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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 18, 2018

Friday brought Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians for “information warfare against the United States of America“. The best part was that the special counsel’s work was totally under the radar, and there were zero leaks.

And thus far, nobody on the right is claiming Mueller’s indictments are “fake news”.

One interesting takeaway was that Russian cells were formed to establish phony Facebook, Twitter and other accounts that pushed divisive politics in the US. We already knew this, but we didn’t know specifics: At one point, a supposed Islamophobic group protested outside a Texas mosque, and it was met by a pro-Muslim counter-demonstration. Both demonstrations were called for by fake Russian sites. These sites eventually had hundreds of thousands of followers. They spread false memes, including that Clinton supported Sharia law.

Russian sites that were disguised as a part of the Black Lives Matter movement argued that African-Americans should not vote. While it is impossible to show cause and effect, Clinton underperformed with Black voters.

The jury is still out on the extent of Russian influence, and we may never know if it mattered. Still, it is way past time for the Democratic Party to own up to its own failures, rather than continually blaming the Russians, Bernie Sanders, the Green Party, or the deplorables.

After Mueller indictments, Trump and friends now have some ‘splaining to do:

Mitch, Paul and the rest of the GOP think they have zero responsibility for gun violence:

The issue is always the guns:

American Exceptionalism was on display again last week:

Pledge of Allegiance needs new words:

Blockbuster Black Panther movie may help beyond entertaining us:

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Too Many Guns

The Daily Escape:

“Don’t tell me tomorrow isn’t the appropriate time to debate gun violence. If you’re a political leader doing nothing about this slaughter, you’re an accomplice.” – Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Can we get politicians to deal with gun violence? Politicians like to reframe the problem, like saying that we need more “good people” with guns. But, there were two armed police officers stationed at the Parkland FL school. Upon hearing that, the gun absolutists might argue: “If only the teachers and students had their own weapons, it probably would have worked out just fine…

At Trump’s inaugural, in the “American Carnage” portion of his speech, he said that “Your child isn’t going to be shot” on his watch. But after 18 shootings just this year, it’s clear that Trump has no plan to stop gun violence. Attacks like this can’t be eliminated, but Trump could have done something, other than blame the students and neighbors who didn’t turn the shooter in. That, and last year, he made it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns.

And we are getting numb. The LA Times editorial asks: (emphasis by Wrongo)

When does an epidemic stop being an epidemic and become just a basic part of regular life? It’s been 19 years since the nation was horrified by the carnage at Columbine in suburban Denver. It’s been just over five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Quick: What was the most recent mass shooting incident (at least four wounded) at a school before the one on Wednesday? Here’s the sick part: There have been so many school shootings that it takes a bit of work to answer what should be an easy question.

Who remembers clearly the particulars of the last school shooting? Not Wrongo, and probably not you. We have grown weary of being outraged after so many shootings. We’ve become numb to the sensations of outrage and pain for the victims and their families. It’s official. Guns have more rights than humans in our 21st Century America.

We have to control guns if we want to turn the tide. Consider this chart from the Tewkesbury Lab that graphs gun deaths by gun ownership:

There is a clear relationship between gun access and gun violence, and the US clearly has the most gun violence and the most guns. We might ask why some countries are above the trend line, and others are below it. When your country is above the line, your citizens not only own more guns per capita, they also have a harder time keeping their guns pointed away from other people.

Trump and Congress should have a goal of minimizing the risk of gun deaths. The best way to accomplish this is reducing access to guns. If you want to reduce your personal risk from gun related violence, you can move to a state or a country where gun laws are stricter and cultural norms surrounding guns are more progressive.

If you can’t or don’t want to move, you need to work to pass stricter gun laws where you live.

Politicians can argue about details, but the fundamentals are clear. It is like smoking. If you want to reduce smoking, you make it harder and more expensive to smoke. Only the tobacco industry and the politicians they had purchased really argued with that logic.

Why should it be different with guns?

We are unique in our worship of guns. The Second Amendment provides a big blanket of excuse for gun lovers to wrap themselves in, but Second Amendment rights shouldn’t be superior to the right of your kid to return home from school alive.

We need to control the number of guns. We need to make sure guns are being used for the right reason eg. hunting. My friend hunts and he told me about long range scopes reviewed, I can see why people enjoy shooting as a hobby but guns can also be very dangerous. Special care needs to be taken with guns. We also need to figure out how to change our acceptance and glorification of violence. It is young men like the kid who killed 17 in Parkland FL, who avoid mental health advice, because they don’t want to look weak. They are the same ones who are perpetually angry. They pick up a gun, and they let their gun do some punishing. And guns do that quickly and efficiently.

We have to stop them. Republicans are owned by the NRA. So first, we need to regain control of the House and Senate. We also need to have the gun control legislation ready for when that time comes.

We need better ad campaigns ads that spell out about what America loses with every shooting.

We can’t stop every wacko from harming people, but we can sharply reduce the percentage of wackos that have guns!

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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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Saturday Soother – June 17, 2017

The Daily Escape:

Mt. Fuji, Japan- photo by Takashi Yasui

The news and the pundits are non-stop in their analysis of the shooting in DC that critically wounded Republican Congressman Steve Scalise and 3 others. Much has been written, but Wrongo likes what Charlie Pierce wrote the best:

Violence doesn’t “intrude” on everyday life in America. Violence is a part of everyday life in America. A little more than a week ago, five people were shot to death in warehouse in Orlando. Is a warehouse in Orlando less innocent than a Virginia ballfield? Is a disgruntled worker taking his mad vengeance less of a demonstration of a country unhinged than a home-inspection specialist who fried his brain over politics? Is somebody who wounds over politics a worse murderer than someone who kills because he got fired? I admire the ability of anyone who can make that measured a moral choice.

On the whole, people shouldn’t get shot. They shouldn’t get shot in the streets. They shouldn’t get shot in school. They shouldn’t get shot in the workplace. They shouldn’t get shot while carrying snack food in the “wrong” neighborhood, and they shouldn’t get shot while they’re trying to surrender. They shouldn’t get shot while dancing in a nightclub. And they shouldn’t get shot on the ballfield on a spring morning.

In the main, one victim is not more “innocent”—and, thus, of more value—than any other one. Their occupation shouldn’t matter. Their politics shouldn’t matter. There is a violence inherent in the country’s history and there is a wildness present in its soul and, on occasion, both of these surface more clearly than is usual. Technology has made the violence more lethal and the wildness more general. The uniquely American conflation of innocence with hubris is a luxury we can no longer afford.

OTOH, according to Heather Digby Parton:

Meanwhile, 93 people on average are shot and killed every day in America, many of them in incidents involving multiple victims. More than 100,000 people are struck by bullets every year. President Donald Trump was right to speak about “carnage” in America in his inaugural address. He just didn’t acknowledge that the carnage is from gun violence. According to the gun safety website The Trace:

Using data from the World Health Organization, researchers found that America accounted for 82 percent of all firearm deaths among 23 comparable nations in 2010. Ninety percent of women killed by guns in the study were in the U.S., as were 91 percent of children under 15.

There is no solution for this that will fly politically in this country. The gun-toter, and the no guns crowds are already spinning their version of the narrative to the crowd that sits in the pews directly in front of them.

America just has to accept that this is perhaps the most concrete way in which America is exceptional, and, it.just.sucks.

It is difficult to get to a soothing place on this Saturday, with all that has happened. Also, my brother died a year ago this week. Back in the late 1970’s he was (very) down on his luck, and each weekend, he would come to visit Ms. Right and me to get fattened up for the coming week. He would walk into the house, grab the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and play its opening track, Funeral for a Friend”. There would be no talking until 11 minutes later when it ended:

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

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Make America Safe?

Wrongo has tried hard not to write again about the murderous and divisive actions taken against police over the past few weeks, but it seems impossible. From the NYT:

The twin attacks — three officers dead Sunday in Baton Rouge, five killed on July 7 in Dallas, along with at least 12 injured over all — have set off a period of fear, anguish and confusion among the nation’s 900,000 state and local law enforcement officers. Even the most hardened veterans call this one of the most charged moments of policing they have experienced.

Never one to let bad news pass without blaming, the Pant Suit criticized President Obama’s response:

FireShot Screen Capture #104 - Trump

Monday kicked off the GOP Convention. The theme for the first day is “Make America Safe Again”. In case you thought that despite the recent spate of cop killings, you live in one of the safest places on earth, the Trump team is out to scare you up good.

The central theme of Trump’s campaign is that he plans to protect you: From scary Islamic terrorists, from scary immigrants who steal jobs, rape and pillage, and from scary black men with guns.

This resonates with many Republicans who are in the grip of overpowering nostalgia for the1950’s. Republicans see this as a time of stable marriages, respect for authority and economic dynamism. They are not alone: Democrats see it as a time when most men could leave high school and walk into a well-paid job, with pension and health-care benefits, which would allow them to support a family and retire comfortably.

There was much to like about this era of 25₵ gallons of gas, sport coats and cars with tail fins, but it is far from the whole story. It forgets the specter of nuclear annihilation that was ever-present. It forgets that women had little chance of a career beyond the typists’ pool, or that society forced African-Americans to the back of the bus.

Feminism, the civil-rights movement and economic progress in other countries swung a wrecking-ball at the society of the 1950s. But, to regret its collapse, as many Tea Partiers and Republicans do, is also to wish those improvements had never happened, which is absurd. Life was NOT good for the working person in the 1930s and 1940s. Even in the halcyon days of the 1950s -1970s, life was not good for women, people of color, gay people, and others.

Republicans see our politics and our culture decaying, so we see the sharpening Trump “law and order” rhetoric, and the success of the Tea Party in setting our national political agenda.

An alternative view to Trump’s is that Obama’s eulogy for five Dallas police officers a week ago was an eloquent plea to Americans to acquire “a new heart” – a new empathy toward others across the racial divide. And rarely has a president talked so bluntly about the limits of his ability to bring about the changes he seeks. Mr. Obama:

It is as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened…Faced with this violence, we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged…We must reject such despair…I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been…I confess that sometimes I, too, experience doubt.

In an era of partisan polarization, the problem isn’t merely a deficit of leaders capable of binding us together; it’s a shortage of citizens willing to listen. According to the Pew Research Center, only 14% of Republicans approve of Obama’s conduct, compared with 80% of Democrats. That’s a record high in polarization – except that the previous record held by George W. Bush, who was supported by only 23% of Democrats. Trump is exploiting that.

When we zoom out from the “Make America Safe Again” meme, we remain in a competition between divergent views. We will not even start on the road to consensus until two conditions are met:

  • Our solutions strive for the preservation of a value called “the greater good”.
  • Our solutions rely on the preservation of a value called “in good faith”.

We have never changed ethics by legislation, although we can impact behavior.  What we have to change is whether or not we as a society will accept the greater good and good faith as inextricable parts of our society.

But as long as there are those among us who can defend the rights of people to use a weapon of war to kill policemen and children, or people who threaten the careers of the elected representatives who stand up to them, we will be seeing this happen again and again, and we’ll be stuck asking the same questions over and over.

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Our Thin-Skinned Blue Line

When we see each other as enemies, we are the Middle East, and we can no longer work together for the common good. Consider what happened last week at a Minnesota WNBA basketball game:

Four off-duty Minneapolis police officers working the Minnesota Lynx game at Target Center on Saturday night walked off the job after the players held a news conference denouncing racial profiling, then wore Black Lives Matter pregame warm-up jerseys.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, praised the officers walk out:

I commend them for it… If [the WNBA players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.

What is lost in the police union grandstanding was that the Lynx jerseys in question read “Change starts with us, justice and accountability” and on the back had Philando Castile’s and Alton Sterling’s names along with “Black Lives Matter” and the Dallas Police Department shield. How is that seen as anti-cop? This highlights how thin-skinned police forces around the US are whenever criticism emerges about bad policing.

But what can be done?

The most recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics quadrennial “Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008” shows that there are 17,985 state and local law enforcement agencies with at least one full-time officer or the part-time equivalent in the US. All of them are managed by local, county or state governments, and the majority of police are members of a local union. Wrongo is not anti-union, but the social identity of being in law enforcement cultivates a code of unduly protecting members, hiding evidence, and blindly supporting the position of other officers simply because of their collective identity. The “Blue Wall of Silence” around cops is the excuse to cover up bad behavior in the face of investigation.

Creating an equivalency between #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter is wrong. Consider this thought from Jonathan Russell, Professor and Chaplain at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture:  (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

A black life is a life under the threat of social death, a social life constituted by precarity and the potential of imminent death…Blue lives have no analogous history, no precarious location from which their collective lives need recovery…Blue lives are not…living under conditions similar to black life. It is the history of black lives not mattering that gives meaning to the hashtag. Blue lives have no such analogous history.

Russell goes on to say:

Blue lives have always mattered, present and past. Their experience of social space is (for the most part) one of…deferential treatment… It is profoundly misrepresentative and disrespectful to develop an analogous hashtag, as if blue lives have an analogous experience of social life in America as black lives have. This hashtag is wrong in so much as it connotes that the lives of law enforcement officers have failed to matter sufficiently in the broader public consciousness.

For the umbrage-takers out there, relax. Wrongo isn’t saying that cops don’t deserve respect, they do. He thinks that cops have a tough job, and that we must mourn any cop killed on the job. But, we can’t be blind to the power of this confrontation between #Blue and #Black to tear us apart.

Here is ginandtacos: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

I keep holding out hope that we will learn something from this, that police can say to themselves “All those Dallas officers wanted was to do their job and go home alive at the end of the day” and have some moment of inspired transference wherein they realize that every black person they pull over in a traffic stop wants the same...

More from ginandtacos:

If most cops are good cops as we are repeatedly told – and statistically that’s true, as most departments have a few officers who account for the majority of complaints – then it is time for the Good Cops to stop participating silently in a broken system. It’s time for Good Cops to do something about Bad Cops.

Is this realistic, given the Blue Wall of Silence and the power of the police unions, who go ballistic at the merest hint of criticism? Politicians who criticize their PDs are seen as “weak on crime.” However, when police unions are part of any decision to fire a cop, what is the alternative? Two additional considerations:

  • An armed society makes for nervous and trigger-happy law enforcement officers.
  • Police have an expectation of immediate and absolute compliance with every command. Anything less is deemed justification for using force.

Fixing all of this will take action on multiple fronts. We have to soften the Blue Code. We need to see fewer guns on the street. We need to reform police protocols.

We need to talk to each other.

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Our National Trauma Wake Up Call – July 11, 2016

It didn’t take long after five dead officers in Dallas, victims of a racially motivated killer, for some on the right to say “Its Obama’s fault”, or “Its Black Lives Matter’s fault”.

Here is a sentiment that you would hope that all Americans can agree on:

FireShot Screen Capture #100 - EM Simpson-page-001

From Evan Osnos:

It is a vision at the heart of the modern gun movement: the more that society makes the threat of violence available to us, the safer we will be. In forty-eight hours this week, the poisonous flaw in that fantasy has been exposed from multiple angles…

Wrongo hasn’t seen the videos, and hasn’t checked deeply into the circumstances, but he can’t seem to keep these incidents at arm’s length:

  • The Baton Rouge incident seems to have been the result of panic among the police who shot the victim repeatedly, even though the victim was pinned down on the ground.
  • The Minnesota shooting of a man halted for a traffic violation, who informed the policeman that he was armed and had a permit for concealed carry of a firearm, again may have been the result of fear and/or panic by the cop. The victim was shot several times while trying to pull his identification from a pants pocket.
  • The attack on Dallas police, in which five policemen died, and seven were wounded, seems to be a racially motivated revenge killing by a black shooter.

Needless to say, we need people on both sides of the Black/Blue Lives Matter argument to stand down. Cooler heads need to prevail. There are probably many cops who are not in possession of the nerves of steel needed for their jobs in 2016. Policing America today is no cakewalk. Everybody has a gun, most people are angry, and many have very low points of frustration.

FWIW, these violent episodes are partly a reflection of the larger struggle reflected in our national politics. There is a palpable dissatisfaction with how our country operates. The accumulation of money and power by people controlling our institutions has brought us an elite that no longer operates in the best interests of the population at large.

Some of this frustration and anger is played out with gunfire, and guns are everywhere.

The past week shows clearly that America’s police and America’s black citizens are at odds. During the day or so after Baton Rouge and Minnesota, there was an opportunity to step back and perhaps discuss what we might have learned from these killings. But the shooter in Dallas muddied the bigger picture, making revenge the story in our national news.

Leonard Pitts, Jr. in the Miami Herald quotes former NYC Mayor John Lindsay at another time of racial division:

This is a drifting, angry America that needs to find its way again.

This week feels like a sea change. Until now, neither killings by police, nor killings of police have been happening at unusual rates. This feels completely different, but we won’t be sure for a while.

More from Leonard Pitts:

There is a sickness afoot in our country, my friends, a putrefaction of the soul, a rottenness in the spirit. Consider our politics. Consider the way we talk about one another — and to one another. Consider those two dead black men. Consider those five massacred cops…Deny it if you can. I sure can’t. Something is wrong with us. And I don’t mind telling you that I fear for my country.

Let’s meditate on this from Dr. MLK, Jr.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

We always have a wake-up tune on Monday. Here is Ben Harper with “Call It What It Is”:

Sample Lyrics:

Government ain’t easy

Policing ain’t easy

Hard times ain’t easy

Oppression ain’t easy

Racism ain’t easy

Fear ain’t easy

Suffering ain’t easy

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

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 10, 2105

Our Havanese dog Bandit lost his fight with an autoimmune disease at age 15 this past Tuesday:

DSCN5103

Gonna miss him terribly.

Turning to other news, what does the Dallas attack against police mean for the rest of this American summer? As Mark Shields said on PBS, “events are in the saddle”, and there is a distinct feeling that our leadership is not only not in control, but they have no answers.

No one knows what the reaction will be to New Orleans, Minneapolis and Dallas:

COW Dallas Reaction 2

Despite all we know, we can’t escape our need for Gunz:

Culture of Violence

Some truths demand an explanation:

COW Broken Tail Light

Our satellite in orbit around the giant gas planet Jupiter found something horrifying:

COW Gaseous Titan

The Brits waited seven years for the Chilcot report on Tony Blair’s role in the Iraq War:

COW Chillicot Report.gif

Really, is W. sorry? Maybe he’s sorry he got 4500 American soldiers killed, and another 32,000 wounded. And unknown numbers of American military damaged mentally. Or, that the Middle East is totally destabilized. Or, that our economy crashed. Or, that the country is totally polarized. Maybe he’s sorry, but that’s highly doubtful.

You know, it was OKAY  because a Republican did it.

That’s the mission he accomplished.

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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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