Are We Safer Now?

I’ve been studiously avoiding writing about the Aurora Massacre, because it’s unfolded so predictably I can’t find a remotely funny angle to it.  Joking about such a tired subject is both tasteless and about as original as Henny Youngman.  Of course the NRA-addled right is going to say that the only answer is more guns, to which the locals respond by buying more of them, and Democrats will cower in the corner, whipped as usual into abject submission.  On to the next slaughter, with further loosened gun laws.

But then I came across this, and my heart leapt: (courtesy KEYE TV in Austin, Texas)

Man Drops Gun in Dallas Wal-Mart; 3 Hurt

A man and three bystanders have been slightly hurt when his gun accidentally fired at a Walmart store in Dallas.

According to police, a man was reaching into his pocket to get to his wallet when the gun he was carrying in his pants holster dropped to the ground and went off accidentally.

Police say the suspect has a license to carry a concealed weapon.

Police say the man was grazed by the bullet in the back of his leg and two shoppers at the store were also injured, possibly by pieces of debris.

A woman and a young child in the Dallas store were treated at the scene for minor injuries but they were not taken to the hospital.

Police say the suspect made two bad decisions.  He left the store and when an off-duty officer approached him, he ran.  He was arrested a short time later.

The suspect is charged with injury to a child and evading arrest.

Thank God for Governor Rick Perry, who has not only legalized (not to mention been a stellar role model for) stupidity in Texas, he has evidently made it mandatory.  Funnier yet, guys like this waddling among us are supposed to make us all safer against crazed lunatics with AR-15′s at the movies, grocery stores and whatnot, if you listen to cuckoos like Louie Gohmert or Russell Pearce tell it.

Really?   Somebody who can’t wrestle his wallet out of from under the folds of his beer gut without accidentally sending a bullet ricocheting all over a crummy store in the process?  That’s my “well-regulated militia,” running from the cops after shooting himself in the pants?

The fantasy about the wonders of an “armed citizenry” protecting us from all evil is entirely dependent on a bunch of addlepated gun nuts turning out, in a crisis, to being a cross between Rambo and James Bond.  The reality is now playing at a WalMart near you.



  1. Bill Schee says:

    Had he blown his nuts off, we would have been spared his progeny.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It’s not too late. At the rate he’s going we don’t need to worry too much about his progeny; even if he manages to spawn them, he’ll meet a Wile E. Coyote end before he exerts too much influence.

  2. dirigo says:

    I mention Frank Rich, New York Magazine’s Opinion Poobah, not to praise him (nor bury him), but to mention (not promote) his latest essay.

    In it, he uses the hook of the Andy Griffith Show (and the memory of the late Andy) to question the white bread story line of our “culture,” the assumed superiority of same, and the ever more hysterical rants about “declinism,” linked to the near-nightly invocations of American “exceptionalism” all across the fruitcake plain.

    Go read it if you wanna.

    What I found interesting, and didn’t know, was a claim, based on a link to Joseph Stalin within the text (leading to a recent Atlantic article), that Uncle Joe actually coined the phrase: “American exceptionalism.” But the article says Uncle Joe was uttering a sharp pejorative at the time. According to the Atlantic piece, Uncle Joe met with a prominent American communist leader in 1929 and complained that the Americans seemed not to be falling into line quickly enough for him and Moscow’s revolutionary program, demanding that this “American exceptionalism” be brought to an end.

    I know one thing. If I were a wise guy who wanted to make a quick purchase of ammo in the local Wal Mart before a hit one dark night, I’d send Joe into the store. I know Joe would be exceptional, in terms of being able to handle his gun and his credit card adroitly, in the express line, without incident. In-And-Out Joe, I’d call him.

    And I’d be idling out front, waiting to lock and load.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I found a lot of things to like in Rich’s essay, and of course a reminder of why nobody would pay $6 for a Sunday NYT. Deborah Solomon, Mat Bai, and Maureen Dowd (and worse!) but no more Frank Rich?
      Not so sure about Joe as an accomplice; he always struck me as a little shifty.

      • dirigo says:

        I check myself about this claim, but I don’t know any more about the provenance of “American exceptionalism” than Michele Bachmann does, or Newtie (who has apparently set the recent world record for using it). But, as with Rock ‘n Roll, I like it. It has an undeniable buzz, like a cell phone reminder to check the safety on your Glock.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I never really heard the term, except maybe in a more than usually hippie history class I took about The Teddy Roosevelt era in college. To me, Stalin had it right, and Palin, Bachmann, and their ilk have it exactly wrong.
          Believing in one’s own exceptionalism of any stripe is just blind narcissism and foolishness.

          • dirigo says:

            It’s tangled up a bit with Manifest Destiny, “our” canal,” and the protection of the South American banana concessions. It is, for some, inferred in the founding documents. Or something.

            But I read a fair amount of de Tocqueville (sort of on my own), and I don’t remember coming across “Exceptionalism in America” there.

            There was a lot about tenacious yeoman farmers, their jut-jawed wives and kids, rutted roads, verdant fields and hills, Indians, and the famous tendency to set up “little democracies” at grange halls or the little red school houses, but not much about how it was all so over the top, with the Almighty breathing heavily from the rafters, as our rabid brethren have it.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Exceptionalism is in the eye of the beholder, not the proclaimer.

  3. michlib says:

    CHNN faithful followers have probably already seen it, but a fresh take on ” American exceptionalism ” is always welcome.

  4. dirigo says:

    In a comment tonight about the gun nuts, Lawrence O’Donnell underlined the absurd positon of gun nut leaders like Wayne La Pierre, who say that, even after the multiplex killer appeared in front of the Batman screen in Aurora and did his thing, laws prohibiting the purchase of 100 round magazines would be a blow to our freedom and cannot be countenanced. And yet, as O’Donnell reminded his audience, any American who flies today must take off his or her shoes before boarding because of the actions of one alleged “shoe bomber” who, some years ago, failed to kill anyone, because the firecrackers or whatever in his Keds didn’t go off while aboard a flight entering the country.


    • cocktailhag says:

      If there were a wealthy and entrenched shoe bomb industry in America, with its own powerful lobby, I bet things would have turned out differently.

      • dirigo says:

        The world sneaker industry is huge of course. It has a mature infrastructure (but hero business guys didn’t build the whole thing with their bare hands, I assure you; there are many compromises in China).

        Venture capitalists will clean up though if they invest in arming all canvas and plastic shoes (Chinese trade negotiators could probably care less) – and not just in the younger demographic. Cougar women need protection too for example (or they need a sort of nuclear option when things don’t go well during and after dating site negotiations). Think digital daisy cutters imbedded under designer pastels. Sunbursts on the toes. Laces covered with glitter that can shred a taxi.

        In fact, such investments could pull the world out of recession before our congress, by failing to act on budget matters, allows us all to go over a cliff.

        Choose or die. Now.

        • cocktailhag says:

          After 9/11, I had a business plan rolling around in my head for the leaf blower/Sammy; to be marketed to the mid-market Jihadi. Put a gardener’s cap on over your turban, and pretend to be blowing bougainvillea around LAX, say, and then BLAM! Could sold a million of them.

  5. Ché Pasa says:

    “Liberty” for whom to do what? And “Freedom” from what, exactly?

    Those have always been my questions when it comes to these issues. It’s not just teh Gun Nutz. They’re bad, very bad, so we stumble along with 10,000 gun-caused fatalities a year (Exceptional!). But the whole “Liberty” and “Freedom” thing can get me pretty worked up when what it really means is that plunderers and predators are at liberty from any imposed restraint by the public on their urge and ability to steal, pillage and murder to their heart’s content.

    Or be stupid like Doofus at the WalMart.

    Won’t somebody think of the children??


    It is a wonder Ol’ Tex didn’t shoot his nuts off in the process. But dayum, he had his gun on! He’ll be sitting out on the verandah telling lies about how he took down some nigrah at the WalMart that time back in OughtTwelve who was tryin’ to hijack the Caish Registuh, had to wrassle him for the gun and got nicked by a stray bullet in the scuffle. Wanna see the scar, boys?


    As for Aurora, yes, I know what you mean. Shoot ‘em ups like that are too close to the New Normal. Thing of it is, they never seem to manage to commit these atrocities in the Boardrooms of the Plutocracy do they.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s a thought; I would totally go to a duel between say, Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Except I’d be rooting for them both to lose, so the suspense factor might be a bit diminished.
      Next up, Geithner Vs. Bernanke; same dilemma.

      • mikeinportc says:

        Ever see Dogma ? Matt Damon & Ben Affleck ( It’s a Kevin Smith flick) as avenging angels ( literally) do just that. Horrible, and funny , somehow. Chris Rock, as the 13th apostle , is very funny . An all-star cast, worked on it, at scale, for the fun/love of it . Worth the time to watch it, IMHO.

  6. mikeinportc says:

    By “that”, I was referring to Che’s suggestion of shooting up a boardroom of our betters.

  7. dirigo says:

    Via Hullabaloo …

    Checking a recent segment on O’Reilly (via O’Donnell), Billo launched a rant against “far left loons” favoring draconian gun control, post Aurora. In his funk, he let loose a brain fart, and inflated the reported number of rounds purchased by the Aurora shooter, from 6,000 rounds to 60,000, and said the FBI or ATF would have known about this massive buy at that (incorrect) level, seeming to imply they would have acted on behalf of the people, but only at the higher number. Maybe.

    Do tell.

    How about some rope-a-dope on the gun nuts, including its advocates, like Billo, arguing that, after Aurora, calling for more controls on assault weapons and the “legal” purchase of thousands of rounds of bullets is now a “pro life” position?

    Bagging deer, or moose, or ducks is irrelevant, as is Billo, since he’s struggling to get it right.

  8. dirigo says:

    A slight digression (for humor’s sake) …

    “Of course it’s easier to hold an Olympics in the middle of nowhere,”

    – David Cameron, British prime minister, reacting to Mitt Romney’s club-footed remarks on preparations for the London Games

    • cocktailhag says:

      Gotta love those Brits, telling it like it is.

      • dirigo says:

        Mr. Hag, at this sweet spot moment for Mitt’s exceptional diplomacy (“I also met with the spooks at MI6! I sat in James Bond’s Aston Martin!!!”), it might be educational for cocktailhag fans to consider contemporary differences between British and American conservatism.

        I think, during the time when there really was a special relationship between the Americans and the British, conservatism meant kind of the same thing – sort of what ham-mouthed Mitt was trying to get at with his Anglo-Saxon riff.

        And yet at that time, sad to say, the Brits did think Yanks were Yahoos. They just didn’t say it openly. They were really, er … polite, see.

        What I’ve found interesting is how our homegrown righties, in trying to be so, so unique, have, over two generations, peeled away from the kind of real world conservatism the Brits still hold to.

        Now, Mitt appears to be the kind of Yahoo, albeit a humongously rich one, the Brits always saw when they served tea to our representatives at number 10. I don’t think tea caddies ever caught on in the middle of nowhere.

        Love to see David Cameron insult the people in Pittsburgh serving him donuts and coffee, as the Mittster did.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Nowhere was this on more vivid display than when W and Tony Blair were together, when Bush usually had the sense to keep his trap shut as much as possible.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It would be safe to say that the “typical” shoppers at Wal-Mart are scary as it is, but now they are caring guns too? Can you picture white trash armed to the teeth?

  10. econobuzz says:

    Great posts on FDL, btw. I have to get up too early to stay up to comment in real time. Great stuff. Keep it up.

  11. meremark says:


    It helps me to have some details to figure out my figuring. Evidence, facts, that sort of stuff. I try to figure Motive, Means, and Opportunity.

    ‘All these shootings’ sort of have a pattern. From the Texas Tower shooter to Aurora. Including Oswald, Sirhan, Bremer, …, McVeigh, and forgethisname in Arizona (wounding Giffords). The pattern is not Walmartians. No.

    ‘Shooters’ seem to be intelligent, involved in the military or particularly its ‘intelligence’ assignments at some time somewhere along the way, some participation in research or experiments in mind-behavior linkage, and ‘control’, and not married.

    Everyone knows (by the Manchurian Candidate movie) that in the original days of the CIA their first ‘mission’ (ongoing 1950 to 2012), high priority, was and is to find ways to control or design people’s thinking … by issuing people (from a Central Agency facility) parcels of approved ‘intelligence’ to think approved thoughts with. And the ‘mission’ (search ‘MK ULTRA’ or ‘MOCKINGBIRD’) human experimented with everything from hypnosis to LSD, including sodium pentathol, nitrous oxide, mescaline, psilocybin, peyote, and as many different lab-formulated synthetic mood- or mind-altering concoctions as a liquor store has bottles.

    Earliest experiments used types of ‘talk therapy’ (including hypnosis), psychological sensatization, B F Skinner stuff, Pavlov stuff, environmental influences, and the manner of shrinks and psychics to try to ‘talk’ a subject (‘patient’) into being ‘programmed.’ 1950s treatments of mental distresses used and popularized the so-called ‘non-invasive’ methods. None of it worked reliably — not many people were double-agent ‘programmed’, not many people were mental-illness ‘cured’.

    Starting in the 1970s microbiology technology stole the march on ‘talk’ and ‘reasoning’. Today the lab equipment has advanced into nanotechnology. Career opportunity in one word, son: Pills. For while-U-wait efficacy. Every announced ‘breakthrough’ pill such as anti-depressants or mood elevators, sort of implies a few (or many) trial-and-errors along the way to perfecting the recipe that works as announced. Those errors are not announced and those wrong recipes are not ineffective. They do something to brains, minds, behaviors, just not the intended (healthy) ‘something.’ In fact, some experimental ‘mistakes’ bring altogether different (unhealthy) mental effects, which (illness) is sometimes what is wanted by those in the ‘intelligence’ concoction industry.

    Long-winded getting to say ‘they’ have a pill for anything these days. ‘They’ can put an 8-hour erection in a pill in a guy, cooperative or not. ‘They’ can put psychosis and ‘over-sensitization’ to a specific stimulus in a pill in a fallguy who is then not actually (compus mentis) conscious of where he is or what he did or didn’t do there. ‘They’ can put dead in a nano-drop of humidity. ‘They’ put weapon-grade aerosol-ized anthrax in letters to Congress.

    Chemistry trumps psychiatry in getting people ‘healed’ to be normal, or equally so getting people to be abnormally ‘sick’ in the head (voting for PATRIOT Act) if that might be the ‘mission’.

    That’s our world today. Figuring out the deal in Aurora may best use facts and details of the real world. Where do all the ‘lone gunmen wackos’ come from? ‘They’ keep a ready supply of them in the back room lab in a bottle in a pill … or a suspicious white-and-orange polka-dot powder.

    Perhaps an equally important question to ask, and figure out is: When do ‘lone gunmen’ come?

    In this case Aurora came just in time to insense NRA-ers to vote for Romney for the gun-nuttiness ‘single issue’ ‘litmus test’ of POTUS.
    And also (in time to) steal the media-news-time oxygen talking gunnery leaving out (July’s) 2013 Budget deals-made news.
    So I’m saying I figure mainly gun-gore episodes are staged kabuki.

    Remind me what’s the deal with shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre – you’re not rightly protected in saying that?

    Anyway, before we all in-chorus analyze the gun nuts’ nonsense politics, gun nuts who weren’t even there but claim ‘representation’ of their ‘interest’ (of being made crazy in fear), let’s take a look at the (pay-walled) findings of investigative reporter nonpareil Wayne Madsen on the case.

    July 23-24, 2012 — Aurora massacre: several links between James Holmes and U.S. government research

    James Holmes, the 24-year old suspect in the mass shooting of Batman “The Dark Knight Rises” movie goers in Aurora, Colorado that left 12 people dead and 58 injured, has had a number of links to U.S. government-funded research centers. Holmes’s past association with government research projects has prompted police and federal law enforcement officials to order laboratories and schools with which Holmes has had a past association not to talk to the press about Holmes.

    Holmes was one of six recipients of a National Institutes of Health Neuroscience Training Grant at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver. Holme is a graduate of the University of California at Riverside with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience. Although Holmes dropped out of the PhD neuroscience program at Anschutz in June, police evacuated two buildings at the Anschutz center after the massacre at the Aurora movie theater. Holmes reportedly gave a presentation at the Anschutz campus in May on Micro DNA Biomarkers in a class titled “Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.”

    Initial reports of Holmes having an accomplice in the theater shooting have been discounted by the Aurora police. However, no explanation has been given by police why the Anschutz campus buildings were evacuated after Holmes was already in custody in the Arapahoe County jail.

    The Anschutz Medical Campus is on the recently de-commisioned site of the U.S. Army’s Fitzsimons Army Medical Center and is named after Philip Anschutz, the billionaire Christian fundamentalist oil and railroad tycoon who also owns The Examiner newspaper chain and website and the neo-conservative Weekly Standard. The Anschutz Medical Campus was built by a $91 million grant from the Anschutz Foundation.

    In 2006, at the age of 18, Holmes served as a research intern at the Salk Institute at the University of California at San Diego in La Jolla. It is noteworthy that for the previous two years before Holmes worked at the Salk Institute, the research center was partnered with the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Columbia University, University of California at San Francisco, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wake Forest University, and the Mars Company (the manufacturers of Milky Way and Snickers bars) to prevent fatigue in combat troops through the enhanced use of epicatechina, a blood flow-increasing and blood vessel-dilating anti-oxidant flavanol found in cocoa and, particularly, in dark chocolate.

    The research was part of a larger DARPA program known as the “Peak Soldier Performance Program,” which involved creating brain-machine interfaces for battlefield use, including human-robotic bionics for legs, arms, and eyes. DARPA works closely with the Defense Science Office on projects that include the medical research community. Fitzsimons was at the forefront of DARPA research on the use of brain-connected “neuroprosthetic” limbs for soldiers amputated or paralyzed in combat.

    According to his LinkedIn profile, James Holmes’s father, Dr. Robert Holmes, who received a PhD in Statistics in 1981 from the University of California at Berkeley, worked for San Diego-based HNC Software, Inc. from 2000 to 2002. HNC, known as a “neural network” company, and DARPA, beginning in 1998, have worked on developing “cortronic neural networks,” which would allow machines to interpret aural and visual stimuli to think like humans. The cortronic concept was developed by HNC Software’s chief scientist and co-founder, Robert Hecht-Nielsen. HNC merged with the Minneapolis-based Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), a computer analysis and decision-making company. Robert Holmes continues to work at FICO.

    It has also emerged that Holmes, when he was 20, worked as a camp counselor at Camp Max Straus of the Jewish Big Brothers and Sister of Los Angeles. According to the Jewish Journal, among other tasks, Holmes helped to teach boys between the ages of 7 to 10 archery. In another unusual detail, the car Holmes used to drive to the Aurora movie theater had Tennessee plates. Holmes is originally from San Diego.

    James Holmes is the grandson of Lt. Col. Robert Holmes, one of the first Turkish language graduates of the Army Language School, later the Defense Language Institute, in Monterey, California. Graduating from the Turkish language class in 1948, Holmes spent a career in the Army, which likely included more than a few intelligence-related assignments. Typically, U.S. military officers conversant in Turkish served with either the Defense Intelligence Agency or the Central Intelligence Agency at either the U.S. embassy in Ankara or the Consulate General in Istanbul, or both.

    Terrence Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, in an interview with Cognitive Science Online in 2008, had the following comment about recent studies of the human brain: “Alan Newell [cognitive psychology researcher at the intelligence community-linked RAND Corporation] once said that when AI [artificial intelligence] was founded not enough was known about the brain to be of any help and in the early 1980s, symbol processing was the only game in town. That has changed and we now know a lot about the brain, perhaps more than we need to know [emphasis added].”

    More than we need to know!

    The links between the younger and elder Holmes and U.S. government research on creating super-soldiers, human brain-machine interfaces, and human-like robots beg the question: “Was James Holmes engaged in a real-life Jason Bourne TREADSTONE project that broke down and resulted in deadly consequences in Aurora, Colorado?” In any event, if the Batman movies are now serving as a newer version of J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” subliminal messaging triggering mechanism, — Salinger’s novel was of interest to a number of American political assassins — keep in mind that August 10 is the opening date of The Bourne Legacy. It may be wise to skip that film in the theater for a while.

    There’s more. Such as: At the exact same time as Aurora’s infamy, 15 miles away law enforcement personnel convened with the direction of feds (Homeland Insecurities I believe), conducting a terrorism ‘readiness drill’ in the mock event of a massive-firepower (lone) gunman shooting up a movie theatre.

    July 25-26, 2012 — Aurora police chief’s dubious connections

    As Aurora, Colorado police chief Dan Oates receives accolades from officials from President Obama to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Oates’s past position with the New York Police Department is noteworthy as more details emerge of the connections between the alleged Century 16 movie theater shooter James Holmes and government-funded neuroscience research.

    Oates retired from the New York Police Department in 2001 after a 21-year career. …

    Oates’s last job with the NYPD was as the chief of the intelligence division. As a member of Police Commissioner Howard Safir’s executive staff, Oates’s prepared, according to The New York Daily News, a daily intelligence briefing for Safir, which lasted some two hours. … Safir, who served as New York Police Commissioner from 1996 to 2000 and was appointed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, previously served as a federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs agent and in 1972, was one of two BNDD agents who arrested Harvard University researcher Timothy Leary, a proponent of LSD use.

    Oates, would also face the strange situation where an emergency medical drill in nearby Douglas County, on the outskirts of Aurora, that dealt with a gunman shooting up a movie theater, was being conducted during the actual shooting at the Batman movie in Aurora.

    Oates, in remarks to the media after the massacre at the theater, immediately moved to quash rumors on the Internet. He also told CBS News Face the Nation: “All evidence we have, every single indicator is that it was all Mr. Holmes’ activity and that he wasn’t particularly aided by anyone else.” Oates was discounting anything other than a “lone nut” theory behind the mass shooting.

    The Aurora police also revealed they were mistaken when they first reported that the car Holmes allegedly drove to the theater to conduct his shooting spree had Tennessee license plates. The alleged shooter’s father, Robert Holmes, worked in some capacity for the U.S. Navy Personnel Research and Development Center in San Diego in 1988. The elder Holmes wrote a technical report for the center and the work appeared to have spanned from 1988 to 1989. In 2000, the San Diego center moved to a remodeled new “lab space” at the Naval Support Activity in Millington, Tennessee, near Memphis. The center was re-named the Navy Personnel Research, Studies and Technology (NPRST) Department. The Millington center concentrates on behavioral and social sciences research and is funded mostly out of the Human Systems Department at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Navy research branch that works closely with DARPA and the CIA. …

    ‘Network’ TV should hire Madsen for investigative reporting. just saying … what he reports ‘they’ are just not saying. No more than we need to know.
    Which (TV news) sort of makes it easy and quick to figure out this guy belongs in the Lone Gunman pigeonhole, and he galvanized political upheaval, and everyone can draw the same conclusion and call it their own … although none of that is the reality of the incident.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Interesting, if true, but it sounds way too neat for anybody to pull off. (Look at the Keystone Kops absurdity of all the recent FBI “terror” stings, if you want to see government waxing James Bond….)
      My theory is much more boring: 1)males between 14 and 30 have poor and worsening impulse control. 2) Violence has become high-tech and impersonal even as it has become increasingly glorified. 3) Suburbia and the internet have helped create a generation of resentful young shut-ins who are deprived of human interaction. 4)Any person, no matter how cuckoo, can get his sweaty paws on military-grade weapons in These United States.