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…I super-secret probation double-dog pinky swear.

From Ark. District Arming Teachers, Staff With Guns on ABC (via):

[Assistant Principle of Clarksville High School Cheyne] Dougan is among more than 20 teachers, administrators and other school employees in this town who will carry concealed weapons throughout the school day, making use of a little-known Arkansas law that allows licensed, armed security guards on campus. After undergoing 53 hours of training, Dougan and other teachers at the school will be considered guards.

a) What with my cynical view of human nature and faith in the perversity of the universe and all, arming “20 teachers, administrators and other school employees” sounds to me like lighting fuses of random varying lengths on 20 round cartoon bombs.

Only not so much with the cartoons.

2) Speaking of cartoons, sounds like somebody’s pulling a Jayne Jetson with the school district’s wallet:

Participants in the program are given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster. Hopkins said the district is paying about $50,000 for ammunition and for training by Nighthawk Custom Training Academy, a private training facility in northwest Arkansas.

That’s at least $72,000 bucks initial layout, for those that are counting. Is that $50,000 bucks for the training going to be a yearly incurred expense for recertification?

c) Is it just me, or is the most unsettling thing about the article the fact that the “training academy” is teaching adults to shoot children/view children as potential threats?

“He’s got a gun,” one of them shouted as Dougan approached with his pistol drawn. Inside, he found one student holding another at gunpoint. Dougan aimed and fired three rounds at the gunman.

And by “gunman” the article means “kid”.

I hope the school isn’t manufacturing the threat it’s preparing for.

4) Just FYI, if I’m reading the stats right, Clarksville had 0 murders in 2011. And 2010. And 2009. (The stats do indicate instances of “Violent crime” (22 in 2011) and “Aggravated assault” (14 in 2011) but 36 instances in a year in a population of 9,247 seems…pretty darn low to me.)

What is the broken thing they’re trying to fix? Maybe that needs to be figured out first; might could be that the $72,000 bucks would be more useful elsewheres. Dunno.

From Life in Ohio, a Continuing Series by Jonathan Chait:

The article [from the Circleville Herald] continues listing the various Hitler spawn and their tedious exploits until stumbling to this unbelievable detail:

Dr. Gay Hitler, son of George Washington Hitler, was a local dentist, serving our community from 1922 through 1946 from his office on West Main Street.

What’s amazing about the story is not just the information it contains but the completely deadpan tone. George Washington Hitler was a person! He had a son named Gay Hitler! Who became Doctor Gay Hitler! This was a real person. Doctor. Gay. Hitler. In Ohio. Until — hmmmm — 1946. (The news story was published in 2011, but the statute of limitations on news stories featuring people named “Gay Hitler” is infinite.)

This story also brings the question that lies at the heart of this series — what is the problem with this state? — closer to a resolution, by suggesting a simple theory: Ohio was settled by Hitlers.

A good ruling, IMO.

This gets back to one of my ongoing concerns. Secrecy is constantly in tension with democratic government. The concerns need to be balanced, and I’d prefer they be balanced by the government maintaining essential secrecy while assuming that everything they do will make it out into the open. So, therefore, don’t do horrible things, because it will ultimately get out there! It always does, ultimately. Under this thinking, leakers ought to be treated as irritants in most cases, because they’re just hastening the inevitable.

Of course, the national security state really disagrees with this logic, starting with the president, and it’s become abundantly clear that it’s doing so to such an extent that it’s become a danger to our democracy. I’d be perfectly happy to see it all go, along with the “American global leadership” that is merely a euphemism for hegemonic aspirations of the most stupid, wasteful, valueless kind. The USA managed to survive for nearly two centuries without any of that stuff, and it could do so again. The biggest threat to this status quo is probably transparency along the lines of Manning, Snowden, et al, which has prompted all manner of hyperbolic governmental overreaction not because it’s irrelevant, but because the public recognizes lawless, disturbing behavior well enough when it sees it.

I actually don’t have too much of a problem with picking now-confirmed Republican James Comey to run the FBI, as he’s proven himself to be reasonably principled and not much of a partisan bombthrower. We don’t have to worry about another Louis Freeh situation, wherein Clinton’s FBI Director considered Clinton little more than a common criminal, in other words. But while perusing Comey’s Wikipedia page I came across this:

Politico reported in May 2009 that White House officials pushed for Comey’s inclusion on the short list of names to replace Associate Justice David Souter on the US Supreme Court.[31] Politico later reported liberal activists were upset about the possibility of Comey’s name being included. John Brittain of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law stated, “[Comey] came in with the Bushies. What makes you think he’d be just an inch or two more to the center than Roberts? I’d be greatly disappointed.”

Appointing Republicans to administrative and bureaucratic posts is generally fine with me, so long as they’re not horrible. Obviously this shouldn’t be overdone, as patronage is actually a thing in politics and not necessarily a dishonorable one. I actually don’t feel Obama has done all that poorly in that respect, he’s attempted to put valuable supporters into offices they were suited for, and promoted emerging talent about right (the Anthony Foxx nomination to head the Transportation Department was a terrific one, IMO, as now he’s a national figure rather than a soon-to-be-former mayor of a mid-sized city). So if the President of the United States feels that he wants a Republican to be on the Consumer Product Safety Commission or what have you, that’s basically fine with me.

But considering Comey as Supreme Court material? That’s absolutely nuts. Mr. Brittain is dead on, there’s no reason to give the benefit of the doubt here, as a SCOTUS appointment is lifetime and carries enormous stakes. The standard needs to be almost complete certainty in terms of outlook, Republicans have gotten good at this and Democrats can’t afford not to. Comey would have been on the positive end of what we could expect from a Republican Administration in this department, but from a Democratic Administration, it’s almost insane to think that he was on the “short list” (among how many, one wonders). I suppose the charitable way of looking at this was that putting a Republican under consideration would get some free brownie points, though if that was the case then it really didn’t filter out how they wanted it to, suggesting that it either wasn’t a serious flirtation, or that it was very serious and had to be abandoned.

I’ve written before in defense of Obama’s appointments of Republican realists, on the grounds that Democrats simply do not care that much about foreign affairs, which means that Democrats in the foreign policy staff career path have to conform to the nonpartisan/establishment line to get jobs when Republicans are in charge, which means adopting a hawkish internationalist line. ‘Twas not always like this, plenty of Democrats were realists when realism was the house philosophy of the elite. Now, however, it’s “humanitarian” intervention, so if Obama wants to balance that with the products of the dying GOP realism machine, fine by me. But there’s no real shortage of progressive lawyers and judges, there are institutions (like the ACS) dedicated to promoting and fostering them. The only reason to consider bipartisanship in this area would be to make some kind of gesture of postpartisanship that would almost certainly have been worth less than putting Sotomayor in there. There’s no problem with bipartisanship when there’s little to no difference on the merits, which is not the case here. It’s entirely possible that the ACA would be on the ash heap of history right now if he had.

On a related topic, while possible next President Hillary Clinton has a number of drawbacks that Obama does not have, it’s almost impossible to imagine her picking anyone even remotely suspect on key progressive issues for top posts like this. I guess it comes down to whether you prefer some greater degree of ideologically okay hacks versus the possibility of Justice Comey or Fed Chair Larry Summers.

One thing that’s vexed me for years is the rampant belief in most quarters that TERRORISTS! are some kind of existential threat to apple pie, Toby Keith and our God-given freedumbs.

Take Krispy Kreme majority shareholder Chris Christie for example:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is ripping libertarians — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — for challenging government surveillance programs and failing to understand the dangers of terrorism.

“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” the New Jersey GOP governor said on Thursday at a Republican governors forum in Aspen, Colo…

“These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have,” Christie said.

“The next attack that comes, that kills thousands of Americans as a result, people are going to be looking back on the people having this intellectual debate and wondering whether they put …” Christie said before trailing off.

Said another way: unless we dedicate omgbillions of dollars to shredding the Constitution and surveilling every peep and utterance transmitted in American cyberspace, Mohammed bin Voltron will breach our otherwise impenetrable Freedom Shield and lay waste to our cities with his devastating Jihad Beam.  Rights and privacy be damned in the face of an attack by Lord Voltron.


I’m really curious to know when the Worldwide Terrorist Strike Force Brigade finally attained the super powers that catapulted them into the #1 Most Super-Cereal Threat To America Evarrr…  It must have happened in 2001, because before then the tens of thousands of people killed in terrorist attacks only warranted some boring ol’ international law enforcement cooperation.

All those popping sounds you’ve been hearing recently are Republican eyeballs after looking at current budget deficit projections.

A budget deficit that was more than 10 percent of GDP in 2009 is on track to be about half that this year. “The federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly,” writes Jan Hatzius, the chief economist of Goldman Sachs, in an April 10 report. Goldman estimates that in the first three months of 2013 the deficit was running at 4.5 percent of GDP, and they forecast a deficit of 3 percent of GDP or less in the 2015 fiscal year.


Frankly, the fact that a vote to protect privacy was this close gives me hope. Perhaps I expect too little, but it’s a pretty good sign looking forward I think.

Also, it’s a good time to post a link to this classic post. Self-identified libertarians are the squishiest on actual civil liberties according to a number of measures in that poll, and it’s worth noting that most House Democrats voted against spying today (and, by extension, against their own president), something that it’s extremely hard to imagine ever happening with House Republicans and George Bush. Most Republicans voted to support their hated Obama Administration’s ability for unlimited spying. To be fair, there are some Republicans who give a damn about it, and Justin Amash has my grudging respect for pushing this. But the lay of the land is that Republicans are extremely comfortable letting the government do anything it wants because of, you know, terror, and the basic lesson of the vote is that if you actually care about civil liberties, the Democratic Party and not the GOP should be your home. Which is hardly the same thing as saying that they’re great…

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