Tom Diaz

Archive for the ‘Ignorance of History’ Category

WHIFFLE BALL, OR HOW BARACK OBAMA, ROBERT GIBBS, AND RAHM EMANUEL GAVE A HOME RUN ON “OPEN CARRY” TO THE NRA

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Concealed Carry, Cultural assassination, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Guns, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, politics, Running Fire Fight, self-defense, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Semiautomatic Rifles, Starbucks, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media" on June 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm
The Sultan of Swat Hits a Grand Slam on Open Carry

The Sultan of Swat Hits a Grand Slam on Open Carry

 

WAYNE LAPIERRE and the National Rifle Association just got a grand slam on the “open carry” issue.

They can thank the Obama White House Genius Bar for the opportunity for the NRA to look rational, Wayne LaPierre to sound “Presidential,” and the gun industry to cleverly knock “gun safety” foundation babies and nubbins off of their stride.

open-carry-tools

Typical Open Carry Nitwits

Five years ago, Barack Obama’s White House also had the bases loaded on open carry. It was tossed a floating pitch that it could have blasted out of the park. But President Barack Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and his media marvel, Robert Gibbs, were playing Whiffle Ball in the Bigs. They collectively blew it, not only politically but to the nation’s great long-term harm.

Let’s be clear: the NRA’s admonition to the nitwits of the “open carry” movement was not a victory for the groundlings of the “gun safety and stuff like that” movement. It was as clear-eyed, coldly strategic a move as anything the NRA has ever done. The gun industry’s mouthpiece simply threw a small and annoying claque under the much larger and more successful gun rights train. The open carry movement has never been important to the gun industry or the NRA, as I described in my famous book, The Last Gun, published by The New Press. (See further below for the salient paragraphs.)

Let’s go to the tapes.

Here, in relevant part, is what the NRA posted this week chastising the “open carry” movement for its recent actions (toting assault rifles around in public):

…just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. In each case, gun owners would do well to consider the effect their behavior has on others, whether fellow gun owners or not.

Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

But when people act without thinking, or without consideration for others – especially when it comes to firearms – they set the stage for further restrictions on our rights. Firearm owners face enough challenges these days; we don’t need to be victims of friendly fire.

rahm-emanuel-is-having-a-really-bad-summer copy

St. Emanuel of Chicago: Useless Then, Pathetic Now

Okay, you’re thinking, what’s your problem? Sounds good. The NRA is reining in the gun nuts.  No, actually, it’s not. It’s simply trying to excise a tiny number of people who are getting in the way of the big money in the gun industry: selling concealable handguns and accessories, and selling semiautomatic assault rifles and accessories. There is simply no value added to the gun market by open carry. (Politically, think of open carry nitwits as Trotskyites who have been purged by the NRA’s Stalinists.)

Here is what I wrote in The Last Gun, contrasting the huge concealed carry market with the desert of open carry:

An idea of how much fresh blood concealed-carry laws have pumped into the anemic gun industry is demonstrated by Florida’s experience. Before the new law, 16,000 Floridians were reported to have concealed carry licenses. As of August 31, 2012, Florida had dispensed 1,151,537 gun licenses, of which 963,349 were run-of-the-mill concealed-carry licenses. the remainder were for various specialized occupations, such as private investigators. Add to this growth the increased sales in all of the forty-one states that as of February 2012 have shall-issue laws similar to Florida’s, and it’s clear that the NRA’s gift to the gun industry was a big one, a gift that keeps on giving profits to the industry while taking innocent lives.

 …

If this boom from the NRA’s concealed-carry push made gun retailers happy, gun manufacturers and importers were tickled pink. Designing and marketing new lines of small but powerful “pocket rockets” in high calibers for the new concealed-carry market boosted manufacturers as well. This factor explains why the industry has never thrown its weight behind the “open-carry”  movement. Just about any gun will do for open carry. A handgun can be stuck into a waistband or shoved into a holster. A long gun can be slung over the shoulder. No special gun size or design is required for carrying a gun openly, no accessories are needed, and no specialized clothing need be worn. Thus open carry offers few new, if any, profitable marketing ploys to tempt [gun industry marketer] Massad Ayoob’s “walking cluster” gun buyer. (emphasis added here)

Makes Nice Speeches About Stuff

Makes Nice Speeches About Stuff

The marginal nature of the claque of open carry nitwits was completely misunderstood by the Obama White House five years ago, caught up as it was (and is) in the paralytic nonsense of the so-called “Third Way” movement.

Here is what I wrote about this shameful performance in The Last Gun:

The degree to which the gun lobby can control the political debate was starkly illustrated in August 2009 at a White house press conference. During that month, a spate of armed protestors began showing up at presidential events. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a man with a gun strapped to his leg stood outside a town hall meeting with a sign reading, “It’s time to water the tree of liberty.” The reference was to a letter in which Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” In Phoenix, Arizona, about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with an AR-15 assault rifle, milled around among protesters outside the convention center, where the President was giving a speech. A spokesman for the Secret Service admitted that incidents of firearms being carried outside Presidential events were a “relatively new phenomenon,” but insisted that the President’s safety was not being jeopardized.

But, one might fairly have asked, what about the safety of other ordinary citizens who aren’t carrying guns and don’t want to carry guns? What about their rights, and their preferences? What about the intimidation inherent in the open display of guns at political events by people who are, to put it mildly, clearly angry? What will be the effect of this precedent on future Presidents—and other public figures? What about the possibility of people showing up with more advanced firepower—such as freely available 50 caliber antiarmor sniper rifles?

 When asked about these events, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs spoke only to the parochial interests of gun enthusiasts, saying merely that people are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. “There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally,” he said. “Those laws don’t change when the President comes to your state or locality.” But as commentator E.J. Dionne incisively observed at the time, Gibbs’s technical response missed the bigger point. “Gibbs made you think of the old line about the liberal who is so open- minded he can’t even take his own side in an argument. What needs to be addressed is not the legal question but the message that the gun-toters are sending.”

 It was a “teachable moment.” But instead of using these events as an opportunity to speak out about “the message that the gun- toters are sending,” Gibbs’s meek response only validated their threatening actions, further empowering them. Americans must demand that such appeasement of the gun industry and extremist gun enthusiasts end.

 Had the Obama White House seized the moment, they would have found that most Americans, even most gun owners, are not comfortable with whack jobs walking around public places openly carrying guns. More than that, Obama could have taken the high ground and pressed the issue forward, educating the nation about the even greater danger of the gun industry’s ruthless marketing system.

140524215947-14-isla-vista-shooting-horizontal-gallery

The Beatification of Saint Rahm Emanuel the Sometime Fierce Defender of the Innocent (When It Suits Him)

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Concealed Carry, Ethics in Washington, Expendable Youth, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Guns, Ignorance of History, Mexico, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Obama, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media", Washington Bureaucracy on May 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm
rahm-emanuel-is-having-a-really-bad-summer copy

In Nomine Gloria Mundi

 

Behold!

And so, it has begun, my children.

Midst thunder of drum and blast of  trumpet, the earthly corpus of Rahm Emanuel–political hit man, career politician, erstwhile firm plug athwart progress in the gun control pipeline–is being elevated while yet breathing to the Glorious Pantheon of Saints of the Gun Control Movement.

Behold!

Blessed by The Highest Priests and Priestesses of The Movement, Emanuel is raised up to Glory, swathed in Blinding Raiment of Mindless Adoration of the Fervidly Forgetful. Look away! Look away, sinner!

Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest!

O, tremble ye Foundation Babies, for, yea verily, the slightest deviation in expression of True Belief and Adoration for He Who Dwells Among the Saints will dry up the honey from the rock. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth among the lepers of the Unfunded Great Ideas and the Deserving Grants Denied. Sing for your supper, O Babies, sing Hosanna, Hosanna!

As in the case of some select few before him–whom we could name, and yea might yet, but choose not to for the bye–the inconvenient facts of his past Blasphemous Trashing of Gun Control and Gun Control Activists shall be expunged, erased, sent down to the Eternal Fires of the Memory Hole.

Forgive him, for he has sinned most grievously.

Or not, as is your wont.

I personally choose not to. But, then, I can afford to. Now.

Rahm_Emanuel_Oval_Office_Barack_ObamaHere are the facts, as reported then by an ever-vigilant news media (not so much now, however):

This spring, President Obama promised Mexican President Felipe Calderon that he would work to deter gunrunning south of the border. Behind the scenes, White House officials were putting the brakes on a proposal to require gun dealers to report bulk sales of the high-powered semiautomatic rifles favored by drug cartels.

Justice Department officials had asked for White House approval to require thousands of gun dealers along the border to report the purchases to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF investigators expected to get leads on suspected arms traffickers.

Senior law enforcement sources said the proposal from the ATF was held up by the White House in early summer. The sources, who asked to be anonymous because they were discussing internal deliberations, said that the effort was shelved by then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a veteran of battles with the gun lobby during the Clinton administration.

The plan – which officials knew would be strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association – was perceived as too volatile just before midterm elections, the sources said.

Sari Horwitz and James V. Grimaldi, “White House delayed rule on guns to Mexico,” The Washington Post, December 18, 2010.

The Hill (8/26, Cusack, 21K) reports, “Gun-control supporters are expressing frustration with the White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress for not standing up to groups like the National Rifle Association.” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who “succeeded now White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the lower chamber, told The Hill, ‘I can’t even get a hearing [on gun control issues].'” Quigley added, “I’m not blaming the Republicans. I’m blaming [Democratic] leadership and the administration.” The Hill adds the “gun-control community is among several factions on the left that are upset with the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress.”

“Gun Control Backers Frustrated With Democratic Leaders,” The Frontrunner, August 27, 2010.

In the past, national political leaders might have raised troubling questions about how such an unstable character could obtain easy access to high-powered weapons. They might have been even more motivated given that Poplawski’s cop-killing spree was part of a near epidemic of mass homicides that have left 58 people dead over the past month. Or given that Mexico’s insanely violent drug cartels are arming themselves with high-powered assault weapons purchased at U.S. gun stores and later smuggled south of the border. Yet many past champions of stricter gun-control measures are silent. These include top Obama White House officials who have squelched any talk within the administration about pushing further gun-control measures. “It’s weird,” says Peter Hamm, the communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “When you see people like [Attorney General] Eric Holder or Hillary Clinton or [White House chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel become muted on this issue, you feel like you want to call up a friend and say, ‘What’s up?’ “

But Obama and top White House aides have all but abandoned the issue. Emanuel helped orchestrate passage of the original assault-weapons ban when he worked in the Clinton White House. Now he and other White House strategists have decided they can’t afford to tangle with the National Rifle Association at a time when they’re pushing other priorities, like economic renewal and health-care reform, say congressional officials who have raised the matter.

The word didn’t get through to everyone in the administration, resulting in mixed messages–and blowback from the NRA. In February, Holder called for restoring the federal ban on assault guns to help curb the flow of weapons to the Mexican cartels…Within days, White House aides instructed Justice officials to stop talking about the assault-weapons issue, according to congressional and administration officials who asked not to be identified because of political sensitivities.

Michael Isikoff and Suzanne Smalley, “Obama Gets Gun-Shy; Despite a recent spate of killings, the president and fellow Democrats choose not to wage war on assault weapons,” Newsweek, April 20, 2009.

The Democratic Party, a slow learner but educable, has dropped the subject of gun control and welcomed candidates opposed to parts or even all of the abortion rights agenda. This vindicates the candidate recruitment by Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Chuck Schumer, chairmen of the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees, respectively.

John H. Fund, “Elbow Rahm,” The American Spectator, December 2008 – January 2009.

And so, my little puppy-eyed ones, this is how you have been betrayed in Washington. Over and over and over again.  The career politicians, you see, know how to get themselves re-elected…in order that they can…get re-elected again.

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Now that St. Rahm is mayor of Chicago, he is all about some goofy idea to video-tape gun sales. When he could have been a force, he was not. And now, he is just pathetic.

rahm1O, ye of too much faith, trust me, there is much unknown and unspoken deep beneath these waters. The unknown knowns, so to speak. And there are many in Washington, Chicago, California, New York, yea, “all over this land,” who know this truth. But they dare not call it what it is. They have mortgages, too.

I shall perhaps return of a sunny day to the political dynamics emanating with awesome wind power from Chicago that underlie the amazing grace Emanuel enjoys among the foundation babies and nubbins who effect to be advocates for gun control, or “common sense gun safety measures” as they prefer to call it.

EllenAlberdingCouncilOnFoundations

Hint: Present at the Creation

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, Hillary Will Run: Hog Wallers, Fly-fishing, and The Wisdom of the Fireman’s Daughter

In bad manners, Ethics in Washington, Geezer Rants, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, politics, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media", Tired Old Republicans on March 22, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton

Is Hillary Clinton going to run for President?

Duh-uh. Once you grasp the deep meaning of the story of the Fireman’s Daughter, you know the answer.

Of course, she’s going to run.

The last people to understand this will be the “analysts” of the “news” media.

HOW SOON THEY FORGET–IF THEY EVER KNEW

Many of these talking faces were still popping zits the last time Hillary ran for President. If they weren’t so damned pompous, frowning knowledgably into the Big Camera, and presuming to explain the meaning of it all to us—we, the great mass of the ignorant and unwashed intellectual proletariat—they might be forgiven their limp grasp of the salient facts.

It’s a bit like expecting today’s 40-something-and-under-year-olds to know where Iwo Jima is (“Umm, isn’t it in the Bahamas?”), or what the Korean War was all about (“Uh, so, like, the Koreans wanted their independence from England or something. Whatever.”).

The others, the banal and boring veterans—the producers, the hosts, and the expert guests—are all into the game of New Journalism in 140 Words or Less. They peer into the vast black hole of 24/7/365 media screen time—a  hole that has to be filled with something, anything—and vomit out their paycheck’s worth of smug bloviation.

The few among the gray hairs who actually get it know that “the HRC story” will collapse the minute the balloon of speculation about Clinton goes limp. Who then will need—or even want—their “informed” opinion? The very office of prognostication demands that they pump up the balloon at every chance.

Clinton Attends "Low Dollar" Fundraiser In New YorkBut, please, come on, the politics are plain and simple.

Hillary was Destiny’s Child in the run up to the 2008 Democratic nomination. It was hers to lose, and, as most of us know, she lost it. She was crushed by that upstart and thoroughly condescending enigma named Barack Hussein Obama.

The Clintons don’t like losing. They will do damned near anything to win back what they lose. Exhibit A, Bill Clinton’s flip-flop-and-flip-again on what used to be charmingly called “gun control.”

When Bill Clinton was trying to win back his Arkansas governor gig, he claimed that he was against gun control. When his writtecirque du soleil imagen answers to the NRA candidate questionnaire called that profession of libertarian faith into doubt, Clinton called The Man at the NRA and claimed that the answers on his questionnaire were wrong. Bill instantly changed them to the NRA’s liking. He blamed the unfortunate misunderstanding on some staff member.

Later, when he decided to run for President, Bill flipped again and backed the Brady Law and eventually the 1994 Assault Weapons “Ban,” both of which were passed and  signed into law on his watch. Since then, William Jefferson Clinton has been a virtual Cirque du Soleil on gun control. He flips left when it’s popular and right when it’s not. Sometime he just grins enigmatically, like a hound dog that just ate a McDonald’s ribs sandwich.

BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY

By Any Means NecessaryIn other words, the Clintons win by any means necessary.

And the necessary means here is money, money, money.

Having stuffed all possible competition into the deep freezer and slammed the lid, Hillary is free to continue raising enough cash to crush any random community activist and/or  Constitutional Law professor who wanders into her path. (Joe Biden serves as comic relief, and possibly as a clinical model of self-delusion.)

Hillary could just come out and say it, “Yes, I’m running.” But Mother Wisdom counsels against such a premature climax.

First, there is the matter of her eventual Republican opponent.

THE GREAT REPUBLICAN HOG WALLER

While the Clinton money machine continues to vacuum up the big bucks, the Entity-Formerly-Known-as-the-Republican-Party is in the early stages of its quadrennial Clown Show. It pigsmay be a “fight for the base,” but it looks like a bunch of old white men swimming for the bottom of a mud wrestling pit.

Why would Hillary interrupt this spectacular hog waller?  By the time she has to get into play, these human slabs of pork will, in their efforts to out-demagogue each other, have provided hours of dumb, vicious statements for attack ads during the general campaign.

Second, there is the matter of motivating Hillary’s own base. And that brings us to the story of the Fireman’s Daughter.

THE FIREMAN’S DAUGHTER

lanternThis was my very favorite “practical joke” when I was a dissolute fraternity rat at the University of Florida, wasting my mind on toga parties and Gator football games.

It went like this. Football was (and is) very big in the Southeastern Conference. Florida home games attracted fans from other SEC schools. Thus, members of other chapters of my fraternity sometimes showed up at our house a day or so before the game, looking for traditional hospitality and a room.

These innocents we called our “fish.”

Friday evenings before the big game were usually quiet, the big parties being held Saturday after the game. Oftentimes, one or more of our visiting fraternal fish would wander into the chapter living room to join the perpetual Friday night bull session.

I, or another of my brothers, would flick a wrist and lay a casual line in the water.

“Hey, anybody been out to see Becky lately?”

This would elicit a few shrugs of studied indifference, and the conversation would be nudged in another direction.

But often enough one of the fish would go for the fly.

“Who’s Becky?”

Subtlety was everything at this crucial moment.

“Aw, nobody, really.”

“No, seriously, who is Becky?”

The conspirators would exchange a few reluctant grins and let the fish swim closer to the bait.

“Just some girl that lives out in the country.”

“Just some girl?”

“Well, okay, she really likes to do it.”

“You mean…?”

“Yep.”

Gentle reader, understand that this was in an era before the “hookup,” when men and women lived in separate dormitories, the women’s more guarded than a harem.

“Well, come on, how can we meet her?”

The hook was set.

While the rest of the conversation played out, a few brothers would casually slip out of the room. Their task was to  head out and set up the joke in a sandy rural wilderness area, filled with moss-strewn pin oaks and crisscrossed by a few rutted car trails.

“It’s not worth the effort.”

“No, come on, it’s worth it to me.”

“Well, all right. Okay. See, her father works on the railroad. He’s a fireman. “

By now the fish were firmly in the hook of their own libidinous imaginations.

“When he’s out on the road, she leaves a lantern out to signal that it’s okay to come in.”

“Can we go out there? Now?”

A few more shrugs. Long delay. Pained introspection. Finally, a sigh of the Good Host’s surrender.

“Okay. We got nothing else to do.”

At that, the fish would pile happily into a car or two, intoxicated by their good luck.

Sure enough, there would be a lantern out by one the trails. But, after we all walked a dozen yards or so in the supposed direction of Becky’s shack, a loud, gruff male voice would ring out.

“I knew I would catch you!” the voice shouted. “Now, I’m gonna’ kill you!”

BANG!  BANG!

Two bright flashes and two enormously loud shotgun blasts would ring out into the deep Florida night. All hands would turn, “haul ass” for the cars, and “escape” from the trap set by Becky’s irate father.

Safely back in the living room, the fish would be debriefed.

Many claimed to have seen Becky’s father. One insisted that he had been hit in the foot by a shotgun pellet. Another disappeared for hours, eventually making his way back to Gainesville and the fraternity house on foot, hiding in the roadside weeds from every passing car (including ours), convinced that Becky’s father was hunting him down.

Seeing Becky’s father and being hit by a pellet were both impossible conditions. The shotgun blasts were made by a Gator cheerleader’s noise-making apparatus. It did not and could not fire real shotgun shells, but it made a hell of a noise. It was set off by one of the advance party. Becky’s father, like Becky, was pure invention.

The most fun came when we finally announced the ruse.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

The lesson?

Hillary has cast her fly out into the dark water of the Democratic base. She’ll take her time and control her hand until she has the hook set and the fish are left with nowhere to go but into her bag.

Go Gators!

Bass with moody damsel

Coulter, Kaus and Those Uppity Brown People

In Cultural assassination, Ignorance of History, politics, The Great Stupid, The So-called "News Media", Tired Old Republicans on March 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Leading Conservatives, Presidential Candidates Speak At CPAC Gatheringkaus

This from The Huffington Post about two of the most spiritually ugly “pundits” in America today:

Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter and the Daily Caller’s Mickey Kaus held a one-sided debate on Saturday that mostly served as a 50-minute screed from Coulter on the “browning of America” due to immigration.

Among other reasons to oppose reform, Coulter said: It would help Democrats.

“You want the Democrats who want more immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, because they need brand new voters, just warm bodies, more votes,” she said. “Amnesty goes through, and the Democrats have 30 million new voters. I just don’t think Republicans have an obligation to forgive law-breaking just because the Democrats need another 30 million voters.”

The debate was ostensibly between a conservative and a liberal — Kaus said he voted twice for President Barack Obama — but the two speakers shared the same view on immigration. Although they discussed a variety of topics, immigration became the principal focus — and not exactly in the softer tone many Republicans have been attempting on the issue to avoid alienating Latino voters.

On that front, Kaus wasn’t much different from Coulter.

“Democrats have a perfectly good reason to be for amnesty, which is craven ethnic pandering that’s going to ensure our power for the next two generations, but what is the Republican excuse?” Kaus asked while talking about Republicans who support reform.

Coulter praised 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s comments on immigration, which were widely considered to hurt his efforts to win over Latinos. She said she supported Romney because he was the “most aggressive” on immigration.

Coulter said only MSNBC seems to have noticed — and celebrated — the “browning of America.” “But if you don’t celebrate it, you’re a racist,” she said sarcastically.

She mocked those who are more sympathetic to undocumented immigrants, saying most undocumented people are young men who crossed the border without authorization. She also said it’s wrong to claim concern about children when discussing deportations.

“It’s not as if people crossing the border illegally in the back of trucks marked pico de gallo, hiding in barrels, running from the border guards — it’s not like they did not know what they were doing was wrong,” she said. “Everyone acts like they stumbled into the country.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/08/ann-coulter-cpac_n_4926558.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

I just love it when bloviaters like Coulter and Kaus denigrate, disparage, and demean immigrants and the modern immigrant experience, because it adds more mass to the right-wing death spiral, which has already reached terminal velocity. In their ignorantly misshapen view, the only authentic immigrant experience was (a) white European imperialist “colonizers” committing genocide, (2) mass importation of black slaves by white European imperialists committing genocide, and (3) white European imperialists opening the valve for “brown” Europeans [Eastern and Southern Europeans] just enough to provide labor to be exploited by the white European imperialist industrial enterprises. After that, circa 1924, the ladder goes up, “quotas” are imposed, **and** immigrants of other ethnic origin are an existential threat to be denigrated, disparaged, and demeaned. [Putting aside the earlier, very racist Asian Exclusion Acts of the late 19th century.] This is why millions of Latinos, I for one example, who hold some cultural values similar to the Entity Formerly Known as the Republican Party will never, never, ever vote for a Republican Presidential Candidate.

That Kaus resorts to the “P” word–ethnic “pandering”–shows the paucity of his intellectual arsenal.  It’s as if civil rights legislation in the 1960s was “racial pandering.”And the minimum wage is “pandering to the poor.”

Mickey, get a clue. The days of the Big House are over.

(Curiously, Ron Paul may prove to be the crucial exception, but he is not really a Republican, but a radical Libertarian. Hillary should be very afraid of him.)

Professor Barack Obama’s Ukrainian Constitutional Law Class Was Always Standing Room Only

In Crimea, Ignorance of History, Obama, politics, Putin, The So-called "News Media", Transnational crime, Ukraine, War and Rumors of War on March 6, 2014 at 11:20 pm
Professor Obama's Class On Ukrainian Constitutional Law

Professor Obama’s Class On Ukrainian Constitutional Law

 

 

Assault Weapons Design History

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Gun Colonialism, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Semiautomatic Rifles, The Great Stupid, War and Rumors of War on January 10, 2014 at 12:36 am

Pointed quick fireAssault weapons look like they look because their form follows their function. In other words, the design dictates their distinctive features.

This video explains it all:

 

 

How Many Young Men and Women Have You (Yes, YOU) Sent to Die Today? War and Social Responsibility

In bad manners, Chicken Hawks and Other War Birds, Ethics in Washington, Expendable Youth, Ignorance of History, politics, The So-called "News Media", True Patriotism, War and Rumors of War on September 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Christmas Wreaths at ANC

Those Whose Opinions Will Not Be Counted

What shall I say? That it’s been damnable?

That all the time my soul was never my own?

That we’ve slaved hard at endless make-believe?

It isn’t only actual war that’s hell,

I’ll say. It’s spending youth and hope alone

Among pretences that have ceased to deceive.

Geoffrey Faber

The Great National Debate continues.

The President and the Vice-President glide through the city in armored convoys, exquisitely isolated, omniscience at their fingertips, more regal and self-important than any Louis of any reign. Their black processions scatter the masses like coveys of quail before the thresher.

Overhead, important generals, admirals, couriers, and contractor wealth-suckers thunder to and fro in the cocoons of their whomp-whomping armored helicopters.

War is swell, ain’t it?

Thumb-sucking journalistes, posturing “members” of Congress, and tanked thinkers furrow their brows, preen and opine, thrust and riposte, play at paper wars. The luckiest get audiences with the Even Greater, thence to regurgitate the latest talking points.

The August Madness of 1914 lives!  It has risen from the stench of its rotten grave and become the September Folly of 2013.

There is no escape to the Isle of Reason.  But there are occasional glimmers of light: sharp, scathing, cleansing, antiseptic to easily uttered cant.  Such might be found in Col. Andrew J. Bacevich’s latest book, Breach Of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers And Their Country (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company).

Here is an excerpt from a review in The New York Times by Rachel Maddow.  The message?  Do not send to know for whom the avenging harrow comes.  It comes for thee.

Andrew J. Bacevich starts from the assumption that our modern militarism is unsustainable and unwise. He then proceeds to assign blame, mercilessly: to the public (for our consumerist apathy); to the Pentagon (for its “generals who had slept undisturbed back when Warsaw Pact commanders had ostensibly been planning to launch World War III” but who “now fretted nervously over the prospect of their budget taking a hit”); to the contractors (whose profiteering steals honor from the soldiers they serve alongside); and, naturally, to the politicians. Even Fenway Park and the Red Sox come in for blame, for the staging of a sailor’s homecoming at a July 4 game that left Bacevich all but retching over the “convenient mechanism for voiding obligation, . . . a made-to-order opportunity for conscience-easing.”

Bacevich saves particular vitriol for pro-war writers of both the right and left: Christopher Hitchens, the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen and the New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier all get filleted and neatly stacked in the corner, to make room for the unleashing of all hell on David Brooks for his commentary before, during and after the Iraq war — followed by what Bacevich sees as an unconscionable repeat of the same mistakes in the late phases of the war in Afghanistan. Bacevich’s scorching litany of what he sums up as “grotesque and contemptible irresponsibility” is a bracing indictment of my profession, and how no one suffers consequences for even the most humiliating failures in prediction and analysis, as long as those failures favor the use of military force.

We teeter at the very razor’s edge of a precipice whose dark bottom we cannot know.  Drink this gall and eat this bit of responsibility that we all share.  It is the body of folly.

cheney at arlington

Draft Dodger Celebrating War at the Hallowed Ground of Arlington National Cemetery. He Had “Other Priorities” While His Peers Were Dying in Muck.

 

Lee Daniels, Robert Schumann, and Thomas Westfall: An Intriguing Cultural Bank Shot in the Soundtrack of The Butler

In bad manners, Cultural assassination, Ethics in Washington, Geezer Rants, Ignorance of History, Mass Incarceration, Movies, politics, The Great Stupid, Tired Old Republicans on August 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm
clara-schumann-et-robert

Clara and Robert Schuman, Two Eminent Members of the Nobility of Western Culture

 One of the most elegant examples of director Lee Daniels’ powerful artistic sense comes in an early scene of his Oscar-bound film, The Butler.

As the movie opens, protagonist Cecil Gaines, the gray-haired White House butler, reminisces about his childhood.

Gaines’ thoughts drift to a deep south cotton field in the year 1926. Like other black “field hands,” young Cecil is picking cotton alongside his family.

The camera sets up the scene, pans the field, and eventually works its way in close to the eight-year Gaines. His father teaches him how to know when a boll is ready for picking. One can feel the heat, the humidity and the palpable oppression of the plantation owned by Thomas Westfall and his grandmother Annabeth.

Cotton plantattion

Way Down South in the Land of Cotton, Old Times There Are Not Forgotten…

Clearly, things in this cotton field have changed little since slave days.

But as this scene develops, it is what one does not hear that is so beautiful, so subtle.

One doesn’t hear the default music that 99 out of 100 directors would have plugged into the sound track here. There is no sorrowful blues guitar. No moaning spiritual.  No chorus of an unrepentant South.

Neither River Jordan nor Dixie echo in this “Land of Cotton.”

Rather, can you dig Robert Schuman’s Piano Concerto in A Minor?

Say what?

Schuman’s only piano concerto is one of the most beautiful examples of the serious music of the Romantic era. Dark, brooding, an always lovely interplay between piano and orchestra, it grips soul and heart.

What is it doing here?

Clearly, serious thought is given to such a choice. It is simply impossible that the finger of mere chance landed on this composer and this piece of music for this horrible moment.

One more or less obvious reason for the use of any such “cultured” music here is that the very contrast between the elegant music and the sordid cotton field paints in harsh strokes the gulf between the gentility embodied in the White House and the sweat and dirt of the cotton field. The famous Godfather christening scene raised (or, more properly, lowered) to cliché such contrast between action and music.

KKK1926

The Klan Marches in Washington, 1926, Upholding Western Values

In 1926, Calvin Coolidge sat in the White House. Some 35,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan marched down Pennsylvania Avenue. In much of America the life of a black man (or a “Mexican” or an “Indian”) was worth just what the temper of a randomly encountered white man would bear.

But there is, I suggest, a deeper point, a more profound moral and historical scoring.

Consider first the evil plantation owner’s very family name: Westfall.

Then consider that Schuman and his piano concerto embodied what many consider to be the best of Western high culture: nobility of thought, an enlightened and idealistic view of humanity, and a reverence for beauty for beauty’s sake. These are indeed vauable artifacts of Western culture. They might even be the ones that white supremacists have in mind when they congratulate themselves for belonging to the factually non-existent category of the “white race.”

Yet all of these ideals have been precisely savaged—at best ignored—throughout the brutal centuries within which people of any color have had the fell misfortune of being visited by Western culture.

Schuman wrote his beautiful piece in 1845.  Let us examine a few signal events of the same year for some instructive contrasts

In May, Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, was published by the Boston Anti-Slavery Society.

american-cities-085

Powdered, Perfumed, and Ready for Elegance

The powdered and perfumed elite who would later thrill to Clara Schuman’s performances of her mentally ill (and eventually institutionalized) husband were for the most part perfectly okay with—or at best indifferent to—the enslavement of other human beings, the treatment of others supposedly made in the image of God, as no better than and often worse than the lowest and dumbest of animals.

The horror of it is stunning.

There is more.

In the July-August issue of United States Magazine and Democratic Review editor John L. O’Sullivan opined that foreign powers were trying to prevent American annexation of Texas in order to impede “the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” (O’Sullivan need not have worried so much. In December, Texas entered the Union…as a “slave state.”)

O’Sullivan’s was the first known use of the powerful phrase “manifest destiny.”

This odious concept taught that Western (the historically non-existent “Anglo-Saxon”) culture had been selected and, indeed, divinely charged with the duty to expand itself to the West (and anywhere else that it could ooze).

Human Trafficking

A Benefit of High Western Culture: Becoming the Subject of Human Trafficking

Manifest Destiny was the “white man’s” imperialist burden to violently conquer the hapless “little brown people” of the world. The generous conquerors would bestow upon these inferiors some few of the wonders of high Western culture (a patronage that usually amounted to little more than forced religious conversion, a mandatory change in dress, and a peonage equivalent in all but name to slavery).

Where in hell, my child, do you think America’s imperial holdings in Puerto Rico, Texas and the Great American Southwest, Panama, Hawaii, the Philippine Islands, and other hapless nooks and crannies came from?

klansmenIt is the outstanding warrant for this savage and violent betrayal of its own values that the West in general and the United States in particular have yet to fully account. Many seek to evade this ineluctable accounting in the smug cant of the Tea Party and the lies of the thinly disguised racist plutocracy that now controls the right wing in America.

It is this fall from the grace of noble ideas to the putrescence of racism and slavery that is embodied in the name of Thomas Westfall. Just another plantation owner, enjoying centuries of violent subsidization.

The shame.  The horror.

Gun Colonialism and the Scramble for America

In bad manners, Concealed Carry, Ethics in Washington, Glock, Gun Colonialism, Guns, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, The Great Stupid, Tired Old Republicans, Washington Bureaucracy on July 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm
US Flag map

The Last Great Colony…of the World’s Gun Manufacturers

Africa1898

The “Great Powers” Scrambled to Carve Up Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the so-called “Great Powers” of the world–Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and a few other wannabes–competed to stake out their colonies in Africa.  The elbow-throwing, often violent competition became known as “The Scramble for Africa.”

The same powers had also competed for other colonies, including India and China.

The purpose of these colonies was simple–exploitation.  The Great Powers ripped off natural resources and valuable commodities from the colonies.  In return they forced their colonial subjects to buy goods from the imperial homeland or other colonies.

Opium Poppy Seedhead

The British Forced the Chinese to Become a Vast Market for Opium

The British, for example, saw great potential in selling opium to the huge population of China.  When the Chinese attempted to ban the flow of this drug, the British simply went to war (twice) and forced the defeated Chinese to take their opium.

The British and some other imperial powers (including the United States) preferred to rule “indirectly.”  This means they set up systems of “native” stooges and front men to “administer” their own country on behalf of their conquerors.

A great Scramble for America has been going on in the world’s gun markets for some time.  Foreign gun-makers have succeeded in carving out markets in the United States that they could never enjoy in their own countries, almost all of which have sensibly strict gun laws.  America has become the last great colony in the world of guns.

Just like the Great Powers, the gun imperialists have their local boot-lickers: the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and of course, Congress and the hive of lobbyists that buzz around it.

Just as the British succeeded in mass addiction of the Chinese to opium, the gun industry has pretty much succeeded in addicting a sizable number of Americans to guns.  And like drug addicts, gun buyers need a stronger “kick” after a while.  The gun industry has obliged by designing and selling increasingly lethal firearms.  These include assault weapons and high-capacity semiautomatic pistols.

Just as in other colonies, our indirect rule administrators are only rarely touched by the pestilence they fawningly help spread.  It’s good for you, they say.

Here’s a short video on point.

Reply To A Coward’s Threat

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Crime, Cultural assassination, Guns, Ignorance of History, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Semiautomatic Rifles, Terrorism, The Great Stupid, Tired Old Republicans on July 24, 2013 at 5:28 pm
klansmen

Cowards Who Are Ashamed Or Afraid (Or Both) To Show Their Faces

Wayne LaPierre, the Grand National Orifice of the National Rifle Association, infamously said in one of his emissions of verbal flatulence that “the guys with the guns make the rules.”

Wayne LaPierre

The NRA’s Grand National Orifice Vents about “The Rules” of Freedom

Anyone who dares to speak out on the American gun crisis has learned recently that the rules of the guys with the guns are cowardly threats.  LaPierre and others of his ilk have sought to mobilize fear and anger in the United States.  They want to get their pathetic troops out of their masturbatory fantasies in their grandmothers’ basements and onto the street, armed and ready to kill like so many jack-booted thugs.  They want to murder the First Amendment and anyone who exercises their rights under that Amendment to express an opinion with which they disagree.

This post is about an example.  It’s only one example out of many one could cite.

Last April I happened to appear for a few minutes in an excellent hour-long  CNBC documentary titled

“America’s Gun: the Rise of the AR-15.”  Here is a relevant clip from the documentary, which I highly recommend as having fully and fairly represented all of the many facets of this complex and troubling phenomenon.

I recently got a reply to the question I raised.  It was posted as a comment on this blog.

Here is that reply:

tomdiaz.wordpress.com 2013-7-22 18 11 6

A Cowardly Threat

In a nutshell, one “G. Wright” answers that it is I that he (or she) — or in his (or her) squishily evasive convention “they” — would like to kill.

Who knew?

Tom Diaz

The Education Face

It turns out that I, Tom Diaz, am the very face of oppressive government.  I haven’t been elected to any office.  I don’t run a powerful lobby for the gun industry, like the NRA.  I am nothing more than a citizen expressing my educated point of view, as is my right to do under the Constitution of the United States.

Okay, if I am truly that powerful, I decree that the United States government take the cost of one (just one) nuclear submarine out of the Pentagon’s budget and spend it instead on building a decent education infrastructure in every town, city, hamlet, and school district on America.  Call me the “Education Face.”

Waiting…waiting…waiting.

As a rule, I do not allow trash like G. Wright’s emission into the comments section of my blog. I used to let all comments in.  But I realized that I was often just underwriting ignorance, the bleating know-nothingness of the Great Pestilential Stupidity that has infected America.

However, given the obvious passion of “G. Wright,” I decided to make an exception.  I emailed G. Wright and invited him to provide his name and a brief biography.  I figured that if  he felt so passionately about his “rights” and the commandments of his “God,” he would be proud to attach his name to his opinion.

I’ll be honest.

I was not the least bit surprised when it turned out that “G. Wright” is a coward, a snake in the grass, a weak and no doubt mentally unbalanced person who emerges from the night, spray-paints the world with his simplistic and ill-informed hatred, and leaves a fake email address as his calling card.

Here is the email I sent to him and the “bounced back” response I got:

live.com 2013-7-22 18 7 20

The Cowardly Mask of a Fake Email Address

Yep, “failed delivery” to gw100001@aol.com.

As it happens, I know exactly who G. Wright is.  The following video describes him in some detail, and includes my response to his cowardly threat.

Let’s be clear about one thing.  G. Wright’s threat is not about me.  It’s about you, and you, and you.  It’s about whoever has an opinion that people like Wayne LaPierre, G. Wright, and other “guys with the guns” don’t like and don’t want this country to hear.

Shame on them. They are no different from and no better than the masked terrorists of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, or the Ku Klux Klan.

Shame on us if we let them get away with their terrorist campaign.

1933-may-10-berlin-book-burning

They Didn’t Like Free Speech Either…

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