Currently viewing the tag: "freelance"

waco_fireIn honor of this jam-packed day in American history — and in case you ever assume that yes, finally we all get it that Waco was horrific — please check out some of the depressing stuff I’ve written in the past few years about April 19.

More people, including liberals overly terrified of cults and militias, do kind of get it now. More than they did at the time, certainly. But a former fed who was there for the siege is still the official law enforcement go-to guy on MSNBC. And CNN appears to believe that the entire incident was sad because it made federal agents cry.

If I were feeling particularly daring, I might suggest that you read Timothy McVeigh’s “Essay on Hypocrisy.”

Terrorists are horrible, but they are often correct when they compare their actions to state actions. They see through some of the bullshit which excuses violence if it’s done by a state, or at least the proper type of seemingly well-intentioned state. Unfortunately, terrorists obviously manage to destroy their moral high ground by being violent assholes who kill innocent people en masse.  Still, reading the words of terrorists will help us understand them. No matter how much the Rudy Giulianis of the world try to pretend it, explaining violence is not the same thing as excusing it. So, McVeigh did a monstrous thing. If you know my work at all, you don’t need me to say that. That doesn’t mean he didn’t express one or two disturbingly pointed things worth paying attention to.

So read these, watch Waco: The Rules of Engagement, and realize that yes, there are paranoid, irrational people in the world who believe crazy things. And sometimes those crazy things at least seem to be confirmed by real world events. I blame the government for conspiracy theories as much as I blame people’s inability to grasp what is proven, and what is most likely.

(And hey, you know about Waco. Do you know about MOVE?)

(And government, I am researching this for a fictional purpose as well. I swear.)

We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

Oh, hey, look at me over at The Daily Beast!

In which I try to talk to people who are overly focused on private prisons, but have the right idea of “something is wrong with the American prisons system.” There is a libertarian kicker at the end.

In the last few years, as a surprisingly bipartisan backlash against American over-criminalization has grown, many justice reformers have noticed, and rightfully critiqued, private prisons. The stalwart American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is uncomfortable  with the idea of profiteering from mass incarceration and notes that the industry’s bread and butter is putting and keeping people behind bars. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and some Catholic dioceses, are starting to come out in opposition to the multibillion-dollar private prison industry. Liberal outlets like Think Progress and Alternet publish fearful exposes about these powerful, amoral corporations.

And they have good points, these upset people. They note how private prisonsheld 128,195 people back in December 2010. That’s only about 5.5 percent of the total population behind bars (including county jails); but that number shot up 37 percent between 2002 and 2009. Critics point to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison corporation, which employs eight lobbyists and have waged multimillion-dollar efforts to influence laws and politics.

The rest here

  • snowproblemVice stuff I’ve written.
  • Antiwar stuff I’ve written.
  • Bourbon and Bitches is back, and even has a website!
  • I had a glorious, knock-down, drag-out argument about the police and the war on drugs on Saturday Night Cigar Lounge on Vigilant Liberty radio. I was a bit of an asshole in spots, but we were all friends at the end of it and off air.
  • Important hotness-based lists I’ve been placed on for troll purposes. There is no link.
  • Snow is happening. I like it, but my job is to sit on my butt and type anyway.
  • I am jealous I haven’t seen any yetis yet, though. Lucky Boston.
  • The Yeti is a vegan, and “wants to see people smile” so don’t worry about it.
  • Michael C. Moynihan visited the North Korean border with VICE news!
  • The Independents is no more, but Kennedy has a new show, and we live in a world in which Cosmo interviews her, so that’s not all bad.
  • Obviously I have major problems with Jezebel, and sometimes with Lindy West in particular, but I enjoyed her This American Life segment on talking to her meanest troll. Humans are humans! Just imagine!
  • WaPost on an 88-year-old Mississippi doctor who visits patients who need him, and the forces of bureaucracy trying to shut him down.
  • The New Republic writer speaks truth, not freaking out about gender fluid kids would be awesome. We could even all agree on that if we wanted to.
  • It’s School Choice Week, so Jim Epstein can help you learn stuff about schools in Camden, NJ.
  • I believe this story.
  • Today in America: 1) Let’s build a big wall, 2) SWAT teams sent to break up gambling, 3) Todd Starnes is still at large, 4) Our allies still believe in 1000 lashes for blogging.
  • I hope the ghost of Cameron Todd Willingham continues to haunt Rick Perry, even though he’s no longer governor.
  • New band name. Or novel title. Something.
  • People will literally complain about anything — even David Tennant’s hot, hot accent in Broadchurch.

Today’s video:

I love The Stanley Brothers so much that I literally — as the kids say — can’t even when there’s the occasional footage of them playing.

Today’s song:

George Jones is going to burn down all your favored socializing spots.

  • bwi2ygrlc4ycuehzeek2Oh, here are some things I have written lately, like “Advocating For the Next War Means Forgetting History” for Antiwar. Also, my VICE piece — most successful ever, yes I watch the shiny clicks happens — on cops shooting people holding (non-firearm) weapons. Also, my new VICE piece — not nearly so successful — on the idea of feds fixing local cops. 
  • Hey, Dad‘s Dogging Steinbeck was reviewed in The Daily Caller! Best of all, reviewed by a creative nonfiction writer who uncomfortably concluded that Dad had a point with his Steinbeck annoyance. (Thanks, Jordan Bloom, for finding a worthy reviewer!)
  • Allah Pundit linked to me, other less important people, while musing on Rand Paul’s interventionism levels.
  • And hey, I ranted about the police on Saturday Night Cigar Lounge over at Vigilant Liberty Radio. (My segment starts at 33’45).
  • Here’s Pat Buchanan on ISIS, the why and the what to do
  • Headlines from the start of World War II (no offense, Manchuria).
  • Matt Welch gives Rand Paul credit on criminal justice reform — something he deserves, no matter what else happens.
  • Reminder that Jeff Mizanskey is serving life in prison without parole for marijuana-related crimes. This, unclever liberals and conservatives who say libertarians are just Republicans who want to smoke pot, is why we hate you when you say that.
  • Policy Mic writer confused that the decreasing threat of new gun regulations has lead to fewer sales of “assault” rifles. How is that surprising?
  • WTF, DHS
  • Oldie, but goodie: Cathy Young is reasonable and non-panicked in respect to the issue of online harassment. Violent threats are disturbing and should not be excused as just trolling, HOWEVER, if you read Jezebel, similar, you will see unqualified statements about the life of being a woman online being one of endless harassment. Knock on wood, but that has not ever been the case for me. Nor are these handful of disturbing stories acceptable proof that this problem is as widepsread as people are making it out to be. Again, people being told they will be raped and murder, not okay. Thankfully, it might be rarer than it seems.
  • This piece mentions the word “taxi” once — “What happens when the local taxi companies are destroyed[?]” Well, people in Pittsburgh might be able to get a ride somewhere, for one. Critique Uber all you like, but if you want me to take you remotely seriously, don’t use “hyper-capitalism” and try to have the slightest idea what you’re talking about in terms of transportation regulations. 
  • Also today in nope: Nope, Melissa Harris-Perry. Rand Paul deserves more criminal justice points than Obama. Sorry.
  • Nope, Taylor Swift is not obligated to do anything, or sing about anything. The world is always going to shit, which is exactly the reason some people like stupid songs about “haters.”
  • And nope, the ice bucket challenge isn’t bad because…uh…people in other countries are suffering. I don’t even know.
  • Here is a Guardian sentence: “If you see yourself as a left-leaning progressive parent, you might want to exercise some of that oppressive parental control and limit your kids exposure to the “freedom” expressed in YA dystopian fiction.” I see you reaching feebly for self-awareness, but it’s too late. Yes, stop the children from reading The Hunger Games. Katnis is such a horrible model for children, with her self-sacrifice, bravery, and desire to live without government oppressing her. Damn those books for suggesting that war is horrible — even wars of liberation — and may leave you with PTSD and a worse, or equally bad government. Ugh. I might need to write more on this topic, for the troll is strong.
  • I find Jerry Springer singing about Cincinnati sort of entrancing, yet disturbing. (H/T: Jesse Walker)
  • Empire Records is not a very good movie, and yet 1) I read this entire piece, 2) When my sister’s friend from Canada was visiting, the two of them watched the movie 2.75 times, and I watched it three times, and each time I was totally too young to know what was going on. 3) At least it’s not Reality Bites, because God damn that movie is the worst.
  • These are the vaccines you’re looking for.
  • Why Doctor Who gets us right in the gut.

Videos of the day:

John Doe and the Sadies cover Johnny Cash

Sam Quinn, whose music is so good, and so not very available to share with the people, does a version of “Peggy-O.” I wish I could share his live version of the Juicy Fruit jingle. It is truly inspired.

Rollerblade_444692_1510740Last fall, VICE published a piece by Brian Aitken, a man who had recently moved to New Jersey, where he narrowly escaped seven years in prison for possession of guns that were legal in his previous home of Colorado but banned in the Garden State. Only after an executive order from Governor Chris Christie commuted his sentence was Aitken set free—if being stuck with a lingering felony charge can be called freedom.

Disagree about gun laws all you like, but New Jersey is pretty nuts about theirs. It’s less about Second Amendment specifics, or ideologies (unless yours involves more people crammed into US prisons), and more about making criminals appear out of thin air. It doesn’t sound so terrible when you read that New Jersey doesn’t recognize Pennsylvania concealed carry permits, for example—unless you happen to have someone passing through and unaware of the nuts and bolts of interstate laws. Last October, a Philadelphia mother of two was pulled over for an unsafe lane change. Shaneen Allen, 27, told the officer that she had a handgun and bullets in her vehicle, and then showed the cop her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit. Bad idea. Now Allen, who had been robbed more than once—which was her motivation for buying the gun in the first place, along with protecting her two kids—is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and faces three years in prison.

Lately, there’s been a great deal of positive push-back against federal drug mandatory minimums, but not much resistance to firearm minimums that punish people for selling drugs and owning a gun—even if it was legal in another jurisdiction, and even if it was never displayed.Guns may be a politically loaded (pardon the God-awful pun) object, but owning one is not the same as committing violence. These kind of laws should be filed away with low-level drug prohibitions as unjust restrictions on consensual activity.

The rest here