How to Not Survive a Shooting

Charlotte Allen - Artist's RenderingCharlotte Allen over at National Review Online has interesting ideas for how we might be able to stop mass shootings in the future. They mostly have to do with having more men at elementary schools. I am so not kidding. And not just that, “Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.” Just imagine! Too bad it couldn’t be televized: the Male Teachers Who Had Played High-School Football against the nut with an assault rifle! That sounds like a hell of a match—equal power on both sides.

She has other great ideas. When a shooter comes after you, you should run. “[B]ecause most shooters can’t hit a moving target.” What’s with all that hiding in the closet business? Sure, doing that probably saved hundreds of lives. But it’s so girly!

Two things come to mind here. First, you know one reason why it is that not many men work as grammar school teachers? The pay sucks. But the National Review Online isn’t for paying teachers more. Teachers are just one of the many moocher groups trying to steal all the good, honest money made by hedge fund managers and bank CEOs. This isn’t about some secret feminizing project of liberals trying to stop 12-year-old-boys from being husky.

Second, there are standard procedures that people should follow when they are in a situation with an armed gunman. You should run away if you can. This is just to get away, however; it is not because shooters have a hard time hitting moving targets. If you can’t run, you should hide. If you can’t hide, you should fight. Here is a video from the Department of Homeland Security that explains this:

Charlotte Allen is really vile. Not only is she giving out really bad advice, she is insulting all the people who have actually faced this situation. The National Review Online should be ashamed, but I fear they are far beyond that by now.

H/T Jonathan Chait

Afterword

That video was originally sent to me by a friend back on 5 November. It was passed around at her work because there was an incident where someone saw a gunman, but the police couldn’t find anyone and no one was harmed. She sent it to me because it is kind of dorky. But even at the time I defended it. I think it is good advice. You can’t be too careful. And I’m definitely a “fight as a last resort” kind of guy. These people saying that we should run toward shooters are idiots.

Langue d’Amour

Strangely, this is one of my favorite songs. Maybe it’s because I kind of like women and don’t like men. That is to say: I don’t really like anyone. This is especially true right now when I’m sick and can barely breathe. It is great storytelling. It is the language of love.

The President Has Already Agreed to a Deal I Don’t Like

Ed SchultzI saw a bit of The Ed Show tonight as I was making dinner. Ed Schultz said something that shocked me. I don’t have the exact quote, but it was more or less, “I know that the president isn’t going to agree to any deal that we don’t like.” I could hardly believe it. Did he really just say that? After chained-CPI and $400,000 lower limit for tax increases? Maybe by “we” he meant “multi-millionaires on TV.” Because the only liberals who expect Obama not to make a very bad deal are liberals who aren’t paying attention.

In the same segment, he talked about how Boehner’s “Plan B” (That’s the name of a birth control pill, right?) would raise taxes on the poor and middle classes because of other tax cuts that were part of the stimulus bill. Greg Sargent deals with this in detail in an article earlier today on The Plum Line blog, John Boehner, Scourge of the Wealthy, Ctd. (“Ctd.” means “continued” because of a previous article.) He shows that half of the households in the top 1% would get a tax break. So this is not a serious plan.

But there is a lot more to be upset about. For years, Digby has been (rightly) screaming about the fact that the “balanced” approach involves painful cuts for the poor and “tip money” for the rich. This chained-CPI makes it even worse. Of course, this is a major and increasing cut to Social Security. But it is also a major and increasing tax increase on the middle class.

Our only hope is that the Republicans continue to be as stupid and greedy as usual. Because, regardless of what Ed Schultz says, the president will most definitely agree to a deal that we don’t like. And by “we” I mean all of us: even the vast majority of conservatives, even if they don’t know it.

It’s a Terrified New World

The Onion Reports: ‘Right To Live Life In Complete, Stunned Horror,’ Added To Constitution
NEWS IN BRIEF • News • Dec 15, 2012

WASHINGTON—In the wake of yesterday’s gruesome mass shooting that claimed the lives of 27 people, including 20 schoolchildren, the United States ratified a new constitutional amendment this afternoon guaranteeing American citizens the right to live life in a perpetual state of abject horror. “The provisions of the 28th Amendment will fully protect the right of all individuals to spend every waking moment utterly terrified at the thought of a deranged stranger with a semiautomatic combat rifle gunning them down,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), explaining that the measure also permits Americans to suffer panic attacks anytime their loved ones go to work, school, malls, or virtually any other public location. “In addition, the new amendment prevents the government from ever infringing on a citizen’s inalienable right to lie awake at night visualizing the images of crying children being ushered out of a school and wondering where it could happen next.” The new amendment comes on the heels of numerous other proposed changes to U.S. law, including a highly contested bill that would protect the right of Americans to ignore a widespread, deadly problem until it is far too late.

Fuck Everything

Sad AngelThe Onion Reports: Fuck Everything, Nation Reports
Just Fuck It All To Hell

WASHINGTON—Following the fatal shooting this morning at a Connecticut elementary school that left at least 27 dead, including 20 small children, sources across the nation shook their heads, stifled a sob in their voices, and reported fuck everything. Just fuck it all to hell.

All of it, sources added.

“I’m sorry, but fuck it, I can’t handle this—I just can’t handle it anymore,” said Deborah McEllis, who added that “no, no, no, no, no, this isn’t happening, this can’t be real.” “Seriously, what the hell is this? What’s even going on anymore? Why do things like this keep happening?”

Continued McEllis, before covering her face with her hands, “Why?”

Despairing sources confirmed that the gunman, armed with a semiautomatic assault rifle—a fucking combat rifle, Jesus—walked into a classroom full of goddamned children where his mother was a teacher and, good God, if this is what the world is becoming, then how about we just pack it in and fucking give up, because this is no way to live.

I mean, honestly, all 315 million Americans confirmed.

“Well, I suppose we have to try to pick up the pieces and make some sort of sense of this tragedy and—you know what? Fuck it, I can’t do this,” said Connecticut resident Michael Zaleski, his remarks understandable given the circumstances, because, holy shit, what else can one say? “I’m sorry, but I can’t fucking do this. Can you? Can anyone?”

Witnesses said the gunman fired at least 100 rounds during his deadly rampage, which, according to children in the school—goddamnit, how? How? Twenty children. Dead. In a fucking school.

No. No, no, no.

“I just feel so [why does it even matter what this person said when no words can bring 20 dead kids back to life?]” said some person who, just like everyone else, is completely unable to process or handle any of this. “It’s awful. Just too awful to bear.”

Americans reported feelings of overwhelming disgust with whatever abhorrent bastard did this and with the world at large for ever allowing it to happen, as well as with politicians, with the NRA, and above all with their own pathetic goddamn selves, sitting in front of a fucking computer instead of doing fucking anything to help anyone—Christ, as if that were even fucking possible, as if anyone could change what happened, as if the same fucking bullshit isn’t going to keep happening again and again and fucking again before people finally decide it’s time to change the way we live, so what’s the point? What the hell is the goddamned point?

“I…” said Tom Miller, 27, after reading an article about the tragedy online. “I just…”

“…” he added.

At press time…screw it, there’s nothing else to say.

Post Hit Piece on Hagel

Chuck HagelI’ve had my problems with the idea of Chuck Hagel as the new Defense Secretary. Why is it not possible to have a liberal? Why does Obama continue to try to court the right by having Republicans in his cabinet? But the Washington Post has a different take on this in an editorial, Chuck Hagel Is Not the Right Choice for Defense Secretary. According to them, Hagel is to the left of Obama, and that’s a bad thing.

So what are Hagel’s sins? First, they claim that nominating a Republican is only done in the name of bipartisanship. Somehow they don’t even consider that maybe Republicans of only a few years ago are now to the left of our current president. That can’t be. Obama’s choice of Hagel would only be to make nice with the right and so he apparently has to pick someone like Allen West.

The biggest problem for the Washington Post is that Hagel thinks going to war with Iran is a bad idea. “Mr. Obama may be forced to contemplate military action if Iran refuses to negotiate…” But the Post does not know how Hagel would act in that situation. Regardless, he would be pursuing Obama’s agenda, not his own.

There’s more. Hagel thinks the defense budget is bloated. This is indisputable. The military says the same thing. The only people who want to continue to throw more and more money at the Pentagon are chicken hawks like those at the Washington Post. Hagel, having actually been at war, thinks a little more carefully about these things.

What is most telling in the editorial is that it is filled with caveats. The truth is, even from their own perspective, they don’t have the goods on Hagel. They just think that there are “other possible nominees who are considerably closer to the mainstream.” The mainstream of the Villagers who the Post represents. This is nothing more than a hit job.

It isn’t just because the Washington Post is conservative that people call it “Fox on 15th Street.” But I guess we should be pleased that this article was put on the opinion page rather then on the front page where many of their editorials go.

2011 Negotiations Hurting 2012 Negotiations

Ezra KleinThis morning, Ezra Klein discussed one of the real problems with the budget negotiations. Because Obama agreed to so many discretionary cuts in 2011, there is very little to give up now. He notes that after winning the 2010 elections, the Republicans demanded that the budget deal go entirely their way. After the 2012 election when the Republicans were trounced, they demand a “balanced” approach. Let’s be honest here: if I were them, I would do the same thing. The problem is with the Democrats who think when they are trounced, they should give up everything and when they win decisively, they should meet the loser half way. But I’ve written too much about this already today. The important issue is that Obama caving last year on the budget negotiation is hurting the budget negotiation this year.

This is what I wrote about yesterday regarding Social Security: taking a temporary unemployment benefit in exchange for Social Security cuts in perpetuity is madness. So not only do we have a very bad negotiator in Obama, but even he is hobbled by the even worse negotiator he was last year. The problem is that cuts made from the current budget baseline are far more painful than equal sized cuts last year.

Think of it in your own household budget. You could manage if all of your expendable income were cut. But after that, it gets painful: you eat less, you move into your car. The same thing holds with the federal budget.

The president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Bob Greenstein, explains Boehner’s position on this:

If you follow Boehner’s logic here, then the only deal that is acceptable would have to be a deal to the right of where Obama and Boehner were in the July 2011 negotiations—even though Obama won the subsequent election, and Boehner’s party lost.

Of course, if Obama had handled these negotiations correctly, it would have been okay. Boehner would have eventually understood that he had no leverage and that we were going to get a very lopsided deal. But even at the beginning of the negotiations, Obama was calling for a “balanced” deal. Why is it that a win for the left means a centrist deal but a win for the right means an extreme right deal? We need better politicians.

Obama Weakens Hand on Fiscal Cliff

Obama and Boehner play footballIt’s beginning to look a lot like 2011. John Boehner is holding the football, Obama runs toward it, and just as he is about to kick it, Boehner pulls the ball away, and “Aaugh!” I’ve long argued that these Fiscal Cliff negotiations are all for show. No deal that Boehner gets will be acceptable to his caucus. I’m sure that Boehner understands this. Alas, Obama apparently does not.

Just like in 2011, Obama has made major concessions. In this case, they are almost unbelievable. He is willing to cut Social Security and raise middle class taxes by going along with chained-CPI. He’s raised the tax level at which he wants to raise rates from $250,000 to $400,000. And of greatest concern, he has folded on the debt ceiling, publicly acknowledging that, yes, the Republicans really can hold the American economy hostage. I don’t see how Obama walks these offers back.

Now I feel more certain than ever that these negotiations will move into January. The problem is that Obama’s last offer will be the starting point for Boehner next year. So we’ll get something like, “You use chained-CPI, raise the Medicare eligibility age, and raise the top tax rate to 37% for incomes over a million dollars. In return, we won’t fight you on the debt ceiling for a year and half. Deal?” And Obama will take it.

And Boehner will again pull the ball away. And why shouldn’t he? The Republicans can just wait a month and use the debt ceiling to force Social Security to be privatized, raise Medicare eligibility up to 90, and repeal Obamacare. What’s the president going to do? Fight? We’d all be very curious to see what that looks like.

I for one don’t think he has it in him.

What Could Have Been: Robert Bork

Robert BorkIt is a sad day. Robert Bork died this morning. But that’s not why it’s sad. It’s sad because of the great opportunity we missed.

One incident in Bork’s career explains everything about him. During the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon wanted Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox fired because, you know, he was doing his job. Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused to do it and resigned. So did his second in command, William Ruckelshaus. But Bork was willing to do it. Why? Because he’s an authoritarian.

But we missed a great opportunity to have him on the Supreme Court. Instead, we got Clarence Thomas who is 20 years younger than Bork and, more to the point, is not dead. There is really no daylight between Bork and Thomas in terms of how they rule on the cases. They both think children ought to be forced to pray in public school. Women shouldn’t have the right to an abortion. People don’t have a right to privacy.

Bork was an “originalist” (along with Thomas and Antonin Scalia, who is probably even closer in thinking). This is the theory that the Constitution is a dead document. It is an interesting doctrine when you consider that its proponents throw it aside in an instant if it won’t get them to the decisions they want. Take, for example, Bush v. Gore. In that case the originalists suddenly found that equal protection was very important: in the case of one George W. Bush, and only for the one time. They should just be honest and admit that they are partisan lackeys and that they are going to reach partisan decisions. Forget all the legal pretending.

The main point here is that Bork would have been no worse than Thomas on the Supreme Court. And had it been Bork on the Supreme Court, there would now be one less evil man serving. Lost opportunities.

Update (19 December 2012 3:38 pm)

Jeffrey Rosen at The New Republic makes the laughable claim that the difficult Senate confirmation hearings turned Bork and Thomas into fierce partisans. This doesn’t explain Scalia, of course. And then, he takes his argument further saying that presidents learned the lesson and decided to nominate more moderate justices that weren’t “Borkable.” Justices like—Wait for it!—Samuel Alito, that bastion of open mindedness and non-partisanship. Rosen has it all backwards.

Update (20 December 2012 10:52 am)

Matt Yglesias tweets the following which is exactly what I’ve been saying:

Obama Buys a Guitar

Obama Question MarkI was talking to the president. It seems that Malia wants to learn to play guitar. I offered to sell him my American Stratocaster. He asked me how much I wanted for it. It’s worth about a thousand dollars, but I didn’t want to tell him that. “Make me an offer,” I said. He looked it over carefully and then said, “How about $2000?”

That was a great deal. Just the same, it was his opening offer. I frowned. “I had really hoped to get more,” I said.

“I understand,” he responded. “How about $5000?”

This was a deal that was hard to pass up. But I had a thought. I own a Mexican Stratocaster that I’ve never really liked. It cost me $300. “You know, Mr. President,” I said. “I don’t think I want to sell that American Stratocaster. But I have this Mexican model that I could let you have if you’d be willing to go up to $7000.”

“Sold!” he replied eagerly.

And the leader of the free world gleefully left $7000 lighter with a guitar he could have picked up at a pawn show for $100. It was a good thing we weren’t negotiating over anything important.