Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Why are you so calm? Why am I so calm?

I've been wondering lately why I've maintained such a state equanimity while watching the news.

I started by wondering why the heck the country as a whole is so calm.

Yes, yes I know. Everybody is worried about their jobs, their homes and their 401 Ks. What they don't seem to be worried about is the fact that the president of the United States just tossed a long-established body of law in the shredder with a wave of his hand.

I'm referring (among other things) to firing of the CEO of GM, the overturning of creditor seniority in the Chrysler debt, and oh by the way the nationalization of a huge chunk of the auto industry. (You vill drive a peepuls vagen, und you vill like it!)

And this from a president who got testy when asked if he were a socialist!

Why isn't the whole damn country outraged?

For that matter, why aren't I outraged? There was a time this would have had me foaming at the mouth and climbing the walls.

You know, the only really serious analysis in broadcast media of the whole economic situation I see is on Glen Beck on FOX. GB regularly brings on really first-rate economists like Thomas Sowell, who go into technical detail that Common Wisdom says the American people are supposed to be too impatient to sit still for. And his ratings are waaay high.

Not bad for a guy that started out in stand-up comedy. (And yes, the obvious rejoinder has occurred to me.)

But even on FOX they seem eerily calm, all things considered.

Maybe purely economic issues just don't grab people the way say, mass internments or ethnic cleansing would.

Maybe two generations of indoctrination in universities, and increasingly at the secondary and even primary levels have readied our people for socialism. Or at least the variety of socialism technically called fascism, if anybody cared to use the correct term.*

Maybe those of us who aren't with the program have just become resigned to the notion that this country just has to have a fling with socialism/fascism again, as we did in the Wilson and Roosevelt eras.

After all, market processes seem uncertain, chaotic, often confusing and more than a little scary. The idea that order and predictability can be imposed on them is very tempting...

Terribly, disastrously wrong of course, but tempting.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, a fair number of people have reached the conclusion that this time maybe we're not going to pull back from the brink.

Maybe an increasing number of people fear that the long argument we've had since the beginning of this country is not going to be settled by talk and compromise this time.

The argument between those who believe if you just take away the restraints of power those surly, suspicious curmudgeons who created the Constitution put upon high office, they'll be free to create heaven on earth; and those who don't figure we'll ever get to heaven this side of the grave and mind your own damn business thank you very much!

If you go here: http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/topstocks/archive/2009/05/29/obama-and-supreme-court-nominee-sonia-sotomayor-send-gun-stocks-soaring.aspx

you'll find the MSN MoneyBlog TopStocks.

Obama's court pick, Sotomayor, keeps gun stocks soaring
Posted May 29 2009, 01:52 PM by Louis Navellier Rating: Filed under: investing, economy, Politics

President Obama's nomination of federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter heralds yet another victory for gun-makers. Yes, you read that right.

Let me explain.

While most investors have been rightly focused on the crisis in the markets and economy lately, some Americans have been focusing on other political issues, namely the Second Amendment.

They wonder, will the Obama Administration and new Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor put the right to bear arms in jeopardy? Clearly, many think so, as evidenced by an increase in gun sales and an associated rally in gun stocks.

Followed by some stock jargon. Then the author inserts one of those unsupported stealth opinions that journalists get away with too damned often.

But it's not just Sotomayor's nomination that has been lifting the gun-makers. The recession has helped, too.

Buying protection

You wouldn't think a recession as deep as the one we've been experiencing would be a boon to gun sales, but many citizens are arming themselves expressly because of the recession. You see, the recession has brought massive budget cuts to many municipalities. That means less fire and police protection. In response, gun sales are on the rise.

My response to this undercurrent is to recommend stocks that take advantage of the increase in gun sales.

Two of my favorite stocks to buy now make guns.
More stock jargon.

I'm pleased to see that the author has done his homework and confirmed what has been quietly circulating around for a while, that gun sales are through the roof.

His contention that people are afraid of crime because the recession is causing cuts in police funding is bullshit.

The unstated premise in this enthymeme** is: when the economy tanks, desperate people turn to crime to live.

There is not now, nor has there ever been a shred of evidence for this in the U.S. People who've lost their jobs do not go to liquor stores and gas stations gun in hand, seeking money to pay their bills and feed their families. They go cap in hand to the local Department of Human Services.

The author's assertion that funding for police is being cut is problematic at best. My town has a population of less than 7,000 and is located in a county the size of Rhode Island with a population of about 12,000. The police have lots of fancy equipment, and are getting more from grant monies.

People are buying guns because they are afraid of their government.

And I don't mean loud-mouthed a$$hole kids screaming "Revolution! F**k the fascist pig-state of Amerikkka!" I mean people with jobs, families, etc. You know, a life.

Specifically, they are afraid of the federal government in Washington, D.C. By and large they get along just fine with local cops and admire and respect the military.

So who do they expect to need those guns against?

I wonder if anybody really knows right now. Maybe it's a generalized anxiety that's soothed by having the means of self-defence on hand. Maybe it's a suspicion that conflict will arise between civilian factions of our society. (Paging Dr. Tiller!)

Or maybe it's a fear of social movements that bode no good at all.

Now go to the Washington Times here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/29/protecting-black-panthers/?feat=home_editorials

The editorial in full, and just to make sure you know it's just as bad or worse than it reads, the video:

Imagine if Ku Klux Klan members had stood menacingly in military uniforms, with nightsticks, in front of a polling place. Add to it that they had hurled racial threats and insults at voters who tried to enter.

Now suppose that the government, backed by a nationally televised video of the event, had won a court case against the Klansmen except for the perfunctory filing of a single, simple document - but that an incoming Republican administration had moved to voluntarily dismiss the already-won case.

Surely that would have been front-page news, with a number of firings at the Justice Department.

The flip side of this scenario is occurring right now. The culprits weren't Klansmen; they belonged to the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. One of the defendants, Jerry Jackson, is an elected member of Philadelphia's 14th Ward Democratic Committee and was a credentialed poll watcher for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party when the violations occurred. Rather conveniently, the Obama administration has asked that the cases against Mr. Jackson, two other defendants and the party be dropped.

The Voting Rights Act is very clear. It prohibits any "attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce" any voter or those aiding voters.

The explanation for moving to dismiss the case is shocking. According to the Department of Justice: "These same Defendants have made no appearance and have filed no pleadings with the Court. Nor have they otherwise raised any other defenses to this action. Therefore, the United States has the right ... to dismiss voluntarily this action against the Defendants." In other words, because the defendants haven't tried to defend themselves, the Justice Department won't punish them.

By that logic, if a murderer doesn't respond to the charges, he should be let free. That's crazy.

The Obama Justice Department did take one action against one of the four defendants: It forbade him from again "displaying a weapon within 100 feet of any open polling location" in Philadelphia. Given that it already was illegal to display a weapon at a polling place and that he was not even enjoined from carrying a weapon at polling places outside of Philadelphia, it is hard to see what this order accomplished.

We asked the Justice Department if it was unable to provide any explanation for dropping the case. Justice press aide Alejandro Miyar merely said: "That is correct." Multiple times we asked both the department and the White House to comment on charges that the dismissals represented political bias. We received no substantive response.

Hans Von Spakovsky, a legal scholar at the Heritage Foundation and a former commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, tells us, "In my experience, I have never heard of the department refusing to take a default judgment... . If a Republican administration had done this, it would be front-page news and every civil rights group in the country would be screaming about it."

Consider that the behavior of the defendants was so bad that witness Bartle Bull, a former Robert F. Kennedy organizer who did extensive legal work on behalf of black voters in Mississippi, testified it was "the most blatant form of voter discrimination I have encountered in my life."

Eric Eversole, a former litigation attorney with the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, told us: "It is truly unprecedented for the Voting Section to voluntarily dismiss a case of such blatant intimidation. The video speaks for itself."

We couldn't agree more. After the 2000 Presidential election, Democrats complained about voter intimidation in Florida by pointing to a police car that had been two miles away from a polling place. The police didn't do anything to anyone, but their presence was deemed sufficient to vaguely intimidate people en route to the polls. In this case, the New Black Panther Party actually blocked access to a poll.

Unlike the Florida incident, this case involving the New Black Panthers screams out for tough justice. Instead, the Obama administration looks the other way. This all but invites racial violence at future elections.

Well-written, but this one also has a chickenshit conslusion.

"This all but invites racial violence at future elections," is either a tremendous understatement, wishful thinking, or just plain dumb. This doesn't "all but invite," it frakking guarantees!

I'm not going to speculate about the motives of the president and his supporters in congress. Fact is, I don't have a clue if he has any long-term motives, or is just possessed of the kind of youthful arrogant certainty that given the power, he could solve all the world's problems by next Tuesday after lunch.

(Various people have told me that President Obama reminds them of an imperious tribal chieftan, Adolf Hitler, or various unsavory characters. Actually, what he reminds me of is me in my teens and twenties. Now that's really scary!)

But I am going to make this observation: a managed economy is going to need a thug-corps. Not because of the motives of the rulership, not because they are consciously aiming at tyranny, but because the logic of the situation demands it.

People will not consent to have their lives regulated in this way, to this extent without coercion. Police do not like to be involved in civil/property disputes, the military is aware their oath is to the Constitution not the president, and the ranks of both are drawn from the ruled, not the rulers.

My guess is that a fair number of people have at least a vague intuition of this, and are preparing accordingly.

* I tell you again and again, buy and read Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning." But wait for the paperback edition coming out soon. It's got a new afterword on Obama.

Goldberg gives a calm, well-reasoned argument supported by impeccable (and undeniable, that's why critics resort to name-calling and slander) research. But even Goldberg at the end seems to kind of lose steam, as if his conclusions are taking him to a place he doesn't want to go...

From a review by historian and former Leftist Ronald Radosh, "When Mr. Goldberg uses the term "liberal fascism," he is not offering a right-wing version of the left's smears. He knows it is a loaded term. What he is talking about is the historical idea of fascism: a corporatist and statist social structure that creates a deep reliance of its subjects on the government and engenders a sense of community and purpose. In American politics, this tendency toward statism has always been much more at home on the left than on the right."

** Enthymeme: in logic, a syllogism in which one of the two premises is assumed and unstated.

UPDATE: http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displayStory.cfm?story_id=13788623&source=most_commented

In The Economist, "Soaring gun sales in Arizona."

American gun sales surged after Mr Obama was elected president. He had a voting record of raising the tax on guns and ammunition by 500%, and, on top of that, he hinted during the campaign that he might restrict gun sales and create a national registry of gun-owners. The election was seven months ago, and the buying spree has not flagged since. Data released by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which serve as a gauge of actual sales, reported 1,255,980 checks in April 2009: a sixth monthly increase, and a 30.3% increase from the 940,961 reported last April.


  • At 9:31 AM, Blogger Mark said…

    Another perspective to consider: people are aware on some level that there is at least the potential that firearms might not be easy or possible to acquire legally. While fears of the imminent collapse of free society are a tad outlandish for mainstream desire, I think that many people are reassured by the knowledge that if they really need a weapon, they can get one; if that knowledge is called into question, then to retain that reassurance, they'll make sure instead that if they really need a weapon they already have it.

  • At 12:39 AM, Blogger Gerry said…

    I'm not as much calm as resigned to the current political and economic situation. It's like watching an out of control forest fire. There's nothing you can really do except wait it out and clean up the mess later.

    BTW, I heard from a rumor that one of the gun manufacturers made President Obama the salesman of the month earlier this year because of the jump in gun sales since he took over!

  • At 6:11 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    That about describes my attitude. I don't even argue about it with Obama cultists. Soon enough we will know what a "man-made disaster" the country bought into.

    If you can track down that rumor, please let us know here.

  • At 2:55 PM, Blogger Gerry said…

    "If you can track down that rumor, please let us know here"

    I think it's just a joke running around through the gun community. My friend heard it from a Cabela's gun salesman (he bought an AR15. surprise, surprise.) who told him S&W had made the President "Gun Salesman of the Quarter".

    I can't find anything concrete on the internet so I guess it's a viral joke making the rounds. It would be funny if it was true though!

  • At 4:38 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    I think it reaches the credibility level of, "If it ain't true - it oughta be."


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