actual conspiracies

Conspiracy theorists aren’t afraid of hard work.They’ll cheerfully concoct massively complicated theories with multiple interacting elements that require flow charts to understand how and why Hillary Clinton was responsible for the murder-by-plane crash of some obscure businessperson in Arkansas. But one of the many many problems with conspiracy theorists is they prefer fantasy theories that fit their worldview over actual theories that may contradict it.

Let’s take a very quick look at the arrest last weekend of former FBI big hat, Charles McGonigal (which is a lovely patronymic name, by the way; from the Gaelic Mac Conghaile, meaning the son of Conghaile which basically means ‘brave as a hound’). Your man McGonigal had what appeared to be a stellar FBI career, dealing with counter-espionage primarily. He joined the FBI in 1996 and was initially assigned to the New York Field Office, where he worked on Russian foreign counterintelligence and organized crime matters. When he retired in 2018, he was the Special Agent in Charge of the Counter-intelligence Division for the New York Field Office.

Why was McGonigal arrested? For money laundering and for helping Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska–a close friend and ally of Vlad Putin–dodge US sanctions imposed against him.

Right now, the MAGA crowd likes to depict the FBI as Trump-haters, largely because they searched Mar-a-Lago and found a hoard of classified documents that Trump had illegally taken and refused to release to the National Archives. But back in 2015-2016, when Trump was running for president, Trump supporters celebrated how much the FBI loved him. The New York Field Office in particular (and remember, McGonigal was in charge of a major FBI section of that office) was openly referred to as Trumplandia. It was the NY Field Office that got FBI Director James Comey to inform Congress (and therefore the news media) of the possible existence of new information that might lead to re-opening the closed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. Comey’s letter to Congress, which was written even before the FBI obtained a warrant to explore the possible new information, was made public ten days before the 2016 election. It almost certainly influenced the election result in Trump’s favor. And, of course, it turned out there was no new information.

It was McGonigal’s Counter-intelligence unit that handled the investigation of Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. Remember, Trump and most of his presidential campaign’s inner circle–his sons and daughter, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, and others–had major business interests in Russia. Many of them had business dealings with Oleg Deripaska. In fact, in 2016 Deripaska was suing Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort, for US$25 million over a failed business deal in…wait for it…Ukraine. Manafort was instrumental in changing the 2016 Republican Presidential Platform to remove support for supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine. Why was the US giving weapons to Ukraine in 2016? Because in 2014, Russia (on orders from Putin) invaded and “annexed” the Crimean peninsula and a big chunk of eastern Ukraine.

2016 is also apparently the year in which McGonigal began secretly working with/for Deripaska. That same year, his unit investigated allegations that Russia was interfering with the US election process in support of Donald Trump. Although that investigation was later conducted under the aegis of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, it was McGonigal’s agents who continued to investigate the matter. Mueller’s report concluded the Trump campaign DID welcome Russian interference in the election and they expected to benefit from it, The report also noted that pervasive obstruction of justice by witnesses made it impossible for McGonigal’s agents to obtain sufficient evidence to claim Trump committed a criminal conspiracy. In addition, there was/is a policy against charging a sitting president with a crime. Mueller did, however, note that Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice (or other crimes) after he left office.

“Rabbits are ruining your garden!” shout the crows.

So just to recap. 1) Putin/Russia seizes parts of Ukraine, 2) Russia leans on the Trump campaign to resist helping Ukraine, 3) the campaign complies, 4) Russia interferes with the election to help Trump, 5) the FBI investigation into that interference is conducted by McGonigal, who 6) is secretly being paid by an ally to Trump, and 7) the investigation fails to find any criminality. Also? 8) in 2019, President Trump lifts most of the sanctions against Deripaska.

This is all well documented in several public news sources. This is an actual conspiracy, a broad and wide-ranging criminal conspiracy.

Can we expect Congress to investigate? Nope. They’ll be too busy trying to figure out how Hunter Biden’s laptop was used by Bill Gates to create a secret Satanic community of cannibalistic pedophiles by secretly releasing a phony ‘plague’ manufactured in China by the Deep State Uniparty to weaken the rights of parents to decide which books their children should avoid to keep them from being groomed by drag queens and harvested for the lymph nodes celebrities need to stay young.

Let’s give the next-to-last word to William Gibson:

People find conspiracy theories fantastically comforting not because they’re more frightening than reality, but because they’re less frightening than reality.

We have nothing (aside from dick pics) to fear from Hunter Biden’s laptop. We have a great deal to fear from people willing to undermine democracy in return for wealth and power.

warranted

This question/comment was made by a senior economist employed by a major economic policy center:

Seems if we had an attorney general who respected the law, he would send the FBI to ALL of Trump’s residences and tear them apart to look for every damn missing document, just like would happen with a drug lord. What happened to no one being above the law?

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. And it shouldn’t–not to Trump, not to a drug lord. It’s not gonna happen because we DO have an Attorney General who respects the law. It’s not gonna happen because it’s fucking illegal.

I’ve heard similar questions/comments by other folks. Some of those folks are boneheads, some are smart folks, educated folks, folks who follow the news. I blame television. On television, all a detective has to do is say to some flunky, “I know in my gut that this guy did the crime. I just need to find the evidence. Get me a warrant to search his house!” and hey bingo, the detective gets a warrant.

That just ain’t how it works. Law enforcement–and I’m talking about everybody from the FBI down to officers from your local Mayberry police department–can’t just act on a hunch or a gut feeling. This is pretty basic stuff, and it’s right out of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No warrants shall issue. What the hell is a warrant, anyway? The term comes from the Old French ‘garant‘ out of the Frankish ‘warand‘ meaning ‘pledge.’ It’s also the root term for ‘guarantee’ and ‘guard’ and ‘warden’. It means a pledge or guarantee that the information written down has been attested or given under oath.

If the State wants to search a place, they first have to swear an oath that they’ve got a legit reason to do that. There’s a process to this search warrant business, and that process always, without fail, begins with the question, Hey, did somebody break the law here? Is it illegal for Comrade Ex-President Donald J. Trump to stuff classified documents down his pants and take them to Trump Tower or one of his many golf resorts? The answer, of course, is yep. Totally illegal. But you have to be specific; you have to be able to point to an actual criminal statute and be able to say to a judge, “That law right here, that’s the law we believe Trump broke IF he walked away with those documents.

Step two is another question: Did Trump do that? Did he stuff documents down his pants and walk away? This is where shit gets complicated. Obviously, you can’t prove Trump did that without evidence and you can’t get the evidence to show he did that without searching for it. But you can’t search for it until you can convince a judge that (okay, here’s some legal-sounding language) you have sufficient credible information to establish that Trump probably did that.

The judge will expect you to lay out what that information is, how you got that information, why you believe the information is credible, and your qualifications to justify your belief in the credibility of that information. So you tell the judge, “The Archives reports that Trump was supposed to give them all his shit after he left office, but there’s shit they KNOW exists and they don’t have it, so probably Trump does. The Archives haven’t ever lied to us before and we’re seriously experienced and skeptical FBI agents, and we trust them, so there.”

So yeah, you’ve shown that a crime was probably committed and Trump probably committed it. Now comes Step three: finding the damned evidence. Now you have to convince a judge that you’ve got good reason to believe the evidence of that specific crime exists and can be found in these specific locations. In the Mar-a-Lago search, the FBI told the judge, “We got us some witnesses who saw Comrade Donald J. Trump stuff like TWO truckloads of boxes labeled Classified Shit down his pants at the White House, and witnesses who saw those same boxes unloaded from his pants at Mar-a-Lago, and we’ve even got witnesses who saw those boxes in Trump’s basement and in his goddamned office, if you can believe it, where all sorts of loopy people go wandering through.”

The FBI had all that for Mar-a-Lago. So they were able to convince a judge to issue a search warrant and do the search. They apparently don’t have everything they need to get a warrant for Trump Tower or any of Trump’s other golf resorts. Not yet. But we know they’re talking to folks with information about those locations. So they’re working on it.

Why is this search and seizure business so complicated? To protect innocent people. To keep the agents of the State from wandering through anybody’s home or place of business on the off chance that maybe they’ll find something illegal. It’s to stop them from just walking into YOUR home or your office, opening YOUR drawers, snooping through YOUR closets, rummaging around in YOUR kitchen, or trolling through YOUR private stuff on YOUR computer.

The irony, of course, is that if Comrade Trump were ever to have power again, that sleazy motherfucker absolutely WOULD want to be able to do that.

stuff is happening

Three things, in reverse order.

Third, the FBI seized the cell phone of Congressman Scott Perry. This is what Perry his ownself had to say about it.

“This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone. They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish.”

Dude, c’mon; the FBI just didn’t want to give you the chance to destroy whatever evidence you probably have stashed on your phone.

Now, you may be wondering, “Greg, old sock, just who in the buttered popcorn fuck is this Scott Perry of whom you speak?” Perry is your basic MAGA fuckwit of the Pennsylvania variety. He had a successful military career, then went into business. While a businessman, he was criminally charged with conspiring to falsify state-mandated sewage records (no, I’m NOT making that up). But because he was a white corporate Republican donor, he was “allowed to complete a diversion program” which let him skate without a criminal conviction. I’m not saying his criminal history helped his political career, but PA voters went and made him a Member of Congress anyway. In Congress, he became a big hat in Comrade Trump’s attempts to steal the election. He was instrumental in the attempt to install Jeffrey Clark as Attorney General, and he was a proponent of the Dominion voting machine conspiracy theory. He was also one of the GOP members of Congress who explicitly requested a pardon after the 1/6 coup failed. (SPOILER: he didn’t get one.)

So yeah, the FBI wanted his cell phone and they didn’t want to take the chance that Perry might accidentally drop his phone in a wood chipper. I mean, they almost certainly already know what’s on his phone (that’s how they justify a search warrant), but having the instrument of criminality right in your hands is a LOT more compelling when presented to a jury in a criminal trial. So Perry, who was ignored by Trump during his Pardon-O-Rama, might feel a wee bit less loyal now. I’m sure the 1/6 Committee is anxious to chat with him. So, good times ahead.

Second, today Comrade Trump finally had to testify UNDER OATH during a deposition by the NY Attorney General, who is investigating Trump’s business practices. She’s looking into allegations of fraud. Trump TOOK THE FIFTH and refused to answer questions. Just to be clear, the Fifth Amendment can be invoked when somebody (like Trump) believes a truthful answer would incriminate them. This is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, BUT unlike a criminal case, taking the Fifth in a civil case allows a judge or jury to make the appropriate inference (SPOILER: which is that the motherfucker is guilty). So, more good times ahead.

“Do I have to answer that question? I don’t want to answer that question.”

But first, hey bingo, the FBI’s unannounced warranted search of Mar-a-Lago. Obviously, we don’t know WHY the FBI showed up and went rifling through Trump’s stuff. All we know for certain is that the FBI gave a judge enough information for the judge to believe that a specific crime had taken place, and that evidence of that crime could be found in fairly specific places in Trump’s resort/home. At this point, we don’t know what was in the affidavit supporting the search warrant. And it would be unwise for us to speculate.

LET’S SPECULATE ANYWAY!

If it was small beans–like, say, Trump or his aides had failed to return documents that rightly belonged in the National Archives–it seems likely that Trump or one of his many attorneys would release the search warrant. They have the authority to do that.

They haven’t. Which suggests to me that it’s not small beans. The fact that this happened a couple of days ago, but no reporter seems to have been able to get somebody in the FBI or DOJ to leak even a hint of the underlying crime alleged in the search warrant also, to me, suggests it’s not small beans. There IS, however, some reporting indicating that somebody dropped a dime on Trump–that somebody was aware a serious crime had happened or was about to happen.

It seems improbable (to me, at any rate) that this would be related to Trump’s attempted coup. I mean, we basically know the fact pattern of that crime, and the 1/6 Committee very likely already has all the critical documentary evidence they need. So why would the FBI feel the need to act quickly? And why isn’t Trump releasing the search warrant?

I’m speculating like a motherfucker here, BUT I’m thinking the boxes of documents the FBI seized included stuff that foreign governments would love to get their hands on. And I’m thinking Trump, being Trump, not only took classified shit that didn’t belong to him, that he had no right to take, also couldn’t be bothered to keep that classified shit safe from all the MAGA assholes and foreign visitors who wander around Mar-a-Lago.

And that, oh my droogs, is a BIG fucking crime under Title 18, Chapter 37 of the US Code. And now you’re wondering, “Greg, old sock, what is this Chapter 37 bidness?” I’m about to tell you.

18 U.S. Code Chapter 37 – ESPIONAGE

This isn’t to say Comrade Trump is a spy, or even that he (or somebody near him, like, say Jared Pencilneck) is/was planning to sell classified documents. It just means that Trump possessed classified shit that didn’t belong to him, that he had no right to have in his possession, and that he wasn’t protecting it.

Again, this is just me speculating. And in the interest of honesty, I should also remind you that I also speculated that there was no way in hell that Donald Trump could ever be elected President of the United States. So my speculating record isn’t exactly stellar.

Oh, and stop calling me ‘old sock.’

it’s not going to stop them

A headline in my morning news feed:

Judge blocks Biden admin directives on transgender athletes, bathrooms

Judge Charles Atchley Jr., appointed to the Eastern District of Tennessee in the last weeks of the failed Trump administration, “temporarily blocked Biden administration directives allowing transgender workers and students to use bathrooms and locker rooms and join sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.”

Here’s what happened: twenty GOP-controlled states have passed laws allowing (or requiring) discrimination against trans students and workers. President Uncle Joe’s directives, in effect, said, “Hey, it’s your state, do what you think you have to. BUT if you do that, you’ll lose some federal funding.” The Attorneys General of those states said, “It’s not fair for you to deny us some of that sweet federal cash just because we think trans people are icky and want to punish them.” The Biden position is, “Dude, our cash, our rules.”

But here’s the thing: bigots can hold power and punish trans folks, but it’s not going to stop them. I mean, just think about how much courage and determination it takes for trans people to identify themselves as trans. City, county, and state governments pass laws that are specifically and deliberately cruel to trans kids–and they still stand up and say, “I’m Spartacus!” Bigots and assholes physically attack and murder trans folks–and they still stand up and say, “I’m Spartacus!”

Do these judges and attorneys general really think trans kids will stop being trans just because the government puts an end to inclusive bathrooms? They’ve been beaten and publicly humiliated and murdered and disowned by their parents–and NONE of that has stopped them from being trans because that’s who they fucking are.

A couple of days ago on the news, there was one of those classic ‘hero citizen’ reports. Guy spots a house on fire, alerts the people inside, gashes his arm breaking a window to rescue a child. Everybody cheers this guy, because he’s a genuine hero.

Trans folks–and especially trans kids–run into a burning house every damned day just by living their lives. They risk their lives every damned day just by going out in public. They are quietly heroic every damned day.

Ain’t no judge or attorney general going to stop them.

willfully and deliberately stupid

I don’t know if you’ve read any of the SCOTUS decisions from the last few weeks. I mean actually read them, not just read news reports or blog posts about them. I suspect most folks haven’t. Can’t blame anybody for that; it takes time to churn through these decisions (the Bruen decision is 135 pages long, for fuck’s sake) and big chunks of them (while certainly/probably important) are mind-numbingly boring.

But if you do take the time to read the most important decisions, I think you’ll discover a theme running through them. And that theme is this: the conservative majority is being willfully and deliberately stupid.

I’m just going to focus on the Bruen decision (and the concurring opinions) because we just went through a long holiday weekend that delivered sixteen mass shootings. The issue in Bruen was a New York law stating an individual who wanted to carry a concealed firearm outside their home had to prove they had a “proper cause” for doing so. In other words, you had to have a good reason for going strapped in public.

In essence, SCOTUS said, pffft, you don’t need no stinking reason, this is America, bitches.

The Court’s majority decision begins by noting that “this Court has long cautioned that the English common law “is not to be taken in all respects to be that of America.” It then (and I am NOT making this up) it spends pages explaining how common law back in Merry Olde England allowed folks to carry guns.

[W]hatever place handguns had in English society during the Tudor and Stuart reigns, by the time we reach the 18th century—and near the founding—they had gained a fairly secure footing in English culture.

You may be asking, “Greg, old sock, when were these Tudor and Stuarts reigning in England? And why should we give a shit?” I’m glad you asked (and stop calling me ‘old sock’). The Tudors and Stuarts were big hats in England from 1485 to 1714. A long fucking time ago. That means we’re talking about flintlock pistols—big honking single shot handguns weighing a couple of pounds, with an effective combat range of about 20 feet, that took a trained soldier at least 30 seconds to reload. Why should we give a shit? No idea. I confess, if I see a guy walking into Starbucks with a flintlock pistol strapped to his belt, I’m not going to get too concerned.

Flintlock pistol

The SCOTUS decision sporadically repeats its finding from Heller decision: “[T]he Second Amendment protects only the carrying of weapons that are those ‘in common use at the time.’” To say flintlock pistols were in common use at the time is bullshit, mainly because most folks didn’t have any need to tote a pistol around (and besides, those things were expensive). But it’s true that IF folks carried a pistol back then, it was a flintlock. Does that constitute ‘common use’? I don’t think so. The Court then goes on to say:

Whatever the likelihood that handguns were considered “dangerous and unusual” during the colonial period, they are indisputably in “common use” for self-defense today.

Dude, they’re in common use today because y’all allowed them to be in common use. It’s like saying colonial era folks never kept their dogs on a leash, then arguing that leash laws aren’t justified in cities now because unleashed dogs were common back then. Willfully and deliberately stupid.

The Court notes that historically, there weren’t a lot of laws in the US restricting the carrying of guns. Not until we passed an amendment restricting firearms.

Only after the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791 did public-carry restrictions proliferate.

Maybe that’s because the 2nd Amendment specifically mentions that well-regulated militia? Once you link keeping and bearing arms to the militia, state and local lawmakers are going to base laws on that. Right?

The Court, in its review of the history of firearm restrictions, also notes there was an “uptick in gun regulation during the late-19th century—principally in the Western Territories.” You know why there was an uptick in the Old West? Because that’s where cowboys carried guns and got in gunfights. Cowboys had a need for handguns when they were out rounding up cattle and stuff. There were snakes and predators that threatened the cattle and understandably pissed-off native Americans. But when those cowboys rode into Dodge, the sheriff made them take off their guns to stop drunken cowboys from fucking shooting each other. This is NOT hard to understand.

The notion that states and cities have limited power to regulate firearms because the US doesn’t have a history or tradition of regulating firearms is massively stupid. We didn’t have a history or tradition of cowboys riding riotously through a town, shooting at random until cowboys started riding riotously through towns, shooting at random. You don’t need laws preventing folks from doing shit UNTIL THEY START DOING SHIT.

What we DO have now is a history and tradition of mass shootings and mass murder. We are contributing to that history and tradition every goddamn day. As I noted earlier, we had sixteen mass shootings from July 1 through July 4. Four days. Sixteen mass shootings. Eighteen dead, 105 wounded. In four days.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito scolds the three Justices who dissented from the majority opinion. He wrote:

[T]he dissent seemingly thinks that the ubiquity of guns and our country’s high level of gun violence provide reasons for sustaining the New York law, the dissent appears not to understand that it is these very facts that cause law-abiding citizens to feel the need to carry a gun for self-defense.

Alito is being willfully and deliberately stupid. The ubiquity of guns and the high level of gun violence ARE EXACTLY the reason for sustaining a law that requires people to demonstrate an actual need to carry a firearm.

Again, it’s like claiming I need to walk around with my dog unleashed to protect me from all those goddamned unleashed dogs out there.

“the people’s elected representatives”

Yesterday morning, before I went to the gym, a woman who unexpectedly discovered she was in the early stages of pregnancy had options. If she didn’t want to be pregnant, she had the right to consult with a doctor and choose to terminate the pregnancy. By the time I left the gym, that right had been nullified in many states.

In those states, pregnant people lost the authority over their own bodies. Six Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States had given that authority to “the people’s elected representatives.” That’s right, a group of State legislators get to decide whether or not a pregnant person will be forced to carry an unwanted fetus and give birth to an unwanted baby. (NOTE: SCOTUS also decided the same group of State legislators do NOT have the authority to decide whether or not a person can carry a firearm; go figure.)

Was the pregnancy a result of rape? Sorry, it’s still up to “the people’s elected representatives” to decide whether or not a person has to remain pregnant. What if the development of the fetus threatens the mother’s health? Sorry, same answer — the decision belongs to “the people’s elected representatives.” What if the fetus develops improperly, if it suffers from physical defects that preclude it from survival after birth? If “the people’s elected representatives” want the person to deliver a baby that will die within hours of birth, then that’s what will happen.

As of today, in many states, a person who is pregnant has lost their status as a free and equal citizen. They are effectively under the control of “the people’s elected representatives.” That could mean a pregnant person who puts the health of an unwanted fetus at risk–by having wine with meals, by engaging in certain types of sports or exercise, by smoking tobacco, by not eating properly–could be punished by “the people’s elected representatives.”

You may say the proper response to that is to elect representatives who will give pregnant people autonomy over their own bodies, but there are two problems with that (hell, there are dozens of problems with it, but I’m only going to focus on two.) First, “the people’s elected representatives” in many states are changing laws to make it more difficult for certain groups to vote. This is an effort to insure they remain “the people’s elected representatives.” Second, the issue isn’t whether or not “the people’s elected representatives” are willing to grant a person autonomy over their own body; it’s that “the people’s elected representatives” shouldn’t have the power or authority to grant or deny that in the first place. That’s just fucking wrong.

This is a fundamental issue. Do pregnant people have equal rights? As of today, in many states, the answer is no. That is horrifying. It’s made worse by the fact that the tyranny of “the people’s elected representatives” will be felt most by the poor. And yes, that also means racial minorities will suffer the most.

Women will die as a result of this. Women will die. But we can be certain none of the dead will be members of “the people’s elected representatives.”

EDITORIAL NOTE: We need to burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, gather the ashes, then set fire to them again. Burn the patriarchy, then drive a stake directly through the ashes where its heart used to be, and then set fire to the stake. Burn the fucker one more time. And keep burning it, over and over. Burn it for generations. Then nuke it from orbit.

criminals don’t obey the law

It could have been almost any Republican who said it. I mean, they’ve probably all said it at some point. But this time it was Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie.

“Every single one of these bills is unserious and unconstitutional and suffers from the inherent problem that all gun control bills suffer from, that is that criminals do not obey the law.”

There are a lot of really stupid arguments made by a lot of stupid (or disingenuous) people against common sense firearm safety legislation. But the stupidest argument of all–and this is just my opinion–is the criminals don’t obey the law argument.

Sure, it’s true. But it’s also stupid. Deeply, profoundly stupid. Stupid at the cellular level. It’s stupid in so many ways you’d need an abacus to count them. It’s stupid because it suggests criminality is a binary condition. People are either Criminal or Not Criminal. Criminals don’t obey the law? It’s like saying sober people don’t get drunk. It’s like saying people who are standing don’t sit down.

Dude, you’re standing until you sit, you’re sober until you get drunk, and you’re not a criminal until you break the law. You’re not a mass murderer until you kill lots of people.

Mass murderer or 2nd Amendment Asshole? Who knows?

We all know–and this includes that fuckwit Massie–most of the recent mass murderers legally obtained the guns they used to murder lots of people. That’s because it’s pretty fucking easy to legally obtain a gun. Especially a long gun, like a rifle. Yes, if you buy a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer, you have to submit to a background check, but it’s a fairly cursory check. And in most states you can dodge that background check if you buy the gun from an individual–a friend, a relative, a neighbor, some guy you met at a bar–so long as you live in the same state (well, so long as the seller has reasonable cause to believe the person buying the gun is from the same state). Hell, somebody can just give you a gun as a gift. All perfectly legal.

So you can easily acquire a gun and be Not Criminal.

In 44 states, it’s also perfectly legal to openly carry a long gun–a rifle or shotgun. Seriously, in most of the US you can just walk around town openly with an AR-15 strapped to your shoulder and still be Not Criminal. In three of those 44 states, it’s illegal to openly carry a long gun IF it’s loaded. But, of course, you can’t tell if a rifle is loaded just by looking at it. And police officers would need probable cause in order to stop a person carrying a long gun to check to see whether or not it was loaded. Only a few of those 44 states that allow you to wander around toting a rifle have restrictions on large capacity magazines (generally considered to be a magazine holding more than ten rounds).

And hey, guess what? In most jurisdictions, you can walk around wearing body armor IF you’re not pretending to be a member of law enforcement. So in most of the US you can buy yourself an AR-15 variant, load it with a large capacity magazine, dress yourself in generic military gear, and wander over to the local supermarket and you’d still officially be Not Criminal unless and until you started shooting people.

Mass murderer or 2nd Amendment Asshole? Who knows?

And that’s a problem, isn’t it. You can’t tell the Criminals from the Not Criminals until the bastards start shooting, until you have to start running and ducking and screaming. You have absolutely no way of knowing if the guy carrying his AR-15 into the coffee shop is a mass murderer or just another Second Amendment Asshole.

Republicans are okay with this.

Here’s another very basic fact that Representative Massie and his fellow GOP fuckwits fail to understand: law exists to regulate human conduct. We know we can’t ever completely stop people from doing stuff we don’t like, but we institute laws to discourage certain unwanted antisocial behaviors. We don’t expect trespassing laws to completely stop trespassing, but they discourage it. We know stalking laws won’t prevent stalking, but they give stalking victims some small measure of protection. We know sensible firearm safety laws won’t put an end to mass murder, but they can reduce the butcher’s bill. They can moderate the body count.

But c’mon. We know that’s not important to people like Massie. These people will claim they see firearms as nothing more than tools, but the truth is they treat guns as tangible evidence–as undeniable proof–that they’re strong and independent and courageous and free. But that’s bullshit. The only people who need or want to carry guns in public are people who are afraid of the world around them or bullies who want to intimidate others.

Plain old 2nd Amendment Assholes.

People like Massie are just afraid. They feel their world–the world in which they’re powerful and dominant–is slipping away from them. They fear a future in which they’re not powerful and dominant. They seem to think guns and the Second Amendment will somehow magically protect them, will allow them to hold on to their current position in society, will grant them the measure of respect they think they deserve.

And they’re willing to sacrifice shoppers, office workers, random civilians, and school kids to keep their own place in the world.

You cant tell a mass murderer from a 2nd Amendment Asshole until the shooting starts, but you can tell an accessory to mass murder by the way they vote.

global positioning pregnancy

A lot of anti-abortion advocates are suggesting the furor over Justice Alito’s draft decision on Roe v. Wade isn’t merited because it doesn’t actually ban abortion. They say it just turns the abortion issue from a federal matter into a state matter. They quote Alito’s line that the abortion issue should be “resolved like most important decisions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.

They say this is fair. Voters get to decide abortion law for their own state. Some states will ban abortions, some will restrict the conditions under which abortions can take place, and some states will continue to allow abortions. This is federalism in action, they say.

That’s bullshit. Even if we ignore the reality that many states are restricting and limiting voter rights (and we shouldn’t ignore that), the notion that abortion should be a matter for individual states to decide is just fucking stupid. It boils down to this: a woman’s right to have autonomy over her reproduction will depend on her geographical location at the time she discovers she’s pregnant. Name me another legal right that is subject to GPS coordinates.

Consider this: some states have laws expressly forbidding pregnant people from leaving their state to obtain an abortion. What happens if somebody from a state where abortion is legal discovers they are pregnant while visiting in a state where abortion is illegal–a state in which it is illegal even to travel to another state to obtain an abortion? Can that person be detained until they give birth?

Let’s say dark blue represents states where men can drive freely, light blue is where men can drive if accompanied by an adult female driver, and in white states men aren’t allowed to drive at all.

There are issues and matters that transcend state borders, issues that require or demand national responses. We cannot have patchwork civil rights and liberties. We fought a bloody civil war to develop a national stance on chattel slavery. We decided marriage can’t be illegal in one state and legal in another–every state must accept the legality of marriage from other states. The right to free speech and assembly can’t be abridged by state borders. If you have a valid driver’s license in Utah, you can drive legally in Georgia. You get the point; some rights should be national. Some rights MUST be national. Hell, some rights MUST be international.

The right of reproductive choice is one of those national matters. Roe v. Wade needs to remain the law of the land. People should have the right to decide if they want to be pregnant.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Burn the patriarchy. Douse it with oil, set it on fire, dance around the flames. Piss on the smoking embers.