Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Do Something Or Do Nothing


During a major cholera epidemic in 1854 London, Dr. John Snow mapped the locations of victims killed by the disease. The deadly bacteria wasn’t widely identified at the time, but he sourced the contagion to a water pump on Broad Street. This is how the disease was discovered to be water-borne. The common sense solution was to shut down the pump and stop the spread at the source. So they did.

“Shut down the pump” was the pro-life, logical, practical and effective solution that saved lives. Let’s remember this line of reasoning.

Despite the covid pandemic, the US has been suffering an unabated mass shooting epidemic, with a growing number of Americans killed by AR style weapons. Armalite (AR) designed a weapon of war for the foot soldier to kill as many people fast as possible. The M-16 was the military model that became a standard automatic/semi-automatic select fire rifle for the US military in Vietnam. AR-15 was the Colt Manufacturing Company’s designation for their civilian version of the weapon after the auto-semi option was removed. Since aimed semi-auto fire is more deadly than sweeping automatic fire, the AR-15 would prove to be as lethal as an M-16. With a bump stock, an AR-15 was equal to machine gun fire on the concert crowd at the Las Vegas massacre.

A partial list of the mass shootings involving AR style/compatible weapons leaves a disturbing body count.

Boulder: 10

Orlando: 49

Parkland: 17

DC Sniper Attacks: 17

Las Vegas: 60

Aurora, CO: 12

Sandy Hook: 26

El Paso: 22

Wilkes-Barre shootings: 13

Waffle House: 4

San Bernardino: 16

Midland/Odessa: 7

Poway synagogue: 1

Sutherland Springs: 26

Geneva County shootings: 10

Tree of Life Synagogue: 11

And we know for certain there WILL be more, for as long as the tyranny of the minority prevails.

We have a choice in the matter. Do something, or do nothing. In fact, most gun owners, myself included, favor more regulation and background checks for purchases.

The “Do Nothing” crowd is louder, and better financed by the weapons industry than the “Do Something” people that make up the vast majority of Americans.

“The Post-ABC poll finds 86 percent of Americans support implementing “red flag” provisions allowing guns to be taken from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others. And 89 percent support expanding federal background checks to cover private sales and gun-show transactions. Both measures are supported by at least 8 in 10 Republicans, white evangelical Christians, members of gun-owning households and other traditionally conservative groups.”

Sadly majority rule is the exception rather than the rule in US government and politics. Those who most oppose gun control also want to control who votes. Democracy and the public’s wishes  are not welcome in the debate. The minority over-represented by half the Senate will obstruct any and all gun regulations.

The loud minority opposes expanded background checks and banning large capacity weapons like the AR-15. They equate ownership of these deadly weapons to freedom itself. Never mind most of us who don’t have one are just as free as those who do. We were all just as free before the mass marketing of these weapons as we are today.

In fact the thousands of American who have been killed, wounded or lost family members from the muzzles of these weapons are NOT as free as they used to be. Their blood, lives, grief and loss are the price society pays so gun nuts, militia nuts, racists, and the mentally ill can carry on with their idea of “freedom”, “revenge”, and lately “Second Amendment remedies” to elections they lost. The “Do Nothing” crew accept all of these deaths, and all future deaths, as the price others must pay for their so-called “freedom”.

Imagine the militias and other civilian combatants in war-torn countries with their Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers. Are they “more free” than Americans? Only by a gun nut’s definition.

Some will claim the weapons are for “sport”, but it would only be sporting if there was a right to arm bears. If sport, and not outright slaughter, was their game, they’d be happy to hunt with muzzle loading, lever-action, or bolt action rifles. The more trigger happy hunters have hunted with 10 round semi-automatic rifles. Before the mass marketing of AR style weapons, hunters never demanded 30 round magazines to satisfy their sporting desires.

If the first shot misses, chances are the next 30 rounds won’t bring down the fleeing game. In 2009, the term "modern sporting rifle" was coined by the The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a national trade association for the firearms industry. It is based in Newtown, Connecticut, home to families and children of the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Then there’s the “home protection” and “self-defense” argument. Never mind guns are more likely to kill family members than violent criminals or intruders. And again, nobody has ever needed 30 rounds to deter a burglar. If anyone runs across an incident of self-defense that required that 30th round, please let me know. I’ll wait. 

We'll hear their argument that handguns kill more Americans than AR style weapons. Yes, and they kill more Americans than Jihadist terrorism too. But we did something about that, didn't we? Now what do we do about radical Right domestic terrorism? 

In 1994 Bill Clinton signed a temporary assault weapons ban that prohibited commercial sales of most AK-47 and AR style rifles. So, what happened next? Did freedom die?

No. Fewer Americans died. The ban expired in 2004. Then more Americans expired.

In January 2019 the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery reported, “Mass-shooting related homicides in the United States were reduced during the years of the federal assault weapons ban of 1994 to 2004.”

A Stanford study concluded, “The Assault Weapon Ban Saved Lives”

Australia, New Zealand and Canada did what the US cannot. They had enough, and did something about it. They “shut down the pump”, and banned those weapons of mass destruction.

Americans have also had enough. But the “Do Nothing” powers within our corrupted and failed democracy will not listen to we the people.

Freedom and humans both die when democracy is strangled. And the “Do Nothing” radical Right Americans are OK with that.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Whitewashing America


By now we are all aware of how the radical Right loves to mischaracterize Democrats, liberals, progressives, etc. as the “radical Left”, and thereupon declare, “Leftists hate America.”

Demonizing the press and opposition as “enemies of the people” is their standard nationalistic rhetoric that has become a debate tactic. It is built into the foundation of their radical belief system. Along with racism and bigotry, demonization of dissent has always been at the core of radical Right ideology and fascism. 

Tucker Carlson has denied the existence of white nationalism, but found it appropriate to attack Representative Ilhan Omar for "hating America". He added, "We have every right to preserve our nation, and our heritage, and our culture". 

No wonder David Duke wanted him to be Trump's Vice President.

Omar was also one of the four women of color Trump accused of "Viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is supposed to be run". He then viciously tweeted, "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came".

Jonathan Chait observed in his article “Rush Limbaugh Taught Republicans to Love an Angry, Racist Bully”:

“Limbaugh oozed bile. He did not merely characterize his targets as misguided, or stupid, or even selfish. He rendered them for his audience as dehumanized targets of rage. He had special rage for feminist women, who were castrating harpies, and Black people, who were lazy, intellectually unqualified, and inherently criminal. The message he pounded home day after day was that minorities and women were seizing status and resources from white people and men, and that politics was a zero-sum struggle — and the victory would go to whichever side fought more viciously.”

Since racism isn’t racism to racists, the radical Right will refuse to acknowledge the racism from their favorite authoritarian leaders like Trump and Limbaugh.

I cited some of those racist remarks in a comment thread at our old conservative friend Darrell's blog.

They were all documented, from recordings, and from his own transcripts.  Limbaugh acknowledged making these statements in a 1990 Newsday article. “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?” and “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

But Darrell saw through my “deception”. He declared, “Your Limbaugh quotes are unsubstantiated, have questionable sources, or are not given full context”.

His sarcastic reaction was predictable.

“Dave Dubya does not hate America. The country is systemically racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and authoritarian (all according to Dave and the left) but Dave still loves his country. Thanks for the clarification.”

Did I ever say “The country is systemically racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and authoritarian”? Of course not.

This is how the radical Right responds whenever someone points to the fact that so many of them are racist, homophobic, trans-phobic, sexist, and authoritarian. In their minds they are “America”, and that makes them the “real victims”™.

What does that make the rest of us? Why, “America-hating Leftists”, naturally. Is there a reason why they conflate hating racism with hating America? It seems to touch a nerve.

We understand this distorted deflection sets the table for them to present their ubiquitous, radical Right, white identity “victim card”. Our conservative friend is an avid defender of Christopher Columbus as the hero who graciously brought “Western Civilization” to the Americas. Too bad about all that disease, slavery and genocide that came with it.

Darrell won’t admit it, but “Western Civilization” is the term substituted for “white nationalism” by white nationalists; not that I’m saying Darrell is a white nationalist.

The racist and radical Right insurrectionists called Proud Boys swear an oath when they join. “I am a Western Chauvinist and I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”

“Western” is their word for “white” these days. “Modern world” means “White European/American world”. Taking credit for “creating the modern world” sends their message of white supremacy, even though all the Coup Klux Klan “created” is hate and racism.

Somewhat less subtle are Trump’s openly racist terms “China virus” and "Kung Flu”. Not only did the “Whitest President” and birther incite racist hate for Mexicans and Blacks, he added Asians during his last year in office. Tragically the current plague of racist attacks on Asian Americans comes as no surprise.

What else can the radical Right do but project their bigotry back towards Democrats, liberals, and the Left?

This familiar tactic was in the news again. This time it was invoked by Republicans at a House judiciary subcommittee hearing on anti-Asian violence. They were annoyed that addressing racist anti-Asian rhetoric was an attack on their “free speech” against the Chinese Communist Party. Yes, the poor white guys are the “real victims”™ again.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) said, “If America was such a hate filled, discriminatory, racist society filled with animus against Asian Americans, how do you explain the remarkable success of Asian Americans in our country?” (File under, “If America elected Obama, how can there be a problem with racism?”) “Any racist sentiments, speech or act needs to be vigorously condemned, but to attack our society as systemically racist, a society that has produced the most prosperous and most harmonious racial society in human history, well that’s an insult and it’s flat out wrong.”

There it is again. Nobody "attacked our society as systemically racist”. In this case “our society” is exclusively conservative white people. And once again, only white conservatives may assume the authority to unilaterally define what is, or isn’t, racist. I mean, what do minorities know about racism?

Despite the arrogant pretensions of the radical white Right, they are not America. They are not “our society”. They are simply white Americans at their worst.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Quotes On Conservatism

It's time for "Fun with Quotes". I'll start off with a couple from yours truly.

"Coddle the rich and punish the poor" is the foundation of modern American conservatism.

"Modern American Conservatism requires neither conscience nor critical thinking. Introspection and concern for others are not needed to believe everything is just fine, the status quo is the way it's supposed to be, and it provides the best of all possible social and economic systems."- Dave Dubya 

Some old adages come to mind:

"While Liberals are afraid that somewhere, someone is not getting what they need, conservatives are afraid that somewhere, someone is getting something they don't deserve."

And of course:

“Conservatism is the dread fear that somewhere, somehow, someone you think is your inferior is being treated as an equal.”

Some other views from history and the recent past:

“Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals.”
Mark Twain

“You have no respect for excessive authority or obsolete traditions. You're dangerous and depraved, and you ought to be taken outside and shot!”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

“Expect poison from the standing water.”
William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

“I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

“Social conservatism and neoconservatism have revived authoritarian conservatism, and not for the better of conservatism or American democracy. True conservatism is cautious and prudent. Authoritarianism is rash and radical. American democracy has benefited from true conservatism, but authoritarianism offers potentially serious trouble for any democracy.”
John W. Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience

"The key to understanding the chaos in high Right Wing Authoritarian minds is that, compared to most people, they simply copied their ideas from trusted sources and have never checked to see how well they all fit together." 
John Dean, Authoritarian Nightmare

"The source of the dogmatism is obvious. People who have memorized rather than thought out their beliefs do not know why what they believe is true. True believers simply refuse to change their views. They cannot explain why they are right, but they know they are."
John Dean, Authoritarian Nightmare

“There are few genuine conservatives within the U.S. political system, and it is a sign of the intellectual corruption of the age that the honorable term 'conservatism' can be appropriated to disguise the advocacy of a powerful, lawless, aggressive and violent state, a welfare state for the rich dedicated to a lunatic form of Keynesian economic intervention that enhances state and private power while mortgaging the country's future.”
Noam Chomsky, The Culture of Terrorism

“The Right thinks that the breakdown of the family is the source of crime and poverty, and this they very insightfully blame on the homosexuals, which would be amusing were it not so tragic. Families and 'family values' are crushed by grinding poverty, which also makes violent crime and drugs attractive alternatives to desperate young men and sends young women into prostitution. Family values are no less corrupted by the corrosive effects of individualism, consumerism, and the accumulation of wealth. Instead of shouting this from the mountain tops, the get-me-to-heaven-and-the-rest-be-damned Christianity the Christian Right preaches is itself a version of selfish spiritual capitalism aimed at netting major and eternal dividends, and it fits hand in glove with American materialism and greed.”
John D. Caputo, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?: The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church

“The media are desperately afraid of being accused of bias. And that's partly because there's a whole machine out there, an organized attempt to accuse them of bias whenever they say anything that the Right doesn't like. So rather than really try to report things objectively, they settle for being even-handed, which is not the same thing. One of my lines in a column—in which a number of people thought I was insulting them personally—was that if Bush said the Earth was flat, the mainstream media would have stories with the headline: 'Shape of Earth—Views Differ.' Then they'd quote some Democrats saying that it was round.”
Paul Krugman 

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”
G.K. Chesterton

“Conservatism, however, is too often a welcome excuse for lazy minds, loath to adapt themselves to fast changing conditions.”
Sigmund Freud
“Conservatives are more religious than liberals--although there is no evidence that they're nicer people because of it.”
Andy Rooney
“To a right-winger, unions are awful. Why do right-wingers hate unions? Because collective bargaining is the power that a worker has against the corporation. Right-wingers hate that.”
Janeane Garofalo
“A conservative is someone who believes in reform. But not now.”
Mort Sahl
“A conservative is a man who sits and thinks, mostly sits.”
Woodrow Wilson
“Conservatism can only win in the short term, because society cannot stop evolving.”
Chuck Klosterman
"If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”
David Frum
”If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win by fairness, facts and reason, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject fairness, facts and reason.”
Dave Dubya

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Radical Right Snowflakes And Victims


Remember the radical Right's faux outrage over Obama in a tan suit? They love to inflate their resentment and anger towards minorities and Democrats over any trivial matter.

And who can ignore their endless victimization from their fictional “massive voter fraud” and “stolen election”? This fake victimhood is behind all their efforts to suppress minority voters and undermine our democracy.

Today’s “Horror and Outrage Show” is about a bigot losing her acting job, Dr. Seuss, and a potato head toy. Mostly it is about how the radical Right are playing the “victims” again. So why all the whining about a fictitious "cancel culture" and Dr. Seuss and potato head toys being canceled, even though they are not?

Dr. Seuss books are still available, minus the ones with overt racist characterizations. Millions of used copies are still available and are not banned.

Potato heads still come in genders, or no gender. Hasbro changed nothing, but added a gender neutral version to the Mr. and Mrs. options. Deal with it.

Radical Right "victim" Gina Carano was fired from her acting job on the “Mandalorian” TV series for comparing treatment of conservatives to Jews under Hitler.

The fact is racist white nationalism infects both Nazis and the radical Right. Hitler's brand of victimhood was blaming Jews. America's radical Right are "victims" of the racial and gender equality movement. They are all ever so delicate.

Carano promoted the Big Lie of massive voter fraud that led to Trump's Coup Klux Klan insurrection. She was very upset about her favorite radical Right racist forum Parler being shut down.

She even re-posted an outright anti-Semitic meme on twitter in December 2020, featuring a group of Jewish men playing Monopoly on the backs of a group of naked men, with the caption "All We Have to Do is Stand Up and Their Little Game is Over." The image is a widely-shared meme among neo-Nazis and white supremacists that espouses the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that a cabal of rich Jews run the world.

So what is all this really about?

Radical Right snowflakes are angry and upset, and decided they were victims again.

Corporations take actions to boost their image and bottom line. It's called "capitalism".

This is all just more of the radical Right's culture war and deflection from their suppression of voter rights and obstruction of much needed pandemic relief.

They really do hate their fellow Americans. Just don't call them racists or Nazis. They resemble that remark.