AFD Micron #27

The stabbing attack at the University of Arkansas serves as a reminder of how insane the “if we outlaw guns, people will kill each other in other ways” argument is. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s really, really hard to kill someone without a weapon designed for that purpose: obviously, a machete attack is a horrible event, but it resulted in… three people injured, counting the perpetrator.

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In 2008, Clinton attacked Obama for gun control support

But in 2015, Clinton is attacking Bernie Sanders for insufficient gun control support. Let’s track the intense flip-flopping, solely meant to destroy rival Democratic nomination candidates, both times.

Now (Washington Post, July 9, 2015):

“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.

A few days earlier, she said in Hanover, N.H.: “We have to take on the gun lobby. . . . This is a controversial issue. I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.”
[…]
Gun control is one of the few issues on which Clinton has a more left-leaning record than Sanders, who represents a rural, pro-gun-rights state and has voted in the past for legislation to protect the firearms industry. Although Clinton has not attacked Sanders by name, by invoking guns she makes an unspoken contrast.
[…]
Despite his mixed voting record, Sanders did support the 2013 background-check bill and ­assault-weapons ban. And on the stump, he is trying to sound more forceful. He notes that “guns in Chicago and Los Angeles mean a very different thing than guns in Vermont and New Hampshire” but says — as he did two weeks ago in Bow, N.H. — that the next president must “come forward with a common-sense proposal on guns.”

In the Democratic field, former Maryland governor Martin O’Mal­ley has the strongest record in favor of gun control. He supported an assault-weapons ban as mayor of Baltimore in the early 2000s and then signed one into law as governor in 2013, along with a suite of gun restrictions that stand as among the nation’s toughest.
[…]
Howard Wolfson, for many years a top Clinton aide before going to work for Bloomberg, said Clinton’s avoidance of guns in 2008 should not be mistaken for a lack of interest in gun control.

 
Then:
In Indiana, “Clinton mailing attacks Obama on guns” – Ben Smith for Politico – May 4, 2008

2008-clinton-campaign-mailer-obama-guns
Hillary Clinton has re-opened her sharp attack on Barack Obama’s position on guns, with a mailer in Indiana that seeks to raise questions about him with both supporters and opponents of gun rights.

The mailing — perhaps the sharpest-edged of Clinton’s five negative mail pieces in Indiana — casts him as a typical politician, saying different things to different audiences. It also revives his damaging comments in San Francisco that small town people cling to guns.
[…]
The piece is particularly striking coming from Clinton, who has been seen for most of her career as a firm advocate of gun control, but more recently has emerged — without dramatically shifting her stance on specific issues — as a defender of the Second Amendment who fondly recalled being taught to shoot by her grandfather in Scranton.

 
So which is it?

Is she now the candidate who “told people” in conservative states she “was for the 2nd Amendment, in order to get their votes” as her 2008 mailer alleged of Sen. Obama?

Charleston: I’m out of new things to say

Today I felt, for one of the few times in my life, like I finally had nothing left to say on a huge story in the news. The Charleston AME church shooting in this case.

I’ve written post after post after post on White America’s violence against Black America. I’ve written post after post on violent ideologies versus mental illness. I’ve written post after post on gun control and mass shootings. I’ve written post after post on Confederate apologism. I literally don’t know what else to say at this point. This happens so often — even just in the last couple years — and the facts are so similar that there’s no new ground to cover. Whatever I’d write on it would be hollow and a waste of space.

This isn’t a mysterious and inexplicable tragedy. It’s just the latest act of terrorism in a vast pattern that seems like it won’t end.

At this point I’ll direct everyone to Black authors and social media commentators. Anything they have to say is almost certainly going to be more worth hearing than anything new I could come up with. If you don’t know where to start, I’ll point you toward our columnist De Ana. Beyond her own tweets, her Twitter stream will give you a jumping off point to other voices you should hear.

Beyond the Senate: The 2014 state losses

Certain people of this country have realized that their true political power lies in their local governments. The states and counties that they reside in have lots of power thanks to the 10th amendment, and by golly they intend to use it to the fullest extent.

This November, not only did the Republicans shellack the Democrats on a national level, they improved their ground game and hit them where it hurts. Jill Lawrence, writing for Al Jazeera America, recaps:

Republicans took over 11 state legislative chambers that had been held by Democrats. They now control 23 states entirely — governor and both legislative chambers — versus seven for Democrats. They netted three new governors for a total of 31, versus 18 for Democrats. They gained more than 300 legislators and now hold the most state legislative seats since 1920.

 

Map of 2014 United States state legislature election results, comparing partisan control of the legislative chambers and governor's office in each state. (Credit: ArsenalForDemocracy.com) Note: Alaska's governor is an independent.

Map of 2014 United States state legislature election results, comparing partisan control of the legislative chambers and governor’s office in each state. (Click map for full-sized view.) Note: Alaska’s governor is an independent.

The significance of these gains is two-fold. First, implementing policy on a national level is difficult when it means communicating and negotiating with Republican dominated state houses. Landmark legislation like the Affordable Care Act depends on cooperation of the states. 25 states didn’t expand Medicaid as a part of the ACA, essentially making the law useless for the low-income uninsured.

Similarly, any hope for increasing the minimum wage in individual states rather than nationwide will be impossible in states with the Republican held legislatures. State Republicans that continue to base their decisions on party politics instead of the needs of the people are sure to face repercussions later down the road, but for now they have other intentions.

Which brings me to my second point. These newly elected Republican legislatures and governors will no doubt pass questionable legislation, as they have done in the past. In 2013, North Carolina tried to establish Christianity as their state religion, until someone realized that would be totally unconstitutional. Michigan lawmakers extended gun owners the right to conceal and carry in daycares, but it was vetoed by the Republican Governor a few days after the Sandy Hook shootings. And Tennessee attempted to pass a bill that would cut low-income families’ welfare if their children received poor grades in school.

State legislatures fly under the radar of most people, but local advocates have been able to push their agenda through these state houses. Based on their recent track record, the new Republican majorities will inevitably bring a fresh onslaught of anti-abortion laws to states that have already restricted a woman’s right to choose, as well as to new states. Laws that would clearly never make it through a national Congress, are snaking through the states and slowly but surely making it more difficult for a woman to have fair access to an abortion.

Issues like this are where some people have realized their true potential as voters. Local laws reflect local attitudes. And despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, local attitudes will continue to work towards limiting, and potentially barring, access to legal abortions.

So as concerning as it may be for Democrats that they lost control of the U.S. Senate, focus should instead be on the amount of power Republicans now hold in the states. And most importantly, how they intend to use that power.

John Crawford was summarily executed by cops on the false statements of a serial liar

On August 5th, 2014, John Crawford III was shot dead by police from behind and without warning in a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio. He was just 22 years old and was a father to two young sons. Police believed, based on a 911 call, that he was preparing to open fire in a mass shooting.

In fact, he was holding a toy gun he was about to buy and was chatting amiably to his girlfriend on the phone at the time he was killed, while they both shopped in different parts of the store. Crawford was not violating any laws at the time — even if the gun had been a serious firearm licensed to him and carried openly, he would have been in the clear under local laws and store rules — and there is no evidence to suggest he was about to break any laws. No one passing him in the store, as seen on surveillance footage, appears concerned or frightened by the toy gun.

Although many things quickly began to not add up about the official version of events that led to his death, much of the justification hinged upon that 911 call. As further details have emerged from the incident (such as video footage and audio of the 911 call, plus reports from his girlfriend who heard the shooting over the phone as it happened) and as journalistic investigations have been conducted into the circumstances surrounding it and the people involved, we have learned that there was very little reason to believe Crawford was an imminent threat to anyone.

In particular, the credibility of the primary witness, who called in the purported threat to 911, has been falling apart extremely rapidly. Not only did his 911 call claims not match reality seen on store camera footage — a BB gun became an AR-15 assault rifle, holding became waving/loading/pointing — but he also immediately lied to reporters in public statements right after the shooting. To bolster his allegedly ability to assess the level of danger accurately, he claimed to be an “ex-marine.” In fact, we now know he was kicked out of training less than two months in the U.S. Marines for “fraudulent enlistment” and a heart condition.

A man with a history of lying made a false report to police (and subsequently reporters) because a Black man living his life, simply existing, and obeying all relevant laws was a clear and present danger in his eyes. Such a a belief stems, inevitably, either from personal racial animosity or institutionalized suspicion and fear of Black men in America that makes unconscious racists out of many others who claim not to be. The latter category, acting out their denied prejudices in mistaken police reports and 911 calls, get a lot of people killed.

One might be tempted to shift all blame onto him and away from police, who were arguably just reacting to the information given to them. But the police officers who responded did so with the most extreme response two uniformed officers can make, and they did not provide warnings before firing, nor did they assess the situation to ensure they were not making a mistake. As they reached the scene, acting on the word of one person, they could not possibly imagine that he was anything but a violent and dangerous man who needed to be put down without any attempt to halt him, negotiate with him, or provide him with due process. They shot him fatally (he died of his injuries at the hospital) and the ensuing panic resulted in the death of another woman in the store.

Meanwhile, dozens of White “open-carry” activists have marched through big box stores across the country with actual AR-15s, to the fright of many customers, to demonstrate their “2nd Amendment rights.” No such “right” or benefit of the doubt was afforded to Mr. Crawford. Meanwhile, the White mass shooters in Tucson in January 2012 and in Aurora in July 2012, ages 22 and 24 respectively, were both arrested alive, having actually killed and wounded dozens of people. No such treatment was afforded to Mr. Crawford.

I want to re-state all of the facts of this situation as comprehensively as possible in one sentence: Police, approaching from behind, shot dead a young Black man in an “open-carry” state, without warning, while he was holding a BB air rifle he intended to purchase, simply because a customer with a record of false statements, who had washed out of the Marines in less than two months after fraudulent enlistment, called 911 with a fear of Black men and falsely claimed the victim was loading and pointing an AR-15 at children in the store.

John Crawford III — and so many like him — deserved so much better.