« Toward a desert aesthetic | Main | Police and fire in early Phoenix »

March 29, 2021

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I tried this on a couple of forty-somethings in the neighborhood last week.

I said, “ for as long as you have been alive NRA second amendment gun whining has been going on. You’ve grown up on forty plus years of constant whining. Now listen to me carefully. During that time period more than 150,000,000 new guns have been added to the private sector. Not minus. Not taken away. ADDED.

How do you figure someone is coming for your guns????

Not a comment was made and the looks on their faces just said, DOES NOT COMPUTE. DOES NOT COMPUTE. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

We are 330,000,000 persons, but I’d venture to say there may only be 10% who still have a functioning brain in this country.

10% seems optimistic.

A few years back, I was hiking in the Daniels Valley with a good friend. I won't describe the events that led to our conversation on this topic (that's a whole 'nother story and quite entertaining to boot) but suffice it to say my companion disclosed he had a shootin' iron in his pack. He explained in the following fashion: he had a temper and if he came across someone messing with his truck when we returned to it, he'd think twice about intervening. I complimented him on his convoluted logic, shook my head (I'm a foreign national after all) and left it at that. Yep, down in the Sonoran Desert I've noticed weapons in the bars, the grocery stores, etc. Not being a church-goer I can't confirm what happens there. What I haven't seen is any sign of well-regulated militias, only the fat slobs on their ATV's wearing woodland camo...

"In addition to untreated mental illness and substance abuse, our society is no longer bound by a common code of conduct."

A thousand times this.

Heather Cox Richardson post of March 23 explains how the 2nd Amendment has been interpreted over time, including the NRA who used to have a diametrically opposite position from the one they espouse now. Our country is in trouble on many fronts.

If the Dems can pass whatever gun legislation they can cobble together (that will please Manchin, Tester and Sanders of course), it will be interesting to see how the very religious strict Constitutional originalists on the Supreme Court dance around the phrase "a well regulated militia" when the legislation is inevitably challenged in court.

Because I'm pretty sure that the Founders weren't thinking of incels in camo strutting around a Wal Mart with their assault rifles when they came up with that wording.

You'll get no argument from me about the level of intelligence in the US, Ruben. The mindless drivel that people buy lock, stock, and barrel on the internet every day is proof enough.

I, too, remember when the NRA was a responsible organization (I even paid dues to them for a long time). One of the rites of passage was to be able to take "gun training" as a kid. This was primarily a gun safety program, but included subjects such as ethics, marksmanship, fair chase, and the like.

We had an array of guns standing up in the "broom closet" just off the kitchen. I could throw a long gun over my shoulder and walk the several blocks through town to be in the rural spaces. No one thought a thing of it.

Then the NRA figured out they could grift endlessly and monetize fear and hatred. The whole "they're coming for your guns" schtick was started circa 1970 or so. And it still works...

Considering the very high percentage of open carry handguns and/or ar-15s on a person sporting a healthy beer belly, I’m thinking the safest place to be these days is a gym.

NY Times has a very interesting editorial by Ross Douthat comparing America ro the Weimar Republic in Germany just before Hitler took over. In Germany the center couldn’t hold. It will be interesting to see if the center in America can hold ,or the Grand Experiment is over. I remember seeing Mexicans working in a car wash showing off a gun 30 years ago, and wondering if that was the end of American centerism; obviously it was.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/opinion/babylon-berlin-weimar-america.html

The Culture War is ultimately about what is alienating and enraging in our loveless nation. Our cities are soulless, our suburbs vapid, and our civic life is a mostly a joke. Religion no longer binds or comforts us. Sports probably comes closest to closing some of the interpersonal gaps between us and our fellow citizens but we are mostly marooned and isolated in this vast commercial extravaganza that is called, unironically, the America Dream.

When I moved to Portland, I was hoping the beauty and dignity of the city's built environment would work its magic in my ruined life. Phoenix, by contrast, didn't even care if there was beauty or a shared purpose, so my decision to leave wasn't difficult. What I discovered in the last year in just how flaccid Portland's civic spirit has become. What can you say about a city that can no longer do the most basic things, like picking up the garbage that the thousands of homeless zombies leave on its sidewalks and public spaces? No, the city is too worked up about racial equity and who's being marginalized by white privilege to care about such trivialities.

The political divisions in America reflect this worsening tide of despair. We all feel this and some of us even wish death on the other side. The psychotic might register their despair in body counts, which shouldn't surprise us. If we're lucky, it won't get significantly worse until one day our noble experiment inevitably collapses from its inherent contradictions. Our common project is failing before our eyes. One clue was the arrival of Donald Trump in our political life. Another would be the neverending blame game in our national conversation. Our cold civil war is finally warming up and our vast personal arsenals will be put to redemptive work where the grapes of wrath are stored.

Some of it's blowback from the national mythos of the Post-WW11 decades as hammered into us by tv westerns, as well as the idiotic Knott's Berry Farm misrepresentation of actual life on the frontier. Lots of people who now live in Arizona actually believe (white) folks were just more rugged and independent in those days, and didn't need any laws to protect them. Of course, some of them believe Q is really a high-level official in the intelligence community, too, so...

I agree with the general premise of Rogue's article: that mass shootings are a vexatious problem with no obvious solution and that the prospects for major changes in gun laws are always poor. I also appreciated Soleri's comment. He is great at not only communicating facts, but also setting a tone and emotion in his writing. He certainly sets an appropriately bleak tone here on this issue.

I am reminded of the quote from John Adams,"Our Constitution was made only for a moral...people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." In other words, freedom can only work to govern people with moral restraint. More and more of our society lacks that restraint. Given the unlimited supply of soft targets, the number of guns in our country, and the numbers of both psychotic and sub-clinical crazies stoked by social media, it's frankly surprising we don't have more mass shootings.

Guns are not one of my personally most animating issues like immigration, climate and election laws (among others), but I generally understand and agree with the right's perspective on the issue. I think the two biggest points of it are: 1. The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, 2. The right to personal gun ownership is the last resort backstop for the people to fight a truly tyrannical government.

A few other points I'm thinking of. Rogue mentioned the oft-cited Palin PAC targets prior to the Tuscon Giffords shooting. That's a great talking point, but irrelevant to the actual shooting since I don't believe there has ever been any evidence that it played a role in the shooter's motive or that he was even aware of it. The Palin talking point is overblown and opportunistic because while they were probably inappropriate, I think the targets clearly fall under the idea of political "fighting words", which as we saw in the (most recent) impeachment trial, are extremely common and used by both political sides.

Mass shootings are a bipartisan issue, since the shooters, while commonly psychotic in the true medical sense of the word, often also have politics mixed into their convoluted thinking. Where the shootings have been clearly politically motivated, it has come from both left (e.g. D.C. 2017, Dallas 2016) and the right (Charleston 2015).

Far more common than the crazy guy shootings or political shootings, and claiming far more victims, are "routine" shootings that don't make national news much. These are criminals doing criminal stuff and may be mass (4+) shootings or just a massive number of single-victim shootings. Inconveniently for gun control narratives, these commonly take place in cities or states that have relatively strict gun laws and are commonly committed by and against minorities. Also not favored by those pushing for gun legislation are religiously-motivated shootings, which are either Muslim (feeds into right wing immigration narratives) or anti-Semitic (the left really hates Israel these days). FWIW, we haven't heard much about the Boulder incident in recent days since it's looking like that may have been religiously-motivated.

I also don't have great answers to the problem, besides finding a way to get back to having a more morally grounded citizenry. I think spending more on mental health resources and having more liberal (meaning expansive and strict) commitment laws would help with the Armed Crazies side of the problem. It seems the government has unlimited trillions of dollars these days, so maybe we should spend some of it on that!

Jon7190, we seem to agree on the effects of extreme cultural polarization but differ on the who's-to-blame side. Let me say (once again!) that both sides must be held responsible for magnifying the disgust and alienation in our political life. The problem here is that politics is really unsuited for litigating the cultural churn of a heterogeneous nation. What laws can we pass that will restore "morality", for example? The left proposes gun control and the right counters that you can't legislate morality. Unless, of course, it's transgendered "girls" playing high-school sports, zygotes being terminated, Dr Seuss books being taken out of print, or flags not being venerated in a standing position, etc.

We all know which side relies most heavily on the culture war for political purposes, which is yours. Now the left is playing catch-up with its wokeness agenda, a pile of well-intentioned bullshit that will likely cause Democrats to lose elections in 2022 and beyond. Portland, formerly known as Rose City, is now Woke City, and the right gleefully points out how dysfunctional it is. Point well taken! But this dysfunction also shows up in schools from Columbine to Sandy Hook to Parkland. You might want to blame gender-dysphoric children for this but the sorry truth is that you would only care if the victims were fetuses.

The binary fallacy in our political life is that everything is one thing or another: good vs evil, right vs wrong, my side vs your side, ad infinitum. The truth, however, is that life is infinitely more complex than political zealots from QAnon to Antifa can possibly admit. Living in a left-wing bubble like Woke City helps me see how the problem here is human nature more than all the "guiding principles" ideologues invoke to justify their my-way-or-the-highway political theater. We not only want to be right, we will use conspiracy theories and confabulations to manufacture that sense of rectitude. Example: Joe Biden stole the election with "voter fraud".

I don't know what John Adams would make of Donald Trump but I'm fairly certain it wouldn't be kind. Nor would he look kindly on a party that deliberately uses a culture war to galvanize support from an citizenry that is both historically illiterate and easily inflamed by racial/ethnic differences. Today's Republican Party is sclerotic and daft from its overreliance on inflammatory issues at the expense of real-world policy. As nervous as I am about the Democrats following suit, they can still have robust and realistic debates about policy. This ought to be your gold standard, too, but it's hard to imagine Fox News maintaining its ratings edge when the its viewership (average age: 69) wonders what the hell Tucker means by "offshore wind generation".

I own many guns and love to shoot. I also am a lifetime member of the NRA. Your assessment of that organization is so spot on. They have become more a political animal than the gun rights and education emphasis it began with. Still, exactly what gun restrictions do you think the politicians are capable of without infringement on the basic human right of self protection? Yes, that means from tyrannical government as well? I believe that a large portion of the American people will still fight for the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and events in Afghanistan and elsewhere have proven that small arms guerrilla tactics can still fight the world's biggest military to a draw.

"Inconveniently for gun control narratives, these commonly take place in cities or states that have relatively strict gun laws and are commonly committed by and against minorities."

Uh, if I can go across the state line and buy whatever guns I want (e.g. Indiana from Chicago), it really doesn't matter what gun laws my city or state has, strict or otherwise. Kind of like if you need more than one wife, just drive over to Utah.

Also, it isn't anti-semitic to question Israel's government's internal policies. So, "the Left" (that awful monolith that feeds your nightmares), can't truly be said to "really hate" Israel. We are, of course, still free to hate Netanyahu's almost Trumpian form of kakistocractic governing.

Soleri,

I believe this problem, as well as many of the more serious problems we face societally, is beyond government's ability to legislate away. We need kids raised in healthy families that instill solid values and encourage them to be part of larger communities, so they feel connected and hopefully learn to love people and their country. We can't legislate that sort of thing, though all laws, regulations and taxes should be looked at through the lens of how to encourage those positive lifestyles.

You are right both political sides use unhealthy tactics. Democrats are masterful at using hot button topics and fear to rile and motivate their base and recruit more base. Yes, conservatives love to hold up "Woke City" as an example of where Democrats want to take the country.

Say what you will about Fox News, but I think they do the best job of letting both sides of an issue have a real say. Their typical format has panels with an actual liberal or Democrat to advocate that point of view. Where CNN and MSNBC have Republicans, they are usually pretty feckless and don't advocate in a way most conservatives would be satisfied with.

More generally, I don't see Democrats allowing much room for debate within their party. How many votes in the Congress are completely party line (most that I've seen)? After all, the left invented cancel culture and any Democrat has to be very careful in ever disagreeing with the party line. It doesn't happen very often (I respect Sinema for so far holding the line on the filibuster, bless her heart, hope she can hold out against the pressure). Republicans aren't allowing much dissension either, but a few have been voting for Democratic bills and it looks like Liz Cheney is still on House leadership despite widespread anger at her vote for impeachment.

Soleri, I thought I convinced you the election was highly questionable?! Just kidding.

B.Franklin,

you point out another major talking point for the right: the futility of gun laws. Clearly people find ways to get around gun laws, and many of the criminals in Chicago aren't just buying guns in Indiana, they are buying them on the black market. Make all the laws you want, criminals will still get guns and use them.

I tend to use the term left as all encompassing for simplicity, but to be more precise, I believe there's a distinction between liberals and The Left. For example, liberals respect Israel's position in the region and their role in history, while disagreeing with some of the actions of the government. Leftists, on the other hand, start at BDS and commonly cross the line into outright antisemitism and seeking to empower the PLO and others in their quest to eradicate Israel as a country. I don't think it is a stretch to say the Left hates Israel. However, most people on this site, I believe, are more traditional liberals, not Leftists, which is why I feel it's worth my time to read it and comment. Liberals I respect, while The Left does indeed give me nightmares.


B.Franklin, also you don't have to leave Arizona if you want a second wife. The polygamy capital of the country is in Colorado City!

Jon7190, when you say Democrats are masterful at using hot-button topics to rile up the masses, I will invite you to peruse the title topic we are posting under. Time to connect a few dots! Which party is implacably opposed to any and all regulations on guns? Yep, the same party that is opposed to women controlling their bodies, to black people voting, to gays marrying, to Muslims immigrating, to Dreamers gaining citizenship, and to addressing climate change. Notice here that Democrats are actually living in the real world where there are problems that can be solved not by invoking morality but by passing laws, something politics does much better than pretending the party of Matt Gaetz, Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort will improve our moral tone through their examples and encouragement.

Let me pause here to thank you for your civility despite your deficit of self-reflection. The mind-fucks of the modern Republican Party may come in glorious technicolor but they're not exactly persuasive for that reason (see Jerry Falwell, Jr. for more details). The hypocritical moralizing that your party specializes in one reason why it feels as if the wheels have come off our democracy. One way to eradicate this toxin from our civic bloodstream would be stop weaponizing every aspect of our daily lives into a scorched-earth culture war. Enough of making public health measures like mask-wearing and social distancing a threat graver than socialism!!! Enough of the "thoughts and prayers" your party of pious frauds use to deflect any public response to some very public problems. Politics is not a religion nor should it be. Human beings who cloak their power drives in the robes of sanctity are an evil as old as time and as vile as rape.


I thought I was having a pretty good day. And then I read this:

"Say what you will about Fox News, but I think they do the best job of letting both sides of an issue have a real say. Their typical format has panels with an actual liberal or Democrat to advocate that point of view. Where CNN and MSNBC have Republicans, they are usually pretty feckless and don't advocate in a way most conservatives would be satisfied with."

Now I think I'll just grab a bottle of good Irish whiskey and go talk to my dog.

B. I watch a wide variety of news channels and I don't trust a single one of them.

If I watch a FOX news story along with a regular FOX news viewer, I find that our brains do not digest the (dis)information the same.

If I watch a CNN news story along with a regular CNN viewer, I find that our brains do not digest the (dis)information the same.

I guess I'm the odd man out, but I think I'll keep it that way.

Soleri,

I wouldn't say Republicans are generally opposed to any and all regulations on guns (the small number of 2A purists aside), just new ones. Two questions Democrats don't like to answer when discussing new regulations are 1. Are current laws being effectively enforced? i.e. Could gun deaths be significantly decreased if we just rigorously enforced the laws we already have? and 2. Would the new laws we are advocating for now have stopped the most recent mass shooting tragedy that spurred the push for the new law? e.g. the tragedy was done with a handgun but we are pushing for a rifle ban or we want more background checks when the killer had no criminal or psychiatric history.

Second amendment folks are always suspicious of the ascendant Far Left, who are suspected (for good reason) of having a long range plan of making a society where only the government and criminals have guns. If you could convince them "common sense" gun laws are not part of that agenda, we might have a shot at some consensus on the issue, but I don't see that happening.

All the hot button issues you list are used very effectively by Democrats to drum up fear and stoke their base. Even the way you termed them is an indication of that. No one does moralizing better than Democrats. To whit:
-Abortion/Choice - anybody opposing Choice is just wanting to control women's bodies and deny women their fundamental rights. There can be no good reason for that.
-Voting - any measures to improve election security are just meant to suppress voting and are clearly a racist play to keep black people from voting (especially that atrocious new Georgia law that expands early and Sunday voting and requires, oh the horrors, people to write their ID number on their absentee vote!)
-Gay Marriage - since we decided 5 minutes ago that the previous system used by all cultures and religions through all history of man/woman marriage can actually apply just as legitimately to homosexuals, anybody who doesn't agree for any reason is simply a homophobic bigot on the wrong side of history
Immigration - anyone who wants to restrict any form of immigration and doesn't recognize that maximum diversity is always the only consideration is a hateful xenophobe. Saying any form of amnesty encourages more illegal, err...undocumented immigration is really saying "you're brown, I hate you"
-Climate change - This existential threat is so existentially threatening that there is no debt spending, no lower standard of living, no loss of economic or military security that's not worth it to fight this threat. Did we mention it's existential? Anyone even bringing those considerations up must be a science denier. It's almost threatening enough that former presidents are going to stop buying palatial seaside vacation homes. Not quite that threatening yet, but still pretty damned threatening!

Hopefully you are picking up on my sarcasm. Here's my beef: when Democratic politicians (and activists and other passionate partisans) talk about these issues, they commonly do it in a self-righteous way that doesn't even acknowledge that honest people of good faith can have rational reasons for disagreeing with them on these issues. Anyone who disagrees with them become boogeymen motivated by hate or greed or some other miscellaneous form of evil (so you good people better give lots of money and get to the polls to fight those degenerate Republicans!). And Republicans can paint Democrats as boogeymen, too, of course. BTW, the right didn't invent all these issues. They wouldn't even be hot buttons if they weren't being pushed by the progressive left.

My main hope in commenting on this blog is not to convert anybody, but to raise awareness that it is possible for people they disagree with to be reasonable and have logical positions (even if ultimately unconvincing). I enjoy a good debate and I think it's important for Americans to be able to disagree agreeably.

So far, I haven't seen President "I want to unite the country" Biden push back a millimeter on the far left of his party or ever acknowledge that the over half of the country that wouldn't agree with the far left of his party could be reasonable folks he should consider compromising with. You know, the kind of talk one might expect of a president looking to unite a country after a tough and divisive election, a tough and divisive pandemic and politically fraught last four years. Have you?

Jon7199, FYI: Biden's approval rating is currently 61%. You don't need to see him "uniting" the country because it is united in a way that Trump, your divisive, ugly, and abrasive idol, never attempted. Your absurd contention that the far left is in charge doesn't make much sense in that respect. I suspect your own hyperpartisanship may have blinded you to the reality that Americans are, by and large, not right-wing extremists.

I have a Trump-supporting friend back in Arizona who called me a couple of weeks ago and admitted that life is much, much calmer now with Joe at the helm. I'd suggest that you enjoy this respite from Trump's manic need to dominate our national conversation because Americans seem to appreciate the breather after four tumultuous years of insanity. A president who couldn't even lead when it came to shared and necessary sacrifice (see: current pandemic) is now irrelevant except among the white nationalists who so animate your political fringe.

All that said, we still need your tribe because it is a significant part of America. Ideally, it would be more conservative than populist if only because the aggressive anger that Trump embodies is killing America. Real conservatives understand that there can be no reconciliation in unconditional victory. Forgive my cheesy metaphor, but the American eagle needs two wings, left and right. It can't fly otherwise.

By the same token, our nation needs two sane political parties that understand the broad contours of reality and respect it with their serious attention. Turning ordinary social reality into a pitched battle between "good guys" and "bad guys" is ideal for the professional wrestlers at Fox News but terrible for those of us who still love this nation.

I think Democrats are still - mostly - a center-left party. Sadly, there is no longer much of a center-right in the GOP. Most sane Republicans are either retiring or looking at being primaried by zealots. This is a catastrophe for America because democracy cannot function when compromise has been effectively banished by ideological extremists.

I have grown more conservative with age, which may be a sign of advancing mental decline or possibly a recognition that nothing is ever as simple as it seems to the young and naive. We can't enjoy freedom without order, or vice versa. Both impulses must be present in our politics. Republicans (the party of cops) and Democrats (the party of social workers) need each other to make this experiment work. The necessary predicate is honesty because reality is not all one thing or another. It's complex and ambiguous. Let's honor America by respecting this reality.




Soleri,

I wouldn't gloat too much about that 61%. Before Trump broke politics and the media, presidents generally enjoyed a honeymoon period and I attribute people's attitude mostly to the worst of the pandemic beginning to lift and people starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. I agree a lot of people are glad to have less drama coming out of D.C., which is why they aren't noticing the amazingly brazen things coming out in the unprecedentedly multitudinous executive orders, the leftwing fantasy bills passing through the House and the dreck tucked away in the "American Rescue Plan's" trillions.

I expect political gravity will take over soon and he'll settle in at the 45-50% that the last few presidents have been at most of the time, as people start tuning in to the reality of his policies, the completely Biden-caused border fiasco and continuing issues like his challenges with verbal coherency. Remember Obama's advice: Don't underestimate Joe Biden's ability to f#*^ things up. The man falls up stairs. That's impressive!

"I'd suggest that you enjoy this respite from Trump's manic need to dominate our national conversation". I am. I'd give you the same advice, because you keep talking about him in your comments. I haven't mentioned him until this one.

"A president who couldn't even lead when it came to shared and necessary sacrifice (see: current pandemic) is now irrelevant". Perhaps, but the only public measure we've taken over this crazy year that is showing actual proof of controlling this virus is the vaccines, the unprecedented speed with which they have been brought to bear being undeniably positively influenced by Trump and his administration. I'd say that contribution is relevant now and for the foreseeable future.

I'll end my comments here, thanks for the good exchanges!

The only public measure we've taken over this crazy year that is showing actual poof of controlling this virus is vaccines...

Well, that's interesting! New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam, et al, actually got to zero new cases with public health measures. President Former Guy, OTOH, was busy not telling the American people to take precautions because, as he told Bob Woodward, he didn't want to cause anyone to panic. Now that's leadership! Instead of wetting his diapers like Biden, he mocked mask-wearing, social distancing, and lockdowns. A few hundred thousand people died as a result of President Fubar's refusal to take science seriously, per Deborah Birx. Indeed President Effed Up even caught the virus himself, which is a remarkable feat given that he was the most protected individual in the entire world! Apparently the need to express himself before cheering throngs of unprotected mouthbreathers was too overwhelming for his very modest ego.

What's the lesson here? It's quite simple. A political party that caters to the worst in human beings (the current GOP), doesn't do science because it's too complicated and it uses big words. It's why they ended up voting for a man manifestly unqualified to be president by virtue of his temperament and experience. If you are the type easily persuaded by pathological liars, you not only voted for him, but decided that his evidence-free approach to virology was more credible than that of Anthony Fauci, the guy who actually pushed for fast-tracking vaccines. Fauci somehow managed not to get fired by President Evita, which was a bitter disappointment for the near-majority of the GOP that still refuses to vaccinate. Maybe Agent Orange could have been publicly vaccinated if only to show his know-nothing base that it was actually a good idea. For some odd reason, the optics in that just didn't work. Now, why would that be?

Again, the right just wants to keep prolonging the excuses for not acting on common sense gun safety legislation. Are current laws being effectively enforced? Are drunk driving laws being effectively enforced? Have anti-marijuana laws ever been effectively enforced? By trying to make perfect the enemy of good, nothing gets done.

Most Americans want background checks on gun sales. Most support red flag laws. No one needs a bump stock or a 50 round magazine, these aren't even 2nd amendment issues but the NRA and the gun nuts try to conflate those. Could we at least start there?

Vox published an article that may just bring Soleri and Jon7190 to break bread together. :)

https://www.vox.com/22338417/james-carville-democratic-party-biden-100-days

It's a Sean Illing interview with James Carville, who declares wokeness problematic. And I am here for it.

The Carville interview made the Front Page. Thanks, Rogue Columnist!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)