Saturday, December 29, 2012

Check Out the "Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012"


My February 9, 2012 article, "How Ronald Reagan Unwittingly Laid the Groundwork for the Death of Capitalism," was featured in Vagabond Scholar's "Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012." If you haven't already, be sure to check out this roundup, which offers a lot of great articles from many of the Web's top progressive blogs. And also, be sure to check out Vagabond Scholar itself, which is one of our favorite Liberal blogs. Here's to a great 2013 for all progressive bloggers everywhere.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Great GOP Moments: Craig T. Nelson Sums Up Today's Republican Mindset in One Sentence



A few years ago, actor Craig T. Nelson was being interviewed by creepy GOP nutcase Glenn Beck and he made a comment that was widely ridiculed (see video above).

"I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anyone help me out? No." Nelson said.

Nelson was praising the virtues of America's "capitalistic" society. Many commentators pointed out the contradiction of Nelson's praise of a dog-eat-dog capitalist system and his admission of collecting welfare while bizarrely claiming that nobody had ever helped him out.

What many of these commentators missed though was that there really wasn't any contradiction in Nelson's comments---at least in the minds of today's Republicans.

I've talked to many Republicans over the years. The vast majority of them claim to be hard-core capitalists, who support a vicious dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, Ayn Rand/wet dream type society. In a nutshell, they all are strongly in favor of shutting down all government programs with the exception of the Pentagon.

Oh, and almost without exception, all of these Republicans themselves have benefited handsomely from various government programs. They've always been the first in line to claim their food stamps, jobless benefits, Medicare, and various other government programs. In fact, many of them actually work for the government. They pull down lavish taxpayer-funded paychecks and enjoy amazing benefits and pensions that are light years beyond anything that any private sector employee gets.

The latter type of Republican is well represented by the likes of extreme Far-Right radio talker Mark Levin. Levin worked as a highly paid government employee for years, pulling down a huge taxpayer-funded salary back in the 1980s. Today, this hypocritical asswipe advocates shutting down everything in the government, except for the Pentagon. (It's nice to see Levin supporting the military now, considering that this chickenhawk never served).

Actually, there's no contradiction here, at least in the minds of the Republicans themselves.

Republicans claim to be fiscal conservatives and they ferociously oppose the government helping anyone out. But that only applies to other people. Certainly not themselves.

If many of the Republicans I talk to could remake Medicare to only benefit themselves and nobody else, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

The fact is, the Republicans I've talked to are in favor of lavish, generous government spending---as long as ALL the money goes directly into their pockets---and theirs alone.

The Republicans only throw a hissy fit if anybody else is benefiting from any government program.

The fact is, Nelson's comments neatly sum up the modern GOP mindset.

Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA's Absurd Scapegoating of Violent Movies, Video Games Doesn't Hold Up to Scrutiny


For five days after the horrific bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association went eerily silent. They slithered under a rock and nobody heard a peep from them until Friday. The cowards even temporarily took down their Facebook page.

Finally, the NRA's head ghoul Wayne LaPierre spoke up. And in his idiotic, error-filled statement, LaPierre fell back on the one of the gun lobby's oldest scapegoating tactics. He blamed Hollywood for its violent movies, as well as video game makers. He called them "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people."

Like all the NRA's claims, though, this one doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

As film director Oliver Stone noted, Hollywood movies are viewed all over the world. And violent video games are played worldwide.

If one takes a look at Japan's culture and society, one begins to realize how idiotic LaPierre's argument is.

After all, a large percentage of the world's most popular (and violent) video games originate in Japan. So does the often hyper-violent content of Japanese manga comic books and anime cartoons. Some of the later are so blood-soaked and violent, they could never be marketed in the U.S.

Japan also has a robust film industry. And as a long-time fan of Japanese cinema, I can safely say that many of the most violent movies ever made are from Japan. A good example is the ultra-violent movie Tokyo Gore Police from 2008.

Tokyo Gore Police may well be the most violent film ever made. A jaw-dropping, astonishingly blood-soaked and hyper-violent movie, Tokyo Gore Police makes the films of controversial "bad boy" director Quentin Tarantino look tame by comparison.

In fact, as fans of Asian horror/thriller/slasher films know, many of Tarantino's films are nothing more than watered down pale imitations of the best of Asian "extreme" cinema. Tarantino rips off many of his ideas from the best of Japanese cinema and waters it all down for an American audience that, in most cases, has never been exposed to the real deal. (Films like Tokyo Gore Police, as well as the hyper-violent Japanese masterpiece Battle Royale from 2000 sadly, rarely even get a U.S. theatrical release).

Despite its sometimes hyper-violent cinema and video game industry, Japan has astonishingly little real-world violent gun crime. For example, in the year 2006, there were a grand total of two gun murders in all of Japan.


In fact, most years, gun murders in Japan range from around 10 to 20. (This, in a nation of over 126 million people). When the number hit 22 in 2007, it caused a lot of national hand-wringing about the "soaring" gun murder rate. To put that into context, though, during that same year, there were 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Of course, Japan does have strong gun regulations. Unlike in the U.S., in Japan, violent and mentally ill people can't just waltz into their local Wal-Mart and buy all the guns they want. Japan even screens potential gun buyers to make sure they're not crazy (gasp! what a radical idea!).

The bottom line is that LaPierre's claim that the problem is violent movies and not sensible gun laws ignores what's going on in the real world.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thanks, NRA Cowards, For The Connecticut Bloodbath



Thanks, NRA, for fighting any meaningful regulations that could help keep guns out of the hands of the violent and mentally ill. Thanks to you, guns can be bought in America as easily as a loaf of bread.

We also appreciate your work on ferociously opposing the Brady Bill (which Ronald Reagan, by the way, supported). Rest assured, though, despite your crazy, paranoid fantasies, NO meaningful action will be taken on guns in the aftermath of this latest horrible bloodbath.

Thanks to you, dozens, if not hundreds of more children will be brutally slaughtered in the decades to come.

The NRA truly is a cowardly organization. For example, they cowered under a rock and waited nearly five days to offer any kind of response to the Connecticut bloodbath. How chickensh*t is that? If they had the courage of their convictions, they would have spoken up sooner.

If you're sick of the slaughter, consider boycotting the companies that are affiliated with the NRA.

And consider signing this petition which aims to pressure the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns.

How easy is it to get a gun in today's America? Consider this (as noted by columnist William Rivers Pitt):

"Facts: Colorado, Oregon and Wisconsin allow guns on college campuses. Mississippi likewise allows guns on college campuses, as well as in secondary schools, polling places, churches, passenger terminals at airports, and bars. Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia and Ohio also allow guns in bars. You can shoot a gun in Missouri when you're drunk, and as long as it's considered to be in "self-defense," you're within your rights. In Vermont, you can sell a pistol to a 16-year old kid. Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Tennessee and Alaska have all passed laws saying that guns made in-state are not subject to federal regulations. The Florida "Stand Your Ground" law has gotten a lot of attention after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but 24 other states besides Florida have enacted similar laws.

A violent felon in Minnesota can regain their gun ownership rights if they successfully petition the court about having "good cause." In Ohio, a violent felon can retain their gun rights if they prove to a court that they have led a "law-abiding life." You can get your guns back in Georgia and Nebraska even if you've committed manslaughter and armed robbery, and in Montana, your guns will be returned to you if you didn't use a gun when you committed your crime. That seems to fly in the face of the old saw that says, "If you make guns criminal, only criminals will have guns."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Connecticut School Massacre: More Blood on the NRA's Hands


In the aftermath of the deadly shooting that killed 27, including 18 children, at a Connecticut elementary school, there's one theme you can expect the mainstream media to repeat over and over in the coming days.

That is: How could this tragedy possibly happen?

Actually, there's no mystery at all.

The problem is that America has practically zero meaningful regulations on guns, thanks to the assholes at the National Rifle Association, an organization that has had great success in pushing its extremist agenda on America over the past 30 years.

The NRA's vast power is the main reason that America today has far weaker gun restrictions than it did a century ago. For example, in my state of Texas, in the 1890s, it was illegal to carry a concealed gun, unlike today. Which raises a question: how, exactly, did Texans manage to get by back in the 1890s with gun laws that were more restrictive than what we have now?

One issue that I never hear discussed when there is a tragedy like this is (ironically enough) the Second Amendment's actual text. Oh, sure, the gun nuts regularly talk about the Second Amendment in a general sense. But nobody ever actually cites the actual wording of the amendment.

There's a good reason for this. Despite what the gun nuts would have us believe, the wording of the Second Amendment is very convoluted and vague.

Here is the text of Second Amendment:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Yes, it does contain the text, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." But the gun nuts tend to overlook the inconvenient words that precede the latter.

"Well regulated"?

Gasp! Who wrote this? Nancy Pelosi?

Needless to say, the gun nuts quietly tiptoe away from this part of the amendment.

So what, exactly, does the Second Amendment mean? Does it mean that the government can pass absolutely no restrictions on guns whatsoever (as the NRA would have us believe)?

I'm sure the gun nuts would emphatically say "Yes!"

The problem is the Second Amendment's actual wording itself. I don't claim to be an expert on the Bill of the Rights. But in reading the Second Amendment, with its reference to a "well regulated militia," I just don't see that the amendment forbids any and all restrictions on arms, despite what the NRA would have us believe.

I'd suspect that most Americans would agree with me on this point. In fact, if more Americans were aware of the actual wording of the Second Amendment, I'd suspect even more people would agree with me.

Amazingly, even most gun nuts seem to be unaware of the actual text of their beloved Second Amendment. Here in Texas over the years, I've had countless conversations with gun nuts. Without exception, every time I've asked them to quote the Second Amendment's actual wording, they've been unable to do it. And it's not like I'm asking them to quote a lengthy passage. We're only talking about one sentence.

It's interesting to note that, before the massive wealth of the NRA helped that group achieve its iron-grip on American politics, starting around 30 years ago, gun restrictions were not even that controversial in America.

The fact is, even in the Old West, gun control was accepted as necessary. The f*cking Old West!

The Hollywood image of the Old West, where everyone is walking around with gun holsters is pure fiction. We live in truly surreal times when even the Old West had stricter gun laws that we have today.

Incidentally, a predictable argument of the gun nuts is always "This shooter would have been able to get a gun regardless of any gun control laws." It's an absurd argument. It raises a question: then why have any laws at all in America, if there are always some people out there who won't obey them?

Yes, a determined shooter could get a gun, regardless of any gun laws. But in the real world, a few sensible gun laws can and will reduce easy availability to guns. The entire rest of the industrialized world is my "Exhibit A" on this point.

A determined shooter could get a gun in a nation like England or Japan, regardless of those nations' strict anti-gun laws. But in the real world, few shooters do, and as a result those nations (like the entire rest of the First World) has a fraction of the violent gun crime that the U.S. has.

Note: when I've pointed this out to the gun nuts over the years, it's always their predictable cue to bring up the race card. "But those countries don't have as many blacks as we do," they say.

In fact, in my debates with the gun nuts over the years on the various woes afflicting U.S. society, they always bring up this point as a last resort. "But America, unlike Europe and Japan, has black people!" they always claim.

This last point confirms my belief about a lot of these NRA/GOP types. They're racists, pure and simple. They prefer to scapegoat other people for all of America's problems. It's always amusing listening to them vehemently deny that they're racist. I mean, these are the same people who pollute their minds with Rush Limbaugh's racist filth, day after day and then claim that they don't see anything racist about Rush.

OK, I will concede one point. Yes, it is true that, for various reason, per capita, black people do more gun-related crime than white people do in the U.S. But if you do the math, this still doesn't account for the staggering disparity in violent gun crime rates between the U.S. and the rest of the First World.

So my message to the NRA gun nuts is this: take your extremism and ram it up your ass. (And do the same with your racism).

Oh, and despite what you retards believe, Rush Limbaugh is in fact a racist piece of sh*t. So is any gun nut who claims that America's shockingly high gun violence rates are mainly because of black people.

Thank you, NRA. The blood of these children is on your hands.