Tag Archives: Denial

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Mass Shootings Are The New Normal. Get Over It.

What is wrong with Americans?

Okay, that’s a very open-ended question with many potential answers.

What I’d like to talk about this time is: why is it that Americans only begin to get serious about a problem after it’s too late to solve it?

Currently, I’m thinking about the latest, depressingly predictable response to the Orlando massacre.

As usual, right-wingers like Donald Trump want to restrict immigration. But even setting aside the obvious moral and practical economic objections to nativism, how would that prevent future mass shootings (in part) in the name of the Islamic State? Orlando shooter Omar Nateen wasn’t an immigrant. He was born in Queens, New York; his parents were from Afghanistan. If the Republicans’ goal is to get rid of potentially self radicalized Muslims, it’s too late. There are 3.3 million Muslims in the United States. Many are full-fledged citizens.

Any group of people that numbers in the millions includes some who are mentally ill, some who are politically radical, some who are religious fundamentalists, and some who are some combination of all three. Since it’s illegal to deport U.S. citizens, millions of whom are Muslim, a few of whom are crazy – and the United States insists on pursuing an endless “war on terror” against Muslim countries – there’s no way that a policy of reduced immigration can prevent future attacks by homegrown Islamists.

On what passes for a Left, Democrats like Hillary Clinton are pushing for tighter restrictions on guns. As usual.

Indeed, it’s hard to argue that civilians require military grade weapons like the semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle used to kill 49 people at the Pulse nightclub. Hunters don’t use them. If the AR-15 is legal, why not hand grenades? Had Nateen been forced to use a pistol or long gun instead, his bullets would have been smaller, the death toll lower. Some of his victims might have been able to overpower him as he tried to reload.

Here again, however, it’s too late to fix the problem. The cat is out of the bag. Two years ago, the national sport shooting foundation estimated that there were between 5 million and 8.2 million assault-style rifles in American homes. Sales of these weapons always spike after mass shootings, so it’s a safe bet that that number has risen by at least 1 million or two since then.

Even if Hillary Clinton were to succeed beyond her wildest dreams, assault weapons were banned permanently, what about those millions of AR-15’s already in circulation? Would she be willing to send jackbooted federal thugs door to door to search every home until every last one of them, or at least the lion’s share, were rounded up and melted down? Of course not.

The truth is, this ship sailed back in 2004 when Congress allowed the federal ban on assault weapons to expire without being renewed. Congress’s failure to act over the last 12 years has transformed the United States into a nation awash in military hardware.

Mass shootings are the new normal. Get over it.

“It’s too late to do anything about it, now let’s act” mania appears to have become as much of a part of our national character as the myth that everyone is a member of the middle class.

Progressives and liberals who form the base of the Democratic Party, most of whom supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries, are engaged in a robust debate over whether to switch over to Hillary Clinton this fall, support a third-party candidate like Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, or stay home on election day. It’s the same old question: Do you vote for the lesser of two evils? Isn’t that voting for evil?

Democrats for Clinton are trying to convince Bernie Sanders voters that November represents an existential threat, that if Donald Trump is elected everything we know and love about America will be destroyed. They don’t get it.

What the Clintonites don’t understand is that it’s already too late. Yes, if Donald Trump gets in, there’s a strong danger that what’s left of American democracy will yield to something radically new and terrifying, full-fledged authoritarianism. But Hillary Clinton also represents something horrible: a continuation of the neoconservatism that led to the invasion of Iraq, has made the United States a target of Islamist terrorism, complete capitulation to the banking class whose power structure relies upon the vast majority of American workers toiling for longer hours and shrinking wages – in effect, the last nail in the coffin of the idea that ordinary people have the right to imagine themselves and their children living better than they have in the past.

The existential battle isn’t in November. It was a couple of weeks ago, when Hillary Clinton appeared to nail down the Democratic presidential nomination. Whatever happens now, whether authoritarian Trumpism or steady-as-she-goes downwardly mobile Clintonism, we are screwed.

Perhaps no issue better illustrates my point than climate change.

I remember watching Jacques Cousteau on television in the 1970s, when he repeatedly warned that the oceans (along with the rest of the planet) were warming, and that it would soon – might already be – too late to stop it. The politicians and corporate executives, of course, ignored him and the other scientists who said the same thing. Now, finally, the political class is giving lip service to the crisis, though action remains in short supply.

The fact is, Cousteau was probably right. It was probably too late to save the planet back then. It’s certainly too late now. The climate science is clear. The polar ice cap is never coming back; Antarctica is melting away. The process can’t be reversed. Even if every internal combustion engine in the world stopped running tomorrow morning, human beings have pumped too much energy into the closed system that is our atmosphere to reverse global warming.

My intention isn’t to bum you out. All I’m saying is, let’s stop focusing on problems we can’t do anything about and work on those we still can.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography “Trump,” comes out July 19th and is now available for pre-order.)

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Settled Science

Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth? When asked that question in a poll, 1 in 4 Americans surveyed answered that the sun revolves around the earth. But hey, we have to respect their feelings too.

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Obama Was Bad From The Start

President’s Right-Wing Policies Revealed Years Ago

We used to love Obama. Now we don’t. What a difference two years makes!

But not really. We may have changed. But Obama hasn’t. It was obvious from the beginning that Mr. Hopey Changey was devoid of character, deploying a toxic blend of liberal rhetoric and right-wing realpolitik. We were in denial.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Obama made a name for himself by speaking out against the Iraq war. “I am certain that I would have voted to oppose this war,” he said in 2007. Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, he voted to fund it. Repeatedly. Aye. Aye. Aye. Never voted no. Tens of billions of dollars down the rat hole. Thousands of dead U.S. troops. Hundreds of thousands of murdered Iraqis.

Asked to explain his hypocrisy on Iraq, Obama replied: “I have been very clear even as a candidate that, once we were in [office], that we were going to have some responsibility to make [the Iraq war] work as best we could, and more importantly that our troops had the best resources they needed to get home safely,” Obama explained. “So I don’t think there is any contradiction there.”

Who are you going to believe? Me or my lying voting record?

That was back in 2007. We knew Obama was a weasel. We knew before the first presidential primary.

After he won, we learned he was at least as much of a right-winger as Bush.

Within days of his November 2008 election victory Obama backed away from his campaign pledge to close Guantánamo and restore due process to kidnapped and tortured Muslim detainees. Instead, he announced, he would create extralegal “national security courts.” Even Bush didn’t dare stray that far from the rule of law.

Obama didn’t appoint a single liberal to his cabinet. Against good sense and common ndecency, in the midst of the worst financial crisis since 1929, he hired pro-business hacks Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geitner to lead his economic team. Fighting proposals to create jobs programs, they expanded Bush’s bank bailouts instead.

Obama asked Bush’s defense secretary to stay on because, you know, he was doing such an awesome job with the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. I suppose it could have been worse: Obama’s first choice to run the CIA was John Brennan, a pro-torture Bushist.

As Inauguration Day approached the hits kept coming.

Obama claimed to be against the Iraq War. “Unlike Senator John McCain,” Obama wrote in June 2008, “I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president.”

By December, however, the Weasel-Elect had re-revealed his pro-war stripes. “Even though the [U.S.] agreement with the Iraq government calls for all American combat troops to be out of the cities by the end of June [2009],” reported the Times on December 22nd, military planners are “now quietly acknowledging that many will stay behind as renamed ‘trainers’ and ‘adviser’ in what are effectively combat roles. In other words, they will still be engaged in combat, just called something else.”

When Obama announced his choice to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, it was yet another unpleasant surprise: Rick Warren, the right-wing, gay-bashing pastor of the Saddleback megachurch. Gay leaders were annoyed. And did nothing.

The indignities continued a day or two after the new prez moved into 1600 Penn.

Liberals hoped for accountability. Obama had promised it. Once in the Oval Office, however, Obama said America needed “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” He ordered his Justice Department not to investigate Bush Administration war crimes. No one would be prosecuted—not even the military psychos who anally raped Afghan children at Gitmo with flashlights. Obama traveled to CIA HQ to tell the spooks to keep on torturin’: “I don’t want [CIA agents] to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering up.”

So it went.

Obama expanded Bush’s domestic spying program. He sent 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. He allowed torture to continue in CIA prisons and signed an executive order granting him the right to assassinate anyone, including a U.S. citizen, on his say-so alone.

Six days into the Obama presidency, I’d seen enough.

“Give the man a chance?” I asked on January 26, 2009. “Not me. I’ve sized up him, his advisors and their plans, and already found them sorely wanting. It won’t take long, as Obama’s failures prove the foolishness of Americans’ blind trust in him. Obama isn’t our FDR. He’s our Mikhail Gorbachev: likeable, intelligent, well-meaning, and ultimately doomed by his insistence on being reasonable during unreasonable times.”

I was mistaken. Two years is too long for people to figure out what Obama is all about.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL

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