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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bomb Shelter

 

Narrator: What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it's the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone.

 

It’s been an interesting few weeks.

And by interesting, I mean like the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” interesting.

Like I fell into an episode of the Twilight Zone interesting. You know, that episode where the neighborhood goes insane and turns on each other in red-eyed panic when they think the world is about to end.

After writing about the standoff with armed militants in Oregon last week, I’ve gotten a near continuous stream of virulent hate mail and threats of violence – some veiled, some less so.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I was surprised.

I’ve been doing this for a long time and the one thing you can always count on is the immediate and rabid slobbering of fanatical haters when you ring their bell.  Especially if you ring it on purpose as I’m prone to do. But that’s where I like them, out in the open where I can see them, instead of skulking around in the shadows.

Many of these folks say similar things and have similar outlooks. What’s interesting to me is the source of this increasingly paranoid mindset since it’s fairly obvious they all have something in common, at least tangentially.

For example, a guy named John Pennington posted the following comment to the Refuge of Scoundrels essay:

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On one hand, I have to give him props for “coprophagenous liberal dogs” (even if the word should really be “coprophagous”).

On the other hand, apparently the irony of disputing the essay’s basic assertion by threatening to add my body to a pile of dead Americans used as sandbags completely escaped Mr. Pennington.

Not content to leave a comment filled with threats of violence on the Refuge of Scoundrels essay, Pennington then began sending me emails. I shined him on a bit, just to see where it would go. He didn’t disappoint.

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A charming fellow, John Pennington.

It turns out he’s damned near a cliché, a doughy over-the-hill angry conservative white man who hates Obama and liberals and gays and Muslims and, most of all, the government – all while living on government disability.

He’s a member of Mesa County Patriots, a rabidly anti-government militia of the usual stripe, Birthers, 911 Truthers, gun nuts, and government haters, and you can certainly see why he thinks the louts, drunks, fakers, and criminals occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge are just the best thing since John Hancock told King George to go fuck himself.

After I flagged his email address, Pennington sent me one more message and couldn’t resist that little veiled threat at the end.

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We’ll see. Eventually.

Yes, indeed, I suppose we will.

Now, this is pretty mild compared to some of what I get. So why bring it up? Why this particular example?

Well, first because he gave me permission to do so, but mostly because two years ago John Pennington was running for Mesa County Sheriff.

Allow me a digression: Imagine that. Imagine this guy as your sheriff. Imagine your sheriff being the guy who goes home at night and sends emails to people on the internet like those above. Worthless human scat. Enjoys turning shit like you into “breathing space.” Somebody will cover you up eventually. Fuck you. We’ll see. Stack your body with the other filth to absorb the bullets. There will come a day of reckoning.

Generally, it’s the sheriff’s job to protect you from goons like John Pennington.

Try to imagine Sheriff John Pennington, a man who regards his own country as the enemy, a man who is a member of a seditious organization whose sworn goal is violent overthrow of the US Government, try to imagine calling that guy when armed militants take over your town. Try to imagine him stopping your daughter on a dark lonely road…

Fortunately for the folks of Mesa County, Pennington lost the election.

But here’s the point, here’s the real question: how do you become that guy?

How do you become a guy who talks about shooting down your neighbors? How do you become a guy who dreams about shooting down the democratically elected government you were once, supposedly sworn to defend and obey? How do you become the guy who talks about taking up arms against your own people, your own country?

 

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How does a guy who claims he was once a Marine, and not just a Marine but an elite Scout Sniper, pledged to protect Americans with his very life, go from Devil Dog to ranting about shooting down those very same Americans and stacking their bodies like sandbags? Assuming he really was a Marine in the first place, that is (look, I’ll do him the courtesy of taking him at his word but let’s be honest here, a lot of these militia types falsely claim to be Scout Snipers and SEALs and Chair Borne Rangers and they cover themselves in enough stolen valor to give a Third World dictator a run for his money. So please, pardon my slightly raised eyebrow of skepticism here. You lay down with camels, you get bitten by camel spiders).

How do you get from being a Marine, an elite warrior who places honor, duty, discipline, and loyalty above all, to throwing in with wife beaters and drunks and thugs and stolen valor? How is that possible?

How do you get from Semper Fidelis to sedition and outright hatred of the citizens you once served?

The simple truth of the matter is if John Pennington was a Muslim and he talked like this, he’d already be in custody.

 

So how does it happen?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Pennington’s election Facebook page, Pennington for Mesa County Sheriff, is still up, and the last entry dated October 10, 2014 is the reason I chose this particular example:

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Wake up, you fools!

They’re here, in America!

They’ve slipped through our borders and they’re colluding with “un-loyal” Americans – got that? Un-loyal Americans and who might those people be? Why, people like me, of course. I don’t have to guess, Pennington told me so. You and me, we’re “human scat.”

Be careful who you have as a friend! You can’t even trust your family. Why, anybody could be one of them! Anybody!

Take what corrective action you deem necessary to protect your family.

Go armed everywhere, you fool! Everywhere!

In their minds, it’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets the Twilight Zone narrated by Tailgunner Joe.

As I said in Refuge of Scoundrels, these people, they aren’t arming themselves to defend America from some foreign invader. Not really. They’re arming themselves to shoot down you and me.

“...until such time as your body is needed, that we may stack it atop the other filth here in order to absorb bullets and fragment. There will come a reckoning...

We are the enemy they fear most of all.

 

Man: Why don't we get some kind of battering ram?
Frank Henderson: Yeah, we could go over to Bennett Avenue, Phil Cline has some heavy pipe in his basement, I've seen it.
Man: No, no, that would bring him into the act too, and who cares about saving him? No, if we do that, we'll let all those people know we have a shelter on our street. We'll have a whole mob to contend with, with a whole bunch of strangers.
Mrs. Henderson: Sure, and what right have they got to come over here? This isn't their street, this isn't their shelter.
Jerry Harlowe: Ohhhh, this is our shelter, and on the next street that's another country. Patronize home industries, you idiots, you fools, you're insane, all of you.

 

But where does it begin? How does this start? How do you reach a point where you see your neighbors as the enemy? And everything as a conspiracy?

In the Facebook post above, Mike Albear says he got a “message from a very good active source that was confirmed on Fox News.”

Ah, yes. The source.

Wayne Simmons.

I thought this paranoia smelled familiar.

Wayne Shelby Simmons. Former CIA operative with 27 years of experience in covert operations all over the world. Intelligence expert. Defense Contractor. Author – hell, Donald Rumsfeld even endorsed Simmons’ novel about a retired CIA agent called back for yet another clandestine operation saying “Simmons doesn’t just write it, he’s lived it!” Pentagon consultant via the Military Analysts Program. And finally and most importantly, Fox News consultant who made more than a hundred appearances on various shows as an authority on everything from foreign policy to counter-terrorism.

Simmons claims to have "spearheaded deep-cover intel ops against some of the world's most dangerous drug cartels and arms smugglers.”

He retired from the CIA in 2000 and became a consultant for Fox News. He was a hawk who became a regular face at various roundtables and panels on terrorism and war, a favorite of the Pentagon’s Public Affairs Office who in 2004 was trying desperately to rally support for the floundering war effort in Iraq.

He was a Fox News darling. The perfect anti-liberal, a distinguished tough-talking no-shit expert with a handshake that could crush rocks. You couldn’t argue with him, because he’d been there and done that – or in CIA vernacular, he was never there and that never happened. Wink wink. Wayne Simmons was the guy, the real deal, a man with the grit and the expertise and the experience to take on the generals who were telling Donald Rumsfeld he was wrong. Simmons in his own grizzled words “wanted to slap” those generals, and he did, verbally, over and over, backing up Rumsfeld again and again – which might explain why the Secretary of Defense himself was enthusiastically willing to blurb a fiction novel.

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That’s Simmons on the left, standing next to Donald Rumsfeld in the Secretary of Defense’s Office at  the Pentagon.

Simmons was so trusted and so influential in 2006 the White House invited him to be present in the Oval Office when George W. Bush signed the Military Commissions Act – which among other things granted the Executive unlimited power to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely at Gitmo, something Simmons had been loudly demanding on Fox News. The Pentagon listed him as one of its "most prolific retired military analysts" and given his experience they wanted him in Iraq as an expert military consultant advising commanders and the troops.

He became a regular on the Republican speaking circuit and landed himself a lucrative book deal.

And so, naturally I suppose, it’s unsurprising Simmons eventually became a member of the “Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi,” (CCB), a group of experts formed by a media watchdog group called Accuracy In Media to independently investigate the events surrounding the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed Ambassador Stevens and three employees of the US State Department. Simmons and the CCB produced a widely circulated report extremely critical of the Administration and laying the blame for Benghazi squarely at the feet of Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile back on Fox News Simmons made no bones about his politics. On the air he called President Obama a "boy king" and Nancy Pelosi a "pathological liar” and his words were repeated verbatim by Republican politicians and conservatives on the street and by this point Simmons was essentially narrating the conservative consciousness.

And then in a 2014 appearance on Neil Cavuto’s Fox News show, Simmons declared with total assurance there were "at least nineteen paramilitary Muslim training facilities in the United States." Cavuto nodded his head in agreement and responded “wow!” Simmons’ declaration, at least nineteen known Muslim paramilitary facilities training terrorists right here in America, went unchallenged because this was Wayne Simmons after all – one of the nation’s most respected experts.

Simmons looked at Cavuto with his distinguished icy stare, and said, "They're using paramilitary exercises to plan and execute these types of operations all over the United States. And when it happens, it will just be you and I saying, 'We told you so.'"

Wow indeed.

And there it is. The source.

Oh others had made similar statements, but Simmons on Fox News is what gave the hidden terror legitimacy. And it confirmed the worst fears of those militiamen up above. They’re here. They are right here among us. They are training to kill us all. They could be anybody. They could be anywhere. Your friends, your family, next door, the next block,  the bank manager, the grocery store cashier. Trust no one. Arm yourself. Take action. It’s the only way to be sure.

And how could you argue?

If there’s anybody who knows about the Islamic State, it’s Wayne Simmons.

 

Except...

 

Except there’s just one problem.

It’s all – all of it, every single word – it’s all complete and utter bullshit.

Wayne Shelby Simmons is a fraud.

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Simmons never worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Simmons was never a spook, he was never a secret agent, he was never an analyst, he was never an operator.

In actuality, he really was never there and it really did never happen.

He’s not an expert on military intelligence. He’s not an expert on terrorism. He’s not an expert on anything.

What he is, in point of fact, is a bullshit artist of extraordinary hubris.

Wayne Simmons is nothing but a conman.

Everything about this guy is a lie.

Which makes his assertion calling Nancy Pelosi a “pathological liar” doubly ironic, don’t you think?

Behind Simmons is a 30 year long trail of wreckage and failure. He ran a limousine service, a gambling operation, an AIDS-testing clinic, and tried to start a commuter airline – all of which failed. He sold hot-tubs and carpeting and very briefly had a contract to play defensive back for the New Orleans Saints. He’s got a criminal record for multiple DUIs, illegal weapon possession, and assault. In 2007 he was arrested for attacking a Pakistani cabdriver in Annapolis, Maryland, and tried to bullshit his way out of it by claiming he was a CIA operative and the cabbie was a Muslim terrorist. The police called the CIA. The CIA told the police to arrest him. Somewhere along the line, Simmons started believing in his own bullshit. He got a job with defense contractor BAE Systems as a "Human Terrain System team leader." But he was forced to resign when it became apparent he had no idea what he was doing. A year later he applied for a job with the State Department, but was rejected when GSA Human Resources looked into his background and realized he was a complete fraud. Simmons is nothing if not persistent in his duplicity. In 2010 he got hired on as a Senior Intelligence Advisor with another defense contractor and was sent to Afghanistan to advise military commanders. Fortunately, he failed his background check and his interim security clearance was revoked and he was sent home before he could get any more Americans killed.

Simmons was arrested last October and charged with multiple counts of fraud. He’s been charged with not only lying about his fraudulent CIA past to gain employment and audiences with Rumsfeld and Bush, but he’s also charged with running a real-estate scam that bilked $125,000 from a woman he was romantically involved with.

He’s currently under house arrest with his daughter as his court-appointed guardian. Even if he could go outside, he’d have to take a cab because his car was repossessed and his house is next given that he’s a deadbeat who hasn’t made a mortgage payment in going on five years.

His trial begins on the 23rd of this month and if he’s found guilty he’s going to spend a number of years in prison.

Oh, and that Citizens Commission on Benghazi? Well, that was more like a commission of Birthers, 911 Truthers, Kooks, and Conspiracy Theorists. The report they produced, the one quoted endlessly on Fox News, was nothing but a list of long debunked and provably wrong falsehoods – though it did make Michael Bay’s job easier. And that watchdog group? Accuracy in Media? Well as it turns out, “accuracy” in that context means “needs more frauds like Wayne Simmons to tell us what we want to hear.” AIM is really a partisan outfit with a conservative political goal.

It’s not just Simmons.

It’s the media who didn’t bother to vet his nonsense before making him a public figure.

It’s Rumsfeld and the Pentagon Public Affairs office who let this go on even though they knew Simmons was a fraud because it furthered  their  own agendas.

And most of all, it’s the public who ate it up without question because he told them what they wanted to hear. Guys like John  Pennington and his friends in their little militia clutching their guns and their bibles waiting for the end, those paranoids out there in Oregon? These people have been had. Not by government, not by Muslim terrorists, not by liberals, not by their neighbors, not even by con-artists such as Wayne Simmons, but by their own small fears.

Jerry Harlowe: Hey that's a great idea, block party, anything to get back to normal, huh?
Dr. Bill Stockton: Normal? I don't know. I don't know what normal is. I thought I did once. I don't anymore.
Jerry Harlowe: I told you we'd pay for the damages, Bill.
Dr. Bill Stockton: Damages? I wonder. I wonder if anyone of us has any idea what those damages really are. Maybe one of them is finding out what we're really like when we're normal; the kind of people we are just underneath the skin. I mean all of us: a bunch of naked wild animals, who put such a price on staying alive that they'd claw their neighbors to death just for the privilege. We were spared a bomb tonight, but I wonder if we weren't destroyed even without it.

And what happens when these people, these lunatic paranoids, finally work up the courage to begin their revolution of false patriots and fake marines? When they finally do take up arms against their own countrymen and come to batter down our doors? What happens after they shoot us down? Or die trying? And stack our bodies like sandbags against the bullets which exist only in their minds?

What happens after they give in to fear and panic and the endless black terror which gnaws at their withered souls?

What then?

When it’s over, when the howling mob is finally sated ... and they look up from the wreckage like those in Oregon are doing even now and find that it was all a false alarm?

What happens when they discover their entire worldview is based on a fraud?

What then?

Will they have the courage to face it?

Or will they turn away in denial and cowardice?

I wonder.

 

Narrator: No moral. No message. No prophetic tract. Just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.
- The Twilight Zone, Season 3, Episode 3: The Shelter, 1961

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Correction: I originally said Mesa County was in Arizona.  It’s not, it’s Colorado. That’s what happens when you spend all night on militia websites reading about  “Al Qaeda” training camps in Arizona.  It’s fixed.  // Jim

Friday, January 22, 2016

Fund Drive

Like anybody else, I have bills to pay.

I have mortgage(s) and a kid in college and the cat needs to eat and I’m preparing to pick up this year and move just about as far across the continent as is possible. As Stonekettle Station has increased in popularity, it takes up more and more of my time to do proper research and analysis, write the content you come here for, and manage the site, commenting, and the associated social media feeds.

And when I’m doing that, I’m not writing novels or short stories or paying copy or working in the woodshop.

Unless you’re Wil Wheaton, making a living from social media is an adventure and based on my evolving business model, every once in a while I need to run a donation drive. 

I don’t like this.

I don’t like asking for money.

Ideally, I write something and if you like it enough, you’ll kick in.  And thankfully, you do so often enough that I can mostly survive doing this. I’ll never get rich, but it beats writing advertising jingles or flipping burgers or getting shot at. That is going to become even more important to me as my business model evolves. More on that later.

I don’t like asking for money, it makes me very uncomfortable. So the last time I did this I found a way to assuage my conscience.

See, I turn trees into things, sometimes firewood but usually stuff more like this:


 

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That’s a spalted Alaskan Birch bowl, turned in my shop by me. Signed. One of kind. 14” in diameter. It’s intended as art, but it would make a dandy – if expensive – salad bowl.

And it can be yours.

Here’s how it works:

- Donations of $50 or more:

Anybody who donates $50 or more during the period January 1 to February 15 will be put in the running to win this piece. That means if you’ve already donated to Stonekettle Station this month, you’re already entered to win.

- Donations of less than $50:

Anybody who donates between $1 and $49 between January 1st and Feburary 15th will be eligible to win a handmade customized laser-engraved pen in the same style I made for a number of famous writers at the World Science Fiction Convention (Sasquan) in Spokane, Washington last year.  I will randomly select TWO winners in this category. Winners will be able to specify what they want engraved on the pen within certain limitations (you can only fit so much on a pen barrel folks). And again, if you’ve already donated this month, you’re already entered to win.

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You may enter more than once. Each donation will be counted as a unique entry.

Winners will be selected February 15th by Shopkat.

To donate, click on the “Donation” button on the upper right side of this screen and follow the directions.

Note: Those of you who already donate via an automatic monthly payment, you’ll be entered automatically in the drawing. 

Thank you.

_________________

Addendum: To be clear, this is not a lottery or a raffle.  Donations are voluntary subscription fees specifically in support of this blog, i.e. you’re paying for content not a chance to win something.

I am not claiming any tax-exempt status or charity.

Donations are considered business income and I pay all applicable state and federal taxes on that income and I have the records to prove it.

The bowl, the pens, those are my artwork, created and paid for by me.  As such I chose to randomly give them away to supporters, just as I gave away pens to writers and supporters.

I’m simply using this month’s subscriptions as the pool to select from since I have no other way to determine who readers are. 

You are not paying for a chance to win a prize, you’re paying for the content of this blog and my associated social media feeds.  And I’m using this opportunity to give something back other than just my usual blog essays, Facebook posts, and Tweets.

For those interested in purchasing my woodwork and artwork directly, click on the Stonekettle Store link at the top of this page. New bowls will be up later this week.

// Jim

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Non Sequitur

Jack Sparrow: You, sailor.
Mr. Gibbs: Cotton, sir.
Jack Sparrow: Mr. Cotton. Do you have the courage and fortitude to follow orders and stay true in the face of danger and almost certain death?
[Cotton does not respond]
Jack Sparrow: Mr. Cotton! Answer, man.
Mr. Gibbs: He's a mute, sir. Poor devil had his tongue cut out, so he trained the parrot to talk for him. No one's yet figured how.
Jack Sparrow: Mr. Cotton's ... parrot. Same question.
Parrot: Awk! Wind in the sails. Wind in the sails. Awk!
Mr. Gibbs: Mostly, we figure, that means “yes.”
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney, 2003

 

This morning some are calling it performance art.

Others, drunken rambling and incoherent evidence of insanity.

My personal favorite is “post-apocalyptic slam poetry.”

Awk! Wind in the sails! Wind in the sails! Awk! Awk!

Sarah Palin’s Donald Trump endorsement speech was all those things and more. So very much more. Confused, unfocused, paranoid, war-mongering, grandiose, spiteful, jam-packed with bizarre metaphors and digressions, bombastic, bellicose, pandering, full of folksy phrases and made up words ... and mad as a goddamned hatter.

Sarah Palin’s Donald Trump endorsement speech was in fact a brilliant summation of the modern GOP.

No, really. Try this: instead of Palin’s screeching caterwaul, imagine this same exact speech given by a shitfaced Johnny Depp doing his best Captain Jack Sparrow.

 

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You see it now, don’t you?

Sarah Palin is the very epitome of modern conservatism. 

Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, a parody of America.

You think I’m kidding? Let’s take a look at her endorsement speech, word by word, line by line. This was Trump’s “big announcement.” This was what the crowd cheered.

This is the face of modern conservatism, right here.

Thank you so much. It’s so great to be here in Iowa. We’re here just thawing out. Todd and I and a couple of our friends here from Alaska, lending our support for the next president of our great United States of America, Donald J. Trump.

Good so far.  Let’s see how long she can hold it together.

Mr. Trump, you’re right, look back there in the press box. Heads are spinning, media heads are spinning. This is going to be so much fun.

Well, that answers that.

Like any teenaged high school cheerleader, the woman can hold a goddamned grudge, can’t she? For her, it’s all about getting even, getting in a dig and scoring some points. She imagines the “lamestream” media’s chagrin at her presence and for her it’s just delicious. Ha ha, dorks!

Are you ready to make America great again? We all have a part in this. We all have a responsibility. Looking around at all of you, you hard-working Iowa families. You farm families, and teachers, and teamsters, and cops, and cooks. You rockin’ rollers. And holy rollers! All of you who work so hard. You full-time moms. You with the hands that rock the cradle. You all make the world go round, and now our cause is one.

Rockin’ rollas. Holy Rollers. Rockin’ the cradle. What the hell was that? For a minute there I thought she was channeling The Humungus from Mad Max: The Road Warrior, I was hoping she was going to dismount by calling Trump the Ayatollah of Rockenrollah!

Snark aside – if that’s even possible – what the hell did any of that mean? It’s just gibberish and that’s her opening paragraph. That’s the part she practiced. Holy rollers and Ayatollers and can I get a holla back!

When asked why I would jump into a primary — kind of stirring it up a little bit maybe — and choose one over some friends who are running and I’ve endorsed a couple others in their races before they decided to run for president, I was told left and right, “you are going to get so clobbered in the press. You are just going to get beat up, and chewed up, and spit out.” You know, I’m thinking, “and?” You know, like you guys haven’t tried to do that every day since that night in ‘08, when I was on stage nominated for VP, and I got to say, “yeah, I’ll go, send me, you betcha. I’ll serve.” And, like you all, I’m still standing. So those of us who’ve kind of gone through the wringer as Mr. Trump has, makes me respect you even more. That you’re here, and you’re putting your efforts, you’re putting reputations, you’re putting relationships on the line to do the right thing for this country. Because you are ready to make America great again.

Never forgets a grudge. Never. Even the imagined ones.

We’re just three paragraphs in and she’s already a selfless martyr. Beat up, chewed up, spit out, quit my job, made eight million dollars, bought a couple of mansions, fly around in a private jet, no one knows the misery I’ve seen.

Well, I am here because like you I know that it is now or never. I’m in it to win it because we believe in America, and we love our freedom. And if you love your freedom, thank a vet. Thank a vet, and know that the United States military deserves a commander-in-chief that our country passionately, and will never apologize for this country. A new commander-in-chief who will never leave our men behind. A new commander-in-chief, one who will never lie to the families of the fallen. I’m in it, because just last week, we’re watching our sailors suffer and be humiliated on a world stage at the hands of Iranian captors in violation of international law, because a weak-kneed, capitulator-in-chief has decided America will lead from behind. And he, who would negotiate deals, kind of with the skills of a community organizer maybe organizing a neighborhood tea, well, he deciding that, “No, America would apologize as part of the deal,” as the enemy sends a message to the rest of the world that they capture and we kowtow, and we apologize, and then, we bend over and say, “Thank you, enemy.” We are ready for a change. We are ready and our troops deserve the best. A new commander-in-chief whose track record of success has proven he is the master at the art of the deal. He is one who would know to negotiate.

They hate us because they anus!

They hate us, because they anus!

They hate us because they anus! Now or never! In it to win it! Believe in America! Love freedom, thank a vet! Lead from behind. Art of the deal. And suddenly we’re in the middle of a Seth Rogan movie. It’s a stream of consciousness made up of every bumper-sticker she saw on the way to the airport. She’s like the guy who writes a love letter to his girlfriend composed entirely of lines he copped from Hallmark birthday cards.

Only one candidate’s record of success proves he is the master of the art of the deal. He is beholden to no one but we the people, how refreshing. He is perfectly positioned to let you make America great again. Are you ready for that, Iowa?

You got that? Donald Trump is beholden to no one but we the people. Trump, he only answers to the people. The people. How refreshing indeed.

He is from the private sector, not a politician, can I get a “Hallelujah!” Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows how to lead the charge. So troops, hang in there, because help’s on the way because he, better than anyone, isn’t he known for being able to command, fire! Are you ready for a commander-in-chief, you ready for a commander-in-chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass? Ready for someone who will secure our borders, to secure our jobs, and to secure our homes? Ready to make America great again, are you ready to stump for Trump? I’m here to support the next president of the United States, Donald Trump.

He’s not a politician, Hallelujah, crows the career politician.

Balance the budget to prioritize which allows him to keep the main thing the main thing and he knows the main thing which is the main thing and the main thing is he knows how to lead the charge to the main thing so troops, hang in there, because help’s on the way because he, better than anyone, isn’t he known for being able to command, fire!

See? See? It’s drunken Johnny Depp. Dread Cthulhu, it’s almost impossible to parody this gibberish, even for someone as skilled at mockery as me.

Now, eight years ago, I warned that Obama’s promised fundamental transformation of America. That is was going to take more from you, and leave America weaker on the world stage. And that we would soon be unrecognizable. Well, it’s the one promise that Obama kept. But he didn’t do it alone, and this is important to remember, especially those of you, like me, a member of the GOP, this is what we have to remember, in this very contested, competitive, great primary race.

Motherfu... okay, Jim, deep breath. In. Hold. Out. No that’s not helping.

Somebody, anybody, show me how America is weaker than it was eight years ago. Weaker how? Economically? Militarily? Energy? Comic Books? What?

Somebody, anybody, show me how America has been “fundamentally” transformed. Transformed how? Transformed, like a Michael Bey Benghazi movie transformed? Like we’re now a nation of giant space robots that can turn into cars with laser eyes? Because that would be pretty cool. Transformed how? Be specific and show your work.

Somebody, anybody, explain to me that last line: “this is important to remember, especially those of you, like me, a member of the GOP, this is what we have to remember, in this very contested, competitive, great primary race.” What? What’s important? God damn it, I was a cryptologist, a Navy codebreaker, and I can’t make any  sense of that statement. What’s important?

Trump’s candidacy, it has exposed not just that tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, okay? Well, Trump, what he’s been able to do, which is really ticking people off, which I’m glad about, he’s going rogue left and right, man, that’s why he’s doing so well. He’s been able to tear the veil off this idea of the system. The way that the system really works, and please hear me on this, I want you guys to understand more and more how the system, the establishment, works, and has gotten us into the troubles that we are in in America. The permanent political class has been doing the bidding of their campaign donor class, and that’s why you see that the borders are kept open. For them, for their cheap labor that they want to come in. That’s why they’ve been bloating budgets. It’s for crony capitalists to be able suck off of them. It’s why we see these lousy trade deals that gut our industry for special interests elsewhere. We need someone new, who has the power, and is in the position to bust up that establishment to make things great again. It’s part of the problem.

The tragic ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country.

The tragic ramifications of the betrayal of the transformation.

The betrayal of the transformation.

Now just wait a goddamned minute here. First she was complaining about a transformation, now she’s complaining a betrayal of the transformation. Wouldn’t a betrayal of the transformation be a good thing in Sarah Palin logic? Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Fuck it, she’s rolling and apparently the irony of bitching about cheap labor while endorsing a guy whose casinos and hotels are staffed with those exact people completely escaped her.

His candidacy, which is a movement, it’s a force, it’s a strategy. It proves, as long as the politicos, they get to keep their titles, and their perks, and their media ratings, they don’t really care who wins elections. Believe me on this. And the proof of this? Look what’s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they’re attacking their own frontrunner. Now would the Left ever, would the DNC ever come after their frontrunner and her supporters? No because they don’t eat their own, they don’t self-destruct. But for the GOP establishment to be coming after Donald Trump’s supporters even, with accusations that are so false. They are so busted, the way that this thing works.

So just to be clear “they” don’t care who wins elections that’s why “they” are attacking the front runner.

Because they don’t care.

We, you, a diverse, dynamic, needed support base that they would attack. And now, some of them even whispering, they’re ready to throw in for Hillary over Trump because they can’t afford to see the status quo go, otherwise, they won’t be able to be slurping off the gravy train that’s been feeding them all these years. They don’t want that to end.

Republicans are throwing in for Hillary because they’re slurping conservative gravy.

Probably because they are so “diverse.”

Works for me – though that gravy thing is going to haunt my nightmares for the foreseeable  future.

Well, and then, funny, ha ha, not funny, but now, what they’re doing is wailing, “well, Trump and his, uh, uh, uh, Trumpeters, they’re not conservative enough.” Oh my goodness gracious. What the heck would the establishment know about conservatism? Tell me, is this conservative? GOP majorities handing over a blank check to fund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood and illegal immigration that competes for your jobs, and turning safety nets into hammocks, and all these new Democrat voters that are going to be coming on over border as we keep the borders open, and bequeathing our children millions in new debt, and refusing to fight back for our solvency, and our sovereignty, even though that’s why we elected them and sent them as a majority to DC. No! If they’re not willing to do that, then how are they to tell us that we’re not conservative enough in order to be able to make these changes in America that we know need to be…Now they’re concerned about this ideological purity? Give me a break! Who are they to say that? Oh tell somebody like, Phyllis Schlafly, she is the Republican, conservative movement icon and hero and a Trump supporter. Tell her she’s not conservative. How ‘bout the rest of us? Right wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions, and our Constitution. Tell us that we’re not red enough? Yeah, coming from the establishment. Right.

There it is.

Sacrilege. Heresy. Conservatives aren’t conservative enough for Orthodox Church of Conservatism.

What would Conservatives know about Conservatism?

GOP majorities handing over a blank check…

… a blank check for Obamacare, which is, of course, why Republicans in the House and Senate have attempted to repeal, defund, or destroy the Affordable Care Act more than fifty times and why Republican state governors have fought implementation of the ACA at every turn possible.

… a blank check to fund Planned Parenthood. Sure, this would be why Republicans threatened to again shut down the government over the Federal Budget; this is why conservatives never shut the fuck up about abortion, ever, because they’re handing over a blank check. Right.

… a blank check for illegal immigration that competes for your job. Your job washing dishes in one of Trump’s hotel kitchens, I guess. Your job republicans shipped to China and Bangladesh, maybe, in the quest for profit. Your job without healthcare or dental coverage or enough of a wage to cover the goddamned mortgage. Your job picking the fruit and cabbages for less than minimum wage.

… a blank check to turn safety nets into hammocks. I can’t tell from the context if she’s talking about Food Stamps or Golden Parachutes.

Right wingin’, bitter clingin’, proud clingers of our guns, our god, and our religions, and our Constitution. We’ll have T-shirts with that slogan on sale in the lobby!

And … tell us that we’re not red enough? Remember when conservatives were better dead than Red? Now they just aren’t Red enough. Boy, how times have changed.

Well, he being the only one who’s been willing, he’s got the guts to wear the issues that need to be spoken about and debate on his sleeve, where the rest of some of these establishment candidates, they just wanted to duck and hide. They didn’t want to talk about these issue until he brought ‘em up. In fact, they’ve been wearing a, this, political correctness kind of like a suicide vest. And enough is enough. These issues that Donald Trump talks about had to be debated. And he brought them to the forefront. And that’s why we are where we are today with good discussion. A good, heated, and very competitive primary is where we are. And now though, to be lectured that, “Well, you guys are all sounding kind of angry,” is what we’re hearing from the establishment. Doggone right we’re angry! Justifiably so! Yes! You know, they stomp on our neck, and then they tell us, “Just chill, okay just relax.” Well, look, we are mad, and we’ve been had. They need to get used to it.

We’re mad and we’ve been had while eating our green eggs and ham. Doggone it!

This election is more than just your basic ABCs, anybody but Clinton. It’s more than that this go-around. When we’re talking about a nation without borders. When we’re talking about bankruptcies in our federal government. Debt that our children and our grandchildren, they’ll never be able to pay off. When we’re talking about no more Reaganesque power that comes from strength. Power through strength. Well, then, we’re talking about our very existence, so no, we’re not going to chill. In fact it’s time to drill, baby, drill down, and hold these folks accountable. And we need to stop the self-sabotage and elect new, and independent, a candidate who represents that and represents America first, finally. Pro-Constitution, common-sense solutions that he brings to the table. Yes the status quo has got to go. Otherwise we’re just going to get more of the same, and with their failed agenda, it can’t be salvaged. It must be savaged. And Donald Trump is the right one to do that.

Reaganesque power of strength from power strength drill, baby, drill, because new represents this and that solution to the table status quo has gotta go status quo has gotta go because the failed agenda can’t be salvaged but it must be salvaged and what the fuck?

It’s gibberish.

It is just gibberish.

Are you ready for new? And are you ready for the leader who will let you make America great again? It’s gonna take a whole team. It’s gonna take a whole team. Fighters, all of us, in the private sector. Fighters in the House and the Senate. So, our friends, who are fighters in the House and the Senate today, they need to stay there and help out. They can help our new leader in the positions that they are in. Let me say something really positive about one of those individuals: Rand Paul. I’m going to tell you about that libertarian streak in him that is healthy, because he knows, you only go to war if you’re determined to win the war! And you quit footin’ the bill for these nations who are oil-rich, we’re paying for some of their squirmishes...”

Just. Stop. Right. There. Squirmishes? Footin’ the bill for some squirmishes?

Squirmishes.

Do you know this woman’s parents are teachers? Teachers. Obviously shitty ones, but still.

... that have been going on for centuries. Where they’re fightin’ each other and yellin’ “Allah Akbar” calling Jihad on each other’s heads for ever and ever. Like I’ve said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out. We’ll fight for American interests, and as Donald Trump has said, other nations where we have been footin’ the bill, but we haven’t prioritized our own domestic budgets well enough to be able to afford what we’re doing overseas. Things are gonna change under President Trump. So it can be an unbeatable team with fighters there in the House and the Senate. Yeah, our leader is a little bit different. He’s a multi-billionaire. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, it’s amazing, he is not elitist at all. Oh, I just hope you guys get to know him more and more as a person, and a family man. What he’s been able to accomplish, with his um, it’s kind of this quiet generosity. Yeah, maybe his largess kind of, I don’t know, some would say gets in the way of that quiet generosity, and, uh, his compassion, but if you know him as a person and you’ll get to know him more and more, you’ll have even more respect. Not just for his record of success, and the good intentions for America, but who he is as a person. He’s not an elitist. And yes, as a multi-billionaire, we still root him on, because he roots us on. And he has, he’s spent his life with the workin’ man. And he tells us Joe six packs, he said, “You know, I’ve worked very, very hard. And I’ve succeeded. Hugely I’ve succeeded,” he says. And he says, “I want you to succeed too.” And that is refreshing, because he, as he builds things, he builds big things, things that touch the sky, big infrastructure that puts other people to work. He has spent his life looking up and respecting the hard-hats and the steel-toed boots and the work ethic that you all have within you. He, being an optimist, passionate about equal-opportunity to work. The self-made success of his, you know that he doesn’t get his power, his high, off of OPM, other people’s money, like a lot of dopes in Washington do. They’re addicted to OPM, where they take other people’s money, and then their high is getting to redistribute it, right? And then they get to be really popular people when they get to give out your hard money. Well, he doesn’t do that. His power, his passion, is the fabric of America. And it’s woven by work ethic and dreams and drive and faith in the Almighty, what a combination.

Trump. He’s a multibillionaire, who grew up rich, went to some fancy prep school, married a string of foreign supermodels, and lives in a multimillion dollar penthouse on top of a Manhattan tower with his name plastered across it in fifty foot high letters, but he’s not an elitist. He’s one of us, the poor downtrodden salt of the earth white people of America being oppressed by Obama. Preach it, Sister! He’s kind and compassionate and quietly generous, I know that’s what I think of when I see Donald Trump, quiet humility. Oh yes. Other people get high by giving you money but not The Old Trumpster, no he keeps his money, because he’s generous, quietly.

Are you ready to share in that again, Iowa? Because that’s what’s going to let you make America great again. He’s going to be able to empower you to look out for one-another again instead of relying on bankrupt government to supposedly be looking out for you. No, and I think you’re ready for that. And Iowa, I believe too that you’re ready to see that our vets are treated better than illegal immigrants are treated in this country. And you’re ready for the tax reform he talks about to open up main street again. And you’re ready to stop the race-baiting and the division based on color and zip code, to unify around the right issues. The issues important to me, or I wouldn’t be endorsing him. Pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, strict constitutionality. Those things that are unifying values and their time-tested truths involved. These are unifying values from big cities to tiny towns, from big mountain states and the Big Apple, to the big, beautiful heartland that’s in between.

Ah, here we go, the things that are important to true conservatives, God, guns, and keeping the wrong element in the right zip code.

Now, finally friends...

Oh, thank God.

... I want you to try to picture this, it’s a nice thing to picture. Exactly one year from tomorrow, former President Barack Obama. He packs up the teleprompters and the selfie-sticks, and the Greek columns, and all that hopey, changey stuff and he heads on back to Chicago, where I’m sure he can find some community there to organize again. There, he can finally look up, President Obama will be able to look up, and there, over his head, he’ll be able to see that shining, towering, Trump tower. Yes, Barack, he built that, and that says a lot. Iowa, you say a lot, being here tonight, supporting the right man who will allow you to make America great again. God bless you! God bless the United States of America and our next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!”

Well, at least she got that part right.

Go right ahead and elect Donald Trump, on purpose or by ommission, and you’ll spend the rest of your life looking up at that tower, the one with his name on it, to the sound of jackboots and the senseless drunken gibberish on display in this idiot woman’s speech.

Language reflects intellect and reason. Compare this nonsense to the great orators of the Republican Party, men whose masterful use of language echo down through history as part of the very fabric of the United States, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and, yes, even Reagan. This, this right here, this mishmash of vacuous soundbites, made up words, intellectual vacuum, and saber-rattling fact-free paranoia, this right here is Donald Trump.

I never thought I’d agree with the GOP “establishment,” but they’re absolutely right about Trump.

Poor devil had his tongue cut out, so he trained the parrot to talk for him. No one has figured out how.

And nobody is really sure what the parrot was actually saying.

Because in the end, it was just a goddamned bird brain.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Refuge of Scoundrels

"...An overweening vanity leads the fond many, each man against the conviction of his own heart, to believe or affect to believe, that militia can beat veteran troops in the open field and even play of battle. This idle notion, fed by vaunting demagogues, alarmed us for our country, when in the course of that time and chance, which happen to all, she should be at war with a great power."
  - US Senator Gouverneur Morris, Founding Father and Penman of the US Constitution, Boston, 1815

It’s been what?

Two centuries and some change maybe?

I mean, when exactly was the last time defense of the country depended on a bunch of raggedy-ass pig farmers?

Exactly when was it, that glorious time of independence and freedom, when the heavenly white light of liberty depended on a dirty band of fake Marines, ersatz soldiers, and drunken beer bellied louts led by a couple of second-rate cattle barons whose own grasp of civilization most closely resembles that of their bovine stock in trade?

When?

We’ll come back to that.

We Americans, oh how we love to tell ourselves fairytales of the fabled citizen soldier.

We love to believe a bunch of simple farmers, untrained in war, armed only with primitive muskets and the fierce righteous fire of liberty in their bellies, faced down the greatest professional army in the world and sent the Red Coats back to King George. Oh yes, we proudly puff out our chests and tell ourselves how a rag-tag militia of common men rose up to drive tyranny from the land, how those patriots watered the tree of liberty with their own blood, and went on to pen the Constitution and lay the foundation of the United States with nothing more than the sweat of their own brows and the blessings of their creator.

It’s all bullshit, of course.

Bullshit, but that myth is so entrenched in the American psyche that to suggest otherwise is oft considered treason.

The idea is ludicrous. It is. It’s so ridiculous in fact that we laugh, we Americans, when the idea comes up in any other context but for our own Revolutionary War. The thought of some rag-tag half-assed militia facing down our own modern military? Hilarious. They’re nothing but a bunch of goat herders, towelheads, camel jockeys, we sneer with contempt. All the IEDs and suicide-belts in the world can’t so much as blunt our advance. Yeehaw!

And we’re right about that.

Sure we are. For no misfit militia can stand against a trained and equipped professional force.

Oh, certainly, militia might get lucky in an ambush or even a skirmish, but not in open battle. Not against professionals. Not against tanks and well equipped infantry and air superiority and advanced communications and technology. Which is why that militia so often resorts to guerrilla tactics and terrorism and a war of attrition – and even those things can’t win the day, not if the professional military and those who sent them are willing to stay the course.

The simple truth of the matter is this: American freedom, American liberty, has never depended on an irregular militia.

Not really.

George Washington himself had a particular contempt for the militia, writing to his nephew, Lund Washington, in September of 1776 after the loss of Long Island and Manhattan to British forces,

“I am wearied to death all day with a variety of perplexing circumstances, disturbed at the conduct of the militia, whose behavior and want of discipline has done great injury to the other troops, who never had officers, except in a few instances, worth the bread they eat. In confidence I tell you that I never was in such an unhappy, divided state since I was born.”

Note that in the battle which prompted Washington’s letter, the Redcoats took New York in less than twelve hours, while the various American militias (forces actually sworn to the country and with some modicum of training unlike the modern militia movement) deserted almost to a man at the first sight of the professional soldiers advancing on them. At the Battle of Kip’s Bay, General Washington attempted to rally the panicked and fleeing militia by first commanding “take the walls!” pointing to the stone walls of the cornfields that made up the battleground. The men ignored him and continued to run away. Then because they were in utter disarray and their officers unwilling to stand their ground, Washington commanded the militia to “take the cornfields!” just to get them off the road and to stop running. Instead, the militia dropped their weapons and ran blindly away up the Post Road. Washington literally beat the fleeing militiamen with his cane and the flat of his sword in an attempt to turn their cowardice. Finally in frustration, Washington declared he would start running them through if they didn’t stand and fight. They didn’t.

Meanwhile on Long Island, the militia, facing battle hardened German troops under command of British General William Howe, threw down their weapons, raised their hands and attempted to surrender. The Germans shot the Americans in the face and then stabbed them with bayonets.

In anything but a support role – and often not even then – the militia was an abject failure. They were worse than useless and held in utter contempt by actual soldiers both on the British and the American side of the Revolution. The truth of the matter is that the Continental Army which Washington demanded from the Continental Congress and that eventually won our independence from King George, those soldiers were a professional military force. Untested and unsure at first, but after that terrible winter at Valley Forge, they were well trained courtesy of Baron Friedrich von Steuben and increasingly well supplied by the Continental Congress and supported by France.

If the Founding Fathers had depended for their independence on the various irregular militias, they surely would have all been hanged – separately and together.

Those men, those men who led the Continental Army and fought for our freedom, those men knew exactly what they were doing when they included the words “well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment.

And they for damned sure weren’t talking about giving Americans the right to shoot down their own government – because those Founders were the government.

 

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There are few things professional soldiers despise more than some fake wannabe warrior.

Professional military personnel look upon militias and paramilitaries the same way cops regard amateur security guards.

And for good reason.

Irregular militias, paramilitaries, are worse than useless when it comes to defense of a nation. Literally worse than useless. They are untrained, undisciplined, undependable, and too often belligerently unaware of their own pitiful state. They take up resources and risk the security of real soldiers. Irregular militias are often indistinguishable from an armed mob. Like those currently occupying Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, militias are almost always composed of misfits and rejects, wannabe soldiers and pretend Marines puffed up with stolen valor, disaffected braggarts, belligerent drunkards, criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, conspiracy theorists, and angry losers of every stripe.

These raggedy-assed pretend patriots are not out there defending your freedom.

Most of them don’t even rise to the level of the militiamen who fled the British at Kip’s Bay.

They’re in it for themselves.

They’re in it for themselves and only for themselves and make no mistake about it.

These are Sovereign Citizens – an oxymoron if ever there was one. These are people who have declared themselves a nation unto themselves and have rejected the obligations of civilization. They are citizens of nothing, an army of one, defenders of mob rule and rights by force.  

They believe freedom comes at the muzzle of a gun and only at the muzzle of a gun, and they believe in their freedom not yours.

They literally believe a gun gives them the right to do anything they want.

Literally, these people believe might makes right - or more correctly might makes rights. Their rights, not yours.

Those militiamen occupying Malheur Wildlife Refuge are little different from the mobs of armed men currently roaming Somalia or Iraq or Syria. They are lawless thugs, nothing more. They want you to believe they are defending freedom, defending America, defending their twisted and simplistic interpretation of the Constitution.

They’ve turned the Second Amendment into a religion, a bizarre sexual fetish, into mental illness.

But those guns? The ones they’re so proud of? Those weapons are not turned to defense of the nation. They’re not aimed at some foreign invader. They’re aimed at you.

They’re aimed at the United States of America.

These militias exist solely for one reason: to shoot down Americans.

They are not preparing to face some foreign invader. They are not standing in defense of their countrymen. In point of fact, they declared us, you and me, their enemy. This is the face of the modern militia movement, just the same as any ISIS fighter who would shoot down Americans in the name of ideology. Same as any Muslim extremist, these militiamen hate the American government, they hate liberals, they hate gays, and they hate those who don’t adhere to their particular religion. These are racists, homophobes, anti-Semites, Islamophobes, sexists, and bigots of every stripe and bitter flavor – don’t take my word for it, go read their statements in their own words. These are fake soldiers who pretend valor they never earned. These are drunks and murderers, liars and cheats, wife beaters and tax dodgers, and blustering cowards. They are busy fighting amongst themselves, literally murdering each other, and raging against illusionary tyranny that exists only in their fevered imaginations.

These are not patriots.

They do not believe in democracy.

They do not believe in the republic.

They do not stand with the rest of us against the fall of night.

They believe in guns and violence and brutality. They are a howling mob and nothing more.

These are nothing less than self-declared enemy combatants who intend violent overthrow of the United States government. They fully intend to impose their idea of America, their idea of who is and is not an American, their idea of religion and race and sexuality, their idea of freedom and liberty and happiness, on the rest of us by force of arms or gun us down in cold blood if we will not submit.

They intend civil war.

They intend civil war, no less. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is listen to their rhetoric. All you have to do is read their websites and manifestos. All you have to do is listen to their endless threats of violence and look where it is directed.

All you have to do is take them at their own words.

They are not patriots.

A gun doesn’t make you a patriot.

A patriot is someone who rallies to the defense of country, of community, of civilization. In the American tradition, a patriot is a citizen soldier, a minuteman, a reservist, a guardsman, one who turns out in the dark of night, in the most bitter of winters, sworn to defense of the United States when called.

A gun doesn’t make you a soldier.

A soldier is a professional. A soldier first and foremost is part of a team, not a mob, not an individual. It takes courage, discipline, endless training, and a willingness to give your life in defense of others – not for yourself, not for heroism, not for glory, but for them. In the American tradition, a soldier is willingly sworn to defend the rule of law with his or her own life at the command of the elected civilian leadership – even when that soldier may disagree with that leadership, perhaps most especially then.

In the American tradition, more than anything else, a soldier is one who believes this: I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

That, that right there, is what makes us exceptional.

A gun doesn’t make you a citizen.

A citizen is one who is part of civilization, not outside it. A citizen is one who works to hold society together instead of working to burn it down, who learns from the past in order to build a better future for all. And in hard-won, hard-learned American tradition, a citizen is one who believes that the benefits of civilization are the birthright of all – not just a select few. Not just those brutal enough, ruthless enough, to take it at the muzzle of a gun.  

Citizenship is an ideal, an obligation, a duty.

Citizenship is not an excuse to act like a lout or a thug.

Citizenship is an acknowledgement that we are stronger together, despite our differences or maybe because of them, than we ever were alone.

And if civilization does not protect the weak from the ruthless, then what damned good is it?

Those squatting in Malheur are not patriots. They are not soldiers. They are not citizens. They are an armed rabble of selfish malcontents, thieves and scoundrels, louts and violent drunkards. They believe they are protecting themselves from government, but civilization, government, exists to protect us from them.

They are nothing but bums with guns.

 

And that too is an American tradition, this ongoing lunatic tolerance for sedition in our own midst.

 

We ignore the cancer while it eats us alive. This is not freedom. This is not the liberty our ancestors fought and died for. This is not patriotism. This is like living with a rabid dog, one who foams at the mouth and bares its diseased fangs at our families and who sooner or later will be at our throats.

The men who wrote the Constitution did not intend this.

They did not.

Twenty years after the Revolutionary War, malcontents on the Western Frontier, those who benefited from the newly formed United States but who didn’t want to contribute to the maintenance of civilization, rose in sedition. Farmers long accustomed to doing whatever they wanted without regard for their fellows or the rule of law declared themselves exempt from government – just as those currently occupying Malheur do today. President George Washington sent an army of 13,000 trained militiamen into Western Pennsylvania and Kentucky to explain to those insurrectionists the error of their ways. The Whiskey Insurrection (more commonly called the Whiskey Rebellion) collapsed in short order – and those vowing to overthrow the United States government and shoot down their fellow Americans fled.

And that, my shiny electronic friends is the answer to the question. That was the only time the militia stood in defense of the United States.

Ironic, no?

The Founders very clearly never intended for Americans to shoot down their own government or turn arms on their fellow citizens. And George Washington himself was willing to send the militia to enforce government authority on the land. Unless you are now going to tell me how George Washington was unamerican and ignorant of the Constitution?

Your freedoms, your liberty, are protected by the sworn soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardsmen, and reservists of the US Military. Along with the countless men and women who labor unknown and unacknowledged, in uniform and out, to hold civilization together with their bare hands every single day.

Most of all, your freedom is protected by you, by the government you create, by rule of law, by equal justice for all, by the maintenance of civilization for the benefit of all, by citizenship.

If you want a better nation, be better citizens.

Pointing guns at your fellow countrymen isn’t it. Ignoring the rule of law isn’t it. Demanding freedom to do as you please at the expense of others, at the muzzle of a gun, in the company of false patriots and wannabe heroes isn’t it.

It is long past time to put this ridiculous myth of the militia to rest.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Bang Bang Crazy, Part Five (Update)

Foreward

Portions of the following essay were first posted to Stonekettle Station on January 1, 2013.

Almost exactly three years ago.

Little has changed in that time. The slaughter continues unabated. Congress has so far not just failed to act but utterly refused to act. Far too many members of that corrupt and selfish body are in the pocket of the gun lobby and are far more concerned with their paychecks and campaign contributions and outright bribes than they are with the oath they swore to protect and defend America. These men and women, conservative and liberal, are cowards. Sniveling, corrupt, morally bankrupt cowards.

This is not about rights.

This is not about the Constitution.

This is about greed.

This is about blood for money.

This is about cowardice.  

This about a deliberate failure of government.

More than anything this is about the fears of small and hysterical cowards who have perverted the ideals of freedom and liberty into bloody terror.

The only member of government with the courage to act is President Obama.

His actions are limited to Executive Order – that is, despite the mewling protestations of hysterical fools, the president cannot make laws.  He cannot repeal them. He can only adjust how existing federal laws are implemented by the Executive Branch. And he has never pretended anything else. Ever.

For the last seven years, the president has called, repeatedly, on Congress to do their job, to sit down like rational lawmakers and seek legislative solutions to gun violence while preserving the fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution.

The president has given Congress every opportunity to do their job, to take the lead.

Congress has refused.

And if Congress refuses to act, the president must.

The following essay outlines the president’s executive action regarding gun violence. None of it is in even the slightest way unreasonable or unconstitutional or would infringe in even the smallest way with the rights of responsible gun owners. None of it. Not one goddamned word.

It is long, long past time to act.

 


 

 

“The thing that so angers me, and I think so angers you, is that this president is using children as a human shield to advance a very liberal agenda that will do nothing to protect them…’’

That was State Representative, Steve Toth, speaking to a crowd of torch and pitchfork waving Texans two years ago.

Toth was, of course, referring to President Obama’s push for action in the wake of high profile gun violence.

Toth accused the president of using children as human shields.

Human shields. We’ll come back to that.

Toth was speaking at a rally promoted as part of “Guns Across America” and “National Gun Appreciation Day.”

Guns across America.

National gun appreciation day.

 

I’ll pause for a moment so you can think about how goddamned insane that is.

 

National Gun Appreciation Day?

Only lunatics would dream up such ridiculous nonsense as National Gun Appreciation Day and Guns Across America.

That’s not patriotism.

That’s not liberty.

That’s not freedom.

Look here, as I’ve noted repeatedly, I myself am a gun owner.  It’s very, very likely I know more about guns than you do, I’ve had extensive professional training and decades of experience in gun design, maintenance, and use. Now, I might appreciate the fine engineering or the craftsmanship that goes into making a precision machine, certainly. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it? Is it? Gun appreciation day? That’s obsession. That is mass insanity. That is in fact the very definition of insanity, worship of guns, or rather the obsessive and exaggerated lust for power over others that guns represent.

National Gun Appreciation Day is nothing but public masturbation.

Banners at the Austin rally proclaimed “An Armed Society is a Polite Society,’’ ‘'The Second Amendment Comes from God’’ and ‘‘Hey King O, I'm keeping my guns and my religion.’’

And let’s start right there.

An armed society is a polite society?

This is nothing but bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. Provable bullshit. That line, an armed society is a polite society is taken out of context from a Robert Heinlein novel.  Heinlein was many things, veteran, patriot, libertarian, but he was not insane and that line was never intended as a rallying cry for those who would pervert the Second Amendment for their own selfish gratification.

I can show you armed societies, truly armed societies, we’ll start in Iraq and work our way around to Somalia via the Mexican drug corridors through gangbanger territory in Los Angeles.  Universally armed societies are emphatically not polite. Not once. Not ever. And don’t we Americans make fun of comparatively unarmed societies (compared to us) such as France and Great Britain for their politeness?  Canadians are so polite that it’s damned near a cliché, and yet somehow their easy going nature doesn’t seem to be at the muzzle of a gun. 

If armed societies are polite societies, how do you explain Texas?

What’s the logic here? Be polite, say please and thank you, better kiss my ass, or I’ll blow your brains out? 

Politeness at gunpoint is neither politeness nor a society.

The Second Amendment comes from God?

Again, bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. And bullshit.  This, this religious mumbo-jumbo, this God at the muzzle of a gun, is the very thing the Founders fought a revolution to get away from.

How many damned times do we have to go over this?

The Constitution is an agreement between human beings; it is a template for government, a basis for law.

God doesn’t get a vote.

God does not get a vote. Not my God, not your God, not anybody’s God.

God has not one damned thing to do with either the Second Amendment or any other part of the Constitution. Not in any way shape or form, not now, not ever.

I don’t care if you don’t like it. Too bad for you, you want to live where God makes the laws? Then move to Iran. In the US, God stays on his side of the room and the Constitution stays on the other.  Anybody who doesn’t understand the difference between supposed natural rights (the so-called “God given” rights of the Declaration of Independence) and the manmade legal rights of the Constitution needs to stop waving their guns and bibles and go back to school – preferably one outside of Texas.  The Second Amendment does not come from God. There’s no basis for this statement, not in the Constitution, not in law, not in the Federalist Papers, not in made up quotes from Thomas Jefferson, not even in the bible. It’s bullshit, utter and total bullshit, and serves only to demonstrate a profound and deliberate ignorance by those who cannot help but attempt to impose their goddamned religion on this country at every turn.

And nothing proves me right more than this: I’m keeping my guns and my religion.

Guns and religion.

It’s just me, right? Guns and religion.

It’s getting so that I can’t tell extremist Christians in America from the extremist Muslims who make up ISIS and Iran’s government.

Honestly, from where I sit, all you crazy religious people look pretty much the same.

I’m keeping my guns and religion. Guns and religion.

I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that? How in the hell do you get to guns and religion in the same sentence? Guns and religion, throw in a pickup truck, a keg of shitty beer, and an underage pregnant governor’s daughter and you’ve pretty much described modern conservatives haven’t you?

I’m not a Christian but I was raised in the church and I strongly suspect that Jesus would have bitch slapped the murderous bloody stupidity right out of these people. They understand their own religion even less than they understand the Constitution.

Meanwhile, a bit further north, Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign went predictably ape-shit, and fired off a mass mailing like a runaway AR-15 with a filed down sear.

The hysteria was almost palpable with dire warnings to Kentuckians that Obama was “coming for your guns!”

"You and I are literally surrounded. The gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment. On your rights. On your freedom!"

That was McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.

Oh no! We’re surrounded!

Surrounded by sissy pacifist liberals! Oh My God! What if they hand us flowers and start singing? Praise God and pass the ammunition! To arms! To arms!

Benton went on to say:

"Our Founders fought a revolution to secure our rights. They would have been appalled by what they heard from an American president the other day. President Obama has the left wing media in a frenzy. The gun-grabbers are in full battle mode. And they are serious."

You know, it’s funny. Whenever the President talks about jobs or the economy or the debt, Mitch McConnell immediately accuses him of not “being serious.” How many times have we heard that exact phrase in the last four years from Mitch McConnell? The president is not serious! Guns though, Mitch is willing to take Obama at his word on that, by God.

The president specifically said that he is not trying to infringe on the Second Amendment and that any significant changes to gun laws in the US would require congressional legislation. 

According to Mitch, liberals are in full battle mode.

Conservatives, on the other hand, are in a full-on panic.

For a bunch of people armed to the teeth, they sure are scared of a bunch of sissy unarmed gay liberals. It must be a hell of a way to go through life, pissing your pants all of the time.

Funny thing, I thought guns and religion were supposed to give you courage? No? 

I digress.

Conservatives are losing their minds over the idea of executive action on Obama’s part, once again demonstrating a profound lack of understanding of the actual Constitution and how our government actually works. 

Executive orders only apply to the Executive Branch of Government.

Obama can’t just make laws and issue orders, it doesn’t work that way. All executive action can do is enforce, or not, existing law – i.e. bills already created and passed by Congress, and signed into law by the President.

And you’d think people obsessed with the Constitution would know that.

The president unveiled a legislative package which he urged Congress to pass in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown massacres.

Now, that package included a ban on assault weapons and armor piercing bullets and a 10-round limit on magazines.  Note that the president can’t out and out ban assault weapons, armor piercing ammunition, or restrict hi-cap magazines, those things require legislation.  Which is what he asked congress to think about. Obama isn’t acting like a dictator despite conservative hysteria, he’s acting like a president – and polls show that a majority of Americans want some kind of control over these weapons.

That’s the president’s job, to ask congress to look into it.

However, McConnell's message calls the president’s proposals a "thinly-veiled scheme,” and McConnell pledged that he will oppose not only legislation but executive actions as well. And he has – all while taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the National Rifle Association.

Obama’s suggestion that limits be placed on certain weapons and ammunition has no chance of becoming any kind of law.

Obama’s suggestion that Congress do its job and explore other options has been utterly rebuffed. Congress has made it clear that they will not under any circumstance risk the approval and largess of the gun lobby. They would rather see the blood of Americans run freely in the streets than risk their office or bankroll.

Congress, they are cowards, one and all.

And so, the only option open to the president is Executive Action.

Obama’s Executive Actions are a result of the the Vice President's commission on gun violence, which recommended twenty-three executive actions:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

Obama will order federal agencies, i.e. agencies responsible to the Executive, to provide personal data to the background check system.

Now, that’s the background check system which is supposed to help keep guns out of the hands of crazy people and criminals. This is the system that the NRA claims they support – and really, why shouldn’t they?

And keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill and criminals is also something the NRA and Gun Lobby say they support.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to oppose this action. None. Unless you do believe that those with dangerous mental illness and/or criminals should be allowed buy and own guns.  And if you do, please explain why in the comments below. I’d love to hear it.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

Again, this is exactly what conservatives have been calling for. Less government, less regulation, less red-tape. Keep guns out of the hands of crazy people and criminals.

And again, why would anybody oppose making the very system they say they support work better?

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

The background check system is only as good as the information available to it. Much of that information, at the state level is provided voluntarily. The president cannot order the states to provide information, nor has he attempted to do so in any way. What he has done, is to suggest incentives for states to provide that information voluntarily. This is no different than the incentives encouraging states to set speed limits or standardize state issued drivers licenses.

And again, if you want to keep guns out of the hands of the murderous nuts and the criminals, wouldn’t you want the system to have access to that information? If not, why not? Please explain in the comments. I can’t wait to hear it.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

Even the most ardent of gun rights advocate thinks there are people who shouldn’t have guns. Kids, criminals, terrorists, the dangerously mentally ill.

This Executive Action simply orders the AG to review those categories and suggest updates to existing regulations.

Again, review the criteria currently used to prohibit individuals from having a gun. Is there a regulation that prevents a known member of ISIS from buying a gun? Is there? How do you know without a review? If there isn’t, shouldn’t there be?

Note: This review cannot change the regulation or change the criteria used to implement the regulation. It can however provide accurate information to Congress, should they decide to update the law.

Note: Would such an update keep a known terrorist from obtaining a gun? No, probably not. But if he can’t buy it legally from a gun dealer, then merely attempting to do so would alert authorities, and should he then go elsewhere to the criminal underground he becomes that much more vulnerable to law enforcement operations. Isn’t that what you want?

Note: This was the concern of a number of conservative lawmakers and used as justification to oppose immigration of Syrian refugees – i.e. possible Islamic terrorists hiding among them would be able to buy guns from any gun store legally.

Again, if you oppose this idea, and you think children, criminals, and members of ISIS should be able to purchase guns legally in the United States, I’d love to hear why.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

I honestly can’t imagine why anybody other than criminals would oppose this.

If somebody is arrested and their guns impounded, why wouldn’t you want their record checked before those guns are returned? Why would anybody, especially those currently caveating their social media posts with #bluelivesmatter and #alllivesmatter, want the police to return guns to those who are legally prevented from having them?

If guns don’t kill people, if people kill people, then why would you hand a gun to people who have demonstrated the inclination to murder others?

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

All we’re talking about here is guidance to gun dealers on how to use the background check system. Hardly totalitarianism.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

Why would anybody be opposed to this? Hell, the gun lobby, gun dealers, and responsible gun owners should be leading the charge on this. This, right here, safe and responsible gun ownership was the founding ideal of the National Rifle Association.

If you are opposed to a campaign promoting safe and responsible gun ownership, by all means tell me why in the comments. By all means.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

We have the Consumer Product Safety Commission review TV sets and waffle irons to make sure they don’t burn our houses down, why wouldn’t you want the same review and testing applied to gun locks and safes?

You tell me you’re a responsible gun owner. You say you keep your guns locked up. If you’re going to spend money on an expensive safe, on trigger locks, don’t you want to know if they’re any good? Don’t you want them engineered to the minimum standards necessary to do the job you bought them for?

Please, explain to me how having the Consumer Product Safety Commission review standards for guns safes and trigger locks infringes on your Constitutional Rights in any way whatsoever. You’re not even required by federal law to use those devices.

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. 10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

Why would anybody oppose either of these actions?

11. Confirm an ATF director.

For the last eight years, that’s eight years, Congress has refused to confirm an ATF director under either George Bush or Barack Obama.

Eight years. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, and Firearms has fewer agents now than it did in 1970 and takes up to eight years between inspections of gun stores because of a lack of personnel. The agency is prohibited from creating a searchable computer database for gun ownership records and has been leaderless for eight years.

This is entirely because congressmen beholden to the gun industry won’t allow confirmation of an ATF director. Understand, the Senate hasn’t rejected Obama’s nominations, they won’t even allow them to come up for debate. In other words, the Senate refuses, absolutely refuses, to do their Constitutionally mandated job for no other reason than they are being bribed by the National Rifle Association.

Eight years, folks, now you tell me what these people are afraid of. Go on, I can’t wait to hear it.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

THIS WAS THE NRA’S IDEA.

This was the NRA’s idea. So what’s the problem? Who opposes proper training for first responders and law enforcement? Go ahead, you tell me why. You explain to me how training law enforcement, first responders, and school teachers what to do in an active shooter situation infringes on your right to keep and bear arms. Go right ahead. Spell it out, line by line, detail by detail, and show your work. Let’s hear it.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

Again, THIS IS CONSERVATIVES’ IDEA.

Enforce existing laws. Prosecute crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, isn’t that what the NRA has been telling us?

It’s the people, not the guns.

So don’t you want to know why people kill people?

Let’s see, conservatives won’t let us do anything about guns, but they don’t want us to do anything about the people who use guns to commit mass murder. Logically (if that word can be used in this context) it would appear that conservatives are ok with mass slaughter.

Be honest, what exactly are conservatives afraid of here?

There is only one reason why anybody would be afraid of this research. Only one reason.

Think about that. Take all the time you need. It’ll come to you.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

Boy, sure wouldn’t want the AG to issue a report! Oh no, not a report! Anything but a report. 

We wouldn’t want to know about new gun safety technologies, or the challenges to implementing some of these things, or methods for helping the gun industry develop safer guns. We’re all about research that leads to the development of more deadly weapons and ammunition, but not safer guns. 

Note that this isn’t even a concrete action. It’s a report regarding the availability and most effective safety technologies. You know, the very thing you can find in damned near any gun magazine.

Also note that the AG can’t mandate gun manufacturers implement any of those technologies – that would require an act of Congress. The president is only instructing the AG to make the information available. That’s it.

And really, how horrifying would it be if the government actually helped gun makers produce safer weapons?  The government did that with cars and look what we ended up with, seat belts and air bags and anti-lock brakes, we hardly ended up with fascism as a result. What we got was better cars.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. 17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

Sure wouldn’t want to know if somebody with murderous tendencies or clinical depression or adverse mental issues has easy access to a gun, right? 

Because, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but people who might kill themselves or kill other people shouldn’t be asked if they have access to guns which don’t kill people.  Conservative logic, conservative tautology.

Again, ask yourself what’s the real concern here? What are conservatives really afraid of?

Think about it. If crazy people aren’t allowed to have guns…

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. 19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

Again, ARMED GUARDS IN SCHOOLS IS THE NRA’S IDEA.

So why are gun rights advocates against it when the president agrees with them?

Maybe Obama should propose arming Latinos and black people, see how long it takes for conservatives to start screaming for gun control.

Tell me, why would responsible gun owners oppose schools and churches and colleges developing a plan to deal with emergencies?

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover. 21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges. 22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations. 23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Now according to the gun nuts, it’s not the guns, it’s the crazy people.

But they’re opposed to anything that might help keep crazy people from picking up a gun and killing other people. 

The only option conservatives will support is the one where they get to carry guns so they can shoot crazy people with guns.

 

There you have it. Obama’s executive actions.

I’ve listed them all. Go read them again.

Show me one, just one, Executive Order that infringes on your Second Amendment rights in any way whatsoever.

Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Well?

 

The thing that so angers me, and I think so angers you, is that this president is using children as a human shield to advance a very liberal agenda that will do nothing to protect them…

No, Representative Toth, it doesn’t anger me.

What angers me are fear mongers like you.

Hateful, paranoid, fearful little rabble rousers like you, that’s what angers me. 

Frightened insecure gun nuts who can’t seem to differentiate between their dick and their pistol, that’s what angers me.

The fact that when children are slaughtered in a riot of blood, when adults are killed in a hail of bullets, when Americans are gunned down on the streets of the United States every single goddamned day, the first thing people like you think of is to run out and buy more fucking guns.

That’s what angers me, Congressman Toth.

I’ll tell you what really angers me, that fact that as a gun owner myself, as somebody who has owned and used and taught firearms for most of my adult life, I get lumped in with lunatics like you and the NRA, that’s what pisses me off more than anything else, Representative Toth.

And really human shields?

Human shields?

Seriously?

At least President Obama thinks of children as human.

Unlike Representative Toth and his friends down at the NRA who seem to regard kids as little more than pop-up targets.

The only thing Gun Appreciation Day did for me, was make me appreciate the fact that today America has a president and a vice president with the courage to face these idiots head on.

Go get them, Mr. President.


Afterword

Obama is not coming for your guns.

It is time to decide where you stand. The gun nuts have drawn their line of death in the sand, which side are you on? Choose. It is time for sane and rational Americans to stand their ground in the face of this murderous bloody lunacy and push back with with determination and grit. There are more of us than them. Many of us are armed too. I’m not afraid of these fuckers and you shouldn’t be either. Get off your ass, pick up your phone, log into your computer, or march your ass down to your local representative’s office AND PUT THESE COWARDLY BASTARDS ON NOTICE.

Listen to me, if you are taking orders from the likes of Wayne Lapierre, Tom Selleck, and Ted Nugent, you are a fucking idiot. The NRA  doesn’t represent me and it for goddamned sure doesn’t defend my rights. Not now. Not ever.

Now, right now, it is time to stand with your president.

Get on it.

- Jim Wright/Stonekettle Station

 


Addendum 1:  Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence
The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, (Update) Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity

Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve  been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijers Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun.  I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family.  Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I’m an Alaskan and I typically carry a gun in the wilds of Alaska on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.