You like this riot-control bulldozer, right?

The Bozena Riot mobile crowd-control unit

The Bozena Riot is a 15,000-pound riot-control bulldozer whose frontal wall can expand to the width of city streets, raising and lowering to either protect or release dozens of police. It’s bullet- and fireproof, and it can be operated either from a cockpit behind the wall or by remote control. Its loudspeakers, cameras, and high-pressure tear gas nozzles just scream “consent of the governed.” As the manufacturer’s website puts it:

The system offers a solution for both protecting the law-enforcement units in action and controlling the situation whenever peace maintenance is required.

The primary use of the passive voice in English is to disguise whoever is doing something. This bulldozer system offers solutions for “whenever peace maintenance is required.” But who requires peace? If the Bozena Riot’s first role is to protect “law-enforcement units in action,” who endangers them by ordering action in the first place? The answer, in theory, is us. We pay the taxes that might purchase this thing, and we require the peace to be maintained. Right? You love the Bozena Riot and are glad someone manufactured it. I mean, what else could you love? Riots?

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Snoop shoots “clown resembling Donald Trump,” unleashes anarchy

Wednesday

In the annals of FoxNews.com headlines, “Snoop Dogg shoots clown resembling Donald Trump in new music video” is a low-key classic. You don’t hear about a lot of clowns that resemble Mahatma Gandhi, or clowns resembling the brave men and women who died in 9/11. And “resembling” is such a pleasingly circumspect word, in contrast with the absurdity of everything else in this headline. Now is a fun time to remember that Fox News shares a parent company with The New York Post, who seem not to have reported on this event but would probably have done it differently. Anyway, I want to emphasize that Snoop Dogg shot a clown resembling Donald Trump in a music video, not in real life. That makes it a symbolic act—a message, probably. This theory is supported by S.D. Dogg’s remarks to Billboard:

I feel like it’s a lot of people making cool records, having fun, partying, but nobody’s dealing with the real issue with this fucking clown as president and the shit that we dealing with out here. So I wanted to take time out to push pause on a party record and make one of these records for the time being.

Notice how he assures us he’s working on a party record, too. Snoop has been doing this for a long time. Also, he sucks now. Or does he? This clown video is actually pretty…okay, I’m not willing to say it’s good. But I’m glad I watched it. Video after the jump.

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Why bother silencing Elizabeth Warren?

Yesterday, as the Senate heard testimony regarding the almost certain appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R–AL) to the position of attorney general, a weird scuffle erupted between Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Home for Orphan Turtles.) Warren was attempting to read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, that accused Sessions of using “the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters” when he was US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. McConnell moved to silence Warren under Rule XIX, which forbids senators from “ascribing to another senator…any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator” during debate. Here’s a video:

In this scene, the role of Frightened Lackey is played by Montana’s own Sen. Steve Daines, who looks like he has either eaten bad fish or does not want to adjudicate a rules dispute involving the leader of his caucus. Daines sided with McConnell, of course, and Republicans voted to formally silence Warren. Three questions seem relevant here:

  1. Does Rule XIX apply to quoted material? It was not Warren who ascribed to Sessions conduct unbecoming a senator, but rather Mrs. King, whose words Warren read. This might seem like a distinction without difference, but imagine if the Senate were conducting, say, a bribery investigation into one of its members. Would an affidavit from someone who claimed to have paid that senator a bribe violate Rule XIX, if it were read aloud by another senator?
  2. How is the Senate supposed to conduct a confirmation hearing regarding one of its own members without violating Rule XIX? Warren didn’t bring up this letter in a debate about farm subsidies. It speaks to Sessions’s fitness for office, and any debate on that subject is likely to impugn his motives or conduct at some point. At the moment the Senate begins to debate Sessions’s appointment as attorney general, he ceases to become a senator and becomes a candidate for that office. As a senator, he doesn’t get to participate in his own confirmation hearings. Why should he enjoy the other privileges of a senator in that context?
  3. So are Republicans just trying to make Warren’s career, or what?

In another world, Warren spends the next four years slipping from the national spotlight, as Republican control of all known branches of government denies her the forum to publicly grill bankers in the ways that have made her a progressive hero. Or they could martyr her. McConnell seems committed to the second course, even going so far as to furnish a title for her memoir by complaining that “she was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” This approach seems less than tactically astute. Sessions is going to be attorney general. If Betsy DeVos proved anything, it’s that none of Trump’s appointments will go unconfirmed. So why not let Warren read King’s letter to a mostly empty chamber and a couple thousand viewers on C-SPAN?

Instead, he contributed to her reel. As of this writing, the video of McConnell silencing Warren featured in this post has 350,000 views. That’s just this version; there are a dozen more on YouTube and floating around the internet. Is the majority leader really foolish enough to make a spectacle of Warren’s censure, when the action itself accomplishes so little?

Apparently, he is. The explanation that he is intentionally making Warren the face of the progressive Democratic Party, in the hopes that she will overplay her hand and tarnish that brand in the future, seems a little too 3-D chess to be plausible. Remember the poker player’s rule: don’t assume intelligence. It seems like McConnell has blundered here, possibly because there are no longer any checks on his power. This silver lining is itself mostly dark cloud, but perhaps Republicans will keep overplaying their hands.

Friday links! Near-total information awareness edition

The prospect of a corporate-state apparatus that knows exactly what you’re doing at every moment is the stuff of science fiction. Books like 1984 and We imagine a surveillance that has successfully penetrated every aspect of our lives. But what about the surveillance that has unsuccessfully penetrated our lives? We imagine the dangers of everyone else knowing what we’re doing, but we should probably be worried about the scenarios where total information awareness is mistaken. What happens when the security state confuses you with the previous tenant of your apartment? In our culture of surveillance, whither the Charles Monsons and Khalid Steve Mohammeds? Today is Friday, and the danger is not so much that the government will know everything about you as that it will think it does. Won’t you overlap with me?

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“Islamic States of America” ad is straight Goebbels, not for profit

The title card from Secure America Now's 60-second election spot

The title card from Secure America Now’s 60-second election spot

Secure America Now is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. It doesn’t advocate for or against any specific candidate; it just brings “critical national security issues to the forefront of American debate.” Granted, its homepage includes such links as “Footage of Hillary in Prison,” “Prevent Four More Years of Obama’s Terrible National Security Policies,” and “Hillary Clinton is a Foreign Policy Disaster.” But those aren’t election advocacy. They’re just critical national security issues that mention presidential candidates by name. By the same token, the ad warning of an imminent Muslim takeover of the United States that Secure America Now released this weekend isn’t election-related. It’s just Nazi-style propaganda about the danger posed to America by adherents of a particular religion. Video after the jump.

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