Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cutting Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face

States Suspend Professional Licenses for People Behind on Student Loan Payments:

Fall behind on your student loan payments, lose your job.
Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.
Georgia, incidentally, is one of the 19 that suspend professional licenses for debt collection.
As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase people who fall behind on student loans. Going after professional licenses stands out as especially punitive.
Not to mention counter intuitive and brain dead. On what planet does it make sense to take away the very means these people have to repay their debts for not repaying their debts? Other than these 19 idiotic states?
Firefighters, nurses, teachers, lawyers, massage therapists, barbers, psychologists and real estate brokers have all had their credentials suspended or revoked.
Determining the number of people who have lost their licenses is impossible because many state agencies and licensing boards don’t track the information. Public records requests by The New York Times identified at least 8,700 cases in which licenses were taken away or put at risk of suspension in recent years, although that tally almost certainly understates the true number.
With student debt levels soaring — the loans are now the largest source of household debt outside of mortgages — so are defaults. Lenders have always pursued delinquent borrowers: by filing lawsuits, garnishing their wages, putting liens on their property and seizing tax refunds. Blocking licenses is a more aggressive weapon, and states are using it on behalf of themselves and the federal government.
And here are the morons and their rationales:
Tennessee is one of the most aggressive states at revoking licenses, the records show. From 2012 to 2017, officials reported more than 5,400 people to professional licensing agencies. Many — nobody knows how many — lost their licenses. Some, like Ms. Otto, lost their careers.
“It’s an attention-getter,” said Peter Abernathy, chief aid and compliance officer for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, a state-run commission that is responsible for enforcing the law. “They made a promise to the federal government that they would repay these funds. This is the last resort to get them back into payment.”
LOL. I'm not sure if this clown has been lobotomized or not, but read that sentence again: "the last resort to get them back into payment" by taking away the very license they need to make payments. Is this something unique to Tennessee logic or, no wait, it's elsewhere.
Two years ago, South Dakota ordered officials to withhold various licenses from people who owe the state money. Nearly 1,000 residents are barred from holding driver’s licenses because of debts owed to state universities, and 1,500 people are prohibited from getting hunting, fishing and camping permits.
“It’s been quite successful,” said Nathan Sanderson, the director of policy and operations for Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The state’s debt collection center — which pursues various debts, including overdue taxes and fines — has brought in $3.3 million since it opened last year. Much of that has flowed back to strapped towns and counties.
Uh huh. So this goof and the one above actually think it's "successful" and a "real attention-getter" (sic) because in some cases debt collections, unrelated to these actual license suspensions according to the Times, are up. 

Frankly, guys like this should lose their jobs and then spend some time rethinking their bottom-feeding "profession" and the lame rationales they use to defend it. Debt and tax collectors are part of a scummy industry that has a long history of such addled defenses like "someone has to do it" and "we're just following orders." Much like the Nuremberg defense, people have been trying to rationalize away this kind of behavior since, well, at least Biblical times. You'll recall, even back then, the only time Jesus allegedly got pissed and went ballistic was with the money changers and debt collectors. Not even the dudes who were crucifying him earned his wrath like the debt collectors did.

For thousands of years they have literally been the worst of the worst. But hey, keep rationalizing bro.
Sanderson countered that people did not have to pay off their debt to regain their licenses — entering into a payment plan was enough.
But those payment plans can be beyond some borrowers’ means.
Tabitha McArdle earned $48,000 when she started out as a teacher in Houston. A single mother, she couldn’t keep up with her monthly $800 student loan payments. In March, the Texas Education Agency put her on a list of 390 teachers whose certifications cannot be renewed until they make steady payments. She now has no license.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who has worked to overturn these laws, called them “tantamount to modern-day debtors’ prison.”
It's not tantamount to, it IS a debtor's prison.  

Look, I don't like people skipping out on their debts anymore than the next guy, particularly if they are going into hoc over things like credit card or gambling debts, or gaming the system via bankruptcy scams, etc. But student loans, frankly, should be forgiven, across the board, in one fell swoop. You want to jump start the economy? Forgive the more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt which saddles more than 44 million Americans to an average debt of $37,000. Wipe it out and watch the economy explode in growth.

I know, I know, I can hear the pull yourself up by your own bootstraps crowd locking and loading right now: "that's a decision they made, why don't they work their way through school like I did, why should they get away with it?" Right, let's keep them just as uneducated and stupid as you are.

I enjoyed watching this exchange the other day, Senator Orrin Hatch lecturing his fellow senators over how back in his day, a hundred years ago, he worked as a janitor to pay his way through law school and didn't need "the damn government" to help him do it.  Classic. 

Orrin, you couldn't even qualify for a student loan to go to law school on what a janitor makes today, let alone pay for it outright. But this is the kind of bootstraps thinking that runs the country today when it comes to education and student loans (and healthcare and ...). 

And the fact that state governments are actively involved in denying people the right to work, because of student loan debt, makes medieval Dickensian England look modern and progressive. 

Jesus was right: there is a special place in hell for you debt collectors. See you there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today In Stupid

Been in a lull around here lately. I should be writing about sexual harassment, politics, Hollywood, the outrage-industrial complex, pretty much anything serious. But instead, these two stories will have to suffice.

First, parents angry (angry!) at college administrators because they banned alcohol at fraternities and sororities, and that's "ruining their child's" college experience.

Mr. Thrasher, during an interview at The Chronicle’s offices on Monday, said he had heard from other parents who were not as supportive, some of whom had told him that "you’ve ruined my so-and-so’s cultural life."

That sort of backlash, which is sometimes acknowledged privately by college leaders, points toward the role that parents may play in acquiescing in or even encouraging high-risk drinking by students.
Mr. Coffey’s death came at the start of Parents Weekend at Florida State, when students’ families are invited to the campus. At one point during his presidency, Mr. Thrasher said, he was appalled to see parents drinking to excess at a local bar with students, some of whom appeared underage.
"They were doing shots," he recalled. "They were doing the whole deal. I was flabbergasted by that."
Can you imagine being so stupid, so brain-dead as a parent, that you would bitch out your son or daughter's college leaders for banning alcohol at parties? Worse, can you imagine being so idiotic that you go to a parent's weekend and start doing shots with undergraduates, including maybe your own kid, out at bars?

It makes you wonder how junior ever got into a decent school with parents as dumb as this (although the school in question is Florida State, LOL).

Speaking of dumb, THIS GUY:
Police said Dwayne Pope told them he had only three shots of champagne before he was pulled over Sunday after a chase that reached speeds of 155 mph.
But when he stepped out of his car, Alpharetta police saw a man with bloodshot, watery and glassy eyes, according to a police report.
C'mon man. Three shots or three BOTTLES?
An Alpharetta officer was traveling southbound on Ga. 400 near Mansell Road about 3 a.m. when Pope’s car flew past her at more than 105 mph, according to the report. The speed limit for that highway is 65 mph.
LOL. Can you imagine the officer's reaction? What the what?

The officer followed Pope past the Mansell Road exit, activated her emergency lights and siren and attempted to pull Pope over. 
It didn’t work. 
Pope eventually reached 155 mph and was weaving in and out of traffic and braked several times without stopping, according to the report. 
Out of nowhere, police said Pope braked abruptly near the Northridge Road exit and went from 150 to 0 mph in a matter of seconds. 
Pope, who police said smelled of alcohol, told the officer he hadn’t heard the sirens or seen the blue lights.
I guess if you're driving 155mph, you probably don't see or hear much of anything.

It's amazing dude could reach those top speeds being that drunk, as opposed to comatose or whatever. But hey, you do you bro.

Thankfully he didn't kill anyone, but I'll bet he woke up with a whopper of a hangover, and looking  back at him in the mirror is all kinds of jail time + fines.

Moral of the story? Freixenet is not your friend.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fact Checking SCOTUS

It's a Fact: Supreme Court Errors Easy To Find:

The decisions of the Supreme Court are rich with argument, history, some flashes of fine writing, and, of course, legal judgments of great import for all Americans.
They are also supposed to be entirely accurate.
But a ProPublica review of several dozen cases from recent years uncovered a number of false or wholly unsupported factual claims.
The review found an error in a landmark ruling, Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice John Roberts used erroneous data to make claims about comparable rates of voter registration among blacks and whites in six southern states. In another case, Justice Anthony Kennedy falsely claimed that DNA analysis can be used to identify individual suspects in criminal cases with perfect accuracy.
In all, ProPublica found seven errors in a modest sampling of Supreme Court opinions written from 2011 through 2015. In some cases, the errors were introduced by individual justices apparently doing their own research. In others, the errors resulted from false or deeply flawed submissions made to the court by people or organizations seeking to persuade the justices to rule one way or the other.
I've been bitching for years about the inaccuracies in some opinions. Ever since "the efficacy of social scientific research" was proffered in Trop v. Dulles (1958) almost 60 years ago, the court routinely "weighs" the scientific evidence without determining the validity of said evidence
Sometimes justices seem almost amused by that lack. When presented with potentially critical empirical evidence in a major gerrymandering case this month, Chief Justice Roberts joked that “it may be simply my educational background” before describing the material as “sociological gobbledygook.”
The president of the American Sociological Association offered to have a team of sociologists sit down with Chief Justice Roberts after his “gobbledygook” comment.
I remember reading that and thinking the same thing: I'd be more than happy to email you, Chief, and help simplify the "gobbledygook" for you, just hit me up.

In fact, that would be the easiest solution (and once rejected decades ago): hire a team of researchers and analysts analogous to the Congressional Research Office or Congressional Budget Office.
In the 1980s, the legal expert Kenneth Culp Davis proposed that the court create an outside research organization, akin to the Congressional Research Service, to do research on its behalf. However worthwhile, the idea went nowhere.
Perhaps a more viable idea is one that Mr. Davis rejected: establish a group of technical advisers to the court. A small team of social scientists and statisticians could help justices sift through empirical evidence. There is no shortage of scholars with Ph.D.s who would be eager to do that work for the court.
The court could take steps today, without any institutional change, by hiring clerks with empirical training instead of only recently minted J.D.s. Or if there is an immediate and specific need that the current clerks can’t address, justices could have the ability to hire experts to assist them with specific issues.
Most of the errors found in the ProPublica piece aren't earth-shattering or reasons to reverse, necessarily. But we talked about this one the other day in class, on the topic of sex offenders:
In a 2002 opinion, Kennedy wrote that untreated sex offenders commit new sex crimes at a startling rate, “estimated to be as high as 80 percent.” The statistic came from a magazine article, which did not provide a source. The article’s author has admitted to legal scholars the number was a guess. Studies of sex offenders indicate the true rate is a small fraction of the one Kennedy used.
The source of Kennedy's "80% of sex offenders will recidivate" was non-peer reviewed article in Psychology Today, which is a great magazine to thumb through when you're standing in line at the grocery store, but it's right next to The National Enquirer (literally and figuratively) in terms of scientific validity.

Yet his opinion, and that statistic in particular, was then cited over and over to justify the expanding use of civil commitment of sex offenders...a statistic which had no basis in reality (the actual recidivism rate for sex offenders and child molesters is about 5%).

Facts matter, and Roberts could go a long way towards improving the heft of the court's rulings if we could be more confident the data being used to justify their opinions was, in fact, valid.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Congressional Drug Dealers

Drug Czar Nominee Withdrawn:

President Trump’s plans to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic were disrupted on Monday as he came under pressure to abandon a nominee for drug czar who championed legislation undercutting the government’s power to go after pharmaceutical companies that contribute to the crisis.
Even as the president promised to announce a major initiative to stem the wave of opioid abuse as early as next week, Mr. Trump said he would consider scuttling the nomination of Representative Tom Marino as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Mr. Marino, Republican of Pennsylvania, pushed the legislation sought by lobbyists for the drug industry.
“He’s a good man,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference on Monday in the Rose Garden. “I have not spoken to him, but I will speak to him, and I’ll make that determination. And if I think it’s 1 percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change, yes.”
The president also suggested that he might favor rethinking the law that Mr. Marino helped pass. “We’re going to look at that very closely,” he said.
Basically, putting this Marino guy, along with his drug-happy colleague Marsha Blackburn, in charge of drug policy in this country is like putting the proverbial fox's in charge of the hen house: they authored and shepherded through congress a bill that protected opioid distributors from legal challenges and investigations by the DEA; a bill the DEA says undercut their authority to stop the epidemic and killed tens of thousands of people in the process. The story broke on 60 Minutes over the weekend.
Mr. Trump’s response came after a joint investigation by CBS’s “60 Minutes” and The Washington Post examined the influence of the drug industry in Washington. The legislation pressed by Mr. Marino was the result of a concerted industry campaign to change the authority of the Drug Enforcement Administration in a way that would make it more difficult to stop the flow of painkillers to the black market. The law, passed last year, made it nearly impossible for the D.E.A. to freeze suspicious shipments of drugs, according to documents cited by The Post.

The law was a top priority of the drug industry, which spent $106 million lobbying Congress from 2014 to 2016. Mr. Marino, who received nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions from political action committees representing the industry, according to The Post, was one of the leaders in pushing the bill. Congress passed it with many legislators unaware of its real effect, and President Barack Obama signed it into law, also unaware of its import, according to former administration officials cited by The Post.
Uh huh. This bill passed the Congress by unanimous consent, both houses, both parties, and was signed by Obama, and NOT ONE person read the damn thing or knew what protections they put in place? Protections which shielded the distributors in their criminal activity and allowed the opioid crisis to kill tens of thousands of people? 

Not surprisingly, Obama's AG Eric Holder claims he was unaware of the bill's importance and the change in DEA policy to back off these drug distributing companies, thus making Holder either A. an egregious liar, or B. the most incompetent AG in history (we'll go with B to avoid the debate).  

Watch the 60 Minutes stories. One of the agents even co-opts my phrase "drug dealers in lab coats" that I've been using for over a decade.

The good news this morning is that Marino withdrew his nomination due to the firestorm of protest on social media (including tweets by yours truly). 

As usual, and at the end of the day, I repeat my refrain "follow the money." It shows you how Big Pharma in this country is nothing but a drug cartel of criminals in suits and lab coats, the size of which puts to shame the Escobar brothers or the Medellin gangs of lore. And their infusion of money (hundreds of millions of dollars) into congressional campaigns goes beyond quid pro quo. It defacto makes Congress nothing more than a collection of drug whores and pimps for an industry that is actively killing nearly 65,000 U.S. citizens each year. 

And it's every single member of congress, from every single party, including the independents. It is, quite literally, ALL of you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What Happens In Vegas Should Never Have Happened (Part III)

In absence of "clear motive" conspiracy theories abound:

The mystery of why Stephen Paddock smuggled an arsenal into a Las Vegas hotel room before firing into a crowd of concertgoers, killing dozens and injuring hundreds, has only deepened in the days since the massacre. His motives remain elusive, his beliefs unclear.
Sidebar: I explained his motive and intent in this previous post, but let's not let a few facts get in the way.
That absence of information has provided an opening for right-wing media personalities like Alex Jones of InfoWars to proffer their own theories. Their ideas, often based on scant evidence, fall in line with common right-wing tropes about liberal conspiracies, and millions of Americans are listening.
Mr. Jones — who has propagated conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks — has portrayed Mr. Paddock by turns as an agent of the Islamic State, a leftist activist, an anti-Trump radical and a possible stooge for a broader conspiracy intent on disrupting democracy.
“Could Stephen Paddock, the lone Vegas shooter, have been a patsy to kick off the left’s war with the right in the streets of America?” Mr. Jones wrote on his Facebook page last week. The post accompanied a video titled “Video Shows Second Shooter During Vegas Massacre,” which by Monday had been viewed about 1.1 million times.
You know, it would be easy to jump on clowns like Jones and other conspiracy theorists and focus our outrage at just them, but they aren't really the problem. The problem is that so many stupid, idiotic people in this country would actually believe these "theories" and further, share information that is, as admitted, nothing more than performance art. 
In Sunday’s video, Mr. Jones acknowledged the help. “Thanks to DrudgeReport.com magnifying those articles, having the courage to run our articles, a lot of people are now able to get more information to the police, and more information to the media,” he said.
This is not the first time InfoWars has spread unfounded theories about national tragedies. Mr. Jones repeated false rumors about a child abuse ring at a Washington pizzeria; a North Carolina man later fired a gun inside the restaurant. (Mr. Jones later apologized.)
After the gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Jones repeatedly asserted that the episode was “completely fake,” prompting some listeners to harass grieving parents of victims. He has also called the 9/11 attacks a hoax and an “inside job.”
Mr. Jones’s website reached more than 1.4 million unique visitors in June, according to the web tracking firm comScore. (Its numbers fell off in August, to 689,000 visitors; last November, nearly four million people visited.)
Whether Mr. Jones’s behavior is merely an act has come under debate: During a custody battle in April, a lawyer for Mr. Jones, Randall Wilhite, said his client was only playing a character. “He’s a performance artist,” Mr. Wilhite added.
Ah, so you don't really believe the bullshit you're pedaling, it's simply "performance art." Got it.

Again, I'm a pro-1A guy, so I believe people are completely free to say and write and publish whatever wackadoodle conspiracy theories they want, whenever they want. And you, in your stupidity, have the right to read them and even agree or share them. And he has some big fans, according to the article, like WAY up there in government (snicker).

But there aren't "two sides" to every issue, and there certainly aren't two sides to the truth. There's the truth, and then there's "I don't agree with the truth." And that's fine, you don't have to (like these dopes who say they "don't agree" with climate science, or yell "fake news" all the time, e.g.). Frankly, science and the truth don't really care what you think, because the truth doesn't stop being the truth.

In other Vegas news, questions abound regarding what to do with the site of the killing.
The scene of carnage this time was a flat 15-acre parcel of land without any permanent structures. It is a rectangle of blacktop surrounded by busy streets, including the famous Las Vegas Strip. Marketed as “Las Vegas Village” the past couple of years, it has the feel of a small county fairground. There are a few white corporate-style tents on its edges, and a large concert stage at the south end. It has been used to hold small music festivals and rodeos.
On the night of Oct. 1, crowded with about 22,000 people attending a country music concert, it became a kill zone. And one of the many questions left in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history is what to do with the place.
From Columbine to Sandy Hook, Mother Emanuel to the Pulse nightclub, those left behind have had to grapple with the murder scene, and the difficult balance between looking back and moving on. Some decided to tear down the buildings where the killing was done; others remodeled and reopened them, or just moved right back in.
Las Vegas poses some unique issues, though: There is nothing permanent about the concert venue, and the killer was not in the same place as the victims. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, about 500 yards away across South Las Vegas Boulevard.
The two sites on opposite ends of the massacre are both owned by MGM Resorts International, which will have to decide what to do with them.
I remember when that site across from Mandalay/Luxor was still dotted with run down, fleabag motels offering cheap flops for the night after gambling over at the bigger casinos. Slowly but surely, however, MGM and other casino behemoths bought up these properties, ostensibly to kill the competition, but also to create new areas to eventually develop. I don't think anyone really thinks the "LV Village" as they're calling it (it appeared to be nothing more than a glorified parking lot from my window at the Luxor this summer) is going to remain undeveloped forever.

Frankly, I wonder what Mandalay will do with the room.
Trickier, he said, will be the gunman’s perch in the hotel — a spacious suite with wraparound views and an adjoining standard room, where Mr. Paddock shot through an entry door at a security officer and was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.
“The hotel rooms, it’s hard to think of anything socially positive from the space,” Mr. Hawdon said. “That space was purely evil, the actions in that space. To me, you somehow try to make it unrecognizable. You want to try to make it devoid of meaning related to the tragedy.”
It also notes some rooms on the 32nd floor are already back in use. Vegas being Vegas, I suspect either A. nothing will happen and they'll redesign the room to be unrecognizable compared to what we've seen. Or B. turn it into some macabre "museum" where people can pay admission and tour the space.

You think I'm kidding? Have you ever toured the Las Vegas Mob Museum? Or the Book Depository in Dallas?

Hopefully the site of the carnage will be memorialized in taste, and the victims will be honored properly. MGM is a pretty big corporation that knows how to take care of its customers. The idea that a victim memorial will be non-existent or Vegas tacky is hard to fathom.

As to Paddock and the room, who cares. They should cement over it and never allow worshipers, conspiracy theorists, or other losers access to it. He should be scrubbed permanently from the site and from history, frankly, because no one cares.

Friday, October 6, 2017

What Happens In Vegas Should Never Have Happened (Part II)

Paddock Chased Gambling Payouts & Perks:

LAS VEGAS — The video poker machines that Stephen Paddock liked were the ones that did not draw attention. They had few look-at-me flashing lights or listen-to-me bells.
He would sit in front of them for hours, often wagering more than $100 a hand. The way he played — instinctually, decisively, calculatingly, silently, with little movement beyond his shifting eyes and nimble fingers — meant he could play several hundred hands an hour. Casino hosts knew him well.
Mr. Paddock was not widely known among the city’s serious gamblers, operating at a level below the highest rollers. He was not a whale, the term used for the biggest gamblers. But placing bets of $100 or more in video poker, “this guy was gambling high,” said Anthony Curtis, a former professional gambler and currently the owner and publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, a website covering the casino business.
Let me pause by saying: this may be one of the dumbest articles about gambling I've ever read. The reporters keep calling the casino "The Mandalay Bay" (Mandalay Bay itself does not use "the" in its title). And the notion that video poker is somehow on par with regular poker or any kind of serious table game gambling in Vegas is falsely purported.
Video poker receives less attention than poker at the tables, which has garnered fame and riches for those who compete in tournaments such as the World Series of Poker. Video poker shares some of the same parameters — players looking for winning combinations of cards, from pairs and full houses to straights and flushes. But it is a vastly different game.
“Video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling,” Mr. Curtis said.
There are no opponents. There is no bluffing or worrying about competitors’ hands. Generally, five cards are drawn from a refreshed 52-card virtual deck — instantly on the video screen — and players decide which ones to “hold,” or keep, and which ones to exchange for new cards. Players calculate the possibilities remaining in the 47 other cards.
A pair of jacks or better might earn the bet back, a “wash” for the player. A royal flush might pay 400 times the bet — perhaps a $50,000 payout on a $125 wager.
For experts like Mr. Paddock, who had played the game for 25 years, his brother said, each hand required only a few seconds of time. Ten hands could be played in a minute. The computer kept track of the financial tally.
It is a game of coldly calculated probabilities, played without hunches or emotion.
“Gut feel has nothing to do with it,” said Bob Dancer, a professional video poker player in Las Vegas who has written 10 books on the subject. “If I have a feeling that says, ‘I’m going for another heart,’ then I will lie down until the feeling goes away.”
You should lie down and stop writing books pretending anyone can be a "professional video poker player" because there is no such thing. Anyone who knows anything about gambling, particularly in the world of poker, will tell you video poker is the loser version of real table poker, involving absolutely no strategy, thinking, or skill set whatsoever. Doofus was even one of these people who followed others around the machines, so when they cashed out, he jumped on the machine thinking the big payout would be next (this is a mythology as old and dumb as the hills). And in the gambling world, people who wager high amounts on video poker (such as this dope Paddock) are known as complete idiots.

Even funnier in the article is Paddock's brother asserting that he might be losing constantly on video poker, but his "genius" was in the way he used the comps and other freebies extended his way to actually make him come out ahead. 

Again, that ain't the way things work in Vegas. It would be nice if the NYT and other media outlets would do their homework on issues such as gambling, and more importantly, stop trying to portray this idiot as some "genius" gambler who pulled off a "stunning attack." You don't have to be that smart, that ingenious, or that cunning to do what the old cuck did. 

Which gets us to this next article, on how so many "experts" are "stumped" in figuring out what Paddock's "motive" might have been.
In the four days since Stephen Paddock’s attack in Las Vegas — a shooting rampage that left 58 dead and hundreds seriously wounded — what drove him has remained a mystery, vexing the public and putting enormous pressure on federal and local investigators to find answers.
No grandiose manifesto has been found. No account of Mr. Paddock behaving dangerously or holding extremist views has emerged from neighbors or relatives. Unlike past killers, Mr. Paddock did not dial up the police to explain his actions.
Despite the huge scale of the attack, why Mr. Paddock carried it out remained a huge and haunting question mark, said Steven B. Wolfson, the district attorney in Clark County, Nev., where the killings occurred. He estimated that in “99 percent of the cases,” the perpetrator of a drastic killing offers some kind of justification, however twisted.
“Most of the time, you don’t defend it, you don’t accept it, but you hear the why,” Mr. Wolfson said in an interview on Thursday.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I can’t remember another homicide — and then you multiply what I’m about to say by 58 — where you don’t know why.”
Odd. I've been studying homicide a long time too, and I can remember many, many cases where "why" was and is never answered. 
Mr. Paddock would appear, in several respects, to be an unlikely perpetrator: An affluent man in his seventh decade, Mr. Paddock was both older and wealthier than the typical mass murderer, who is usually a young and isolated white man, often with a history of violence or mental problems.
Mr. Paddock’s father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a veteran criminal who was placed on the F.B.I.’s most wanted list, which described him as “diagnosed as psychopathic.”
But his brother Eric Paddock said his sibling was not a politically motivated person and had no apparent financial problems. He said he recognized Stephen Paddock’s methodical personality in the planning of the attack, but nothing else.
“He was able to plan this, to do this,” Eric Paddock said. “That is the person Steve was.”
Yeah, like the "genius gambler" he described his brother as in the other article. Frankly, these Paddock brothers come across more as Dumb and Dumber than anything else.

Lost in all the head scratching, chin rubbing, and navel gazing regarding motive is something I mentioned in my post the other day. Sometimes the motive is crystal clear and so simplistically horrifying, we don't want to acknowledge it because it forces us into the gritty political debates over guns, privacy, mental illness, and the like. 

But I'll proffer the same explanation now that I did the other day: dude did it because he COULD. Because we've made it that easy in our society to stockpile guns and ammo, go out in virtually every public space possible while packing via open carry laws, and pull the trigger. Because every time one of these massacres happen, we make it even EASIER to buy more guns and more ammo. That's it. It's not rocket science.

So don't worry about motive, but rest assured (or nervously) there will be more massacres, larger and larger and larger. It's like these "every 100 years storms" we keep having like every other year. "The biggest mass shooting in U.S. history" will quickly be topped by the next one, and the one after that, and the following one, ad naseum.

Lather, rinse, repeat. And bleed to death, eventually.

UPDATE: Wanna see what all this obsession with guns looks like via its death toll? Click here.

UPDATE II: Another hagiographic "appreciation" of the gunman Paddock, calling him everything from a "genius" to "working at a higher level mentally than most people I run into in gambling."

LOL. No one operating with an IQ above 70 regularly plays video poker, yet this "analytical, smart guy" did and is portrayed in the media (even by our current president, who called him "sick, but probably smart") as an evil genius/enigma.

Stupid is as stupid does. And his brothers are only chirping about his attributes, and trying to portray his as a nice guy who "snapped," as a first line of defense in the tidal wave of civil lawsuits heading their way.

UPDATE III: An honest opinion about what can be done re all the gun violence. Rather than dancing around the margins of the issue, the author Bret Stephens says what almost no one dares to say: repeal the Second Amendment. Just as we did away with the 18th via the 21st back in the day, move to repeal the 2nd in its entirety.

Ballsy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What Happens in Vegas Should Never Have Happened

Gun Lobby Down To Its Last Unconvincing Excuse:

As of this writing, the death toll in Las Vegas is 59, with over 527 injured, making it easily the deadliest gun massacre in modern U.S. history. (Characteristically, there have been some deadlier ones in the distant past, including in St. Louis in 1917 and Colfax, Louisiana, in 1873, but they're often left out of coverage because the victims were all black.)


According to some sources, this is the 338th mass shooting in 273 days of 2017, meaning America is now a place where at least once a day, someone shoots four or more people. After incidents like this, electing Donald Trump looks like a relatively minor symptom of our clearly worsening national insanity.
This latest window into our blood-sick culture may mark the end of an era. Las Vegas should push the gun lobby down to its last excuse, when it comes to justifying the marketing of military-grade weapons.
It should be noted that the old cuck, Stephen Paddock, methodically went about packing 23 assault rifles to take to his room at Mandalay Bay, and had another 24 stored at home (one assumes he just plain-ass couldn't get all the damn things in one carload) for a grand total of 47 assault rifles and other guns. Forty-seven, and yet none of that kind of hoarding got the attention of the ATF, let alone an invitation on "Hoarders."

BTW, people are blaming Mandalay Bay for this, but that's absurd. You check in and put a "do not disturb" sign on your door,  and staff won't enter there until you check out. Casino security is concerned with one thing and one thing only: preventing theft. Mass shootings aren't even on their radar. 
Before he mowed down concertgoers from a perch high in a hotel tower, Stephen C. Paddock created a ring of surveillance around him, with video cameras in his suite and in the hallway, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday. But investigators were still at a loss to offer a motive for the massacre.
The cameras — apparently intended to warn of approaching threats — along with the 23 guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and other equipment found in the gunman’s hotel suite, suggested a thought-out plan to have plenty of time to wreak carnage while holding the police at bay.
The police have found a total of 47 firearms in his two houses and his hotel suite. Jill A. Snyder, the special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that almost all had been traced, and that they had been bought in Nevada, Utah, California and Texas.
Another funny aside: I love how the media insinuates, because he didn't leave behind a trail of online "manifestos" or other digital footprints, that somehow he "snapped." And that there is "no clear motive" as of yet.

Jesus. Two things: one, a guy who methodically carried out this act of terrorism to this level of detail, with hidden surveillance cameras and altered guns on tripods, etc., sure as hell didn't "snap."

And two, the motive is crystal clear: BECAUSE HE COULD.
Gun stocks always bounce in advance of surges in gun sales, which are driven by fears in prepper country of hardcore gun control legislation that, of course, never actually comes.
Such fears similarly always inspire periods of intense fundraising for pro-gun politicians and groups like the NRA. After the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children, for instance, donations for the NRA went up 350 percent over the previous year. We'll surely see a similar surge after Las Vegas.
Of course. Because only in America is a mass shooting of innocent people (or school children) used as evidence that clearly we need more guns.
Las Vegas is going to provide a major rhetorical challenge on that front. After all, the gun lobby's consistent response has been to argue that such killings would be avoided, or at least reduced, if more people were armed.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," NRA chief Wayne LaPierre infamously said after Newtown.
But the shooter in Las Vegas, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was on the 32nd floor of a casino building, a quarter-mile away from the bulk of his victims down in a concert venue on the ground. Unless the NRA plans on advocating for carry licenses for F-16s or surface-to-surface missile systems, it's hard to see how the "good guy with a gun" argument is going to fly this time.
Great writing, but please don't encourage an open-carry license for surface-to-surface missiles. The crazies and other preppers might actually try and go there.
When the industry isn't letting its guard down and marketing AR-15s to morons gearing up for the coming zombie apocalypse (this is a real thing in the gun sales world), this is the narrative gun manufacturers use to sell to ardent collectors.
Just like cigarette companies told smokers they were hunky Marlboro Men, gun manufacturers sell a thrilling image to gun owners, telling them they're bulwarks against new-world-order tyranny. The NRA even once ran an ad using Tianamen Square images. Gun activists have even been sued for using stills from schlock resistance movies like The Patriot and Braveheart.
And why not? Absent some incipient end-of-democracy apocalypse scenario, assault weapons collectors would just be a bunch of yahoos wasting their disposable incomes on products that, like the Dinty Moore beef stew cans gathering dust in their bunkers, will never be used. Unless you're collecting all those guns for a reason, it's just weird.
Or, gasp, you're planning an act of terrorism. 
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, rebuffed questions about potential legislative action during his regular news conference Tuesday afternoon, saying that the massacre was being politicized.
“Look, the investigation’s not even been completed,” Mr. McConnell said. “And I think it’s premature to be discussing legislative solutions, if there are any.”
LOL. Guns are political. You can't "politicize" something that's already political.

I can bet you this, however: if Paddock had been a guy named Al-Hamid, and was yelling "allahu akbar" as he mowed down 60 people, we'd be at Defcon 1 right now, invading several countries. But because it was some dumb, old, white geezer, clearly he was a "lone wolf"  who we need to take our time with to understand.

In fact, he's been described as a multi-millionaire real estate investor. I wonder if Trump will issue a "total and complete ban on multi-millionaire real estate investors until we can figure out what the hell is going on."

Sadly, Taibbi is right in his conclusions. This is about money and nothing else. And 60 dead concert goers, or 50 dead club attendees, or 20 dead first graders wiped out at their desks, or 10 people going to church, or a mass shooting every day...well, that's just the "price of freedom," right?

Ain't that America.

UPDATE: This NYT multi-media feature shows how old dude carried out the attacks from his suite with several pictures posted together.

Funny, they show his dead dumbass from the waist down, but won't show you any pictures of the MF with his head blown off. Frankly, we should all see that. We've seen bleeding and bloodied victims the past 72 hours non-stop. Showing the old cuck who carried out this attack, with his brains splattered on the floor and ceiling, might actually serve as a form of deterrent.