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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

What, Me Worry?

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” HL Mencken

As we head towards the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, it is interesting to look at a recent survey by Ipsos Public Affairs, Which countries are on the right track, according to their citizens? that was cited in an article by the World Economic Forum. The global conclusion was that people think things are getting worse:

Between October and November 2016, the percentage of people who believe things are on the right track in their country dropped by 2 percentage points to 37% globally.

The survey is conducted online monthly in 25 countries by Ipsos. The countries are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the US. Ipsos samples 18,110 adults aged 18-64 in Canada, Israel and the US, and aged 16-64 in all other countries. They were interviewed between October 21st and November 4th 2016, with about 1000 people participating in the US and other Western countries.  The survey has an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points.

Here is a chart giving a snapshot of right track/wrong track just prior to the US presidential election:

This shows the US in the middle of the pack, with 65% of those surveyed saying we are on the wrong track. That is consistent with other surveys of American sentiment. In China, 90% of people expressed confidence in their country’s direction, followed by Saudi Arabia (80%), India (76%) and Russia (58%).

  • Among Western nations, Canadians are the only people with a predominantly positive outlook (54%).
  • The US showed a small month-on-month drop in “right track” from 37% to 35%.
  • France and Mexico bring up the rear as their citizens have the least confidence in their country’s direction: 88% and 96% of the populace respectively believe that their country is on the wrong track. Only 4% of Mexicans think their country is on the right track!

Ipsos also surveyed the issues that worry citizens in each country the most. They asked the question: Which three of the following topics do you find the most worrying in your country? In the US, the top three issues were:

  • Terrorism: 33%
  • Healthcare: 32%
  • Financial/Political Corruption: 29%

It is not clear that terrorism is profoundly worrying to Americans, since 67% of those surveyed chose something else to worry about. Remember that the rankings are based on how frequently the item is mentioned as the first in a list of three issues. Here is an Ipsos chart that compares the number one issue people worry about in each country:

Only Turkey, Israel and the US ranked terrorism first. Americans fear terrorism slightly more than uncertainty with their healthcare (32%). And they worry about corruption slightly more (29%-28%) than they worry about crime and violence. Where are poverty and social equality? Seventh, with 19%. What about education? Ninth, with 15%. Maintaining social programs are 14th tied with inflation at 7%.

Fear is emotional, it is not driven by logic about actual levels of risk. Assessment of risk is (mostly) a logical process, with a tiny element of emotion. Acts of terror are frightening, but the likelihood of one happening to you is infinitesimally small in the US. It is therefore, an irrational fear.

OTOH, do people worry about being mugged when walking through a sketchy part of the city? Most do. How many actually get mugged? Not many. But that fear has a basis in fact.

And terrorism isn’t about killing as many people as it can. It is about gaining a political victory through terror. Think about the 9/11 attack in NYC. Millions watched the Towers fall. Those in NYC saw the smoke for weeks. That is the end point of terror, and probably explains why so many rank it as their top worry.

In the survey, six countries worried more about terrorism than the US. They are: Turkey (66%), Israel (51%), France (44%), India (43%), Saudi Arabia (40%) and Germany (34%).  Those countries all have more real-world reasons to worry about terrorism than do Americans.

However, our neo-con politicians in collusion with a number of think tanks, and the military-industrial complex, have made a significant portion of Americans believe it is a rational fear. They do this for financial gain and control.

Control keeps the grift going.

And, like Israel, the more Muslims we kill, the more terrorists we create. Where is the virtue in this for anyone except the Defense Department, Lockheed, Rockwell, Northrup, Raytheon, Honeywell and Wall Street?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – September 25, 2016

So many stories competing for our attention this week. The bomber, the “driving while black” shootings, the upcoming debate.

Let’s start with Tulsa and Charlotte:

cow-aaa-b4-cops

And how many news reports do we hear about a stranded white motorist being shot, or a social worker lying on the ground with his hands in the air getting shot? The smart phone camera is the only disinfectant that may end this.

The Presidential candidates’ response to NYC and NJ bomber taught us quite a bit:

 

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

This shows the difference in the way Democrats and Republicans view the world. Democrats are trying to figure out why people are getting radicalized, who they are, and how to stop them. Republicans want to carpet bomb the place until the sands glow and let (their) god sort them out.

The Wells Fargo hearings gave us a rare moment of bi-partisan solidarity:

cow-shoot-wells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrongo does not endorse killing anyone at Wells Fargo or any other bank or Wall Street firm. But is putting a few behind bars too much to ask?

The debate is tomorrow, but what on earth will they talk about?

cow-debate-topics

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September 21, 2016

On-the-ground insight from the Chelsea area of Manhattan on Sunday: Long-time reader David P. gives us some, from the day after the bombing:

I just finished reading your Wrongologist entry for today.

OTOH, I find some evidence that fear is not (universally?) out of control. We drove into NYC yesterday [Sunday] after seeing TV accounts of the bombing in Manhattan at 23rd St, near 5th Ave. In a 10-block stroll through the West Village and Chelsea, I noted no businesses, of the sort normally open on Sundays that were shuttered. We had brunch at a restaurant on the corner of 20th St and 7th Ave., in the open air. The sidewalks were bustling and the street traffic seemed to be at the expected level for a Sunday. I exchanged a few social niceties and joking exchanges with waiters and other strangers; none seemed fixated on what had and was transpiring a few blocks away…

On the TV, both on Sunday and thus far on Monday (4 PM), local politicians and police administrators have given calm, factual, professional updates, with the politicians adding that the terrorist enterprise could only prevail if we were to give way to fear and allow our lives to be disrupted any more than necessary…

The ONLY sour note that I heard in the 40 hours since the first explosion was Mr. Trump’s irresponsibly premature pronouncement on a still-emerging event, coupled with his opportunistic attempt to blame it on President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, from my perspective and at least in my corner of the universe, people seem to be vigilant without being terrorized.

I hope that the media will show the rest of the country that, here near the center of the terrorism bulls-eye, most of us are not succumbing to fear. I also hope that the rest of the country will notice that we are not voting for someone who, faced with those who would do us harm, responds with bluster and bullshit, rather than with quiet determination and deference to professionals who know what they are doing.

David

Some media, and of course the Pant Load, are trying to fan the fear. Some are saying “New York Attacked!” They want Americans to be more afraid for their safety than for the likelihood of losing more of our American values. Interestingly, the states that have seen terror attacks, NY, CA, MA, PA and VA are solidly in Hillary’s camp, while Florida is too close to call.

Perhaps when you actually have to face your fear, you think differently.

On a separate issue: There is a growing ACLU and Amnesty-led campaign to secure a pardon for Edward Snowden, timed to the release of the Oliver Stone biopic “Snowden”. There have editorials and op-eds, pro and con appearing all over the country in recent days. Few attempt to lay out the facts. In fact, the Washington Post editorial board is against his pardon. That is the height of hypocrisy, since the WaPo won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting based on the very information that Snowden took from the US government!

Glenn Greenwald, who helped Snowden get his information to the media said:

Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden — The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept –– have called for the US government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the US with no charges.

The exception is the WaPo.

Back to the pardon, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) has recommended against a Snowden pardon. Marcy Wheeler tears their report apart, stating that in a two-year investigation, HPSCI failed to interview any of the direct witnesses, repeated known untruths about Snowden, and used the wrong methodology to conduct the damage assessment caused by the document releases. From Marcy:

One thing is certain: the public is owed an explanation for how HPSCI came to report knowably false information.

Snowden is a saint compared to the Congress jerks who signed off on this recommendation.

It is one thing to believe Snowden’s breach of a duty of confidentiality to the US government is not offset by the good that public knowledge of the NSA’s clandestine spying programs provided.

It is another to create a false report about the individual and the damage done.

There are probably a few dozen or so Dennis Hastert’s in Congress that are more than interested in suppressing any whistle blower’s information. Who knows, it could end a career.

Congress seems to have sworn an oath to complicity, not an oath to uphold the Constitution.

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Monday Wake Up Call – September 19, 2016

As everyone now knows, a bomb went off in NYC on Saturday. NY Governor Cuomo later said it was a terror attack. A second bomb was found and defused a few blocks away, while a third, also thought to be terror-related, went off in Seaside, NJ. A Saturday knife attack in St. Cloud Minnesota that wounded nine was declared a terrorist act.

These events all happened the day before the UN General Assembly meets for a week in New York, so the  bombings could have serious political meaning. But politicians are telling us these events are not linked. Just a coincidence, they say.

Meanwhile, this could be Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare, as Donald Trump says we are not strong enough in the face of terrorism, while Hillary has said that we are “winning” the war on terra. Trump told a crowd in Colorado Springs:

I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York. And nobody knows exactly what’s going on. But boy, we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough…

Because we’re not tough enough on terror just yet.

So today’s wake up is about America’s fear. 15 years after 9/11, it’s hard to remember what this country was like before: How the American spirit was so much stronger at the height of the Cold War than it is today.

Back then, we feared the USSR and dying (frying) in a preemptive nuclear war. We all believed we would have no more than 20 minutes to prepare for Nuclear Armageddon. There were municipal fallout shelters. Some had shelters in their homes. We practiced getting under our desks at schools, even though we knew that would be fruitless.

But there was a very different feel to America back then. People were far from paralyzed by fear; they controlled their sense of imminent danger. There was a military draft. We worked, took the kids to sporting events, and our kids went to school every day with far less concern for their safety than today.

Since 9/11, we do face very real threats from terrorism, by actors both foreign and domestic. But, the probability of instant death like we had for 40 years, from the 1950s until 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed, doesn’t exist today.

Wrongo is not a student of mass psychosis, but asks, if the nature of today’s threat, while serious, does not lead to instant death for millions of Americans, why are we so paralyzed by fear?  No IED is going to end America as we know it, no gun or knife-toting terrorist is going to kill millions of Americans.

A zero domestic deaths from terrorism policy is doomed to failure.

For the past 15 years our last two presidents have said: “my first responsibility is to keep you safe.” But, haven’t we really needed leaders who would say: “my first responsibility is to defend your freedom and personal liberty?”

But no politician today would dare say that, because no one would vote for them. This is the nation we have become after 9/11, and we need to wake up before we surrender even more of the freedoms guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.

To help America wake up, here is “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, from their 2012 album, “Night Visions”. The song was Rolling Stone’s “Biggest Rock Hit of the Year” in 2013. This video has had almost 600 million views since it was posted:

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

Sample Lyrics:

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh,  I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flags, don my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’re painted red to fit right in

I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse

Welcome to the new age indeed!

People should learn about England and Ireland during the Sinn Fein bombing attacks that lasted from 1969 to 2001. Wrongo lived in London for part of that time, and while fear existed and the risk was real, people dusted themselves off, and soldiered on.

We should not let fear decide our Presidential election, or further vitiate the Constitution.

Let’s all WAKE UP!

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The FBI and Omar Mateen

(Sorry for the lack of posts. We went straight from the trip to Santa Barbara to visit with my brother who is now in hospice. His story is a column for another day, but helping his wife has been our number one priority for the past few days.)

The Orlando killings are being covered exhaustively on all media outlets. There is no time yet for perspective, but Wrongo uncovered a few very interesting facts in researching a future column about the role of the FBI in domestic terrorism, and rather than hold them back, here they are for your consideration:

First, we learned today that Omar Mateen’s wife allegedly tried to talk him out of the Orlando attack. Apparently, his wife was with Mateen when he bought ammo AND she once drove him to Pulse “because he wanted to scope it out”, reports the NY Daily News. An Orlando Grand Jury will get her involvement to chew on.

Second, there are at least four data points that should have indicated to the FBI that Omar Mateen was gay, or at least, closeted:

  • He hung out with a friend from high school, who is a drag queen, and the friend’s lesbian co-worker friends
  • He asked out a fellow (male) student while in cop school
  • He used a profile on a gay dating site
  • He had been going to Pulse for at least 3 years

That all likely adds some doubt to the story that he killed at the Pulse solely on behalf of ISIS, which is the theory the FBI fed the media on Sunday. Some in the gay community think this attack was more about Mateen struggling with his own sexuality than with ISIS.

But, for now, terror “pundits” are working very hard to turn Mateen’s claims of affiliations with several Islamic groups (Hezbollah, al-Nusra, and ISIS, as well as the Tsarnaevs) into some kind of coherent world view that could explain his actions as Islamic terrorism.

The FBI says they had a 10-month tail on him, which you would think should have identified the many two hour-long round trips to Orlando Mateen took to hang out at Pulse, which according to witnesses, were taking place at the time of the investigation. Did the FBI know about these things?

That is not to say that Mateen didn’t have an attraction to Islamic extremism.

OTOH, it’s doubtful that the FBI’s checklist of things to look for when investigating someone making claims such as “I luv ISIS” or “I’m with Al Qaeda” includes a box for “closeted gay male having difficulties with his sexuality”.

Third, Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian has new details on what it was that got Omar Mateen on the FBI radar in 2013: He claimed to have a tie to the Tsarnaev brothers:

Omar Mateen…told co-workers at the private-security firm employing him that he knew Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev, according to a source close to the investigation who requested anonymity.

The FBI interviewed Mateen on two occasions in 2013 related to his purported connection to the Tsarnaev brothers, the first known time Mateen drew the attention of federal law enforcement.

At the time, the FBI was focused on a member of Orlando’s Muslim community, who was actually related to the Tsarnaev brothers, Ibragim Todashev. In May of 2013, the FBI killed Todashev in his own Orlando apartment, in the midst of interviewing him.

That’s not to say Mateen had a tie. Even though the Tsarnaevs lived in Boston, Todashev lived in Orlando at the time Mateen was making his claim about knowing the Tsarnaevs, and Mateen must have been aware of Todashev’s demise.

And finally, didn’t the FBI wonder at all about the shooter’s father, Siddiqi, who posted YouTube videos praising the Taliban (in Dari) and promoting Pashtun nationalism? Those seem like the sort of things that might be red flags.

It is true that Islamic extremists want to attack this country. If you’re a Muslim wanting media attention, the easiest way to get it is to say that word, “ISIS.”

That’s a guarantee law enforcement will give your case much more attention than it gives investigating the Bundy brothers.

That is, except in the case of Mateen.

We need to look closely at the FBI’s role in the lead-up to the Pulse shooting, if only to scope out the “lessons learned” for the future.

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Monday Wake-Up Call – January 25, 2016

Today many are still digging out from the big blizzard, and are getting off to a slow start, but today’s Wake Up is for those who think the answer to domestic terrorism is to get tough with American Muslims, to isolate them, to deport them, or to prevent them from getting gun permits.

Peter Bergen has an article in the current Wall Street Journal Weekend, “Can We Stop Homegrown Terrorists?” in which he reports on the threat posed by domestic Muslim terrorists: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

We found that American jihadists are overwhelmingly male (only 7% are women), and their average age is 29. More than a third are married, and more than a third have children. A little more than one in 10 has served time in prison, similar to the rate of incarceration for all American males, and around 10% had some kind of mental-health issue, which is lower than the general population. In everything but their deadly ideology, they are ordinary Americans.

Bergen reports that in 2015, the FBI investigated supporters of ISIS in all 50 states, and more than 80 Americans were charged with some kind of jihadist crime. It was the peak year since 2001 for law-enforcement activity against Americans who had chosen to join a group or accept an ideology whose goal is to kill fellow Americans. Bergen has assembled a data base of about 300 jihadists indicted or convicted in the US for some kind of terrorist crime since 9/11.

In analyzing the threat, Bergen says:

These individuals represent just a tiny fraction of an American Muslim population estimated at more than 3 million, but 300 homegrown jihadists is still 300 too many. Is the US intelligence and law-enforcement community any closer to knowing how to identify such would-be terrorists and stop them before they act? There has been definite progress, but the sobering truth is that…we are likely to be dealing with this low-level terrorist threat for years to come.

We have no way of knowing if we are at the start of a wave of domestic terror, but it sure feels ominous right now, like something could be coming. But we need to get one thing straight – domestic terrorism, whether by Muslims, Christians or others, can never be totally eradicated. As long as there are people with grievances who don’t believe they have a means to get those grievances addressed, there will be terrorists.

Bergen found that post 9/11, 45 Americans have been killed by jihadists in 15 years. That’s three per year.

But not all homegrown terrorists are Muslims. We had terror attacks by the Unabomber, the “Mad Bomber” and McVeigh at Oklahoma City. Ted Kaczynski, George Metesky and Timothy McVeigh weren’t Muslims, they were angry. Anger can transcend religion or even, the lack of a religion. And today, we have not only our general gun death epidemic, but more specifically, our homegrown red blooded Americans who like to shoot up schools, malls, theaters and churches.

Just last week, two Colorado teen-age girls were indicted for planning to replicate Columbine.

Can we stop homegrown terrorists? No, not even if we take all of We, the People’s Rights away (well, maybe not the Second Amendment). No free society can stop free citizens from doing whatever they freely decide to do, up to and including converting to Islam and blowing themselves up. So that’s our choice: are we going to continue to be a free society?

Our choice is between having the government acquire more power and spending money in the name of our safety. Or, keep what remains of our Bill of Rights and accept that lone wolf terrorist acts will happen on our soil.

All that can be done is to reduce the amount of terrorism to the absolute minimum. Bergen’s article talks about some of those techniques, but terrorism will always be with us.

And acknowledging that reality is not appeasement. Those who choose to be terrorists will become so, regardless of what the law requires or the people desire.

To help you wake up to the routine prejudice Muslims face in the homeland of the free, here is “Terrorism is not a Religion”, a poem by Hersi. He is a former US Marine and veteran of Iraq, and is by birth, a Somali Muslim. In this video he recounts his experience as a Muslim in the American school system and the US military:

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

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 20, 2015

You are not going to read the entire 2000 page Omnibus Budget Bill, but you don’t have to. The thing that you need to know is that despite years of preaching budget austerity, and preaching that expenses must be paid for, the GOP-controlled House passed nearly $700 billion in unpaid-for tax cuts, none of which were paid for by budget cuts or other tax offsets.

Now, get it out of your head the GOP is fiscally responsible. Remember that Reagan quadrupled the Debt. Bush cut taxes while we went to war. Obama has run up the debt as well, but if ANYONE tells you the Republicans are fiscally responsible, laugh in their face.

In other news, the GOP really needs Santa’s help:

COW GOP List for Santa

Terror is driving the season:

COW Bearded Foreigner

 

Terror is driving the season Part II:

COW Fear of Terrorism

 

And Grinches are multiplying:

COW Grinches

 

Star Wars franchise wants to sell merchandise:

COW Starwars Xmas

 

And the Fed raised interest rates for the first time in seven years:

COW Janet Rides Again

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 13, 2015

(This is the last column until Thursday 12/17. Wrongo and Ms. Right are in San Francisco. Talk amongst yourselves, keep hands inside the blog at all times.)

The hits keep coming! The San Bernardino killings continue to reverberate in our psyches. People are scared beyond what should be reasonable, given the statistics about killings by Islamic terrorists. The Paris climate agreement is signed, but what will it really do? The Supreme Court considered affirmative action again, with predictable BS from both sides. Trump continues, and Rahm Emmanuel looks to be on the wrong side of justice in Chicago.

Here come the same tired solutions once again:

COW Tom Tomorrow 2

It’s Trump’s world, but so few can live in it:

COW Trump World

 

Chicago’s mayor finally decides to get rolling on solving the problem:

COW Rahm TruckAs mayor, he sat on that video for over a year. He had to know, because the $5 million payment to the victim’s family didn’t come from petty cash at the Chicago PD. He was the chief architect of the cover-up. And he needs to go.

Justice Scalia again covers himself with glory:

COW Scalia Bad Thing

 

Won’t matter what Paris says about climate change:

COW Climate Change

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Why So Fearful?

The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil menPlato

Following on yesterday’s thoughts about how our presidential candidates are busy soiling their underpants over the possible threat of “Radical Islamic Terrorism” (say it Obama! What are you afraid of??), we heard Trump call for banning Muslims from visiting the US. Cruz and Rubio are merely for registering all of them.

This is a good time to take a look at the rates of homicide in America and our perception of the rates of homicide. Here is a chart from Gallup that shows the actual rate has fallen steadily and dramatically since 1992. The graph demonstrates that starting in 2001, we saw an increase in the number of Americans who thought violent crime was rising (the dark green line), even though the actual violent crime rate (the light green line) continued to fall, and remains roughly 75 points lower than it had been at its early 1990s peak. It’s clear that the perception of that crime rate tracked closely with the actual rate until 2001, when they began to diverge:

Galllup Violent Crime rate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, Pew asked Americans in 2013 if the number of gun crimes had: gone down, gone up, or stayed the same over the past 20 years. Bear in mind that the gun murder rate is half what it was, and the rate of non-fatal gun crimes is about a quarter of what it was 20 years ago, but only 12% said gun crimes were down, 26% said they were the same, and 56% said they’ve gone up.

This, despite the fact that the homicide rate/100,000 people in this country is lower than it’s been in 50 years, falling from 6.6 in 1981 to 3.6 in 2010. That’s not all. Ian Reifowitz at the Daily Kos offers more data:

Violence in schools has dropped dramatically in the past two decades
• The overall rates of physical and sexual abuse of children is down
• The rates of rape/sexual assault and violence against intimate partners in the US is 25% of what it was a couple of decades ago.

We live in an environment where all politics is designed to ramp up fear and outrage. Where our media, both mainstream and Internet, awefulize about nearly everything, where people have short attention spans, and fail to understand nuanced problems.

The current “be afraid” broadcast coverage of San Bernardino is another opportunity to instill fear in the public about mass shootings. It sells commercials, but misinforms the public. The press and most politicians characterize these mass shootings as either the work of misguided crazies if they are Americans, or terrorists if they are not.

And then the media complains about the public’s ignorance, and basks in the fact of peoples’ acceptance of extreme political views, followed by hand-wringing about why people are so angry, frightened and cynical.

Polls show that Americans are afraid of Muslims. A 2014 Pew survey asked Americans to rate various religious groups on a 0 to 100 scale, with a higher score indicating more positive feelings.

• Republicans (including people who lean Republican) gave Muslims a rating of 33, on average — one point lower than atheists and far lower than any other religious group.
• Democrats had more positive feelings toward Muslims, but were still chilly; they gave Muslims an average rating of 47, slightly above atheists and Mormons and below other religious groups.

According to a Public Religion Research Institute poll conducted earlier this year, 77% of Trump supporters believe “the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life,” versus 72% percent of other Republicans, while 43% of Democrats said the same.

After fifteen years of non-stop war against the Muslim world, it may make sense that Americans are insecure about Muslims. But, it is the media, and the 2016 Republican candidates who have ginned up this fear, against the reality of our actual experience.

It shouldn’t be difficult for either the candidates, or the media, to put public safety in a context of the past 20 years.

The facts above show that we are safer than at any time in the last 50 years, but that doesn’t mean we are safe, or that we do not have a problem with potential terrorist acts at home. We do, and we need to be vigilant. We also need to develop better techniques to identify potential domestic terrorists, and to teach citizens how to react in a potentially threatening situation.

Restrictive gun control wouldn’t hurt either.

The quantifiable improvement in crime and homicide rates in particular, should give us some hope that we can do better. But none of that happens unless we chose facts over fear.

Or, if we let fear drive us from our long-held values as a people.

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Is The Second Amendment Now a Security Threat?

San Bernardino brings to the front burner an ignored reality of our open society: Bad guys (and gals) don’t need to use bombs or planes to cause terror in the US; they can use small arms fire in a crowded place. And Mr. Obama, in his Sunday speech, underlined that America was indeed attacked by terrorists, using guns that anyone can purchase at Wal-Mart and thousands of other stores.

This creates an issue for the Second Amendment absolutists. Last week, the epidemic of gun violence in the US transcended being just another crime. Now, it’s become a matter of national security.

Mr. Trump and the other GOP presidential nominee wanna-be’s have been pandering to the fear that terrorists could be among us, in sleeper cells, waiting to spring an attack. In effect, they are saying, “all you terrorists, off my lawn!

But, American voters know that any terrorist, Atheist, Christian or Muslim, can go shopping for guns and ammo, and then be ready to get busy terrorizing. Now it HAS happened here.

And it is a paradigm shift from our efforts to make America safe from terrorists that fly planes into buildings. No matter the size of a 9/11-type catastrophe, we would be crippled emotionally but not economically. But, imagine what the economic consequences would be of a series of attacks on shopping malls (or supermarkets) around Christmas. Who would be brave enough to shop?

An amendment before the Senate last Thursday would have enabled the US Attorney General to deny the issuance of firearms to known or suspected dangerous terrorists, like those on the terrorist watch list.

But Senate Republicans voted against it, and the amendment was defeated. The Republican position is that any citizen has a right to their day in court before those rights can be suspended. Fair enough, but there are only about 8,400 American citizens on the list, so there must be a bigger GOP agenda at work here to torpedo the watch list amendment.

Republicans understand that Democrats could use this vote against them in 2016. They must know that as much as they think that they stand to gain politically from a fearful public, there will be more Planned Parenthood type shooters, and that ANY terrorist attack will be even more proof of the need for gun control as a matter of national security.

If voters can accept the “national security” arguments for limitations on the 2nd Amendment, maybe gun control has a better chance of limiting use of weapons in public places than we think. Perhaps, banning those on the terror watch-list from acquiring guns, an assault rifle ban, and large-capacity magazine ban would make even Republicans feel safer.

From David Atkins at WaMo: (brackets and emphasis by the Wrongologist)

[We have] already made a number of concessions to the clear wording of the 1st and 4th Amendments in the name of national security. The 2nd Amendment is explicit about its call for a well-regulated militia. It’s beyond time that if we as a people are going to be serious enough about stopping terrorism to invade countries halfway around the world…and set up…a mass spying agency against ourselves, we at least take seriously the imperative to regulate the terrorists’ latest weapon of choice…

A major problem is that the meaning of the 2nd Amendment has already been decided by the Supreme Court. SCOTUS has ruled that there is an individual right, unconnected with association with a militia, to possess firearms in the home for purposes of self-defense and that right applies to state regulations as well as federal regulations.

So, walking back recent Supreme Court decisions will be tough. How tough? Well, here is a video of Justice Scalia saying that rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are probably permitted under the 2nd Amendment:

(those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here)

RPGs. A weapon of choice for terrorists. And Scalia thinks it is ok for Americans to own them. Think this guy is going to vote to limit the 2nd Amendment? Doubtful.

Of course, with 300+ million guns already in circulation, it will take decades for gun control to impact public safety, so why even try to do it?

Yet, you can bet that in a few weeks, some Christian we fail to call a terrorist, will shoot up a mosque. After all, how far are we from: “if you see something, shoot something?

Then we can read these arguments all over again.

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