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This Is Your Once Proud Country
 
Conservative bloggers coined a term -- "Bush Derangement Syndrome" -- that is supposed to describe what people like me say and feel about the Cheney Administration's conduct in office.  All I know is that my country used to speak with moral authority against war crimes and other abuses of human rights. 
 
We don't any more, and if anyone hopes otherwise, watch it and weep.
 
 
 
This is not an isolated incident, but none of it is reported in this country -- with rare exceptions like this.  And of course this wasn't discovered by American journalists.  It's the work of WikiLeaks, an organization that is constantly hounded by your government. 
 
The consequence of this is the inevitable, relentless creation of more and more "terrorists" dedicated to our destruction.  How this "makes us safe" or serves our "national security" is beyond me. 
 
The defense of this action is that, as with all military operations, quick life or death decisions have to be made under limited information.
 
The answer is that this is why we have rules of engagement and military law.  The rules of engagement were violated here.  First, there was no imminent threat posed by any of the people killed -- and not only because the killers were in a helicopter apparently out of range of any attack from their targets.  Second, the duty in the aftermath of a military operation that leaves survivors is to keep them alive, if for no other reason than their potential intelligence value.  Instead, you have the killers here saying "C'mon, let us shoot" at the survivors -- who were, you'll note, not only the original targets, but also some people who stopped and tried to help. 
 
Any citizen of this country with the slightest sense of moral responsibility is obligated to watch this video in its entirety.   It was done in your name.
 
Tue, April 6, 2010 | link

Jokers to the Left of Us, Jokers to the Right

 

One of the byproducts of the HCR debate was some seriously threatening behavior by the teapartiers at the Capitol and around the country.  One predictable byproduct of the media's reporting on this was a series of complaints from the right blogosphere that liberals were equally threatening during the Bush years.  And in fact, they have some pretty good evidence of that. 

 

So what’s the difference?  Well, for one thing, nothing comparable to this is ever likely to come out of the Left.

A political climate that's already more overheated than any time in a generation. Plans for a large-scale rally of firearms enthusiasts in the nation's capital. A fast-growing group of (mostly ex-) military and cops that pledges to disobey "unconstitutional orders" from the president, and an "urgent" call from the group's leader to flood Washington to "shout your oaths in the tyrant’s face" -- on the 15th anniversary of the worst home-grown terror incident in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing.

 

What could possibly go wrong?

No matter how violent the Left’s rhetoric got during the Bush years, lefty protesters didn’t show up to their marches equipped to actually carry out their threats.  But a lot of the tea partiers who went to the congressional town meetings last August carrying guns.  One of them showed up armed at an Obama town hall.

 

This “lock and load” behavior is so cartoonish it would be amusing if it weren't so dangerous.  But the important point is that it isn’t accidental or incidental.  It reflects two permanent and defining features of the American Right.

 

Modern conservatism is strongly identified with the Southern states, so much so that, to the extent the Republican party moves their way, it is in danger of becoming a regional party.  That’s a problem for them.  The problem for the rest of us is the culture of honor that permeates the American South.

“Culture of Honor” is a term generally used to describe a culture where avoiding unintentional offense to others, and maintaining a reputation for not accepting improper conduct by others is important to develop, if necessary through violence. It is sometimes referred to less positively as a culture of violence.

 

The term "culture of honor" has been used in particular to describe notable elements of the prevailing culture of the American South. In the view of Hayes in Re-examining the Subculture of Violence in the South, “the term 'honor' as defined here has more to do with the willingness to use violence when it is expected than the more traditional definition of bravery or moral character.”  Some studies suggest that an important cause of high violence rates in the Southern United States is this cultural quality.

Beyond the fact that the culture of honor is a legacy of Scots-Irish ancestry, its origins are unclear.  One possible, but somewhat dubious, explanation ties it to property rights and the fact that Scotch-Irish agriculture involved more herding than farming, with attendant increased dangers of theft and necessary self-help through violence. 

 

Two things about the culture of honor are certain, however.  The first is that the heirs of this culture are conservative, Republican votersThe other thing is that the South has higher rates of violent crime.  It’s plausible to attribute this to the culture of honor – especially given that one of its more prominent features is the practice of dueling.

 

The second structural feature of conservatism that makes threatening behavior at tea parties more dangerous than superficially similar conduct at liberal demonstrations is, of course, the Right’s deeply engrained gun culture.

 

A discussion thread at a Gunslot forum swings quickly from this:

Remember folks: January 20 is just around the corner.
Pelosi, Reid, Obama, and dozens of other Progressive Socialists are ready willing and more able than ever to do all they can to limit the freedom of all but the elite Americans...
taxes on ammo
availability of ammo
taxes and availability of clips...
"fairness doctrine" eliminating our ability to express our concerns...
all will be pushed hard come Feb, Mar, Apr...
stock up now

To this:

I bought a case of 9mm to feed my PPS, P99 and AR-15 9MM. Also bought 500 rounds, .223 200 7.62x39 and some lead .45 ACP. Now i am broke but I got my ammo.
Also bought some tapco stocks and gallil grip. It looks cool. I will not put the pistol grip on it because I need more parts to be 922 compliant.

And this:

i received via UPS my yugo milsurp brass cased 7.62x39 ammo yesterday!i made a deal with a buddy on some gun work so he ordered me 2 cases of ammo.1260 rounds per case in 15 round boxes.2520 rounds plus what i already have leaves me sitting good for ammo.plus for christmas i got a sportsman warehouse $250 gift card,which will be used to buy powder and primers and bullets for reloading.

And this:

Neighbor around the block was chatting me about the Glocks he customizes...
went in and visited an hour or so and got on subject of stocking ammo...
he quietly took me to his gun safe...room enough for his six Glocks...
the rest was tight with fresh boxes of 9mm to feed them...
I have a way to go...but budgeting a little every month.

 

A couple of other things play into this as well, though they're not so clearly the exclusive province of the Right.  First, Wingers are, frankly, kind of gullible.  The proof is in the notorious chain emails that spread misinformation at the speed of light.  If you think these things are innocuous, think again. 

A member of the Hutaree militia charged with federal crimes was upset because she thought that President Barack Obama had signed into law this month a bill that would spend $20 billion to help the terrorist group Hamas settle in the U.S.

 Finally, it’s tempting to say that they’re just dangerously stupid.  There’s no evidence that, say, IQ scores on the Right are lower than on the Left, but there is data correlating their characteristic beliefs with education levels, and it’s not flattering.

 The less education people have had the more likely they are to believe all of these statements. Consider these differences between those with no college education and those with post-graduate education:

• He is a socialist (45% and 20%)
• He wants to take away Americans’ right to own guns (45% and 19%)
• He is a Muslim (43% and 9%)
• He was not born in the United States so is not eligible to be president (32% and 7%)
• He is a racist (28% and 9%)
• He is anti-American (27% and 9%)
• He is doing many of the things Hitler did (24% and 10%).
* * *
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,320 adults surveyed online between March 1 and 8, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

 

Similarly, there is no evidence of lower intelligence among the Wingers, but their patterns of reasoning are distinctive.  Path-dependence is characteristic of all human perception and reasoning, but it seems that, on the right, the paths lay out in tight little circles.  The Obama state department recently came out in favor of a treaty governing arms exportations by national governments.

The proposed legally binding treaty would tighten regulation of, and set international standards for, the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons.

Supporters say it would give worldwide coverage to close gaps in existing regional and national arms export control systems that allow weapons to pass onto the illicit market.

Nations would remain in charge of their arms export control arrangements but would be legally obliged to assess each export against criteria agreed under the treaty. Governments would have to authorize transfers in writing and in advance.

But a conservative reads this article and crams the news into his obsessive framework:

On Wednesday the Obama administration took its first major step in a plan to ban all firearms in the United States. The Obama administration intends to force gun control and a complete ban on all weapons for US citizens through the signing of international treaties with foreign nations. By signing international treaties on gun control, the Obama administration can use the US State Department to bypass the normal legislative process in Congress. Once the US Government signs these international treaties, all US citizens will be subject to those gun laws created by foreign governments. These are laws that have been developed and promoted by organizations such as the United Nations and individuals such as George Soros and Michael Bloomberg. The laws are designed and intended to lead to the complete ban and confiscation of all firearms.

Put a gun in his hand and send this guy to Washington to meet a few thousand well-armed conservatives like him, and we have a problem that goes way beyond a few Bush-hating signs.

 

Mon, April 5, 2010 | link


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