confirm that he is not being pursued by anyone,” Rosen Gonzalez wrote to Chief Dan Oates. “He has permits for everything he is carrying. Erik is a meticulous and upstanding businessman.”

She also asked to sit in on a meeting between Agazim and the cops. In a separate email to Oates, she said she “would like to be present” at a police interview “if possible.”

“That would be inappropriate,” Oates replied.

Agazim was eventually charged with 11 felony counts of destroying fire-safety devices, one felony count of criminal mischief, and one misdemeanor count of openly carrying a rifle, suggesting that Rosen Gonazlez was incorrect in suggesting he had “permits for everything.” His arraignment hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Reached by phone, Rosen Gonzalez denied she’d done anything wrong and said the exchange showed her engaging in simple “constituent services.” She said that after Agazim was arrested, she donated his $2,700 campaign contribution to “victims of the Las Vegas shooting.”

“I had no reason to think he was anything other than a respectable, upstanding citizen,” she said. “I don’t know the details of the case, but I had no reason to believe anything than what he told me.”

(Rosen Gonzalez has previously said she believes public oversight hinders police from doing their jobs.)

Many more highly entertaining details at The Miami New Times.

Open thread!