Point, Counterpoint

Point:

Dana Loesch, the St. Louis, MO based conservative commentator, made the following membership drive (I think it’s to promote joining, but it’s hard to tell) video for the National Rifle Association back in April. For some reason it floated below the surface until it got noticed on social media this week.

I think Josh Marshall’s analysis is pretty accurate:

Counterpoint:

(Image 1: Ryan Payne from a 2014 Missoula Independent cover/profile)

This past week Federal prosecutors in Oregon made sentencing request for some of the people that followed Ammon Bundy in occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The Oregonian reports:

The government will recommend Ryan Payne receive three years and five months in custody, the longest sentence of those who entered guilty pleas to conspiracy, Gabriel said.

Payne is still facing Federal charges in Nevada related to his actions in the Bunkerville standoff. As The Missoula Independent reports, was:

On April 7, Ryan Payne, a 30-year-old Iraq War veteran, packed his ’93 Jeep Cherokee with two sleeping bags, two cots, the rucksack he’d more or less lived out of during his five years in the military and a Rock River Arms Operator LAR-15. He was on his way to the southern Nevada desert to defend the oppressed from the tyrannical force of the federal government, and he knew he might have to fight.

As people came, Payne emerged—reluctantly, he says—as the militia’s de facto leader.

“I’m an advisor and coordinator for OMA,” Payne says, “and I was Mr. Bundy’s militia liaison. He would tell me what he had planned, and then I would advise him as to what the militia could accomplish in support of that.”

He organized the militia into units and pursued the objectives he and Bundy had agreed upon. As he set about planning a strategy for accomplishing those goals, Payne drew heavily on his Army experience.

Stay frosty!

 



Some Thoughts on Today’s Shootings

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 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 Bowling Alone, which makes the mistake of understanding American social interactions through the forty to fifty year window between the end of WW II and the late 90s/early 00s, and ignore 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 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:

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)



Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Attorney General Sessions Testimony

Here’s the live feed for AG Sessions testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

We now know that the source of the allegations of a third meeting between then Senator Sessions and Russian Ambassador Kislyak is from signals intelligence (SIGINT) captured last year.

The origin of the Mayflower story can be traced, according to several American officials, to raw intelligence picked up by American spy agencies last year that is now held at C.I.A. headquarters in Virginia. The intelligence appears to be based on intercepts of Mr. Kislyak discussing a private meeting he had with Mr. Sessions at a Trump campaign event last April at the luxury hotel.

Lawmakers have reviewed the intelligence — which remains classified — as part of the congressional investigations into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s presidential election. Several news outlets have reported that Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior White House adviser, may have also attended the meeting.

Here is a link to Ryan Goodman’s, Just Security‘s co-editor in chief’s five not so obvious questions for Attorney General Sessions.

Update at 2:35 PM EDT

Don’t forget to call your Senators!



Saturday Night Movie Open Thread


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Next big progressive blockbuster?



Rest in Peace Adam West

Adam West has passed away at the age of 88.

From the BBC:

West died peacefully in Los Angeles after a brief battle with leukaemia, a family spokesperson said.

His tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Batman and the superhero’s alter ego Bruce Wayne won a cult following.

He later struggled to find big acting roles, but won a new generation of fans in more recent times after joining the cast of Family Guy.

First appearing in season two in 2002, he voiced Quahog’s eccentric Mayor Adam West, described by series creator Seth McFarlane as an “alternate universe”, satirised version of the actor.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” the actor’s family said in a statement, reported in Variety.

The Hollywood Reporter:

Adam West, the ardent actor who managed to keep his tongue in cheek while wearing the iconic cowl of the Caped Crusader on the classic 1960s series Batman, has died. He was 88.

West, who was at the pinnacle of pop culture after Batman debuted in January 1966, only to see his career fall victim to typecasting after the ABC show flamed out, died Friday night in Los Angeles after a short battle with leukemia, a family spokesperson said.

West died peacefully surrounded by his family and is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

West had recently returned to his best known role in a DC animated movie rejoining costars Burt Ward and Julie Newmar in voicing their characters.

A sequel was planned.

Ready to move out!



Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Live Feed: Deputy AG Rosenstein, Acting FBI Director McCabe, DNI Coats, and DIRNSA Rogers Testimony

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will soon come to order for the day and hear testimony from Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Coats, Acting Director of the FBI McCabe, and Director of the National Security Agency ADM Rogers.

Expect a great deal of, at least, Admiral Rogers testimony to deal with Monday’s news about attempted Russian hacking of election systems and the officials who oversee them. Also keep an eye out for what both the Democrats and the Republican members are asking about. If the GOP members quickly move to and stick with questions about unmasking then there is a coordinated, predetermined strategy similar to what we saw a few weeks ago in the House Select Committee on Intelligence’s hearing to try to shift the narrative to something less damaging and more advantageous to the GOP and the President. Given that Senator Burr has already said a focus will be on renewing the FISA Act later this year, this may be an easy move to make.

Here’s the live feed:

I’ll be back shortly with a brief piece on the terrorist attacks in Iran and later today/tonight with a piece on the Russian active measures campaign against Qatar.



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Wonderous Women

Because I can (heya, LAMH!), and because these stories meet my EMOT criteria for “not liable to make readers put down their coffee and go right back to bed.” Some days, it’s harder than others.

Jessica Bennet, in the NYTimes, “If Wonder Woman Can Do It, She Can Too”:

“She’s so strong,” the little girl seated next to me at a Brooklyn screening of “Wonder Woman” kept repeating to her mother, occasionally shielding her eyes. It was the first fight scene of the movie, and I was trying not to sob…

But 20 minutes into “Wonder Woman,” the director Patty Jenkins’s take on the iconic DC Comics story, the tears came uncontrollably — as the Amazonian women twirled and glided, fierce and muscular and graceful at once, engaged in battle moves that looked as if they were choreographed for women’s bodies (which, it turned out, they were). I mean, the outfits were a little absurd. Their gladiator sandals seemed to have wedges. And yet, much like Jill Lepore, the author of “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” put it in The New Yorker: “I am not proud that I found comfort in watching a woman in a golden tiara and thigh-high boots clobber hordes of terrible men. But I did.”

In fact, I was proud. So were legions of women I know who took daughters, nieces, nephews, mentees or simply went in droves, some of them to women-only screenings — and walked out of theaters with a strange feeling of ferociousness. One friend immediately purchased 40 tickets for a group of girls she mentors, along with all their friends. A group of women writers has raised more than $7,000 in a GoFundMe campaign to send New York City girls to see the film.

“I was kind of taken aback at how something as minor as a movie has been affecting me,” said Ruth Wilner, 45, who saw the film with her husband in Sacramento. “I wish I could go back in time and watch it with 8-year-old me.”…


 

Spoilers (kinda) but also worth reading: Wonder Woman‘s Most Fantastic Scene Nearly Didn’t Get Made at All”.


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Apart from fierce women and implacable resistance, what’s on the agenda for the day?