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“If I Only Had A Gun…”: It’s Clear To Me Now, Jewish Civilians With Revolvers And Hunting Rifles Would Have Made All The Difference

Of course. It makes perfect sense. Why couldn’t I see it before?

There could never have been a Holocaust had the Jews been armed. Granted, the Nazis swept aside the armies of Poland and France like dandruff, and it took six years for Great Britain — later joined by Russia and the United States — to grind them down. But surely Jewish civilians with revolvers and hunting rifles would have made all the difference.

Much as I’d love to take credit for that insight, I can’t. No, it comes from presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson in a recent interview with CNN. “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said.

This has become a recurrent theme on the political right, the idea that unarmed victims of violence are to blame for their own troubles. And not just in the Holocaust. Rush Limbaugh said two years ago that if African Americans had been armed, they wouldn’t have needed a Civil Rights Movement. The founder of so-called “Gun Appreciation Day” said, also two years ago, that had the Africans been armed, there could have been no slavery.

There’s more. When nine people recently died at a mass shooting in Oregon, Ted Nugent declared that any unarmed person thus killed is a spineless “loser.” Carson seems to agree. “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” he said. Or, as Clint Eastwood says in Unforgiven when Gene Hackman complains that he just shot an unarmed man: “Well, he should’ve armed himself…”

It’s so clear to me now. Guns don’t take lives, they save them. Guns make everything better. Carson is a surgeon, not an optometrist, but golly gosh, he’s sure opened my eyes.

As a friend recently observed, what if Trayvon Martin had had a gun? Then he could have killed the “creepy-ass cracker” who was stalking him. Surely, the court would have afforded him the same benefit of the doubt they gave George Zimmerman, right?

And what if the men on Titanic had been armed? That tragedy might have had a happier ending:

Iceberg dead ahead!

No time to port around it. Get your guns, men! We’re making ice cubes out of this sucker!

Jack, is that a Colt in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

It’s a Colt, woman. Now, stand aside.

Hey, what if Jesus had been armed?

“Thou wisheth to nail me to what? I think not. Come on, punks. Maketh my day!”

The possibilities are endless. So I’ve taken the liberty of composing a new campaign song for Carson, to the tune of “If I Only Had a Heart” from The Wizard of Oz:

When a man’s an empty holster, no courage does he bolster
No confidence is won
What a difference he’d be makin’, he could finally stop his quakin’
If he only had a gun

He could stand a little straighter with that ultimate persuader
And wouldn’t that be fun?
He could put an end to static with a semiautomatic
If he only had a gun

Can’t you see, how it would be?
Woe would avoid his door
The crazy guy would pass him by
Or else he’d shoot — and shoot some more

Oh, the shootin’ he’d be doin’, and all the ballyhooin’
The way the folks would run
His life would be so merry in a world of open carry
If he only had a gun

If you think Carson might like the song, I would not mind at all if you shared it with him:

What’s that? You think I’ve lost my mind? You’re calling me crazy? Boy, that makes me so mad I can hardly control myself!

If I only had a gun…


By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, October 19, 2015

October 20, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Civil Rights Movement, Gun Violence, Holocaust | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“I Believe That We Can Win”: The Christian Right Has Lost Political And Cultural Influence

Investigative journalist Brad Friedman has observed that America is moving in a progressive direction, despite the mainstream media’s “center-right nation” shibboleth. Despite the obstacles that have been placed in the pathway of progressives, Friedman is correct beyond dispute.

Think back to a decade ago. Same-sex marriage was considered an abomination in large parts of the country. Christian fundamentalists were flexing their muscles as never before. Rush Limbaugh and Fox dominated the American media landscape. The Bush administration had launched a war on climate science. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was gay-bashing his way to national prominence.

Today, marriage equality is the law of the land. The Christian Right has lost political and cultural influence. Limbaugh’s career is in freefall, and Fox may soon follow. Pope Francis has called upon the world to fight for climate justice. As for Romney, well…

The signs of progressive power are everywhere: the growing momentum of Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, the profound failure of the right-wing effort to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, the increasing acceptance of transgender Americans as full and equal citizens, the smashing success of the fossil-fuel divestment movement.

No, we haven’t reached the promised land yet. There are still so many forces of right-wing depravity in our country–some with positions in Congress, some with platforms on cable, some with pistols in churches. Those forces of depravity will not retreat quietly. However, they can and will be defeated.

We’re moving forward. We’re going to make America into what it should have always been all along: a country were any man or woman can rise to the height of his or her potential regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or income; a country where our public schools never have to lack for adequate funding; a country where we don’t shuffle off to war unless we absolutely have to; a country where we recognize the separation of billionaire and state; a country where we look out for future generations by dramatically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions; a country where a woman can exercise her right to choose in peace; a country where maniacs don’t have easy access to guns; a country where knowledge is embraced and ignorance is scorned.

We’re getting there. Yes, it’s been a long road. We’ve had to endure the racist savagery unleashed by the Southern Strategy. We’ve had to endure that force demonic known as Reaganomics. We’ve had to endure an impeachment over an erection and two stolen elections. We’ve had to endure a lie-based war for oil which left innocent blood on Iraqi soil. We’ve had to endure six years of deranged drama from the bigoted enemies of Barack Obama. It’s been a long time coming…but we’re getting there.

We will leave our children and grandchildren a proud progressive country.

We will repair the damage the right wing has inflicted upon our fair land.

We will remedy the injustices that hurt so many of our fellow citizens.

We will declare independence from ignorance and fidelity to fact.

We will move this country forward forever.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 28, 2015

June 29, 2015 Posted by | Christian Right, Marriage Equality, Progressives | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Wingnuts’ Confederate Flag Crisis”: Why They Can’t Admit Who’s Really Responsible For Dixie’s Latest Defeat

Even before eBay followed Walmart, Sears and Amazon’s lead by banning “rebel-flagged” items from its giant virtual yard sale, I realized that what I was watching was not a typical consumer revolt.

The Confederate battle flag — that bellicose assertion of a Southern “heritage” otherwise known as “white supremacy,” that defiant, “fuck you” of a symbol in whose honor the blood of far more than nine people has been shed — it wasn’t suddenly toxic because of last week’s massacre in Charleston. Multinational corporations, and the politicians they keep on retainer, weren’t disowning the flag because of a popular movement. The people hadn’t had the time to organize. The pavement on this road to Damascus was still wet.

Instead, what was actually happening, behind the scenes, wasn’t nearly so romantic. No one was breaking from their usual habits. Everyone, in fact, was doing what they always did. The profit-seeking entities were trying to maximize future earnings; and the state-level politicians were following their demands. This wasn’t a case of the powers-that-be doing something they resented. No one was pushed here; everyone was ready to jump.

Not for the first time in 2015, the conservative movement has found itself on the losing side of a culture war battle it once routinely won. And just as was the case in Indiana, when a petty and combative anti-gay law inspired national boycotts and a business-sector backlash, movement conservatives cannot fathom how liberals aren’t to blame. It’s conservatives, after all, who man the ramparts to protect capitalism and big business. As he was ranting about “the left’s” war on the Confederate flag on Tuesday, one could almost hear Rush Limbaugh transform into Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski,” bellowing, “Has the whole world gone crazy?!”

He wasn’t alone, of course. And despite what you might expect, his tribal loyalty to the “Stars and Bars” (a misnomer, by the way) wasn’t exclusive to conservatives of his age. A young woman at Breitbart was similarly incensed by the flag’s sudden toxicity, blaming a “howling mob of both liberals and brown-nosing conservatives” for Amazon’s betrayal of the Confederacy’s trademark. A Generation X editor at the Federalist railed against the media for asking businesses if they planned to stop selling the flag, calling it “heretic hunting” and activism disguised as reporting. An evidently impatient colleague of hers took it one step further, likening calls against romanticizing the Confederacy to the Nazi regime.

As these spasms of inchoate rage overtook movement conservatives, it was almost funny how desperate they were to find someone — anyone — besides capitalists to blame. Bill Kristol, the self-styled Hébert of neoconservatism, trolled his way to sophomoric analogies involving a Cliff Notes version of the French Revolution; and then tumbled into the 19th century, saying,“today’s liberals would surely have been Copperheads.” One of the lesser lights at Hot Air, Michelle Malkin’s former haunt, provided a nice example of the “whataboutism” that became widespread on the right, asking no one in particular how the Confederacy could be bad so long as angsty teenagers still thought Che Guevara was cool?

Beneath their caterwauling and free-floating resentment, though, conservatives evinced a level of disorientation and fear that was in some ways sympathetic. It was like watching a millenarian sect discover the new Jerusalem was actually a suburban cul-de-sac. If liberals could not be blamed for this new dishonor, if it wasn’t liberals’ fault that the cultural norms of 2015 and 1995 were no longer the same, then what was the answer? Lefties might note how, under capitalism, “[a]ll that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned,” and say that the signifiers of the Confederacy were no different. But that’s of little to use to those who’d describe President Obama as a Bolshevik.

Yet for all the right’s professed belief in “common sense,” the reason why businesses were, metaphorically, setting the flag to the flame continued to elude conservatives, even when it was staring them in the face. As CNN, the Associated Press and others reported, the Amazons, eBays, Sears and Walmarts of the world weren’t acting out of fear or sentiment. Their motivations were straightforward, cold, and rational. Walmart wants to shed its reputation as a Red State phenomenon; Sears wants to prove it’s not exclusively for dads; Amazon’s politics are, if anything, probably “liberaltarian”; and it’s hard to imagine eBay’s pro-Confederate market was ever that big.

All of these companies, and the others like them surely to follow, were simply looking at the future; and what they saw was an America where a business implicitly legitimizing the flag had more to lose than to gain. As Jonathan Chait rightly argued, an old understanding of what it means to be American — an understanding profoundly bound to a certain definition of whiteness and constructed on a foundation of racist, revisionist history — is fading. “I know we’re going to lose eventually,” one pro-Confederate South Carolinian told the New York Times. His ranks, and the influence of his kind on the American mainstream, shrink a little more every day.


By: Elias Isquith, Staff Writer, Salon, June 25, 2015

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Businesses, Confederate Flag, White Supremacy | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Consistently Stirring Up Racial Animus”: Right Wing Media And Their “Racialized Political Fodder”

In what is purported to be Dylann Roof’s “manifesto,” he writes that this is where it all began:

The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Reading that reminded me of how Ta-Nehisi Coates meticulously laid out the process by which the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman became “racialized political fodder” for right wing media.

The reaction to the tragedy was, at first, trans-partisan. Conservatives either said nothing or offered tepid support for a full investigation—and in fact it was the Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who appointed the special prosecutor who ultimately charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. As civil-rights activists descended on Florida, National Review, a magazine that once opposed integration, ran a column proclaiming “Al Sharpton Is Right.” The belief that a young man should be able to go to the store for Skittles and an iced tea and not be killed by a neighborhood watch patroller seemed uncontroversial…

The moment Obama spoke, the case of Trayvon Martin passed out of its national-mourning phase and lapsed into something darker and more familiar—racialized political fodder. The illusion of consensus crumbled. Rush Limbaugh denounced Obama’s claim of empathy. The Daily Caller, a conservative Web site, broadcast all of Martin’s tweets, the most loutish of which revealed him to have committed the unpardonable sin of speaking like a 17-year-old boy. A white supremacist site called Stormfront produced a photo of Martin with pants sagging, flipping the bird. Business Insider posted the photograph and took it down without apology when it was revealed to be a fake.

Newt Gingrich pounced on Obama’s comments: “Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be okay because it wouldn’t look like him?” Reverting to form, National Review decided the real problem was that we were interested in the deaths of black youths only when nonblacks pulled the trigger. John Derbyshire, writing for Taki’s Magazine, an iconoclastic libertarian publication, composed a racist advice column for his children inspired by the Martin affair. (Among Derbyshire’s tips: never help black people in any kind of distress; avoid large gatherings of black people; cultivate black friends to shield yourself from charges of racism.)

The notion that Zimmerman might be the real victim began seeping out into the country, aided by PR efforts by his family and legal team…In April, when Zimmerman set up a Web site to collect donations for his defense, he raised more than $200,000 in two weeks, before his lawyer asked that he close the site and launched a new, independently managed legal-defense fund…

…Before President Obama spoke, the death of Trayvon Martin was generally regarded as a national tragedy. After Obama spoke, Martin became material for an Internet vendor flogging paper gun-range targets that mimicked his hoodie and his bag of Skittles… Before the president spoke, George Zimmerman was arguably the most reviled man in America. After the president spoke, Zimmerman became the patron saint of those who believe that an apt history of racism begins with Tawana Brawley and ends with the Duke lacrosse team.

There you have it, folks. Because President Obama simply said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” the right wing media in this country went into a frenzy. That’s when they got Roof’s attention. The rest was up to the white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Dylann Storm Roof is certainly responsible for his own horrific actions this past week. But we can’t ignore the way the right wing media has consistently stirred up racial animus amongst their viewers/listeners at every turn over the last seven years.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 20, 2015

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Council of Conservative Citizens, Racism, Right Wing Media, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Frenzy Of Ignorance And Indignation”: Scandal? Knowing Zero About Clinton Foundation, Indignant Pundits Blather

A very strange thing has happened to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Suddenly, journalists who never paid the least attention to the foundation’s work over the past decade or so — and seemed content to let the Clintons and their associates try to do some good in the world — proclaim their concern about its finances, transparency and efficiency. Commentators with very little knowledge of any of the foundation’s programs, who are indeed unable to distinguish the Clinton Global Initiative from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, confidently denounce the entire operation as suspect.

What provoked this frenzy of ignorance and indignation, of course, is the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States. Partisan adversaries of the former Secretary of State have been working overtime, subsidized by millions of dollars in Republican “dark money,” to construct a conspiratorial narrative that transforms her husband’s good works into dirty deals. (Transparency is evidently required of the Clintons, but not of their critics.)

The main product of that effort, delivered by media mogul Rupert Murdoch amid a din of promotion in mainstream and right-wing media, is of course Clinton Cash, authored by a former Bush speechwriter named Peter Schweizer.

Compressing lengthy timelines, blurring important distinctions, and sometimes simply inventing false “facts,” Schweizer has attempted to transform the Clinton Foundation from an innovative, successful humanitarian organization into a sham institution that sells public favors for private gain.

While many of Schweizer’s most glaring accusations have been thoroughly debunked already — notably concerning the uranium-mining firm once partly owned by a major foundation donor — amplified echoes of his “corruption” meme are damaging nevertheless. Various media figures who have long hated the Clintons, from Rush Limbaugh to David Frum, feel liberated to utter any outrageous accusation, however distorted or dishonest.

But as so often has proved true when such individuals start screaming “scandal” and “Clinton” in the same breath, the sane response is to take a deep breath, suspend judgment and examine relevant facts.

Appearing on a recent National Public Radio broadcast with me, Frum asserted that the foundation spends far too much on air travel and other expenses. The same philanthropic impact could have been achieved, said Frum, if Bill Clinton had merely “joined the International Red Cross” after leaving the White House.

While Frum doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that won’t stop him chattering for a second. Among the significant achievements of the Clinton Foundation was to build a system that has drastically reduced the cost of providing treatment for AIDS and other diseases across Africa, the Caribbean and in other less-developed countries, saving and improving millions of lives. Bringing together major donors, including wealthy nations like Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the leaders of poor nations to create these programs, he helped turn back a disease that once threatened to infect 100 million people globally. That effort required many hours of air travel by him and his aides — and many visits to extremely uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, places in which Frum will never set an expensively shod foot.

Like Limbaugh, Frum has claimed that the Clinton Foundation wastes enormous resources while concealing its donors and expenditures from a gullible public. The truth, attested by expert authorities on nonprofit and charitable organizations, is that the foundation spends (and raises) its funds with commendable efficiency — and it has posted far more detailed information, including the names of 300,000-plus donors, than federal tax law requires.

Did the foundation’s staff commit errors during the past 15 years or so? Undoubtedly. Could its operations be more efficient, more effective, more transparent? Of course — but its record is outstanding and its activities have done more good for more people than Frum, Limbaugh, Schweizer, the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch would achieve in 10,000 lifetimes.

Why don’t these furious critics care about basic facts? It may be unfair to assume that in pursuit of their political agenda, they are indifferent to millions of Africans dying of HIV or malaria. Yet they do seem perfectly willing to hinder an important and useful effort against human suffering.

When you hear loud braying about the Clinton Foundation, pause to remember that two decades ago, these same pundits (and newspapers) insisted that Whitewater was a huge and terrible scandal. Indeed, Limbaugh even insinuated on the radio that Hillary Clinton had murdered Vince Foster, a friend and White House staffer who tragically committed suicide. Politicians and prosecutors spent more than $70 million on official investigations of that ill-fated real estate investment, loudly proclaiming the Clintons guilty of something, before we finally discovered there was no scandal at all. Talk about waste!

So perhaps this time, with all due respect for the vital work of the Clinton Foundation, we should assume innocence until someone produces credible evidence of wrongdoing.


By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, May 13, 2015

May 14, 2015 Posted by | Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton, Journalism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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