URLs du Jour


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For the record, I don't believe the "secretly work for banks" part of our Amazon Product du Jour. The rest is pretty accurate, though.

  • Better than "do something". David French has something specific in mind: Pass and Enforce Red Flag Laws. Now..

    To understand the need for red flag laws, it’s important to back up and understand the different categories of American gun deaths and the tools we have to defeat gun violence. The first category is what one might call common crime. Think of gang violence. Think of domestic violence. The majority of our meaningful gun control laws are aimed at common crime. We prohibit felons from possessing guns. We prevent “straw” purchases (when one person buys for someone who’s legally prohibited from owning a gun). We escalate punishment when criminals use guns to commit crimes.

    But our nation’s gun control laws are much less effective at addressing the next two categories of gun deaths—suicides and mass killings. Enormous numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens die by suicide using guns in this country. These are people who could pass any background check. And forms of gun control aimed at limiting a weapon’s lethality (such as restrictions on magazine size) are irrelevant to the suicide crisis. This is where our nation’s strained mental health system most shows its flaws.

    French makes the best case possible for red flag laws, and even if you disagree you might want to check it out to challenge your priors. But…

  • It wouldn't be a point without a counterpoint. I'm willing to credit French's argument, but red flag laws are among the "common sense" policies about which Jacob Sullum is skeptical: Commonly Touted Policies Are Ill-Suited to Stopping Mass Shooters. Looking specifically at the previous atrocity in Buffalo, located in a state where the gun laws are more stringent than average, right up to (I assume) the Constitutional limit, he notes that neither NY's "assault weapons ban" nor the "universal background check" applied. And…

    On the face of it, it seems more plausible that New York's red flag law could have stopped the Buffalo shooter if only it had been properly applied. After all, he was reported to state police as a high school senior last June because he mentioned murder in a written response to a question about his post-graduation plans.

    The shooter successfully passed that off as a sick joke, and it may yet turn out that a more thorough investigation would have cast doubt on that explanation. But even fellow students who had known him for years apparently did not view him as a threat.

    Predicting violence is much harder than supporters of red flag laws often imply. Psychiatrists are notoriously bad at it, and people who display what might look like "red flags" almost never commit crimes like these.

    False positives and false negatives are high, in other words. I don't think French has any comeback for that other than the lame "if it saves one life…"

  • "Do-Somethingism" is an underutilized word. I promise to use it more. David Harsany applies it: Don’t Surrender To Do-Somethingism On Guns.

    Before we even knew how the killer of 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, had obtained his guns, Chris Murphy was engaging in his customary performative emotionalism on the Senate floor, literally begging Republicans to “compromise.”

    Compromise on what exactly? Murphy has never once offered a single proposal that would have deterred any of these mass shooters. Literally minutes after his routine, Murphy was asked about the obvious mental illness prevalent among most of these shooters. “Spare me the bullsh-t about mental illness,” the Connecticut senator responded, “ripping” the GOP. “We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world.” That’s how serious he is about compromise.

    In case you're wondering about the one-letter-elided word in the quote: it's "bullshit".

    Apparently Beto O'Rourke is fully in thrall to do-somethingism: O’Rourke confronts [Texas Governor] Abbott in Uvalde: ‘It’s on you until you choose to do something’. No word on his current position on 'Hell yes we’re going to take your AR-15'

  • The DGB isn't dead, it's just hoping you'll get distracted. George F. Will isn't letting his guard down: Watch for a return of the ignominious Disinformation Governance Board.

    The Department of Homeland Security’s announced “pause” of its Disinformation Governance Board, 21 days after creating it as a “national security” measure, probably is itself disinformation. DHS realizes that its 10-thumbed debut of this boneheaded idea almost doomed it, so the “pause” feigns deliberation while the department plots the DGB’s resurrection.

    Government pratfalls such as the DGB are doubly useful, as reminders of government’s embrace of even preposterous ideas if they will expand its power, and as occasions for progressives to demonstrate that there is no government expansion they will not embrace. Progressives noted approvingly that DHS was putting a disinformation “expert” — a “scholar” — in charge, so science would be applied, including the “science” of sorting disinformation from real information.

    Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s short-lived choice as DGB executive director was Nina Jankowicz. Before becoming, for three weeks, head of the “nonpartisan” (so said the president’s press secretary) disinformation board, Jankowicz had a colorful career chastising “Republicans and other disinformers.” The contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop? “A Trump campaign product,” she decreed. Her certitudes are many.

    That very last link goes to Glenn Greenwald's substack. Would not have expected that from GFW.

    He also goes (amusingly) on to speculate on how the DGB would rule on Biden's numerous lies. In case you forgot.

  • Speaking of disinformation… Jeff Jacoby points out a recent example: Georgia voters expose the 'Jim Crow' smear as a lie.

    When Republican legislators in Georgia last year passed S.B. 202, a law overhauling the state’s election procedures, Governor Brian Kemp made a prediction: “This new law,” he said as he signed the bill, “will expand voting access in the Peach State.”

    He was right.

    Turnout in Georgia’s primary election this month set new records, with more than 857,000 ballots cast during the three-week early voting period that ended on Friday. That was not only three times the number of early votes recorded in 2018, as The Washington Post noted, but higher even than the tally during the 2020 presidential election. Pointing with pride to the impressive results, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the election law adopted last year was “coming through with straight A’s.”

    According to liberals and Democrats — who repeatedly and angrily described the Georgia law as a bigoted, antidemocratic obscenity — none of this was supposed to happen.

    Jacoby names and shames the liars. Including Joe Biden, of course.

Last Modified 2024-01-17 3:40 PM EDT