Words and deeds

28% of Republicans, but only 11% of Democrats and Independents, say that violence against the government is sometimes justified. I wonder who told them that?

CBS News Poll:

28% of Republicans, but only 11% of Democrats and Independents, think that violence against the government is sometimes justified. But of course Republican politicians’ rhetoric has nothing to do with that, and pointing out that violent words sometimes lead to violent deeds is a “blood libel.”

Footnote Yeah, yeah, Lockean right of revolution, French resistance, blah blah blah. “The government” here means the American government. We’re still a republic, last time I checked. Believing that violence against American officials is “sometimes justified” ought to be beyond the pale. But it’s not beyond the Palin.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

60 thoughts on “Words and deeds”

  1. If I was given that poll, I probably would have answered yes. Because the question didn't specify the current US government, when it could have. Also, because sometimes government agencies do things that justify violent reactions. Our perception of how often this happens is skewed by the fact that with hundreds of millions of people in the US, crazy things happen all the time, and things which reify people's ideologies get reported more often than things which don't.

    But if someone breaks into my house and starts shooting people, I think I have a right to violent resistance, even if it turns out that the person in question had a no-knock warrant, and thought he saw a gun.

    (For record, I tend to vote for Democrats, and I haven't been living in the US for a while.)

  2. I don't know how you define "republic," but is a nation a republic if its president is not subject to the law and if its president may imprison, torture, and kill anyone he wishes without due process?

    I do not mean to endorse violence against the government, except perhaps to free people who are being imprisoned or tortured without due process.

  3. "Is violent action against the government ever justified?"

    "Footnote Yeah, yeah, Lockean right of revolution, French resistance, blah blah blah. “The government” here means the American government."

    You figure that brief question above could never, ever, be reasonably interpreted as meaning government in general, or under any conceivable circumstances, rather than our government, at this precise moment? And yet you go all post-modern when it comes to the meaning of constitutional clauses far more weighted down with carefully chosen qualifiers? Your devotion to the ambiguity of language is a bit selective, isn't it…

    Of course violent action against the government is sometimes justified. It's been justified against THIS government, in the past, it may well be justified against it again in the future, and I dare say there's never been a moment during my life when it wasn't justified against some government, somewhere.

  4. Anyway, Mark, are you ever going to get around to admitting that the '94 'assault weapon' ban wouldn't have prevented this clown from getting his gun and magazine, or one functionally indistinguishable? That it was only a ban on the sale of newly manufactured articles, and such magazines were widely available during that whole 10 years?

    Aren't 'reality based' bloggers supposed to admit it when they post something that's not, you know, reality based?

  5. Brett, you're an engineer. Mark presented and interpreted data. You responded with a hermeneutic exercise. The data says that Republicans either: 1) tend to interpret the question differently than others or 2) tend more than others to be insurrectionists. There might be a third interpretation; I can't think of it, however. There is no point in interpreting the true meaning of the question–that is not the topic of this thread. So let's interpret the data.

    Are you going to argue for #1? I suppose you could argue that Republicans–being notorious urbane sophisticates–know more about Lockean right of revolution and French resistance than the ignorant Democrats. This is logically coherent, although most of the readership of this blog might thinks it is a bit fact-impaired. Do you have any other interpretations?

    Or are you just arguing that the question is vague? We all know this, and it is not particularly interesting. It is the differential response to this question that Mark commented on.

    Your second post is pure trollery. The gun thread was yesterday's.

  6. It's probably not unreasonable to assume that when polling Americans about government that you're talking about the American government — whether it's the current form or any form in the abstract. We're not exactly famous for a zealous international consciousness.

  7. How many times has this poll been done (with the same sampling methods)? It would be of great interest to have the data from four or six years ago, when a different party was in power.

  8. Maybe the interesting question is at what point would it be justified, and why. I suppose my response would be when there is a moral imperative *and* it has a reasonable chance of doing more good than harm. If we are talking vaguely about "the government", then I assume we're talking about armed revolution. In which case I think we're getting into some really crazy counter-factuals that are almost impossible to imagine in a serious way. We are so far from that state here in America that the question almost seems preposterous.

    Although, tellingly, I think many on the right are so paranoid and confused that the idea seems reasonable. I mean, we might have an individual mandate – they're coming for our guns! I've heard this crap from people who don't even like guns, yet enjoy Glenn Beck. I would expect this from an immature teenager, not adults.

  9. For the record, Thomas, I was responding to some of the earlier posters, not to you. And this is as deep into your cesspool as I care to wade.

  10. Tim, oh, I know. You'd rather be in the cesspool with Mark and the killer down in Tucson. I'm hurt.

    Eli, when you guys on the left clean up the 9/11 truthers movement, let us know. If you'd done that 6 years ago or so, it might have saved six lives. When you let a troubled young man descend into the world of conspiracy theories because you told him there was nothing wrong with believing the most outlandish of them, what did you expect to happen?

  11. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. An old expression we've seen here before. Mark called noted truther Van Jones a "class act" and now works with him at the Center for American Progress. Another noted truther is the killer in Tucson. Was the killer motivated by his truther beleifs? It seems as likely as any other theory? When will Mark learn?

  12. "We’re not exactly famous for a zealous international consciousness."

    And 28% isn't exactly a majority, either. Is it hard to imagine that 28% of Republicans interpreted the question to mean, "Is violence ever justified against ANY government?", or "Are there hypothetical situations under which violence against OUR government could be justified?" With the difference between the parties being how many of their members are something approaching pacifists, rather than an inclination among Democrats towards parochialism.

    I find that easier to believe than the contrary proposition, that over a quarter of Republicans and a tenth of Democrats think we ought to be having a revolution right this moment.

  13. I'm more interested in polls showing that a substantial percentage of Democrats believe the same 9/11 theories that the Tucson killer believed, and that may have motivated these murders. A year ago it was about half of Democrats who believed the 9/11 truther lies. Mark says that no one who reads his blog falls into that half of the party, which strikes me as unlikely. (Does Van Jones not read Mark? I'd think professional courtesy, if not Mark's interesting items, would bring him around every now and again.)

    Why is that we've got a left-wing murderer and Mark wants to keep talking about right-wing extremism?

  14. I'm not inclined to deep philosophical ruminations on a free people's moral right of revolution. I consider the current American government to be fairly oppressive toward some people, some of the time. Alter S. Reiss mentions someone breaking into his house; some of the Big Banks are doing just that, sometimes by mistake, in the course of their foreclosures. Henry mentions some of the arrogation of executive power, none of which Obama has foresworn.

    Mark Kleiman has a tempermental aversion to protest, which, I suppose is one of the things that makes him a moderate, more sympathetic both to authoritarians and to corrupt centrists, than I would be. I think the kind of rhetorical "violence" engaged in on the Right is a form of protest, since it is, mostly, well, rhetorical. Violent fantasies, expressed as opinion, but not to be taken literally. (I'm thinking of Anne Coulter delighting in an image of the N.Y. Times building brought down, or G. Gordon Liddy enthusing over the prospect of shooting a police officer, as well as the eliminationist and/or hysterical rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.) Literal enactments have nothing whatsoever to do with them, and it's a "blood libel" to suggest otherwise.

    There's ample cause for rage in the U.S.A. today. The government has become less democratic, less responsive to the concerns and needs of the average citizen, and is, today, largely a tool of corporate and plutocratic interests. Wages for ordinary people are declining; life expectancy may actually be declining; height is declining — the broad indicators of increasing oppression are there, as are the anecdotes of people in medical bankruptcy, losing their pensions and homes to financial shenanigans, people denied medical treatment, people without a job or prospects because of a stingy monetary and fiscal policy designed to benefit banksters.

    The rage, though, appears mostly on the Right. And, what they are allegedly upset about is often indistinguishable from the ravings of a psychotic: "death panels" and the like. I talked to a young man, recently — an avid hunter — who was convinced that Obama is the most anti-gun, socialist Muslim menance ever to occupy the White House. I pointed out that Obama, as a constitutional scholar, accepts the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as guaranteeing a right to personal possession of firearms, and that Obama's only policy action on guns, was to permit carrying guns in the national forests or parks (I'm not too clear on details, but I understood the gist, I think, and I was clear on the limits of my knowledge with my young friend).

    My point, I guess, is that I see plenty of justification for rage among at least some large numbers of people. Their personal experience may be bad and getting worse, as a result of political decisions in which they have no practical way to participate.

    But, most of the rage and the violent impulses are attached to Reactionary world-views and fantasies. It is not, as we, here, might say, reality-based. It's reality-based in the sense that there's real economic stress and an erosion of democracy and the rule of law. It's not reality-based, in an ideological sense of linking experience to fact-based analysis of the political economy.

    I don't think the incivility of our political discourse, or its dumbness (because there's lots of that, especially in the mainstream media, including the nominally non-partisan Media) is driven by bad taste. I think it is manufactured, by the same people, who have taken over government and are running government and the economy to benefit the very few, but very, very rich.

    I don't see effective democratic opposition. Voting for Obama was an object lesson for me, in the futility of such hopes. I'd like to believe that the political economy will simply fail, as a system, under the burden of grossly inequal income distribution. But, the powers-that-be got through 2008. Reactionary, authoritarian regimes can be very stable, for a long, long time, without much in the way of economic performance for the masses.

    The bottom line for me is that I feel profound ambivalence about violent resistance to the government. I see that the rage is being marshalled on the Right, in support of increasing authoritarianism. I tend to think actual violence — such as that against Gifford — will tend to work in favor of the project building a fascist state. The Left will be intimidated. The Moderates will dumbly play into the good cop, bad cop routine perfected by Obama and the corporate Centrists, in their kabuki dance with the Republican Right, making all the excuses necessary to justify Obama enacting Right-wing policy. I don't see how any of this ends well.

  15. @Thomas

    The fact is that Bush was warned, specifically, about an Al Quaeda plot, and he did nothing. And, then, after the catastrophe, he used the fact of his own failure to act effectively, as an excuse to invade and occupy a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

    How many Americans believe that Iraq had "something" to do with 9/11, simply because Bush invaded and occupied that unfortunate country, in an unprovoked war of aggression?

  16. Poll question: "Is violence against the government ever justified?"

    Justice Joseph Storey (1833) thought so:…

    "§ 1889. The next amendment is 'A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed'.

    "§ 1890. The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time ofanding armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facilee means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

    The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition, after Weber). Politicians, cops, and professors at State universities are people. People do not become more compassionate, more altruistic, more intelligent, better-informed, or more capable (except in their access to the tools of State violence) when they enter the State's employ.

  17. @Bruce Wilder

    I'll go ya one better. The known connections of bin Laden and the Bush constelation/CIA, endless coincidenses surrounding 9/11 and Bush activities, odd ommissions in the investigation and so on gives a lot of reason for suspicion that there was an inside connection with 9/11.

    My big problem with judging is that I don't feel I've come across an unbiased presentaion of facts. Many of the most damning "facts" I've read I suspect are unfounded assertions. The most exotic ideas (such as controled demolition) seem paranoid and unlikely but also unnecessary to an undercover government conspiracy.

    Mostly I would like to believe that no US president or other officers would do such a thing but the Bushies pushed the envelope on too many things, in plain view for me to put anything beneath their lack of scruples. Add to that many of them had stated their motive in that infamous statement about "a Pearl Harbour Moment" needed to give the government the rallying point to drum up the wars they wanted.

    And now I will appologize to Mark et al for taking this bait from our resident trolls. I don't want to derail the coversation and won't respond to defend my position. If my disclaimers aren't good enough then go ahead and denounce me as a raving conspiracy nut. The "Truth" is I have doubts and doubt I will ever know the truth about 9/11.

  18. Mark, I think we have plenty of evidence now, if we didn't have it before, that truthers do in fact read your blog. Care to address your role in this tragedy?

  19. "We’re still a republic, last time I checked"

    If it were not, could that be a time when violence is justified?

    I haven't paid much attention to Palin, but my impression is that she has not used Sharron Angle type language in which violence is taken seriously as an alternative to electoral struggle.

    Thomas: Mark did not reference Tucson in this post. He was making a general point about rhetoric that he could have made weeks ago (had the poll numbers been available).

  20. If armed resistance to a tyrannical government is to succeed, it will need to match the firepower of the enemy at least partway.

    Do people really think that their little Glock pea-shooters will be able to bring down an Apache attack helicopter, if it comes to that?

  21. @Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    I regard the slow progression from the feudal system of "government" by an hereditary nobility of armed bandits (aka knights and warriors), whose "business" and "public policy", both, were extortion and pillage, to the welfare state of the late 20th century, in which the most important functions of the state included promotion of economic devlopment (by public and private investment) and the social provision of insurance, as a good and generally desirable thing.

    In the course of that historical progression, did people become morally better as individuals? I believe, in general, they did. In the time of Elizabeth I, when the precursors of the British Navy consisted largely of private pirate fleets, the landed gentry created as a by-product of the Dissolution of the Monasteries was in its infancy, and religious toleration was an oxymoron, torture onto death was a routine punishment, which doubled as public entertainment. The earliest financiers and central bankers moonlighted in the slave trade. Ricardo did not prevail in his theoretical arguments against the Corn Laws; the argument that clinched repeal of the Corn Laws was the spectacle of a million Irish peasants starving to death, while their noble landlords continued to export wheat. Political conflicts engendered by an investment in human bondage totalling $4 billion and 4 million flesh-and-blood bodies, led to an intensely bloody Civil War in the U.S.; government was wrested from the hands of the slaveowner and made, in principle, the guarantor of equal protection of the laws.

    The slow progression of government from the private preserve of self-enobled brigands into a bureaucratic administrator of National Parks, regulator of the purity of food and drugs, and means to provide Social Security, seems, to me, like a good thing. Professors at state universities may, or may not, be better people than the guys carrying longbows and broadaxes in the army of Henry V, but their activities will generally be more benign. When Timothy McVeigh struck against the tyranny of the Federal government, he blew up peaceful people in a day care center and a Social Security office.

    I have real problems with the Obama Adminstration's single-minded determination to extract rents from the middle-class to fund obscene bankster bonuses. I would listen sympathetically, frankly, to calls to burn down a Bank of America branch. Really, I would. But, that's not what I hear. I hear people, who are outraged about completely benign things: "death panels" in Obamacare. I hear people fantasize about waving guns at Census workers. Or, "joking" about the desirability of a terrorist destroying the N.Y. Times building. I've listened to Glenn Beck spin out a history of the 20th century in which progressives and liberals were responsible for everything from Jim Crow to the Great Depression to the World Wars.

    Neo-feudalism is a real, emergent trend in public policy. It is where we are headed. And, it is where we are headed, in part, because a lot of people, experiencing a perfectly appropriate rage in response to their political and economic circumstances, think the government financing health care is a dire threat to liberty. My Whiggish sense of history finds that "thinking" so utterly incomprehensible as to be akin to the rantings of a schizophrenic: the key characteristic of the Right in the U.S. is exactly detachment from reality.

  22. @ Ed Whitney: "Do people really think that their little Glock pea-shooters will be able to bring down an Apache attack helicopter, if it comes to that?"

    Wonders of the military-industrial complex being what they are, a bunch of people armed with automatic weapons firing bullets can bring down an Apache attack helicopter, if they know how to position themselves and train their fire. The U.S. military relies as heavily as it does on helicopters as offensive weapons, because the Army is prohibited by bureaucratic rule from flying manned fixed-wing aircraft, not because it's a sensible design for combat situations.

    If the U.S. Army and Marines cannot subdue the Afgans within a decade, I honestly don't favor their chances against determined Vermonters. And, the Afgans are not the fools paying taxes to finance the U.S. military's adventures; destroying your own source of recruits and sustenance is not usually a program for strategic success in military affairs.

    If the U.S. is to become an authoritarian state, it will have to be a classic police state. The economics dictate domestic suppression by police terror tactics; armies are only useful in conquest of others. And, there are quite a few individuals and groups in the U.S., who are well-enough armed to scare the beejeebus out of most police forces.

    What I don't see in the U.S. is much willingness among the oppressed to organize concerted action. No Unions; no strikes. No riots mass protests, as in Greece or France. Not even democratic solidarity as in Iceland. The people talking violent resistance are talking about resisting the hateful liberals and socialists (!??)

    The U.S. government is becoming, in Jamie Galbraith's phrase, a predator state, and even the very minor "violence" of mass protest, a good old fashion riot even, might well be an important check and notify the corrupt, corporate centrist elite and their neo-liberal allies of the need for some limit. I don't see it happening, though. Fantasies of some kind of "Red Dawn" civil war to stop a public option in health care are a symptom of the political dysfunction preventing a mass reaction aimed at holding elites accountable.

  23. Wonks, of course he did. And yet he hasn't really addressed it; he's addressed an entirely fictional version of the events, in which a self-identified left-winger, a man avowedly atheistic and so resolutely anti-Christian that he was arrested for anti-Christian graffiti, a man devoted to the left-wing 9/11 Truth conspiracy theory, fanatic about the left-wing movie Zeitgeist from which he appears to have appropriated liberally for his world-view, a man was was vehemently anti-Bush administration and is committed to the conclusion that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal under international law, ended up on the Sarah Palin PAC mailing list. (Not only is there a left-wing Palin supporter, but Palin found him! I tell you, the GOP marketing crew is a really crack team.) If Mark really wanted to address it, he'd address what happened to that left-winger, and why Mark trafficked in theories that gave aid and comfort to the those telling this young man lies, and why Mark never condemned–won't condemn–those lies and those who told the lies that this young man believed. You'd think that there would be some soul-searching. Or, given the evident condition of his conscience, maybe just a bit of silence, out of embarrassment if not shame.

  24. When he was left wing at high school he was a long haired, hippie and pot smoker. When he became 'right wing' in the last year, he became a skin head grmmamr, brainwashed ant-government conspiracy nut with the obigatory fascination with guns and the firing range. Which profile is more dangerous?

  25. Steve, actually, that's not true. He had his "grammar" fascinations for a long time–dating back to high school. He also had his anti-government 9/11 conspiracy dating back to high school. His currency theories also date back to high school. (Zeitgeist came out in 2007, I believe.) His shooting dates back a couple of years. I mean, nice try, but you're just wrong on the facts. He's a left-winger, all the way through. And that's apparently a pretty dangerous profile.

  26. @ Brett

    1) I don't know about Kleiman not responding to your continued complaints about the large-magazine issue, but I did respond in the previous thread, and you never responded to me.

    2) Regarding the reasonable reasons to say yes: sure, they exist. There can be governments whose behavior demand resistance by any means available, and I'm sure some people answered according to such reasoning. The poll was poorly constructed to further an informed debate along the lines that Kleiman is suggesting. That said, it is true that three times as many Republicans as Democrats answered in the affirmative; surely this reflects some difference in outlook. I would propose that there has always (in my memory, i.e. the last few decades) been an enormous amount of energy on the Right devoted to fantasies of armed struggle against tyrannical government. This usually takes the form of foreign tyrannical governments or highly fictionalized tyrannical versions of the US, but at the extreme it does contain elements like the famous Turner Diaries, said to have been an influence on Timothy McVeigh and others. Furthermore, the rhetoric about the US government becoming tyrannical has been growing in the public discussion over the last several years; awareness of such themes would tend to heighten the chances a respondent would answer in the affirmative, even if they have any realistic notion of it being necessary here. Some of this rhetoric has been (often exaggerated versions of) truly appalling and ominous genuine developments: warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention without habeas corpus or meaningful trial; these outcries were mostly on the Left, perhaps because of partisan loyalty on the Right to the Bush administration. But a lot of the noise about American domestic tyranny in the last decade, and the loudest of it, has no similar basis in fact: the small number of people who claim Bush orchestrated 9/11, and far more significantly the apocalyptic messages of mainstream Right-wing leaders such as Ms. Palin ("Death Panels") and Glenn Beck, who is on air at least twenty hours a week.

    That wound up being a lot longer than I wanted but basically what I wanted to say is: there would be a perfectly reasonable way to answer the question "yes", but the fact that far more Republicans than Democrats do so may speak to their state of mind – and in that vein it's likely relevant that a huge part of the message they are hearing tells them that a genuine American domestic tyranny is imminent.

    @ Bruce Wilder

    Wonders of the military-industrial complex being what they are, a bunch of people armed with automatic weapons firing bullets can bring down an Apache attack helicopter, if they know how to position themselves and train their fire.

    Actually, as I recall the Iraqis demonstrated two major developments in anti-aircraft warfare during our invasion: first, it turns out that our stealth aircraft are very good against individual radar emitters, especially those contacting them in something like the horizontal plane, but there's not much you can do about their large flattish surfaces if you radiate from directly below – and a modern cellular network is many thousands of microwave emitters, so all you have to do is set up detectors. Second, and more relevantly, there were news reports during the invasion that squadrons of attack helicopters were suffering severe damage (though I don't recall whether actual crashes resulted) because as they flew to their targets they were flying low over towns and encountering massive amounts of unaimed automatic rifle fire, shot straight up, possibly coordinated by a warning system. I don't know how well those news reports held up to later scrutiny.

  27. "1) I don’t know about Kleiman not responding to your continued complaints about the large-magazine issue, but I did respond in the previous thread, and you never responded to me."

    That's because your 'response',

    "Brett, since you’ve chosen to revisit the issue of large magazines, the reason only newly manufactured large magazines were banned is precisely the sort of “jackbooted thugs of the ATF” rhetoric all you gun fanatics love to spin: any further-reaching effort to diminish the supply of these devices designed with the sole purpose of transforming a handgun with legitimate uses into an instrument of mass slaughter than a ban on newly manufactured ones would have been denounced as confiscation of people’s firearms."

    was scarcely relevant to the point. Mark was wrong about the law, no matter why the law wasn't as obnoxious as he would have liked it to be.

    Really, all your comment did was lower the level of the discourse, ("gun fanatics", "instrument of mass slaughter", and so on.) and if I'd responded I'd have aided you in dragging it down. You didn't have much of a substantive point, after all, and I've already pointed out how silly it is to claim that an inanimate object has the exclusive purpose of doing something virtually nobody does with it.

  28. Thomas, do you suppose that the use of non-standard English is persuasive? If so, why?

  29. Brett,

    Well, no Mark wasn't wrong about the intent of the law – the intent was to reduce the supply of large-capacity magazines. Your argument apparently is that more strenuous methods would be required to achieve this in a reasonable time frame, but then you support neither the intent nor the more strenuous methods. In any case, if we were to consistently ban the sale of newly manufactured large-capacity magazines, supply would eventually dwindle.

    As to my terminology, it was certainly heated, but then nineteen or twenty people were shot in Tucson last weekend, and it appears very likely that at least half of them wouldn't have been shot if Loughner had only been able to fire a dozen bullets before reloading. We had a whole long thread about large-capacity magazines and the only use for these large-capacity magazines other than mass slaughter that was proposed in the thread and that didn't involve scenarios seen only in bad movies was the one you named: more efficient sustained plinking at targets. I acknowledge that there may be a lot of people like you who would resent having to reload more often while plinking for fun, and I acknowledge that the mass slaughter events which these large-capacity magazines facilitate are extremely rare. Nonetheless, I weigh that balance very differently than you do.

    In any case, what are your thoughts on the TEC-9 case? What sort of regulation of guns could you be comfortable with? In a country where flagrantly raving loons like Loughner aren't readily institutionalized or otherwise deprived of their civil rights, are there any impediments to gun sales that you think might help?

  30. I acknowledge that there may be a lot of people like you who would resent having to reload more often while plinking for fun, and I acknowledge that the mass slaughter events which these large-capacity magazines facilitate are extremely rare. Nonetheless, I weigh that balance very differently than you do.

    This is worth exploring. Let's suppose that banning large-capacity magazines would prevent some number of deaths every year. How small would that number have to be to justify inconveniencing plinkers? Would it be 1, .25, .1? How many lives is free plinking worth?

  31. So, we should respond to the failure of the law to target raving loons, by treating everybody as though they were a raving loon? Is that your point? If so, it sucks.

    Fingerprint resistant finishes… Warren, I'm a mechanical engineer, I work frequently in a machine shop. Have you ever handled clean carbon steel, such as firearms are typically made of? By "fingerprints" we're not talking about the essentially invisible residue of skin oils a forensic expert could pull a print off off. We're talking about acids and salts in your perspiration permanently etching your expensive piece of hardware everywhere you touch it. I've got a set of details on my desk, just came in from heat treat, you could tell they've got fingerprints on them with your eyes closed, they're so messed up. Machinists call it having "rusty fingers", and some gun owners have them.

    Yeah, yeah, you figure, suck it up, wear rubber gloves when you touch your gun, or polish it frequently. After all, who are gun owners, to expect products to actually be designed for their convenience?

    Let's see, what else?

    "The gun had a threaded barrel, for the easy installation of silencers; as I understand it, silencers aren’t legal."

    You understand it wrong. They're subject to an absurdly high tax for something designed to preserve your hearing, but they ARE legal. Actually, so are full auto conversions, with the right license. It's rather expensive, but if you can afford the ammo to fire a gun full auto with any frequency, you might not think so.

    It's my experience that the people advocating more gun control are generally ignorant of the precise details of the gun control we already have. You're not contradicting that experience.

  32. Brett,

    I understand the value of a corrosion-resistant finish. But when you're making a firearm with a corrosion-resistant finish, and advertising it as a fingerprint-resistant finish, you're signaling your intentions pretty strongly.

    Basically, the TEC-9 was styled to resemble a military weapon, rather than something easily concealed, useful for simple self-defense, or accurate in target shooting. It was advertised next to ads for kits to convert it to fully automatic firing (without the background check or the special license), the initial version was designed in order to be easily converted, and the manufacturer stocked conversion kits in their own offices. It was advertised as fingerprint-resistant. It had a thread barrel for a silencer; now, they are apparently legal in 38 states, if regulated, and you aren't bothered by them, but it's a subject that critics of the gun seemed to find worth mentioning. All in all, it sounds like a parody of reprehensible gun selling behavior concocted to sully the image of responsible firearms owners and merchants. And yet you leap to their defense.

  33. This thread has obviously gone to hell (and I'm not related to the "Thomas" guy who has been commenting), but this is by far the dumbest thing I've seen on this blog: "Believing that violence against American officials is “sometimes justified” ought to be beyond the pale."

    Come the fuck on, Mark. When the USA invaded Iraq with no valid justification, was it beyond the pale for Iraqis to defend themselves? If a cop attacks me for no valid reason, is it beyond the pale for me to defend myself? I think trying to start a violent revolution would be deeply stupid and counterproductive, but that doesn't mean there aren't a large number of government officials who deserve all manner of violent resistance and retribution.

  34. Thomas, your assertion that anyone on this site ever trafficked in trutherism is bullsh*t. Back it up, retract it, or face a permanent ban.

  35. I think the key word is "ever." To my mind, one's honest answer is yes if one would use force to re-establish constitutional rule after a coup. However, I also think you are right about what responses to the poorly worded poll means. People use existential qualifiers such as "ever" and "always" for emphasis without considering their technical meaning. Hmm I wrote poorly worded so can I do better. I think the question of interest is whether violence is aguably justified right now. That question wasn't asked, because so few would answer yes.

  36. By the way, your footnote leads with its chin. I think you are right, but the upper hand would be on the other foot if someone noted that your paraphrase of the question includes "someTIMEs" and your footnote includes "last TIME I checked." (EMPhasis mine). Sometimes refer to any particular time including the last time you checked.

    I think you should take the time to make sure that "time" doesn't reappear in potentially embarrassing ways another time.

  37. "Basically, the TEC-9 was styled to resemble a military weapon, rather than something easily concealed, useful for simple self-defense, or accurate in target shooting."

    You're arguing with the cosmetics of the gun? The cosmetics? Seriously? You figure somebody buys a gun for target shooting or self defense, it damned well better not look 'cool', too?

    "It was advertised next to ads for kits to convert it to fully automatic firing (without the background check or the special license),"

    You mean, like the "Hellfire trigger" I got on a lark for my Calico? Perfectly legal, because it doesn't actually make your gun in to a machine gun, just helps you press the trigger repeatedly with your finger? I suppose I might find those objectionable, if I thought the laws concerning machine guns were reasonable. Since I think the 2nd amendment is about a right to military arms so that you can put together a properly armed military force from civilians in an emergency, you don't have to guess where I fall on that question.

    " the initial version was designed in order to be easily converted, and the manufacturer stocked conversion kits in their own offices."

    Which is legal, so you're asking the manufacturer to not cater to a legal market.

    "It was advertised as fingerprint-resistant."

    And gun corrosion problems are not typically traced to toe prints, or people licking their guns, so what's the problem here?

    "It had a thread barrel for a silencer; now, they are apparently legal in 38 states, (Yay! You learned something! Let's see if you remember it…) if regulated, and you aren’t bothered by them, (Are you bothered by people wearing ear plugs on noisy factory floors? "Silencers" are intended to protect people's HEARING, despite all the movie myths about how they work.) but it’s a subject that critics of the gun seemed to find worth mentioning."

    The critics don't like the fact that it's a gun. Everything beyond that is just groping for excuses to try to get people less obsessive about firearms than themselves to agree to pass a law against them. Like Josh Sugarman, and his clever idea of labeling ordinary guns 'assault weapons' so that people would confuse them with assault rifles, and think the ban was aimed at machine guns.

    All in all, it sounds like a parody of reprehensible gun selling behavior concocted to sully the image of responsible firearms owners and merchants. And yet you leap to their defense."

    I don't write their advertising copy for them, but I value the 1st amendment as much as the 2nd, and I don't see advertising I think a bit over the top is a good excuse to go after both at the same time.

  38. So yes Thomas, you have made your oppinion abundently clear. The 22 year old schizophrenic who espoused many crazy ideas usually associated with rightwing zellots is in fact a socialist.

    My oppinion is that a 22 year old is a kid. I hold this view because a loooong time ago I was 22 and I remember how immature I and all of my other 22 year old friends were. I also knew a 20something schizophrenic and watched that friend change from a rational person to someone who among other delussions thought he could call Scottie on the Star Ship Enterprise.

    The real question is not what rational political theory this deranged young man ascribed to but what made him fixate on trying to kill Gabrielle Giffords specifically and generally put the thought in his head that packing an assault weapon and shooting a politician was a viable form of political action? I don't know where you've been for the last couple of years but while I've heard lots of people on the left argue about the detestable behavior of all manner of folks on the right the only people I've heard suggesting armed violence is from GOP/Tea Party candidates and their media supporters.

    No doubt someone of a left leaning political persuassion must have said SOMETHING in the last two years that could be interpreted as a suggestion to commit mayhem but to pretend there is anything like an equivilance here is beyond disingenuous.

    Now do I think say, Sarah Palin wanted or expected someone to actually get a gun and shoot the person she so cavalierly pasted a gunsight onto? No I think Sarah Palin is just a thoughtless chucklehead who doesn't think much about the consequences of her actions so long as her outfit matches and her nails look good. But then that prettymuch sums up the right in America. All hell-bent to say what they like so long as they get what they want and damn everybody else. Give 'em those high capacity clips for more convinient "plinking in the back yard" and why should they care about the dozen or so extra victims of the nutjob with a gun?

    But when you follow the money trail it's not Sarah or Glen or Rush or the Tea Party guy packing at a town hall meeting, it's the guys with the money who fund the whole 24/7 Fox News/TP/GOP circus who profit from all this. The people we see spouting all this blood drenched BS are the penny ante playes in this game that is destroying America.

  39. By the way, Bruce, could I have an example, please, of the eliminationist … rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh"? 'Cause, you know, I listen to him occasionally, and can't recall any examples off hand.

  40. @Brett: Preventing rusty finger prints on all the guns in America is not worth one human life.

    The constitution doesn't say one word about a right to bear rust proof arms. I bet all of the muskets at Valley Forge were patinaed with surface rust. Those guys had bigger fish to fry or at least they wised they did.

  41. "Preventing rusty finger prints on all the guns in America is not worth one human life."

    Ah, the "if it saves just one life" argument. I take it you apply that to all areas of life, and advocate requiring people to wear hardhats and padded suits ever waking moment? It would save more than one human life, after all. Mandating safety harnesses in the shower would be helpful, too, those slip and fall accidents are a real killer.

    If you add up all the laws that might save just one human life, you could turn this country into a dystopian nightmare in the name of saving lives. That's why people generally ignore "if it would save just one life" arguments, except when the thing they're advocating, such as further impositions on gun owners, is something they wanted anyway.

  42. Thomas, don't be a dolt. Giffords was not on Kos's hit list, and you know that's a lie as well.

    Your squirming is unseemly.

  43. Writing "the Democrat Party" is non-standard when referring to the Democratic Party. Literate people know that, or at least literate people who are not pretending to be obtuse know it.

    Use of the word Democrat as an adjective typically indicates ignorance or partisan hackery.

  44. I'm shocked – shocked – that some here haven't heard Eliminationist rhetoric from the face (and mouth) of the Party.

    "I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus — living fossils — so we will never forget what these people stood for."

    Several others at Niewert's old site where he worked on this topic before he wrote a book on it. http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2007/03/eliminationi

    Let us also remember that a local district GOP chairman, Anthony Miller, has just resigned from too many death threats by apparent Tea Party members.

  45. Mobius, I don't know how you can deny the plain facts. When your ideological beliefs require you to refuse to look at evidence, perhaps it's time to reconsider yoru beliefs?

    Here's Kos, June of 2008: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/25/1204/7488

    So 2010 is going to be the year we pivot from taking control of our government, to holding out accountable. Like Al Wynn this year, the corrupt, the tone-deaf, and the reactionary within Democratic ranks will face the possibility of primary battles. The infrastructure we're building will be available for those courageous enough to take on the entrenched elite. But when we have candidates that inspire, and can develop the alternate funding sources to finance them, the combined might of the Pelosis and Hoyers won't be enough to effect change. Just ask Donna Edwards.

    So you're angry about the Democratic capitulation? Don't take it out on the party. More House Democrats voted against this abomination than voted for it. The party isn't the problem, it's too many of its elected members that have forgotten who they serve and why. Hint: It's not AT&T lobbyists, it's not Steny Hoyer, and it's not access to their checks.

    You want to do something? If your local congresscritter is one of the bad apples, start organizing locally. Plug into existing networks or start your own. Begin looking for primary challengers. Do the groundwork. Don't expect help from the local party establishment, they'll close ranks. So tap into alternate infrastructures. Find allies in the progressive movement. If your local shitty Democrat is anti-union, approach the unions. They'd love to send this kind of message. If the Democrat is anti-choice, work with the women's groups. If the Democrat is anti-environment … you get the idea. If you have access to professional networks and money, start organizing those.

    Of course, this takes more than just bitching about your frustrations on a blog, damning a whole party for the actions of a minority more scared of Mr. 28% than of protecting the Constitution they swore to protect. This takes hard work. But now is the time to start.

    And while people like me will focus on the task at hand this year, it won't be long after Election Day that we'll start looking at the 2010 map, looking for those great primary challengers.

    Who to primary? Well, I'd argue that we can narrow the target list by looking at those Democrats who sold out the Constitution last week. I've bolded members of the Blue Dogs for added emphasis.


    Yeah, Kos had a "target list", and on that list was Rep Giffords. He had her name bolded, so it's easy to find even for diseased minds. Kos concluded his target listing post by saying "Not all of these people will get or even deserve primaries, but this vote certainly puts a bulls eye on their district." Yikes, not only is he targeting Giffords, he's put a bullseye on her!

    John, my disinclination to use your preferred style doesn't convert my usage into "non-standard English." We have more important things to worry about than your feelings. Like, all the truthers that are in the Democrat party, and whether they're as dangerous as this killer in Tucson.

  46. Thomas,

    my disinclination to use your preferred style doesn’t convert my usage into “non-standard English.”

    What it does is demonstrate willful rudeness on your part. Suppose I addressed you as "Tommy-boy" and you indicated that you disliked that, and really preferred to be called "Thomas," your actual name. Wouldn't it be rude, or even insulting, for me to continue to address you as Tommy-boy despite your repeated protests? I mean, you can act like a jerk if you like, but let's be clear that you're doing so, and on purpose.

  47. Bernard, you're reading a blog that believes that the fact that a left-winger, perhaps motivated by the left-wing conspiracy theories he was an avid consumer of, murdered six people means that the right wing is responsible. Get a little perspective.

  48. “target list”

    Whiffs of desperation, lack of basic English skill or incompetence; one suspects this is the best they can do. All the usual tactics are on display in our country, ramped up even louder and shriller.

    tar·get  /ˈtÉ‘rgɪt/ [tahr-git]


    1. an object, usually marked with concentric circles, to be aimed at in shooting practice or contests.

    2. any object used for this purpose.

    3. anything fired at.

    4. a goal to be reached.

    5. an object of abuse, scorn, derision, etc.; butt.

    6. Fencing . the portion of a fencer's body where a touch can be scored.

    7. a disk-shaped signal, as at a railroad switch, indicating the position of a switch.

    8. Surveying .

    a. the sliding sight on a leveling rod.

    b. any marker on which sights are taken.

    9. a small shield, usually round, carried by a foot soldier; buckler.


    10. that is or may be a target or goal: The target group consisted of college graduates who earned more than $50,000 a year.

    –verb (used with object)

    11. to use, set up, or designate as a target or goal.

    12. to direct toward a target: The new warheads can be targeted with great precision.

    13. to make a target of (an object, person, city, etc.) for attack or bombardment.

    —Verb phrase

    14. target (in) on, to establish or use as a target or goal: The club is targeting on September for the move to larger quarters.


    15. on target,

    a. properly aimed or on the right course toward a target.

    b. accurate, correct, or valid: Their description of the event was on target.

    c. filling or meeting a requirement or expectations: The amount of supplies we took was right on target.

  49. Is MobiusKlein correct? Or is it Thomas?

    But I see where Thomas (who isn't speaking to me anymore) is getting so stuck. The killer in Toucsan's mish mosh of political ideas are not that important. What is relevant is what planted the idea that killing as a political act in this point in time and place.

    Scroll up to my comment to read my oppinion if you didn't catch it on your first read.

    Yes I'm a "truther". It would be good to hear some instead of fast tap dancing around the issue. Until then, as Thomas said there isn't much reason to continue this conversation.

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