Category Archives: society

pino asks “Are we born tribal?”

It’s a fascinating question. So far only he and I are talking, but I’d be interested, as I’m sure would he, in your thinking on the subject. Go on over.

We’re not them, so who are we?

 In the quarter-century after World War II, the country established collective structures, not individual monuments, that channeled the aspirations of ordinary people: state universities, progressive taxation, interstate highways, collective bargaining, health insurance for the elderly, credible news organizations.

That’s from a NY Times op-ed today by George Packer (author of one of my favorite Iraq War era books, The Assassins’ Gate). It was true then. But we all know it’s not true now.

Later in his piece (which is about individualism as reflected by a celebrity obsessed culture), he uses the phrase ‘the great leveling’. And that perfectly explains I think why that post-War era succeeded and did so on every level.

The shared experience of WWII touched everyone, whether at war or at home. At war, the mechanic served with the lawyer whose car he fixed, and the young kid with an 8th grade education spent lonely nights talking to college professors.  Even more powerful in its effect on the later society was that they not only shared the experience but during it they were equals – all called to service by their country, wearing the same uniforms, fighting in the same battles with the same weapons. ‘GI Joe’ carried the same rifle as his lieutenant did.

They shared too, by rising to the challenge. And when it was done, they shared the tears and the pride.

It’s possible for societies to exhibit those values even without war. There are some here on our planet who manage it. But for us, that day is past.

We’ll never be those people again.

Now go have a nice day!

Time for Rush and Grover to head for . . . well, there are a few societies out there where government isn’t intrusive. Freedom, you know. (Somalia comes to mind.)

Even I was taken aback by these numbers. Encouraged yes, and surprised as well. I’ll reserve comment right now, but want to toss this stuff out. It’s fascinating and obviously very important.

These are outtakes from the final post in Thomas Edsall’s NYT blog Campaign Stops, in which he reports on what’s being called the ‘Rising American Electorate”. It’s quite remarkable. The youth vote is pretty important in these numbers which, to me, means our future will be very different than our present.

Not only does a plurality (49-43) of young people hold a favorable view of socialism — and, by a tiny margin (47-46), a negative view of capitalism — so do liberal Democrats, who view socialism positively by a solid 59-33; and African Americans, 55-36. Hispanics are modestly opposed, 49-44, to socialism, but they hold decisively negative attitudes toward capitalism, 55-32. . . .  When voters were asked whether cutting taxes or investing in education and infrastructure is the better policy to promote economic growth, the constituencies of the new liberal electorate consistently chose education and infrastructure by margins ranging from 2-1 to 3-2 — African Americans by 62-33, Hispanics by 61-37, never-married men by 56-38, never-married women by 64-30, voters under 30 by 63-34, and those with post-graduate education by 60-33.

Keep voting kids.

Gail Collins says another smart thing

She’s framed this in a new way. Well said:

Our biggest political division is the war between [people in] the empty places and [people in] the crowded places.

(No linkee . . . I’ve used up my NY Times freebies for the month)

May Day 2012: a real Labor Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

ImageSpring is in the air, and you know what that means–that’s right, Occupy Wall Street is back, bigger and better than ever! Although actions have been ongoing for several weeks, the first major action will be the worldwide General Strike called for May 1st. From OccupyWallSt.org:

May 1st, also known as International Workers’ Day, is the annual commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when Chicago police fired on workers during a General Strike for the eight-hour workday. In many countries, May 1st is observed as a holiday. But in the United States, despite the eventual success of the eight-hour-workday campaign, the holiday is not officially recognized.

Now, in response to call-outs from Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Oakland, and other General Assemblies and affinity groups, the Occupy Movement is preparing to mobilize a General Strike this May 1st in solidarity with struggles already underway to defend the rights of workers, immigrants, and other communities who are resisting oppression. Dozens of Occupations in cities and towns throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia have already endorsed May Day.

To quote the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, who recently called for a national General Strike in Spain on March 29th to protest labor reforms:

For the CNT, the strike on March 29 must be only the beginning of a growing and sustained process of mobilization, one which includes the entire working class and the sectors that are most disadvantaged and affected by the capitalist crisis. This mobilization must put the brakes on the dynamic of constant assaults on our rights, while laying the bases for the recovery and conquest of new social rights with the goal of a deep social transformation.

I’ll be at the NYC action; hope to see you there! I’ll post links and updates as they become available.

About guns laws: Larry makes my case, but does it better

In a comment thread at Woodgate’s View, proprietor Larry presents a thorough and thoughtful case for gun control laws. I’m so admiring of how well constructed is his argument . . . well, here it is. It’s a keeper:

 [he replies to a commenter] thanks for leaving your comments and no, I don’t think you’re an uneducated moron. I don’t know you well enough to characterize you as such.  My comments are generic in nature but with a purpose.

I am familiar with firearms.  Did some bird hunting before I entered the Marine Corps where I learned even more about weapons, including my M-14 I that I earned a Marksman rating with.  But I had the disadvantage of using my weapon in a way that many people who are passionate about guns never have or most likely never will.  I shot at other people with it and was shot at while serving in Vietnam.  I don’t know that I actually ever hit anyone or worse, killed someone while shooting at them since my actual combat experience was more limited than a grunt who’s routinely out in the bush.  But I was stationed on an isolated hill for nearly a year near the DMZ and would occasionally encounter enemy fire

I have seen the damage that firearms do and because of that I have never owned a gun of my own after being discharged from the service.   I honestly think they do more harm than good and I find no sport in killing animals with them.  The need to kill our own food disappeared years ago.  The “thrill of the kill” is, to me, not a humane response.  There’s something extremely barbaric about it and I’d like to think we’ve advanced over the years where ancient survival instincts need not be acted out at the expense animals losing their lives to fulfill this unnecessary leftover from another time period.

I understand that we live in a world where bad people can hurt us and some are so overwrought with this fear that they feel compelled to seek protection with a handgun.  But the point of my post is that this fear has exceeded rational limits and there is an entire culture now that uses this reasonable exception for owning a weapon where they feel the need to own large arsenals of automatic weapons and their accouterments, like silencers, to go with them.  They have become dangerous toys for otherwise normal people.

Firing your weapon in an enclosed firing range is a good reason to protect your hearing but if you had read the story by Anna Tinsley I supplied a link to you would understand the jist of my comments.  Not everyone who owns a gun buys a silencer for ear protection in an enclosed firing range.  Most, according to one Ft. Worth gun dealer, buy them “because they’re cool.”  It’s a part of a pervasive mentality in this state where people often think with their asses rather than their brains.

Owning a gun is a serious business but you get the idea that too many want them out of some exaggerated fear for their life or to simply be part of an in-crowd.  A strong indication that critical thinking is seriously lacking with them.

You may be one of the few people that takes a common sense approach to owning a firearm but if you’re spending so much time firing off rounds where you need a silencer to prevent using the “medical system later in life” maybe you need a more healthy hobby.

Yes, I know you have to jump through hoops to own a silencer.  Again, had you read the article by Tinsley I supplied you with you would see this fact was pointed out.  And though I could have gone in the direction that said silencers making it easier for dangerous people to kill innocent people and do so more unnoticed, I avoided this mainly because they are, on paper at least, difficult to acquire.  You know of course that a truly dangerous person with malice in his or her heart would simply buy a silencer on the black market to circumvent any detection by the legal authorities, right?

And please, don’t do the apples to oranges comparison with owning guns and other sporting events equipment.  I’m sure there are those novices who pay for the most expensive equipment in some sports who have the least skills but in their attempt to be “cool” a set of golf clubs or a high dollar tennis racket is not going to accidentally kill someone out of fear or over enthusiasm.  They’re designed purely to entertain.  Guns are designed to kill and can do so more successfully and permanently than being whacked with a 4 iron.

If I hadn’t made my pointy perfectly clear, to be sure I’m not opposed to some forms of gun ownership.  I am however opposed to the unlimited ownership of weapons and the ability now to carry a gun damn near anywhere people congregate and expect them to remain sane and rational at all times.  When I see laws that promote these excesses, I jump all over them and hope that I can make them look foolish enough to some people who are contemplating purchasing a gun out of a heightened fear for their safety or because it a “cool” thing to do.

The American way of guns: what’s next – the maternity ward?

It seems mass murderers here in the US, especially at schools, have become so commonplace that yesterday’s killing of six college students didn’t even make it to the front page in my paper.

When Columbine happened in 1999, it stunned us. The story dominated the news for weeks. Newspapers ran long biographies of those who died.

But that was then. Today, events like this have started to define us, even as the sickness of the lone gunman mowing down innocents for no reason or because of some paranoid delusion or perceived slight, begins to spread into other countries.

And our uniquely American logic dictates that we therefore must have more guns and be allowed to take them everywhere. So now, in my own State, the gun-loving land of the clinically insane, I am not even surprised by  this:

TAMPA — If Tampa’s proposed rules for the Republican National Convention are passed, protesters could not bring squirt guns into a designated protest zone.

But they could bring real guns if they have concealed weapons permits.

That’s because state law does not allow local governments to enact laws regulating guns, City Attorney Jim Shimberg Jr. said.

“Even if we tried to regulate it, it would be null and void,” Shimberg said Monday.

Not that the city didn’t consider it.

. . . “It was just kind of common sense,” Assistant City Attorney Mauricio Rodriguez said. “We felt if we’re going to regulate people carrying sticks and poles, why wouldn’t we regulate people carrying firearms, because those could pose significant risks to police and other protesters.”

But later, city attorneys removed the ban on guns after finding that Florida Statute 790.33 prohibits local governments from enacting any laws on the sale, purchase, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, storage or transportation of guns or ammunition.

Passed last year, the state law allows judgments of up to $100,000 against local governments that enforce local gun ordinances. It also says local officials could be removed from office and fined $5,000, with no representation from the city or county attorney.

There is, however, one place where guns won’t be allowed. That’s the convention itself, and it’s because the U.S. Secret Service has authority to make the rules inside the convention, which is scheduled for Aug. 27-30.