Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Bullets Count the Cost

Don't you shoot him down/
He's about to leave here/
Don't you shoot him down/
He's got to stay here/
He ain't going nowhere/
He's been shot down to the ground/
Oh where he can't survive no no...

-- "Machine Gun," Jimi Hendrix

The latest ruling out of this extremist, archconservative Supreme Court pretty much guarantees an increase in the national body count when it comes to gun violence. Via Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog:

The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a rule that banned bump stocks, issued by the Trump administration after a 2017 mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. By a vote of 6-3, the justices rejected the federal government’s argument that rifles equipped with bump stocks are machine guns, which are generally prohibited under federal law. In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s conservative justices emphasized that Congress could have enacted a law that banned all weapons capable of high rates of fire, but it did not – and so the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was wrong to interpret the federal ban on machine guns to extend to bump stocks.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, in an opinion joined by the court’s other more liberal justices, Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. She warned that the majority’s decision “will have deadly consequences.”

The bump stock is an attachment that transforms a semiautomatic rifle into a weapon that can discharge at a rate of hundreds of rounds per minute. The Trump administration issued the rule at the center of the case in 2018. It followed a mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas in which the gunman used semi-automatic rifles equipped with a bump-stock device to kill 60 people and injure over 500 more. The rule, which concluded that bump stocks are machine guns, was an about-face from the ATF’s previous position, which until 2018 had indicated that only some kinds of bump stocks are machine guns. Under the 2018 rule, anyone who owned a bump stock was required to destroy it or drop it at a nearby ATF office to avoid criminal penalties...

Rather than leave it up to the federal agency to determine that bump stocks turned semi-auto guns into full-auto, Thomas and the other Republican Justices decided "fuck public safety, let the gun nuts have their firepower."

Because that's what was at stake here. Not a Second Amendment matter, but a public safety matter. And the goddamn Far Right don't give a rat's ass as long as they're not the targets (you will notice that a lot of the Far Right public gatherings are "Gun Free Zones").

If you want an idea of what a bump stock can do for an assault rifle, there's a YouTube clip going around that demonstrates (try to get to the 4:42 mark):

With a bump stock, you're shooting enough bullets to wipe out an entire room of people within seconds, not minutes. The Las Vegas concert mass shooting that convinced the ATF (and even a gun-happy trump administration) to ban bump stocks? The gunman was able to get off 1,000 rounds, killing 60 and wounding over 400 people (more people were also injured during the panicked fleeing).

Goddamn this. A solid majority of Americans want assault rifles banned, and yet our legal system - and far too many politicians bought out by the goddamned NRA - refuses to consider that need.

Gun violence is already a serious epidemic in our nation. Mass shootings are now so common that we don't even notice them unless the body count goes into double digits. By giving these gunmen the ability to do that, we are guaranteeing that the blood in our streets will not stop flowing. Not until every gun-loving politicians (mostly Republicans) are voted out of office, not until every gun-loving judges are forced to retire, not until we can do something about the twisted side of the American debate on guns that turned the Second Amendment from granting states the power to well-regulate their militias into a mindless license for gun nuts to shoot anybody they want.

The violence is going to get worse. Especially when the Far Right gun nuts get convinced the upcoming election isn't going their way...

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

One Sentence Summary on the Significance of Hunter Biden's Guilty Verdict As It Relates to the 2024 Presidential Election

Hunter Biden is not on the national ballot for the Presidency of the United States, unlike donald trump; to where the entire Republican Party still has to justify why they are supporting a convicted felon and confirmed sex offender for the highest office in the land. 

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Old Hero Greeting The Next Hero at Normandy Anniversary

I wrote last year a comparison between the importance of D-Day as a key turning point in World War II and the importance of Ukraine standing up against Russian invasion

Those landings were 79 years ago, but they remain fresh in our memories. The realization of the horrors of war, the sacrifices made, the honors gained and lives lost. 

They remain fresh because those struggles are repeating in Europe today, as Ukraine is now the battlefront against a Russian horde seeking to rebuild an empire under Putin at the expense of European stability...

This won't be an easy fight for Ukraine. Wars never are.

But Eisenhower said it best in 1944 when he extorted Allied troops to victory:

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world...

Just switch out Germans for Russians, and the gist is the same.

I'm not the only one who thinks that. One of the few surviving veterans of World War II that appeared this week in Normandy France to honor the 80th anniversary of D-Day had a moment meeting Ukrainian President Zelensky (via Guardian News YouTube):

The veteran kissed Zelensky's hand - or tried to, Zelensky was too humble to take it - and told him "You're the savior of the people." 

"You saved Europe," Zelenksy replied.

Game recognizes game. Hero recognizes hero.

That veteran understands that Ukraine is fighting to save Europe now. The rest of Europe needs to do more to aid Ukraine against Russia and help them stop Putin's warmongering fantasies.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

D-Day Anniversary: The Few Remaining

The Normandy landings happened 80 years ago this day, and so this D-Day remembrance in France has been honoring the few aging veterans who are still alive: 

We are always moving forward in time, to where the persons who lived through these historic events are passing away. In a few more years, there will be no one left alive who can tell us what it was like storming the beaches and parachuting out of the night sky to fight these battles to end the fascist rule of Nazis who had taken over much of Europe and threatened the rest of the world.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Sunday, June 02, 2024

The Tick Tock of a Justice Clock

So with donald trump now convicted on 34 felonies, what happens next?

The simplest answer is that the legal system in New York moves forward on the punishment phase (via Michael R. Sisak, Jill Colvin, Michelle L. Price, and Alanna Durkin Richer at AP News):

The big question now is whether Trump could go to prison. The answer is uncertain. Judge Juan M. Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before Republicans are formally set to nominate Trump for president.

The charge of falsifying business records is a Class E felony in New York, the lowest tier of felony charges in the state. It is punishable by up to four years in prison, though the punishment would ultimately be up to the judge, and there’s no guarantee he would give Trump time behind bars. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to say whether prosecutors would seek prison time.

It’s unclear to what extent the judge may factor in the political and logistical complexities of jailing a former president who is running to reclaim the White House. Other punishments could include a fine or probation. And it’s possible the judge would allow Trump to avoid serving any punishment until after he exhausts his appeals...

If there's any factor that should determine if trump faces time in jail is his own behavior before, during, and after the trial. The level of contempt trump displayed throughout led to Judge Merchan leveling fines and threatening him with sitting in a jail cell. Considering how trump continues to attack the entire proceeding as a rigged witch hunt, letting trump off with simple fines or probation would be a joke. While maxxing out the jail time to four years (48 months) would seem excessive for - believe it or not - a first-time felon like trump, settling on a set of months to make it hurt for him - say, 34 months one for each Guilty count - would be IMHO a fair punishment.

trump - and his MAGA voting base - of course would freak out. But we kinda knew that going in.

The ramifications of the guilty verdict are still roiling the political arena:

The conviction doesn’t bar Trump from continuing his campaign or becoming president. And he can still vote for himself in his home state of Florida as long as he stays out of prison in New York state.

Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who serves as co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said in a Fox News Channel interview on Thursday that Trump would do virtual rallies and campaign events if he’s convicted and sentenced to home confinement.

In a deeply divided America, it’s unclear whether Trump’s once-unimaginable criminal conviction will have any impact at all on the election...

In the short term, at least, there were immediate signs that the guilty verdict was helping to unify the Republican Party’s disparate factions as GOP officials across the political spectrum rallied behind their embattled presumptive presidential nominee and his campaign reported a flood of fundraising dollars within hours of the verdict.

There has been some polling conducted on the prospect of a guilty verdict, although such hypothetical scenarios are notoriously difficult to predict. A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that only 4% of Trump’s supporters said they would withdraw their backing if he’s convicted of a felony, though another 16% said they would reconsider it...

What would help, if pollsters interviewed Democratic-leaning voters to see how many will vote for Biden to ensure a convicted felon never gets (back) into the White House. /headdesk

We are entering uncharted waters in our nation's history. While we've had convicted felons run for the presidency - Eugene Debs the most well-known - we've never had one at the head of a major party with a guaranteed voter turnout in the millions. When the Founders created the Constitution, they never dreamed that the political elites of that era would allow such a person to run: Their own virtues of personal honor and good faith towards the system blinded them to the possibility a demagogue like trump would ever rise up to break all social norms and civility.

When the political parties formed (and reformed) in the years following, those parties were expected to use a vetting system of nominating only the best - or least corrupt - among them. But trump has subverted all that, bullying and dominating the Republican ranks to where he literally owns the national organization overseeing the party. Whatever is left of the GOP leadership is stuck with kissing trump's ring orange ass to stay in his good graces, turning a blind eye to trump's criminality and going along with trump's twisted accusations of a "rigged" trial.

Whatever issues are still up for debate - protecting abortion rights, stopping the bloodshed in Gaza, supporting Ukraine against Russia, defending our educational system, resolving the immigration crisis - this is a serious matter to consider: We now have a convicted felon as the presidential nominee for the Republican Party, with no sign trump will step aside or get pushed aside for a more honorable candidate. There is no "both sides are bad" argument here. For all of the Republican Party's efforts to paint President Biden as a corrupt figure, they've never found any evidence of that: The best they've done is bring charges to his son Hunter, but never found any financial ties between them.

This is now down to two Presidential candidates. trump is a convicted felon with an established history of criminal behavior - trump's company criminally guilty, trump found liable for sexual assault, trump found liable for tax evasion and fraud to the tune of $364 million, trump's non-profit forced to shut down for fraud - proven in court. Biden is not a felon.

This ought to be an easy choice, America. Don't fucking vote for the felon.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Nobody's Fault But trump's

Update: Thank ye again to Batocchio for including this blog in the Crooks & Liars' Mike's Blog Round-Up! Please stick around and view the other articles I've got, and good luck this summer!

When you consider today's criminal conviction of donald trump, a lot of this is his own damn fault.

He didn't have to run for President in the first place. trump could have literally stayed in his lane as a corrupt businessman, living off of the inflated values of his properties, feeding off celebrity tributes, plastering his name on questionable products, buying up more resorts to mismanage, and none of this would have happened. It's rare anymore for the legal system to chase after white collar crime like fraud, especially on so brazen a scale that trump was doing. he'd been doing this - remember "trump University"? - for so long over the decades it's likely the state attorneys would have never gone after him, and trump would have gone to his grave convinced he was a genius business negotiator feared by his enemies, worshipped by women, and envied by all.

trump's corporation would never have gone under the financial scrutiny that the State Attorney Letitia James eventually deployed, leading to massive liabilities and fines that can well doom trump's entire financial empire (whatever's left of it).

trump didn't have to go out of his way to accuse Barack Obama over Obama's birth certificate. trump could have tamped down his racism and not gotten involved in any of that false conspiracy drivel. But he did, and received the public putdown at that Correspondents' Dinner that apparently triggered trump's urge for political revenge. Now trump's the one facing imprisonment while Obama enjoys a post-presidency as a beloved figure.

If trump hadn't run for President, he'd have never panicked over the possibility of the women he'd had affairs with going public with their stories. he'd have never arranged for the "capture and kill" scheme with the publisher of the National Enquirer to silence those reports, which were part of the charges he'd just gotten convicted. trump would have never paid hush money to Stormy Daniels through his bagman lawyer Michael Cohen, who both testified to what happened during this trial and whose credibility were confirmed by this jury.

If trump hadn't been President, making himself a public nuisance shooting down other allegations of sexual misconduct, it would have been likely one of his victims - E. Jean Carroll - would have remained silent. Instead she spoke up, leading to his defaming her, and leading to civil trials where trump was officially held liable for sexual assault. It is a matter of record that trump is a sex offender.

Even the legal defenses in each of the trials trump faced are his fault. If it were any other defendant with political ambitions, that person and their lawyers would have worked out plea deals. Instead of felonies, there'd be misdemeanors paid off by fines and probation, and the media furor would die down to where a political career was still within reach.

If things had gone to trial, that defendant would have behaved in court, worked to impress and win over the jury. There would have been contrition, admission of lesser unethical behavior, means of convincing the courtroom that mistakes were made but didn't rise to the level of a guilty verdict.

But trump can never do that, can he. In trump's mind, admitting to anything would be admitting he was wrong even in the slightest thing, and he can never admit to that. In his mind, there are Winners and Suckers and himself - a Winner - can never do any wrong. This is why he claims the acts he's done - the bullying phone calls, the attacks on those he views as his inferiors - are "perfect" and shouldn't even be investigated. This is why he cannot act contrite to a judge or jury. This is why he'd rather attack the trials as "witch hunts" and undermine the entire legal system: his narcissistic self-worth can't accept any other option.

This is why his lawyers in every trial kept employing odd legal tactics that outside observers noted couldn't work... and those tactics didn't work. Half the time, trump's lawyers were too busy pandering to their client instead of winning over juries. It was an oddity that in the middle of attacking Stormy Daniels' credibility that trump's lawyer tried to get her to admit under oath that "trump was a good golfer" as though that had any relevance to the trial.

trump's defiance in the face of legal facts made it next to impossible to adequately give trump effective legal counsel. It exposed him time and again as a bullying egotist, making it difficult for any jury to accept him and for any judge to tolerate him.

And so here we are, still in the Darkest Timeline, coping with the reality that the Republican Party - that proudly declares itself "The Party of Law And Order" - has as their standard bearer a convicted felon, a certified sex offender, a known liar and bully. This is who the GOP voters accept as their leader. There is no sign they will be pushing him aside as their Presidential nominee for the 2024 elections.

Gods help us.

Elections matter, America. For all the yelling and screaming by Republicans about how corrupt Democrats are, the fact is clear that the Republicans - led by donald trump - are the truly corrupt party. For the LOVE of God and the Rule of Law and everything America SHOULD stand for, do not vote for trump or for any Republican lackey still kissing trump's convicted orange ass.

As of May 30 2024 at 5:15 PM EDT

It is official now. donald trump is a convicted felon. The jury returned the verdict with all 34 counts as Guilty.


I'm at work at the moment so I'll add some comments later.