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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

A Strong Proposal For Changing Our Gun Laws

The Daily Escape:

Lauterbrunnen, near Bern, Switzerland. Photo by Scott Hafer

Thought for today:

“The right thing is usually not hard to do. And if it is, it’s still the right thing.” – Jason Hirschorn

Pam Keith is a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 18th Congressional District. She was a Navy officer, and lawyer. She has a great take on what to do with guns in America. Here is a series of tweets by Pam:

(The Baker Act allows the holding of mentally-ill people against their will)

WTG Ms. Keith, all are good ideas! Outlawing “bump stocks’ should be added to this list, and it seems that the House is likely to do just that. Will we ever get the National Rifle Association (NRA) out of the business of dictating which gun legislation is, or isn’t acceptable?

Assuming we want changes to our interpretation of the Second Amendment, we must force enough Republicans in Congress to listen, and act. We have control, if we choose to use it.

Or, we can accept the occasional mass slaughter as the “price of freedom” as Bill O’Reilly says we must. The Second Amendment is neither inviolable, nor sacrosanct. We have built this edifice of carnage on the most willfully misinterpreted 27 words in the Constitution. Ms. Keith’s ideas could help save lives, without impacting the rights of responsible gun owners.

As the opening quote says, doing the right thing, even if it is hard to do, very hard, it’s still the right thing.

We could stand idly by, and accept that random, indiscriminate mass slaughter is our new normal.

Here is a musical interlude by the Wailin’ Jennys singing “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” from their soon-to-be released album, “Fifteen”, a series of covers. Here, they are covering Dolly Parton. They turn the tune into a reminder about resilience and hope in each new day. This is particularly appropriate given the Las Vegas mass murder.

They sing in perfect à cappella harmony. Inspiring and beautiful:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Monday Wake Up Call – October 17, 2016

(This is a re-post of Monday’s column which was lost after the database crash on Monday night)

Random Monday thoughts:

First, Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan is a huge part of the soundtrack to the lives of boomers, so the average person has no problem with his winning the award, despite maybe pulling for Phillip Roth, or Dom DeLillo. From Dwight Garner:

This Nobel acknowledges what we’ve long sensed to be true: that Mr. Dylan is among the most authentic voices America has produced, a maker of images as audacious and resonant as anything in Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson.

Dylan is probably the only Nobel Prize for Literature winner who was a household name. Most are people whose work is known only to the elites. Harvard Professor Richard Thomas teaches a course called “Bob Dylan”:

I don’t see any difference between a poet like Catullus or Virgil and Bob Dylan. I think they are doing the same things. It has to do with control of language, connecting of lyrics and melodies. That’s what makes it timeless.

The professor notes that in songs like “Lonesome Day Blues”, there’s a stanza that goes:

I’m going to spare the defeated, I’m going to speak to the crowd
I’m going to spare the defeated, ’cause I’m going to speak to the crowd
I’m going to teach peace to the conquered, I’m going to tame the proud

And it’s pretty much a direct quote of lines spoken in the “Aeneid” by the ghost of Aeneas’s father, Anchises, who he sees in the underworld, and who basically says to him: “Other people will make sculpture. Your art, your job as a Roman, is to ‘spare defeated peoples, tame the proud.’”

Second, what is the point of having a third presidential debate? We already know almost everything about the Pant Suit, because the Right has been studiously putting her public and private life on display for the past 30 years. There is more we might learn about Mr. McGropey Pants, but don’t expect to hear anything that sounds like policy. Expect the Pant Load to do nothing to elevate the discourse. If he says: “is the bitch through talking?” don’t be surprised.

Third, his supporters will remain loyal, even after the election. The Boston Globe reports that election night could be the start of something terrible. For the past two weeks, Trump has been stoking fears that you can’t trust what happens at the ballot box. This, from Cincinnati:

And if Trump doesn’t win, some are even openly talking about violent rebellion and assassination, as fantastical and unhinged as that may seem.

“If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton…“We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take…I would do whatever I can for my country.”

But, isn’t Trump your garden-variety Republican, and aren’t his supporters absolutely regular folks? After all, a sitting US Senator, Jeff Sessions, (R-Ala.) said in New Hampshire on Saturday that anti-Trump forces are trying to rig the election. All these people are mainstream GOP for sure.

And Mr. “in prison or shot” Bowman is just another peaceful American who is deeply concerned about the economic well-being of the working class.

Can’t you see Putin asking the UN to send in election monitors to certify the results?

Time to wake up America!  You brought this on (i) by not voting in off-year elections, (ii) by not supporting media that search for truth, and (iii) by not insisting on the best possible education for your kids.

To help you wake up, here is Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue”, recorded in 1975:

Sample Lyrics:

Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Living With Muslims

Wrongo recently read a first-person article in the June 24th edition of Maine’s Portland Press Herald by Allison Hodgkins. She is an assistant professor of security studies and conflict management at the American University in Cairo. Hodgkins lives with 20 million Muslims for 10 months a year, returning to Maine for the summers. Her point is that they are not so different from the rest of us. Here is a long excerpt from her article: (brackets and editing by the Wrongologist)

The assumption undergirding the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States is simple: More Muslims equal more terrorism and a less secure United States. And while there is utterly no evidence of a relationship between increased Muslim immigration to the US and increased rates of domestic terrorism, as many as 50% of Americans support at least a temporary ban, one poll has found.

The question that no one is asking is: Why? Why would half the US electorate think that banning nearly one-quarter of the world’s population from entry is a good idea? Are we just a country of bigots?

No, we are not. As the push for marriage equality demonstrates, we are actually very tolerant – once we get to know the group or the idea. But that’s precisely the problem with relation to Muslims: We don’t really know many.

Muslims are only 1% of the US population, and they’re disproportionately concentrated in a handful of urban areas. A 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 40% of respondents had never spoken to a Muslim and 24% had done so occasionally. Only 6% reported speaking with a Muslim daily.

What these numbers lay bare is that for the average American, their only reference points for Muslims are the occasional glimpse of a foreign-looking woman in a veil and, well, the likes of [domestic terrorists] Omar Sadiq Mateen, San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook or the Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

/snip/

Since we barely know the 3.3 million already here, we have no idea what it could mean to live with 3 million, 4 million or 5 million more.

Well, I do. For 10 months out of the year, I live with 20 million Muslims…Since accepting a position at the American University in Cairo, I have lived cheek by jowl with Muslims. Cairo, an urban megalopolis of 22 million to 24 million, is just plain teeming with them… From the moment I open my door in the morning until I close it at night, there are Muslims at every turn. The family down the hall from me is Muslim, as are four of the five families on the floor below. The crossing guard who scolds my son for not looking twice before crossing the street is a Muslim, and so are the guards checking IDs at the entrance of his school. I sit next to Muslims on the bus to work and gripe with them about the traffic.

/snip/

In an environment where being Muslim is the common denominator, it is absolutely certain that the person committing an act of terror will be an adherent of the faith. But Muslims are also the victims, the police coming to investigate, the reporters covering the event, the people queuing to give blood and the leaders charged with devising the best policy to counter what they and their constituents know is radical extremism promoted by groups of extremists.

/snip/

And when you live with 20 million Muslims, you hear them talk about this danger to their lives, their nations and their faith every single day.

Ms. Hodgkins’s point is we should assess the risks of Muslim immigrants to our homeland. Maybe get to know a few facts about Muslim involvement in acts of domestic terror, and meet a few Muslims before we ban all Muslim immigration.

You can hear the argument from the Trumpeteers: Of course the vast majority of Muslims are good, peace loving people who want the same for their families as the rest of us. But we can’t tell the good ones from the bad ones, so NO Muslim immigration until we get better vetting, screening, monitoring in place.

We couldn’t tell the good ones from the bad ones: That was the logic that led us to the internment of American Japanese in WWII.

OTOH, nearly all Americans agree that the vast majority of gun owners are good, peace loving people. But, since we can’t tell the good ones from the bad, how about banning all sales of guns until we get better vetting, screening, monitoring in place?

Sorry, we willingly accept the risk that American shooters will kill Americans. Since we are Second Amendment absolutists, those deaths are just collateral damage in the fight to protect our gun rights.

But if there is one death by a Muslim immigrant, the terrorists win.

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Words Have Meaning

This captures where we are:

COW Hill's Threats

People are debating whether Donald Trump suggested violence against Hillary with his comment about how “the Second Amendment People” might be the only group capable of stopping Hillary Clinton from appointing liberal judges if she is elected president.

The Trump comment was in the context of what happens after Hillary is elected, and that there was nothing anyone could do about Hillary appointing Justices, except for…Second Amendment people.

He said, “If [Hillary Clinton] gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks.” There’s “nothing you can do” in this situation because Trump is talking about a time after the 2016 election is over, and Clinton is president.

If he wasn’t talking about after the election, why would he say there was “nothing you can do?” During the election, there’s something pretty obvious you can do: Get out the vote and prevent her from becoming president in the first place.

Then Trump immediately follows it up by saying, “But I tell you what, that’ll be a horrible day.” Again, this suggests the time frame he’s talking about is when she’s already in the White House. Otherwise, both the “horrible day” comment and the “nothing you can do” comment that bookend his Second Amendment remark are total non-sequiturs.

So no, this isn’t about the NRA organizing their members to get out the vote. His comments were about doing something AFTER the election. Why would it be a “horrible day” if all he was talking about was getting out the vote, his vote? It is totally illogical.

There is no ambiguity here.

This seemed to Wrongo to be another effort at a joke by the Pant Load. The WaPo reported that Paul Ryan said:

It sounds like just a joke gone bad. I hope he clears it up very quickly. You should never joke about something like that.

It’s highly unusual for the Wrongologist to agree with Paul Ryan, but that’s probably the best defense for Trump’s words. But when faced with an outcry after his controversial comments, Trump never admits error and never backs down — no matter how strained the defense.

Why should this time be any different?

Trump knew exactly what he was doing, and he did so in the same manner he has been using throughout the campaign.  A suggestion, an inference, a little birdie told him, it is what people are saying.  The dog whistle, the wink, the nod. Some ambiguity to the comment, delivered in a veil of coyness.

Maybe we should remember the very bright line that Sarah Palin crossed a few years ago when she took out an ad that deliberately placed Gabby Giffords in crosshairs, just before Giffords was shot and critically wounded by a gunman. This is different, but really, how different is it?

On ABC’s Good Morning America, Rudy Giuliani gave Trump’s words the real test: How did they play with Trump’s audience?  Getting Hillary couldn’t be what Trump meant, Rudy observed, because if Trump had actually called for Hillary to be killed, the crowd would have gone wild.

Imagine being Giuliani: So invested in Trump’s campaign that you’re contorting yourself into a pretzel to translate the candidate’s Wingbat-ese into English.

And once again, defending the indefensible.

Words matter, especially when delivered by someone who aspires to be POTUS.

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