Thursday, June 23, 2022

More guns.

As the Supremes continue to take America closer to being a Christofascist state, it is important to read articles like the following from Tom Nichols ----writing for The Atlantic, to get a grasp of where we are heading as a country. I am afraid this trend will continue for awhile, because these Justices are still relatively young, and they have lifetime appointments. 

Just remember to vote next time. Elections have consequences. 

"I used to think of myself as a gun-control conservative—I supported both the right to own firearms and the interest of the state to limit that right—but America’s gun culture isn’t about rights. It’s about performative insecurity.

Back in 1959, the country singer Marty Robbins wrote a ballad about a murderous outlaw who met his well-deserved end at the hands of a handsome young Arizona Ranger who was carrying the “Big Iron on his hip.” (The song was supposedly inspired by a weapon Robbins saw in a shop, but there is some question about whether the Big Iron was a real gun.)

It’s a great song. But it wasn’t supposed to be a guide to life in modern America.

I don’t have the energy or expertise to debate whether the Supreme Court should have taken on the case of a New York State law that limited the ability to carry weapons around in public. Honestly, I just assume that many declines in the quality of American life for the foreseeable future will be announced with “In a 6–3 decision …” Elections have consequences, and with the current composition of the Court, this decision was inevitable.

The problem is not the Court’s decision. The problem is an adolescent, drama-laden gun culture, a romance with weapons that became extreme only in the past quarter century.

It didn’t used to be this way. I grew up around guns; my father had been a police officer, and we had two of them. My older half-brother, who lived a few streets away, was a police officer. Our next-door neighbor was a police officer. My hometown was a military town, and almost all of the men I knew were veterans who owned weapons and knew how to handle them. (There were some female veterans too. My mother, for one.)

What I remember about guns is that I remember almost nothing about guns. People owned them; they didn’t talk about them. They didn’t cover their cars in bumper stickers about them, they didn’t fly flags about them, they didn’t pose for dumb pictures with them. (I’ll plead one personal exemption: When I was a little boy, relatives in Greece once posed me in a Greek Evzone-soldier costume with my uncle’s hunting shotgun. I could barely lift it.)

Today, there is a neediness in the gun culture that speaks to deep insecurities among a certain kind of American citizen. The gun owners I knew—cops, veterans, hunters, sportsmen—owned guns as part of their life, sometimes as tools, sometimes for recreation. Gun ownership was not the central and defining feature of their life.

Don’t take my word for it that things have changed. Here’s Ryan Busse, a former gun-company executive who has now taken on his former industry, talking about the day someone showed up to a hunting party with an AR-15:

The unwritten rules of decency were enforced by firearm-industry leaders … I witnessed how this worked many times, including one occasion when a young writer brought his own AR-15 to a hunting event I was hosting in 2004. The senior figures there responded immediately. “That’s not the kind of thing we want to be promoting,” they said. The newcomer was shamed into locking the gun up for the rest of the event.

This kind of affirmation of cultural norms can be a lot more powerful than any law, and I suspect that the gun-culture extremists know it. They head off expressions of this kind of social disapproval by being aggressive and performative, daring anyone to criticize them for feeling the need to be armed while getting milk and eggs at the supermarket.

I have always trusted my fellow citizens with weapons. Now the most vocal advocates for unfettered gun ownership are men sitting in their cars in sunglasses and baseball caps, recording themselves as they dump unhinged rants into their phones about their rights and conspiracies and socialism.

The Supreme Court has now affirmed that all these guys can be the handsome ranger with the Big Iron on their hip. You can be angry with the Court for furthering and enabling this weirdness, but it’s not the Court’s fault. It is, as usual, our fault, as voters and citizens, for tolerating a culture that is endangering our fellow Americans instead of insisting that all of us exercise our constitutional rights like responsible adults." [Source] 

I have a slightly different take than Mr. Nichols, as I do put a little  more blame on the folks making the laws.  But I agree with his overall sentiment: This pseudo macho culture (mostly angry white men who want to make up for deficiencies in other areas, and young urban terrorist who measure their worth by the weapons they use) that has enveloped our society, will only cause things to get worse from here.  



Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Add climate change to our list of problems.

Still don't believe that climate change is real? 

Well, if you have been living in the FOX NEWS bubble over the past few years, you might still believe that it's all just a hoax. 

I hate to break it to you, but  if you do, you're in for a big surprise. 

The following is portions of an article from the Zinn Education Project: 

"If you have been reading the news or watching Democracy Now!, you have seen how climate chaos is crashing through the world:

Over 100 million people are under heat advisories in the United States as an early-season heat wave continues to break records from the Southwest to the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, firefighters are battling more than three dozen uncontained fires.

In Iraq, a massive dust storm hospitalized more than 5,000 people with respiratory ailments, in the latest of seven terrible dust storms to hit that country in just the last month. Temperatures in the Middle East and Central Asia have already soared to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

In Montana, record flooding has forced the closing of all five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Roads and bridges in the area have been washed away. Flood levels on the Yellowstone River are now beyond record levels.

Pakistan and India just suffered through their hottest April in a century of record-keeping, with temperatures reaching more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of South Asia, resulting in misery for millions in that region.[Source]   

As if we don't have enough to worry about. 


Image from the University of Exeter. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Just in case.

 I practiced criminal law in Philly for a long time, and during that time I represented some... let's just say... people who who most of us would consider less than upstanding citizens. 

Lately I have been thinking a lot about some of my experiences. 

One particular memory has been standing out more than most. The time I went into a "rough" neighborhood--- even by Philly's standards--- to see a client and collect some cash from him. I never worried about how dangerous the neighborhoods I visited  were, because somehow I always thought that the people I represented, and the cred of being a criminal lawyer, would protect me. This time, though, I felt uneasy. It probably had something to do with how much cash I had on me at the time. A youngster (who couldn't have been more than sixteen) and his pal approached me before I got into my car. They didn't look particularly threatening, and, as it turned out, they knew who I was and just wanted to make small talk. "You a "lawyer, right?" He looked even younger up close. I told him I was. " You got your  fire with you?" I knew he was referring to a gun, and I told him no. I told him something to the effect that I didn't think that I needed one among my own people. He laughed and flashed what looked like a 9mm Glock so I could see it. "I always keep mine Mr Lawyer, just in case". He laughed again and walked off with his friend. I didn't even want to think about where his life was heading. I am pretty sure that he is either dead or in jail now.

The more I read and hear about the carnage on the streets of Philadelphia and other major American cities, the more I think about that encounter with that youngster in North Philadelphia some fifteen years ago. Guns are still everywhere, and every sixteen year old in North Philadelphia who wants a gun can get one. And not just any gun, a really powerful one; like a 9mm Glock.

There are a lot of reasons for these urban terrorists terrorizing each other and law abiding citizens. I could could go on and on about their broken homes, poor school systems, toxic masculinity, and societal failures that have done nothing to address the root causes of poverty. But the quickest way to reduce gun violence in the streets is to make guns less available. It's really not rocket science. And  I know that it's easier said than done, but we have to say it so that we can at least start somewhere. 

Philly made national news again for all the wrong reasons this past weekend.  Knuckleheads on South Street started brawling, and rather than fight with their fists, they chose to settle their differences with their guns. And of course, they all had their guns, because every young punk in Philly either has one, or knows how to get one. They are not in the NRA, and they were not trained in proper gun safety or how to shoot. So when they start beefing amongst  each other and reach for their "fire",  people die, and chaos ensues. 

"I always keep mine Mr. Lawyer, just in case".

*Image from www 

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Where are our "allies"?


And now I bring you the following article from Candice McDuffie, writing for The Root. 

It's still relevant, although you would never know it, because it seems that Buffalo happened so long ago.

"It’s been nine days since 13 people were gunned down—10 of them fatally—at the Buffalo supermarket Tops in the heart of a Black community. The white male terrorist behind it, Payton Gendron, published a manifesto online outlining his hatred of Black people and every step of his plan to kill them just days before the massacre.