Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Country Changes

Roseanne Cash, in the NYTimes“Country Musicians, Stand Up to the N.R.A.”:

I’ve been a gun-control activist for 20 years. Every time I speak out on the need for stricter gun laws, I get a new profusion of threats. There’s always plenty of the garden-variety “your dad would be ashamed of you” sexist nonsense, along with the much more menacing threats to my family and personal safety.

Last year, I performed at the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence with Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, Marc Cohn and the Harlem Gospel Choir, and we got death threats. People wanted to kill us because we wanted to end gun violence. That’s where we are: America, 2017.

For the past few decades, the National Rifle Association has increasingly nurtured an alliance with country music artists and their fans. You can see it in “N.R.A. Country,” which promotes the artists who support the philosophical, and perhaps economic, thrall of the N.R.A., with the pernicious tag line “Celebrate the Lifestyle.”

That wholesome public relations veneer masks something deeply sinister and profoundly destructive. There is no other way to say this: The N.R.A. funds domestic terrorism.

A shadow government exists in the world of gun sales, and the people who write gun regulations are the very people who profit from gun sales. The N.R.A. would like to keep it that way…

I encourage more artists in country and American roots music to end your silence. It is no longer enough to separate yourself quietly. The laws the N.R.A. would pass are a threat to you, your fans, and to the concerts and festivals we enjoy.

The stakes are too high to not disavow collusion with the N.R.A. Pull apart the threads of patriotism and lax gun laws that it has so subtly and maliciously intertwined. They are not the same…

Marissa R. Moss, in Politico, “How Las Vegas Shattered Country Music’s Consensus on Guns”:

[W]hile there’s no reason to expect major country stars to suddenly risk their fan bases by speaking out in favor of new gun control legislation, the country music industry is changing, thanks to streaming services that are breaking radio’s stranglehold on the industry and a newer cohort of more under-the-radar Americana artists who are more outspoken than their mainstream counterparts.

For at least one mainstream country musician, Sunday night was in fact a turning point. Guitarist for the Texas-based Josh Abbott Band, Caleb Keeter, was at the festival on the day of the massacre, and living through the experience of a mass shooting firsthand was enough to make him rethink his own stance on gun control. “I cannot express how wrong I was,” he said in a Twitter post on Monday morning, still reeling from the shock of the attack after shielding himself from the gunfire on the floor of his tour bus. “We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it.”…
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Big baby turtle

This is just the kind of reaction we want to get from the Republican special snowflakes in Congress:

McConnell said the current administration is pursuing an agenda that “folks outside don’t agree with.”

“They had their shot in the election. … But in this country when you win the election you get to make policy. I always remind people, winners make policy and losers go home.”

Nobody likes a whiny “winner”.








Overnight Open Thread: Music!

Clearly after all of today’s political sturm and drang we’ve got plenty of bits and bobs that could use some soothing. So here’s some music to take you through the overnight!

 



Life Without Parole

So, as noted below, Dzokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted on all thirty counts in the Boston Marathon Bombing and (closer still to home), the murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier.

Good.

Now for sentencing, in which the grotesquely termed “Death Qualified Jury”™ will decide between execution and life without parole.

Like an overwhelming majority of my Boston neighbors, I am opposed to the death penalty for Tsarnaev, as I am in all cases.  Three reasons:

1.  Error or malice.  It is hardly news to anyone reading this that police and prosecutors f**k up.  Death at the hands of the state renders those errors permanently uncorrectable.  As a citizen in whose name the state kills, I can’t accept that moral burden.

CaravaggioSalomeLondon

That some cases, like Tsarnaev’s, are open and shut doesn’t alter the moral and practical force of the argument above, I think, basically because the moment you introduce discretion into death penalty jurisprudence, you re-open the possibility of error or malice.  If the standard is overwhelming obviousness, then who decides; who processes the evidence in support of that definition, and so on.  The only way to be certain you’re not killing innocents is not to kill anyone under the cover of state sanction.

If that makes me soft, so be it.

2.  Soft or not, I’m vengeful, too.   To my mind, LWOP is a fate worse than death.  Because I do not believe in an afterlife, the only punishments that matter, like the only rewards, are those we receive in this life.  Fifty years in a maximum or super-max prison is, to me, a much more thorough and exemplary penalty than oblivion.

3.  I’m practical.  See reason one.  Cops and government lawyers f**k up.  We kill their errors and the urgency of addressing particular patterns of incompetence, indifference, and outright viciousness diminishes.  Patterns of bad behavior and unjust outcomes become much harder to discern.  Any hope, slim as it may be, of creating a better, more justice-driven law-enforcement system, evaporates when the living reasons to address current injustices disappear.  If we want to make things better, we need not to kill the people whom the system failed.  Simple as that.

That’s a pretty good short-version of how I see it, probably in the order I’d weight them.  I’m sure I could come up with more, and FSM knows, seeing as it’s me, I could go on a lot more on the three planks above.  But that’s the gist.

ETA:   One more thing:  Just to be clear.  I’m no Gandhi.  I’m not non-violent.  But I’m anti-violence.  The fact that we (in theory) surrender to the state a monopoly on violence means that we need to hedge that power around with a mighty wall.  Not killing those in our power, even the most evil, is part of that wall.  Whether the more pragmatic arguments above carry greater weight some days than others, at bottom there is a moral imperative that I can’t find a way to avoid:  when we, or I, don’t need to kill, choosing to do so anyway is wrong.

 

What do y’all think?

Image:  Caravaggio, Salome with the head of John the Baptist, before 1610.



Have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Rev. Barber

Ari Berman has a great piece on the voting rights hearing yesterday in North Carolina:

Nearly fifty years after marching for voting rights in Alabama, Coleman testified in federal court today in Winston-Salem against North Carolina’s new voting restrictions, which have been described as the most onerous in the nation. The law mandates strict voter ID, cuts early voting by a week and eliminates same-day registration, among many other things. After the bill’s passage, “I was devastated,” Coleman testified. “I felt like I was living life over again. Everything that I worked for for the last fifty years was being lost.”
The federal government and civil rights groups, including the ACLU and the North Carolina NAACP, asked Judge Thomas Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee for the Middle District of North Carolina, to enjoin key provisions of the law before the 2014 midterms under Section 2 of the VRA.

After the hearing, eight hundred North Carolinians gathered in downtown Winston-Salem for a “Moral March to the Polls” event protesting the law. “I know it’s hot out here,” Barber told the crowd. “But it’s going to be hotter if you let them take our vote away.”

The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, was among the first at the court house this morning.

In other news, True the Vote had to dismiss their Mississippi lawsuit. Despite this headline:

Tea Party surrogates True the Vote have voluntarily given up a lawsuit in North MS Federal District Court after Judge Michael Mills read them the riot act on Monday.

I don’t think the judge “read them the riot act”. He thinks they’re in the wrong court so ordered them to “show cause” why they filed where they did and they then dismissed. It’s not like he told them to STFU.



“Out, damned spot! Out, I say!”

Has a sitting governor ever taken it upon herself to absolve her constituents of murder most foul? Maybe, but I don’t recall it.

Here’s a remarkable statement by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R-Edrum) in a column published yesterday that addressed the recent botched execution:

“Justice was served. The people of Oklahoma do not have blood on their hands.”

If you say so, Lady MacBeth. Fucking sociopath. I wish I thought the horror and absurdity of this would make a damn bit of difference.

[X-posted at Rumproast]



They tell me I was born there, but I really don’t remember

Give these people tax cuts tout suite (via via):

It’s all very cordial: In the fall, Mr. Mellon and Ms. Hanley Mellon, 36, plan to introduce Hanley Mellon, their own clothing line.

They are not exactly starting from the gutter. Mr. Mellon, who comes from the Mellon and Drexel families of Bank of New York Mellon and Drexel Burnham Lambert, grew up in New York City, Palm Beach and Northeast Harbor, Me., and went to the University of Pennsylvania. The walls of the pad he and Ms. Hanley Mellon share at the Pierre are lined with paintings by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Peter Beard and, Mr. Mellon said, “Taylor Swift.”

[….]

Mr. Mellon’s initial foray into fashion was as the creative director of Jimmy Choo’s collection of men’s shoes. After Tamara Mellon, whom he met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 1997, decided she no longer wanted a men’s line…

[….]

“I’ve never been to Africa, but I feel like I have this deep affinity for it,” Ms. Hanley Mellon said. “I’ve read every Hemingway, we collect Peter Beard, I’ve watched ‘Out of Africa.’ It touches your soul to visit and smell the smells, and you can’t recreate the experience without immersing yourself.”

What are the chances that a 99 percenter goes from AA to a high-end fashion venture (covered by the Times)?