A tale of two scumbags, a rifle that never was, and the limits of the Backgroundius Checkamungo incantation

Alex and Piers have their stars installed on the Pulitzer Prize Media Memorial

Alex and Piers have their stars installed on the Pulitzer Prize Media Memorial

You might think this post is about scumbags like the guy that shot up the Navy Yard Monday. It isn’t. Guys like him are scum, sure, but they can’t hold a candle to these media scumbags who saw the shooting as a great opportunity to build their “brands.” 

Of  course, the shooter was just another mental case making the case (no pun intended) against deinstitutionalization. We’re talking about something worse than the merely criminally insane. We’re talking about media personalities. (SFX: bloodcurdling scream).

Here Comes Scum Number One: Alex Jones

Alex Jones is the all-purpose conspiratroid who made a name for himself lying about the 9/11 attacks. He was last seen challenging Piers Morgan to put up his dukes (can’t they both lose? Can’t they fight the duel with suicide vests at zero meters instead?). Or maybe it was calling the Boston Marathon jihad bombings a “false flag” operation (probably by the Jooooz, but we never read him any longer than it takes to identify him as author). Jones’s tweet about the shootings:

Well, we can hardly think of any possibilities. It couldn’t be that there are two different media outlets relying on two different reporters at two different times — that certainly can’t affect coverage. It couldn’t be the well-known phenomenon whereby the media botches their first shot at everything — that never happens. It couldn’t be the Post’s well-known appetite for fabrication (see “Jessica Lynch, Amazon Woman.”) They say they’ve sworn off, although they still stand behind Dana Priest’s Lynch fabrication. So… it could be a shadowy conspiracy, in which the Vatican and Trilateral Commission are beaming gamma rays into everyone’s skull, unless you’ve got a tinfoil skullcap like Alex. (Available from his website, no doubt). Yeah, that’s it.

Or it could just be that he’s a ghoulish sphincter muscle trying to build his brand. What are the odds?

And Here Comes Another Scum Bum: Frum

David Frum gets the Number Two position because he doesn’t have Jones’s media reach or credibility. Still, he is on TV a lot; as a guy who claims to be a conservative Republican but toes the Democrat line (he supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 after liberal Republicans lost in primaries), he’s always in demand to provide a phony “opposing view, agreeing” on an in-Beltway media panel. Frum is a Canadian who’s never really adapted to life in the USA, and constantly whines about how much better, more civil, more like David Frum the Emirate of Trudeaustan is.

We’ll buy your ticket, Dave.

Unlike Jones, he is too swollen with self-regard to edit himself down to a single 140-character tweet, but in the bulk of them, he really doesn’t say much, so we’ll pick two out of all his verbosity on this subject, his first:

And his last:

He ends, naturally, with a reference to his golden, and mostly empty, Canada, whose population clings close to the American border, feebly dependent and bitterly envious, like hyenas at a safari’s trash pit.

Frum is generally in a race with Piers Morgan to be the first to capitalize on shootings. He was positively gleeful about the Sandy Hook shooting last year. And Monday, he beat his British counterpart with a hole shot (an Americanism undoubtedly lost on the trans-, post-, or just plain un-American Frum).

What this tells us about background checks

"Backgroundius Checkamungo!"

“Backgroundius Checkamungo!”

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but there is no free lunch in public safety, and if there was, “background checks,” despite being invested by the media with the properties of Ollivander’s wands, would not be it. Morgan, of course, led the media farbrication that the Navy Yard shooter had an AR-15 and that “background checks” would have saved people. The guy had no AR, but a shotgun like Joe Biden recommends to people. And he bought it at a gun shop — and passed a NICS check, despite several arrests and having told police he heard “voices in his head.”

The New York Times and several other papers have run stories saying that the asshat tried to buy an AR-15 and failed, and that’s what they and Piers and Frum and all the other assclowns in the media meant. They’re just not very good at that “words” thing, seems to be their fallback position. Unfortunately, this too is post-processed cattle feed. The same law applies in Virginia to an AR that applies to the Remington 870 that asshat actually bought: the New York Times reporter apparently made that story up and the others plagiarized him, and they’re now blaming it on their anonymous imaginary sources.

Remember, when they chant Backgroundius Checkamundo at you, this guy passed the NICS check. Expanding those checks wouldn’t have prevented this crime, as he didn’t end-run the system at all. And that’s not all he passed.

The trigger man also passed a periodic review for a Secret security clearance, which requires a National Agency Check with (Local) Law and Credit checks. This review is done every 10 years for that level of clearance, and  includes:

  • Fingerprint classification and run
  • A check of NCIC records (by name and print)
  • FBI investigative file, if any.
  • DOD/DOE/OPM Security/Suitability Investigations Index. (i.e. what has been found on previous clearance checks).
  • Calls to all the police agencies at the subject’s local residences in the last 7 years, unless the clearance has a rush request, in which case it’s all done (or not) with a record check.
  • Credit search including national reporting, and credit reputation at those residences in the last 7 years. (Was he on time with rent? Utilities paid? User of payday loans or other credit media indicating financial mismanagement or stress?)

Again, this nut job passed this check, which is a bit more stringent than the courts will let el gobierno apply to a constitutional right. And there’s probably no reason he wouldn’t pass, actually. A non-felony arrest that ended in nol prosse will not prevent a clearance, unless it was not disclosed on the application. They might ask the subject about it. (They are checking to see if you’re a traitor, not a choirboy). The “voices” bit never made it beyond a gag at that police department’s roll call, and it’s hard to see how it could, since the jurisdiction wasn’t a place he was domiciled — although the cops did send it to the Navy, they were good enough to finger-point out. The Navy apparently dropped the ball by not forwarding it further to the security establishment.

Yet, the bottom line is that even this fairly intrusive (and, don’t forget, time-consuming and expensive) check did not reveal any derogatory information on him — at least, it seems, not enough to delay the adjudication of his clearance renewal, or require follow-ups. This says something about both the possible scope and the possible benefits of “background checks.” It would have taken a police state to catch this guy beforehand, and even then, it might not have done: the police, after all, and their clerical staff in particular, are average government workers. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs don’t stay up nights with anxiety over whether they can hire the staggering talents of government clerks away from their sinecures. Warren Buffet does not wonder if he would benefit from a few PD clerks to help him with crunching the NPV numbers on acquisitions.

Then there’s the whole AR-15 thing

Morgan, Frum, Slick Dick Blumenthal (the soi-disant Vietnam Hero who rode a series of 2A and 2D deferments until his job as a Nixon aide got him access to a “special” Marine Reserve unit for DC staffers who wanted to pretend service without having to actually, you know, serve) and Sir Alex of the Tinfoil Bascinet, all have their views on this guy’s AR-15. The media extensively reported that he was armed with an AR-15. One of the New York tabs ran a cover story about his AR-15. He may have had the most famous AR in America for a day except for one small problem: as we mantioned above, it turns out never to have existed. 

The media made it all up, because they wanted it to be true. Now they’re claiming they were misled by “confidential sources.”

We call bullshit. If a source burned you, why would you keep the source secret? There are only two possibilities: the reporter wants to use the source again, even though the source has a track record of lying to him. Or, there is no source… except for the voices in the reporter’s head.

Occam’s razor says it’s #2: the AR-15 dominated the news for about 18 hours because the reporters fabricated that detail in their stories. That is, after all, how they roll. There was no AR-15, but they wanted one to be there. Five taps of their keyboard, and there it was.

There was an AR-15 involved, though.

That’s what the cops shot the guy with, finally stopping his spree.

5 thoughts on “A tale of two scumbags, a rifle that never was, and the limits of the Backgroundius Checkamungo incantation

  1. RRoy

    Enjoy the blog, all the way up north. While I agree a large part of the canadian population resides in the more inhabitable south of the country, I can’t agree with the ‘feebly dependent and bitterly envious’ bit. Our countries are a lot less similar than a lot of people realize. My experience is that the vast majority of canadians are as happy with their nationality as americans are. Envy is one of the many things canadians feel towards the colossus to the south, not all of them positive. As for feebly dependent, presumably on the united states, I’m not aware of a recent specific challenge to canadian national security that required US intervention to resolve. You can probably set me straight on that.

    1. Hognose Post author

      That was a cheap shot. Thanks for calling us out on it, Ryan. Yes, Canada and the US are very different, and our relationships are complex and complicated by different breeding stock and history. For one thing, Canada took in most of the Loyalists who were “politically cleansed” and ripped off of everything they owned by 1781 or so down here, an episode that gets short shrift in American schoolbooks.

      Canada is also very large in area, much of which is inhabitable only by the hardy and resilient (much like Alaska and the northernmost parts of the US midwest), and extremely small in population. This, and the fact that the big pop centers tend to be close to US counterparts and in the beaten zone of the US mass media, means that some Canadians reactively define their identity as, more or less, “not US-ian.”

      It’s unfortunate we descended into Canada bashing because (1) it was unnecessary, as there’s plenty in Frum to bash; (2) he identifies as American now, although I have been told he has dual citizenship; and (3) I don’t think all y’all would take him back if we shipped him.

      Maybe you would though. Canadians are a pretty tolerant bunch.

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