Tag Archives: 1%

I Feel Threatened (Part 2)

7 April 2015

Viagra for Bullies

J. S. Chavez

Let’s talk about the NRA, an organization of real men, though many of them appear to be craven cowards. How could they be anything else? Most of them live in neighborhoods where, like Oscar Pistorius (I Feel Threatened Part 1), the likelihood of their lives being threatened is miniscule.  Way more likely that they will die in a traffic accident or from heart disease or at the hands of a member of their own households who gets his/her hands on an unsecured firearm.  Look it up.

This is a favorite bumper sticker/t-shirt theme among the 2nd Amendment set.

Gun owner victim

I wonder where a reasonable person fits into this false dichotomy. For the NRA it appears that you are either predator or prey.  I don’t know about you but…

I Feel Threatened. And it’s time we Stand Our Ground.

Gun owners strike me as a particularly insecure lot. Unable to reasonably assess a threat they see every situation as threatening. And, tending toward cowardice, they are impotent to deal with these perceived threats unless they have at the ready a means of exercising deadly force. And it emboldens them—as it did Zimmerman, Dunn, and Reeves. 

Nobody picks a fight with someone he isn’t sure he can beat.

Bullies, for that is all that killers are, are nothing unless they have the advantage of force. Is there any question of what these men would have done had they not had deadly force at the ready? Does anyone believe that these men felt so cornered that they would have fought back with their bare hands, their fingernails even, because the situation was that dire? Far from it.

Not only did these killers fail to make an effort to mitigate the situations in which they found themselves, each man actually escalated the situation—each with the perfect knowledge of the excessive force he had at the ready. Is this not premeditation? “I don’t have to back down from this punk because I know something that he doesn’t know.” Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law relieves an individual who feels threatened of the obligation to retreat.  Does it also relieve him of the responsibility of being controlled or reasonable? Is feeling annoyed, disrespected, uncomfortable, frustrated, impotent, the same as feeling threatened?

Just after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 school children lost their lives to a psychotic gunman, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre declared that  “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The NRA’s reponse to the Sandy Hook tragedy was to put armed personnel in all the schools. They blame video games, movies, the liberal media, and mental illness for gun deaths. (It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that there are 88 guns for every 100 Americans, right?)

They want a mental illness database. All mental health practitioners would be required to forward patient files to the “jack-booted government thugs” who conduct background checks for potential gun owners? No, that can’t be what they mean because the NRA is staunchly against strengthening background checks in any way.

Small wonder.  Consider this statement made by Wayne LaPierre (interview on FOX news, July 2012) regarding a supposed UN treaty which would regulate the global arms trade and, according to LaPierre, “says to people in the United States, turn over your personal protection and your firearms to the government.” What? That sounds a bit delusional—and  paranoid. Are you sure you want a mental illness database, Wayne? Really?

LaPierre has also famously said “by its lies and laws and lack of enforcement, government polices are getting us killed, and imprisoning us in a society of terrifying violence.”  It would seem that everyone is to blame for gun violence except he people with the guns. But LaPierre seems to be asking law enforcement, “the government,” to step up and assume a stronger role in curbing gun violence.  Is he advocating for a stronger police state? Isn’t the 2nd Amendment the NRA’s fortress of solitude, so to speak? Isn’t the main point of owning personal firearms supposed to be as a protection against an overzealous, overbearing, overreaching, over-muscled police state?

The NRA can’t have it both ways.  They can’t claim that citizens need free access to assault rifles and huge magazines as protection against the excesses of the state and then turn around and blame the government for the results of citizens exercising that free access. Granted, Wayne LaPierre is a lousy spokesman but, it’s difficult to see how the most  articulate debater could spin the nonsensical arguments the NRA promotes as logic.

What are these NRA people are so frightened of?

Just how terrifyingly violent is the life of the average NRA member, because I suspect that the lives of the NRA elite, the ones we always hear from, are quite comfortable indeed. They say they’re not afraid-just prepared. And men who take Viagra don’t actually have erectile disfunction? They’re just prepared?

To be fair, a large majority of NRA rank and file members say they would support more stringent background checks. Why is it, then, that those who govern the organization are so far out of step with their members? As always, follow the money. 

The NRA receives many millions of dollars every year in corporate donations and a lot of that money comes from gun makers. Also, the governing body of the NRA operates very much like the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China; both are a one party system. The committee decides who runs so it’s no surprise when one of their own wins.  As far as the NRA elite 1% are concerned, I guess the 2nd Amendment trumps the 1st Amendment.

More Information

Bureau of Justice Statistics       NRA Membership  The Real Terrorists

16 Days in October (Part 4)

9 February 2015

The Party of God, Profanity, and Anarchy

“The white establishment is now the minority…The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore.”
-Bill O’Reilly, FOX news commentator, 2012.

So-called moderates in the Republican party will occasionally talk about “adjusting” their message so as not to alienate—well, everyone—except middle-aged, upper class white males. 

“It’s not about nominating less conservative candidates, moderating our messaging or changing our principles. It’s about effectively connecting with voters on issues they care about,”

-Phil Cox, executive director of the Republican Governors association (2 November 2013, Politico), a few days before the Virginia Governor’s election. (The Republican candidate lost.)

How, exactly, do you go about “effectively connecting with voters” when your message is racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, and elitist? How do you spin bending over backwards to deport 11,000,000 Hispanic immigrants, denying minorities their voting rights, intruding on women’s rights to make reproductive decisions, and denying equal rights to homosexual couples? And climate change isn’t real? Still? What about gravity? When you deny the laws of physics even your friends will shake their heads and walk away.

Over the last 30 years, Republicans, with the complicity of many Democrats, have systematically gutted the financial regulatory system while securing major tax advantages for the 1%, all the while whining about how government regulations are ruining their lives.  Please. They’ve never had it so good.  In fact, it looks like they’ve already won.  But no, they find themselves to be sorely abused. They portray themselves as victims, invoking the notion of “class warfare.”  They think we can’t tell we’re losing?

The GOP has stoked the largely religious Know Nothing wing of the party to such a fevered pitch that they can no longer be controlled.  The Know Nothings are not going away, but the problem for mainstream Republicans is not that they disagree with the views of the Know Nothings.  Rather, it is the opposite.  O’Reilly is right. He also said that, 20 years ago, a Romney-esque candidate would have defeated Obama.  Right again. 

And so long as O’Reilly, and most of the rest of the GOP, continue to wax nostalgic for the days when their party was the party of the white establishment, they are likely to continue their frustrated decline, kicking and screaming perhaps, into irrelevancy. People adopt conservative values when they are comfortable with the status quo. The majority of blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, and perhaps just young people in general, are anything but comfortable with the Republican party.

Democrats should not see this as good news.  Given the early promise of the Obama presidency many liberals feel disappointed, even betrayed. Then again, the Know Nothings’ sole aim since Obama assumed office has been to obstruct.  Obstructing is not leadership. The 80 Know Nothings who signed the shutdown letter sent to John Boehner care little for democratic process.

They claim to be Constitutionalists but run roughshod over that sacred document when it suits their purpose. They do not contribute; they only proscribe. They do not negotiate; they only blackmail. They preach God and country while practicing profanity and anarchy. They feel disconnected from the world and from their countrymen who defend their right to behave irresponsibly. They are a minority, but they are a force to be reckoned with because they have the unreasoned self-righteousness of religious zealots who know the true way.

International observers exercised their prerogative to look down their noses at us as they contemplated the wisdom of the US dollar as the default world currency. Writing for Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, Liu Chang suggested the need for a “de-Americanized world” and writers from Athens to London wondered that the world economy could be placed at risk by an unsophisticated minority of US lawmakers who don’t seem to “get it.” The opinions of others matter—outside the bubble.


If It’s a Class War, We’re Losing

1 January 2015

The View from the Cheap Seats

by Juan Sebastian Chavez

The history of the world is not the story of everyday men and women. What matters is conquest and domination. Ordinary women and men matter only as cannon fodder. History has very little regard for those of us disinclined to kill and maim.  The vast majority of us are no more than spectators at the big game.  And most of us are warming the cheap seats at that. 

The Right has complained incessantly for over 30 years about stifling government regulation. They have lobbied, successfully, for extensive deregulation and tax relief for business, all the while holding themselves up as “job creators,” and yet the US, once the land of opportunity, has become the most unequal of developed nations.

Since the late 1970s the earnings of the average (male) American worker have fallen by 30% (adjusted for inflation). In that same time period, the average earnings of the top 1% have nearly tripled (from $393,000 to $1,100,000 in adjusted dollars). The top 400 wealthiest individuals in the US now have more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000.

Still, the 1% see themselves as sorely abused.

 Those who believe themselves to be better than the rest of us build bigger and better fortified mansions. They refuse to pay their fair share of taxes and the infrastructure that allowed this country to become an economic, democratic, and military superpower is crumbling.

They created the myth of their own exceptionalism to justify their immoral behavior when, in fact, they are small men, who gained access to the top shelf by standing on the shoulders of giants.

The things that set us apart, that make us better, keep us stronger,  depend on a shared vision of the common good – which requires shared contributions.  As wealth and power shift to smaller numbers the few channel their resources into the defense of the status quo.

  • They shift their tax burden to the middle class by hiding their income behind tax-protected capital gains and salting away their accumulated wealth in offshore accounts.

  • They instigate wars of choice, funded with dollars taken from our public schools and universities and fight them with volunteers who they use up like pack animals.

  • They obstruct, obfuscate, refuse to do the business of government, and systematically disenfranchise the 99%. 
  • They justify their dirty deeds by invoking God and patriotism, though they are anything but pious or patriotic.

They gutted our manufacturing capability by outsourcing our jobs overseas. They then turn around and sell their domestically designed, foreign produced devices to the very people whose jobs they have given away so cheaply.

And we don’t care—because we love our iCrap.

The 1% and their conservative minions do not recognize the social contract. There is no longer any “common good” as the interests of the Ruling Elite have diverged from the interests of everyday people. The 1% have systematically defunded the underpinnings of society; highways, bridges, water treatment systems, public transportation, health care, education, because these things must be funded with taxes.

The abuses of the rich and powerful are not unique to the US.  Around the world, governments, corporations, religious leaders, institutions empowered to do the business of the people are betraying those trusts. Peoples are rising up all over the world, in the Middle East, Asia, Russia, South America, India, in response to the excesses of the Ruling Elite.

When will we stand up?