Monday, October 12, 2015

The Culture Wars: We Won on Cigarettes, Then Marijuana, Then Gay Rights. Can It Happen with Guns?

The Few, the Proud, the Paranoid: (some of) your fellow Americans.

Something hopeful has emerged in the gun debate in the past few days. Since it's considered wishful thinking to expect any form of gun regulation getting through a GOP-controlled Congress, many have despaired of lowering the level of gun violence that's truly become endemic in American life. However, could a cultural shift pave the way for progress, similar to what happened with cigarettes, marijuana, gay rights, and the like?

It's possible. Michael Maiello, writing at TPM, thinks we might be able to make guns "uncool."
It’s surprisingly easy to imagine a society where gun ownership is looked down upon, if not scorned outright. This already happened with smoking, at least partly as a result of a public education campaign aimed at young people, and it happened when polite society finally came down against people flying the Confederate flag after the Charleston church shootings this year. Sometimes, when legislative action is difficult or downright impossible, a cultural approach works to curtail dangerous behaviors.
In short, we can make gun ownership uncool.
Looking at the chart below, you'll see that, by and large, the typical gun owner is older, white, conservative, Republican, rural males. (OMG aging bubbas!) How many of you are surprised by that? From a certain perspective, gun ownership is already demonstrably uncool.

We have so much "DON'T TAKE OUR GUNS AWAY MUSLIM BLACK PRESIDENT!" paranoia in the country as it currently stands that it's hard to imagine that meme dispelling anytime soon. But, well, I smoked for 34 years before giving it up -- thinking that it would be like kicking heroin. I don't miss it one bit. America is working tobacco out of its system, and I can't imagine it ever making a comeback.

Something similar happened with marijuana. Once we found some benefit and little downside with the demon weed, it became difficult to maintain the OMG-our-kids-will-die-if-they-ever-touch-the-stuff nonsense. It's much safer than alcohol.

Same with the gay. It was icky until it wasn't. Then, snap, gay rights.

It was a little more complicated than that, and there are still serious headwinds to tolerance in the hinterlands. But the hard work is done. Conversation over except among the Neanderthals.

Typical gun owner.
Side note: Yes, I just referred to Neanderthals in the hinterlands. That's right, I have contempt for ignorant bubbas with Confederate-flag bumper stickers. So sue me. I find them cavemanish.

Why? Because so much of the gun culture -- yes, clustered in the under-educated rural states -- believe things that are simply not true.

What am I talking about? Click here, here, here, here, here, and here. Okay, so those were snapshots of misinformation continuously stirring the pot. I could have listed hundreds, perhaps thousands of them

But what if those of us who favor sensible gun safety laws -- or, like me, favor virtually banning them outright -- fought on a similar battlefield that the Southerners do? What if we battled patiently and diligently, taking every opportunity to convert millennials and even younger folks into a cohort of people who are tired of Americans killing each other at alarming rates?

There is a burgeoning discussion of just that here, here, here, here, and here. As a special example of quite recent calls for a cultural and legal shift on guns, I recommend this CNN article comparing gun laws among western nations, making an important point in the last paragraph:
In other words, even if a particular state chooses to make it harder for some would-be killers to get their weapons, these efforts can be undercut by the jurisdictions that hold out from these efforts. In the U.S., of course, gun control measures at the state and local level are often thwarted by the lax attitude to gun acquisition in other states.
Again, it's white, Republican males who trust guns.
A nearly indisputable point. Which leads to the conclusion that we need national solutions, not state and local ones, though I take solace that we have stronger gun laws in California where I live and a not-so-visible gun culture if any. (Of course we have a gun culture.) Still, here in Sonoma County where I've lived for the past decade we've had police killings of kids with toy guns, the infamous Polly Klass rape and murder, and assorted gun murders and suicides, though the gun death rates are quite low by comparison. We've got our nearby Oakland, Richmond, and even sections of San Francisco that are not exactly gun-free paradises, though Richmond has made laudable strides in reducing gun violence.

Then, upon trying to prove how progressive my Sonoma County was, I was nonplussed to discover that we had concealed carry laws that included my town of Sonoma (not all of Sonoma County residents are free to concealed-carry). The law, as explained in the link, is quite strict and somewhat attached to common-sense, well-regulated, concealed-carry rules. That's reassuring.

I was, however, gratified to discover that open carry of loaded or unloaded weapons is not permitted in California, with very careful exceptions. What is especially reassuring is that both open- and concealed-carry laws contain strict regulation. Important for gun-rights supporters: People of proven good character, with no arrest record and with a provable need for open- or concealed-carry, can qualify for such privileges.

Unless you believe people with criminal records, mental-health or substance-abuse issues should have access to guns, you'll find a pretty good balance in California.

And yet there is easy access to guns here in spite of the laws. In urban areas where most concealed- and open-carry are virtually banned, we still find unacceptable levels of gun violence. Guns are still trafficked with insufficient regulation. Good gun laws alone can't overcome the gun culture.

Insufficient -- and under-enforced -- gun regulation leads to higher levels of gun deaths.

Where is my state of California in this set of statistics? California has the ninth-best record on gun deaths per 100,000. It also has a 21.1% gun-ownership rate. See the correlation between gun ownership and gun death rates? Pretty obvious.

  • Hawaii -- lowest gun-ownership rate, lowest gun death rate.
  • California -- ranked 42nd in gun ownership, ranked 41st in gun-death rate.
  • Alaska -- highest gun-ownership rate, highest gun death rate.

See how that works? Now get educated on this stuff, and every time there's another mass shooting, spread the news from every mountain top -- or, more likely, social media outlet -- to everyone you can reach, saying you're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Japanese freaks and geeks chillin' on the streets of Tokyo: They can relax in one
of the world's most populous and crowded cities, in a nation with a murder rate
in 2006 of 2 per approximately 125,000,000 (not a typo). There were 0 in 2008.
22 murders in 2007 was a national scandal. Most recent figures (2011) are near
0 again. Tell me again why we can't achieve something close to this?

Needed: a cultural shift away from the cult of guns.

Final factoid: Pooling results from 15 investigations, researchers found that a person with access to a gun is unequivocally less safe in terms of intentional death. Those with the ability to get to a gun are three times as likely to commit suicide and twice as likely to be the victim of a homicide than people without access.

 Hmm. Maybe guns do kill people.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

CA Governor Jerry Brown Continues to Sign Remarkable Bills into Law, with Humility and Grace

Jerry Brown's second go-round as governor --a post he also held in the 70s --
has demonstrated all that can be good, and fair-minded, in a mature politician.

This is not exclusively about Governor Jerry Brown of California. It's also about a state legislature, though controlled entirely by the governor's party, that can work together to pass truly common-sense legislation that is authentically in the public interest.

I just read a wonderful, thoughtful article by Slate's legal writer, Dahlia Lithwick, about the humility and grace of Brown's signing statement upon signing the right-to-death law just adopted in California:
What is most singular and striking about Brown’s personal and conflicted signing document is the extent to which he attempts to reconcile the best arguments against the bill—particularly the religious and theological ones—with his sense that he cannot be certain that, were he in the same situation, he would not want the right to end his own life. As he put it:
I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.  
There are so many things about this simple statement that are remarkable, chief among them the humility of a lawmaker attempting to imagine himself into a scenario that is heartbreaking and tragic. Compare it to the moral certainty of legislators who would deny a woman the right to end her pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest, without giving a moment’s thought to the possibility that it could happen to them, or their daughters or wives. Compare it to the moral certainty of putative political leaders asserting that they know exactly how they would behave in a mass shooting.
Just before that, I read another aritcle in Slate about Brown signing three bills regulating medical marijuana.
The Sacramento Bee notes that while the governor's approval was expected, since his office was heavily involved in drafting the bills, an unlikely coalition of support had sprung up among some of the state's most powerful interests, from labor unions seeking worker protections to the head of the state association of police chiefs.
And the target of this regulatory intrusion, proprietors of marijuana businesses, have made it known that they don't mind the new rules. One grower told the Los Angeles Times that, even though he'll have to modify his plans for a new indoor cultivation facility in order to comply, he welcomed "this well-thought-out set of guidelines."
Imagine that. Labor unions, police chiefs, and marijuana growers and sellers all agreeing that regulation is good. That's getting everyone on-board in a state that, while controlled by and large by the Democratic Party, is nonetheless quite diverse. When police and marijuana dealers are happy together, you've found peace in the family, and there's nothing wrong with that.

In fact, there's a lot right about it. The common good is not a mythical beast to be avoided at all costs. It's a reality close at hand if citizens want to improve their lot and don't mind the dreaded compromise involved. Often, compromise is what produces good results.

What's more, Brown signed a "motor voter" law just today. When you go to get a driver's license or register a vehicle, you're given a chance to opt out of being registered to vote. If you don't, you're automatically registered. Those accepting registration will be checked for citizenship.

This is not just for the fun of it: According to the CA Secretary of State some 6.6 million Californians are unregistered to vote.

But the governor was far from finished. He also just signed a law banning concealed weapons on school and university campuses. A number of Republican politicians felt their heads explode.

So many bills have just been signed by the governor, including ones requiring vaccines for daycare workers, guaranteeing strict electronic privacy, approving efforts to expand renewable energy and increase energy efficiency, that I'm tired of listing them. Read all about the rest at "Brown's signing tsunami," which doesn't cover the bills he signed this weekend, though I covered them above.

We didn't get everything we wanted: Brown vetoed a bill that would have restricted for-profit companies from running charter schools -- often squeezing out teachers' unions -- and another that would have expanded preschool education, citing the additional expense. By and large, though, Californians can be proud of our government.

Kudos to real public-service politicians like Jerry Brown and to the citizens of California that elect them. No wonder when I feel blue about the state of American politics I remind myself that here in liberal Northern California we have our own nation-state not dissimilar to the democratic-socialist countries of Europe. I like it.

Planned Benghazihood Was All Carly Fiorina Ever Had Going. She's Toast, Right?

Carly Fiorina, emphatically making shit up. Win!

No, Carly Fiorina isn't toast just because Jason Chaffetz couldn't rattle Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards or prove any wrongdoing on the part of the organization. And, no, Carly Fiorina isn't toast just because Kevin McCarthy let the air out of the Benghazi balloon.

I suppose it's also fair to allow that Carly Fiorina isn't toast because her self-inflated secretary-to-CEO story is wrecked by the fact that she wasn't a secretary-to-CEO at all or that she was not da bomb as a CEO but a bomb as a CEO.

In all fairness to Fiorina, she was a secretary briefly and years later, in an unrelated event, she became a CEO. What's disconcerting about Carly is that in everything I've ever heard her say, there is a small bit of truth surrounded by astounding hogwash. It's the basis for the way she's been campaigning, and it's the basis for her baseless smears of Hillary Clinton.

My prediction for Carly? She will begin to slip in the polls -- already happening -- even before New Hampshire and not be a factor in the general election except for her occasional visits to Fox News or other outlets to mouth her baseless smears of Hillary Clinton. Then she'll take her show on the road, either as a Fox News commentator or a speaker on the conservative circuit, or both.

Why is this her fate? Not because of her penchant for deception -- that is a feature, not a bug, for Republicans. No, it's mostly because she is so decidedly unpleasant that building a personal base of support from the already deeply disturbed GOP base by being shockingly unpleasant and narcissistic won't work very well. She'll capture 5 percent of 25 percent of America. That's just enough to get on Fox.

It'll be fun and a minor distraction in an otherwise goofy GOP primary season and good enough to lift Fiorina's prospects in low-brow punditry. But stardom? Hella no.


Update. Steve Rattner, who tears into Fiorina on the above Morning Joe, has recently penned an Op-Ed in the Times, again tearing into Fiorina's business record. double ouch.

Benghazi Was Always a Hoax, Email No Different. Who's to Blame? The Media. Who Can Fix It? The Media.

Don't forget that Darrell Issa badgered Clinton on Benghazi long
before Trey Gowdy got his shot. But there was never any there there.

Pretty stunning what's come from Kevin McCarthy's off-hand remark that Benghazi had knocked Hillary Clinton's poll numbers hard. He never suspected that it would knock a hole in his career instead of hers.

Now it seems the cat's out of the bag, what with the NYTimes calling for the Select Committee to pack it up, just as more trash about the committee's nefarious motives emerge.

I don't know how the committee can continue this with a straight face, but rest assured it will be in business at least until Hillary Clinton testifies on October 22nd. I'm making popcorn for sure. It'll be a barn burner, and I'll wager it won't be Hillary's barn that goes up in flames.

Next, we have to see how hard people can continue to press Hillary on the email "scandal," one that the NYTimes had a hand in promoting with a host of misreported stories.

At some point, someone of influence will declare the email "scandal" a puff of smoke without a fire. Expect it any day, but don't count on a major Republican politician accidentally admitting it on Hannity.

The nexus of the trumped-up email scandal (no pun intended) lies at intersection of two facts: one, classified material wasn't sent on Clinton's private email server, and, two, the use of the private system was not against State Department rules.

The first, that classified material might have been sent or received is indeed made murky by the habit of federal agencies classifying documents, including emails, long after the facts of their provenance have been lost in the fog of document reclassification. Politifact takes a look and gives Clinton a well-deserved break:
We’ve noticed several Republican candidates claiming that Clinton negligently handled classified information. But they’re jumping the gun. There isn’t enough evidence to prove that. Some evidence suggests Clinton and her team went to some trouble to keep classified information out the email system.
This is not to say Clinton’s email setup was allowed or appropriate -- for example, it skirted open records laws and presents challenges to archivists. And subsequent investigations may yield surprises or other unexpected evidence. But because of the way classification works and because of the incomplete record of her emails, we continue to reserve judgment.
What's interesting about Politifact's opinion here is that they give Clinton a break on the first facet of the email "scandal," but then proceed to bust her on the second facet, her email setup. In fact, however, Politifact has been proven wrong on this second point by none other than the State Department itself.

So, to recount, there has been no proof so far that Hillary Clinton sent information, classified at the time, over her private system, and there is proof that no State Department rules prohibited use of a private email system. There's no proof of any wrongdoing, even if our blessed media did hound Hillary until she apologized for her email sins, in case there were any.

What's a diligent media to do, given such facts? Why, go after the Republicans for spreading such bunk. Will they? Who knows? Most of the media believe it's their job to puff up such scandals while maintaining narratives of their choosing.

It's clear to me that the media should be reporting that the constant scandal-baiting by Republicans is repugnant. It's also clear to me that the media has been scandal-baiting the Clintons for so long they wouldn't know what's true if it bit them on the ass. Whitewater anyone?

Note. I may have given the impression that I think the media won't embrace the truth about the phoniness of Hillary's scandals. While it may be true that the media will just gloss over their failure to get it right, it's also possible they'll grab a chance to stick it to the real villains in this monstrosity -- the GOP and its "candidates" -- if they feel they can get away with it without losing their precious access. In other words, they'll tell the truth right after they figure out that the GOP are the losers and turn around and say "We always loved Hillary, seriously we did!"

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Secret to Overcoming Gun Violence? Train Americans to Gang-Rush Shooters!

Coward! He should just gang-rush the shooter!

Wow. This is getting fun. Who knew national tragedies like Roseburg would bring out the best in our national character?

First it was Dr. Ben "First-Do-No-Harm" Carson who came out with the very, very smart idea of everybody just rushing shooters to lower the body count.
 But Carson is against gun control, writing on Monday, "As a doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies. There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking — but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."
What I find breathtaking is the position ALL Republicans take -- I'm talking politicians here -- on the gun violence issue, which can never ever ever be to limit guns in any way. It's better to train people to rush shooters than to do anything about the ridiculous availability of semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles. What part of America-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-history-of-the-world depends on how fabulously armed we all are?

I liked Jonathan Chait's response to the notion:
Are you kidding me? You think gun control is impractical, so your plan is to turn the entire national population, including young children, into a standby suicide squad? Through private initiative, of course. It's way more feasible than gun control!
Unless I am missing a very subtle parody of libertarianism, McArdle's plan to teach children to launch banzai charges against mass murderers is the single worst solution to any problem I have ever seen offered in a major publication. Newsweek, I award this essay no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Funny that Megan McArdle -- who prescriptions for a myriad of problems have almost universally dumbfounded me -- would be upstaged by the next president of the United States, Ben Carson.

Another great reaction to the latest yet-another-horrible-shooting is to put metal detectors EVERYWHERE. That's bold and bright, don't you think? Wouldn't getting rid of all the friggin' metal make more sense? Hell no, because freedom!

Now we hear that Indiana has figured this all out. ThinkProgress reveals the latest in grand thinking about gun violence with this plan to turn our schools into automatic anti-shooter units:
The safety standards Wooldridge is working to implement in Indiana schools are no ordinary measures.
They’ve already been implemented at Southwestern High School, a small school in rural Shelbyville. There, not only do children perform “active shooter drills” alongside fire drills, teachers wear special key fobs that alert police faster than a 911 call. Classrooms have “hardened doors” that lock automatically and “hardened exterior glass” windows to deflect both bullets and brute force. Cameras in the school have “shooter detection technology” — tools created for the military — to help law enforcement more quickly locate suspects. And if the suspect is trapped in the hallway, smoke cannisters can be detonated to slow down the shooter.
Active shooter drills, that's the ticket. I spent some time teaching in elementary school, and of course active shooter drills is such a very American solution, wouldn't you think? It would be so fun to scare the living shit out of every kid in America by repeatedly telling them to get prepared in case someone wants to blow their brains out.

You know what else would be fun? Answering a first-grader's obvious question: "Why do we have to do this?" Our choices are either "Did you ever hear about Sandy Hook?" or "Just trust us and do it."

Of course, Indiana's solution is "feasible" because a typical school would only take about a half a mil to secure. Let's do it, America! What are we waiting for?

What am I missing here? Get rid of all weapons not related to hunting, fiercely regulate them (like, uh, autos), make everyone who owns one get mandatory training and yearly permits (like, uh, fishing), and pay liability insurance and carry proof (like, uh, proof of insurance in our glove compartments).

NO! Better we should install a gazillion metal detectors.

Chait provided a link to this, but I wanted to make sure you saw this. It should be sent to all the "gun enthusiasts" throughout this freedom-lovin', armed-to-the-teeth country of ours:

Carson, no points, McArdle, no points, Indiana, no points, Republican politicians and all Republican candidates for 2016, no points, the NRA, OMG no points. And God have mercy on our souls.

Note. Above I pointed only to Republican politicians. One, most Democrats are for gun control of some sort, and, two, Republican voters in general favor gun control, too. Hell, NRA members do, as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Our Toxic Culture: Bobby Jindal Goes from Bad to Worst with Statement on Oregon Shooting

Bobby Jindal posing with an assault rifle: He was stupid before stupid was cool.

Okay, he was a Rhodes Scholar. That doesn't seem to stop him from him from breaking the bounds of common decency by blaming in the Umpqua Community College shooting on the shooter's anti-gun father:
In the blog post -- titled "We fill Our Culture With Garbage, And We Reap The Result" -- Jindal blamed the prevalence of mass shootings in America on "deep and serious cultural decay in our society," jumping from a condemnation of violence in media and a reference to abortion to a discussion of the reported absence of the father of the Harper Mercer in the young man's life.
"This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns," Jindal wrote. "Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here."
Of course Jindal ignores the part of the problem where the shooter, Christopher Harper Mercer, lived with his mother, who was a certified, paranoid gun nut. Now, I'm making a "value judgment" like Jindal, but it is based on the following Facebook posting by the mother:
“When the mood strikes,” Harper reportedly wrote on Facebook, “I sling an AR, Tek-9 or AK over my shoulder, or holster a Glock 21 (not 22), or one of my other handguns, like the Sig Sauer P226, and walk out the door.” Shotguns, she said, “are a little too cumbersome to open carry.”
Compassionate brainiac Bobby Jindal based his condemnation on Mercer's dislike of guns:
"He brags that he has never held a gun in his life and that he had no idea that his son had any guns. Why didn’t he know? Because he failed to raise his son. He should be ashamed of himself, and he owes us all an apology," Jindal wrote. "When he was asked what his relationship was with his son, he said he hadn’t seen him in a while because he lived with his mother. Case Closed."
Jindal went on to call out "shallow and simple minded liberals" for blaming "pieces of hardware for the problem."
As Jezebel points out:
It’s a bit of an embellishment on what Mercer actually said, his son was 24 when he relocated to Oregon, and there’s no evidence to suggest that he “has never been in his son’s life.”
The killer was, indeed, 26 and living with his mother, an assault-rifle packin' mamma, when he went ballistic at the college. But of course it was the non-gun-loving father who was at fault.

Is this how far Republicans have to go to blame gun deaths on something other than guns? Maybe not, but Bobby Jindal has now gone there, and he's a "presidential candidate," albeit with 0.6% in the polls.

Not to let Jindal off the hook, but not a single GOP candidate will blame guns for a mass shooting by someone with fourteen guns in his household. Can't be guns, though.

Hmm. Jindal's Louisiana has the highest rate of gun deaths.

Louisiana was number one in gun-death rate in 2007, still is today under Jindal. Heckuva job, Bobby. How did he put it, again?
Jindal went on to call out "shallow and simple minded liberals" for blaming "pieces of hardware for the problem."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Douglas County Sheriff Is a Whack Job. Surprise, Surprise.

From his very first press conference -- when he wouldn't share information --
he seemed weird. Now we know why.

Sheriff John Hanlan of Douglas County has been a little strange since the first press conference, and now I know why. Of course he was shocked that such a thing could happen in his jurisdiction. He's a pro-gun nut of the first order. Now it turns out he's a Sandy Hook truther, with a bizarre trail of Facebook postings and an inflammatory letter to Joe Biden to boot.

Reporting at Talking Points Memo:
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin posted a link to a YouTube video called "The Sandy Hook Shooting - Fully Exposed," which summarized conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting and quickly racked up millions of views, about a month after the massacre took place. The post was deleted or made private sometime after 2:30 p.m. Friday.
"This makes me wonder who we can trust anymore..." Hanlin wrote. "Watch, listen, and keep an open mind."
The video opens with text that reads: "In this video I will prove to you there has been a lot of deception surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting. This is a simple, logical video. No aliens, holigrams (sic), rituals or anything like that, just facts." It then intersperses news clips from the time with text raising questions about the "official story" presented in the media, including whether there was more than one shooter and whether grieving parents were actually so-called "crisis actors."
Yep. I want all my professional law enforcement officials to be whack jobs. And if the above wasn't enough, Hanlan also authored a letter to Joe Biden announcing he wasn't enforcing any new "unconstitutional laws" that might result from the Sandy Hook shooting:

I fully agree with the statement made by Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller in a recent letter he sent you. He stated, “In the wake of recent criminal events, politicians are attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims by advocating for laws that would prevent honest, law abiding Americans from possessing certain firearms and ammunition magazines. We are Americans. We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws.”
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that when a Sheriff chooses to enforce an unconstitutional directive, he is violating his Constitutional Oath. I will NOT violate my Constitutional Oath. Therefore, the second purpose of this letter is to make notification that any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the Constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or by my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Douglas County Oregon.
In conclusion, it is my position as Sheriff of Douglas County, Oregon that I will refuse to participate in, nor tolerate enforcement actions against citizens that are deemed unconstitutional. 
Alrighty then. Just so we're clear: You're an elected official and you state in advance that you won't do your job because guns are great, regardless of the consequences, one of them being that the current lack of strong gun control in your area has led to yet another tragic mass shooting.

On a serious note, the sheriff finally revealed on the third day that the shooter -- whom he still won't name -- committed suicide. I've been waiting for that shoe to drop. I've felt from the beginning that he delayed announcing the suicide because he wanted the impression to somehow be sustained that police officers had "neutralized" Mercer. He wanted so badly that law enforcement can bring these things to conclusion because they show up with tons of guns and restore order. In fact that happened, but that he didn't get the "kill" he wanted, he didn't want to admit what he might have thought was a sign of impotence in his beloved gun-loving county. Just my opinion of course, but it fits the bizarre refusal to tell us -- as his job would dictate -- something he knew at the time of his first news conference the day of the shootings.

In fairness to Sheriff John, there are plenty of voters in Douglas County who would say, "Fuck yeah, Sheriff! Don't let them take our guns!"

We have reaped what we have sown. And so it goes. It's not the country I grew up in, but there is no doubt what it has become today. And we, as a nation, have done this. This has been a choice, a policy choice. We live in this America, somehow because we wanted to.