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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

It’s Hard to Swallow Today’s Breaking News

The Daily Escape:

Autumn, Lake Mrzia Vodica, Croatia – photo by lascic

Lots of breaking news today, including Ruth Ginsburg breaking three ribs. Wrongo broke two ribs this summer, so he has some idea of how a geriatric person recovers from this kind of injury. Let’s hope she is able to get back on the job soon.

Robert Mueller is said to be preparing his final report, now that Sessions is out. It seems that the GOP is going to go all in on a cover-up.

Today though, we’ll focus on yet another mass shooting, this time in SoCal. Twelve people have been killed in a bar near Pepperdine University. Apparently, the killer committed suicide. We know that he was a former Marine (2008-2013) who served in Afghanistan for eight months, from November 2010 to June 2011. He was a machine gunner while in the Marines.  He lived with his mother. He legally owned the murder weapon.

Expect to hear more thoughts and prayers, and for good guys to carry guns when they go in a bar.

Oh, wait! One of victims in the bar actually WAS carrying a gun. He was a sheriff responding to the shooting, and was one of the 12 people killed.

For some perspective on mass shootings, Paul Campos at the LGM blog has an interesting chart showing mass shootings in the US by decade:

1950s: 0

1960s: 1 (University of Texas tower shooting)

1970s: 0

1980s: 6

1990s: 6

2000s: 7

2010s: 16

Campos says that 22 of these 36 mass shootings have taken place since 2007. Campos doesn’t include the killer(s) if they were killed or committed suicide during the incident. His source uses eight dead as the definition of a mass shooting.

When you look at the timeline of mass shootings and see just how many of them (50%) have occurred in this decade (which still has two years to go), shouldn’t we be asking what’s changed? We have been living in an increasingly safe era since the peak in violent crime, with the outlier being mass shootings. The overall homicide rate reached its peak in 1992 at 9.8/100,000 and firearm homicides are now down to about 3.5/100,000 nationally.

For a nation of 300 million people, that’s a difference of about 10,000 fewer people dying in gun murders per year compared to where we would be if the rate had held constant.

Some will blame the internet, social media and our increasingly alienated modern society for angry white guys committing more mass murders. The truth is we have no idea why this abomination is happening more frequently. One place where better data would help is knowing what percentage of the population now has access to rapid fire assault weapons with large capacity clips.

We do know that gun ownership is more prevalent than it was in the 1950’s through the 1970’s. We know that there are many people out there with guns. Per capita, the number of guns in the hands of civilians has roughly doubled since 1968, from one gun per every two persons, to one gun per person. Yet, the firearm murder rate is lower.

We haven’t gotten anywhere with gun control since the Clinton presidency. There are few issues in America that we won’t tackle if they continually cause deaths. We don’t allow drinking and driving, and we require that people wear seatbelts. We are trying to blunt the anti-vaxx’ers by now requiring kids to show proof of vaccination before they can attend public school. We’re willing to send the people who screwed up Flint, Michigan’s water system to jail.

But nothing works to restrict the availability and lethality of guns.

The new governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, has a different framing for the gun debate. He talks about limiting “gun violence” not about “common sense gun control”, which is the standard liberal meme when it comes to limiting the Second Amendment.

Maybe a focus on gun violence as opposed to gun control is a better way to create voter support for new restrictions on guns, the kind of restrictions that would help lower the number and lethality, of mass shootings.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 18, 2018

Friday brought Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians for “information warfare against the United States of America“. The best part was that the special counsel’s work was totally under the radar, and there were zero leaks.

And thus far, nobody on the right is claiming Mueller’s indictments are “fake news”.

One interesting takeaway was that Russian cells were formed to establish phony Facebook, Twitter and other accounts that pushed divisive politics in the US. We already knew this, but we didn’t know specifics: At one point, a supposed Islamophobic group protested outside a Texas mosque, and it was met by a pro-Muslim counter-demonstration. Both demonstrations were called for by fake Russian sites. These sites eventually had hundreds of thousands of followers. They spread false memes, including that Clinton supported Sharia law.

Russian sites that were disguised as a part of the Black Lives Matter movement argued that African-Americans should not vote. While it is impossible to show cause and effect, Clinton underperformed with Black voters.

The jury is still out on the extent of Russian influence, and we may never know if it mattered. Still, it is way past time for the Democratic Party to own up to its own failures, rather than continually blaming the Russians, Bernie Sanders, the Green Party, or the deplorables.

After Mueller indictments, Trump and friends now have some ‘splaining to do:

Mitch, Paul and the rest of the GOP think they have zero responsibility for gun violence:

The issue is always the guns:

American Exceptionalism was on display again last week:

Pledge of Allegiance needs new words:

Blockbuster Black Panther movie may help beyond entertaining us:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 26, 2015

Happy Sunday! Americans hate theocracy everywhere but at home. According to the Pew Research Center, 49% of Americans think churches should speak out about political matters, while 48% disagree, reflecting our divided politics. This has changed since 2010, when 52% wanted preachers to stay away from politics, and 43% didn’t.

The new urge to hear their pastors pillory politicians is supported mostly by Republicans. About 63% of Americans still think churches should stop short of endorsing candidates for office (vs. 32% who favor endorsing), but the gap has narrowed since 2010 when it was 70-24%. Moreover, only 29% of Americans see the Democratic Party as friendly to religion, while 47% see the Republicans favoring religion.

So in the most devout parts of the country, Democratic candidates tend to distance themselves from the party’s national stereotype. You will see this again in 2016.

Churches as institutions should be apolitical. And conversely, the political process should not explicitly favor members of certain religions for office. If it is really true that pious people are more honest or ethical, that fact will be clear when individuals are evaluated during the campaigns. On the other hand, nothing is easier to fake than religious faith, precisely because we can’t see into the heart of another person.

While politicians must pander to lobbies or to wealthy individuals that pay for their election campaigns, if they pander to religion, it makes a hole in the fabric of US politics. Having religious organizations directly sponsor political candidates would be so much easier. After all, “God wants you to vote for John Doe” is a pretty irresistible campaign message. Luckily, that isn’t America – yet.

Another week of summer with more Trump, Iran, and killings in Louisiana. Kerry met with the Senate:

COW Cooler Heads

Boehner has a strategy for Iran deal:

COW Same as Obamacare

 

GOP has to scratch its itch:

COW Fleas

Trump also deserves a medal:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Fugelsang nails it about mass shootings, this time in Louisiana:

Fugelsang on Louisana

The Louisiana gunman’s rage dates back decades. CBS News in Louisiana reported:

A local TV host frequently invited him as a guest, knowing he’d be a lightning rod who could light up the phone lines with rants against abortion and working women…

So he was part of what Donald Trump and Ted Cruz affectionately refer to as “The Base.”

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