Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prohibiting Congressional Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from visiting Israel during a trip scheduled to start Sunday. Netanyahu reversed an earlier decision on Thursday.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced on Israel’s Reshet Radio, “The decision has been made; the decision is not to allow them to enter.”
President Trump On Twitter: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.” Trump added: “Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!” These are Trump’s autocratic characterizations of these members of Congress, not the truth, not even reality. Trump’s statements, behavior and actions are outrageous, un-American, and not those of someone who believes in freedom of opinion and speech, certainly not those emblematic of an American President. But his supporters live for and love the sadistic, mean, ruthlessness of Trump’s warped, hateful mind and his vengeful impulses, for they fulfill their own desires.
This action by Netanyahu is unprecedented and inconsistent with Israel’s claims of tolerance and openness. Is free speech, freedom of thought and disagreement only allowed in Israel when it’s State sanctioned, or when it is aligned with Trump’s opinions and policies. Which tail is wagging which dog?
In a recent online article about the lethality of silencers or suppressors David Chipman, a retired agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, commented, “This is the concern we were talking about when Republicans were trying to deregulate silencers as ‘ear protection.” The article noted that Chipman now works as the senior policy adviser for Giffords, a gun-control lobbying group. He elaborated on his views stating, “Especially on a handgun, a suppressor will distort the sound in such a way that it would not immediately be recognizable as gunfire to people who sort of know what that sound is.”
The viewpoint on the other side of the question, expressed the argument that the suspect’s familiarity with the layout of the location and his military background gave him a greater tactical advantage in his attack than his decision to use a silencer. Another retired FBI agent formerly with the FBI’s Hostage Response Team, Gregory Shaffer, opined that, “A suppressor does not alter the lethality of the weapon at all. All it does is just limit the noise it makes. It doesn’t increase the rate of fire. It doesn’t do anything other than make it more comfortable to shoot because it’s not so loud.”
Former FBI agent Shaffer’s last comment is ignorant and self-serving to his preferred, and NRA-endorsed opinion, at best, and absurdly ridiculous and dishonest at worst. It ignores and is designed to conceal and deceive people about the fundamental and very important fact about why silencers or suppressors for handguns or rifles were designed to begin with; how and why they were initially adopted for use, and used by the military and intelligence/assassination services throughout the world. It also flies in the face of the reasons that silencers were initially illegal to possess by average citizens, and still are prohibited in many countries. There is only one combination of legitimate purposes for the silencer’s existence — killing people with a degree of stealth, suppressing detection by others, maximizing the body count before being engaged by law enforcement or other armed individuals, and/or allowing more time for the shooter to escape before they are detected as the perpetrator and their crime detected.
More importantly, perhaps, is it fails to acknowledge or address why this shooter, or any mass murderer, would choose to use a silencer in carrying out the slaughter of innocent souls. Was this suspect so concerned about the “assault” on his hearing from the loud report of his weapon as he gunned down each of his victims? Or perhaps he didn’t want to damage the hearing of his intended targets, and those he only wounded or missed. Shaffer is absolutely correct when he says a suppressor does not enhance the performance of lethality of the weapon, itself, nor does it increase the rate of fire, and it does “just limit the noise it makes.” And the fact that it alters and suppresses the noise of the gun’s report absolutely increases the lethality of the attacker and his tactical advantage by masking the sound many people immediately recognize as gunfire. Many people often report dismissing unsuppressed gunfire as just firecrackers or a backfire, until they see bloodied people running toward them. A natural initial human reaction to unexpected events is disbelief and rationalization of what they are seeing or hearing as not possible. Every potential victim, unaccustomed to the sound of silenced or suppressed gunfire, who does not react by fleeing becomes easy prey for a systematic murderer intent on killing as many people until he is inevitably stopped by police or another armed individual, or until he makes his getaway.
In one case of an attempted murder committed during a drug ripoff I handled, when I was a fairly new patrol deputy in West Hollywood, California, the Suspect used a pillow over the head of the drug dealer when he shot him. The bullet did not penetrate the victim’s skull, but travelled around his scalp, lodging below the skin, fortunately for him. The pillow was intended to muffle the report of the gun, not as any comfort to the Suspect, and certainly not the victim. It was an improvised silencer, which suppressed the noise so neighbors in adjoining apartments would not call the police.
The reasons any mass murderer, or murderer of a single person who uses a silencer is the important point here, and it’s absolutely NOT for the perpetrator’s comfort, or because he or she doesn’t like loud noises, or is concerned about protecting their hearing. But it does makes a “nice” story for the NRA to use as commercial propaganda, appealing to the consumer who wants to look macho, and like James Bond 007.
I certainly mean no disrespect to the innocent victims, nor do I intend any diminishment of empathy for them or their loved ones through my use of sarcasm – I feel deep and intense sympathy and pain for everyone who was harmed by this man’s horrific act. My sarcasm is intended only to point out and focus attention on the absurdity, ridiculousness, and disingenuousness of a faćil dismissal of a silencer as only “making it more comfortable” for this mass murderer to snuff out the lives of 12 innocent people. As if it’s even conceivable that this murderer really had the slightest thought about his own “comfort” when he most certainly entertained, if not fervently desired, his own ultimate demise at the hands of responding police officers. Whatever this murderer’s motivation for killing these innocent co-workers, he certainly did not intend on being captured, or getting away with his horrendous crime.
Update Since the El Paso, Texas, Walmart Mass Murder:
So why didn’t the mass murderer in El Paso use a silencer to make himself “more comfortable?” I don’t know. Perhaps he wasn’t that sophisticated in his knowledge, or maybe they don’t make a readily available silencer for his weapon. But because the shooter was captured in security images wearing ear protection one could jump to the conclusion those were for his “comfort” or hearing protection. But several experts astutely pointed out that the loud reports of the murderer’s AK-47 from firing multiple rounds would be disorienting to the shooter, making him less effective in his killing mission.
Ear protection was legitimately designed for longterm protection from hearing loss (and comfort) in many industries, as well as for people who use firearms. Of course they can be used for the probable reasons of the El Paso Mass Murderer. But silencers were adopted by government agents and military for the enhanced stealthiness of killing targets while minimizing location detection, and the associated enhancement of escape without identification or detection of the shooter.
I have 36 years of experience in law enforcement, 30 of those years working as a deputy and a Supervisor in Patrol at seven different stations in Los Angeles County. As such, I’ve had a fairly extensive breadth of experience investigating criminal allegations, investigating citizen’s complaints against deputies, arresting criminal suspects, writing supporting reports and other documentation, testifying in Court, reviewing and critiquing literally thousands of criminal complaint reports, and accumulating a more than passing familiarity with local, state and relevant federal statutes, regulations, laws, case law decisions, and policies and procedures.
There is a persistent, pernicious conclusion being promoted in this country that a finding of insufficient evidence of the commission of a crime by an individual or individuals is equivalent to an absolute finding of NOT GUILTY or an exoneration of the commission of a crime or crimes. This is simply erroneous. If crimes were, in fact, committed obviously some person or persons committed them. If a particular person is not indicted and tried in a criminal court, they obviously cannot be found guilty or not guilty, nor can they necessarily be determined to be exonerated unless the person, persons, or ALL persons responsible can be confidently established.
In the case of the Russian interference and manipulation of public opinion in the 2016 elections in the United States, the fact is persons associated with the Russian government, under the direction of Vladimir Putin, conspired to influence our elections by sowing discord, damaging the public image and reputation of one specific presidential candidate, and bolster, benefit and help shape the perception of Donald Trump.
The fact is, several persons associated with, and participating in Trump’s campaign sought to communicate with Russian operatives, conceal their interactions, lied about these interactions and changed their explanations of their meetings and interactions as these contacts were exposed by the media and/or government officials. Many of these individuals were found to have committed other crimes and/or lying to investigators. But in most cases, there has been no satisfactory explanation of their lies, concealments, or refusal to answer questions by these individuals, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, or any of the others.
People lie for a reason. They conceal, refuse to speak, and change their stories about what happened, what they did or didn’t do, why they did or didn’t do them, how and why things happened, and who did them, or knew about them. People lie, conceal and protect others and themselves for a variety of reasons — usually there is some inherent benefit to themselves; money; power; or promise or expectations of one or the other. Loyalty is another reason, but usually has it limits when personal jeopardy and harm exceed personal benefits. Rarely is loyalty absolute, unless motivated by fear if the object of their loyalty has literally the power of death over them or those they care for.
I do not believe in coincidence. Especially when there are too many incidents of so-called “coincidence” which defy a rational, reasonable explanation. The juxtaposition of so many Russian interactions with Trump associates, the absence of appropriate statements, responses and actions by Donald Trump, as president, to Russian representatives and Vladimir Putin, and Trump’s inappropriate or factually contradictory statements, opinions, and conclusions about Russian actions, intentions, and particularly Vladimir Putin intentions, motivations and trustworthiness, and the dearth of any rational, reasonable, factually supported explanations for this behavior defies the probability or possibility of “coincidence.”
Donald Trump was not exonerated or found NOT GUILTY of a conspiracy with the Russian interference, or of obstructing the investigation into those crimes, likely because he and his campaign and associates effectively concealed the requisite evidence of their activities, conspiracy and their motivations and intentions.
As Robert Mueller explicitly reaffirmed today:
“And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
“The introduction to the Volume 2 of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited.”
“A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report and I will describe two of them for you.”
“First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.”
“And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” [Impeachment]
“And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”
Simple logic dictates:
If agents of the Department Of Justice cannot indict a sitting president because of this DOJ Opinion, then it would seem to follow that, contrary to what Attorney General Barr has said, you cannot exonerate him either under the existing circumstances as documented in the Mueller investigation and report.
It is NOT in the legal purview of DOJ or Attorney General Barr to make a determination of exoneration. That is under the purview of Congress alone.
My Dad stayed here in 1953 while he was in the service, stationed in Great Britain. He and his G.I. buddies had a weekend leave and drove to the town where the hotel is located.
Ray Harryhausen died yesterday, the visionary responsible for the animation in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts, among many others.
Even before I knew or much cared to know his name, he inspired and touched me. If it were ever raining on a Saturday afternoon when I was a kid, we would tune in to Chanel 11 hoping that the Yankees were rained out, and the station would show an emergency double feature of films from Hammer Studios, maybe the B-list of Universal’s classic monsters, or the golden fleece itself: those garishly colored stop motion Greek myths.
To this day, I love showing friends the skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts, but it’s worth remembering that Harryhausen kept making films into the Star Wars era. This film from 1973 made a huge impression on me, especially Kali wielding swords in all her arms.
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