the gop is okay with occasional mass murder

I just counted. Since I started writing this blog, I’ve written 31 posts about mass shootings and murders. This will be the 32nd. It won’t be the last. Hell, there were so many blog posts on mass shootings I had to create a tag for it; another mass shooting.

The first was in August of 2012, the Sikh temple mass murder in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Remember that one? Probably not. Seven dead; eight counting the shooter. The shooter generally isn’t included in the butcher’s bill, because he’s not an innocent victim.

You know who else isn’t innocent? Republicans. Republican governors, Republican state legislators, Republicans in Congress. They may not be actively guilty, but they sure as fuck aren’t innocent. Now, I’m not saying these people are okay with routine sporadic mass murders, I’m saying…

Wait. No, I AM saying Republican lawmakers are okay with routine sporadic mass murders. And hey, let’s also include Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as being okay with routine sporadic mass murders. If these people weren’t okay with it, they’d have done something to prevent it. At the very least, if they weren’t okay will mass shootings, they’d have done something to reduce the body count.

But they haven’t. They haven’t done a goddamned thing. And they won’t. We know they won’t. So yeah, Republican lawmakers (and a pair of asshole Democrats) are okay with routine sporadic mass murders. They won’t admit that, of course. Because that would make them sociopathic monsters.

Wait. They ARE sociopathic. They may not be actual monsters, but clearly they meet the diagnostic criteria for being sociopaths. They have a weak and limited capacity to feel empathy and remorse. Some of them may, it’s true, be sincere when they mouth the phrase ‘thoughts and prayers’. But they don’t feel enough empathy or remorse to actually do anything constructive about it. So fuck them and their thoughts and prayers.

I don’t know how many people have died in Uvalde, Texas. First they reported it was two kids. Then ten. Now I think the butcher’s bill is 21, mostly kids. Oh, and the shooter shot his grammy too, though she didn’t die. Well, not yet. The body count may go up; it so often does. Second grade, third grade, fourth grade kids. Eight, nine, ten-year-old kids. Shot dead.

Here’s another horrible thing: we’re not hearing about wounded kids. We’re not seeing pictures of ambulances pulling up to hospital trauma centers. We’re not hearing about kids in surgery. That suggests the victims weren’t just shot, but were shot to a degree that there was no point in transporting them to an emergency room.

There are…wait. There were just under 600 kids enrolled in that school. So about 3% of the student body were killed today.

=====

I wrote that last night. Couldn’t finish it. Didn’t want to finish it.

This morning we’re learning the names of the victims. Last night they were just generic victims. Today we’ll find out more about them. We’ll see photos of them, we’ll hear from their friends and family members and teachers. Politicians (including Republicans) will mourn them in public. They’ll offer the usual thoughts, the usual prayers, and they’ll say we must never forget them.

But we will. Oh, their families will remember them. So will their friends. And the kids who saw them gunned down, they’ll never be able to escape those memories. But for the rest of us, in a few days they’ll just be included in the roll call of generic mass murder victims.

It’s tragic. It really is gut-shattering massively fucking tragic. And the tragedy will be compounded by the fact that nothing will change. Nothing will chance because Republican lawmakers (and a couple of asshole Democrats) are okay with routine sporadic mass murder. They’re basically okay with a few hundred kids being shot to death every year.

So are the people who vote for them.

Yesterday was the 144th day of the year. There have been at least 212 mass shootings in 2022 so far. Republicans and Republican voters are okay with that.

EDITORIAL NOTE: By the way, SCOTUS will be handing down a ruling on gun rights in the next few weeks. It’s almost certain they’ll make it easier for more people to carry more guns in more places. We can thank Republicans for that too.

folks buying groceries refreshing the tree of liberty

As Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Oh, and kids in school. And folks shopping for groceries, if they’re not white.” Yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant…what?

Okay, some of you are saying, “Greg, old sock, I don’t think you’ve accurately quoted our boy TJ.” Maybe you’re right; this may not be an exact quote, but it’s close enough to the way it’s interpreted by a lot of people who identify as right-wing lunatic gun nuts. Okay, okay, maybe they don’t actually identify themselves that way, but stop calling me old sock.

I mean, sure, TJ was talking about Daniel Shays, a farmhand in western Massachusetts who was having trouble paying his taxes, partly because he was also having trouble collecting the pay he was supposed to have received as a grunt in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. There’s still a lot of debate about what TJ meant by that tree of liberty bullshit, but the right-wing lunatic gun nuts take it as an article of faith that TJ was suggesting folks need to periodically have a good old fashioned bloody war of rebellion against the legitimate government. This is exactly WHY the term lunatic is included in the name of ‘right-wing lunatic gun nuts’.

But even right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how mass murder events at schools, mall, movie theaters, and grocery stores fit into that ‘blood of patriots and tyrants’ business. Especially when…oh yeah, and churches, I forgot to include churches. And temples and mosques. Anyway, right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how that blood of patriots stuff fits with those mass murders committed by white men specifically against victims who aren’t white. Or men. Or people who don’t quite fit into the right-wing lunatic gun nut definition of ‘men’.

So the right-wing lunatic gun nuts have developed a pair of sure-fire (get it? Sure-fire? See what I did there? I’m a hoot) responses to those events. First, they…well, wait. I say ‘first’ as if this is the preferred response, which would be inaccurate on account of these two responses are pretty much equally relied on. So when I say ‘first’ I’m just admitting that I can’t share two responses at the same time. These responses are numerical, not sequential. Or the other way around, maybe? Doesn’t matter.

First, they blame the mass murder on emotional health. As in “This kid who shot up the supermarket in Buffalo must be CRAZY because, yeah sure, he says he was motivated by hate and he says white folks are being replaced by non-white folks who breed faster and yeah sure, that’s exactly what Tucker Carlson says on FoxNEWS every night, but c’mon, you’d have to be CRAZY to believe that, so there, it’s a mental health issue.”

Second, they claim the mass murder is a false flag event perpetrated by Democrats or Jews or some other Satanist-pedophile group in order to TAKE OUR GUNS, or at least distract us from Hunter Biden’s laptop. They seem to think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to believe.

Sometimes they combine the two responses, suggesting Democrats and Jews and other Satanist-pedophile groups convince mentally ill white folks to commit mass murders to distract the population from some vague but really awful thing that Democrats, Jews, and other Satanist-pedophile groups really enjoy.

But as I was saying (you may have to refer back to the beginning of this blog), yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant 30-mile bike ride from one bike pub to another bike pub, some white kid went to a supermarket in a predominantly black community and killed a whole bunch of folks who were just buying groceries.

Mentally ill (probably) white kid led astray (probably) by Democrats, Jews, of some other Satanist-pedophile group (probably), but clearly guns aren’t the problem.

Right now on television (I don’t actually know this, but I know this) some conservative is on a national news Sunday program explaining that the mass murder in Buffalo would never have happened if we had better mental health programs, which we can’t afford to make free because that would raise taxes, but maybe for-profit insurance companies could include mental health anti-mass murder options for people who can afford it, but guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people kill people and if they didn’t have guns, they’d do it with axes, do you really want to ban axes, and besides guns are good because an armed patriot inside the store could have returned fire and prevented more needless death, and sure there was a security guard who did return fire and hit the killer, but the shooter was wearing tactical body armor which is protected by the Second Amendment, however a highly trained patriot could have shot him in the head–or at least the part of his head that wasn’t covered by his tactical helmet–and that would have ended the tragic situation, but there’s nothing in the Second Amendment that says private citizens should have to undergo training to carry a weapon, and did I mention the kid was mentally ill, because that’s the problem. Unless if was a false flag event.

So it turns out TJ, whatever he actually meant, was right about the blood and the tree of liberty. We are refreshing the fuck out of that tree.

in this together

It was Oxford Township, Michigan’s turn to hold a candlelight vigil last night. You know, for the three kids who were murdered and the eight others who were wounded by a 15-year-old classmate. We’ve gotten really good at those candlelight vigils.

One speaker at the vigil said, “We’re all in this together.” But no, we’re not. Well, we’re all “in this” but we’re not in it together. Most of us are in the Jesus suffering fuck, pass some goddamn sensible gun safety laws already contingent, but the folks in power mostly belong to the God gave us the 2nd Amendment and if we have to routinely sacrifice random men, women, and children to it, then that’s just what we’ll have to do club. So no, we’re not in this together. Except, you know, when it comes to that whole candlelight vigil business. We’re totally in that together. Those things don’t just happen; they take work. Organization, cooperation, shit like that.

The headline in this morning’s Washington Post:

Oxford High School shooting suspect in custody, motive unknown after 3 killed, 8 injured in Michigan

Motive unknown. Motive. Like this is some television show where the crime can be solved. If only we understood why this kid decided to borrow the Sig Sauer 9mm pistol his daddy bought on Black Friday and used it to murder his classmates, we’d…what? Solve school shootings?

We can all hazard a half dozen guesses as to the kid’s motive. There’s no fucking mystery here. Every kid who has ever attended school in a modern industrial society has, at some point, felt miserable and hopeless and frustrated and unloved and resentful and alienated and lonely and angry. A very small minority of those kids have focused all those awful emotions on their classmates.

The problem isn’t the kid’s motive. The problem is the capacity to act on the motive. Some of those kids have access to firearms. How did this kid get access to his daddy’s new pistol?

That’s not a mystery either. Michigan doesn’t require firearm owners to lock up their weapons. That’s right. If you live in Michigan, you can just leave guns lying around the house–like throw pillows or coasters for your drinks. Maybe this kid’s daddy kept his guns (yes, guns, plural, the police seized a bunch of them from the house) locked up–I don’t know. But in Michigan, he had a legal right to leave them scattered around the house like Hummel figurines.

This is America. We don’t do common sense gun law. We do candlelight vigils. We hold a vigil, then we ask why this happened, after which we vow to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again, and then we lament that there’s absolutely nothing we can possibly do to prevent it from happening again. That’s what we do. Because we’re all in this.

But not together. We’re a long way from together.

this week in responsible gun ownership

May 18Hemet, CA. 1 dead, 4 wounded. A fight broke out among a group of women. One pulled a handgun and opened fire. Four were wounded. Bystander Tamika Haynes, sitting in a car nearby, was killed. She was three months pregnant, a mother to an 8-year-old son.

Oakland, CA. 2 dead, 5 wounded. A party bus carrying young women and girls celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday was fired on by a passing car. The dead were Alayasia Thurston (19 years old, mother of a three-year-old) and Zoey Hughes (16 years old). At least 70 rounds were fired at the bus.

May 20Evansville, IN. 0 dead, 4 wounded. A fight between two people escalated; one man opened fire with a handgun. Four were wounded.

May 21Jersey City, NJ. : 2 dead 12 wounded. A house party broke up after a noise complaint. Some party-goers then attended another nearby party, where violence broke out. Asia Hester, 25, and Kevin Elliott, 30 were killed. Multiple guns and shell casings were recovered at the scene, suggesting more than one shooter (some of whom may have been returning fire). According to police, some of the wounded were released after treatment, “while others continue to fight for their lives,”

May 22Albany, NY. 1 dead, 5 wounded. A drive-by shooting left one man dead and five others wounded.

Minneapolis, MN. 2 dead, 8 wounded. Two man involved in “a verbal altercation” in a local nightclub drew handguns and began shooting at each other. One of the shooters was killed, along with a bystander. Eight were wounded, including the second shooter.

Ft. Wayne, IN. 1 dead, 4 wounded. A group of people drinking and visiting in the parking lot of an apartment complex yelled at 20-year-old Jamarion Thomas for carrying a rifle through the parking lot because children were present. Thomas went into his apartment, then returned outside still holding the rifle. He yelled at the people who’d yelled at him. At that point, another man drew a handgun and pointed it at Thomas, who opened fire with the rifle. 30 spent rifle casings were found at the scene, as well as more than 15 handgun casings of various calibers–suggesting several people had weapons and were shooting. An unidentified woman was killed; four were wounded, including Thomas.

North Charleston, SC. 1 dead, 13 wounded. A fight broke out near a stage that was set up for an unauthorized concert. Multiple people drew handguns and fired on each other. Thirteen were wounded; 14-year-old Ronjanae Smith was killed.

Columbus, OH. 1 dead, 5 wounded. A group of teens on social media decided to gather in downtown Columbus and ride kick-scooters. The event became larger than expected and a fight erupted, resulting in multiple shooters firing at each other. Five teens were wounded and 16-year old Olivia Kurtz was killed.

May 23Paterson, NJ. 0 dead, 5 wounded. A large block party ended in somebody pulling a handgun and wounding five people, whose ages ranged from 26 to 36 years.

Youngstown, OH. 3 dead, 3 wounded. And argument that began inside a bar moved outside. At least two men pulled handguns, including a bar security guard. Police describe the event as involving multiple guns fired by multiple people. Some of the victims were wounded/killed in the crossfire.

Bay Shore, NY. 0 dead, 4 wounded. A gunman opened fire at a group of people gathered near some basketball courts. Four were struck by one shot each.

Norfolk, VA. 0 dead, 4 wounded. Little information is available about the four adults who were shot. They were taken to the hospital suffering non-life-threatening injuries.

Inkster, MI. 2 dead, 2 wounded. Four people were shot (two critically wounded, two fatally) while playing basketball in the street. Multiple shooters were involved. Police are investigating if the murders were related to a pair of May 18th incidents involving the non-fatal shooting of a woman, followed hours later by fatal shooting of the victim’s boyfriend at the same address.

May 24West Jefferson, OH: 5 dead, 0 wounded. Police found three people shot dead inside a building with “at least two more found fatally wounded outside.” No other information is known at this time. “Things like this just don’t happen in West Jefferson, or don’t happen in small towns,” said West Jefferson Police Chief Chris Floyd

That’s 21 dead and 78 wounded in 14 separate incidents of firearm violence in the past week. There’s no universally agreed definition of ‘mass shooting’ or ‘mass murder’ but there are some generally accepted guidelines. Here’s the most common ‘mass shooting’ definition: a shooting at a public place in which four or more people (not including the shooter) are shot in a single episode, excluding domestic, gang, and drug violence. Here’s the most common definition of ‘mass murder’: four or more people killed during an event with no “cooling-off period” between the murders, generally in a single location (or close proximity), excluding domestic, gang, and drug violence.

Using those definitions, only one of the multiple casualty events of the preceding week (the killings in West Jefferson, Ohio) MIGHT actually qualify as a mass murder. If the killer in that case turns out to be related to one or more of the victims, it will be disqualified as a mass murder and considered a mere ‘domestic’ crime. Similarly, many of the apparent mass shooting incidents are disqualified as mass shootings because they involve multiple shooters–some of whom were armed bystanders who because reaction shooters.

What we can see from the last week is this: more guns in the hands of more people means more people get shot. Shot because of poor impulse control–and easy access to guns. Shot because of inadequate (or no) training regarding when and how to shoot–and the ease with which people are granted the power to carry concealed guns.

Gov. Abbott loves the guns.

And that brings me to this massively stupid motherfucker in Texas and his massively stupid decision. Gov. Greg Abbott is about to sign a law allowing people to carry handguns without a license, without a background check, and without any training. Why the fuck would Abbott do such an astonishingly stupid thing? Because he says it will allow Texans to better defend themselves in public. He wants Texas to be…and I’m NOT making this up…a Second Amendment Sanctuary State. You know, a place where guns and gun owners can feel safe and secure against…against people who have guns and want to hurt them? Fuck if I know.

It’s been almost 18 days since the last mass shooting in Texas, when Larry Bollin opened fire on his co-workers at Kent Moore Cabinets, killing one and wounding four more (five, if you count the Texas police officer who was wounded trying to arrest him). Gov. Abbott issued a public statement after the shooting.

Cecilia and I are praying for the victims and their families and for the law enforcement officer injured while apprehending the suspect.Cecilia and I are praying for the victims and their families and for the law enforcement officer injured while apprehending the suspect.”

I’m sure that helped. The governor also visited the victims. In an interview on FOXNews, he said:

“Let me tell you something about the shooting in Bryan, Texas, that will answer your question [about firearm safety legislation]. I went to the hospital where the victims’ families were on the night of the shooting. And we hugged and we cried and we talked to them about it. As I was talking to family members of one of the victims, they said: ‘Governor please, do not allow this shooting to strip us of our 2nd Amendment rights.'”

I don’t know…it’s Texas. Won’t require you to wear a mask in a pandemic; won’t require chemical plants to safely store volatile chemicals, won’t prevent lunatics from carrying guns.

something you hope never happens

This is something you hope never happens in your own community, in the place that you call home.” That’s from Vince Niski, the Chief of Police in Colorado Springs, following the mass murder of six people (and the suicide of the shooter) in the early hours of Mother’s Day.

Something you hope never happens in your own community. As if this was the first mass murder in Colorado Springs in Vince Niski’s experience. As if Matthew John Murray hadn’t killed five and wounded five others in a pair of church shootings (one in Colorado Springs, one in Arvada) in 2007 when Niski was just a lieutenant in the Colorado Springs PD. As if Noah Harpham hadn’t killed three random people in the streets of Colorado Springs in October of 2015, when Niski was the Deputy Chief of Operations. As if only a month later, in November of 2015, Robert Lewis Dear hadn’t killed three and wounded ten at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. I’m sure each time Vince Niski hoped it was something that would never happen again in his community.

Colorado Springs Chief of Police Vince Niski

At this point, they police aren’t releasing the name of Colorado Springs’ newest mass murderer. The Colorado Springs police describe him as ‘the boyfriend of one of the female victims.” Former boyfriend is more likely. Or a boyfriend in the process of becoming a former boyfriend. Or just another angry man who doesn’t feel he’s getting the respect he deserves as a man. Regardless, he drove to the party, walked inside, and began shooting people–including his supposed girlfriend. Then, as happens routinely in these man-angry-at-a-woman mass murders, he killed himself.

As Chief Niski says, this is something you hope never happens in your community. Except it does, all the damned time. Maybe not with such a high butcher’s bill, but it happens all the time in every state in the US. You can hope your fucking heart out, but angry men with access to firearms are going to continue to make it happen. If your community is Colorado Springs–if your community is in a state that doesn’t require a permit to purchase a firearm, it’s more likely that this will happen. If your community is in a state that doesn’t require firearm registration, it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community is in a “shall issue” state–meaning local sheriffs MUST issue a concealed weapons permit if an applicant meets certain criteria**–it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community allows people to openly carry weapons without a permit, it’s more likely it’ll happen. If your community allows you to make, possess, or own a ghost gun–a handmade firearm without a serial number–it’s more likely it’ll happen. If you live in a state that has actually banned local communities (with the exception of Denver) from enacting their own stricter firearm safety laws, then it’s more likely it’ll happen.

It’s not Chief Vince Niski’s fault that Matthew John Murray was able to assemble a small arsenal in preparation for his angry man murders–a Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic rifle and three semi-auto pistols (a Beretta .22-caliber, a Beretta .40-caliber, and a Springfield Armory 9mm). Or that Noah Harpham was able to buy a DPMS Classic 16 semi-automatic rifle and two handguns (a Ruger SP101 .357 Magnum revolver and a Springfield Armory XD-M 9mm pistol). Or that Robert Lewis Dear bought an SKS semi-automatic rifle (and the multiple propane tanks he’d brought to the Planned Parenthood clinic with the intent to turn them into explosives). Niski had nothing to do with it. But he’s been around the block long enough to know that if those three angry men could find the means to kill sixteen people and wound about that same number, it’s no surprise another angry man could find the means to murder half a dozen people at a birthday party. Which, according to Chief Niski, is something you hope never happens in your community.

But if it’s happened four times in the last decade and a half, it’ll probably happen again. It’ll probably happen again because the people of Colorado LET IT HAPPEN. Because they’ve elected people who have refused to take any step to reduce the likelihood that it’ll happen again. Chief Niski’s hope is fucking worthless unless somebody takes action to implement actual reasons for hope.

What happened on Mother’s Day is NOT Chief Niski’s fault. He’s only guilty of voicing the stupid platitudes that chiefs of police are expected to repeat every time something you hope never happens in your own community happens in your own community.


** What are the criteria for being automatically issued a concealed weapon carry permit in Colorado? You have to be a Colorado resident, age 21 or older. You have to attest that you’re not a felon or mentally incompetent. You have to attest that you don’t chronically or habitually abuse alcohol, and that you don’t use (or are addicted to) controlled substances. You have to be free of a civil or criminal restraining order. You have demonstrate ‘competence’ with a handgun. How do you do that? By 1) having an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces within past three years, 2) having proof of pistol qualification in Armed Forces within past ten years, 3) being a retired law enforcement officer with pistol qualification within past ten years, OR 4) completing four-hour handgun training class within the past ten years.

the latest news is not the last

Bah, the latest news, the latest news is not the last.”

I wake up and before I finish making the bed, I hear there’s “a mass murder incident” in Indianapolis. A mass murder incident. You know how the meaning of some terms change over time? Like ‘cheater’ used to refer to an officer appointed to look after the king’s escheats — property that reverted to the State or the King when somebody died without a legal heir — and now means a person who cheats? Well, in terms of mass murder, the original definition of ‘incident’ still applies. An incident is ‘something which occurs casually in connection with something else.’

There was a mass murder incident in Indianapolis this morning — the murder of at least eight people occurring casually in connection with…well, with going to work in a nation that has a small but powerful minority who worship firearms. The incident was described as “the country’s deadliest shooting since ten people were killed on March 22.” That was less than a month ago.

Last night in Indianapolis more people were murdered while casually going to work than were murdered three and a half weeks ago while casually shopping for groceries at a supermarket in Colorado. This is how we measure mass murder incidents now.

The authorities have said the mass murder “wasn’t precipitated by any kind of a disturbance or an argument.” As if ‘a disturbance or an argument’ would actually explain in any way why eight people were shot and killed. The authorities are also trying to “understand the motives” of the shooter. Because if we understood the murderer’s motives, we’d be able to…to what? Do something about it? Nobody, it seems, is bothering to understand the motives of legislators who continue to weaken and erode firearm safety legislation. That might be something we could actually do something about.

It could be anyplace. It could be everyplace.

This is just the latest news, and as Samuel Beckett says, it’s not the last. We’ll make the effort to pretend what happened is explainable, that it’s understandable — but it’s not. It never really is. People call it a tragedy — and it is, and it isn’t. It’s an incidental tragedy, a casual tragedy, a temporary tragedy that will eventually become a passing reference in a news story — ‘the country’s deadliest shooting since eight people were killed at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.’

“I know my eyes are open,” Beckett wrote, “because of the tears that pour from them unceasingly.” But the problem with unceasing tears is that after a while, they no longer indicate grief. It’s just crying. Some families and friends in Indianapolis will be grieving, but as a nation we’ll go on today and tomorrow as if this is all normal. Which it is. Our boy Beckett understood too.

To go on means going from here, means finding me, losing me, vanishing and beginning again, a stranger first, then little by little the same as always, in another place, where I shall say I have always been, of which I shall know nothing, being incapable of seeing, moving, thinking, speaking, but of which little by little, in spite of these handicaps, I shall begin to know something, just enough for it to turn out to be the same place as always, the same which seems made for me and does not want me, which I seem to want and do not want, take your choice, which spews me out or swallows me up, I’ll never know, which is perhaps merely the inside of my distant skull where once I wandered, now am fixed, lost for tininess, or straining against the walls, with my head, my hands, my feet, my back, and ever murmuring my old stories, my old story, as if it were the first time.

I shall begin to know something, just enough for it to turn out to be the same place as always. A FedEx facility in Indianapolis, a supermarket in Boulder, Asian spas in Atlanta, a brewery in Milwaukee — the same place as always. Murmuring the same stories as if it were the first time. The latest news is not the last.

crazy-ass bastards

— That crazy-ass bastard in Colorado.
— Which crazy-ass bastard in Colorado?
— The crazy-ass bastard that shot all those people in the supermarket.
— The one last week? Or has there been a new crazy-ass bastard shooting people in supermarket?
— The one last week. A supermarket, for fuck’s sake. People there just buying bread and tunafish and shit. Now they dead.
— Dead as tunafish.
— I’m thinking about buying me a gun.
— You’re what?
— I mean, you can’t buy tunafish without some crazy-ass bastard shooting you? Fuck that. I’m a get me a gun.
— There it is, right there.
— There what is?
— That’s how they do it. That’s how they keep selling guns.
— They who?
— Motherfuckers who make the guns, that’s who. Look, how many people we got in America?
— Fuck if I know.
— About three hundred and thirty million.
— That’s a lot of people.
— A metric shit ton of people. And how many guns we got?
— Fuck if I know.
— About four hundred million.
— That’s a lot of…wait. We got more guns than we got people?
— We got more guns than people. That’s what people call market saturation.
— Market what?
— Saturation. Like if you selling tunafish and everybody already got a whole damn shelf filled with cans of tunafish, don’t nobody need any more tunafish, right? So how you gonna sell ’em more tunafish?
— Fuck if I know.
— You got to scare ’em.
— How you gonna scare people into buying tunafish?
— You tell ’em tunafish gonna save their lives. You tell ’em tunafish’ll cure cancer and hemorrhoids and mumps. You tell ’em unless they got a stack of tunafish in their cupboard, they gonna get the Covid. You convince folks they absolutely GOT to have tunafish if they want to live.
— But…
— Or you tell ’em that tunafish gonna become scarce. They don’t stock up on tunafish right fucking now, it’ll soon be gone. They’ll never get any more tunafish. Hell, the government probably gonna come right into their kitchen and take whatever tunafish they got.
— That’s bullshit.
— Course it’s bullshit. Don’t matter. Scared people fall for bullshit like they was made of brick. Truth is, if you got yourself a couple of cans of tunafish, you don’t need to buy any more until you ate up what you got. Right?
— I guess. I sorta forgot what we were talking about. Wait…market thingy.
— Market saturation. Same as tunafish. You already got yourself a gun…or even two or three guns…the only way the motherfuckers who make guns are gonna sell more is if they scare you into buying ’em.
— You’re saying gun makers had that crazy-ass bastard shoot up that store in order to get people to buy more guns?
— What? No. Jesus, no. What I’m saying is the motherfuckers who make guns will use gun violence to scare folks into buying more guns. It’s like this. If you make guns, you want to make it easy for folks to buy guns. If you make it easy to buy guns, some crazy-ass bastard will buy one and use it to shoot folks shopping for tuna-fish. And every time some crazy-ass bastard shoots a lot of tunafish-buying folks, the motherfuckers who make guns will say, ‘The only way to protect yourself from crazy-ass bastards who buy our guns is to buy more of our guns.’
— Maybe they should make it harder for crazy-ass bastards to buy guns.
— See, there’s the problem. You mostly can’t tell if a crazy-ass bastard IS a crazy-ass bastard until he starts shooting people.
— So what do we do?
— Make it harder for everybody to buy guns.
— But I want to buy a gun.
— To protect yourself when you need to replenish your tunafish supply.
— Well, yeah.
— Because it’s too easy for crazy-ass bastards to buy guns.
— Exactly.
— There it is, right there.

he is who he is

Look, it’s part of the job. I know, it’s not listed as a duty in the Constitution, but when there’s a national tragedy, folks want — they expect — the president to acknowledge the tragedy with compassion. They want the president to recognize their suffering, their grief, and to share that suffering and grief to some extent. They want the president to understand what they’re experiencing.

All Comrade Trump had to do yesterday was show up and make the day about the victims and the families of the victims of the mass shootings. That’s it. He didn’t have to solve all their problems, he didn’t have to tell them everything was going to be okay, he didn’t have to promise to fix things immediately. He just had to listen, be gentle, show some respect, and actually care about what they were going through.

He couldn’t do it. As always, Trump had to make it all about himself. His grievances, the level of his support, his treatment by others, his popularity. I truly believe he can’t help it. It’s part of his personality disorder. He’s simply incapable of experiencing the world from any perspective other than his own. It would be sad — tragic, even — if he wasn’t such a hateful, malignant person.

No, that’s inaccurate; it IS sad and tragic. But I struggle to feel any compassion for him because he IS such a hateful, malignant person. It’s sad and tragic for him, but it’s really sad and tragic for the rest of us because we can’t divorce ourselves from the consequences of his personality disorder. He’s broken, and as president he’s breaking our nation.

So yesterday, instead of offering solace and comfort to the nation, Comrade Trump further inflamed passions. Instead of quietly grieving with those who are suffering, he turned the trip into what was essentially a campaign event. He mugged and smiled for the cameras, he attacked his detractors, he took selfies, he lashed out at his perceived enemies, he bragged about his popularity and how much respect he was shown, and he pouted when others failed to recognize how popular and respected he was.

I don’t think anybody actually expected Trump would accept any responsibility for fueling the hatred that revealed itself in El Paso. I don’t think anybody expected him to apologize for that, or offer to change his vitriolic tone. Nobody expected him to be suddenly Not Trump. But we hoped (some of us hoped) he’d act like a decent human being. All he had to do was say “I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sorry for your troubles, I’m so very sorry this happened to you and to your community and to our nation.” That’s all he had to do; that and stay quiet. It wouldn’t have been easy, especially knowing that a lot of folks feel he IS responsible for the hatred that manifested itself in the shootings. It wouldn’t be easy, but he’s the president. It’s not an easy job.

In the end, he couldn’t do it. He simply couldn’t meet the very minimum requirements of the job. He couldn’t put aside his own insecurities, his own resentments, his own relentless spite. Not even for the few hours he spent in public. He couldn’t do it. He doesn’t have it in himself to be decent.

He is who he is.

ADDENDUM (8-9-19) — A photo of Comrade and Mrs. Trump, who is holding a baby whose parents were killed by the Walmart gunman, was released on the FLOTUS Twitter account yesterday. It seems none of the victims still in the hospital in El Paso were willing to meet with Trump during his visit. The baby, who’d been released from the hospital, was brought back just for this photograph.

He is who he is.

ADDENDUM 2 — Also, while Comrade Trump was visiting Dayton and El Paso, ICE agents were raiding a few Mississippi chicken processing plants, detaining undocumented immigrant workers (not, coincidentally, the plant owners who hired them). It was the first day of school in Mississippi, which meant a lot of kids went to school and came home to empty houses, not knowing what happened to their parents, not knowing when/if their parents might return, not knowing where they’d get fed or sleep or…or anything. The cruelty and casual disregard for the welfare of those children is as appalling as Trump’s campaign tour of shooting victims.