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Monthly Archives: September, 2015

We Can Only Hope He Means It

Deranged douche extraordinaire Anders Breivik, the guy who murdered all those Norwegians with guns and explosives in 2011 and has been in prison for it ever since is threatening suicide.

More specifically, in protest for his treatment in a Norwegian prison – the prettiest and most humane place of incarceration in the world – Breivik is threatening to starve himself to death.

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Yeah… this is what he’s complaining about. And this is not the first time he’s threatened to off himself by starvation. The last time, the convicted mass murderer whined that his PlayStation 2 was out of date, and that he wanted a newer console. This time, apparently the poor cherub can’t finish his studies.

He complained the conditions mean he is no longer able to continue studying his political science course at University of Oslo. He added: “Studying and corresponding is not humanly possible under such circumstances, and this applies to anyone who is isolated under such conditions.

“The decision about the drastic deterioration of prison conditions forced me to drop out of my studies, which in turn means that I will lose my place at the university. The studies, which were made possible for only thirteen full days before the Minister of Justice put an end to them, were the only thing I had.”

Hey, fuckwad! Here’s a little clue for you: you slaughtered a bunch of innocent people, including kids. No one gives a flying rat’s ass if you starve! As a matter of fact, I think they should probably withhold food just to make it easier for you to achieve this goal.

Give Satan a hug in hell before he shoves that barbed wire-encrusted, flaming cricket bat up your ass.

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Snowden on Twitter

The press reported yesterday that traitor extraordinaire Edward Snowden has opened a Twitter account.

His opening tweet was: “Can you hear me now?”

In his profile, Mr Snowden says he “used to work for the government. Now I work for the public”. He quickly gathered thousands of followers.

So far, Mr Snowden, who is wanted in the US for leaking secrets, only follows one other Twitter user – the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Many of you know how I feel about Snowden. I made it no secret that I believe he was a Russian asset from the get go, and that the tiny amount of information he released about spying on U.S. citizens is hugely overshadowed by the millions of files he released that compromise legitimate intelligence gathering means and methods and threaten our ability to gather information on transnational organized criminal groups, terrorists, and other unsavory characters worldwide.

His Twitter presence has an air of arrogance, of attention whoring, and of self-aggrandizing conceit. By following only one Twitter account – the NSA – the little windbag is telling the United States, “Hey! Look at me! I’m here!”

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The air is almost Assange-like in its supercilious swagger.

But as is the norm, along comes a gaseous windbag that makes Snowden look somewhat sympathetic and reasonable… OK, I wouldn’t go that far… How about less douchey? Said windbag is George Pataki – former governor of New York, GOP back-runner, polling right around no percent, and authoritarian shitslurper – who has decided in his infinite wisdom to call on Twitter to ban Edward Snowden.

What. The. Hell.

Pataki now feels himself qualified to tell a social media platform whom it should or should not allow a voice? Really?

What is it with these statist fuckbats? Yeah… we’re Republican… we want small government and less intrusion in your lives, unless we don’t like you, in which case we will call on private entities to ban you.

To be fair, I haven’t seen anything that indicates Pataki is advocating government force to shut down the account, but that said… I’m not sure I’d trust him not to if he was in a position of power.

As much as I find Snowden to be a repugnant, traitorous shitbag, what I find even more disgusting is someone who wants to be elected to this nation’s highest office trying to pressure a private company to ban someone’s voice. Hell, even notorious Sinaloa crime boss Chapo and his thug offspring have accounts on Twitter! All sorts of unsavory characters use the social media platform. Does Pataki want to shut down their accounts as well?

You want to shut down Snowden? Extradite him to the United States, give him a fair trial, and put him in prison for a long, long time! There is enough evidence to convict him ten times over! He stole classified information. He revealed said classified information to the world, including our adversaries. He compromised critical operations. He released said information willy nilly without giving thought to how much harm he could do, and then arrogantly pissed that this was the “price of freedom.” I can’t imagine a halfway competent prosecutor screwing this up! So try him and imprison him. That’s how you shut down that pernicious piece of detritus.

And yes, I know I’ve emotionally wished death upon that maggot on this blog before. There’s still a nasty, vindictive part of me that wants him to eat a polonium sandwich, but that part of me is small. I’m much more committed to the ideals I swore to defend when I took my oath, and those ideals don’t include a Pataki-like attack on freedom.

Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes

In 2012, a deranged loon shot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. It was a tragedy in which 12 people were killed and 70 others injured. James Holmes fired 76 shots in the theater: six from a shotgun, 65 from a semi-automatic rifle, and five from a .40-caliber handgun. The shooting prompted the usual calls for more gun control, and Holmes this year was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision over sentencing him to death.

In the aftermath of the shooting, and in an obvious effort to take advantage of an opportunity, the Brady Center and its attorneys brought a pro bono lawsuit on behalf of the parents of one of the victims Jessica Ghawi against Lucky Gunner – the company that sold Holmes ammunition.

They lost.

Further, they were ordered to pay $203,000 in legal fees for this frivolous lawsuit. They’re now crying that they don’t have the money, while at the same time absolving the Brady Center of responsibility for paying this bill, even though they instigated the suit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I hurt for Lonnie and Sandy Phillips. I know what it’s like to lose a child, and it’s an agony I don’t wish on anyone. But at the same time, when your reaction to such a tragic loss is to work to relieve others of their rights, abuse the legal system in order to punish lawful citizens for engaging in legal business, and then whine about the legal consequences of your actions, you deserve a fisk.

We brought our lawsuit because we thought it was outrageous that companies could sell a dangerous man an arsenal without getting any information about him, and without making any effort to see if he was a dangerous killer — which he was. When the killer had left a voicemail with a shooting range, the range operator knew that he was bad news and shouldn’t be given access to guns. But these companies set up their business so people just like this killer can arm themselves at the click of a mouse. We wanted to change that. And we still do.

The shooting range operator received bizarre phone calls from Holmes after having applied for a membership there. The range owner tried to call him back, but never got in touch. Holmes never reappeared at the range after having made that call. The range owner thought the call was bizarre, but the claim that he knew the caller was bad news and shouldn’t be given access to gun is disingenuous. As a matter of fact, Glenn Rotkovich called Holmes several times to invite him to a mandatory orientation at the range. What that has to do with an online ammunition company making a legitimate sale is unclear. The company set up an online business to sell a legitimate product in a legitimate manner.

Attorneys at Arnold and Porter and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence brought the lawsuit for us, pro bono. We knew the risks of bringing the case. We knew that Colorado and Congress have given special protection of the gun industry, and we knew that under Colorado law we could even be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees because of those special protections.

“Special protection” = Protection from frivolous lawsuits for a legitimate industry to conduct business without being legally harassed by those seeking to cash in on tragedy and hold them accountable for the negligence of others.

Got it.

They knew the lawsuit was frivolous.

Got it.

But we thought it was important to take a stand, to fight to prevent other families from suffering as we have. We did not seek any money in our case. We just wanted injunctive relief — to have these companies act reasonably when they sold dangerous materiel, like 100-round ammunition magazines, ammunition, body armor, and tear gas.

Background checks were performed on Holmes. He passed. He bought three different firearms at three different stores. Legally. He also didn’t wear body armor, despite having purchased it, which by the way is designed to protect people. But of course, facts don’t matter when you’re hysterically trying to use emotionalist rhetoric to sway people to your side.

The judge dismissed our case because, he said, these online sellers had special immunity from the general duty to use reasonable care under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and a Colorado immunity law. If you couple the PLCAA law with Colorado’s law HB 000-208, (which says in essence: If you bring a civil case against a gun or ammunition seller and the case is dismissed then the plaintiff must pay all the defendant’s costs), you have an impenetrable barrier to using the judicial system to effect change in gun legislation in Colorado.

Actually, that’s not what the judge said. What he said was the suit was filed for propaganda purposes. “It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order.”

Everyone else in society has a duty to use reasonable care to not injure others — except gun and ammunition sellers.

Selling a legal product to a customer does not qualify as “injuring others.” This is what the Phillips don’t seem to understand and the Brady Center tries to obfuscate. The mere sale of a gun or a box of ammunition does not injure anyone, and holding lawful businesses for the evil of those who misuse their products is absurd. No other industry can be held liable for the misuse of their products by others. Not a single one. The Protection of Lawful Commerce Act merely brings the industry to standards that apply to any other manufacturer of consumer products. It does not prevent gun manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible.

To make matters worse, the judge ordered that we pay $203,000. This is an outrageous amount, especially given that this case was decided after one single motion! Lucky Gunner has said that it is going to donate all these fees to “gun rights” groups. The thought is disgusting to us that Lucky Gunner does not even plan to use this money to pay for their attorney’s fees.

You knew you’d be obligated to pay for abusing the resources of the court with frivolous suits, trying to ruin a legitimate business via the courts, and doing so for political ends, and now you’re complaining that the company you attempted to abuse is going to donate that money to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens? That is what’s nauseating!

Lucky Gunner wants to use blood money to fund the NRA and like-minded groups. See for yourself. Check out Lucky Gunner’s self-serving description of our case then click on “Head Here” (the green words at the end of Lucky Gunner’s last sentence) to find out how the money is to be distributed.

Translation: the company we tried to destroy wants to donate the money we owe them for trying to ruin their business to groups that protect the rights of all Americans! OH THE HORROR!

The law says we are responsible for these fees, which we recognize. We do not have the money to pay this amount. The Judge insinuated in his order that Brady should pay since he said they were the instigators. If this was a ploy designed to give the appearance that Brady was responsible and turn us against each other, it did not work.

Brady is still fighting for us pro bono and we see no evidence that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will not help us raise funds if and when that time comes.

Translation: We’re too stupid to know when we’re being used by a morally corrupt organization for its political and propaganda ends, so we’re going to whine about not having money, while hoping the Brady Center will pay our legal fees – the same group that duped us into this frivolous lawsuit to begin with, knowing there was no chance in hell we were going to win.

Yeah… good luck with that.

We believe that the judge’s decision was wrong, and that it is unconstitutional to financially punish people for bringing a lawsuit, especially a public interest case that did not seek a dime. But rather than risk possibly being ordered to pay even more fees, we are changing our focus from going after these laws in the judicial branch (we have dropped our appeal) to getting them overturned on the legislative level.

You’re not being punished financially for bringing a lawsuit. You’re being forced to pay the legal costs of the company you tried to ruin by abusing the resources of the courts.

We hope that we are spearheading a movement to expose these egregious and unconstitutional laws for what they really are. They are an attack on our civil liberties. With these laws in place ordinary citizens are effectively barred by the exorbitant cost from bringing any civil action against sellers of firearms and ammunition.

Nope. They’re barred from abusing the legal system in order to advance a political agenda.

It is un-American and outrageous that these special laws can deny us our day in court simply because we were victimized by the gun industry. Our lawsuit was not frivolous. Our Jessi was shot multiple times with high-velocity, armor-piercing bullets that were designed by our military to inflict maximum damage on enemy combatants.

Nope. You were victimized by an insane, violent lunatic who will spend the rest of his deranged life in prison. Your lawsuit sought to hold lawful businesses accountable for his actions – actions for which he was already punished. You had your day in court, and you lost – as you knew you would – because you tried to abuse the system with the full knowledge that trying to hold a company accountable for the actions of someone who used its product for nefarious ends is unlawful. And by the way, your daughter was slaughtered by a deranged nutjob, so stop using her loss to garner sympathy for yourselves. The blood dance doesn’t make you more sympathetic figures. It makes you opportunists, who would allow themselves to be used by the Brady charlatans to further their political agenda.

It is abhorrent to us as the parents of a child who has been killed by a person with outwardly obvious mental issues who was able to easily access a one hundred round magazine and 4,000 rounds of armor-piercing bullets online without a valid ID.

See above.

Who is our last line of defense that makes that conscious decision to not ask for ID before selling large orders of lethal, military-grade armament? Online sellers, knowing they are shielded by immunity laws, refuse to put into place even minimal safeguards that would save lives. That is abhorrent to us.

See that bit about these so-called “immunity laws” above.

One of the ways that we can level the playing field is to create precedents in our court rooms that make gun and ammunition dealers pay a price for conduct that contributes to gun violence. Another way is to lobby our state and federal legislators to repeal these laws. That is our objective.

So you want to encourage others to make the stupid decision to frivolously abuse the court system? You don’t learn, do you?

We are calling on the citizens of this country and the gun violence prevention community to stand ready to help us get in the face of state and national legislators. Join us in helping to get the word out to the American citizens who are not aware of how these laws take away the rights of victims of gun violence.

Victims have the right to see those who commit these crimes tried in a court of law. This has happened, and Holmes will thankfully never walk free again. Victims certainly do not have the right to use the courts in an attempts to ruin businesses engaged in legal commerce.

Well… I guess they do, but they will lose.

Social Justice Warriors Take on the Sombrero

What, you think I’m kidding?

Nah, folks. Luckily this isn’t taking place in the United States, but rather at the University of East Anglia in the (formerly) Great Britain. Although if you think that America’s SJWs won’t be looking to this example to end cultural appropriation, white privilege, cisnormativegender… something… I have no idea, let me disabuse you of that notion at once. Just think about the current discussion here in the United States about whether or not braids represent “cultural appropriation.”

But back to the University of East Anglia, where the student union has banned students from getting free sombreros from a local Tex Mex joint.

The University of East Anglia student union officials even took the big floppy hats from students at the Freshers’ Fair, because non-Mexicans wearing the traditional item of headwear could be seen as offensive, according to a new initiative.

The Union has stated that the handing out of sombreros breached a key advertising policy which was sent to all stallholders before the event, prohibiting any use of stereotypical imagery in advertising.

Because sombreros are considered not only racist, but “cultural appropriation.”

It’s OK. I’ll wait until you pick your jaw up off the floor. Here’s a comedic interlude while you do so.

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Done? Good.

Next up, we will have DNA tests to prove you’re really German before we allow you to wear the lederhosen, mein freund. There’s a reason why Ancestry.com now has that mouth swab thingy you can send in to find out what your DNA says about you! We wouldn’t want you to be culturally insensitive, now would be?

Screw diversity. Screw getting acquainted with and celebrating other cultures. Screw joy. You’re not allowed, you white, privileged racist.

Oh, and by the way the British Mexican Society backed the Tex-Mex eatery for giving away the free hats. The Mexican group dedicated to promoting the Latin American country’s cultural heritage praised Pedros for giving out the free sombreros. “We are delighted to learn that there is a Mexican restaurant in Norwich and hope that they would like to join us to become members of the British Mexican Society,” they said.

The douche pickle trying to whitesplain the contrived outrage is Campaigns and Democracy officer Chris Jarvis, who is quite obviously not Mexican, but is offended on their behalf anyway.

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“We know that when it comes to cultural appropriation the issues can sometimes be difficult to understand and many don’t realise that they may be about to cause offence or break a policy.”

Well thanks for the palesplanation, ass goblin. We’re so glad we have you to explain the outrage on those poor, uneducated Mexicans’ behalf!

Smart Phones, Stupid Kids

Yes, we survived the blood moon. No we did not prep for the apocalypse. Yes, I did glance sideways at my zombie survival pack during “Fear the Walking Dead” last night.

But in the end, I rolled out of bed at zero-dark-thirty today, and headed out to earn a living.


Ever since the advent of smartphones, we’ve been listening to alleged “experts” tell us how these little computers are going to make our children stupid. They degrade communication. They make kids anti-social. They discourage active learning.

As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to Brian and Larry on WMAL – the only morning talk show I can tolerate, as a former broadcaster – discussing this article from the Washington Post with their listeners. Now, I’m not a big radio call-in person, given the fact that I’m a former radio morning show host and news anchor, and I have no need to hear myself on the air, and I can only listen to WMAL up to a certain point in my commute before it starts to fade out, so I’m not sure where the discussion ended up, but I will say, I’ve never wanted so badly to call in as I did this morning.

A couple of Fairfax County, VA teachers are writing a book about the decline in kids’ ability to communicate and reason as the result of digital technologies.

“They are good at telling me the who, what, where and when — anything Google can tell them…The ability to make connections seems to have vanished.”

[…]

They say the free periods that are part of their school schedule have deteriorated from lively talk among students and teachers to silent screen reading, each student in a little world. Online homework assignments are taking twice as long as they would if the student read a paper textbook, because programs are sometimes difficult to load and students cannot resist the temptation to play around on the same devices.

I can see how this would be disturbing. I find myself doing the same thing – playing around on the device until the information I need loads, because I get bored waiting. I get it. I also understand the concern about the inability to make connections with other humans. I find texting and emailing much more comfortable than face-to-face interaction, but that may be because I’m a painful introvert, who finds it agonizing to spend time in crowds, and who has to take a day to decompress after any social event.

I do get it.

But ultimately, I think the onus of ensuring that your kids don’t grow up to be socially deficient and downright stupid because they spend their days with their faces buried in their electronics, is on you as a parent.

I hate the dumb texting shortcuts kids use today to communicate, so I ensured that my children used proper English – even in emails and text messages. Yes, I did correct their grammar and syntax. Yes, I did force them to use full words, instead of the usual “how r u?” garbage. And when they fell into using what I call “textard” in their written communication with me, my usual response to said text was, “SPEAK ENGLISH!”

Yes, they learned, and yes, to this day, I get complete sentences, correct grammar, and good spelling even in text messages. My kids write lengthy texts, because I taught them that clear communication is important and even the occasional slip in grammar and spelling will be corrected to ensure they understand their mistakes.

I understood that the parents of today have to keep up with technology if they want to remain close to their offspring. Yes, I text. Yes, I send them funny pictures from my phone. Yes, I communicate with Daniel via FaceTime (Sarah has an Android phone, so she doesn’t have the app). Technology allows me to remain close with my kids and to communicate with them instantly. I learned how to use it, because a) it is convenient, and b) because I know they do, and I’d rather learn to take full advantage of these technologies in order to stay in touch with them, than resist and risk losing that closeness we have.

As for the concerns about making connections, I’m not sure they’re valid, and I think they’re completely dependent on other factors in the home. I insisted that when either or both kids were home, we’d have dinner together. Dinner wasn’t a time to play on your phone, but to eat and hang out with your family. There were a few times I would yell at Danny to put the damn phone down, and there were a few times he yelled at me for the same thing, but generally speaking, we communicated and had relationships outside that little screen.

The relationships between parents and kids are the basis for their other human interactions. Danny has friends with whom he has formed what I hope will be lasting bonds. These friendships aren’t based in texts and snapchats, but are supplemented and supported by those platforms, and allow the kids to keep in touch – especially now that they’re in different colleges, miles away from one another. In other words, teach the kid to have solid human interactions at home, and they will have solid human interactions outside of the home. Once those are established, the phone becomes a tool to facilitate those personal interactions, instead of a substitute for them.

The other advantage of kids texting to one another is that it allows them the time to examine what their friend said in detail and craft their answer accordingly, instead of rambling over one another without actually listening to what their interlocutor said. I find myself looking closer at what Danny and Sarah write, and reading it several times to ensure I understand their meaning before replying. In a text message they take more time to respond to one another, and ostensibly, they make more effort to respond correctly and completely.

The one thing that does concern me is the passive learning kids seem to do when heavily integrated with these technologies. Got a question? They’ll search for the answer on their phones and provide it toute suite. The problem is that they essentially suck up information without exercising their ability to analyze it. It’s easy to Google a reply, but can you extricate logical conclusions from said information? Can you look at the answer you just found on the Internet and understand the “why” and the “how,” instead of just the “what”?

Learning is not and should not be just siphoning information from the web and regurgitating the answer at test time. The smart phone will not teach kids how to assess the information they are seeing, nor will it teach them to glean important points from it or even judge its accuracy. Hence the prevalence of all sorts of false memes on the Internet. We have forgotten how to do actual research, and that’s worrisome. It’s one thing to be able to Google some keywords or phrases, but it’s quite another to be able to analyze the content and judge its veracity. This, more than anything, is where I worry my kids will fall behind. I taught them as much as I could, but the attraction of the technology is that it makes research easy. Unfortunately, it leaves logical assessments and judgments in the dust, and that, in my uneducated opinion, is what we really need to worry about.

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As for collaboration and conversation, I think the smartphone can be an invaluable tool, and the panic about these gadgets making kids dumb is a bit overblown.

YMMV

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