- Commenting Rules. Read these before you comment. Really. I'm not kidding.
- Sharing material from Stonekettle Station. Read this if you're thinking about reposting, linking, quoting, or just plain stealing material from Stonekettle Station. Seriously, read this before sharing, otherwise I will unleash the badgers.

- Stonekettle Station's Greatest Hits: The good stuff, it's in here!
- Reader Links: Sites recommended by readers, pimp your site today!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bang Bang Crazy, Part Four

The first three parts of this essay are here:
Bang Bang Crazy, Part One
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Three

 


 

Wayne LaPierre and the NRA, the gift that just keeps on giving.

The NRA claims that new laws won’t prevent gun violence.

NRA logic being that laws don’t stop crime because criminals break laws anyway.

That’s right, criminals break laws, so according to the NRA there’s no point in passing any new ones.

So what’s the NRA’s solution?

A new law.

 

What?  Sure, I’ll pause for a moment so that you can make the facepalm.  Go on, get it out of your system. You’ll probably want to take a couple of aspirin while you’re at it, since you’ll be smacking yourself in the forehead a few more times before America gets to the end of this mess.

 

Sunday, on Meet The Press, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre doubled down on comments he made last week when he announced the NRA’s proposal to pass a new federal law mandating more guns in schools (See Part Three of this essay series).

“If it’s crazy to call for putting police in and securing our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy. I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it.”

I don’t think that’s what the American people are thinking.

And, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly what Wayne LaPierre himself said originally either.

Originally what LaPierre called for was “armed security” in each and every school – if fact what LaPierre originally called for was armed security trained under some NRA program to be announced later. Not cops.

Which is what started all the hoopla in the first place.

LaPierre should have kept his mouth shut, but he didn’t. And now he’s changing his story and hoping nobody will notice.

And for the record, as one of those “American people” LaPierre thinks he’s talking for, allow me to say that the very last thing I want is for an armed gun nut like Wayne LaPierre or his NRA friends anywhere within ballistic range of any school, let alone the one my kid attends.  Cops, maybe, but then we’ve got that already and so Wayne LaPierre’s newly modified plan is just so much hot air.

The NRA isn’t offering an actual solution, and in fact they are actively campaigning to prevent development or even examination of any  gun control option of any kind.

During the interview, host David Gregory repeatedly pressed LaPierre on the NRA’s position, to which LaPierre responded with sound bites and stonewalling. Finally in exasperation, Gregory asked point blank, “Is there no new gun regulation you would support?”  LaPierre refused to answer.

LaPierre refused to respond on the air, but his position and that of the NRA’s is well known and has been repeated on every news site, in every gun related forum, and in every public Second Amendment discussion since Columbine. Hell, before the blood was even dry in Aurora, Sarah Palin dutifully trotted out the standard NRA canard as noted in Part One of this series, to wit: criminals break laws, therefore new gun regulations won’t work.

Criminals don’t respect the law.

Criminals violate the law, that’s what some wit on writer David Gerrold’s Facebook page said in response to a comment I made there.

Criminals violate the law.

No kidding, right?

Thanks for pointing that out, Captain Obvious. And thanks for completely missing the obvious while you’re at it.

Criminals violate the law.

That’s why we call them criminals in the first place – because, see, if there wasn’t a law proscribing the activity in question, then we’d just have to put up with everybody’s antisocial behavior, wouldn’t we?

Pointing out that criminals violate the law isn’t an argument. It’s not a particularly penetrating observation either.  It’s a non sequitur.  Stating something that is so bleeding obvious as some kind of supposed profound insight is simply another form of moving the goal posts. The statement is a logical fallacy, a tautology, the kind used when you won’t, or can’t, address the real issue. 

Pointing out that criminals violate the law isn’t an argument, it’s a sound bite.

It’s a sound bite, and not a particularly accurate one either.  Laws, in fact, often do prevent certain behavior.  Laws mandating severe penalties for, say, drinking and driving have had a marked effect on drunken driving.  Do those laws prevent drinking and driving completely? No, of course not, but those laws are gradually changing the culture of the United States and reducing the number of alcohol related vehicle deaths and accidents as a result. It’s a long and painful process, but it is changing our culture for the better.

The primary function of law isn’t to prevent crime. 

It would be nice if it did, but that’s not what laws are for.

And that’s where the NRA and LaPierre go off the rails with their proposal. The foundation of the NRA position to put guns into every school is that, according to them, laws such as Gun Free Zones have failed, therefore any new laws will likewise fail.

That’s incorrect.

First, one doesn’t necessarily follow the other.

And second, to say that gun free zones have failed shows a profound lack of understanding of what those laws, indeed laws in general, were supposed to do in the first place.  Nobody (OK, almost nobody) expected gun free zones to completely prevent gun violence.  We expected those laws to give us options and legal recourse in the case of certain events. And they have done exactly that. But nobody (OK, almost nobody) expected them to stop gun violence completely.

Just as the law doesn’t stop crime.

That’s not the law’s primary function.

The primary function of the law is to provide society with legal recourse in the face of antisocial behavior, i.e. behavior that infringes on the rights and property of others or upon the security of the society and its people.

If you don’t have a law that makes a school a gun free zone, then when a kid brings a gun to school with the (maybe) intention of threatening his classmates, even if you catch him before he can use it, law enforcement’s options are limited.  The school can (maybe) kick him out for violating a school policy, but the law can’t touch him, not really, unless he violated some local gun ordinance or specifically transmitted a threat.  And so he goes home, gets the rest of his mommy’s guns and comes back.  But if you have a gun free zone, then by law the cops can arrest him the first time and have him evaluated for potential violence and maybe save your kid’s life.  And that has happened hundreds of times since implementation of the Gun Free Zones, something the NRA conveniently ignores.

Implemented correctly, laws gradually change our culture and society and make certain behaviors less likely. Laws proscribing discrimination are an example. Anti-smoking ordinances are another. So are laws regarding drinking and driving.  Before there were severe penalties for drinking and driving, if you were caught behind the wheel while intoxicated, the cops could give you ticket for violation of the vehicle code (if you were, in fact driving recklessly or speeding or failing to signal and so on) or maybe for public intoxication (if your local and state laws proscribed such things) or for whatever they could dream up – but not for the real problem.  They might haul you in and dump you in the drunk tank until you sobered up. Then in the morning, you’d pay your fine (if there was one) and they’d hand you your keys back.  Society had no legal method of keeping you from drinking and driving or punishing you for doing so until you killed somebody.  That’s why we passed all those laws.  Now we’ve got a battery of legal options that we, as a society, can apply.  In many cases, the threat of those laws do make the casual drinker think twice about getting behind the wheel.  Certainly drunk driving laws don’t prevent people from drinking and driving, obviously not, but those laws give society the option of seizing privileges, property, and liberty from those who just don’t get the message and they do provide us with a standardized framework for mandatory sentencing and penalties for those who willingly break the law. 

If a law does prevent crime, so much the better, but that’s not the law’s primary function.

In the United States, an equally important function of the law is to limit the power of government, business, special interests, and the majority over individual liberty.

Ah Hah!

See? That’s what we’re talking about right there, said a friend of mine when this topic came up.  The law is supposed to protect us from government overreach, it’s supposed to protect individual liberty.  Gun control laws infringe on my individual liberty, my Constitutional right as an American to keep and bear arms. Driving is a privilege, owning a gun is a right. That’s the difference right there.  Thanks, Jim, looks like you just made my argument for me.

Yeah, not so fast, Pistol Pete.

See, the law also says that individual liberty, i.e. rights, come with responsibility.

The most common example of which (so common that it’s almost a cliché) is that you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. That’s not technically correct.  You can, in fact, yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater, and there are times when you should  (for example, if there’s a fire), but you are responsible, by law, for what comes after. And nowadays, I’d be less worried about somebody shouting “fire” than somebody shouting “Gun! Gun!” and starting a panicked stampede accompanied by a firefight – see, because we’ve got laws that mandate fire detectors and sprinkler systems in public buildings and the example that led to the cliché of “Fire! Fire!” is mostly gone now.

If you incite a panic, then you’re accountable – and you don’t get to claim the First Amendment as your-get-out-of-jail-free card.

The law places limits on individual freedom in America, those limits have existed right from the beginning of the country. Those limits were pretty broad back when our rights were first conceived and incorporated into the Constitution, and they are still fairly wide today compared to elsewhere in the world, but those limits do exist both in principle and in law and always have.

All of our rights, our individual liberties, come with limits.

We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. Our rights have limits. Freedom of speech has limits. You can worship as you like in America, but we aren’t going to allow you to burn witches at the stake, stone adulterers to death, mutilate your female child’s genitals, or sacrifice your firstborn on a stone altar to appease your deity.  Your freedom of religion has limits. So does your right of free association, especially if your gathering disturbs the neighbors (which is notable since your right to assembly is in the Bill of Rights, your neighbor’s right to peace and quiet isn’t) or overwhelms the local services and so on. In fact, in a lot of cases, we make you buy a permit in order to exercise your right to assembly. Your right to petition the government for redress of wrongs is limited, there’s a specific methodology and a specific body of laws that you have to adhere to.  Freedom of the press is limited, granted those limits are pretty broad, but they are there nonetheless. And so on, every single right you have as an American is limited. Including the right to keep and bear arms.

That’s why the entire amendment doesn’t just say “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

That’s why the amendment begins with the qualifier “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…”

And that is, of course, why the NRA only acknowledges the last part and not the first, because The NRA wants the rights but not the responsibilities.

The Framers never intended that the right to keep and bear arms should be without limits or without responsibilities.

The commenter I mentioned up above, the one on David Gerrold’s Facebook page, initially said to me, “I assume that you’re a responsible gun owner and that any weapons you have aren’t going to cause me harm.”

Why would you assume that?

You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. Why would you make that assumption?

Hell, even a cursory examination of the information publically available about me shows that I’m a war veteran.  How do you know that I’m not all eaten up with the PTSD and fighting the Vietcong in the jungles of my mind? How do you know?

Why would you assume that I’m a responsible gun owner? Why, because I write well?  Yeah, so did Hunter S. Thompson and seriously, you really wouldn’t want to be in the same room with him and his pistol. Or, well, a lot of writers come to think of it. I’m just saying.

Why would you assume that I’m a responsible gun owner?

What assurances does current law provide you that I am, in fact, a responsible gun owner and that my weapons don’t indeed pose a threat to others? And if not a guarantee, then at least a reasonable assurance?

How do you know that I don’t just leave my arsenal of assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols lying around, fully loaded, where anybody, including my teenage son and his friends, can get at them? How do you know that I’m not mentally unstable? How do you know that I’ve had any training or education in firearms or firearm safety whatsoever? Because I was in the military? I could have been a nurse for all you know, or in the Air Force (Heh heh, sorry Zoomies, I couldn’t resist).

Why would you make that assumption?

What legal assurances does current law provide you?

Right.

None, actually.

And that’s the very crux of the matter, right there.

Let’s say I decide to raise dangerous animals. Lions and tigers and grizzly bears and baboons.  You people are my neighbors, what reasonable assurances are you offered that one night my clawed and toothed menagerie isn’t going to get loose and eat your kids?   Are you willing to just take my word for it? Are you willing to take my word that I know what I’m doing? Are you willing to assume that my homemade cages are strong enough? Are you willing to take the risk? Are you willing to just hope that I have insurance? Are you willing to just put up with the smell and the noise and have no options but to assume that I’ll be responsible?

Or do you want some laws giving you legal recourse should things go bad between us?

Who should be responsible? Me or you? Should I be responsible for giving you a reasonable assurance of safety under penalty of law?  Or should you be forced into responsibility for my irresponsibility through a lack of appropriate law?

Of course you could always give up and move, or buy a gun to defend yourself, but should you be forced to relocate or become a gun owner because there are no other legal options?

Same thing.

If you own a car, you're responsible for certain things. We make you meet certain minimal requirements, we make you pass a test, we make you buy a license. We penalize you if you don’t use your car correctly, or if you operate it in an unsafe manner, or if you don’t maintain it with the minimum required safety features (or if you don’t use them), or if you modify it beyond acceptable limits.  We make you buy insurance. If you drink and drive, you get to go to jail even if you don’t kill anybody.  If a kid steals your car because you left it sitting at the curb with the engine running and the doors unlocked and they use your car to commit a crime, you may not be held criminally liable for their actions directly, but your insurance company is going to penalize you - and is allowed to do so BY LAW – and you can be held liable for civil penalties.

Laws don’t stop vehicular crimes, but they for damned sure give us, society, at least some assurance that the majority of people operating vehicles on our roads meet some minimal qualifications and that there are legal penalties for those that fail to live up to their responsibilities – and those laws give us, society, legal recourse when all else fails.

We don't even do that much for gun ownership.

There is absolutely no reason for me to assume that you’re a responsible gun owner. 

And that’s the problem.

Because far, far too many Americans aren’t.

If Adam Lanza’s Mother had secured her guns properly, if she had been required under penalty of law to secure her guns properly, we might not be having this conversation.

As a gun owner myself, I don’t think that it’s unreasonable or unconstitutional that you should have to legally accept responsibility before you’re allowed to own a gun.

I don’t think that it’s unconstitutional that you should have to give the rest of us some reasonable assurance that:
- You’re a responsible adult. That you’re not insane or a mental defective, not a felon, and not a child.
- That you actually know what you’re doing, you’ve had some minimal training and a basic understanding of how guns work, where bullets go when you fire them, and how the safety equipment works.
- That you have a basic understanding of the gun laws that pertain to you and your legal obligations.
- That you’re not going to shoot up my kid’s school.
- That you’re not going to allow somebody else to take your weapon and shoot up my kid’s school, or wipe out a movie theater, or shoot my congressman in the head.

And

- That the law provides me, society, with legal recourse if you fail to live up to those obligations in any way. Period.

Or you just don’t get to own and operate a dangerous machine. 

We're not talking about any unreasonable stuff here, we’re barely even talking about the level of legal responsibility required to operate a car in this country.

If you want to own a gun then here’s where the hammer meets the firing pin: the burden of responsibility should be on you.

It’s as simple as that.

If you want to own guns, if you want to sell guns, if you want to make guns, then you and the NRA and the gun industry need to give the rest of us a reasonable legal framework where we can assume that you’re a responsible gun owner.

Don’t stand in the blood of our dead children and tell us that the laws don’t work.

If the laws we currently have don't work, then stop fighting us, roll up your sleeves and help us.  Let's get rid of laws that don’t work and make ones that do.

I refuse to accept that twenty dead kids are just the price we pay for freedom.

And you damned well shouldn’t either.

 


The first three parts of this essay are here:
Bang Bang Crazy, Part One
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Three

Related Essay written after the Aurora Massacre :

The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

 


And again, the standard warning applies:   if you’re a first time reader and you don’t know me and you came here all ready to school my liberal America hatin’ tree hugging ass about guns, stop. Read Part One, read it all of the way through, especially that last paragraph, the part where I explain my background when it comes to guns. It’s very likely that I know far more about guns and their usage under combat condition than you will ever know.  It’s quite likely that I own more guns than you do. Read the commenting rules, heed and obey. If you feel that you can’t adhere to the admonishments set forth in this paragraph, then leave. Don’t comment, don’t email me with your NRA bullshit, just leave. This will be your one and only warning.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bang Bang Crazy, Part Three

The first two parts of this essay are here:

Bang Bang Crazy, Part One
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two

Updates and Addendums at the bottom of the post.

Addendum One (22 Dec 2012)
Addendum Two (23 Dec 2012)

If you don’t like the post itself, or the tone of the essay, that’s fine. Scroll down to the addendums and read those // Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station


After a week of conspicuous silence, the National Rifle Association finally weighed in with their solution to gun violence.

They’d like a “good guy with a gun” in every school.

And they’d like you to pay for it.

Yes, that’s right, the folks who have done nothing for the last four years but whine endlessly for smaller government, now want the government to spend your tax dollars arming, equipping, and hiring a cadre of full time security officers to staff every school, public and private, in America.  No word yet on whether or not they’ll be advocating for similar protection to homeschoolers or if their petition applies to Muslim religious schools as well.

Also, as it turns out, the real victim of last week’s mass killing is the NRA.

 

I’ll just pause for a moment so you can take that in.

 

“What if when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified armed security?"

That was NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

What if there were armed guards to meet Lanza at the front door of Sandy Hook Elementary?

The NRA’s long awaited suggestion for reducing gun violence is … surprise! More guns. Arm the schools, arm the teachers, heck, arm the kids.

C’mon, it’s the NRA, who’s really surprised here? Really?

What if?

What if Sandy Hook elementary school had an armed SWAT Team standing by?

Better yet, what if the school was ringed with a minefield? Yeah. And concertina wire. What if we mounted .50Cal machine guns in turrets at each corner of the playground and manned them with experienced combat Marines? Maybe a tank guarding the parking lot? A couple of TOW launchers on the roof and the crossing guards equipped with illuminators ready to laze anybody who looks suspicious.  And we’ll probably need a Patriot battery on the front lawn, you never know when some deranged lunatic will hijack a jetliner and try to fly it into fourth period algebra. 

How long do you suppose it will be before we start referring to the schools as “Camp Liberty?”

You don’t sign your kids up for school, no, they enlist.

And of course, there’s the religious schools – when they say onward Christian soldiers, they ain’t kidding, folks. Instead of Wal-Mart, you’ll shop for school supplies at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Hell, why stop there?

What if we tagged all guns and gun owners in the country with RFID chips that could be read from orbiting satellites and when they get too close to a school, or a restaurant, or a Safeway, or a movie theater, the CIA could unleash a Hellfire missile from a loitering Global Hawk and vaporize the bastard in the gun shop parking lot?

Maybe we should just kill all the crazy people.

Sure, no crazy people, no crazy people with guns. What? I’m just saying.

Oh.

So, too much, eh?

Turn the schools into armed camps, kill the crazy people preemptively, you think that’s a bit outlandish? A little over the top, perhaps? Silly?

Maybe, but it’s no more silly than suggesting a kindergarten teacher keep a Glock in her purse and a Mini-14 in her desk drawer.

But then again, I’m not really sure what people exactly were expecting from the NRA.  Rational dialog? Reasonable suggestions? Sanity?

Heh heh. Right.

Of course, I suppose we should be glad that conservatives are suddenly calling for increased public school spending, I just wish it was for science and math and history and reading and, oh, I dunno, mental health programs, instead of arming the staff.

Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that in certain circumstance, under very specific restrictions, armed security in some schools isn’t a reasonable precaution. But to suggest that the answer to gun violence and mass murder in schools is to arm up the faculty while refusing to consider any other options, or combination of options, is just plain asinine.  

And here’s the funny thing, many schools do have armed guards. In the form of police officers. Gun Free school zone acts don’t apply to law enforcement.

Hell Virginia Tech, the site of one of the worst school shootings in recent memory, had its own armed police force on campus and was still unable to prevent the carnage. What’s the NRA’s solution? Put armed guards into each and every classroom? Every hall? Every bathroom. Every playground? On every school bus and at every bus stop?

And we’re back to our kids going to Camp Liberty again.

And what about movie theaters and shopping malls and grocery stores? We going to post guards there too?

And who will guard the guards? What keeps the guy with the uniform and 9-mil, or the history teacher, or the vice principal, from suddenly going all comic book villain? So I guess we’ll need armed guards to guard the armed guards. Just to be safe, I mean.  But then how comfortable would you be with Mr. Ali  Mohamed, the bearded Muslim shop teacher with the tats who immigrated from Iran twenty years ago, carrying concealed in your kid’s school? Go on, be honest, Conservative Christian White People. So, then when we say let’s arm the teachers, we mean only some of the teachers. The ones the NRA approves of.  I mean, after all, it’s their training program, right? So I guess they get to pick who guards our kids. Because, really, no gun toting crazy people in the NRA, right?

The logical implications of LaPierre’s statement are that the NRA believes Americans not only have the right to bear arms, but that bearing arms should be mandatory. LaPierre’s statement implies that every American should be armed and ready for a full out attack at any moment – well, every American except, well, you know, Muslims, and maybe black people (who are all Muslims anyway), and maybe Latinos (who are probably Muslims), and crazy people, and Muslims, and Democrats, and, well, you know. Those people. But other than that…

The NRA and Wayne LaPierre deserve every bit of the scorn and ridicule being heaped upon them right now.

It’s not possible to have made a more tone deaf, idiotic suggestion.

If they were just going to keep throwing bullets at the problem, then they would have been wiser to just stay silent. Because seriously, in the wake of horrific events like Sandy Hook and Columbine there are things that I just don’t need to hear. Arming schools is one those things.

And then there’s this:

It’s God’s will.

It’s God’s judgment.

America kicked God out of school.

At least the children all get to be with Jesus now – including the non-Christian ones, see, apparently if you’re killed by a mass shooting in America you’re automatically converted to Christianity and sent to Christian heaven whether you like it or not.

When I hear people say in all seriousness that bloody slaughter, let alone that of young children, is “God’s will,” I feel the overwhelming urge to punch these people in the mouth repeatedly until their cheek bones shatter.

Oh relax, I’m not engaging in hypocrisy. I’m just returning the favor.  

These stupid bastards revel in violence and glory in unthinking ignorance and claim that this slaughter comes from upon high as some kind of holy retribution for some imagined sin. These are the people who would tell me as a parent, who would tell you as a parent, who tell the grieving parents of Newtown, that God murdered our children because he was mad at gay people.

And it’s not just Westboro Baptist Church, you know. 

It’s myopic frothing bigots like Mike Huckabee too, who claimed that gay people caused the Newtown massacre.

In the last week, I’ve read or heard hundreds of comments about “God’s Judgment” on America for (Pick one: Secularism, Homosexuality, Jesus Needs More Tasty Children In Heaven, Abortion, Etc).  I had somebody say this to me directly this morning, this is what happens when you kick God out of school. Really? Are you kidding me? What? God got kicked out of school for behaving like an argumentative disrespectful intolerant miscreant, as a result he grew up into a sick twisted sociopath and decided to kill twenty children because He didn’t get His way? Is that about right?

What the fuck kind of deity do you people worship? And why hasn’t Texas executed Him yet?

But, hey, you know what? Not to fret, those same brutalized children get to now go up to Heaven and sit at the feet of the guy who planned their death.

Be sure to take comfort in that, won’t you?

Honestly, I really have to wonder if these fools can actually hear the words coming out of their mouths, or are in any way whatsoever able to understand the implications of what they are saying. 

And they called the kid with the gun crazy.

Like the NRA, these people need to just shut up.

I’ll tell you what else I don’t need to hear, I don’t need to hear the half dozen people who explained to me that if we outlaw guns, the crazy people will just blow up schools.  That’s right, what about Timothy McVeigh? Huh what about him? He killed all kinds of people, including kids, with a bomb. Huh, see, what about that?

Seriously?

You really want go down the Oklahoma City Bombing road, do you?

Fine. Just remember, you brought it up.

See McVeigh constructed a bomb from various precursor chemicals, including large amounts of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.  Which we now regulate as a result of that horrific event. And track the purchase of.  In fact, we enacted a whole slew of new laws after the Murrah Federal Building Bombing. So I guess what you people are saying here is that you’d have no problem implementing similar controls on gun and ammunition purchases, right?

And in point of fact, as long as we’re on the subject, a couple years back, then head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, signed off on a report about possible threats posed by former combat veterans, which McVeigh was, who might turn to acts of domestic terrorism, which McVeigh did. 

Napolitano was forced to apologize by conservatives who damned near ruptured themselves in apoplectic fury, led by none other than Rush Limbaugh. 

"You have a report from Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama, Department of Homeland Security, portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than al Qaeda terrorists or genuine enemies of this country like Kim Jong Il."

I guess since you guys brought up McVeigh, you’ve changed sides on this now and are ready to agree with the Obama administration? Let’s track gun owners, and veterans, and people who might pose a risk to others because of their extreme patriotic views. You’re now good with that, right?

And that takes us to the next thing, that whole bit about how the 9/11 hijackers killed 3000 Americans without using guns. And again, do you really want to go down that road? Because we enacted a whole whopping shitload of laws and regulations after that incident with conservatives leading the charge.  And with every subsequent incident we enact more.  Hell, I can’t remember the last time I could clip my nails on an airplane and the funny thing is that we did put armed officers onto some airplanes, and we did allow some pilots to carry concealed in the course of their duties, and it didn’t make a damned bit of difference. It’s all of the other security procedures that actually make a difference.

So again, do you really want to use 9/11 to justify the NRA’s idiot comment Friday morning?

What?

No, I guess not. Yeah, probably better sit down and shut up while you’re ahead.

 

I’ll tell you what’s going to happen here.

The NRA is going to get handed its ass. 

And we’re going to end up with some very restrictive guns laws.

Likely we will overreact and likely some of the NRA’s fears will come to pass.

And you know why?

Because it’s going to go down just like current batch of uncompromising conservatives in Congress. They refused to compromise, they refused to do anything but obstruct, they keep claiming that America belongs to them and only them, they refused to sit down and meet the other side halfway. They tried to bluff the President, and they got their bluff called, twice in less than two weeks. They’ve lost at every turn, from the 2008 election, to the Affordable Care Act, to the most recent presidential election. And now? Well, now they’re going to lose again. And they’re going to lose hard.  And they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves. Taxes are going to go up for everybody. Good job, idiots. Really, well done.

And that’s what’s going to happen to the NRA.

They’re facing a country sick and goddamned tired of dead kids and assault weapons in the hands of crazy people.

They’re facing a second term president who was, ironically, on their side up until last Friday.

If they’d just stop with the whole screaming paranoid nonsense, sit down like reasonable adults, and be the subject matter experts they claim to be, well then they’d have some say in this process.  Instead, they’re going to cling to the extreme position they’ve staked out, even if it makes them extinct.

The NRA is the Grover Norquist of Second Amendment Rights.

And just like Grover, they’re going to have nobody to blame but themselves for what comes next.


Addendum One (22 Dec 2012):

Responding to a comment below this post, comments on my Facebook post, and reading this morning’s hate mail, I realize that not everybody understands what I’m saying unless I specifically spell it out.  Allow me to clarify a couple of points:

As I said in the post, I can see armed security as part of an overall set of options. It may work in some cases, and not in others. But a blanket statement of "the solution to gun violence is to put armed guards in all the schools" is as tone deaf and unworkable as saying "the solution to gun violence is to ban all guns." 

The actual solution is that there is not a single solution. And in fact I didn’t propose any solution in any part of this series of essays. What I did say was that we need to stop with the extremism on both sides. Then we need to sit down and have a reasonable dialog in this country about guns, and mental health, and what we might be able to do about it.  What works in one place, may or may not work elsewhere. One size most assuredly will not fit all. But we must begin with reasoned dialog and an exploration of all options – yes, including putting armed security into schools. 

We must have an adult conversation, we must act from reason and with deliberation, not from emotion and fear and panic.

As a commenter mentioned below, the NRA has become a lightning rod for this issue, but they have absolutely no one to blame but themselves.  As the statement by Wayne LaPierre demonstrates. You have to be completely and totally tone deaf to the horror and devastation many Americans feel, and making the statement that LaPierre did only goes to show how out of touch he is with the grief and horror people feel in times like this.  LaPierre’s statement speaks to people on a visceral level and says very clearly that the NRA by and large is more concerned with how this event will affect them instead of the lives of our children. Many Americans feel that the NRA is made up of crazed gun nuts, and LaPierre’s reaction only reinforces that perception.

Which was the point of this essay.

What these NRA needs to understand is this: They are not the only people in this country, they are not the only defenders of America and the Constitution, they are not the only people who love America, and they aren't the only ones who happen to know something about guns. If they want us to accept guns in school and guns in the larger society, then they need to start listening to the very real concerns of the rest of us instead of repeatedly declaring us as unAmerican and traitors and sheep.

In other words, respect is earned, if the NRA wants respect, they have to give it in return. They can't point their guns at the rest of us and demand it.

I've spent my entire life around weapons, of all kinds, I've been shot at and I've shot at people. I teach small arms. I have a FFL and a CCP. The people I meet in the NRA, not all but an alarming many, too often come across as raving nuts. Bang bang crazy. I wouldn't allow these people on my range under any circumstance. These are people who don't know the first thing about force application, they've got this idea that the only answer in every situation is deadly force and more firepower.

These are the very very last people I want in my schools, armed, around my kids. Period.

Again, I can see armed security in some schools, maybe even all, but that security needs to be made up of uniformed professionals, specifically trained to function around large crowds of panicked children in situations where the threat itself may very well be a child. And the simple truth of the matter is this, the kind of armed security we need in schools does not yet exist. This force would have to be created, trained, equipped, and drilled over and over. And the parents and teachers and staff would have to be educated on the procedures and process and agree to it.  And when I say trained, I mean trained by professionals – the kind of training that military, counter terrorism, and police get.  Not trained by the NRA. The NRA is not made up of professionals, there may be professionals in the NRA, but the NRA itself is made up of whoever pays their dues.  Being a member of the NRA does not automatically make you a professional, no more than donating to the Fraternal Order of Police makes you a law enforcement expert – or any more knowledgeable about guns or counter terrorism or defending a group of kids from a shooter than the average gun hating liberal. 

Creating that force is going to cost. A lot.

And I might even be for it, if it was paid for with a large tax on guns, ammo, gun shows, registration fees, and so on, combined with reasonable restrictions on gun ownership and national criteria for the same - up to and including extremely harsh penalties for gun owners who don't secure their weapons, or allow them to fall into the hands of non-authorized users, or fail to use their weapons in a safe and knowledgeable manner.

And I would only be for this sort of thing if equal attention and funding was given to preventing the underlying cause of violence in the first place, and that’s an entirely different discussion.

When the NRA agrees to that, by all means, get back to me.


Addendum Two (23 Dec 2012):

Some clarification to the first Addendum is obviously in order:

Read what I wrote at the end of the previous addendum.

And I might even be for it, if it was paid for with a large tax on guns, ammo, gun shows, registration fees, and so on, combined with reasonable restrictions on gun ownership and national criteria for the same - up to and including extremely harsh penalties for gun owners who don't secure their weapons, or allow them to fall into the hands of non-authorized users, or fail to use their weapons in a safe and knowledgeable manner.

And I would only be for this sort of thing if equal attention and funding was given to preventing the underlying cause of violence in the first place, and that’s an entirely different discussion.

Some of you took that as whole hog, willy-nilly support for the NRA’s suggestion to put an armed NRA gun nut into each school.

I’m not sure how you got there, given that I was careful to qualify my comment, but nevertheless there you are.

I said I might, might, consider the NRA's suggestion for some armed security in some schools, providing that equal attention was given to finding and fixing the causes of gun violence, i.e. mental health and violent culture and whatever it is that we haven’t thought of, and only so long as it was part and parcel of larger gun control measures and significantly increased penalties for irresponsible gun owners.

And new taxes and registration fees on gun/ammo sales paid for it.

Look, here’s the thing, I’m a gun owner and a believer in Second Amendment rights, but I don't want armed security in my kid's school either.

I don't want to live in a society where that's necessary.

I've been to Israel, I don't want to live there. Ditto Somalia, and Iraq, and Mexico.

However, I've got armed police in my son's school already.

And they're good guys, well trained, intelligent, and respected by the staff and the students and the parents, at least they are here in South Central Alaska (you’ll forgive me if I’m not more specific about where my kid goes to school). Would that one lone officer be effective in a situation similar to Sandy Hook or Columbine? Probably not, but then again you never know until it happens.

A lot of schools are the same, probably yours too, at least the middle and high schools. 

Because that’s the nature of the world we live in.

Like it or not, there we are.

 

So, take the NRA's suggestion at face value. Dump all the rest, and take the suggestion at face value.

What if we mandated well trained professional security in schools?

Not some gun nut dipshit with a beer belly and a hi-cap Desert Eagle, but professional security of a new kind, police or the equivalent specifically trained and equipped to deal with domestic terrorism in crowds of children, when the terrorist himself (or herself should the situation ever arise) may be, in fact, a child. Specifically trained in the use of non-lethal force as a first option. And so on.

Hang on, stop spitting, bear with me here for a minute.

What if we did it as part of a larger, comprehensive plan?

Would you be willing to accept well trained armed security in your kid's school, if it forced the NRA and the frothy gun nuts to likewise accept some gun control and support and funding for mental health programs?

Would you accept it if it banned civilian ownership of assault weapons and hi-cap magazines and armor piercing rounds?

Would you accept it If it mandated that every gun owner also be a gun safe owner and that they must keep their weapons secured when not in use, with trigger locks.  And with ammo locked up separately. And jail time, confiscation, and fines for non-compliance? Would you accept it, if it closed the loopholes for gun and ammo purchases at gun shows and other such venues, including sales between individuals? What about mandated training for new gun owners, some basic minimum at least to the level that we require for driver’s licensing?

Would you accept it, if those officers were also required to be child field psychologists and/or counselors? Trained to watch for developing problems, whose primary job was to watch for the kind of developing problems that lead to gun violence in schools, whose real job was to help prevent the violence before it began instead of stopping it once it started.  Who was also by inclination and training a confidant and role model for those desperately in need of one?

Would you accept it, if it was paid for with licensing fees and taxes on gun purchases, by substantial fines on those who failed to comply with the law? Including those at gun shows?  And that that funding was mandated by law and could only be used for the things specified here, period. In other words, would you accept it if every gun and bullet bought automatically counter-balanced itself with funding for finding and fixing the root causes of gun violence? 

What if we made violence pay for ending violence?

Do I think this would really happen? Do I think this is what the NRA was actually suggesting?

No, of course not. Don’t be silly.

But it’s a place to start.

 

Think of it this way: Take Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion, look him and the NRA right in the eye, and say, “Challenge accepted.”

 

 


The first two parts of this essay are here:

Bang Bang Crazy, Part One
Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two

 

Related Essay written after the Aurora Massacre :

The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

 


And again, the same warning holds here as in the previous two parts: if you’re a first time reader and you don’t know me and you came here all ready to school my liberal America hatin’ tree hugging ass about guns, stop. Read Part One, read it all of the way through, especially that last paragraph, the part where I explain my background when it comes to guns. It’s very likely that I know far more about guns and their usage under combat condition than you will ever know.  It’s quite likely that I own more guns than you do. Read the commenting rules, heed and obey. If you feel that you can’t adhere to the admonishments set forth in this paragraph, then leave. Don’t comment, don’t email me with your NRA bullshit, just leave. This will be your one and only warning.

The Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised

 

So, end of the world.

Again.

Seems pretty quiet here in Alaska, apocalypse day and all.

Anybody know what time this thing starts? The invitation just says 12/21/12.

Can we do it before 5PM Alaska Time? I’ve got a meeting at two and if it’s all the same to everybody I often fantasize about the world ending when I have to sit through a bunch of Power Point slides. If we wait until five, I’ll probably be comatose and miss the whole damned thing.

And seriously, I’d really, really hate to sleep through the destruction of the earth.

Again.

How many times is this now? How many times have we managed to survive the end of the world? The Apocalypse? The Rapture? The End of Days?

I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or anything, but I figure I’ve managed make it through Armageddon at least fifty times by now. At first I thought surviving the end of the world made me seem like a real badass, but it turns out that pretty much everybody else survived too, so it’s really not that big of deal.

“I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world!”

That was Pat Robertson in 1980. Half the 700 Club wet themselves on the spot. Pat Robertson guaranteed us! End of 1982! Judgment Day! Judgment Day!

Of course, Pat was right. After all, the world’s bestest Christian wouldn’t bullshit us, right? Of course the world ended in 1982. You remember it, don’t you? Giant flaming Jesus spitting fire and thunderbolts, the earth cracking open, zombies, screaming babies falling from the sky like fat balloons full of chunky spaghetti sauce and exploding the sidewalks. Also Nazis.

I missed it. I had to work that day and by the time I got home, showered, and changed into my Rapture Duds, the whole thing was pretty much over.

1982 was a big year for apocalypses, the world actually ended three different times. Which was about average for that decade as it turns out, the world ended fifteen times during the 80’s – of course, I was living in Europe then and had to watch the various apocalypses via time delayed TV repeats on A-Farts (The Armed Forces Radio and Television System).  The 90’s kicked off with Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s nuclear war, twelve years of darkness, followed by, you guessed it, the end of the world. A year later the world ended again when Louis Farrakhan declared the First Gulf War to be the actual War of Armageddon, which as you know is the final war, followed by, yep, the end of the world.  In fact, the world ended something like twenty five times during the 90’s. For a while there it was ending once a week, which, to be truthful, started to get a little tedious. And of course, who could forget when Y2K struck and all the lights went out and robot cannibal zombies roamed the land thirsting for human brain tissue – or maybe that was the turn of the century New Years revelers in Times Square, it was kind of hard to tell the difference. Jerry Falwell and Ed Dobson welcomed Jesus’ return, twice, at the turn of the century. The End Times came and went and really who could forget the sight of all those saved souls suddenly flying naked up into the sky just like it says in the Bible:  and the faithful men floated serenely toward Heaven with their willies flapping in the holy breeze, and the lord smiled for the joke was upon them.  The first decade of the new century saw the world end fourteen more times. Nancy Leider’s alien brain implant warned us of a pending pole shift and impact by planet Nibiru in 2003 while in 2007 Pat Robertson once again stood next to angry bearded thunderbolt tossing Jesus and pointed out all the people he didn’t like. I had my first professional digital camera that year and got some really nice shots of Jesus smiting the sinners, to which I added some Lutz and uploaded to the LOLcats site. Good times, good times.  The second decade kicked off with Harold Camping and the jerky dance of the happy rapture monkeys, which was followed by the world being destroyed no less than four more times before we made it to 2012.

And here we are, finally, at the Mayan Apocalypse.

A week before Christmas and they schedule the End of the World?  Seriously? On a Friday? Who schedules the end of the world on a Friday? Monday, sure, fine, whatever, nobody would care, but Friday? WTF? And it’s the Holiday Season, Goddamnit. Cookies and fudge and presents and Christmas ham.  Two four day weekends back to back. And this is when we decide to end the world? Who ends the world in December? Do it on April 15th, and people would be thanking you, Americans anyway.  But now?

Whose dipshit idea was this anyway?

Probably the same pointy haired dickhead who schedules a two hour meeting at three-thirty on a Friday afternoon before a big weekend. 

What’s that you say?

The who?

It was the Mayans who scheduled this? Two thousand years ago? 

Oh, well, the Mayans. Sure. The Mayans. Well then, I guess that makes it ok. The Mayans. Because really, the Mayans.  A pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Paleolithic civilization living in the jungles of Central America, those Mayans.

We don’t believe the science and the scientists and the terabytes of data and the evidence of our own eyes when it comes to climate change, but some big rocks buried a Central American jungle by Stone Age people who have been dead for a thousand years, yeah, for that we’re going to sell all of our worldly goods and buy a one way ticket to the Alien Launch Pad on top of a mountain in France to await the coming of Jesus.

Right. The Mayans. Sure. 

Not only that, but a whole bunch of people are actually looking forward to it, looking forward to the supposed end of the world. 

Who does that?

These people, the doomsayers, the preppers and the prayers, will spend fortunes on guns and bunkers and crates of MREs (and seriously here, if I have to live on MREs again, I’ll end the world myself. But I digress) but they won’t lift a finger to help save the world or prevent the collapse of civilization.

And I’m not just talking about the silly New Age goofs who are even now standing naked and forlorn on top of a pile of rocks somewhere in the Yucatan jungle clutching their magic crystals with The Age of Aquarius playing on their iPods and staring hopefully at the sky, but supposedly normal people too. People like Pat Robertson and all the TV Christians who daily pray for The Rapture and the End of Days so that they can fly away to some cosmic orgy instead of actually working to make this world, this one right here, a better place.

They could help make this world a paradise, but for them it’s not Heaven if all the rest of us get to share it with them. 

I don’t understand these people, I really don’t.

 

I just can’t wrap my head around the absolutely degree of selfish assholery it takes to buy into this nonsense.

 

So far, this apocalypse is starting out pretty much like all the other ones I’ve been to. 

I admit that I was hoping for something more, I mean, come on. In addition to Jesus, the usual Running of the Damned Souls, and a potluck at the end of time, we’re getting hit by the giant planet Nibiru, and an asteroid named Eros, and a comet. The earth’s axis of rotation is due to reverse and there’s going to be a magnetic pole flip. We’ll have some big earthquakes accompanied by giant waves and a Justin Bieber concert. An alien invasion is scheduled for later this evening. And for the finale, the sun is going supernova.

It seems a little much, doesn’t it? Especially in this economy.

And you really have to wonder what they’re going to do next year to top it. I mean, come on, what beats a supernova?

Jesus riding a robot cannibal T-Rex towing a black hole?

Which, you know, on second thought, ain’t a half bad idea.

I’ll be in the bunker with Shopkat if you need me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bang Bang Crazy, Part Two

 

Perform an experiment.

Take a look around your local gaming store.

How many video games do you see that are not shooters?

No. Stop. Don’t roll your eyes, instead do what I ask, go to the store and count the video games. Ask the clerk for a video game about science, or engineering, or exploration, or nonviolent problem solving. Look at the games on the shelves, in how many do the players solve the problems with brains, or reason, or diplomacy instead of firepower?

Then answer the question, how many are not shooters?

Well?

How many?

Damned few, that’s how many. Less than five percent by my count.

Now, go get your kid’s MP3 player.

How many of the songs on it are about violence? About guns and blood?

No. Stop. Don’t roll your eyes, instead do what I asked, go get the MP3 player, turn on the radio, go to the store and look at the albums. It’s not just Rap, or Hip Hop, or the stuff that glorifies the thug life, it’s country music too. Listen to the music and answer the question. 

How many?

Turn on your TV.  For the next week, count the percentage of shows where guns solve the problem. No. Stop. Don’t sigh and roll your eyes, do it. Turn on your goddamned TV and count the number of times that guns solve the problem. Count the number of shows that contain a gun. For extra credit, count the number of times brains or non-violence solve the problem – without a gun also in evidence – then compare the two numbers.  How about cartoons? Kid’s shows? Movies?

Even in “family friendly” G-rated fare such as, oh say Star Wars, the problems are solved with guns (or light-sabers, same difference).

How about the news? How many times in the last 24 hours have guns solved the problem? How many?

So what I'm I saying here?

That video games and music and TV cause gun violence?

Is that what I’m saying?

No.

That’s not what I’m saying.

I’m saying that we are a violent people, we Americans. 

We glory in violence. We revel in violence. We worship violence.

Our sports are violent, both on the field and in the bleachers – and often in the parking lots after the game.  Our politics are violent and confrontational and uncompromising.  Our international policy is violent and bloody.  Our religions are violent. Our rhetoric is violent. Our law enforcement is violent. Our history is violent. Our heroes are violent.

Hell, for us, even peace is violent.

We are a violent people, we Americans, and we have always been a violent people.

We solve our problems with our fists and with our guns, that’s who we are.

Is it any surprise then that our video games, our music, our TV shows are violent entertainments filled with guns and blood and body counts?

Is it any surprise whatsoever, that the violent prone and the simpletons and those with a tenuous grasp on reality turn to guns and violence to solve their own problems? Why shouldn’t they?

What other solutions, what other methods, are they offered?

Media that provides examples of non-violent problem solving, Sesame Street say, are constantly in fear of violent defunding. They’re always in the crosshairs, always the first to face the chopping block. Meanwhile, even the Learning Channel is filed with shows about guns, about making guns, or buying guns, or using guns in one fashion or another.

America’s gun fetish is only one symptom of a much larger malady.

The terrible events this week at Sandy Hook are merely the latest in a long, long line of similar horrors. 

Hell, Sandy Hook wasn’t even the first mass killing this week, on December 11th, 22-year-old Jacob Roberts killed two people and himself with a stolen rifle in Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.

Before that, on September 27, five people were shot to death and three more wounded when Andrew Engeldinger went on a shooting spree after losing his job at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis.  Engeldinger killed himself as the cops closed in.

And the month before that, in August, six Sikh temple members were killed when angry ex-Army veteran Wade Page stormed into their temple and opened fire in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Four others were injured. Page then killed himself.

And of course you remember what happened a month before that, right? On July 20th, during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes gunned down twelve people in cold blood and managed to wound fifty eight more. Unlike the others, Holmes didn’t suicide, he calmly waited outside the theater for the police to arrive and was arrested without a fight.

A month before Holmes went on his bloody rampage, on May 29, a guy named Ian Stawicki opened fire on Cafe Racer Espresso in Seattle.  He killed five people and then himself.

April was a busy month for mass murder. On April 6th, Jake England and Alvin Watts drove around Tulsa, Oklahoma, and shot five black men at random, three died.  And on April 2nd, One L. Goh killed seven people at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college in Oakland, earning himself the distinction of carrying out the deadliest attack on a school since the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007.

And so it goes. Every day, every month, every year it’s the same thing here in America.  In 2011 it was Jared Lee Loughner who made the headlines, but Eduardo Sencion also shot twelve people eating breakfast in an IHOP in Carson City, Nevada, five of them died – including three National Guardsmen. And don’t forget the eight people who died in a hair salon in Seal Beach, California, when Scott Dekraai opened fire. 

You can follow the blood trail all the way back to Columbine and beyond.

 

These killings, this slaughter, it’s not the exception, it’s who we are.

 

Look around, look at our games, our religion, our politics, our sports, our entertainment.

This violence is who we are.

Oh, you don’t like that, do you?

You don’t want to hear it?

You don’t want to believe it?

You don’t agree. It’s not us, America isn’t like that. No, not really.

No, of course not.

Listen, you know how you kick drugs? You know how you quit drinking? You know how you stop smoking or finally lose weight and keep it off? You know how you stop being an abusive asshole?

You start by facing the truth.

You start by admitting that you have a problem.  The drugs and the booze are destroying your life and the lives of the people around you, the smoking is killing you inch by inch and it’s killing your kids, the overeating is giving you diabetes and high cholesterol and it’s going to kill you if you don’t goddamned stop putting shit into your mouth.  You can’t control your temper, you hit your wife, you scream at your husband, and one day your kids are going end up trapped in the same cycle of violence and abuse if you don’t grow the fuck up and do something about it.

That’s you and the only way to fix it is to first take a long deep look into the mirror and admit to yourself that you’ve got a problem.

I know a guy, a recovered alcoholic.  He had it bad. Booze was his life. He didn’t think he was hurting anybody, but of course he was.  He hurt his wife, his family, his friends, and his co-workers – all the people who cared about him. But he couldn’t see it.  He had a bunch of close calls, but somehow he always managed to keep on, ignoring the signs, ignoring the symptoms, living in denial, refusing to admit that he had a problem.

He believed that it was his right, his right goddamn it, to drink if he wanted to and nobody was going to tell him otherwise.

Then one night, blind drunk behind wheel on his way from one drink to the next, he hit a little girl.

And that’s when the light finally came on for him.

That’s when he knew, finally, that he had to do something.

That was the moment when ultimately he had to look into his own eyes, look himself in the mirror, and admit that he had a problem.  That was when he had to admit, finally, this is where it ends, this and no more. Then he went to find help, and it was a long hard damned road, and he spent a long, long time making it right, but eventually he beat it.

All it took was admitting that he had a problem, and a will to fix it and to find a way to make it right.

He still fights it, every day he admits that he is an alcoholic even though he stopped drinking forty years ago, and he keeps looking for a way to make it right.

I don’t know, maybe we as a nation aren’t there yet. 

A hundred dead kids , a thousand, ten thousand, maybe it’s still not enough and how many more will it take?

We’re still in denial.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

How many times have you heard that tired old phrase this week?

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  True, I suppose, but I’d argue that while guns may not kill people, one hell of a lot of people are dying in their presence. Guns may not kill people, but one hell of a lot of people are dying while idiots argue over empty phrases, semantics, and NRA sound bites.

I’ll grant you that people kill people, but guns make it a wholesale operation.

It wasn’t like this back in the day.

How many times have you heard that in the last week?

It wasn’t like this back in my day.  People didn’t solve their problems with guns.

Really?

And what time was that?

These people are suffering selective amnesia.  There may have been brief moments in our history that are relatively free from violence, but they are few and far between.  Where do you think our legends come from? Our entertainment? Our heroes? Our villains?  Billy the Kid? Wyatt Earp? Bonnie and Clyde. The Gangs of New York? Wounded Knee? Southern Lynchings? Lizzie Borden? Charlie Manson? Ted Bundy? Al Capone? 

It’s never been this way?

Hell, it’s always been this way.

Where the hell have you been?

This is what happens when you take God out of the schools.

How many times have you heard that in the last few days?

This is what happens when you take God out of the schools.  Which god? Every god I’ve ever heard of has plenty of blood on his holy hands.  If you’re looking for an example of non-violence, the guy who drops people into pits of boiling pitch for all eternity and slaughters the first born sons of an entire nation probably isn’t your best choice. I’m just saying.

This is what happens when you take God out of the schools. This is another baseless idiotic statement, not provable, not falsifiable, it’s something people pull out of their asses when they don’t have an actual argument of their own. God, there, I win.

It’s just another form of denial.

More guns will end gun violence. Banning all guns will end gun violence.  Neither of those statements are true, extremism rarely is. Extremism is what people resort to when they are unable or unwilling to reason.  Extremism by definition is a position adopted by people who know they are wrong, but refuse to concede, refuse to compromise, refuse to reason, refuse to admit that they have a problem. 

And we have a problem, whether we want to admit it or not.

We may not all agree on what inalienable rights, exactly, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution bestows upon Americans, but the one thing we can all agree on is this: The Second Amendment was never, ever, intended to place the rights of gun owners over the lives of our children.

America has a problem with violence, with blood, with death, and with guns.

We solve our problems with fists and bullets.

And it’s about time we admitted it.

That’s the first step.

 

 

 


Attention: Part One of this essay is here: Bang Bang Crazy

I’ll issue the same warning here as I did there, if you’re a first time reader and you don’t know me and you came here all ready to school my liberal America hatin’ tree hugging ass about guns, stop. Read Part One, read it all of the way through, especially that last paragraph, the part where I explain my background when it comes to guns. Have an adult help you with the big words if necessary. Then go back and read this essay again, note that like Part One, I did not advocate any particular position on guns. Creating a strawman in the comments section, attributing it to me, and then arguing against it with the same old hoary clichéd arguments will only get you deleted and banned from this blog. So don’t waste either your time or mine, especially mine. Read the commenting rules, heed and obey. If you feel that you can’t adhere to the admonishments set forth in this paragraph, then leave. Don’t comment, don’t email me with your NRA bullshit, just leave. This will be your one and only warning.

Friday, December 14, 2012

And So It Goes. Again.

I've been out of pocket most of the day, as such my inbox both here and on Facebook is overflowing.

I know you're all expecting comments on the day's the week’s horrific events. 

I may have something to say later, but at the moment, I'm not going to waste my time - and it's exactly that, a complete and utter waste of my time because absolutely nothing has changed since the last bloody slaughter, since the last time a bunch of kids were mowed down by the insanity that is America and its suicidal obsession with guns and violence and blood.

My previous posts on this subject are here: The Seven Stages of Gun Violence and Bang Bang Crazy.

Read those posts, see any difference between then and now? Yeah, me neither.

Nothing has changed. Not one goddamned thing.  Exactly as I said five months ago. 

We can't even have the conversation.

And so it goes.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Welcome To the Party, Bob Dole

 

“It isn’t Bob Dole’s Senate anymore.”

It isn’t Bob Dole’s Senate anymore, that’s what Meredith Shiner said over on CQ Roll Call.

Boy, isn’t that the goddamned truth?

It’s not Bob Dole’s Senate anymore.

Senate? It’s not even Bob Dole’s Republican Party anymore.

And it hasn’t been for a long time.

Unfortunately, nobody told Bob.

A frail and infirm Bob Dole returned to the Senate on Tuesday and spoke to the conservatives there as if they were the republicans he remembered, the mostly reasonable ones who, with maybe a little cajoling, could usually be counted on to do the right thing. 

Unfortunately for Bob Dole, a while back the GOP suffered a corporate buyout and was taken over by fervent religious extremists and their band of drum beating jingoists. These goons have been in the process of right-sizing conservatism ever since. Reasonable republicans got the pink slip and their positions were outsourced to the lowest bidders.

That’s what happened to Bob Dole – and he wasn’t the only one.

Reasonable conservatives got marginalized, then they got downsized right on out of the organization and replaced with the CEO’s weak-chinned idiot nephew.

Speaking of which…

“We did it!” Rick Santorum tweeted triumphantly after his fellow Senate republicans successfully scuttled a vote on the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities.

We did it. We won.

Yay.

You ever notice that whenever Rick Santorum wins, everybody else loses?

Including his own disabled daughter?

Ask yourself something, what exactly did Rick Santorum win? The right for disabled people to be treated as second class citizens in foreign countries? Is that what he won? Because it sure looks that way from where I’m sitting.

The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) is a treaty already ratified by more than a hundred nations. By signing the treaty, nations agree to treat the disabled in a manner similar to that mandated here in the United States through the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

The CRPD is directly modeled on the ADA. In fact, the George W. Bush Administration drafted the treaty and brought it to the floor of the United Nations in 2006.

That’s right, George W. Bush.

Yeah, that guy.

 

I’ll pause for a moment so you can wrap your head around the super-sized colostomy bag full of watery brown shitty shit shit you’d have to be in order for George W. Bush’s international human rights record  to look good in comparison.

 

It’s ironic that the man conservatives honored before the CRPD vote, Bob Dole, was one of the principal sponsors of the ADA and a vocal supporter of the CRPD.

It’s ironic, given just how much conservatives hate both the ADA and the CRPD.

Conservatives can’t stand it, can’t stand that bleeding heart crap, can’t stand that anybody would put people before business or before nationalism.

Because apparently treating the disabled in a respectful manner and providing sissy liberal cripples like former Republican Senator Bob Dole – who was disabled in the service of his country while fighting for America in WWII no less – with equal access to, well, life is somehow downright un-American. 

In a stomach turning display, Republican senators, each in turn, stopped to pay their respects to Dole before the vote as he sat there weak and shrunken in his wheelchair on the Senate floor, and the malignant disgusting hypocrisy of it all just completely escaped them.

See, if it wasn’t for the ADA, they wouldn’t have been able to roll Bob Dole into the Senate chamber in the first place.

Republicans stopped to shake Dole’s hand and speak kind words to the elder statesman.

That’s bullshit.

What they should have done, each and every one of them, was to step right up and punch Bob Dole right in his crippled arm.

Yes, that’s right, Republicans should have struck Bob Dole right in his withered arm, they should have mocked his infirmity, his age, and lorded their physical fitness over him. 

They should have looked him right in the eye and told him that he was a communist, a socialist, and a fucking Nazi.

Then, Rick Santorum should have stepped up and spoken for tea swilling, powdered wig wearing, flag waving patriotic American conservatives everywhere and told Senator Bob Dole to get out, just take his unAmerican crippled ass and move to Canada.

That’s what they should have done.

At least that would have been honest contempt.

Instead the hypocritical contemptuous craven sons of bitches looked upon Bob Dole in his wheelchair, they shook his hand and touched his shoulder and mouthed the empty words of their selfish bankrupt ideology and the hollow platitudes of their selfish diseased religion – and then after Elizabeth Dole rolled her husband from the floor, Republicans took their seats and when the roll was called they unzipped their flies and pissed on Bob Dole.

They pissed on every disabled American veteran, including me.

They pissed on every disabled American, on every disabled person in the entire world.

They pissed on the disabled who haven’t yet been born, but may be one day.  Those tiny babies that they claim they care so very, very much about.

They pissed on those that are not yet disabled – but someday will be, as happens to all of us who live long enough. Including themselves, I hope.

And they did it because in their tiny fevered minds, they have come to believe that equal access for the disabled somehow diminishes the rights of able bodied Americans like themselves, like Rick Santorum. The truly ironic part is that these same people, this exact same list of smugly pious hypocrites, trumpet their Christianity at every opportunity – people just like Rick Santorum who wears Jesus on his sleeve like some kind of shiny diamond encrusted Rolex watch that he waves around to impress others.

Christianity. Pardon me while I roll my eyes.

That’s what Jesus said, right? Screw the sick and the lame! Life, liberty, happiness – those things are only for the people God made whole (and made wealthy and American, but I digress). Sure, that’s it. Just ask the head of Rick Santorum’s church, Pope Benedict. 

See, his Holiness won’t sign the treaty either.

The head of the Catholic Church, the guy who is supposed to represent his loving and compassionate God on Earth, the guy who claims a direct spiritual connection to Jesus himself, yeah, that guy won’t endorse a treaty that gives equal rights and access to disabled people. 

Boy, sure wouldn’t want the Church onboard with something like that, eh? 

Sure wouldn’t want to have to justify that one when your holiness stands in front of ol’ God, would we?

You what? You supported equal rights for the disabled? The fuck, Benny? Feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the poor? Who the hell told you to do that? Well? Answer up, before I give you a good smiting!

(You may, if you like, insert a gratuitous pedophilia joke here).

Somewhere up in that pristine white biblical heaven that these pompous self-righteous jackasses claim to believe in, their lord and savior is screaming in appalled outrage and throwing breakable things at the wall.

The level of assholery displayed here is beyond mindboggling, it’s downright sickening.  And, you know, I’d be almost willing to believe in the long delayed Second Coming – if it meant I got to watch angry raging Jesus give these sanctimonious hypocrites what they all so righteously deserve. I don’t need to see these idiots dropped into boiling pitch, but little would give me greater pleasure than to watch Jesus shove his crown-O-thorns right up Rick Santorum’s ass and twist.

But I digress.

So, what’s the big deal anyway?

Why won’t the majority of Republican Senators ratify the treaty?

Let’s start with Senator Jim Inhofe, the Republican from Oklahoma:

"I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society."

Exactly, because if disabled people have the same access as everybody else, it’ll infringe on American Society – because obviously disabled people aren’t actually part of American society.  Inhofe is nothing if not predictable, this is the same logic he uses to deny everybody equal rights under the law, it’s just too much paperwork, fellas. Sorry.

Note the word “potentially.”

Not actually. Not definitely. Nothing we can actually prove. Potentially.  Potentially, as in some unspecified manner that maybe could potentially happen sort of some time in the undefined future. Potentially. The conservative Heritage Foundation agrees. Ratification of the treaty could lead to unspecified problems by unspecified means from unspecified agencies hostile to unspecified conservative principles.  Potentially speaking.

Wouldn’t that mean there’s an equal potential for the treaty not to infringe on American society? Especially since we wrote it?

“It’s a treaty to change the world to be more like America!”

That’s what Senator John Kerry, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the same guy republicans want to be the next Secretary of State, said to the Senate prior to the vote. 

It’s a treaty to make the rest of the world more like America.

Seriously?

Didn’t anybody tell Kerry that we make the rest of the world more like America by invading their countries, bombing the shit out of them, and killing a couple hundred thousand brown people, not through diplomacy. Jesus, who the hell is this guy?

Rick Santorum was outraged:

“This is a direct assault on us and our family!”

Yes, signing a treaty that obligates the United States to do exactly what it’s been doing for the last twenty three years since the passage of the ADA and will require no changes in our laws whatsoever is a direct assault on Rick Santorum and his family.

Santorum was particularly wary of the CRPD’s “Best Interest of the Child” verbiage.

"It may sound like it protects children, but what it does is put the government, acting under U.N. authority, in the position to determine for all children with disabilities what is best for them. In the case of our 4-year-old daughter, Bella, who has Trisomy 18, a condition that the medical literature says is 'incompatible with life,' would her 'best interest' be that she be allowed to die? Some would undoubtedly say so."

Some would undoubtedly say so about Rick himself.  Some people like me, potentially speaking.

 

I’ll just pause again, so you can take another moment to contemplate the sheer size of the shitbag that is Rick Santorum.

 

Seriously, Rick Santorum is concerned that somebody is going to tell him what’s best for his family?

You’re kidding me, right?

Aren’t these the exact same people, the exact same people name for name, that keep telling us what’s best for our families?

Aren’t these people the same ones that want to decide for us when to have children or when to unplug our brain dead family members or even who we can love and marry?

These are those exact same assholes, are they not?

I honestly don’t know how people get this damned twisted. I really don’t. I don’t understand how you can get this full of crap, this bugshit insane, and somebody doesn’t see you out on the street covered in crusty dried snot and smelling of week old piss mumbling to yourself about the children and tilting at invisible windmills, and not drop you with a tranq dart and haul your goofy ass off to Crazyland (Ok, Congress. Same same. You got me there).

How the hell do you get from “Best interest of the child” to “OMFG! They’re coming to kill my disabled kid?”

Probably the same way you get from “Hey, let’s make sure every American has access to healthcare” to “OMFG! Death Panels! Death Panels!”

Just, damn.

The boundless hypocrisy of modern conservatives never ceases to amaze me. The difference between what was, in republicans such as Bob Dole, and what is, in modern republicans such as Rick Santorum, is horrifying and depressing. But then, I feel the same way about most prominent Christians – at least the ones who have their own TV shows and wear Jesus on their sleeve like a fancy watch.

Meanwhile, Mike Lee, the honorable Republican from Utah was worried about homeschooling:

"I and many of my constituents who homeschool or send their children to religious schools have justifiable doubt that a foreign body based in Geneva, Switzerland, should be deciding what is best for a child at home in Utah”

Yeah, Mike, I doubt it too.

Honestly, Mike Lee voted against civil rights for disabled people all over the world because he’s afraid that that somebody in Switzerland might laugh at the fact that he and his inbred constituents in Utah are teaching their handicapped kids how ol’ Noah rode velociraptors around the deck of the Ark.

Obviously even Mike Lee must think that’s a form of child abuse, otherwise he wouldn’t be worried about it, would he?

Both Lee and Santorum couldn’t actually point to any provision in the treaty that would actually allow the Swiss to confiscate homeschooled kids in Utah and put them into a UN Reeducation camp, but both were afraid that “somebody” somewhere might use the courts to do something unspecified to prevent homeschoolers from doing something else unspecified. This, of course, despite the fact that Congress itself included language in the treaty that specifically forbade its use in American courts.

Frankly I’m a hell of a lot more concerned about these homeschooled goofs than I am about the Swiss. Take Michael Farris, a home-schooling activist who was invited to speak against the bill before the Senate:

“The other thing that everybody in America will be living under is socialism as an international entitlement. We're signing up now for our first economic, social, and cultural treaty which means as a matter of international binding law that goes to the supremacy clause in our Constitution, we're signing up to be an official socialist nation, cradle-to-grave care for the disabled."

Now there’s a hell of an endorsement for homeschooling right there. 

Just for fun, see how many things you can find wrong with Farris’ statement, you can start with his definition of socialism and work your way up to “international binding law,” whatever the hell that is.

Cradle to grave care for the disabled.

Boy, wouldn’t want to sign up for that, would we?

I mean, Jesus Haploid Christ, what kind of civilized country takes care of its disabled? Maybe we should just gas them like they did in Nazi Germany … or we could take them out back and shoot them like they do in Utah.

And then, of course, there’s…

What? Would you like me to pause again for a moment?  No? Well then what is it?

Oh, riiiiight.

Good catch.  Rick Santorum campaigned against the CRPD because it would kill disabled people instead of caring for them while Mike Lee voted against it because it forces us to care for disabled people instead of just letting them die.

Well, at least the republicans got together beforehand and talked it over.

So anyway, where were we?

Oh, yes, abortion.

Because when you’re dealing with conservatives, every conversation always, ultimately, works its way around to abortion.

Always. Every single conversation. Every. Single.  One.

These people have abortion on the brain.

The global community could force America to sanction sterilization or abortion for the disabled at taxpayer expense!"

That was Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. Tony got all soggy and hard to light over a clause in the treaty that requires signatories to provide disabled people with health care in the areas of reproductive health. And you know what “reproductive health” means, don’t you? Abortion! We’ll be funding abortion across the globe for disabled people! That’s what reproductive health means, not pre-natal care, or contraception, or disease prevention and treatment, or any of the myriad medical things associated with human reproduction – all of which can be enormously complicated with disabled folks in third world countries – nope, reproductive health means abortion, abortion and only abortion. Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. Also, Nazis.

Note, this was the Pope’s beef too. The Holy See was convinced that he’d be signing up for contraception and baby killin’ and dammit, well, it’s all about keeping the children safe for Jesus.

(You may, if you like, insert a gratuitous pedophilia joke here).

It wasn’t just the Senators, the average conservative weighed in as well.  As always, Yahoo! News provides a good representative sample:

WE have the ADA and we enforce it. We do not need the UN getting involved with our country period. The UN is a disgusting mixture of despots and thieves that WE SUPPORT with our Tax Dollars and that needs to END ! I have a disabled family member and he is not descriminated against and never has been to my knowledge. This UN crap must be stopped people, demand we get the hell out of it ! The EU and the rest can kiss this americans rear end.[sic]

Another sterling product of Utah homeschooling no doubt.

Let’s hope this silly yahoo’s disabled relative never has to travel to a foreign country, shall we?

Most other countries are failed societies. Why should we heed the people who made them fail?

I’m sure this will come as a surprise to most other countries.

Also, the people that made most other countries fail were the ones who signed up to a treaty we drafted so that disabled people in their countries weren’t discriminated against? Did I get that correct?

It’s no wonder most of the world, including our friends and allies, hates our damned guts.

It's how they will tax the U.S. and redistribute the US citizens wealth to 3rd world countries. Obama's dream..

Yes, I’m sure that Barack Obama lays awake at night scheming how to make sure disabled Americans who visit, live, and work in foreign countries can enjoy the same access and non-discrimination there as they do here. Why that wily bastard!

Do the disable in the USA have equal rights without this treaty? YES!! Why then do we need to sign on to this treaty? Such an action implies that the UN has sovereignty over us. It does not. Thumbs up to those who voted against the treaty. Thumbs down to those voted for it, and double down to those alleged Republicans who supported the treaty. Hopefully, the same wisdom will prevail in the new Senate next year. [sic]

By far and away that’s the most common sentiment expressed by Yahoo! commenters.

I read over a thousand comments that said pretty much the same thing.

We’ve got the ADA, why should we sign the treaty? I don’t know, maybe for the same reason we sign treaties regarding international police cooperation even though we’ve got our own police forces, or for the same reason that we sign international standards agreements even though they use the metric system and we use some antiquated measurement based on furlongs per fortnight times the number of barleycorns it takes to equal the length of some long dead king’s index finger, or maybe we should sign it for the same reason we signed the international conventions against torture and mistreatment of POWs … OK, that’s a bad example but I think I’ve made my point here.

When do we get out of the UN. It is the most Socialist org. ever. And send them packing from New York ASAP. They are working for the New World Order. And it will take away Americans free Rights. Truth, Google it, if you do not believe me. And for you Liberal just stick it. You are the party of taking away freedoms. Just look at all your against. Against American energy independence, gun control, free speech, on and on....

Oh noes! Not the New World Order!

I forget, is the One World Government the same as the New World Order? Or is that a completely different clinical diagnosis? Are they both run by the Illuminati or the Masons or Bilderbergs.  As the commenter suggested, I Googled it, but that just made it worse.

 

Honestly, at this point I’m starting to think that Conservative should probably be classified as a disability, right between Orly Taitz and those people who think Ben Stein is actually funny – or actually an economist.

 

Meredith Shiner was right, it isn’t Bob Dole’s Senate anymore.

And America is far worse for it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gimme Shelter

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 the early 1960’s.

Bill Stockton and his wife Grace are having a few people over. 

It’s a typical evening in Leave It To Beaver Land.

It’s not a party party, it’s a cocktail party – the kind of thing that white people back then thought other white people did once or twice a month. It’s like something you’d seen in a 1950’s cigarette commercial or on the back cover of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

They’re all good friends, this gathering. They’d do anything for each other.  They grew up together, went to school together, go to the same church, live in the same neighborhood. Some of them are relatives, like Bill’s brother-in-law, Frank, who is married to Grace’s unnamed sister. Bill himself is a doctor, he delivered their children and treats their families when they get sick. Everybody is happy and courteous and friendly. 

Talk eventually turns to Bill’s hobby.

It seems Bill Stockton spends his evenings working on a basement fallout shelter, which is not a particularly odd thing to do given the state of their world, but unusual enough that his guests have a good chuckle at his expense. They, of course, have done nothing to prepare for a future that they all expect to fall from the sky any day now – other than throw dinner parties and stand around smoking Pall Malls while talking about the evil commies who want their stuff.  Everybody is worried about the future, but they think Bill’s solution, while obviously a pragmatic acceptance of the world as it exists, is nevertheless foolish and they chide him for wasting money that they think could be better spent elsewhere (presumably on more dinner parties and cartons of cigarettes ).

Except, just then, the radio announces unidentified objects headed towards America from low earth orbit!

Of course, it can only be the long feared communists, the bastards are finally making their move! 

Atomic devastation is only moments away.  Panic ensues. Bill tells his friends to go home and seek shelter. But there’s no time. So instead they want Bill to take them into his shelter.  Bill points out that the shelter can only hold three, there is only enough food and air for him, Grace, and their young son. It’s simply not practical or even feasible to try and put everybody into the refuge, in fact trying to do so will certainly kill them all from suffocation even if the Soviet missiles don’t get them.

Of course Bill’s friends should have planned ahead, they should have prepared for the coming crisis (or maybe elected those who would have avoided it altogether, but I digress). Instead they now face a disaster of their own making. Bill offers his basement as a refuge to his friends and relatives, saying that he’ll do the best he can for them after the initial attack is over but he’s got to do what’s right for his own wife and son. Bill’s friends will have none of it, of course, and accuse him of lying and much, much worse.

Reason is stripped away and replaced with rage and panicked desperation.

Bill and his immediate family retreat to the shelter and lock themselves in. 

His friends are incensed.

Led by Frank, they attempt to batter down the shelter’s door and, as tensions swiftly mount, it’s obvious that somebody is going to die…

 

Ever spend an entire Saturday in your sweats, parked on the couch watching a Twilight Zone marathon?

No? That’s too bad, because it was a great show. The entire series was just released on high definition DVD, if you’re looking to get me a Christmas present, that would be a good place to start.

Now, for those of you who don’t recognize the description above, it’s from the episode entitled The Shelter, which first aired in 1961. The Shelter was written by Rod Serling himself and was one of only four episodes without any science fiction or fantasy elements. Instead it was based entirely on the very real events and common fears of the time – which is what makes it such a memorable and terrifying story.

What brings this up?

Well, you know, sometimes I wonder if we’re not living in a Twilight Zone episode of our own.

The Republican Party has now surrendered its principles and is in full retreat!

So laments rightwing activist and conservative fundraiser Brent Bozell.  Last month Bozell warned conservatives that he would aggressively punish any republican who has the temerity to put the good of the nation over loyalty to the Republican Party and the puppet masters who control it.

Bozell, along with the usual motley cast of conservative hardliners, party hacks, flacks, and the fearful rich, are incensed by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s counter proposal to President Obama regarding a way to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff:

Should America assume that Representative John Boehner et. al. have been misleading the country for more than two years now? It would appear so. It would be impossible to count the times and ways Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy and so many others have told America that tax hikes would kill jobs and cripple the economy. Lo and behold, that’s just what they’ve proposed, $800 billion of them.

Just like guests at Bill Stockton’s tea party, conservatives have spent the last four years standing around smoking and scaring the hell out of each other with fevered rumors of some imagined communist invasion.  And now that the crisis they helped create is here, well, they’re banging on the door in panic and clamoring for the head of the only guy in their party pragmatic enough to acknowledge reality.

Bozell wants to make good on his threat to terminate any conservative who dares think about raising taxes on the wealthy.

All the party organs should be cut off [from party funding]. The only people who should be funded are those conservatives who don't break their word, and the primary opponents of the ones who do.

You’ve got to boggle at hardliners like Brent Bozell and Grover Norquist. 

To them, the world is strictly black and white.

There’s us and them and nothing in between.

That’s how it is, and that’s how it will always be. 

Their limited worldview allows for no deviation, no acknowledgement of the fluid and dynamic and changing nature of reality.  They extracted a promise from republicans two, five, ten, fifteen years ago – and they intend to stick to it no matter how conditions change around them. 

It’s one thing to promise not to raise taxes at the end of the Clinton administration, with a budget surplus in the bank. It’s another thing entirely to hold to that position after ten years of war bought on credit and an economic collapse brought to you by Bozell’s contributors, a bunch of staggeringly rich Wall Street types who no matter how rich they get are somehow never rich enough – all of which has left the country deep in the red. 

Conservative economic logic says that if taxes on the wealthy and businesses are kept low then they’ll create jobs in return, which in turn will create more of the middle class, who can then be taxed to make up the difference in revenue. 

In other words, we shouldn’t tax (rich) people more, we should have more (poor)people pay taxes. 

This sounds workable in theory. 

And it is, sort of, as far as it goes.

Especially if you convince people that a whole bunch of parasites are sucking off the system at the expense of the middle class and that keeping taxes low on the wealthy will somehow, magically, make these alleged lazy people suddenly get off their duffs and dance. The way to sell it is to convince people that taxes stay low for everybody as long as there are lots of people paying taxes.

And again, this sounds workable in theory.

There’s just one problem with that.

In reality, it doesn’t actually work.

And it sure as hell hasn’t for the last two decades, Q.E.D.

The only way this works is if everybody plays by the same rules.  What happens in reality is that businesses and the rich end up with all the power, then they find ways to maximize their profits and minimize the amount of taxes they pay – and they do that by paying off politicians to create loopholes in the tax and business codes which then allows them to ship jobs overseas, avoid paying living wages and reasonable benefits to the poor and middleclass, and in some cases avoid paying taxes themselves altogether.

And they do it through people just like Brent Bozell.

Bozell damned well knows this, he goes on to say:

They aren’t taxes, no siree. They are ‘revenue,’ and ‘loopholes’ that are closed – which also begs the question: if these are loopholes, why were they open? Closing loopholes is always a malarkey adventure. If Loopholes are open, why didn’t they close them before?

They didn’t close them before because the people Bozell gets his money from don’t want them closed.

And in fact, they paid good money to have them created in the first place.

And that’s the truly ironic part, right there.

Because if they don’t compromise, if they don’t allow John Boehner room to maneuver, if they don’t accept some increase, then the very crisis that they themselves created will bring down their pet Speaker and automatically raise their taxes anyway in a deal that they themselves also created

See, the problem with taking hostages and threatening to shoot them is this: hostages are only a bargaining chip if the opposition doesn’t shoot them first.

Conservatives created this crisis – or the wealthy puppet masters behind the GOP did anyway, through tools just like Brent Bozell and Grover Norquist. 

Conservatives created the fiscal cliff.  They created it when they placed non-binding promises to lobbyists like Norquist and Bozell above their sworn legal obligation to their constituents.

They created it when they placed the staggering avarice of a greedy few above the nation itself.

They created it when they  failed to do the job they were elected to do, when they obstructed every option, when they refused to compromise, when they decided to make Obama “a one term president” instead of acknowledging the will of the people they claim to represent.

They created it when they placed politics above pragmatism.

People like John Boehner created this false crisis.

People like John Boehner created this climate of fear and hatred and now they’ll have to reap the bitter harvest that they’ve sown.

See, for certain folks, the path to power is through fear.  Fear of secret communists and imaginary Nazis, fear of usurpers, fear of government, fear of the other, fear of minorities, fear of invasion, fear of aliens, fear of the different, fear of war, fear of peace, fear of science, fear of God and some ridiculous made-up bullshit nonsense about an anti-Christ, fear of the dirty unwashed, fear of the poor, fear of the hungry, fear of death, fear of lost status and power, fear of decline and emasculation, fear of the end of the world. 

They fan the flames of fear – and then have the gall to act surprised when the fearful flock to their beacon.

And they feed on each other, amplifying the fear until it is all consuming.

They do it because it’s easy.

It’s far easier to make people afraid than it is to give them hope, to inspire, to lead.

Fear is always easier.

But the problem, you see, is this: power built on fear makes for a precarious perch.

People like John Boehner created this crisis by turning President Obama into a fanatical Whitey-hatin’ Anti-American Black Power Christian Muslim Kenyan Nazi Socialist Communist Baby Killing Satanic Gay Cannibal Demon who wields the Magic Negro Ray of Planet Destroying Doom.

People just like John Boehner created such a fantastical bogeyman that there is now no way, no way, for them compromise with that same bogeyman without admitting that they were wrong, that they just made it all up, that they were just using the stupid and the ignorant and the fearful to bolster their own power.

In order to avert a disaster of their own making, they must now meet the newly reelected president at least halfway.

And that’s the one thing they simply cannot do, because for them, for the simpleminded that they’ve made fearful, that’s a deal with the Devil.

They are almost literally hoist on their own petard.

They cannot admit error, because the belief system they created doesn’t admit error.

No more so than Harold Camping could admit that his prophesies of the pending rapture were just so much crazy fearful bullshit that he himself just completely made up to scare people into giving him money. Just like the TV evangelists keep predicting their own End Times so the gullible and the fearfully ignorant will send them a check. Just like the psychics and gleeful doomsayers predicting the end of the world later this month. Just like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent and Hank Williams Jr. and all the rest of them.

Ask yourself this, when was the last time you heard any of these people speak of anything but fear?

When have they ever been anything but afraid?

Sarah Palin yesterday on Fox News is a perfect example:

Well, I guess I shouldn’t call politicians names, so I apologize for calling the wobbly ones wusses. Because that distracts from the point that has to be made and the point is that we are a bankrupt country. So I say, Republicans, go back to what the planks in your platform represent. It represents reining in government, putting back the power and the responsibility in the individual, not in the state, not in government. Again, that gets us towards socialism. What goes beyond socialism … is communism! I know I’m going to get slammed for speaking so bluntly about what’s going on here, but that’s exactly what is going on. A very scary proposal was recently revealed by [Treasury Secretary] Geithner essentially saying, ‘Let the president have free rein on raising the debt ceiling to whatever level he wants it.’ That’s a very scary thought because Barack Obama is a socialist.

Socialists! Communists! Federal Reserve! Oh noes! It’s scary!

These people created this crisis, they created it out of fear with malice aforethought, and in their fear they unleashed the ravenous cannibal horde and now any conservative who breaks ranks will be ripped to bloody gobbets.

The monster they themselves created will eat them alive and screaming.

 

Of course, anybody who’s ever seen The Twilight Zone could have told them how this was going to work out.

 

You see, at the end of The Shelter, Frank and the mob break down the fallout shelter door with an improvised battering ram and just as they are about to kill Bill Stockton and take his refuge for themselves (which is now doorless and therefor no shelter at all), the radio announces that it had all been a false alarm.

The incoming objects were just harmless satellites.

The communists weren’t invading after all.

The world wasn’t about to end. 

There never was any real danger, the entire thing was a big mistake created entirely from blind panic and irrational fear.

Chagrined and embarrassed by their behavior, Bill’s neighbors and friends apologize.

One by one they leave the basement and return to their homes.

The day after, well, you know they will try to act like nothing happened, but Bill Stockton is left to wonder if they haven’t all already destroyed themselves anyway.

 

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