Friday, May 18, 2018

Facts about kids and parents and guns

Here are two pieces I wrote a few years back that have some good research on kids' access to guns, and the NRA's campaign against gun storage laws. The Texas school shooter used his dad's guns.

Access Of Evil: How The NRA Protects Children From Being Safe

Recent events like the shooting death of two year-old Caroline Sparks demonstrate thatchildren gaining access to firearms is a problem that often has tragic results, but at least we can all agree that it is a problem, right? Well, not exactly. The defenders of gun culture scoff at the very notion that a five year-old owning a gun could be reason for concern, on the theory that the gun culture’s emphasis on safety will save them. In reality, though, that culture’s bannermen at the NRA not only fight efforts to keep kids safe (efforts that they themselves support), and obstruct other proven solutions, they also offer a gun safety program which, studies show, actually makes kids more likely to play with guns.
Not every child who gains access to a gun ends up shooting someone, even though in April, it sure seemed like it. In addition to Caroline Sparks’ shooting by her five year-old brother, there were at least 12 shootings by children as young as two years old. Even with adult supervision, children with guns can be a recipe for tragedy, but keeping kids from having access to guns without adult supervision ought to be a no-brainer.
The first step to solving any problem, of course, is admitting that there is a problem. The National Rifle Association has an odd streak of denial on that count. In press release after press release, they have said that “Everyone knows that firearms must be stored safety, particularly when housed with children,” but oppose laws that would require such safe storage on the grounds that it;s not the government’s role to mandate this. Their opposition to safe storage laws depends greatly on the truth of that statement, on the notion that such laws are unnecessary, because everyone already knows to lock their guns up, especially when there are kids around. They deployed that particular argument in opposition to safe storage laws that would have affected all gun owners, not just those with children.
Obviously, though, everyone doesn’t know that, because 40% of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked. A charitable person might be tempted to accuse the NRA of nothing more than willful ignorance, of ignoring the problem because it doesn’t suit their needs. I’m a charitable person, but I couldn’t imagine where 40% of gun owners with children would get the idea that they shouldn’t lock up their guns. Oh, wow, really? From the NRA? I’m shocked.
In press releases opposing bills that would have required adults with children to lock up their guns, the NRA said that such laws “would have rendered homeowners defenseless and given criminals a clear advantage in home invasions,” and that they would have the effect of “rendering firearms useless in self-defense situations.”
So, everyone knows that firearms must be stored safely, which no one should ever do because it makes them sitting murder ducks? Maybe the NRA has a different understanding of safe storage where children are concerned:
Store guns so that they are inaccessible to children and other unauthorized users. Gun shops sell a wide variety of safes, cases, and other security devices. While specific security measures may vary, a parent must, in every case, assess the exposure of the firearm and absolutely ensure that it is inaccessible to a child.
But only if you want them to be murdered in a home invasion. Got it.
Not every parent who stores their guns unlocked is a paranoid NRA member, though. The rest probably do so out of ignorance of the risks guns pose to children, and/or overconfidence in their comfort with guns, or complacency. While I’m in favor of safe storage laws that establish a beneficial norm (and which studies show are effective), enforcing them before the fact would be impractical even in a favorable political environment, and enforcing them after the fact can just seem cruel. Luckily, there’s a way to reduce children’s access to guns that is simple, free, and proven to be effective. From the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Studies have shown that storing household guns unloaded and locked reduces the risk of unintentional injury and suicide for children and adolescents.
Pediatricians play a key role in injury prevention by providing anticipatory guidance to parents to help minimize the risk of injury in the child’s everyday environment. In controlled studies, individuals who received physician counseling were more likely to report the adoption of 1 or more safe gun-storage practices.
Well, this is great! You’re already going to the doctor, and it’s not like they charge extra for this. Who could possibly object to such a beneficial arrangement, with a family’s most trusted caregiver?
“We take our children to the doctor because they’re sick or need health care,” says Marion Hammer, a former National Rifle Association president who is the executive director of United Sportsmen of Florida, the NRA’s legislative affiliate for the state. “We don’t take them there for political dialogue or for pediatricians to ask us not to exercise a constitutional right.”
That’s also the NRA’s official position on a 2011 Florida law that made it illegal for doctors to discuss gun ownership with patients, except under certain narrow circumstances. That law was later blocked by a judge, but the NRA is pushing similar laws in other states, as well. While I agree that everyone should have the right to politely refuse to discuss such matters, the safety of our children demands that doctors not only be able to ask questions and offer advice on gun safety, but that they be required to.
Unfortunately, the NRA also lobbied their way into President Obama‘s Affordable Care Act, inserting a provision that restricted the collection of information about guns that convinced many doctors that they couldn’t discuss guns with their patients. The chill was so thorough that the President had to include, in his 23 executive actions on gun violence in January, a clarification that “the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.”
While die-hard gun culturists might bristle at being given advice on guns by some pencil-necked doc, even the most knowledgeable parent might learn something from their child’s pediatrician. Aside from the 40% who don’t know that they should lock up their guns, parents who do lock up their guns might be interested to learn this:
Keeping a gun locked and keeping a gun unloaded have protective effects of 73% and 70%, respectively, with regard to risk of both unintentional injury and suicide for children and teenagers. These findings were consistent for both handguns and long guns (rifles and shotguns).
I didn’t know that, and that information could be very useful to a parent who keeps guns. It wouldn’t be likely to persuade many of them to get rid of their guns, but it might make them that much more vigilant. They might also learn that, locked or not, 22% of children in gun-owning households have handled a gun without their parents’ knowledge. Parents can do what they want to with that information, but they ought to be given it.
I hate to be cynical, but the NRA’s objection to doctors even asking about gun ownership seems to be rooted in an obvious, disgraceful motive. Their concern about privacy doesn’t really wash, given the already-intimate nature of the doctor-patient relationship. Could be that, while discussing gun safety, pediatricians are also likely to offer this advice:
The best way to keep your children safe from injury or death from guns is to NEVER have a gun in the home.
  • Do not purchase a gun, especially a handgun.
  • Remove all guns present in the home.
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of guns, and tell them to stay away from guns.
  • Find out if there are guns in the homes where your children play. If so, talk to the adults in the house about the dangers of guns to their families.
People ignore their doctors all the time, but that could still put a hefty crimp in sales.
Not having a gun in the house with your children is still no guarantee of their safety, especially if they’re going to be exposed to friends whose parents don’t lock up their guns. As such, the NRA’s dual campaign, to get parents not to lock up their guns for fear of a home invasion and to prevent doctors from advising other parents from locking up their guns, is a danger to your children, even if you don’t own guns. If you’re a responsible gun owner, the NRA is risking your child’s life every time he or she goes over to a friend’s house.
But, hey, at least the NRA offers The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program, for when kids run into those guns that the NRA told their parents not to lock up. The organization offers the costumed mascot to schools and other institutions for a “nominal fee,” but let me save you the dough:
If you see a gun:
Don’t Touch.
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.
That’s it. In the Eddie Eagle videos (one of which stars Jason Priestleyand a giant cellphone), cartoon kiddies are drilled on memorizing that routine to an interpretive dance (the Glockarena?), and the only indication of the risks posed by the guns is a single mention that they might “get hurt.”

Now, some cynical Brady Campaign crank says that Eddie Eagle is just a fig leaf to give the NRA cover for all of the other ways it undermines children’s safety, but even if that’s true, what’s the harm? Well, according to multiple studies, the Eddie Eagle program doesn’t work, and even seems to encourage some children to play with guns when they find them:
Gun avoidance programs are designed to educate children as a way of reducing firearm injury (eg, Eddie Eagle, STAR); however, several evaluation studies have demonstrated that such programs do not prevent risk behaviors, and may even increase gun handling among children. In contrast, results of a large national randomized controlled trial demonstrated that brief physician counseling directed at parents, combined with distribution of gunlocks, may be effective in promoting safer storage of guns in homes with children.
A recent randomized controlled trial found that a safe storage campaign with gun safe distribution was both feasible and effective at limiting household exposure to unlocked and loaded guns.
There’s no way to completely eliminate the risks that guns pose to children, but the NRA is doing worse than nothing. Right now, there’s a loaded, unlocked gun waiting for a child to find it, in part because the NRA tells its members that locking up their guns (even with children in the house) will get them murdered, and in part because the NRA has done everything it can to prevent doctors from giving sound advice to parents. If the NRA has its way, the only thing standing between that child and death is Eddie Eagle and the Glockarena. Even if the gun culture won’t demand it, their kids deserve better, and so do everyone else’s.

Your Kids Are Already Playing With Your Guns

The recent shooting death of two year-old Caroline Sparks has focused attention on the issue of children’s access to guns, but as it happens, Caroline’s accidental shooting by her 5 year-old brother is far from an isolated incident. In the month of April, there were at least nine “toddler-involved shootings,” as independent journalist Rania Khalek calls them. Gun owners may think to themselves, “Well, thank God I keep my guns locked up,” and non-gun-owners may think, “Thank God I don’t have any guns in my house,” but both groups might be surprised to learn that their overconfidence is unfounded.
A three year-old who shot himself in the thumb with a gun he found tucked under a bed at his father’s girlfriend’s house.
The 4 year-old who shot and killed his aunt in a room full of adults, including a sheriff’s deputy who was also a school resource officer.
The two year-old who shot his motherRekia Kid, in the stomach as she held her weeks-old infant.
Brandon Holt, the New Jersey 6 year-old who was shot and killed by a 4 year-old playmate, at a range of about 45 feet.
Georgia 3-year-old Qui’ontrez Moss, who shot and killed himself while visiting his uncle in South Carolina. Moss shot himself in the head with a gun belonging to the uncle, James Patrick.
Seven year-old Gavin Brummett, who accidentally shot and killed himself while shooting with his father and brother on their property in Kansas.
Nine year-old Shayla May Shonneker, who was accidentally shot in the face and killed by her mother’s boyfriend. Joseph Wolters was practicing his draw when the gun went off.
A six year-old Kansas girl who was accidentally shot by her 14 year-old cousin.
South Carolina 2 year-old who pulled a gun out of his father’s jacked and accidentally shot himself in the chest.
The Idaho 3 year-old who shot a ten month-old in the face while both were left unattended in a car.
The four year-old son of Antonia O’Brien, who was shot in the leg by his 10 year-old sibling.
These stories each have their unique circumstances, but the one thing they all have in common is that the young shooters all gained access to guns that they shouldn’t have. Well, they have one other thing in common: we now know about them.
May is off to a quick start for child shootings, as well. Last Wednesday, 3 year-old Darrien Nez shot and killed himself, and on Saturday, 6 year-old Angela Divin was shot in the chest by her older brother. The news article about the latter shooting, submitted by a Mediaitereader, contained a disturbing statistic (emphasis mine):
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, one-third of all households with children younger than 18 have a gun, and more than 40 percent of gun-owning households with children store their guns unlocked.
The fund also reported that 22 percent of children with gun-owning parents handled guns in their homes without their parents’ knowledge.
I’ve always thought it stood to reason that, for every tragedy in which a child gains access to a gun, there must also be many more instances where kids play with guns, and the parents never even know about it. I just never knew how many. That’s one in five.
The Children’s Defense Fund gets that statistic from a 2006 study conducted at an Alabama family practice clinic (emphasis mine):
Of 420 parent-child dyads, 314 agreed to participate; 201 of the 314 homes contained guns. Children younger than 10 years were as likely as older children to report knowing the storage location (73% vs 79%, respectively) and to report having handled a household gun (36% vs 36%, respectively). Thirty-nine percent of parents who reported that their children did not know the storage location of household guns and 22% of parents who reported that their children had never handled a household gun were contradicted by their children’s reports. Such discordance between parent and child reports was unrelated to whether parents stored their firearms locked away or had ever discussed firearm safety with their children.
Many parents who were living in homes with firearms and who reported that their children had never handled firearms in their homes were contradicted by their children’s self-reports.Parents who locked their guns away and discussed gun safety with their children were as likely to be contradicted as parents who did not take such safety measures.
It’s probably a stretch to apply that exact stat to the general gun-owning population, but until better data is available, it’s impossible to ignore this finding, which not only means your own guns might not be safe from your kids, but even non-gun-owner’s kids aren’t safe when they’re at someone else’s house (or even near it, as Brandon Holt’s story demonstrates). Even if you do everything right, or decide not to even own a gun, your kids might already have handled guns without your knowledge.
As it happens, pediatricians agree on the best way to manage the risk of firearms to children:
The best way to keep your children safe from injury or death from guns is to NEVER have a gun in the home.
  • Do not purchase a gun, especially a handgun.
  • Remove all guns present in the home.
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of guns, and tell them to stay away from guns.
  • Find out if there are guns in the homes where your children play. If so, talk to the adults in the house about the dangers of guns to their families.
This would seem to be the natural place to begin the conversation, but the current gun culture, as defined by mainstream pundits, begin and end it with 5 year-olds owning their own guns.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

That Time I Owned Ted Cruz in Five Seconds at a Cocktail Party

Given Sally Yates' complete pwnage of Ted Cruz at yesterday's hearing, I feel compelled to once again share this story, which has always caused me to be mystified at the widespread praise for Cruz's alleged intellect. It's an excerpt from this Banter M article, which you can enjoy in full for a buck-ninety-nine.

I was at a Freedomworks party at CPAC 2010 in honor of Ed Morrissey, who despite being a superstar conservative blogger, is also a wonderful human being. It was thanks to Ed that I had the run of the place, and of every CPAC I ever attended, despite being a well-known liberal provocateur. Already a few drinks in, Ed introduced me to a guy he described as “a great Tea Party candidate from Texas” whose name only stuck with me because it reminded me of a TV character.

It was Ted Cruz, whom I misheard saying he was the former attorney general of Texas, when he must’ve said solicitor general. I remember wanting to slap Ed, because I had bigger prey on my mind, but I politely struck up a conversation with the guy as I scanned the rest of the place. He gave me his card, which I promptly shitcanned after we were done talking because I was convinced nobody would ever hear from him again. As we engaged in small chitchat (which included several attempts to get him to say the name of my website correctly), Ed just suddenly walks off and leaves me there with him. Resigned, I turned to Cruz and said “You’re a Tea Party guy, huh? What do you guys have against people having health insurance?”

Cruz gets that explaining-things-to-kindergartners look on his face, and launches into a rap that sounded something like this:

“Imagine if Congress were to pass a law that says fire insurance companies cannot take into account preexisting conditions, such as whether the home has already burned down in a fire.”

“If that were the law, what any rational person would do–we would both cancel our fire insurance policies because our house had not burned down, and if it did burn down, we could then buy a fire insurance policy and say: Please pay for my house.”

When he gets done, I look at him and say “Yeah, but if you don’t have fire insurance, they still come put out your fire. Nobody dies if they don’t have fire insurance.”

A pensive look comes across his face, and after a few seconds, he says “That’s a very interesting point.”

“Yeah, you think that over for awhile,” I said, shook his hand, and pretended to see someone I knew in another room. As I passed by Ed, I patted him on the shoulder and said “Good luck with that guy.”

Shows what I know. The reason I remember his fire insurance rap so well is because even after I destroyed it in two seconds with three beers in me, he was still using it three years later, during his fake filibuster. When I saw Cruz at the White House Correspondents Dinner a few years later, I reminded him of the meeting, and like the authentic soul he is, he said he remembered the meeting fondly.
As it turns out, I didn't actually misremember, exactly. Cruz was a former solicitor general, and was running for Texas AG when we met at that party. If memory serves, this party was also where I first "met" Chris Hayes, sort of. He brushed past me on his way to some other room, and I asked my friend "Was that Chris Hayes?" He said "Yeah, " and I said "What the hell is Chris Hayes doing at a Freedomworks party?" And he was like "Well, what the hell are you doing at a Freedomworks party?" Touche.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Putin openly defends Trump, laments that Trump political opponents "blame it all on President Trump"

Donald Trump has been accused of trying to counter the Trump/Putin narrative with his token airstrikes on a Syrian airbase, a notion that Eric Trump reinforced in a recent interview. At a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow, Vladimir Putin complicated that effort with several open expressions of sympathy for Trump.

 Asked if he sees future strikes from Trump, Putin delivered a lengthy response in which he invoked the "so-called weapons of mass destruction" that led the U.S. into war with Iraq, which is in line with Putin's ongoing effort to cover up Syria's atrocities.

He then began to describe the international and domestic political headwinds that Trump faces, lamenting that the EU has taken a reflexive "anti-Trump position," and that U.S. political opponents "will blame it all on President Trump":

Everybody is eager to rebuild their relations with the West after the former U.S. administration. Many E.U. countries assumed anti-Trump position, and they have found a common enemy in Syria, so we can wait, but we would like to see some positive trend, eventually. And again, within the U.S., they have their own reasons for domestic consumption there. Political opponents of the incumbent president are still there, and if something happens, they will blame it all on him, they will blame it all on President Trump, I have no doubt about that.
Putin seems to be signaling to Trump that he understands why he has taken the actions he has thus far, but went on to warn of peril ahead if the U.S. continues to take action against Assad, explicitly raising the specter of a "false flag" accusation:

You asked whether new airstrikes are possible. We have intelligence showing that such provocations — and I don't have any other words — such provocations may happen in other parts of Syria, as well, including in territories south of Damascus, where they intend to use some substances, then accuse the Syrian government of using those chemicals. We believe every incident should be properly investigated, so we plan to contact the UN institution at the Hague, and we urge the international community to investigate the incident. And then, based on the outcome of this investigation, a proper decision has to be made.
Trump's ineffective airstrikes may have temporarily fooled the corporate media, but the American people have seen right through it, and so, apparently, has Vladimir Putin.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Comedian profanely and beautifully humiliates Trump apologist Piers Morgan

The greatest moment in the history of cable television happened Friday night, and I was privileged to witness it. My new hero, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, gave unmitigated idiot Piers Morgan the humiliation he so richly deserves:
There's a deeper insight to be gained here, though, beyond the extremely satisfying spectacle of Piers Morgan having his ass handed to him, then having it sent back to the kitchen to achieve a harder sear, and handed back to him again.

While Morgan is, I suspect, just being an asshole to get attention, his attitude reflects that of a lot of Trump apologists who tolerate so much of his onerous shit, while still managing to see themselves as "independent." Many of the white people who switched over to Trump from Obama, or who switched over from less-toxic Republicans to Trump, find themselves able to excuse Trump on the basis of the sort of "logic" that Piers uses, and to the rest of us, the reason seems obvious.

Someone like Piers Morgan can reason that there's no Muslim ban because there are lots of Muslim countries that aren't banned, and so everybody just needs to calm the fuck down, because Piers Morgan will never be affected by the ban, and will never know anyone who's affected by it. There are no stakes for him. If the ban were on 7 majority-white countries, with exceptions for racial and ethnic minorities, I suspect Morgan would be able to see that as a ban on white people.

At first blush, then, the argument appears to be that Piers Morgan lacks empathy, which is a common critique made by liberals. While this critique has some truth to it, I believe that this is a faulty and losing argument, mainly because of a fundamentally flawed human understanding of empathy.
empathy - noun - em·pa·thy \ˈem-pə-thē\ : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this
To most people, empathy is about feelings, which does two things to your argument. It first marginalizes it as non-factual, and second, makes your opponent feel attacked as unfeeling or inhuman, notions that almost every human reflexively resists seeing in themselves.

In reality, though, it is the empathic argument that is the more logical, and the non-empathetic one that is emotional. Piers Morgan (assuming his ignorance were honest) is unable to see the Muslim ban for what it is for two reasons. The first is that he lacks the experiential wisdom to see it, as I indicated before. If this were a white people ban, he would see it. Morgan's emotional attachment to his own experiences and point of view blinds him to the logical conclusion that this is, in fact, a Muslim ban.

The second reason is that he, and other Trump apologists, have emotional incentives not to see it. For some, it's attraction to Trump's gaudy projection of success, for many others (like media types who help to normalize him), it is a fear of deviating from the status quo. To recognize Trump as a monster is more frightening than to report dispassionately on partisan rancor over his fangs and talons.

Empathy is, in fact, a logical and rational phenomenon, and the lack of it is not. That this is so poorly understood means we ought to abandon "empathy" as a trait to be discussed in politics. Nobody thinks they, themselves, lack it, and those who choose not to act on it do so because they believe it is irrational. Telling these people to have empathy will never produce results, because they already think they have it, and are better off ignoring it.

So I don't think Piers Morgan's problem is a lack of empathy, it is a defect in logic caused by his own emotional attachment to norms. And because he won The Apprentice.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sean Spicer Took Questions for 23 Minutes, and he was still a disaster

At his daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lived up to Melissa McCarthy's devastating spoof by spending just 23 minutes taking questions, while bungling facts and bullying reporters the entire time. Press Secretary Sean Spicer's White House briefings have quickly started to resemble Saturday Night Live's biting depiction.

While his predecessors would take questions from reporters for 45 minutes to an hour or more, Spicer has a tendency to pad his briefings with lengthy opening remarks, then spend half an hour or less taking questions, while managing to disregard facts and do his best to bully the press corps. The latest briefing was no exception.

Spicer took questions for just 23 minutes (still outpacing other recent briefings, which clocked in at 22 minutes and 16 minutes), and after the obligatory softball from a right-wing outlet, immediately began to show strain under tougher questioning.

 Asked about Kellyanne Conway's illegal promotion of Ivanka Trump's clothing line, Spicer tried to close the issue with a terse reply, but evinced rambling uncertainty about his own response (emphasis mine):
REPORTER: Questions have been raised after Kellyanne Conway did an interview, I believe it was with Fox News this morning, where she appeared to, from the confines of the Brady Briefing Room, promote the products of Ivanka Trump. Do you believe that she crossed an ethical line?

SPICER: Kellyanne has been counseled. And, that's all we're going to go with. She's been counseled on that subject, and that — that's it.
One might expect that discussion of what "we're going to go with" would be confined to the press office conference room, and not spoken aloud as a clear identifier of a PR strategy. Depressingly, this White House press corps decided it was best not to follow up on that egregious ethical and legal breach. In answering a question about another Trump tweet about America being "bogged down," Spicer either ad-libbed a major factual error, or rolled out a disturbing new talking point (emphasis mine):
The spread of it has gone, in the last eight years, has proliferated. And I think that the resources that we have to spend, this isn't a traditional war, where you're just looking at the other — you know, enemy with a uniform and saying "Here's the country we're fighting."

The proliferation of ISIS throughout this country, um, has made it so we that have to focus a lot more, on a lot more places and expend a lot more resources because it's more of a disparate approach that we have to employ, as opposed to having one country that you're facing at one time.
There have, of course, been exactly zero attacks on U.S. soil over which ISIS had operational control, or even connection. Spicer's assertion of a "proliferation of ISIS throughout this country" is without basis in fact. But it could be a window into how these things are discussed in strategy sessions, where communications can be weaponized to justify onerous policies like Trump's Muslim ban.

 Despite their limited time, reporters did take several cracks at Spicer regarding Judge Neil Gorsuch's comments about Trump attacking the judicial branch, and Spicer repeatedly reiterated the spin that Gorsuch was not talking specifically about those attacks, which ironically cuts against the narrative that Gorsuch is somehow demonstrating "independence." When a reporter tried to pin Spicer down by citing Republican Sen. Ben Sasse's (R-NE) comments that Gorsuch definitely was talking about Trump's tweets, Spicer avoided the follow-up by talking over the reporter:

REPORTER: Sean, your answer about the context doesn't make sense when you think about what Senator Ben Sasse said today, this morning on TV. He said he asked Judge Gorsuch specifically about the president's "so-called judge" tweet, and in response —

SPICER: No, this is the third time I've answered this question —

REPORTER: No, but this is a different context, Sean.

SPICER: I understand that. Phil, I've —

REPORTER: HE asked directly about that —

SPICER: I understand that. And I've said exactly what Senator Ayotte said about it. I don't know how many times you can ask me. Yeah. I understand, thank you.
Spicer steamrolling past reporters' questions is a regular feature of his briefings, one which finally saw a reporter push back during this session. But his tactic has a dual purpose: Aside from getting himself out of a quick jam, shutting down reporters trains them to self-censor, lest they lose their chance to ask questions. The reporter who yielded at this briefing was never returned to, and Spicer routinely skips other mainstream outlets from which tough questions might be asked. He also devotes a significant chunk of those briefings to softball questions from local outlets in the "Skype seats," which include the likes of right-wing radio host Dale Jackson.

Spicer may not be long for this job, which is a shame, because his ham-fisted manner, dislocation from truth and reality, and overall lack of competence make him the perfect spokesman for this administration