Fellow Travelers

Sunday, December 20, 2015

In third debate Democrat primary candidates show they know nothing at all about guns


The shittiest part for me was this:
MUIR: Senator Sanders, I did want to ask you about a neighbor in San Bernardino who reportedly witnessed packages being delivered to that couple's home, that it set off red flags, but they didn't report it because they were afraid to profile. What would you say to Americans afraid to profile? Is it ever acceptable?
 SANDERS: Well, the answer is, obviously, if you see suspicious activity, you report it. That's kind of a no-brainer. You know, somebody is loading guns and ammunition into a house, I think it's a good idea to call 911. Do it.
So, any time I'm putting cased guns and ammo boxes into the back of my car for a range trip, or unloading it after a range trip, I have to worry about somebody actually listening to Bernie Sanders and SWATting me. I have to worry about them pissing their pants because somebody has a gun in Ohio, and calling the police on me. If I order ammunition online or get any parts shipped to my house, I have to worry about getting turned in for it. It's already happened, as a likely result of the exhortations of anti-gun groups telling their supporters to do exactly that.

Bernie Sanders also went after civilian ownership of any guns designed by the military. 
"In my view, we have got to see that weapons designed by the military to kill people are not in the hands of civilians."
 So, turn in your 1911 .45 pistols folks. The biggest problem I have with this is that it does not seem at all like Bernie Sanders considers self defense a valid reason to own firearms. Because one of the purposes of guns is to kill people. When a crazed serial rapist breaks into your house in the middle of the night with a butcher knife you want to be able to stop the threat. Guns are a particularly efficacious way to do that. And there is an entire category of recognized firearms collectors, the Curio & Relic license, which focuses on antique military firearms. Like the "potential terrorists" comment of Sanders, this is an overly broad category that would keep people from owning black powder revolvers from the 1800s, as they were designed by the military to kill people. Do you have an Enfield? An M1 carbine? Turn it in. You should be limited to a hunting shotgun. 
"SANDERS: Sure did. All right. First off, we can do all the great speeches we want but you're not going to succeed unless there is a consensus. In 1988, just to set the record straight governor, I ran for the U.S. House. We have one House member from Vermont, three candidates in the race. One candidate said, you know what, I don't think it's a great idea that we sell automatic weapons in this country that are used by the military to kill people very rapidly."
If it was 1988, no, nobody was selling automatic weapons. because of the Hughes Amendment in 1986 that banned sale of any automatic firearms manufactured after 1986. Any pre-ban guns are heavily regulated under the National Firearms Act, require approval from your local law enforcement to buy, include a provision that the ATF can inspect them at any time, and are usually going to cost tens of thousands of dollars.

But it's not like Sanders, or Clinton, or O'Malley, are the first Democrats to intentionally or ignorantly conflate semi-automatic with automatic or select fire.

Martin O'Malley last night came up with a new extra-scary term for those extra-evil semiautomatic rifles. They're now "COMBAT assault weapons". Not just an assault rifle, a "COMBAT" assault weapon.

Some examples: 

"When ISIL does training videos that say the easiest way to get a combat assault weapon in the United States of America is at a gun show, then we should all be waking up."
"Because, Martha, it would prevent people like the guy that just got charged yesterday perhaps from being able to buy combat assault weapons."
"ISIL videos, ISIL training videos are telling lone wolves the easiest way to buy a combat assault weapon in America is at a gun show."
Unsurprisingly, O'Malley was lying.

There are no known ISIL training videos telling lone wolves that the easiest way to "buy a combat assault weapon" in America is at a gun show.

"Both Clinton and O’Malley referenced videos for the Islamic State terror group that, thus far, do not appear to exist. (Clinton used the acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and O’Malley used one for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But it’s the same organization.)
...
Meanwhile, O’Malley’s campaign pointed to a news report about a video circulated by an al-Qaeda spokesman, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, who was not affiliated with the Islamic State. (The American-born Gadahn was killed in 2015 by a CIA drone strike in Pakistan.) Al Qaeda is not the same terror group as the Islamic State, though former elements of al Qaeda have affiliated with IS.
In 2011, Gadahan urged followers: “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

And of course the terrorist was wrong, you can't just go down to your nearest gun show and buy a fully automatic rifle. Not in the least. Plus going to a gun show looking like any kind of Muslim would probably not be a swell idea in America right about now.

Hillary Clinton in her opening statement backed using the no-fly list to restrict gun ownership, which is a terrible idea for reasons I've already gone into at length and which she totally doesn't give a single shit about. 

There was a lot of alarming stuff in this debate. None of the candidates have any regard for gun ownership as a means of self defense. They're not big fans of encryption or privacy. Hillary wants to fight ISIS using no-fly zones, which as the debate moderator pointed out doesn't make a lot of sense since ISIS and AQ don't have planes

Bad time to be a gun owner. Of any political persuasion, really. Because your options are Democrats who don't like that civilian gun owners exist and think the police and military should have a monopoly on deadly force, or utter lunatic Republicans who want to put Muslims on lists, amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage, end reproductive choice, put in a flat tax, on and on. There are no good options. Only the least worst. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Secret Terrorism Lists, the ACLU, And Why I Can No Longer Support Bernie Sanders

Here's the TLDR. I might still vote for Sanders but I'm not going to provide any support because he's betrayed his past principles on civil liberties and the security state.

Recently Bernie Sanders sent out a tweet.
I don’t think it’s very hard to understand that terrorists or potential terrorists should not have guns.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 9, 2015
This was coupled with his signing a letter supporting the recent bill by Dianne Feinstein to bar anyone on the terrorism watch list from buying a gun. And then by his voting in support of that bill, along with all other Senate Democrats with the exception of Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

There's a problem with this, specifically with three words of what Sanders said.

"...or potential terrorists..."

The terrorism watch list network is broken. It has been broken for a long time. Going back to 2004, the late Senator Ted Kennedy was prohibited from flying because he was accidentally on the list.

Senator Kennedy Flagged by No Fly List
Federal air security officials said the initial error that led to scrutiny of the Massachusetts Democrat should not have happened even though they recognize that the no-fly list is imperfect. But privately they acknowledged being embarrassed that it took the senator and his staff more than three weeks to get his name removed. 
A senior administration official, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said Kennedy was stopped because the name "T. Kennedy" has been used as an alias by someone on the list of terrorist suspects.
It took three weeks to get a sitting US Senator removed from the no-fly list. These aren't new problems. From that 2004 article:
Critics said the senator's experience served as the latest example of how a system designed to improve security is instead targeting innocent travelers. 
The government does not make public the names or the total number of people on the list, which officials say is constantly updated. According to FBI documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act request, more than 350 Americans have been delayed or denied boarding since the list's inception. The list has not led to any arrests, officials said. 
The ACLU has sued on behalf of six Americans who have had experiences similar to Kennedy's. The travelers suing the government include a Vermont college student, a retired Presbyterian minister and an ACLU employee.
Another innocent caught up in the watch list dragnet was Rahinah Ibraham:

Here's Why the ACLU Is Suing the Government over the No-Fly List—and Winning

Rahinah Ibraham is not a suspected terrorist. She was a scholar and doctoral candidate at Stanford University in the United States from Malaysia with a valid student visa. She ended up on the no-fly list on what turned out to be a clerical error. It wasn't even a case of mistaken identity. An FBI agent literally checked the wrong box when filing paperwork in 2004. It took a decade of fighting with the government to fix this problem. Why? Because the system by which the government adds people to the no-fly list has absolutely no transparency or due process in its appeal process. Until this year, the federal government wouldn't even confirm that an individual was even on the no-fly list, which coincidentally made it a challenge to fight one's inclusion. A judge in 2014 ruled that the government violated Ibraham's and others' rights by mistakenly adding them to the no-fly list and refusing to fix the problem.

People who have been cleared of all terrorism charges can stay on the terrorism watch lists, according to this 2011 article from the New York Times:

Even Those Cleared of Crimes Can Stay on F.B.I.’s Watch List
The 91 pages of newly disclosed files include a December 2010 guidance memorandum to F.B.I. field offices showing that even a not-guilty verdict may not always be enough to get someone off the list, if agents maintain they still have “reasonable suspicion” that the person might have ties to terrorism. 
“If an individual is acquitted or charges are dismissed for a crime related to terrorism, the individual must still meet the reasonable suspicion standard in order to remain on, or be subsequently nominated to, the terrorist watch list,” the once-classified memorandum says. 
Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said: “In the United States, you are supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case.”
For people on the watch lists, suspicion is guilt. This should be a repulsive idea to anyone who values due process and the rule of law, and certainly to any Bernie Sanders supporter. The FBI assure us we shouldn't be worried about that, because “mere guesses or ‘hunches’ are not enough" to keep someone on the watch lists. Isn't that reassuring?

Since 2011 there have been some changes to the watchlisting criteria. Not for the better. A piece by The Intercept in 2014 covered the negatives of the watchlists as they exist now:

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You A Terrorist
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. 
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
It's easier than ever to get onto the list. Even if you have utter and absolute trust in the Obama Administration... how much do you trust a Trump or Cruz Administration with this power? It's the same question I asked Republicans in 2005, and they said "What are the odds there will ever be a Democrat President ever again?"

Worms turn.

More about the lists:
The document’s definition of “terrorist” activity includes actions that fall far short of bombing or hijacking. In addition to expected crimes, such as assassination or hostage-taking, the guidelines also define destruction of government property and damaging computers used by financial institutions as activities meriting placement on a list. They also define as terrorism any act that is “dangerous” to property and intended to influence government policy through intimidation. 
This combination—a broad definition of what constitutes terrorism and a low threshold for designating someone a terrorist—opens the way to ensnaring innocent people in secret government dragnets. It can also be counterproductive. When resources are devoted to tracking people who are not genuine risks to national security, the actual threats get fewer resources—and might go unnoticed. 
“If reasonable suspicion is the only standard you need to label somebody, then it’s a slippery slope we’re sliding down here, because then you can label anybody anything,” says David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent with experience running high-profile terrorism investigations. “Because you appear on a telephone list of somebody doesn’t make you a terrorist. That’s the kind of information that gets put in there.”
And its failings:
The system has been criticized for years. In 2004, Sen. Ted Kennedy complained that he was barred from boarding flights on five separate occasions because his name resembled the alias of a suspected terrorist. Two years later, CBS News obtained a copy of the no fly list and reported that it included Bolivian president Evo Morales and Lebanese parliament head Nabih Berri. One of the watchlists snared Mikey Hicks, a Cub Scout who got his first of many airport pat-downs at age two. In 2007, the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a scathing report identifying “significant weaknesses” in the system. And in 2009, after a Nigerian terrorist was able to board a passenger flight to Detroit and nearly detonated a bomb sewn into his underwear despite his name having been placed on the TIDE list, President Obama admitted that there had been a “systemic failure.”
The article includes the "Minimum Substantive Derogatory Critera" for being placed on the watch lists:
To meet the REASONABLE SUSPICION standard, the NOMINATOR, based on the totality of the circumstances, must rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrants a determination that an individual is known or suspected to be or has been knowingly engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to TERRORISM and/or TERRORIST ACTIVITIES. 
In determining whether a REASONABLE SUSPICION exists, due weight should be given to the specific reasonable inferences that a NOMINATOR is entitled to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience and not on unfounded suspicions or hunches. Although irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary, to be reasonable, suspicion should be as clear and as fully developed as circumstances permit.
Uncorroborated Facebook and Twitter posts are explicitly regarded as sufficient grounds for putting an individual on a list.

The ACLU's lawsuit against the government concerning these watch lists with some success but there are still a lot of problems:

LATIF, ET AL. V. HOLDER, ET AL. - ACLU CHALLENGE TO GOVERNMENT NO FLY LIST
In a motion for partial summary judgment, the ACLU asked the court to rule that the inadequate redress process for people on the list violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process. The court partially granted that motion in August 2013, holding that the Constitution applies when the government bans Americans from air travel. In June 2014, the court struck down the government’s redress process as unconstitutional, and it ordered the government to tell the ACLU’s clients why they are on the No Fly List and give them the opportunity to challenge their inclusion on the list before the court. In October 2014, the government finally informed seven of the 13 plaintiffs that they were not on the list, and it then provided the remaining six plaintiffs with unclassified “summaries” of the reasons for their placement on the list. However, the government still keeps its full reasons secret. It also withholds evidence and exculpatory information from our clients and refuses to give them a live hearing to establish their credibility or cross-examine witnesses. Because of these and other serious problems, the ACLU has challenged the revised process as unconstitutional. 
Until the government fixes its unconstitutional new process, people on the No Fly List are barred from commercial air travel with no meaningful chance to clear their names, resulting in a vast and growing group of individuals whom the government deems too dangerous to fly but too harmless to arrest.
And this is why those three words from Bernie's tweet are so dangerous. You cast a very wide net when you include "and potential terrorists". It's a net that includes everyone. Anybody could be a "potential" terrorist. Even and especially the activist base supporting Bernie Sanders. By way of demonstration, look at Bush-era abuses of the watch lists by the FBI:

FBI Placed Left-Wing Activists On Terrorism Watch List Without Cause
The FBI had a weak factual basis for opening and extending some investigations of U.S. activist groups and put individuals affiliated with Greenpeace USA on the terrorist watch list improperly, a report by the Justice Department's Inspector General released Monday found. 
In addition, FBI Director Robert Mueller was also found to have unintentionally provided inaccurate testimony to Congress because he was given bad information. FBI personnel told him that certain persons of interest in international terrorism matters were expected to be present at an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh in 2002, according to the report.
The review addressed FBI activities from 2001 to 2006 related to the Thomas Merton Center; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); Greenpeace USA; The Catholic Worker; and an individual described as a Quaker peace activist.
...
In addition, the FBI also wrongly classified some nonviolent civil disobedience under its "Acts of Terrorism" classification, which led to subjects being added to the watchlist without merit.
Also, anti-war activists were tracked by Homeland Security and listed as terrorists in a Maryland state police database:

Federal Agency Aided Md. Spying
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security tracked the protest plans of a peaceful Washington area antiwar group and passed the information to the Maryland State Police, which had previously labeled the activists as terrorists in an intelligence file. 
The federal agency obtained two e-mails containing plans for upcoming demonstrations at a military recruiting center in Silver Spring in 2005, the first indication that DHS might have worked with the police to monitor advocacy groups. The notification by DHS appears in a state police file on the DC Anti-War Network, or DAWN, provided to The Washington Post under the Public Information Act. 
The file is one of five created by the state police on the antiwar group in 2005 and 2006. Along with 53 individuals and about two dozen other protest groups, including Amnesty International and CASA of Maryland, the network was labeled a terrorist group in an internal police database. Police have said the names were not put on federal anti-terrorism lists.
The ACLU and Bernie Sanders have (previously) long been in agreement. He has a 93% rating from the ACLU. Their statement on watch lists includes the following:
The consequences of being placed on a government watchlist can be far-reaching. They can include questioning, harassment, or detention by authorities, or even an indefinite ban on air travel. And while the government keeps the evidence it uses to blacklist people in this manner secret, government watchdogs have found that as many as 35 percent of the nominations to the network of watchlists are outdated and tens of thousands of names were placed on lists without an adequate factual basis. To make matters worse, the government denies watchlisted individuals any meaningful way to correct errors and clear their names. 
The ACLU is seeking reform of this broken watchlisting system in a variety of ways. We filed a landmark challenge to the No Fly List in which a federal judge struck down the government’s redress process, ruling that it “falls far short of satisfying the requirements of due process” and is “wholly ineffective.” The ACLU continues to advocate for broad reform of the watchlisting system, consistent with the court’s ruling and the Constitution. 
A bloated, opaque watchlisting system is neither fair nor effective. A system in which innocent people languish on blacklists indefinitely, with their rights curtailed and their names sullied, is at odds with our Constitution and values.
With these problems, it wouldn't be out of the question to ask why we even have terrorism watch lists anymore, or why they haven't been drastically reformed. As the only current US Senator who voted against the Patriot Act (when he was a House Representative) Bernie Sanders would and should be the prime candidate to ask these questions. He has long stood against the overreach of government power and the preservation of civil liberties.

And that is what makes this new position of his such a betrayal.

The solution to this problem is not to expand the use of the watch list. This would certainly lead to misuse of the list as a cudgel against political enemies of whatever administration is currently in office. Gun purchasing and ownership is an individual constitutional right under our Supreme Court's current interpretation of the Constitution.

Curtailing a constitutional right without any due process is an outrage against civil rights.
And it is a practice that would only last as long as it takes the first innocent person to be denied a firearms purchase, because then it goes right up through the courts and the bill gets overturned. The courts have already held, counter the administration's position, that there is a constitutional right to travel, even if that right is not explicitly stated in the constitution. It would take even less time to rule that the government cannot infringe upon the constitutionally protected right to firearms without due process.

An easy solution would be to call for reform and overhaul of the watchlist process. This is the position that the ACLU takes:

Until the No Fly List Is Fixed, It Shouldn’t Be Used to Restrict People’s Freedoms
Last night, in response to last week’s tragic attack in San Bernardino, California, President Obama urged Congress to ensure that people on the No Fly List be prohibited from purchasing guns. Last week, Republicans in Congress defeated a proposal that would have done just that. "I think it’s very important to remember people have due process rights in this country, and we can’t have some government official just arbitrarily put them on a list," House Speaker Paul Ryan said. 
There is no constitutional bar to reasonable regulation of guns, and the No Fly List could serve as one tool for it, but only with major reform. As we will argue to a federal district court in Oregon this Wednesday, the standards for inclusion on the No Fly List are unconstitutionally vague, and innocent people are blacklisted without a fair process to correct government error. Our lawsuit seeks a meaningful opportunity for our clients to challenge their placement on the No Fly List because it is so error-prone and the consequences for their lives have been devastating.
...
We disagree with Speaker Ryan about many things. But he’s right that people in this country have due process rights. We want to see them respected.
Bernie Sanders did not take that nuanced position. He did not and has not called for reform of the watchlisting process. Instead he bulled ahead along with the overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats and pushed for this new change, painting opponents of this change as unreasoning NRA-controlled gun nuts.

This is coupled with new anti-gun rhetoric that has become increasingly divorced from reality, and increasingly alienating to gun owners.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders seek gun control reform after shootings

Sanders said Thursday that mass shootings had reached "epidemic levels" this year. 
"It is very difficult for the American people to keep up with the mass shootings that we seem to see almost every day. Yesterday, San Bernardino, a few days ago, Colorado Springs, before that Roseburg, Oregon, before that Chattanooga, Tennessee, and on and on it goes," Sanders said in a statement. "The San Bernadino shooting was the 355th mass shooting this year. Gun violence has reached epidemic levels in the United States."

As I noted recently, the San Bernadino terrorism attack was not the 355th mass shooting this year unless you intentionally use a definition so broad it ceases to lose any meaning or value. Gun violence is decreasing in the US and has been for twenty years.

Study: Gun homicides, violence down sharply in past 20 years

Looking back 50 years, a Pew Research Center study found U.S. gun homicides rose in the 1960s, gained in the 1970s, peaked in the 1980s and the early 1990s, and then plunged and leveled out the past 20 years. 
"Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago," the researchers say. 
A Pew survey of Americans in March found 56% believed gun-related crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% said it's lower. The survey said 26% believed it stayed the same and 6% didn't know. 
The new study found U.S. firearm homicides peaked in 1993 at 7.0 deaths per 100,000 people. But by 2010, the rate was 49% lower, and firearm-related violence -- assaults, robberies, sex crimes -- was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993, the study found.
It's not anywhere close to "epidemic levels":
In 2014, the violent crime rate was 365.5, making America the safest it has been since 1970, and the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate was 4.5 out of 100,000, making 2014 the safest year in terms of murders since 1960.
There is a reason why, despite repeating the now thoroughly debunked "355 mass shootings" claim, Bernie Sanders was only able to list 4 specific mass shootings. The mass shooting tracker at liberal (and pro gun control) publication Mother Jones only has four listed for 2015.

US Mass Shootings, 1982-2015: Data From Mother Jones' Investigation

San Bernardino Mass Shooting San Bernardino, Ca 12/3/2015
Umpqua Community College shooting Roseburg, OR 10/1/2015
Chattanooga military recruitment center Chattanooga, TN 7/16/2015
Charleston Church Shooting Charleston, SC 6/17/2015
Confusingly, which Bernie Sanders included the domestic terrorism attack in Colorado Springs which does not qualify as a mass shooting (but is definitely domestic terrorism), he did not include the racially motivated (and I would argue also domestic terrorism) attack in Charleston.

It's worth noting that the terrorists who attacked in San Bernadino were not on any watch lists, and so would not have been prevented from buying guns under the law proposed by Senator Feinstein and supported by Senator Sanders. This is true to form, as many of the recent and very public shootings have involved firearms purchased legally and with background checks before their purchasers did anything that would cause them to be flagged, and yet these incidents have led to demands for "universal background checks" and "closing the gun show loophole".

When you see a problem, and the laws you propose have nothing to do with that problem, you're just exploiting that problem to get what you want into the law and don't care about actually solving the problem. And that's dangerous. That's as dangerous as restricting a constitutional right without due process, and with a great deal of regret it's not something I can support.

Using bad statistics and appeals to emotion is a bad idea when restricting any right, whether its First Amendment religious rights that the Republicans attack or Second Amendment self defense rights that the Democrats attack. I expect Bernie Sanders to support magazine limits and an AWB, because he is far left. As frustrating as it is to somebody who is further left yet also pro-gun, for some reason a large part of the far left in America is completely devoted to opposing civilian gun ownership. I can understand where they're coming from, even though I think it's incredibly foolish to give an exclusive monopoly on deadly force to the people we protest every other day of the week as violent and corrupt. What I cannot understand or accept is the betrayal of Senator Sanders' past principles in his current support for the terrorism watch lists.

When the NSA spying scandal broke, Sanders had this to say about anti-terrorism efforts and government power:
“The NSA is collecting enormous amounts of information. They know about the phone calls made by every person in this country, where they’re calling, who they’re calling and how long they’re on the phone. Let us not forget that a mere 40 years ago, we had a president of the United States who completely disregarded the law in an effort to destroy his political opponents. In my view, the information collected by the NSA has the potential to give an unscrupulous administration enormous power over elected officials,”
This was followed by:
“Clearly we must do everything we can to protect our country from the serious potential of another terrorist attack but we can and must do so in a way that also protects the constitutional rights of the American people and maintains our free society,”
In that he repeated something he said in 2011 when he voted against that year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

Why Senator Bernie Sanders Voted Against the Defense Bill
“This bill also contains misguided provisions that in the name of fighting terrorism essentially authorize the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens without charges. While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans.”
I agree with 2011 and 2014 Bernie Sanders, and unfortunately this puts me in the position of having to disagree with 2015 primary presidential candidate Sanders. That is infuriating.

Previously one of the best features of Bernie Sanders as a politician and as a candidate was his consistency. He would pick the right position and stick to it, not altering it subject to the political winds. This is why he opposed the Patriot Act when Hillary Clinton supported it. It's why he opposed the Iraq War when Hillary Clinton supported it. It's why he supported gay marriage long before the majority of the country, and longer still before Hillary Clinton supported it. Now there is inconsistency where before there had been consistency and honesty.

I don't know which would be worse; is he inaccurately and uncritically repeating bad statistics and supporting bad laws, but doing so out of honest ignorance, or is he instead intentionally repeating and supporting these things simply for political gain because he's in a fierce primary contest? Is he an unaware hypocrite, or an aware one? Does he believe these things or is he simply trying to appease the (misguidedly) antigun left?

Regardless, I can't continue to support his campaign. Oh, I may still vote for him, if by the time the primaries get to Ohio he's still in the race. If he's won it by then or lost it by then I may look at the Republican side in our weird open/closed primary system. I may still vote for him in the general too, the likelihood of that will depend on his opponent. But I'm not going to volunteer. I'm not going to donate. I'm not going to defend him or advocate on his behalf with others. I'm pulling myself from grassroots support.

It's not because of his anti-gun positions, which I expect and can accept even though I disagree. Disagreement on some things can be fine and healthy. It's because for the first time, he's taken a position that is anti civil liberties. It is anti due process. It is a position that supports the overreaching post-9/11 security state. I can't agree to disagree on due process, nor should anyone who genuinely values the constitutional protections they enjoy.

As Sanders himself said in 2011 and 2014 when he wasn't running for President, in fighting terrorism we must still protect constitutional rights. Senator Sanders should know better, and either he genuinely doesn't know better, which is bad enough, or he does know better and he's pandering for votes, which might be worse.

You'd think at this point in my life I wouldn't be surprised when a politician disappoints me, but it does still sting a little.

Edit:
Here's the thing. Bernie Sanders is a sitting US Senator. He could introduce a bill to reform the watch lists. Provide oversight for them. Make them a more tightly focused and effective tool in fighting terrorism while also preserving civil liberties. This on its own would have its own numerous benefits, and should easily get bipartisan support. After that a bill to restrict gun purchasing by people on the newly tightened up terrorism watch list would have a very good chance of passing, or at least a much better one. 


He didn't do any of that. He betrayed his principles and took the low road, the unconstitutional security theater road that so many Republicans and Democrats have gone down before. He could be better, he could so easily be better, and he's not.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Can't Stump the Trump

Everybody is freaking out about Trump, in support or opposition, left and right. Here's my take on him.

Trump has two purposes. First is to make Republicans look bad. By saying outrageously hateful and xenophobic things and still maintaining a sizable lead in the Republican primaries he shows their base for what it is, hateful and xenophobic. This also further marginalizes and radicalizes that xenophobic base, because Trump is repeating what's in their dark petty hearts, so "just speaking the truth", and he's being attacked by phony Republicans, the biased liebrul media, and gutless progressives who can't wait in their cowardice to surrender to the "islamofascists".

His second purpose is to make Hillary Clinton electable by looking like literally Hitler in comparison. The Democratic leadership will be knifing progressives in the back up through the convention, have already started in many ways, and the only way to keep those voters in the fold will be to say "what do you want, for TRUMP to win???" And you can already see this in many places.

So, make Republicans unelectable, and make Hillary electable. What does he get for this? A market and audience of tens of millions of right wing extremists who, after he loses the primary or general, will buy the new book he'll write, listen to the podcast, and watch the show on Fox News.

If he wins the Republican primary and Hillary wins the Democrat primary, look for him to go way more extreme.

If he loses the Republican primary and Hillary wins the Democrat primary, he'll run as a third party to split the Republican vote.

If he loses the Republican primary and Hillary loses the Democrat primary he'll come out strong supporting the Republican nominee and calling for unity in the face of socialism.

If he wins the Republican primary and Hillary loses the Democrat primary he'll run hard and fast to the middle, trying to be as reasonable as possible. Supporters will be ticked but at least he isn't a socialist.

If he somehow wins the election it'll be 4-8 years of empty rhetoric and talking conservatives into supporting the political ideas of an east coast big city liberalish conservativeish businessman. People forget he's been anti gun and pro gay and pro choice.

Donald Trump isn't the most dangerous thing about Donald Trump. His supporters are the most dangerous thing. They're now getting a national audience for every bit of outrageous hate filled xenophobia, and the negative reactions to this just further isolates and radicalizes them. This has already led to violence and will lead to more. It's ugly and going to get uglier.

PSA - either Australia has mass shootings or we don't have one a day

I see plenty of memes on Facebook that we've had a "mass shooting a day". This number originated as intentional propaganda by an anti-gun subreddit, and has been repeated by the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the New York Times.

But by the Mother Jones definition we've had 4. Their editor did an op-ed for the New York Times where he explains:

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

 He then describes the different methods of counting used:

For at least the past decade, the F.B.I. regarded a mass shooting as a single attack in which four or more victims were killed. (In 2013, a mandate from President Obama for further study of the problem lowered that threshold to three victims killed.) When we began compiling our database in 2012, we used that criteria of four or more killed in public attacks, but excluded mass murders that stemmed from robbery, gang violence or domestic abuse in private homes. Our goal with this relatively narrow set of parameters was to better understand the seemingly indiscriminate attacks that have increased in recent years, whether in movie theaters, elementary schools or office parks.

The statistics now being highlighted in the news come primarily from shootingtracker.com, a website built by members of a Reddit forum supporting gun control called GunsAreCool. That site aggregates news stories about shooting incidents — of any kind — in which four or more people are reported to have been either injured or killed.

He explains the danger in using the wider definition:

There is value in collecting those stories as a blunt measure of gun violence involving multiple victims. But as those numbers gain traction in the news media, they distort our understanding. According to our research at Mother Jones — subsequently corroborated by the F.B.I. — the more narrowly defined mass shootings have grown more frequent, and overwhelmingly involve legally obtained firearms. Experts in the emerging field of threat assessment believe that this is a unique phenomenon that must be understood on its own.

I also see plenty of memes on Facebook saying that since Australia passed "reasonable gun control", meaning they more or less banned civilian gun ownership in most circumstances, they haven't had a mass shooting.

For example, the New York Times, same people who repeat Reddit when saying we have a mass shooting a day, claimed that Australia ended mass killings. In fact, in order to have Australia meet that criteria, the New York Times doesn't use the "GunsAreCool" definition of a mass shooting and instead creates their own:

The oft-cited statistic in Australia is a simple one: There have been no mass killings — defined by experts there as a gunman killing five or more people besides himself — since the nation significantly tightened its gun control laws almost 20 years ago.

 Well shit, that's a tighter threshold than the FBI or Mother Jones used. By that standard we would have had much less "mass killings" in the US than even those claimed by Mother Jones, and thousands less than claimed by... the New York Times.

In Australia following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, Australia passed strict restrictions on civilian gun ownership. Australia's former Prime Minister has said:

"We will find any means we can to further restrict them because I hate guns. I don't think people should have guns unless they're police or in the military or in the security industry. There is no earthly reason for people to have weapons. Ordinary citizens should not have weapons. We do not want the American disease brought into Australia."

When you see people supporting the Australian method, this is what they're saying. Ordinary citizens should not be arms, and guns will be restricted by any means necessary because the people pushing for gun laws hate guns. If your position is that we should have some new laws but still have citizen "weapon" ownership, realize that when you join with people pushing for Australian gun control and looking at Australia as a model.

If you're a gun owner trying to find a middle ground, realize you're working with people who hate that you as a civilian are able to own any firearm and every new law they get passed is towards the ultimate goal of ending that.

 I digress.

Following those restrictions was the Monash University shooting in 2002.

The Monash University shooting refers to a school shooting in which a student shot his classmates and teacher, killing two and injuring five.

By the GunsAreCool standard, a mass shooting. 7 people were shot.

In 2011 there was the Hectorville Siege.

It began after a 39-year-old resident of the suburb, later identified as Donato Anthony Corbo, entered his neighbours' property and shot four people, killing three and severly wounding one. An eight-hour stand-off with police followed, during which time he shot and wounded two officers.

By the GunsAreCool standard, a mass shooting. 6 people were shot.

In 2014, the Hunt Family murders.

Murder-suicide shooting spree by Geoff Hunt who killed his wife and three children before turning the gun on himself

Five fatalities, four family members and a suicide by the killer; a mass shooting by GunsAreCool **and** FBI standards. But not by the much tighter New York Times standard intended to make Australia look perfect, which would exclude the perpetrator.
 
Under the new federal definition which was ordered by Obama and lowers the number required for the FBI to declare something a mass killing from four to three, Australia has another. The 2014 Wedderburn shooting:

A shooting murder of a neighbour family (Greg Holmes, 48, his mother Mary Lockhart, 75, and her husband Peter Lockhart, 78) by Ian Francis Jamieson, 63.

On top of these four mass shootings, there have also been 171 deaths in mass arson attacks, there was a mass stabbing that killed 8, and a mass blunt instrument killing that killed 5. This shows that mass murderers will find other methods.

There's a graph by GunPolicy.org an anti-gun site, showing the rate of firearms deaths in Australia falling over time.

If that data line looks familiar, there's a reason. Here's the rate of homicide gun deaths for the US for roughly the same time.

In both countries, murders have been consistently falling, at roughly the same rate and over the same period of time. Since we have drastically different gun laws, maybe the gun laws aren't the factor.

Regardless, here's my main point. If anti-gun activists want to use their wildly inflated "a mass shooting a day!" bogus statistic, they cannot then claim that Australia hasn't had any mass shootings since they passed "reasonable gun control".
 
And these definitions are important, as discussed by USA Today:

Yet marking the death toll of mass killings in America is anything but simple. It's hampered by the FBI's voluntary reporting system that gets it right a little more than half the time, and by advocacy groups who may count only incidents that support their cause, ignoring killings that don't involve a gun or did not get heavy media coverage.

Concentrating on just one type of mass killing — or only on those that get a lot of attention — may be worse than just using the FBI data, because it can skew public understanding and lead to ineffective policies, says Grant Duwe, a senior researcher with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, who has written a book on mass killings based on a data set he built covering the 1900s.

USA Today also mentions that the FBI is releasing the raw data for easier review but there's a caution against misuse:

Even with better data, special interest groups or unscrupulous academics can manipulate the numbers, just as with any other data set.

"If you have a cherry-picked list of cases, it's basically garbage in, garbage out," Duwe said. "And it does have important implications to additional research we do in terms of public policy."

Careful and scrupulous review of the data by USA Today provided interesting results:

USA TODAY's data debunks common beliefs. For example, it shows that the number of mass killings has not increased in recent years; most occur among family members; and handguns, not assault weapons, are most commonly used.

Honesty and academic rigor is important. It's especially important if your goal is to enact effective public policy and to negotiate in good faith with both sides of a political issue. But they are much less important if your goal is to simply repeat phony statistics that make you feel good and that you and your friends think illustrate the bloody handed evil and greed of the "gun lobby". This can feel satisfying in the short run, it may drive Likes and Shares and Pageviews, but it doesn't do anything about violence and makes genuinely effective policy changes much harder to attain.

There's a reason why people with an agenda, and the New York Times is leading the charge on that, want to use a different definition of mass shooting for Australia than they use for the US. It's important to make it look like new gun laws work. So Australia must have a perfect record. These people with an agenda are selling a promise of safety and security. "If we enact Australia's gun laws it will end mass killings in America." But nothing is certain. And the reason they use a different number for the US is so that they can inflate the severity. Four mass shootings a year would be bad enough. But it doesn't generate enough of an unreasoning panic, so they have to change the definitions to make it look like there's a Newton or Columbine every day.

The lesson of Australia is that you don't end gun violence or mass killings just by passing a law. There's not a magic legal wand you can wave to end violence. And if somebody is offering you one, they're lying to you. Be very careful before you repeat anything they say.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How I'm voting in Columbus Ohio in 2015

These are just who I'm voting for, these are not in any way official endorsements and should not be taken as encouraging anyone else to vote any particular way.

Mayor:
Zach Scott presents his ideas better and Ginther represents the recent severe corruption problems we've had in our city government. Scott also supports using Seattle as an inspiration in minimum wage increases, which I like. Basically Ginther has negatives, Scott does not. I'll be voting for Zach Scott.

Columbus City Council, pick 4 from 8
Elizabeth C. Brown - Not from Columbus, wants to increase minimum wage but says we can't at local level, supports body cameras
Zach Klein - lots of national experience, also OAG and US AG experience, wants to increase minimum wage but says we can't at local level, supports body cameras
Jaiza Page - Young, supports minimum wage and body cameras.
John Christopher Rush - massive family, veteran, says a *lot* while saying little. Might support body cameras and minimum wage? Sounds good but delivered in a very obfuscatory way.
Besmira Sharrah - no data, didn’t respond to the survey at all.
Ibrahima Sow - Immigrant, does support a minimum wage increase modeled after Seattle, doesn't support police body cameras.
Dimitrious Stanley - opposes a minimum wage increase for terrible reasons. Supports body cameras.
Michael Stinziano - Says what he would do and why on minimum wage, and supports body camera, and he's local. Probably my favorite out of all of them.
There are four open seats for city council. Besmira is out. Rush seems slimy. I don't like Dimitrious' reasons for opposing the minimum wage.

I think Ibrahima's perspective will be an interesting one. Brown is a "Full time candidate" which kind of turns me off. I'm thinking I'll vote for Stinziano, Klein, Page, and Sow. But Brown could be switched out for Sow.

Columbus City Council, pick one
Shannon G. Hardin is being challenged by Ashley Wnek for his city council seat. Wnek has a confusing reason for opposing minimum wage increases, she claims that it will lead to automation forcing people out of low wage jobs. Uses the example of "every time I go to the grocery store there are less checkout lanes operated by good people, and more self checkout lanes!" But automation is  going to do that anyway. Hardin is thoroughly dirty in the Redflex scandal and claims the public still trusts the city government, which just plain isn't true. Both candidates support body cameras. Wnek wants to improve public transportation in Columbus, including better routes and more methods than just the bus, and this is what pushes me to vote for Wnek over Hardin, despite disagreeing strongly on the issue of minimum wages.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge; McCarthy or Morehart
I'll be voting for Sean McCarthy because they both look similar on issues but he's a veteran. Reportedly both would equally be great choices so I’m coming down on the McCarthy side solely because he’s a veteran.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Jan 5 term; Ebner or Glaeden
I'm voting for Ebner to get new blood and because I greatly prefer Ebner's stated judicial philosophy, which emphasizes fairness. Glaeden describes hers as "to hold offenders accountable and to make victims whole when possible" which sounds to me like she thinks anybody who comes before her is going to be guilty. I like that Ebner is coming at this from a Criminal Defense standpoint.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Jan. 6 term; Pfau, Paley, or Paat
Pfau is a Green Party candidate so he’s already ahead in my book as the first third party candidate I’ve encountered on this ballot. He’s gay, he’s a Buddhist, he’s been a Guardian ad Litem, he has a lot of experience, he’s fair, and he’s got a great judicial philosophy. Easy call for me.

Hilliard Board of Education, pick 2 of 4 candidates
Heather Keck  - existing school board member and attorney.
Nadia Long – nothing to really separate her from anybody else.
Carmen Malone – Auditor. I would like having an auditor.
Charles Ramsay – Journalist, and I would like a journalist too.
Everybody has pretty much the same opinions on everything. I’m picking Malone and Ramsay because I like their backgrounds. An auditor will make sure things run efficiently and a journalist will be able to keep an eye out for any wrongdoing.

Issue 1: I absolutely support redistricting reform. Gerrymandering prevents competitive elections and stagnates the political process. It lets somebody who isn’t a good candidate get into an office and stay there. It lets the majority party in the statehouse run all over the minority. I wish it did more to prevent gerrymandering of US Congressional districts (where it does nothing) but it will help with the state legislature, and that is an important first step.

Issue 2: I oppose Issue 2 because it exists solely to fight legalization, not just the current Issue 3 path but also future attempts. It will require two votes, at two separate elections, for any citizen ballot initiative that has any impact on taxes. For example, it would require two separate elections for the “Legalize2016” initiative since it has parts in it relating to taxation. At the first vote, the public would have to exempt the proposed issue from the prohibition, and then the second vote would be on the actual issue. This would so thoroughly confuse the voters as to ensure that the only ballot measures that become law are those proposed by the legislature. Additionally, it says it’s against monopolies but it does nothing at all about the casino monopoly already existing in the state constitution.

Issue 3: Like the ACLU of Ohio, and NORML, and a number of other individuals who’ve studied the issue, I support Issue 3. It will bring in a lot of tax revenue, it will save a lot in court and police costs, and it will prevent usage from resulting in a criminal record that destroys someone’s life. Opposition to it is being driven by the Republicans who rushed Issue 2 onto the ballot, various police, religious, and family organizations, and any dealers who don’t like the idea of someone being able to buy legally what they sell illegally. They’re also supported in this by gullible ideologues and purists who are content to tell people to “wait till next year so we can do it right!” every single year because they’re not in danger of going to jail themselves. I realize that the Republican controlled government officials who set the ballot language were able to call it a monopoly bill and this was approved by the Ohio Supreme Court, but I don’t see a monopoly when 10 companies are required to all compete with each other. The positives are vast and the negatives are palatable.

ADAMH Levy: I support renewing the levy for mental health, alcohol, and drug addiction programs. I’d even support an increase but this is just a continuance.

Columbus Zoo levy: It’s a continuance levy and it’s not for that much, so I’m backing it.


Monday, October 12, 2015

It's not NRA lobbying blocking new anti-gun laws - it's grassroots voters and gun owners

Recently Obama again attacked the NRA for no new laws being passed in the wake of shootings where the shooters had no previous red flags and had passed background checks and had used handguns. It's the NRA's fault that these tragedies couldn't be exploited to expand background checks to isolated private sales and an "assault weapons ban" on semiautomatic sporting rifles.

What this ignores is that the NRA doesn't have that much money. What it has is the support of a very large section of the voters. Many gun owners aren't members of the NRA. I'm not. Many more members got their membership because it's packaged free with most new gun sales. But we're voters who care about much the same things that the NRA cares about.

We're also not lying about poll numbers. There was a poll that claimed 90% of Americans "support background checks", so how was it possible that the Manchin-Toomey bill could have failed? Well, 90% of Americans do support some background checks. Probably most background checks. I have no problem with a background check for buying a gun from a dealer or from an FFL. But it's impossible to have what are called "universal background checks", the expansion of background checks to private intrastate transfers, without a gun registry. As I've pointed out before. And that's why Manchin-Toomey failed. Gun owners knew about this problem with the bill, and called their Senators and their Representatives. That's also why support for "background checks" fell so rapidly.

But Obama and other politicians keep pushing the "90%" line, again and again and again. Obama said after Manchin-Toomey failed that "The American people are trying to figure out -- how can something that has 90 percent support not happen?" It's an easy question to answer. He's wrong. The poll is wrong. There wasn't 90% support for the bill.

This is backed up by what one of the bill's supporters said after the bill failed, "When 90 percent of the people want something, and the senator votes against them, the next election, we're going to take care of those senators, because they're not representing the people."

And yet, those Senators weren't replaced. The vote was in 2013. In the 2014 elections, the Republicans held all of their Senate seats and gained 9 Democrat seats to regain control of the Senate for the first time since the Bush Administration. Clearly 90% of the country had spoken. Those Senators weren't "taken care of", because they were representing the voters.

Politicians, pundits, talk show hosts, comedians, and rank and file democrats attack "The NRA", claiming that its lobbying and money prevents Congress from "making progress" on banning guns. But as a lobby, the NRA is a fricking joke in terms of DC money.

Getting past the obvious dripping bias of the OpenSecrets description, the numbers speak for themselves.

Top Contributors, 2013-2014
Contributor Amount
National Rifle Assn  $952,252
Safari Club International  $694,640
Gun Owners of America  $270,157
National Assn for Gun Rights  $175,650
National Shooting Sports Foundation  $169,250
Ohio Gun Collectors Assn  $35,500
Dallas Safari Club  $9,250

About $2.3 million. Compare that to the Environment sector, where the top contributor alone put in $4.3 million in the same time frame. Look at the Communications sector, Comcast lobbyists alone have put in $3.93 million. In fact, at $2.259 million, lobbying from *Microsoft alone* comes close to equaling *the entirety of lobbying done by the NRA*. In the energy sector, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association put in as much as the entire firearms lobbying sector.

Gun industry's *monetary* influence on politics is negligible. But the truth, and the thing that drives anti-gunners into a furious and impotent rage, is the fact that it's individual voters by the millions who drive gun policy. It's phone calls and emails and letters to politicians, it's election time volunteering and voting. And gun owners do it better than gun opponents. And they hate us for it. Read this angry anti-gun voter piece from Mother Jones, where they complain that they can't even win after using Bloomberg money to buy elections.

Money alone does not equal political power. Supporters of the background check bill and new gun control laws have lots of money. Bloomberg alone has spent tens of millions of dollars through Mayors Against Illegal Guns and his self-funded super-PAC, Independence USA, to counter the influence of the gun lobby. He ousted NRA-backed congressional candidates in the 2012 elections and again this year in Illinois, where he spent more than $2 million to defeat Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat who'd previously received an A rating from the NRA, in the special primary to replace disgraced ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Bloomberg declared that his money was a warning sign for pro-gun lawmakers: Shill for the NRA and I'll drop big money to bounce you out of office. That threat wasn't enough to persuade a handful of Democratic senators from red states and Republican senators who were once thought of as possible votes for gun safety measures.
Shilling against gun ownership is fine. SuperPACs are fine. Using big money to throw elections is fine, so long as you further the political goals of the anti-gun movement*.

The double standard for anyone concerned about money in politics is stunning and repulsive.

They also found that their own lobbying group couldn't get it done.

Obama's political machine could not overcome the NRA's might. A database of tens of millions of voters and the best political technology on the planet do not equal political power. The background check fight was the first real test for Organizing for Action, the advocacy group spawned from of the president's massively successful reelection campaign. Former Obama aides created OFA to mobilize Obama supporters during legislative fights like this one, hoping to use all the names, data, and other finely honed technologies during the 2012 campaign to create the outside pressure needed to push contentious pieces of legislation across the finish line.  
OFA executive director Jon Carson wrote that more than 22,000 people called the Senate on Wednesday demanding passage of Manchin-Toomey. But there were no reports of crippled phone lines or a massive surge of public interest similar to what was seen during the legislative debates over health care reform or financial reform. OFA devoted time and money organizing its members, but it wasn't enough.
Note the author's crowing over the database of "tens of millions of voters" as a positive, and how that database only translated to 22,000 calls in support of more gun control laws. This is key because of later in the article when they go after the NRA:

Here is what political power looks like: It's the combination of money, intensity, and influence when it matters most. The NRA boasts all of the above. LaPierre and his NRA colleagues around the country know how to whip their members—4.5 million of them by the NRA's count—into a frenzy. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 1 in 5 gun owners had called, written, or emailed a public official; only 1 in 10 people without a gun in the household had done the same. In the same poll, 1 in 5 gun owners said they'd given money to a group involved in the gun control debate; just 4 percent of people without a gun in the home previously gave money.

It's bad that the NRA boasts 4.5 million members because the author disagrees with them. It's good that OFA has a database of tens of millions of members because the author agrees with them. But there are an estimated 80-100 million gun owners in the United States. That means "1 in 5 gun owners" translates to roughly 16 to 20 million voters. That's 4 times the number of members of the NRA.

To the anti-gun movement* it's good that a billionaire throws elections that further their goals, and it's bad that millions of voters donate to politicians in opposition to that one billionaire. The thing that so frustrates the luminaries of the anti-gun movement* is the simple and unavoidable fact that their new laws fail because of democracy. There are no new laws because the democratic process is working, because millions of voters speaking out to their elected officials and donating to their political causes does indeed have more swing than few lobbying groups and wealthy individuals.

Obama wants to paint these millions of voters as being uniformly irrational conspiracy theorists. Which, by the way, is a fucking fantastic way to win people over.

“There is a very passionate group of gun owners who see a conspiracy around any new legislation and have an absolute belief that the Second Amendment means nothing would in any way constrain them from having whatever weapon on the market and modest additional steps are the camel’s nose under the tent to take away their guns,” 
The Second Amendment has already been extensively restricted. Gun ownership now is to the furthest limit of what the Supreme Court has ruled constitutional. And gun owners aren't stupid, we can look at Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Illinois, and California, and see that these news laws are always the camel's nose. In the same interview Obama praises the anti-gun laws of Australia, which are incredibly restrictive and which have not caused their murder rate to drop significantly.


There is no pressing need for these laws, and the proposed new laws wouldn't have done anything about the recent mass shootings where background checks have been passed, and handguns used instead of "assault rifles". Which means that obviously they wouldn't stop mass shootings, and so the camel's nose would keep going under that tent and result in more laws being passed, and more, and more. As has happened in those previously mentioned fiercely anti-gun states. Anti-gun activists know this, just as surely as gun owners know this. Gun owners aren't** conspiracy wackos, we just aren't idiots either. Ask anyone pushing new gun laws, whether they're a random liberal on the internet, or a politician, or a comedian, anyone who says "nobody is coming for your guns!", if there is a gun law they would oppose. Ask them if there is a single point past which they would say "That's enough new gun laws, I oppose any further laws."

I have. And the answer is always the same. They want gun ownership to end.

Gun owners aren't idiots. We also aren't all conservatives, we aren't all straight, we aren't all white, we aren't all men. We're not easily put into the boxes that they try to put us into. And this, too, infuriates the anti-gun movement. The backlash against Colion Noir, an African-American gun owner, when he became a paid commentator for the NRA was virulent and patronizing. He can't like gun ownership for its own sake, he must be a "shill". Everyone getting paid to post anti-gun articles, they aren't shills, they're just honestly expressing their opinions.

This is why there's no movement on new anti-gun laws. We don't like having our opinions invalidated, we don't like being insulted, we don't like having lies endlessly passed off as truth, and we don't like when a big money SuperPAC with a handful of wealthy donors tries to force their preferred laws to pass. And it's only in the field of gun ownership that the left accepts these things from authoritarian politicians.

This needs to stop, because as the Republican Party self destructs, this is the only thing that could cause the Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, not just in 2016 but in 2018 and possibly even 2020. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, even Bernie Sanders are attacking firearms ownership. Democrats have, or had, a significant advantage in the electoral college. Few things could shake that advantage, but this is one of them. It's not because gun owners are "single issue" voters, but because many of us don't support being lied to and lied about. If you have Hillary Clinton running on an anti-gun platform (she should talk to her husband about how the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban cost the Democrats control of the House) against a Republican, she loses Ohio, Florida, Virginia, probably Pennsylvania, and almost certainly the Presidency.

Anti-gun publication Mother Jones describes the failures and fallout of when the Democrats forced the 1994 AWB through Congress:
As Obama assumes this tough mission, he can look back to the 1994 episode for guidance on how to win the politics and how to avoid screwing up the policy. Clinton savvily enlisted the law enforcement community and made good use of his Cabinet. Obama could emulate both moves. (He has instructed members of his Cabinet to help craft recommendations for Biden's task force.) Yet to make sure his efforts yield real-world results, the president will have to be mindful of policy particulars and not repeat the errors of 1994. "If you're going to be effective, you have to have a broad-based ban on weapons and on ammo," the former Justice Department official says.
...
One conclusion that can be drawn from the 1994 battle was that the weak ban that emerged might not have been worth the cost. And there was a stiff cost. When Congress passed the assault weapons ban, the NRA vowed vengeance. Months later, the Republicans, backed by the still-outraged NRA, romped the Democrats in the midterm election, gaining 54 seats and control of the House for the first time in 40 years. Clinton, for one, believed that voting for the the assault weapons ban had cost about 20 House Democrats their seats—meaning that the measure had caused a political backlash that led to a GOP the majority in the House. If Obama and others confront the NRA, they had better expect—and prepare for—a battle that will reach a crescendo on November 4, 2014.
Obama, unconcerned with leaving a winning legacy, has said that the Democrats should go ahead and become single issue voters and lose a few elections in order to fight gun ownership.
“You have to make sure that anybody who you are voting for is on the right side of this issue. And if they’re not, even if they’re great on other stuff, for a couple of election cycles you’ve got to vote against them, and let them know precisely why you’re voting against them. And you just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter because that’s what is happening on the other side."
Imagine the backlash if you or I said the same thing about any other issue, like the Obama Administration's wiretapping, or its drone airstrikes against civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. He's willing to let the Republicans win, in spite of things like gay rights and reproductive rights, if gun ownership is fought.

The question is, will left wing gun owners and voters tolerate this? Will the voters let the Democratic Party leaders take the party down with them in their pursuit for more authoritarian anti-gun laws?

*Can't even say the "anti-gun left", because I am certainly much further left than former Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg.
** well not all of us, not even a majority of us, but that minority is really really loud and it's politically expedient to lump the rest of us in with them

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tear the idols down - dig up the monsters and piss on their bones

A now-former friend posted some real ignorant shit. 

Now, everybody has some level of racism and prejudice in them. It's a natural part of human evolution and influenced by our environments and the media and our culture. What separates a racist from everyone else is whether they recognize their own prejudice as a negative and try to work past it, or whether they refuse to see it at all except in other groups (soft racists), or whether they see it as a positive and as the natural order (hard racists).

But as the Bible says, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. And soft racists turn into hard racists pretty quickly when challenged. Really, that's one of the big differences between an innocent non-racist person and an actual racist, soft or hard R. Anybody can say something stupid and ignorant. A non-racist, when it gets challenged, will realize what they said and apologize for it being taken the wrong way. A racist will almost always double down. And like pulling out an infected hair, what looks normal to start often turns out pus covered and infected the more you pull.

When challenged, they don't stop digging.

Here's the article that infuriated the former friend:

Impatient protesters begin digging up Confederate general’s grave — themselves!

A group of anti-Confederate protesters aren’t happy enough with the declaration by the city of Memphis that it wants to dig up and move the remains of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest.
They want it done now.
A group surrounded a shovel Wednesday and ceremoniously removed a chunk of grass and soil.
“We are going to bring the back hoe, the tractors and the men with the equipment to raise Bedford Forrest from the soil of Memphis,” Isaac Richmond with the “Commission on Religion and Racism” declared to awaiting TV cameras, CBS 3 reported.
Richmond ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year.
He believes if the general who died 137 years ago can just be eliminated, that will really help things.
“If he’s gone, some of this racism and race-hate might be gone,” he said, shovel in hand. “We got a fresh shovel full, and we hope that everybody else will follow suit and dig him up.”
Others see their actions as little more than destruction of property.
“They can protest all they want. Just because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean they are right. Digging up the park is just pure and simple vandalism,” says Lee Millar, spokesman Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“We really don’t want to make this a confrontation. We just want to say hey, we want to get on with it!” Richmond insists.
In early July, the Memphis city council voted unanimously to dig up Forrest’s body and move it somewhere else.
“It is no longer politically correct to glorify someone who was a slave trader, someone who was a racist on public property,” City Council member Myron Lowery said at the time.
Because of the bureaucracy, Forrest’s remains and the statue dedicated to him are regulated by different agencies.
According to the city council’s attorney, Chancery Court would also have to sign off on the removal of the remains and the family of Forrest would be involved in the decision as well.
The removal of the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest is a separate issue.
The removal of the statue has been proposed as an ordinance before the council which will have to be read before the council three times before it can be approved.
From there it will be presented to the Tennessee Historic Commission but there is no timeline for when they will make a decision.
That’s all taking too long for the activists. They want it done now.
So, they used a shovel, and ceremonially removed a chunk of grass and soil. Keep that in mind as you read what is to follow.

Keep in mind that the city council has already voted unanimously to dig up Nathan Bedford Forrest's body and bury it elsewhere, off public property.

Keep this in mind, and it is very important, Nathan Bedford Forrest wasn't just a slave trader. He wasn't just a racist. He wasn't just a Confederate general.

He was also the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. He was its leader during the First Klan, at the height of their lawless post-war violence, when they would kill blacks and white northerners, burn down houses, lynch people, with the specific intent of preventing people from voting Republican, and making sure free blacks weren't too free or too uppity.

Keep in mind that this here was the top comment on that article, with nearly 600 people supporting it, and realize that this mindset mirrors that of the people engaged below:
Our country is out of control. This is what happens when you allow blacks to go unchecked. Civil unrest is coming and it's going to get ugly. 
It's not the first threat of a race war from a white supremacist that I've seen, it won't be the last, and it's the exact same flavor of poison that motivated Dylan Roof. The country is out of control, because a bunch of black people (obviously not the word the poster would have liked to use) dug up a scoop of dirt. When you allow blacks to go unchecked, they disrespect the grave of the founder of the Klan. Because of the pushback that monuments to institutional racism and racial violence are receiving today, violent domestic terrorism is coming. It is a reactionary response to people being fed up with seeing monsters on pedestals by people who agree with those monsters.

Keep all that in mind as you read the following exchange of comments from facebook. Despite being attacked by the original poster for using a screen name on facebook (a typical ad hominem and part of why I use a screen name on facebook, anybody who attacks me for it has run out of anything of value to say), I will only use initials for everyone involved.

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Start of Facebook Comments (beginning with initial post)
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A.E.: Im probably going to lose some friends for this post. However, I'm tired of this ignorant racist crap getting spewed every where you go these days.

This is vandalism. Not only that, it's jumping the race - card bandwagon. While you're at it dig up Lee and Jefferson Davis. But if you really want to go for the slave - owning gusto, dig up Washington, Jefferson, and over half of our founding fathers.

Black America's finger pointing, ignorant racism is on my nerves. LEARN HISTORY. READ A FLIPPIN BOOK. African slavery started in Africa!!!! Stop blaming whites for being capitalists in a time far gone by - Africans SOLD Africans into slavery.

You do nothing but weaken your argument with this kind of behavior. Does this apply to all black people? Heavens no, but the ones that it does apply to are perpetuating a stereotype. I'd mention the word, but then I'd be called a racist too.

I wont apologize for this post, I won't apologize for the color of my skin, and I won't stand by and watch this nation's history be wiped out because someone with a stick up their butt thinks it's OK to disturb the dead over a hundred years after the fact.

If your only argument for desecrating the dead is because of something that MIGHT have happened to a DISTANT family member of yours over TEN GENERATIONS back, go the fuck elsewhere.

And before you get on your high horse, remember that the Native Americans have suffered, and continue to suffer to this day, FAR WORSE, than many black slaves ever did.

Impatient protesters begin digging up Confederate general’s grave themselves

Me: Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first Grand Dragon of the KKK. That's some dead there that is plenty worthy of desecration and disturbance. Plenty of his victims didn't get the luxury of a nice quiet burial. Some history doesn't deserve the honor it gets.

A.E.: Regardless of the man's personal history, defacing public property AFTER the city has decided to do something about it but BEFORE they got around to it IS VANDALISM.

Futhermore, the willful lack of knowledge surrounding the Civil War, and how slavery came to be in this nation, is fueling this rediculousness.

T.G.: No, don't blame whites for starting slavery, blame them for continuing it 50 years after even their mother country abolished it. So, blame whites. It's always their fault, and never yours! You are the special children of an underprivileged majority who can't possibly know what it's like to be other.

Me: More education about the depth of slavery's depravity in this nation wouldn't leave whites or our nation's historical idols looking good at all.

A.E.: Human trafficking has gone on since the beginning on human kind. It won't end anytime soon, and whipping up a fervor over slavery in America is just a convenient mechanism to keep the rest of us from looking at the real problems in modern society.

T.M.: Defacing of any grave despite whomever lay there makes you simply a giant piece of worthless dog shit.

Me: Defacing something that's going to be removed anyway isn't vandalism, it's initiative.

A.E.: If it's public property, it sure as hell is vandalism. You know that.

Me: We defaced plenty of graves in the process of building America, there's a reason there aren't many mounds around anymore.

A.E.: No, WE did not. The actions of OTHER PEOPLE did that Jack. That's the line that most people seem to forget.

I refuse to be held responsible for something I did not do because of the color of my skin. I wouldn't do it to others, and I won't tolerate being expected to apologize for the PAST.

Me: Maybe I don't have sufficient love and appreciation for the Klan and their supporters but defacing the grave of the founding father of those lynching terrorists strikes me as a public service. I must not be loyal enough to the white race, or I'm just proud of my heritage and history as a descendant of abolitionists and Union soldiers.

Me: Well, they're digging up the graves of one of those other people. By fighting that you're taking responsibility for his actions. Honoring the demons of our past puts us on the line for their sins.

A.E.: Good point. Perhaps I'm proud of my Southern heritage - which also includes abolishinists. I don't appreciate the baiting.

Me: Baiting is saying "I'll probably lose friends" for saying some racist ignorant shit. Because you probably will, and you might not be real happy with the quality of the ones you have left.

A.E.Ok, well, if you can't respect someone else's point of view, that happens to differ from yours, it's your choice.


A.E.: You do realize, that your video post goes both ways, right?

Me: There are plenty of views I don't respect. It's a list that includes people who think gays are destroying America, climate change is a liberal myth, women should stay in the kitchen, racists, and ISIS.

My grandfather believed that interracial marriage was wrong, because "A fish can fall in love with a bird but where can they live?" I acknowledge that he had that belief but I don't have a lot of respect for it.

When Beth's racist inlaw died years back, a guy who was a member of the Klan over in West Jefferson, her grandmother burned all his Klan gear. All the robes, the books, the swords. And that's what the Klan deserves. They're domestic terrorists. Fuck them and fuck their graves.

T.G.: You don't piss on a grave.

Me: I'd sure as hell like to piss on his.

T.G.: Go buy three black families dinner, then, if you want to be so infuriated.

A.E. (to me): Why? Because of the evil he spread that has nothing to do with you? Seems illogical. Let sleeping dogs rest.

J.B.: They shouldn't be moving this guy at all. The federal government years ago pardoned all of these soldiers. They are considered American veterans no longer confederate. 

Plus it's desecration no matter who does it. The guy has been dead way to long to be a bother now. Ignorant fucks can't bother to learn history and want some one to blame for their shitty life choices their families have been making for a few generations now.

Me: Here's an education into the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his post Civil War terrorist activities as the Grand Dragon of the KKK:
To that end they worked to curb the education, economic advancement, voting rights, and right to keep and bear arms of blacks.[48] The Klan soon spread into nearly every southern state, launching a "reign of terror against Republican leaders both black and white. Those political leaders assassinated during the campaign included Arkansas Congressman James M. Hinds, three members of the South Carolina legislature, and several men who served in constitutional conventions."[49]
The Klan attacked black members of the Loyal Leagues and intimidated southern Republicans and Freedmen's Bureau workers. When they killed black political leaders, they also took heads of families, along with the leaders of churches and community groups, because these people had many roles in society. Agents of the Freedmen's Bureau reported weekly assaults and murders of blacks. "Armed guerrilla warfare killed thousands of Negroes; political riots were staged; their causes or occasions were always obscure, their results always certain: ten to one hundred times as many Negroes were killed as whites." Masked men shot into houses and burned them, sometimes with the occupants still inside. They drove successful black farmers off their land. "Generally, it can be reported that in North and South Carolina, in 18 months ending in June 1867, there were 197 murders and 548 cases of aggravated assault."[53]
Klan violence worked to suppress black voting. More than 2,000 persons were killed, wounded and otherwise injured in Louisiana within a few weeks prior to the Presidential election of November 1868. Although St. Landry Parish had a registered Republican majority of 1,071, after the murders, no Republicans voted in the fall elections. White Democrats cast the full vote of the parish for Grant's opponent. The KKK killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans, hunting and chasing them through the woods. Thirteen captives were taken from jail and shot; a half-buried pile of 25 bodies was found in the woods. The KKK made people vote Democratic and gave them certificates of the fact.[54]
Dig him up and feed the bones to the dogs.

A.E.: This post isn't about the Klan. Please stop trying to make it so.

Me: It's about learning history. It's about education. The Klan is the history, particularly as regards its first Grand Dragon. There's a pretty big reason why black protesters would go so far as to desecrate a grave, plus something has to be consecrated for it to be desecrated in the first place, and that man's grave isn't anything sacred. That's the history. If you don't want to wipe out the nation's history, you can't deny the role the Klan had in it.

A.E.: Again, this post has NOTHING to do with the Klan. I'm not denying the history of the Klan, but I'm certainly denying the right of any group of people to vandalize a historical monument/grave site because they don't like it for one reason or another. It's thuggery.

J.B.: Your right, you can't erase history, but if this was so important to them, why now? Why not a year ago, or a decade? It's important now because idiots are running amok and don't know anything about what their taking on.

A.E.: That is a great point John, and for that matter, why didn't this happen during the Civil Rights movement?

Probably because twits on the Internet hadn't been invented yet, therefore they couldn't network together to uselessly troll the masses.

Me: "That is a great point John, and for that matter, why didn't this happen during the Civil Rights movement?"

Probably because the local governments were still heavily controlled by white supremacists and would have lynched them. Put a rope around their necks, pulled them up by that rope, and left them to strangle and die. And any uppity northerners who came back to help out would wind up shot.

The things that actually happened during the Civil Rights movement, in other words.

J.B.: So what about during the last decade? These are ignorant idiots doing the hip thing. Not the educated thing.

Me: Or maybe now they finally have enough public support to do what should have been done day one.

We should have buried him and the rest of them in a 19th century version of the Oise-Aisne American Cemetary's Plot E, where the military's dishonorable dead are buried.

A.E.: The Civil Rights comment was rhetorical, and I don't get how you could have misconstrued that. Of course it wouldn't have happened then!

The point is, all of this is getting stirred up well after the fact, and won't do anybody any good.

D.M: media hype!! a distraction, from the real issues !!! will get worse closer to election time.

A.E.: Are you saying thay all Confederate servicemen were terrorists?

Me: The first step to healing is admitting you have a problem. It's true for individuals and its true for the country. When we stop honoring the dishonorable, we start fixing the problems.

J.B.: They aren't dishonorable. They've been pardoned by our federal government. They are recognized as regular vets now.

A.E.: I'm asking Jack

Me: "Are you saying thay all Confederate servicemen were terrorists?"

Just the ones that became Klansmen. Any Union servicemen who became Klansmen were also terrorists. Anybody who didn't serve in either military who became a Klansman was a terrorist. Anybody who was a member of the Second Klan or the Third Klan was a terrorist. Anybody in the Klan now is a terrorist. Categorically so, as the Klan is a terrorist organization and it has and continues to carry out terrorist activities.

A.E.: If you want to change the now, you've got to let go of the past. That's the only way progress ever happens. And by that, I mean leave the dead to their graves, and the monuments to their weathering. I doubt Bedford Forrest got many visitors anyway - these people pulled this so they could get their 15 minutes. Racism exists and is alive in all parts of the world, and general douchebaggery is not the way to get your point across.

I'm not worthy to speak for the man, but I can imagine Dr. King is looking down and shaking his head at the shameful way people are acting these days.

You can't vent a frustration without being labeled, on any side. How the hell can we progress if finger pointing does not end?

Me: "If you want to change the now, you've got to let go of the past."

So scrap the monuments. Or you're not letting go of the past.

Oh good, the "Dr King would be ashamed of this", that's a Bingo on my white upper middle class soft racism bingo card. I'm not worthy to speak for MLK either, fortunately he had plenty to say himself.

"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
MLK, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

J.B.: The problem is internal, the black community needs to fix itself. If they can't fix themselves or want too, no one else can do it for them. Iraq is a prime example of that.

Me: The problem is internal, the white community needs to fix itself. If they can't fix themselves or want too, no one else can do it for them. Iraq is a prime example of that.

A.E.: You used the word 'terrorist' 6 times in thay post.

I don't agree with those skinhead fucks either but that's an aweful lot of terrorism thay you're touting there - and it pits Americans against Americans.

Believe and live however you want so long as you do not harm other poeple.

I don't use the word terrorist because it's definition is too loose, and far too inflamitory.

J.B.: Except the white community isn't known for high crime rates, murder rates, drug rates, prison population, or welfare abusers in anywhere near the numbers the black community is. Your trying to twist words and change topics, but all your doing is revealing the fact that you have no ground for an argument.

Me: If you don't think the Klan are literal terrorists then you're either blind to what terrorism is, or you think only brown people can be terrorists, or you support them and you're afraid to be honest because you don't want to be called a racist.

The Klan are terrorists. Period. Full fucking stop. If what they did isn't terrorism, terrorism doesn't fucking exist. It fits every single legal and dictionary definition of terrorism, and the fact that you're more bothered by the petty vandalism of a terrorist's grave than you are by the terrorists themselves says a lot. None of it good.


The Klan believed and lived how they want, and they harmed a whole fucking lot of people.

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It's worth noting that terrorism as a crime in the US has a solid legal definition.
(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

If you don't think the actions of the KKK, especially Nathan Bedford Forrest's First KKK, fit every single one of those requirements, you can get the fuck out of my face. 

So in that post and subsequent replies, we've got the following:
Not only that, it's jumping the race - card bandwagon.
1. People who are angry about the literal founder of the KKK are "playing the race card"
African slavery started in Africa!!!! Stop blaming whites for being capitalists in a time far gone by - Africans SOLD Africans into slavery.
2. Don't blame white people for the triangle slave trade and American chattel slavery, blame Africans!
Black America's finger pointing, ignorant racism is on my nerves.
3. Blacks are the real racists! Not the slaveowners. Not the Klan. Not the architects of institutional racism. Those darn dirty blacks! Because racism is a crime, and crime is for niggers!
LEARN HISTORY. READ A FLIPPIN BOOK.
4. Cries of "Learn history!" said while ignoring unpleasant history.
Does this apply to all black people? Heavens no, but the ones that it does apply to are perpetuating a stereotype. I'd mention the word, but then I'd be called a racist too.
5. The people (again, angry about the literal founder of the KKK) aren't helping they're cause and they're acting like niggers. I'd call them niggers but I'm not allowed to say it or people would call me a racist, because I will have shown myself to be really fucking racist. So instead I'm going to say nigger in as roundabout way as possible, while blowing this dog whistle here as hard as I can. It's okay, my friends know what I mean.
I wont apologize for this post, I won't apologize for the color of my skin
6. I won't apologize for being white! Nobody is asking me to apologize for being white, but a failure to honor the memory of the literal founder of the KKK is, to me, asking me to apologize for being white. Because I don't see people as individuals, I see my group as one cohesive group and ever other group as a cohesive group, and a demand for accountability from any part of my tribe is an attack on me. I'm not racist though.
And before you get on your high horse, remember that the Native Americans have suffered, and continue to suffer to this day, FAR WORSE, than many black slaves ever did.
7. Native Americans had it worse than black slaves, so stop complaining, black people! Worse than many black slaves anyway. Some black slaves had it really bad. We're going to ignore them because it weakens my argument.
This post isn't about the Klan. Please stop trying to make it so.
and
Again, this post has NOTHING to do with the Klan. 
8. This guy is the literal founder of the KKK but stop trying to make this about the KKK because that really highlights the racism of my argument and really weakens it.
The federal government years ago pardoned all of these soldiers. They are considered American veterans no longer confederate. 
9. He's a Confederate veteran! He may also be the founder of the KKK, but I'm going to ignore that and try to muddy the water.
I'm not worthy to speak for the man, but I can imagine Dr. King is looking down and shaking his head at the shameful way people are acting these days.
10. MLK would be really sad that people are angry there's a monument to the founder of the KKK, and I'm qualified to say that because I'm a suburban white woman. In the 1960s I would have clucked about his lawbreaking but now he's been sufficiently lionized that I'm instead going to use him as a cudgel to try and herd the uppity negroes back into line.
If you want to change the now, you've got to let go of the past. That's the only way progress ever happens. And by that, I mean leave the dead to their graves, and the monuments to their weathering.
11. We should let go of the past, just not the monuments to past terrorists. We should stop thinking about the problems of the past, and instead reset the clock to today. Ignore everything that came before! Keep up all monuments because they're monuments. This is a logically consistent position to take because reasons. Listen up darkies, forget all the bad stuff, and get your lives on the right track right now.
I'm not denying the history of the Klan, but I'm certainly denying the right of any group of people to vandalize a historical monument/grave site because they don't like it for one reason or another. It's thuggery.
12. I know I can't say nigger without giving the game away, so I'm going to use thug instead.
Except the white community isn't known for high crime rates, murder rates, drug rates, prison population, or welfare abusers in anywhere near the numbers the black community is. 
13. Blacks are the cause of all our societal problems. More crime! More prison time! More welfare abusers! Note he doesn't say welfare users, because more whites than blacks use welfare. No, he says abusers, because blacks using welfare don't deserve it, any whites on government benefits deserve it.
How the hell can we progress if finger pointing does not end?
14. Sure, I just said that blacks are racists playing the race card and that they're thugs and the other word I can't say but you know what I mean, but I'm not the one pointing fingers and I'm not the one holding up progress. It's the blacks! Fuck those guys!
I don't agree with those skinhead fucks either but that's an aweful lot of terrorism thay you're touting there - and it pits Americans against Americans.
Believe and live however you want so long as you do not harm other poeple.
I don't use the word terrorist because it's definition is too loose, and far too inflamitory.
15. Calling the KKK terrorists pits Americans against Americans! Sure, the KKK also pits Americans against Americans, but I'm going to ignore that because secretly I'm supporting the White Team. Calling the KKK terrorists is inflammatory! It's insulting to Klansmen! How dare you!

And that was pretty much the last straw for me. Identifying the Klan as domestic terrorists shouldn't be a difficult thing. If somebody is having a hard time doing that, then they're a toxic person. And it's time to cut out the cancer.

Incidentally, I expect most people playing "Racist Apologetics" Bingo will have either won by now, and possibly have completely filled their card. Same for anybody playing "Logical Fallacy" bingo. Congrats! You win an ever diminishing faith in humanity and the fundamental goodness of your fellow man. Claim it at the front desk.

Going back to Patton Oswalt. I acknowledge that there are devoted racists. I do not respect them. And as I do not respect them, I do not care one bit if they respect me. I do not care if they don't respect my beliefs, or that I have these beliefs. I do not care what they think about whether or not I should respect them. If there was any mutual respect going back and forth between me and racists, that would alarm me. If a racist considers me or my beliefs worthy of respect, then that'd be a warning flag to me that I need to start re-examining my beliefs.

The respect of evil isn't a good thing.