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WhiskeyGrinder's Journal
WhiskeyGrinder's Journal
December 6, 2018

When Feminism is Met with Violence: The Ecole Polytechnique Massacre (Dec. 6, 1989)


Dec. 6 is a solemn day for Canadians. It’s the anniversary of the largest mass shooting in modern Canadian history, perhaps the largest mass shooting in Canada or the U.S. that explicitly targeted women. Most Americans probably don’t know about the Montreal Massacre, as it has become known. But given several deadly attacks on women by self-avowed misogynists in the past year alone — and how quickly those murders slipped away from the front page and from public memory — this year’s anniversary carries special weight, no matter which side of the Canada/U.S. border you’re on.

In 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lépine stormed into an engineering class at the École Polytechnique in Montreal with a semiautomatic hunting rifle he’d obtained legally. He ordered all the men to leave before shooting the women, six of whom died before help arrived.

From there, Lépine stalked the school’s hallways and cafeteria. In the end, he killed a total of 14 women and injured 10 more (plus four men caught in the crossfire), before turning the gun on himself.

In the days, weeks and years following the attack, the question of whether it was anti-feminist became a point of contention.

Rest in Power:

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), mechanical engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
December 2, 2018

"Extremely not looking forward to when Trump dies and..."

Extremely not looking forward to when Trump dies and we get a million “It turned out he was a great man, at least compared to President Duggar” takes.

Ed Burmilla, Gin and Tacos, on Facebook

December 1, 2018

Bush wanted to show America what crack cocaine looked like at his first Oval Office address.

tl;dr: A high schooler was lured to the WH to sell crack and spent 7+ years in prison, so that the President could make a point on TV.


President George Bush wanted to show America what crack cocaine looked like at his first Oval Office address on Sept 5, 1989. He wanted to show you could even buy crack in front of the White House. That’s how bad the crisis had gotten. That’s how Bush announced his War on Drugs.

But there wasn’t much crack sold near the White House. As a U.S. Park Police official explained, "We don't consider that a problem area…There's too much activity going on there for drug dealers."

Easy solution: invite someone to sell crack outside the White House!

The DEA caught wind of Bush’s plan and they set about arranging a deal for Lafayette Square across from the White House. DEA agents planned to lure someone there to sell them a small amount of crack. Later a WH official claimed no one requested the DEA make the purchase.

On August 31, DEA Special Agent Sam Gaye was approached by his boss and asked if he could make a crack purchase across from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The DEA’s first choice ended up not showing up, so agents went to work on a second choice. That was Keith Jackson, an African American resident of Anacostia and 19 year old high school senior who agents had been in contact with for months.
Jackson + Bush lived in the same city, but they lived worlds apart. DC was deeply segregated, two-thirds Black, but a city where most whites cloistered in the NW corner.

The halls of power in the fed govt were shut off to most Black DC residents, too.

“Where the fuck is the White House” Jackson asked in a secretly recorded call with an undercover DEA agent.

That’s how segregated DC was.

The Agent had to explain the location to Jackson, who eventually replied, “Oh, you mean where Reagan lives."

Agents lured Jackson to Lafayette Square where they made the small purchase from him, but didn’t arrest him, on September 1.
On September 5, President Bush held up the bag of crack on national TV. "This is crack cocaine...seized a few days ago in a park across the street from the White House . . . . It could easily have been heroin or PCP."

Without getting too deep into the details, Bush’s central point was this: “we need more jails, more prisons, more courts and more prosecutors.”

DEA agents had decided not to immediately arrest Jackson. Not sure why, but it seems that they thought the story of a White House drug bust would make the news and undercut the drama of the President’s address.

DEA agents worried Jackson would see the address and hear Bush discussing the Lafayette Square purchase and flee. But they were happy to learn that Jackson “had absolutely no idea what went on” with the national address, and they easily arrested him after the speech.

Many applauded Bush’s story of the arrest, but Kevin Zeese, a defense atty specializing in drug cases, didn't. "It's disgusting...The situation is not bad enough that they have to create a false situation? It's the government creating a hoax so they can rev up the war effort."

Keith Jackson was charged and then tried two times his senior year, once in December 1989 and again in January 1990, both times ending in hung juries.

Prosecutors tried him a third time and finally got a conviction in September 1990.

At sentencing, “U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin told Jackson, who had no prior criminal record, that he regretted having to impose the sentence of 10 years without parole. At the same time, Sporkin urged Jackson, 19, to ask Bush for a commutation.” (Washington Post, 10/01/90)

Sporkin: "He used you, in the sense of making a big drug speech," said Sporkin, former CIA general counsel appointed to court by President Reagan in 1986. "But he's a decent man, a man of great compassion. Maybe he can find a way to reduce at least some of that sentence."

Sporkin apparently thought 10 years was too harsh, but regretted, "I've got to follow the law."" Congress had recently passed a new mandatory minimum law as part of the Anti-Drug Abuse of 1988. (WP, 10/01/90)

Bush never commuted his sentence.

According to one historian, Jackson served almost 8 years for the sale in four different prisons until being released on August 5, 1998.
November 7, 2018

Gin and Tacos: I Know Why You're Sad

On paper, Tuesday was a good day for Democrats. You're not sad because "The Democrats did badly."

You're also not sad because Beto lost, or Andrew Gillum lost, or any other single candidate who got people excited this year fell short. They will be back.

No, you're sad for the same reason you were so sad Wednesday morning after the 2016 Election. You're sad because the results confirm that half of the electorate – a group that includes family, neighbors, friends, random fellow citizens – looked at the last two years and declared this is pretty much what they want. You're sad because any Republican getting more than 1 vote in this election, let alone a majority of votes, forces us to recognize that a lot of this country is A-OK with undisguised white supremacy. You're sad because once again you have been slapped across the face with the reality that a lot of Americans are, at their core, a lost cause. Willfully ignorant. Unpersuadable. Terrible people. Assholes, even.

You were hoping that the whole country would somehow restore your faith in humanity and basic common decency by making a bold statement, trashing Republicans everywhere and across the board. You wanted some indication that if you campaigned hard enough, rednecks and white collar bloodless types alike could be made to see the light that perhaps the levers of power are not best entrusted to the absolute worst people that can be dredged up from Internet comment sections running on platforms of xenophobia, nihilism, and racism. In short, you wanted to see some evidence that corruption, venality, bigotry, and proud ignorance are deal-breakers for the vast majority of Americans.

Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.

The website, ginandtacos.com, seems to be down. This was on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ginandtacos/posts/10156484955176677
October 15, 2018

"The real question is, does an Indigenous people claim anyone who claims to be one of us?"

"We are the voices of authority, not a lab coat."

Dr. Kim TallBear, author of "Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science," is an excellent source to follow if you want to learn more about the usefulness of "genetic testing" when it comes to NA ancestry, identity and what it means. She put together a thread a couple years ago I found interesting:


There are a lot of issues and questions here, which I encourage white people especially to sit with. Is it helpful for Democrats to be so invested in a "genetic test" for Elizabeth Warrne? Is it helpful for white people to tout it as a "win"? What does it mean for the tribes in this nation? Is this the best use of our voices right now? Is this gotcha worth it? Does this help center Native Americans and their issues? Does "the science" say what we think it says? Does it say things that mesh with what tribes say?

October 4, 2018

'People' Aren't Divided on Kavanaugh's Confirmation. White People Are.


Those results would reveal that 83 percent of black and 66 percent of Latinx voters believe Blasey Ford, compared to a mere 40 percent of white voters. And that 80 percent of black and 69 percent of Latinx voters considered her honest compared to just 54 percent of white voters.

This gap persists even when you isolate out white women, a demographic some pundits believed would be outraged at how Blasey Ford was treated by Senate Republicans (her testimony—deemed “credible” by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—was essentially thrown out once Kavanaugh began rage-crying).

According to the Quinnipiac poll, nearly half (47 percent) of white women considered Kavanaugh to be honest. The numbers for black and Latinx voters? Just 7 percent and 34 percent, respectively. A plurality of white women did believe Blasey Ford (46 percent)—but it was nowhere near the majority, as was the case with black and Latinx voters.

As we see with the Quinnipiac poll, an inability to look at racial dynamics, whether it be through benign ignorance or outright reluctance, affects the stories we tell. It also affects the credibility and accuracy of the stories we tell, which is to say, you simply can’t get quality coverage of American politics without it.

In the aggregate, white women tend to be motivated by holding onto a little power at the expense of WOC. There is much work to be done.
October 3, 2018

The Atlantic: Trump is Not Texting You


...Even though it is labeled a “presidential alert,” these notices are not sent by the president, not directly. Within the emergency infrastructure, the transmission that was tested today is called an Emergency Action Notification, or EAN. The president or a designee would indicate the need for an EAN—but as a senior FEMA official confirmed yesterday, the president does not directly trigger the alert, and the criteria for such an alert are limited by law to national emergencies. The scenarios that would likely result in an EAN are mostly established already through federal interagency operations, pre-scripted in anticipation of possible scenarios, and perhaps subject to adjustment for specific situations. But the president himself would probably not even be involved.


On top of that, remember that a real presidential alert has never been issued. Not just in the six years that the WEA system has been able to send text-like messages, but not ever, in the 55 years that the EBS and its successors have existed.

Even so, some worry that if any president would abuse the system, it would be this one. Trump loves Twitter. He sometimes uses it unwisely, and the short WEAs look and feel a lot like tweets. Is it possible? Even hypothetically, Trump would need FEMA’s aid to misuse the service, but in theory, a loyalist could help facilitate it. FEMA Director William Brock Long is under investigation for possible misuse of government funds for travel, a minor matter given the other fires burning in the Trump administration, but also enough to fan the flames of suspicion among those who fear that collusion is possible. Hacking of the system has also been a concern, but external vulnerabilities are different from internal complicity.

Whether Trump, or any future president, could or would abuse the system is perhaps less interesting, and concerning, than the fact that citizens appear to be so easily convinced that a complex, long-standing piece of national infrastructure—one created in the hope that it will not have to be used, rather than that it might be employed regularly—is presumed to be untrustworthy. When the false alarm occurred in Hawaii, people were angry and confused: If an emergency-alert system can notify a whole region about an inbound ballistic missile, it better work correctly. But now that FEMA is carrying out its duty to test that very same system nationally, some lament its very existence.
October 1, 2018

Don't count on women voters going to the polls inspired by #MeToo, if they're white.


According to a Quinnipiac poll, 46 percent of white women voters believe Dr. Ford, while 43 percent believe Kavanaugh, which in this poll is a statistically insignificant difference. With 53 percent of the white woman vote going to Trump, it seems about right.

83 percent of black voters believe Dr. Ford, while 40 percent of white voters do.

September 21, 2018

Minnesota state Rep. Jim Knoblach drops re-election bid, citing MPR News investigation


Republican state Rep. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud abruptly ended his re-election campaign Friday as MPR News prepared to publish detailed accusations from his adult daughter of what she described as his inappropriate behavior toward her since childhood.

The announcement came hours after an attorney for Knoblach denied the allegations in an interview. The attorney, Susan Gaertner, said Knoblach "does not want to drag his family through six weeks of hell."

Knoblach, who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, declined to be interviewed after being approached more than a week ago.

In a written statement, Knoblach, 60, called the allegations "indescribably hurtful" and said he would work toward healing his family.

Wildly inappropriate behavior from Knoblach. Here's hoping his daughter gets the help she deserves after so many people failed her for so long.
September 19, 2018

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong


About 40 years ago, Americans started getting much larger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 percent of adults and about one-third of children now meet the clinical definition of overweight or obese. More Americans live with “extreme obesity“ than with breast cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and HIV put together.

And the medical community’s primary response to this shift has been to blame fat people for being fat. Obesity, we are told, is a personal failing that strains our health care system, shrinks our GDP and saps our military strength. It is also an excuse to bully fat people in one sentence and then inform them in the next that you are doing it for their own good. That’s why the fear of becoming fat, or staying that way, drives Americans to spend more on dieting every year than we spend on video games or movies. Forty-five percent of adults say they’re preoccupied with their weight some or all of the time—an 11-point rise since 1990. Nearly half of 3- to 6- year old girls say they worry about being fat.


The second big lesson the medical establishment has learned and rejected over and over again is that weight and health are not perfect synonyms. Yes, nearly every population-level study finds that fat people have worse cardiovascular health than thin people. But individuals are not averages: Studies have found that anywhere from one-third to three-quarters of people classified as obese are metabolically healthy. They show no signs of elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or high cholesterol. Meanwhile, about a quarter of non-overweight people are what epidemiologists call “the lean unhealthy.” A 2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people. Habits, no matter your size, are what really matter. Dozens of indicators, from vegetable consumption to regular exercise to grip strength, provide a better snapshot of someone’s health than looking at her from across a room.

The terrible irony is that for 60 years, we’ve approached the obesity epidemic like a fad dieter: If we just try the exact same thing one more time, we'll get a different result. And so it’s time for a paradigm shift. We’re not going to become a skinnier country. But we still have a chance to become a healthier one.

Long read, but the tl;dr is, when we address obesity through programs that promote better nutrition and more exercise, people don't get skinnier, but they do get healthier and have better outcomes.

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