Posts Tagged ‘angst and woe’

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It is inevitable

January 7, 2014

By the time I’d spent a few months on Daily Kos, I figured it wouldn’t last for me. I don’t seem to possess the requisite hostility to put up with the environment indefinitely. I value causes more than in-fighting. But like a 24-hour news cycle, you can dispense with the petitions and peruse donation requests in a few minutes, which still leaves you with the rest of the day to fill up.

I’ve seen partisans on both sides of debates over whether Obama is a saint or an abomination – they’re all Democrats, but somehow they find reasons to war bitterly over things we can’t control. I’ve seen the ‘liberal’ gun enthusiasts, who try so hard to connect liberal values with anarchic gun rights and fail, troll and bait and drive off whoever gets in their way. And yesterday, I was amused to see religious privilege put so plainly it made me laugh, even as that community now seeks to drive off virulent skeptics.

If the goal of this blog were to express antireligious sentiment, I would never have come here. If you want a blog that is comfortably intolerant of religion, by all means go find one! I’m sure there are many. Intolerance of religion has never been an official or unofficial element of Daily Kos.

A comment from a believer taking offense at religion-bashing. Not xian-bashing or muslim-bashing (hell, people get away with the latter some days) but calling religion a problem. Or like the way Hitchens put it that religion poisons everything. I don’t have the same fire for the battle that I used to, but I have yet to find redeeming qualities to it that are not incidental, that cannot be found elsewhere. And yet so many believers will take offense on behalf of their religion. They seek to identify with their religion, to claim it as their identity the same way the color of their skin or their sexual preference is part of their identity.

Well, certainly people are born with their skin, subject to some change perhaps. And at least there’s data suggesting sexual preference is inborn. But religion? There’s not even compelling evidence for the ‘god gene,’ much less anything convincing about being ‘born’ xian or muslim or … whatever. Even a predilection for god-belief, however misguided, has to find a vehicle through which to manifest. And what is that going to be, but whatever religion hooks them first? Most likely, whatever religion their parents are taught to instill, because it’s so much easier to indoctrinate children.

Get ’em while they’re young. Works for cigarettes too, or so I’m told.

We Democrats have always prided ourselves on our big tent. One of the things that has prevented us from winning as many victories the past several decades has been a perceived intolerance of religion. I would suggest therefore that demonstrating tolerance for people of faith is one way the Democratic Party can expand its electoral victories.

So this commenter raised this question for me. A ridiculous question, but I’ll see if I can find an opportunity to ask it anyway, because I empathize with pragmatism and that’s what this is, a call to pragmatism. Maybe the premises aren’t all true, or maybe it’s not important enough to appease the religious majority by silencing skeptics. Or maybe it’s pointless, because of free speech someone will always speak up. But I want to ask the admins, seriously. Bashing religion is not the same as bashing people, although believers try so hard to equate it with bigotry and prejudice and shame people into silence.

They’re the ones that should be ashamed of themselves for trying to drive people off, but they obviously value their own hurt feelings more than mine. Big shocker.

Should skeptics be silent about religion in order to placate believers? Should we play along with the religious majority? Does the stated goal of Daily Kos, to elect more and better Democrats, mean we endorse this oppression of the non-religious minority by the religious majority? This actual exercise in intolerance, in bigotry, as opposed to the loud plaintive claims of the believers? Should I really get lost and find somewhere else to read and chat, some other outlet for supporting Democrats? I mean to find out. And while the believers claim such painful alienation when their precious religious beliefs are attacked, I’m already alienated enough to have stopped writing there, for months. Work slowed down enough for some new writing a while ago; I just haven’t bothered. And I already get enough email about petitions and causes to donate to. Maybe it is time to go.

So, this is more or less a reminder to self to raise the question at the next opportunity. I already know what I’d do, personally – that intolerant xian hypocrite can piss off. Take those wounded sensibilities and shove it with the actual oppression. They’re so oblivious that they complain about oppression of their ideas while trying to really drive me out of the community. Who is worse off, the ‘second class’ citizen in perception or the exile? But I’m a pragmatic sort. I’m curious to see if this fellow is an outlier or more representative of the community.

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Photos and updates

May 13, 2013

Been awhile since I posted anything new up here. Sorry, but sometimes real life takes precedence, and in this case work’s been real busy. Draining. Anyway…

Personal 006Although it may be difficult to tell, this is a picture of Mudbug visiting the house again. He’s sort of peeking out. I don’t know quite why he did this, but he seems to really like the blankies on the futon/couch…

Personal 005…and since the blankets were piled on top of the couch, he climbed up there and half-buried himself in them and snoozed. My neighbor’s cat really wants to be a housecat, I think. But they keep tossing him outside (probably because he’s bad) and so he wants to hang out with us.

Personal 003Such shiftless bums cats are. So, I don’t need a pet. Not that I want one, but instead I have visitors. I also spotted him outside hunting a lizard for fun, but he wasn’t interested in this one…

Personal 007Found this indifferent fellow on the back porch today, perhaps warming himself on the concrete, or perhaps snacking on the nearby ants. I don’t mind the lizards eating bugs before they get in the house. I only mind when they break in, and occasionally they do sneak inside. But this one wasn’t concerned with me or Mudbug, and the cat didn’t go after him, so…maybe the last one tasted bad.

Anyway, still out here doing…nothing much, but hopefully in a few weeks I’ll get a slight break from the work madness. Till then, I must instead embrace the madness.

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No u

March 5, 2013

Just a quick lol for Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, for taking so many years to finally invoke the NO U response.

During his Monday Focal Point radio broadcast, Bryan Fischer insisted that liberals were modern “Pharisees,” a Jewish sect which was depicted as self-righteous and hypocritical in the New Testament of the Bible.

“You know who the American Taliban is?” he asked his listeners. “It’s secular fundamentalists because they are the one that want to remove all mention of Jesus from the public square… and they’re the Taliban. The Taliban wants to do the same thing. Taliban wants to drive Christ and any mention of Christ and drive Christians from the public square.”

“So, who is the Taliban today, who are the Pharisees today? Freedom From Religion Foundation, ACLU and secular fundamentalists all across the fruited plain.”

Meanwhile, skeptics have been using American Taliban to refer to, well, folks like Bryan Fischer, since the outbreak of the war in Afghanistan. There’s a good reason why The Raw Story shares the Bryan Fischer video clip from Right Wing Watch. Fischer is quite the regular there, and for good reason.

So, grats for taking so long to go with NO U.

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It’s not going to happen

February 27, 2013

[I resisted the urge to include a picture of the Mean Girls meme about this, but I did work in an old Star Trek reference as gun control legislation runs the Congressional gauntlet…of pain.]

Most bills never even get this far. (Schoolhouse Rock)

So, it’s come to this: the new assault weapons ban will get a vote in the Senate. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy has chosen — wisely, I think — to schedule separate votes on four different measures, rather than build them all into one package of legislation. And I realize that even before this turn of events, the prospects for an assault weapons ban were not good.

So while earlier reports that this would never even get a vote in the Senate proved to be untrue, it’s still not going to happen. It’s scheduled for tomorrow but since parliamentary maneuvers could delay a vote for a week, a vote tomorrow won’t happen. And even if by some miracle the assault weapons ban can get a majority vote to match its overall support among Americans (69% overall, 83% among Democrats), it can still be filibustered. And even if it survived that, there’s the House. So get over it, it’s not going to happen.

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Even after the mass shooting in Newtown, Harry Reid wasn’t interested in a ban on assault weapons. Pay no attention to the victims. Nothing will change. It’s not going to happen. Late in January, he magnanimously changed his mind and decided that he may allow a vote.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, signaled on Tuesday that despite earlier indications to the contrary, he may allow a vote on a possible ban on assault weapons.Reid, a longtime gun-rights advocate from Nevada, recently indicated he would not permit a vote because the Republican-led House of Representatives was unlikely to go along with such a prohibition.

But after a weekly meeting with fellow Senate Democrats, Reid told reporters he expects “to have a free amendment process” on gun legislation.

Still, Senator Reid’s refusal to reform the filibuster gave him the tools he needed to take the assault weapons ban out back and quietly shoot it. Earlier this month, his vague signals and indications made it clear that whatever vote did happen would be behind the scenes. Forget about the ban; his priority was providing political cover. It’s not going to happen.

The ban will get a vote. But the purpose of that vote will be in part to facilitate its demise. The expectation is that there won’t be 60 members of the upper chamber to support the bill’s inclusion in the final legislative language.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT

Now, somehow Patrick Leahy, Democratic Senator from Vermont, has apparently dodged this roadblock and set up separate pieces of legislation, offering less of an easy target for Republicans to shoot down the entire proposal. Individual Senators will be able to vote for the pieces they like, and against those they don’t.

The decision to stage separate votes, rather than bundle the measures together, is significant, as it will allow centrist Democrats wary of Obama’s gun-control strategy to hand-pick which elements (if any) they want to support. It also ensures that the assault weapons ban – the most radioactive of the measures – is not automatically included in the package, thereby threatening the less controversial reforms.

Of course, as the Hill makes it clear, the assault weapons ban is not going to happen. It’s the most controversial, the one most likely to face opposition from “centrist Democrats” — never mind that 83% or more of Democrats and more than half of Republicans approve of such measures as banning the sale of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. I am left wondering what a “centrist Democrat” is, considering half of Republicans are willing to see this happen. But never mind that. It took this much time and effort and pressure from the President and from us just to get this proposal to a vote. Which, still, may or may not happen.

And though I heard more about these proposals to reduce gun violence yesterday on Rachel Maddow, I’m sure the NRA and its agents in the Senate have nothing to worry about. The assault weapons ban will never happen.

Never mind that Navy admiral in the MAIG ad denouncing the proliferation of assault weapons that belong on battlefields, “not for cowards to use” in mass shootings. Those gun hobbyists with their tricked-out ‘black rifles’ have nothing to worry about. Some Navy admiral? Who’s he supposed to be? Or the rest of them, retired flag-rank military officers? What do they know about weapons of war?

I read today in Mother Jones that more than half of the weapons possessed by the mass shooters that have victimized our country in the past thirty years would be affected by the assault weapons ban. They collected data going back to 1982.

And beyond the restrictions on assault weapons, the restrictions it would place on high-capacity magazines are worth noting. This would do nothing about the proliferation of semi-automatic handguns, of course. But the AWB would have an effect on the use and abuse of handguns, limiting the number of bullets a mass shooter could fire before having to reload.

Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 isn’t just about mass shootings, of course. By far the most common weapons used in these cases are semiautomatic handguns—the type of weapon also at the heart of the daily gun violence plaguing American communities. Banning high-capacity magazines may be especially key with regard to these guns, not only because they’re popular among mass shooters, but also because they tend to increase casualties in street violence, as a veteran ATF agent explained to us in a recent interview.The devices have appeal on the streets. A Chicago high school student recently described his preference for 30-round magazines to a reporter for This American Life: “They got the most shots. You can shoot forever. Let out 15. Run back to where you going. Somebody else come out and let out five more. There you go.”

Never mind all of that, though. The NRA-sponsored spending drive amongst gun enthusiasts, buying up high-capacity magazines and ‘black rifles’ and such, is all simply an exercise in pointless paranoia. That, and lovely profits for gun manufacturers. Because they can’t seriously believe that an assault weapons ban is going to happen.

If some fringe of Republicans, centrist Democrats and Wayne LaPierre think their cause is so righteous and their chances are so good, if it’s such a political winner to kick the victims of gun violence to the curb, let’s see them match that bravado with action. Never mind the lives that could be saved by the assault weapons ban, and I’m sure they have nothing to fear from putting some votes on the record. It’s not as if we can repeat the victory of Robin Kelly in Chicago, her district is so blue, supposedly my monitor can’t display it with the proper level of color saturation. It means nothing. There’s no need for the NRA to be afraid, is there? Put up or shut up.

I’ve been told, more times than I can easily count, that this is all an exercise in futility. Or worse, political suicide. Nevertheless I will continue to demand a vote and encourage others to do the same. As the President points out,

It won’t be easy, but if we can save even one life, it’ll be worth it.

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NRA’s fear factory lies to its flock

February 20, 2013

[Today’s submission on Daily Kos involves the NRA, their penchant for lying, and industrial metal. A decent combo.]

In Washington state, a new law is moving through the state legislature that would require background checking for private gun sales. The current law requires background checks at federally licensed gun shops, but the private sale loophole remains open there — at least for now. This is the same loophole at the top of the President’s list of proposed Congressional actions to reduce gun violence.

Naturally, the NRA chose to inform its members of this news from Washington state like so:

Washington: House committee approves private sale ban

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Since the NRA chooses to afflict its membership with fear and paranoia, this suggests a soundtrack for this diary!

So while the news item from the NRA-ILA website really is that simple…

Washington: House committee approves private sale banPosted on February 20, 2013

Lawmakers in the state House are moving ahead with a plan to expand background checks to private gun sales.

Read the article: The Associated Press

Honestly, that’s all there is to it. At least The Seattle Times has a bit more data on the subject. It mentions a rare Republican offering support to gun control legislation — even in the face of NRA attacks.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the idea Tuesday by a one-vote margin, with Republican Rep. Mike Hope being the only member of his party voting in favor of it. Hope is a Seattle police officer previously supported by the National Rifle Association who has recently drawn the group’s ire for supporting the bill.Hope has expressed concern that criminals can avoid background checks by purchasing guns from private parties. Gun buyers are already required to undergo background checks when purchasing from federally licensed gun shops.

Pretty simple really, and considering the great popularity of closing this loophole (Republican obstructionism in the federal House notwithstanding), it should be a political winner, too. Except perhaps for state Rep. Mike Hope. The mention of the NRA’s ire naturally made me curious, and more information on what the NRA did to go after Rep. Hope isn’t hard to find. For example, this news piece from the 12th.

Hope said he’s received about 300 emails related to the gun bill and believes there are a lot of misconceptions about what it does. In the memo that the NRA sent to its members, the group said the bill would have no impact on criminals and would be “the first steps toward universal registration of firearms and owners.” It called the background checks plan “a massive regulatory scheme with huge burdens and obstacles.”Hope said the note is inaccurate. He said records of the background checks would not be maintained or part of a registration system. Under the bill, two people wanting to complete a transaction could go to their local gun shop or local law enforcement agency and pay for a background check of $20 or less.

Inaccurate. Imagine that! I would like to have seen this letter, but the best I can find online is an alert from the NRA that went out two days later, on the 14th. The NRA characterizes this bill as “a bill that could criminalize private transfers of firearms and lead to handgun registration.” (emphasis – NRA, not me!)

This bill is nothing more than a regulatory scheme that would create a huge burden for law-abiding citizens, would be unenforceable and would be ignored by criminals anyway. It is truly nothing more than a precursor to Universal Firearm REGISTRATION!

They have since followed up with a new action alert, to contact the entire rules committee in hopes of stopping the bill from going to the House floor.Anyway, it’s not exactly news that the NRA has a record of lying about the private sale loophole, aka the ‘gun show’ loophole, as private sellers are known to sell guns background check free at gun shows. In some of my previous work I’ve documented the NRA claiming the private sale loophole does not even exist. Today, it seems clear that they acknowledge it, if only to lie about it being banned or criminalized, as if no legal option will remain if this bill becomes law. This myth of banning private sales also pops up in that old diary of mine, as Media Matters saw fit to document and then bust it.

But it is interesting to catch the NRA in the act, again. Lying to its members, filling them with fear and rage over nonexistent threats to their precious guns. Demonstrating these lies, attacking the NRA for its fake news and ginned-up fear, putting them on the defensive — this is necessary, if there is any hope of rendering the NRA obsolete.

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“We will buy more guns than ever.”

February 14, 2013

[My latest piece of work on Daily Kos, cross-posting here.]

Yesterday, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre took to the conservative, libertarian outfit The Daily Caller to rally his troops to fight back against the perceived threat of the Obama administration. Wayne imagines the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as the sort of dystopian hellscape that “gun prohibitionists” want.

What I find interesting about this gun enthusiast’s nightmare is how the NRA’s campaign against gun registration has worked to protect criminals, thus ensuring just the kind of threatening environment suitable for ginning up fear — and, of course, more guns than ever. A good return on investment for gun manufacturers, who have poured millions of dollars into Wayne’s campaign of terror.

*****

All right, so maybe that intro will strike the reader as extreme. I hate to oblige anyone to read The Daily Caller. This was reported on yesterday here, as well, so that may be enough of Wayne’s invective for anyone to stomach. Nevertheless I feel that this madness of his should be documented.

After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.

Is it enough to show Wayne LaPierre claiming that liberals like me supposedly want the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max? I mean, honestly. If that’s the plan, can somebody give me a little advance warning? I need to save up and get some LASIK done beforehand. I do not want to be the chump out of the horror movies who’s wearing eyeglasses in the apocalypse, because they always get broken at the worst possible time, and then you die.

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, back to the not-snark of the NRA.

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.

This was rabid enough that even the otherwise mild-mannered CBS News made it their headline: NRA CEO: “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival”

So anyway, to keep score, Wayne laments the impending demise of this country as the President supposedly defies federal law, leaving the southern border unprotected and engineering financial ruin through excessive borrowing, because he’s a Democrat and so it matters now.

Now, here in Arizona, I never liked Phoenix much, but Wayne tells us, “Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world,” and of course our local politicians are expert whiners when it comes to completing the danged fence. Right, Senator McCain? Good news for you eh?

After painting a dire picture of total societal breakdown, Wayne is still very concerned about Supreme Court appointments, anti-gun legislation, and slanted media news coverage. I found that shift in the argument a bit jarring, but amusing.

Now, the threat is even greater. Michael Bloomberg and George Soros are each, individually, far wealthier than the entire National Rifle Association. When the NRA spends money on political advertising, we have to raise those funds from you—$20, $50, $250, or $1,000 at a time.  In the last election, Bloomberg alone spent $16 million and that doesn’t even count the indirect spending by groups funded by Soros and his fellow billionaires.

Again, your NRA membership dues at work, folks. Be proud! You’re enabling this fellow to spout rhetoric the likes of which even Glenn Beck might be somewhat embarrassed to sketch out on his blackboard. Well, that may be a slight overestimation. However, Wayne neglects to mention the millions of dollars the NRA has collected from his true masters, the gun manufacturers.

According to the Violence Policy Center, the gun industry donated up to $38.9 million to the NRA from 2005 to 2011. Gun manufacturers gave millions more in 2012, with one holding a yearlong promotion in which it donated a dollar for each gun sold.

Having followed this topic for a while, I’m aware of these programs, like ’rounding up’ for the NRA, where customers round up the total of their orders and give that extra to the NRA. And that’s beyond the cash donated directly from gun manufacturer profits into the coffers of the NRA.

Anyway, while Wayne concludes with stirring rhetoric and a final push to, of course, buy more guns

We will not surrender. We will not appease. We will buy more guns than ever. We will use them for sport and lawful self-defense more than ever. We will grow the NRA more than ever. And we will be prouder than ever to be freedom-loving NRA patriots. And with your help, we will ensure that the Second Amendment remains America’s First Freedom.

…let’s get to the part where the NRA’s activities can be shown to aid criminals and once again stand in the way of law enforcement, even as they bark at us demanding better law enforcement. This is the story of a gun registry law out of Michigan.

Now, given the news coming out of Michigan lately, with apologies to what few liberal Michiganders have survived (as a Zonie I feel your pain), I don’t count that state as being inordinately…progressive. So, it’s interesting that they should have a gun registry in that state at all, and that somehow this did not lead to gun confiscation, civil war and mass hysteria.

Still, the NRA sought to kill off this registry last year. The scene is set: Republicans have taken power, which they are more than pleased to use with recklessness ill suiting so-called ‘conservatives,’ and the NRA chooses this moment to strike at the gun registry law…until reality interrupted and (unfortunately, for the NRA) demonstrated that the law was effective in solving crime.

The requirement, instituted by the legislature in 1927, was targeted by the NRA, although legislation to undo it failed in recent years. It gained momentum last year as Republicans took control of the governor’s office, the state House of Representatives and Senate, said Sgt. Chris Hawkins, legislative liaison for Michigan State Police, which oversees the registry.The bill passed the House and was awaiting Senate action when police arrested geologist Raulie Casteel and charged him with the October driver shootings, Hawkins said.

Hawkins told lawmakers the database helped lead to the suspect. Both Hawkins and Rick Ector, a Detroit firearms instructor who pushed for the bill, said the arrest saved the database.

Interesting. A gun registry was in place in Michigan for a good eighty years or so — no mass confiscation, no civil war, no cats and dogs living together presumably; the citizens manage to enjoy their 2nd Amendment rights without resorting to 2nd Amendment remedies, but that’s not good enough for the NRA. If it hadn’t been for that meddling criminal! And that gun registry, which the police explain allowed them to prioritize the tips they were getting, and to connect a reported license plate number with a registered gun.

The gun registry may have “meant the difference between someone getting killed by gunfire and someone not,” Hawkins said.

Oh my.

And in such ways gun registration proves effective in reducing gun violence, by helping police solve crime; it defies the NRA notion of registration leading inexorably to confiscation and general apocalypse. And, the NRA’s lobbying efforts are shown to support criminals against law enforcement.

This story out of Michigan and Wayne LaPierre’s rant in the Daily Caller seem of a piece to me. The NRA’s paranoia about gun control measures, like background checks and registration, leads to deregulation and proliferation. Wayne lobbies against gun laws, and you can see him begging his membership to buy more guns than ever. This deregulation in turn leads to more crime, as I read yesterday in a rare piece of actual data collection and analysis out of Missouri.

This self-fulfilling prophecy seems clear to me. The NRA works to create a more dangerous society, one which they demand can be resolved only with more guns, which in turn perpetuates the discord and suffering. And all the while, gun manufacturers, the ones pulling Wayne’s strings, profit from our suffering.

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Creationism back on schedule in AZ

January 27, 2013

Basically every time the state legislature is back in session, we start getting a lot of bad news to report here in Arizona. Tonight is one of those times, and I’ve written about it on Daily Kos. Republicans are looking to inject some fake controversy into the science curricula in our schools, on behalf of the usual creationist fools. As evidenced by their choice of rhetoric, more of the old ‘strengths and weaknesses’ line that they adopted after ‘teach the controversy’ became too obvious.

Probably ill advised to write this late, but what the hell. The way it is there, someone else will probably pick up the news unless mine is featured on the rec-list or spotlight.