In the wake of last December’s jihadi attack in San Bernardino, Republicans strained to frame the incident solely as a matter of terrorism and not one of gun control. Though the vast majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are unrelated to religious ideology, the two issues are far from mutually exclusive. To wit: an ISIS defector recently described the organization’s global network of Syrian-trained sleeper cells and local handlers, stressing that the laxity of firearm restrictions in the United States obviates the need for any “clean” facilitators to obtain weapons. My belief, alluded to during the convention by Ms. Clinton, is that the odds of me getting capped by someone else so far outweigh the likelihood of successfully defending myself by shooting my assailant means I am indisputably better off without public access to guns.
Moreover, it is pure fallacy that firearms are necessary to protect our way of life. As of this writing, only once have I seen black CIA helicopters ferry children from our neighborhood playground into the Far East sex trade. On the streets, cops have unequivocally proven they can kill unarmed black men just as deftly with paddy wagons and choke holds as they can with bullets. Why even the criminals are weaning their dependence on firearms as evinced by the alarming rise of identity theft and ransomware.
The shooting spree at the Inland Regional Center sparked another debate as well: Does our Constitutional right to privacy supersede the efforts of law enforcement? Though a federal appeals court ruled that Microsoft needn’t relinquish emails stored on servers located outside the United States, the Fourth Amendment was sure to be tested when the FBI sued Apple in an attempt to force the technology giant into programming a backdoor into Syed Farook’s iPhone. While the authorities swore on a stack of Bibles this would be a singular request, it wasn’t a matter of weeks before federal prosecutors in Brooklyn made a similar entreaty regarding a drug bust. In the end, the Farook case was rendered moot when third party hackers cracked the encryption code; gallingly, Apple’s lawyers countersued, demanding that the FBI divulge the vulnerability in the company’s own software.
(Unwittingly, Israel’s NSO Group revealed itself as the cyber intruder when it left digital fingerprints in an unrelated surveillance case. Working backwards, researchers subsequently identified multiple iOS vulnerabilities that Apple has since patched. The same, sadly, cannot be said of Madden 17.)
Another round of Congressional hearings aside, the Clinton email scandal has simply run out of gas. It is well established by now that the networks she was supposed to have used — those at the State Department, Pentagon and White House– were all, impressively, hacked by the Russian government and, therefore, posed a far greater security risk than the server maintained in a bathroom closet in a nondescript Denver neighborhood. (The silver medal went to China for pilfering 22 million employee files from the Office of Personnel Management, while the bronze was secured by a group of Albanian credit card thieves.) Why hacking has become so ubiquitous that even Hollywood has gotten into the act (see: CSI: Cyber, Mr. Robot). Nonetheless, despite multiple breaches at the IRS, the most egregious episode remains the hacking of a U.S. embassy worker in Bangladesh by members of Ansar al-Islam. In that case, perpetrators eschewed the standard toolkit of malware and remote code execution and instead used a fucking machete.
Meanwhile, the Russians are making no bones about the fact they prefer just about anyone to Hillary; while their ham fisted hack of the DNC failed to elevate comrade Sanders, they were able to defenestrate Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz-Goldfarb-Mandelbaum-Finkelstein-Kleinberg. According to the FBI, the Ruskies remain undaunted and have since burrowed into election systems in at least two states (Arizona and Illinois) in an attempt to seat Donald Trump by orchestrating voter fraud on a scale that will make the Bushes and Kennedys look like Aristides. Maybe, then, a loaded AR15 wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all…