Friday, October 19, 2012

What a Racket

(Saul Loeb, Agence France Presse)

That the political system is corrupt is no longer even up for debate. That the two mainstream presidential candidates are beholden to the plutocracy is a foregone conclusion. That the United States will eventually collapse from its own imperialistic weight is a matter not of if, but of when.
The torrents of daily outrage are cascading so furiously that we can barely even keep track of them. Party tribalism is so rampant that if you're a Romney fan, you psychotically believe his opponent is a socialist. If you're an Obama supporter, there seems to be nothing he can do that will not meet with your cowed, tacit approval. Drone strikes against innocent civilians? That's just your godfather president keeping you safe. Having the Secret Service arrest two third party female candidates and chain them to chairs while your guy champions the rights of women? Never mind all that, as long as your birth control pills are safe. Obama is the presidential John Gotti, the Teflon Don. And Campaign 2012 is starting to look more like a mob war than a presidential battle.

It took an independent labor journalist named Mike Elk to discover a months-old audio of Mitt Romney subtly threatening anti-union bosses to strong-arm their employees into voting for him.... or else. In his New York Times column today, Timothy Egan wrote about the real Romney coming out of the closet at Tuesday night's debate. My response:
Romney just forgot where he was on Tuesday night. He was probably having an oligarchic flashback to that conference call he had with a cadre of so-called small business owners last spring. That was when he gave his consiglieres one of those offers they best not refuse.

"I hope you make it very clear to your employees", he warned, "what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees."

This guy doesn't want to be president. He wants to be mafia boss. Cajole, threaten, shake down, kneecap, repeat. The photo of him accompanying this article actually does look like a publicity shot for "The Sopranos."

Mitt as mob boss, however, is a ham-handed Tony Soprano-type who likes to off his victims direct and in person and then foolishly brag about it later. Barry, on the other hand, is a more circumspect capofamiglia. He subcontracts his hits out to his underlings and makes sure his Wall Street earners are well-protected by his underbosses in the Justice and Treasury branches of the hierarchy. He throws figurative block parties in the neighborhood, handing out trinkets of gay rights and temporary amnesty for Dreamers and health care for a few sick kids. He flirts with the ladies even as he has his underlings literally kidnap Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, bind them to chairs in a Long Island warehouse, releasing them only when the coast is clear and the fake debate is over.

Oh, and once in awhile people do get collaterally damaged. Shit does happen. To its credit, the New York Times ran an editorial taking both mobsters to task for not caring about assault weapon proliferation in the streets of America. My comment:

Whenever you hear politicians promising that they look forward to having a conversation on an issue, you can rest assured that it will be swept under the rug asap. Ms. Gonzalez is to be commended for asking one of the few questions at the stage-managed debate that was not bland, candidate-friendly and made for boring TV.

You expect a Republican NRA panderer like Romney to obfuscate, but there is no excuse for Mr. Obama, who'd vowed to push for a renewal of the assault weapon ban during his first campaign. What I found particularly off-putting was this remark:

"But there have been too many instances during the course of my presidency, where I've had to comfort families who have lost somebody. Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago, actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at the bedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.

"And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some time, and we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later, this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good as new." (page 7, debate transcript.)

It reminded me of the time when Bush blithely comforted maimed Iraq war vets with the promise of "we'll get you some new legs" and then invited them for a round of golf.

Prayers, platitudes, and bromides -- that's all our elected officials offer shooting victims. But what else can you expect in America, the biggest arms dealer the world has ever known?

If you believe the polls, Obama may win the electoral college vote and lose the popular vote, just eking out a victory that is more like a wash. But Mitt
Romney will prevail and be forever protected by the oligarchy. Paul Ryan will continue rising through the ranks, whether it be in Congress, K Street, or Fox. The rubout of democracy will continue, until the peasants and the wage slaves finally and inevitably reach the breaking point. Strikes and pitchforks are looming on the horizon.


spreadoption said...

Strikes and pitchforks, yes, yes, bring 'em on. But to what avail?

The national security state with its NDAA and our Constitution thrown out the window is fully prepared to take us on. Millions of rounds of bullets for every department. Massive prisons under construction. That gigantic data-mining thing being built in Utah. Kent State was a sophomoric prank compared to what they have in store for us if we get out of line. And things being the way they are these days, might it not devolve into civil war as well, armed Republicans and Tea Partiers against the non-believers? George Carlin reminded us of the Japanese-Americans (that is, US citizens) interned during WWII. See the parallel? They're even keeping Guantanamo open for the most dangerous amongst us.

Does anybody out there see how this mess might yet turn out well? This once "pathologically positive" guy is losing it. (I'm still laughing, though. And I still do see plenty of goodness and beauty all around.)

James F Traynor said...

Looks bad, really bad.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

In many ways, a great column, Karen. But as I've argued before (basically siding with Zee on this forum), progressives are mistaken in any general railing against firearms. (High-capacity magazines aren't necessary, but getting those out of circulation is a practical impossibility). Beyond my previous comments of July 27 (to Karen's July 24 posting), consider this: right-wingers are already better armed than the left, and most are unlikely to surrender their weapons should they be banned; and state security (aka "law enforcement") is highly armed in a militaristic style and will never relinquish theirs. In arguing against civilian firearms or a subset thereof, progressives are effectively arguing for a relative increase in the power held by the state and right-wingers vs. that of the left and center. Do you really want that?

For some recent cases in Arizona illustrating the danger inherent in contemporary "law enforcement" attitudes and tactics, see the links below. They include 1) the "friendly fire" death of a Border Patrol agent, 2) the killing of Mexicans both here and within Mexico by the U.S. Border Patrol (in at least one case shooting them in the back), and 3) five off-duty Pima County corrections officers going ape and seriously beating multiple people outside of a bar, for no defensible reason whatsoever, with two additional officers aiding in a cover-up.



Note how the story was initially reported in 1c, vs. the truth that emerged later.










The following link contains my letter (and others that same day) printed by the Tucson newspaper. (Reading my letter, bear in mind that the shooting took place about 5 MILES(!) north of the border).

Interestingly, of the online comments made in response to that day's printed letters, of those referencing mine, all except one were critical; only one person --- ironically, a self-described "right-wing nut case" (Lee S., commenting Oct. 15 at 2:06 pm) --- seemed to understand my point regarding the militarization of law enforcement. Most wanted more governmental power used.

Denis Neville said...

Strikes and pitchforks are looming on the horizon?

When casino capitalism’s house of cards crashed in 2008, one would have thought that the time was ripe for a populist uprising.

Four years later, instead of a new, New Deal, casino capitalism, like Freddie Kruger, is back. An amazing renaissance! How did they manage to redirect public anger?

The anger is there. The right attacks the left, and the left attacks the right. Does this add up to a populist uprising? Meanwhile, the plutocracy goes its merry way as the implosions around us continue unabated. The media controls and frames public opinion based largely on lies.

Don’t people know that the elites are bringing them the plague?

“For fools admire and love those things they see hidden in verses turned all upside down, and take for truth what sweetly strokes the ears and comes with sound of phrases fine imbued.” - Lucretius

Will there be anti-austerity strikes like in Greece and Spain? There have been no mass strikes in the U.S. since the 1940’s. Could such strikes be a weapon in the hands of the working class? Would union leaders agree to call for such actions? Would American workers risk participation? Would plutocrats just ride out such limited demonstrations? Would they even occur? Our elites, in anticipation of such actions, have used our money, under the rubric of Homeland Security, to finance policing operations to intimidate and squelch such mass movements.

Populist uprisings have a long and rich history in this country. The Populists of the 1890's knew what they needed to do and they joined together to fight. Their efforts led to many important changes and laid the groundwork for many of the New Deal programs. But that was then, and this is now. More likely, the rage will cool as the economy begins to recover and things will continue much as before. There has been no uprising and there will not be one.


“There something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There is a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that that sound
Everybody look what’s going down…”
- Stephen Stills, Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth"

“Life is one long struggle in the dark.” - Lucretius

d12345 said...

Thanks Denis,

I am taken aback by the suggestion that the US needs loose gun laws so the "left" can arm itself for the coming conflagration.

The future will not be not what we expect or envision. We have no crystal ball.

But I imagine this imagined uprising of workers and unemployed would be about as effective as the Ghost Dance warriors of the Lakota in their final battles with the US government.

Denis Neville said...

Fred Drumlevitch said...“progressives are mistaken in any general railing against firearms”

Most progressives, including myself, don’t want to ban guns. We recognize the Second Amendment right to own guns. We are not out to get people’s guns. There are common sense steps to protect public safety while not infringing on the Second Amendment. The context in which the Second Amendment was written could not have anticipated the way guns evolved in the ability to do harm today. The Constitution did not foresee assault weapons. The right to bear arms is constitutional, but the right to be safe should be too. Progressives are not attempting to create a gun free society, just set reasonable limits.

Guns aren’t the problem, the NRA is the problem. The NRA blocks any common sense regulations of guns intended to protect public safety. It lobbies, with funds from gun manufacturers, to defeat even the most benign gun control regulations and declares these measures are intended to take away everyone’s guns. There is no rational reason for ordinary citizens to have access to military type weapons. Yet, the NRA has supported this for decades.

Ownership of powerful assault weapons with high-capacity magazines that are clearly meant for little else than killing people should be restricted or forbidden. It is crazy that these weapons are so easily available. As long as the assault weapons ban is not in place, the average citizen does not stand a chance even with their little handgun permitted with conceal and carry laws. There are an estimated 800 gun stores along the Arizona-Mexican border where anyone can buy an assault weapon at the rate of one per week. They don't care who buys them. Getting existing weapons out of circulation is a practical impossibility, but stopping their further proliferation at gun shows and corrupt gun dealers is.

Nevertheless, very little progress will ever be made on protecting public safety from gun violence because of our gun culture.

Who is a greater threat? Progressives, or angry white men with guns? Many around here are stocking up for the coming civil war they believe is inevitable.

@ d12345 – “the US needs loose gun laws so the "left" can arm itself for the coming conflagration”

Yes, people prefer to embrace fantasies, even if those fantasies are destructive.

Kat said...

Here is Mike Lofgren, former Republican Congressional staffer on populist rage (bold emphasis mine):
While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work. To be sure, the business wing of the Republican Party consists of the most energetic outsourcers, wage cutters and hirers of sub-minimum wage immigrant labor to be found anywhere on the globe. But the faux-populist wing of the party, knowing the mental compartmentalization that occurs in most low-information voters, played on the fears of that same white working class to focus their anger on scapegoats that do no damage to corporations’ bottom lines: instead of raising the minimum wage, let’s build a wall on the Southern border (then hire a defense contractor to incompetently manage it). Instead of predatory bankers, it’s evil Muslims. Or evil gays. Or evil abortionists.

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. “Entitlement” has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is “entitled” selfishly claims something he doesn’t really deserve. Why not call them “earned benefits,” which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don’t make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the “estate tax,” it is the “death tax.” Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash.

It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors’ looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At “Washington spending” – which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade’s corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

The entire article is available at Truthout.

I think we know how some of that populist anger was neutered, however.

Pearl said...

I think that things will take its own turn even without our help. The. U.S. is self destructing, like many other stories of "empires" of the past who don't read history, but since it may take an agonizingly long time is the reason I think a Romney presidency will push the timetable forward. Obama will glue the status quo in place to be paralyzed and delay change possibilities. We have to standby, continue to educate others and prepare for the inevitable chaos. A lot depends on what happens overseas as well. We can only hope that at least there will be some form of community support for those who will continue to join the ranks of unemployed and homeless and help soften the suffering that will increase.

I don't think we will see uprisings with pitchforks and such, but the angry power interests may be forced to join the ranks of change creators in order to function at all. Meanwhile, try and enjoy what beauty mankind hasn't yet destroyed on our planet and teach your progeny well. I am fastening my seat belt firmly. At least we are on the same bus together.

Zee said...


I think that you will find that there are many more “right-wing nut cases”—like myself—who share your concern regarding the militarization of community police forces.

Perhaps major urban centers should have such capabilities available, but I don't think that they should ever be deployed on a daily basis as they increasingly seem to be, even in middling-sized cities such as Albuquerque and Tucson.

As noted by “Lee S.” in his comment to your letter to the Arizona Daily Star, once such capabilites are readily available, excuses will be found to use them lest the public decide that they are an unnecessary expense.

Here in Albuquerque we have had a few instances in which SWAT teams have been employed to serve warrants or make arrests—breaking down doors unannounced and charging in, weapons at “high-ready”—at what later turned out to be the wrong addresses

Mostly, the innocent victims of these invasions have "merely" been terrorized out of their minds. But in at least one instance, a brave soul tried—lawfully and rightfully—to defend his family and himself with a handgun against a presumed criminal home invasion, and was needlessly slaughtered before his family's eyes.

This did not need to happen, except for the Rambo-esque urge to employ all the force possible, with all the modern “shock and awe” available, rather than the force that was necessary.

Best to keep such force held in reserve and under careful control, rather than used to conduct the routine daily business of community policing.

d12345 said...

Regarding massive weaponry available to cities, states, etc.

If they have them, they will use them. And they will find more and more justifications, and this will become the new normal.

If anyone here believes otherwise, please let me know how to reach you, we have a beautiful assortment of bridges here in NYC which can all be purchased quite reasonably.

Zee said...


I genuinely believe that many, if not most, Progressives do not want to take away my guns. Indeed, as I have remarked before, I even know gay and lesbian Progressives who are as dedicated to gun ownership as I am. And I very much appreciate your acknowledgment that “Getting existing weapons out of circulation is a practical impossibility...” though I might have preferred that you add some additional qualifiers, such as “Constitutional and practical impossibilty.”

But I have to respectfully disagree with you when you state that “ Guns aren’t the problem, the NRA is the problem.”

True enough, the NRA is half of the problem. But the other half of the problem is Progressives who: (1) may not wish to take my existing stock of firearms away from me, but who inevitably wind up sounding as though they do; (2) don't speak out against that minority of Progressives—it is a minority of Progressives, isn't it?—who definitely DO want to take my guns away from me; and (3) are sufficiently misinformed about firearms that they are incapable of writing legislation without unexpected consequences.

Let's look at item (1) first.

While I believe that you think that what you said in your brief, previous remark was entirely rational and reasonable, consider the impact of the following words—even taken in context—on the average gun owner who doesn't know you from Adam:

“There is no rational reason for ordinary citizens to have access to military type weapons...

Ownership of powerful assault weapons with high-capacity magazines that are clearly meant for little else than killing people should be restricted or forbidden.”
--Denis Neville.

Jeez, Denis, what type of firearm hasn't been used by the military at some instant in time or another, and therefore is a “military type weapon?” Yep, even the venerable revolver has been used as a “military type weapon” in the not-too-distant-past.

My favorite Colt Government Model 1911, semi-automatic handguns—one of which sits loaded in my bedside table when I am home—are “military type weapons,” having been adopted for military service in 1911. That's 100+ year-old technology that has not only been used by the military, but which has also reliably defended countless civilian households and been used in many sporting venues for almost as long as the pistol has been around.

Now, knowing a little bit about you, I'm guessing that you don't really want to “restrict..or forbid...” me or Joe Gunowner from possessing Model 1911s. You probably have other types of weapons on your mind.

But you do seem to be calling us irrational, and when you do this in close association with words such as “should be restricted or forbidden,” well, Joe—who doesn't know you as well as I do—starts to worry and maybe even get a little angry. To Joe, it may well sound as though you want to take away his guns, or, at least reduce him to using a flintlock for home defense.

Words matter, Denis, especially when talking about emotionally and politically charged issues such as civilian ownership of guns.

As long as the topic of gun control is discussed in brief sound bites that employ unqualified and ill-chosen words, there will never be any progress in achieving rational laws that satisfy both sides of the argument.

Whoops! At the character limit. Perhaps more later.

Pearl said...

> Dear friends: the following is a link to an article by Norman Pollack in Counterpunch that Karen sent me, resulting in the same approach about a Romney in office as I have been stating. I am glad someone of importance has validated my thinking.

Zee said...


Impediments to rational discourse on the topic of gun control: Topic (2)

There are at least some Progressives who really DO want to take away my guns, and they are quite vocal about it. I have never heard a self-identified Progressive stand up and say that that might just be going too far for most Progressives, at least, not in a major media outlet.

Consider the 1992 column by Progressive Richard Reeves who—I think—I have seen publishing on, most recently interviewing David Stockman.

Let's look at a few of Reeves' “democratic” suggestions as to how to deal with guns in America:

» “Repeal the Second Amendment...because it is now obviously insanity to give all Americans the right to bear arms;”

» “Review all existing handgun licenses and licensees, with the idea of revoking most of them;”

» “Declare an amnesty period in which handguns could be turned in to recycling stations without penalties or questions;”

» “Use emergency police powers (and military powers, if necessary) to sweep neighborhoods for illegal weapons.”

Well, item (1) above is certainly a legal and democratic partial solution to the “problem” of civilian ownership of guns—as some see it to be—though it ain't gonna happen within the next 100 years or so.

Item (2) above merely reflects a colossal ignorance of U.S. firearms law: only a very few states—I think—actually require any form of “licensing” simply to own firearms in general and handguns in particular. So Reeves is clearly just another pundit mouthing off about something about which he really knows nothing. This really irritates me as a responsible gun owner.

We get to the heart of the matter with item (3), above. Maybe it's just me, but I'm starting to think that Reeves really does want to take away my guns.

Let's see. What am I missing here? I'm supposed to march down to the local “recycling station” and simply turn in my extensive collection of handguns without “penalties or questions” or just compensation? Nope. I think he really does want to take away my guns!

To do the foregoing, I think that more than the Second Amendment will have to be repealed. Like maybe the parts of the Fifth Amendment that say something about “No person shall be...deprived, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

But item (4) is the real gem. I think that much of the Fourth Amendment will also have to be repealed to allow local police or federal troops. Love the way a good Progressive can trash the Bill of Rights if the ends are important enough.

Now, a bunch of us “right-wing nut cases” wrote letters of protest to the Albuquerque Journal, wherein we saw this column. But do you think a single, self-identified Progressive wrote to say that (s)he thought this might be going just a teeny bit too far, even for someone who supports “reasonable gun control?” No one did, or at least no such letter was published. Nor did the ACLU—of which I am a member—write in to discuss the implications of Reeves' fascist approach to gun control.

As long as the alleged majority of Progressives—who allegedly don't want to take away my guns—remain silent when other Progressives advocate confiscation, the NRA will always have fuel for its fire of mistrust.

Zee said...


Impediments to rational discourse on the topic of gun control: Item (3) and last.

I still laugh at the ignorance of our legislators on the topic of firearms, and their susceptibility to external ( i.e. lobbying) pressures even as they blather piously about following the dictates of their consciences and protecting the public.

Consider the preposterous bases on which some semi-automatic weapons “made” the original, 1994 list of so-called “assault weapons” while others were explicitly excluded.

Those that made the “import and manufacture ban list” had pistol grips, folding stocks, flash suppressors, bayonet lugs (Heard of any criminal or terrorist bayonet charges lately?)—amongst other, largely cosmetic features—and could accept high-capacity magazines. Guns with nice-looking hardwood stocks that were functionally identical to the so-called assault weapons and could also accept high-capacity magazines were explicitly exempted from the “ban list.”

See Appendix A at the following link:

Ultimately, those guns that made the list were ugly, scary-looking weapons that at least one legislator ludicrously claimed were designed to be “spray-fired from the hip,” presumably because of the pistol grip. Whereas equally deadly weapons were not banned, which, I presume, was because they “looked” benign and could not “obviously” be spray-fired from the hip.

Sorry, but I can “spray fire” a benign-looking Ruger Mini-14 or M1 Carbine from the hip just as easily as I can an AR-15, with equally bad results. Aiming is always better.

Within days of passage of the 1994 “ban,” gun manufacturers eliminated the offending cosmetic features and were back in business. True, they could no longer manufacture or sell high-cap magazines, but there were only about a gazillion such magazines already manufactured and, hence, “grandfathered-in.” Would-be “assault weapon” owners scarcely missed a beat, paying only a small premium to obtain 20- and 30-round magazines.

Without a high-cap magazine, an “assault rifle” is just a big, ugly rifle. It's the magazine that's important. Limit the size of the magazine and you theoretically limit the rifle's deadliness. So why did our legislators focus so much on irrelevant cosmetics as the basis for their ban? Only through sheer ignorance. I think they simply legislated against guns whose appearances just plain scared them, leaving a plenitude of equally deadly weapons out there, unbeknownst to an equally-ignorant public. What a waste of time!

But, as I said, there are about a gazillion such magazines already out there and beyond any effective control, save for Richard Reeves' unconstitutional neighborhood sweeps.

Without complete and total gun and magazine registration, along with effective control of all future transfers—none of which, I think, are going to happen any time soon— meaningful “control” of the possession and use of so-called assault weapons and their benign-looking counterparts is utterly hopeless without resorting to Richard Reeves' approach.

Pearl said...

Another link to cheer you up (?) in case Romney wins:
via @Salon

Zee said...


I think that you and Meg Jacobs are right. As are the rest of the regular participants in this forum, whether they fully understand it or not.

A Romney win will not mean any dramatic changes, just more status quo.

Romney and Obama are merely identical faces on a two-headed coin as far as the "corporatocracy" is concerned.

On the social issues, well, Romney-Ryan's planned "big changes" will soon take a distant back seat to servicing the urgent needs of the corporatocracy, just as has happened under the Obama administration.

Such social changes as DO occur will be largely cosmetic. Like Reagan (and Obama, after him), Romney will quickly discover "that government [is] hard to change," and the Social Conservative (or Progressive, in Obama's case) base will be quickly disappointed as the realities of governing settle in.

The prospect of new wars occurring will be the same under Romney as they currently are under Obama. I believe that in the end, Obama would "pull the trigger" on Iran just as quickly as would Romney, if only to continue to prove that he's still the same tough guy who killed bin Laden.

Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose.

d12345 said...

Regarding a Romney win....I know the prevailing sentiment here is a plague on both your houses...

And Glen Ford of Black Agenda is particularly eloquent on O as the "more effective evil."

That being said....the article cited in Salon is very superficial and I believe, misleading. We were all there when Reagan took over. Every social program for Blacks evaporated. Unions were dealt a mortal blow. (Yes, they should have all stood up for PATCO!!!!)

It marked the beginning of the march backwards to a new Gilded Age (Platinum Age?) which is proceeding at alarming speed.

I will quote one comment from the Salon article:

"The truth of the matter is it didn't take all that much for Reagan to fuck up America.

One needs only to look at economic inequality and organized labor strength, then versus now, to see that.

Similarly it won't take Romney that much to fuck us all in terms of what's left of our chances to stave off devastating climate change and to destroy whatever is left of our safety nets, civil liberties LGBT rights and a woman's right to choose."

(I am not sure about the civil liberties part of the above... O has been devastating in that department.)

The whole question of whether to support one of the major parties has been with us for a long time. Many Leftists in the 30s argued that a vote for Roosevelt would just perpetuate a rotten system.

If nothing else, the wholesale disenfranchisement of poor, Black, old, students, etc which will almost certainly take place under Romney would change electoral politics in the US for a long time. And the destruction of unions would be all but assured.

There are differing alliances and interests in the capitalist system, even among the plutocrats. Romney represents the worst elements and in my opinion, the most dangerous.

Scott Walker is not the equivalent of whatever pablum Democrat ran...the idiot governor of Arizona is not the same as can make a difference.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Part 1:

Zee has broken down his perception of the issues relating to progressives and gun ownership into three categories, and explained them quite well. Frankly, as a progressive, I can't much disagree with his analysis.

I think that while those progressives who oppose private firearm ownership are entitled to renounce such ownership for themselves, they are quite wrong by a variety of measures --- historical, moral, and political pragmatism --- in attempting to mandate it through either complete or partial disarmament of the entire adult populace or any substantial segment thereof, that is to say, of anyone not adjudicated in a court of law to be a violent criminal or mentally ill. (However, one should be aware that exclusion based on that last category has a real potential for abuse; the Soviet Union treated some dissidents as psychiatric cases). We can also probably agree that kids under a certain age should not have access to firearms without adult supervision and a safe location in which to utilize them, and that adults should bear a legal obligation to reasonably secure weaponry wherever they (adults) may choose to keep it.

But other than such rational and limited exclusions, we should operate on the premise that most citizens can and should be trusted with firearms, and that such weapons can serve legitimate purposes that extend well beyond "sporting" use, to the more important issues of self-defense and as deterrent to tyranny. Never forget that the deaths due to tyranny already far far exceed all the deaths that are ever likely to occur due to civilian misuse of firearms.

And while I have no interest in or desire for civil war, violent revolution, or strife in general, and agree with @d12345 that, in any case, armed struggle in most western nations has little chance of success, in my opinion those aren't the relevant considerations vis-a-vis Second Amendment rights in the early twenty-first century United States. Many of us on this forum seem to be of the opinion that the U.S. is deteriorating into a "soft" fascism, a melding of corporatism and an increasingly authoritarian government, where your vote means little because policy-wise, the fix is in via structural considerations such as political dominance by moneyed interests and very effective manipulation of public opinion. If that is to be stopped and reversed, it must be done peacefully, through methods that range from political education, activism, the electoral process when possible (via untainted candidates, new political parties, and initiatives), and non-violent civil disobedience.

So Second Amendment rights have absolutely no DIRECT applicability to our CURRENT political dangers in the United States (beyond progressives figuratively shooting themselves in the foot, or worse, with ill-conceived positions that worry conservatives, no small consideration), BUT I do think that such rights could be immensely important sometime in the future. I will assert that a well-armed populace could be a significant deterrent to the transformation from a "soft" fascism into a hard one (where jackbooted security forces grab you, hold you in a soccer stadium, concentration camp, or gulag, and perhaps eventually execute you).

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Part 2:

But don't take my above suppositions on these matters as the last word. I think I've found the vaguely-remembered (I hadn't read it in decades) Solzhenitsyn passage I referred to in my comment of July 27, and it seems appropriate to cite here. (It's footnote number 5, page 13, of "The Gulag Archipelago", volume 1):

"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say goodbye to his family? Or if during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of a half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you'd be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur --- what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked? The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

If... if... We didn't love freedom enough. And even more --- we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure! [...] We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterwards."

So is Solzhenitsyn's analysis accurate? Does it hold any relevance for us? Time will tell. And while I was apparently incorrect in my July recollection that he advocated a defense using firearms, I do believe that they are within the spirit of his advocacy. That they are not expressly mentioned is most likely due to the fact that Soviet gun control had confiscated most private firearms by that time.

One link referring to the long life of weaponry, and how supposedly long-obsolete weapons (in this case, ancient Imperial British(!) Lee-Enfield rifles) can still be relevant:

With regard to Solzhenitsyn's reference to "awareness" and @Denis Neville's question "Will there be anti-austerity strikes like in Greece and Spain?", I doubt strikes here, but with regard to Spanish strikes --- and the spread of soft fascism --- Friday there was an AP story that "Spain is considering a ban on photographing, filming, or reproducing images of state security forces who are on duty, officials said Friday..."

Finally, @Kat: thanks for sharing the Mike Lofgren reference. It's very true.

Zee said...

Tried to post this yesterday, I think, but it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Hopefully, it will not appear twice.


For the record, though I did once inquire of participants in this forum as to whether any were prepared to respond with violent resistance—maybe even insurrection—if the government ever did decide to intern strikers and political dissenters, I agree with your assessment of the likely outcome of widespread, coordinated armed resistance to such government actions: very bad for the civilians.

Still, I expect that there would be some armed resistance—on a household-by-household basis, and of the sort alluded to by @Fred Drumlevitch—when those midnight crashes through the front door start to occur. A dead government enforcer here and there might start to have a cumulative, deterrent or moderating psychological effect on the enforcers, though to what extent I couldn't say.

But in the end, I think that @Denis's and @Fred Drumlevitch's assessments are accurate: the likihood of any widespread striking on the part of an increasingly sheeplike people is slim to none, especially if the economy does begin to recover. So the notion that any armed resistance will occur is about zero.

But @Denis is correct in observing that “Populist uprisings have a long and rich history in this country.”

Some of those (labor) uprisings—and I think it was @Denis who first pointed them out to me—have included semi-widespread, armed resistance. These include the Colorado Coal Field War and the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia, in which armed miners first offered armed resistance in the name of self-defense, and then even took the offensive:

But these occurred in days when the U.S. Military and the State National Guards were much smaller, as were the disparaties in armaments. And, one might dare say, in an era when people were much more self-reliant.

PS: @Fred--

Thanks for the link to the NYT article about the extremely old Taliban arsenal. My father's S&W Second Model Hand Ejector revolver chambered in .44 Spl., was purchased by him used in the early thirties when he relocated to the Pacific Northwest.

80+ years later, it still ticks like a fine timepiece, and modern ammunition is plentiful.

Yes, they can last almost forever.