Friday Reads: Selective Attention and Tangled Webs

dca4f1181add1a68dca46b6b30d8b02dWe’ve had a few tough weeks.  

The problem with constant access to media is that you get constant access to unpleasant things and people.  Also, the folks that wish harm on others get a constant bombardment of stimulus, propaganda and instructions.  That sets off a lot of copy cat nastiness.

The United States experiences rampage killers like no other.  We also have politicians that we might as well characterize as mass killers. Their policies kill our fellow citizens and enable others to do so.  Our system preys on the weak and turns the crazy loose on us.  What ever happened to solving problems through policy instead of creating them through political maneuvering and manipulating constitutional rights?

The power of the NRA is a case study in what can happen in democracies when a powerful, plutocratic entity only acts in its best interest and funds and threatens policymakers.  If only members of government were as concerned with the other Constitutional Amendments as they are with shielding the beefed up version of the second amendment that we now have thanks to the NRA and the Republican appointees to the Supreme Court.   Our right to privacy and our right to be free of a state-forced and sanctioned, majority-pushed religion is under attack.

We hear demands and see policy prescriptions that enshrine bigotry and unequal treatment under the law hiding under calls to protect religious liberty.  When real religious liberty is threatened, these same folks seem dumbstruck.  Their shallow and contradictory arguments scream “Allow me to do what ever I want in the name of religious freedom including restricting the civil rights of others but please put those practicing other religions on a register and monitor them constantly and make them follow my tenets and fetishes. Restrict their free exercise and allow our society to inflict mine on others.”

What we’ve really seen the past few weeks is religious fanaticism hyped up with access to weapons and enablers.  The problem is that our treatment of these actions and speech is systemically different even though our Constitution and judicial history indicate what they want isn’t in keeping with US ‘values’.  Religious fanaticism is condemned in one form of practice. It’s being tackled with suggestions that would restrict other’s Constitutional Rights.  Religious fanaticism is being enabled on the other hand.  It’s equally being tackled with suggestions that would restrict other’s Constitutional Rights.  This makes my head spin and my heart hurt.

So, it seems that the San Bernadino shooters were “radicalized” in to some form of wahhabism.  The woman was sympathetic to ISIS.  The man may have been set off by being harassed by a “messianic Jewish” co-worker who was one of the victims of the rampage shooting when it came to a head at a holiday party.  Oh, and the same day we had all this going on another shooting occurred at a Women’s Health Clinic.   We also found out the that Colorado Planned Parenthood rampage shooter had targeted women’s clinics before.  Some one  or thing “radicalized” him too. Yet, we have no media coverage or political obsession on that.

Is it because he only killed three and he’s not the latest thing in rampage killing?  Or, is it because what radicalized him is one of the political parties and a part of their base?  (This is a base that includes Opus Dei members of SCOTUS and a ton of “The Family” members in the House.

We cannot deny that our supposed pluralistic, tolerant, and religious neutral society has been accessed by the worst of our fringes.  No wonder the FBI is having difficulty characterizing our recent set of domestic/international terrorist activities.  Our radical christianists have gone international in creating an international terror network against GLBT persons and fund groups that force conversion on Muslims and others.  If ISIS is radicalizing folks in California, what do we call “Christian” Pastors that radicalize folks in Uganda?

Just to add some icing to this cake, we’ve had the most violent and death-filled Black Friday Shopping day also. Oh, and this last Black Friday saw3833.web_seedhead.jpg-580x0 gun sales soar.  Ho, ho ho …. Prince of Peace …. Holiday Spirit … wtf is wrong with this country?  We now have holiday shopping as a violent, rampage event.

 I suppose I should mention that there was a mass shooting just blocks from me at a park filled with children and old people recently.   It was across the St. Claude Avenue line of demarcation but I heard the rounds of both the semi-automatic and the hand guns from about six blocks.  Silly me.  I was thinking it was likely early Thanksgiving fireworks. I live in a city with constant gun violence.

Interestingly enough, our DA has asked the NRA to try to craft some “reasonable” limits to gun access.  No one–not even the US Senate–can accomplish this.

Less than two weeks removed from a mass shooting in Bunny Friend Park that left 17 injured and in the recent shadow from a mass shooting in California that left 14 dead, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro invited the National Rifle Association to find solutions to the gun violence that plagues New Orleans and the nation.

“Both locally and nationally we are seeing an increase in gun-related violence,” Cannizzaro said. “In New Orleans, the street trade of firearms has become too prolific.

 The Senate just voted to on a bill to stop people on the Terrorist list from getting access to guns. It was mostly symbolic since anything related to gun regulations gets defeated immediately these days.  I only wish that Serial Clinic Harassers could be put on that list too since any sensible gun bill that hits the Capitol floor is symbolic these days and we could use that symbolism.  

We can sure stack up the number of gun violence victims but heaven forbid they get healthcare. Sick and poor people are the victims of bad policy.  The umpty umpth repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act was also up for a vote.  One Republican voted for the Feinstein Bill.  Several Democrats voted against it.  

Senate Republicans on Thursday rejected an amendment to the ObamaCare repeal bill that would have tied it to a separate fight on blocking suspected or known terrorists from being able to buy guns.

Senators voted 45-54 on procedural hurdle for the measure from Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The California Democrat’s proposal, which she has also introduced as a separate piece of legislation, would allow the attorney general to block the sale or transfer of a gun or explosive to a suspected or known terrorist if the individual is believed to use the weapons in an act of terrorism.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) broke rank and voted against moving forward with Feinstein’s amendment, while Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) voted with Democrats.
Speaking to reporters earlier Thursday, Feinstein called her amendment “the definition of a no-brainer.”
She underscored the bipartisan support behind the proposal, pointing out that a House Republican has introduced a similar bill and the idea was initially backed by the Bush administration’s Department of Justice in 2007.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), however, suggested that Feinstein’s amendment would strip Americans of due process.
“This is not the way we’re supposed to do things in this country,” he said ahead of the vote.
Senators rejected an amendment from Cornyn by a 55-44 vote. The Texan’s proposal would have allowed the attorney general to delay suspected terrorists from getting a gun for up to 72 hours as they try to get a court to approve blocking the sale of the firearm.
The transfer of the gun would be blocked if a court determines that the person wanting to buy the gun has committed or will commit an act of terrorism.
“If you believe the federal government is omniscient and all competent vote for the Feinstein amendment,” Cornyn added ahead of the votes, noting that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was on a terror watch list.
Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) voted to move forward with Cornyn’s proposal. Kirk voted against the amendment on the procedural hurdle.

We are a divided country.  I’m sure Heitkamp’s North Dakota voters have no idea what it’s like to live in an urban area with constant gun violence.  spiders web frozen ireland jan 2010 Just as it seems that many Republican Presidential candidates–and one in particular--don’t seem to know much about the lives and beliefs of any one outside their particular demographic ( wealthy WASP/C men). Politicians seem more subservient to a pet demographic and lobby more than ever. This used to be more common in the House but rare in the Senate. This is no longer the case in the years of stopping Obama at any cost.

Relations between the United States and Israel have been rocky during the Obama administration and people in the Jewish state are keeping close tabs on the 2016 presidential race. However, Israelis woke up on Friday morning to some surprising headlines, thanks to this year’s crop of unconventional candidates.

The Times of Israel led with Donald J. Trump’s referring to Jewish people as “good negotiators” and with his declining to commit to supporting Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the country. “Trump courts Republican Jews with offensive stereotypes,” the headline blared atop a story that described his remarks as “anti-Semitic.”

I’m going to back step a little to show you that “discussion” between rampage shooter and victim in San Bernadino.  Keep in mind that a “Messianic Jew” is basically one that has converted to Christianity while maintaining a Jewish identity.

Thalasinos’ friend, Kuuleme Stephens, told The Associated Press that she happened to call him while he was working with Farook, and that he brought her into their debate, loudly declaring that Farook “doesn’t agree that Islam is not a peaceful religion.” She heard Farook counter that Americans don’t understand Islam, and Thalasinos responded by saying “I don’t know how to talk with him,” she said.

Stephens said she didn’t sense any pending violence at the time, and it is not clear if their debates factored in the attack. Stephens said Thalasinos did not believe his co-worker would ever turn violent.

However, Stephens said his grieving wife told her later Thursday to tell the media that she now “believes her husband was martyred for his faith and beliefs.” It wasn’t immediately clear why Jennifer Thalasinos came to that conclusion.

frozen spider webYou kind’ve have to wonder what it might be like if your co-worker is constantly trying to characterize your beliefs as something he desperately wants them to be and you can’t seem to convince him otherwise.  We’ve all been victims of obnoxious proselytizers, I’m sure, and yet all of us, don’t go full throttle radical jihadi on them.  All serial Clinic Harassers don’t all use semi-automatics to inflict damage either.  The problem is that the entire systems creates, sets up, and enables the rampage shooters and our leaders seem more complicit than ever.

The problem is a basic lack in the ability to empathize and sympathize with other human beings.  How many people do you know that just have to insist they’re right?  I’ve seen it come to angry words and even school yard brawls.  But why, in our country, does that anger jump to the idea that you have to insist you’re right with a damned semi-automatic weapon that takes out first graders, play ground revelers, women seeking health care and public health inspectors?

The bigger question is, however, if we look to our leaders to seek out the middle ground and to protect our rights to be us in a society where there are many folks that don’t live like us, look like us, and share religious beliefs like us, and then can’t seem to think outside their own little box, how do we survive as a country?

Each Republican Presidential candidate has characterized a blatantly false propaganda film as showing something horrible about a place that simply helps poor people get access to health care and a constitutional right.  Every time we get a rampage shooter, sensible majority supported laws controlling access to certain weapons and weapon stockpiling becomes an affront to duck hunters.  Gay people are taking away religious freedom for wanting equal access to Civil Marriage but monitoring all members of a specific religion is just common sense disaster prevention.  Depriving US citizens of everything because their parents brought them here while undocumented is just protecting our borders.

Orwell was prescient, wasn’t he?frozen_spider_web_spinnenweb_cotoneaster_CoralBeauty

We’ve so twisted our characterizations of others that we can no longer find any kind of commonality and middle ground.  It’s time to get back to Politics as usual and to find ways of protecting Americans instead of creating environments where we demonize each other then grieve when some one acts on those demons with an arsenal.  I believe the tangled web does come from the deception of others as Walter Scott so famously suggested. Unfortunately, the others appear to be a huge number of elected officials.  We’re not going to see anything change until we stop the ones that continually lie, deceive, and mischaracterize our fellow human beings and citizens.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


5 Comments on “Friday Reads: Selective Attention and Tangled Webs”

  1. Fannie says:

    Thank you Dak, I guess guns galore is everywhere this holiday season. Hell the Sheriff’s office is encouraging everyone to carry, especially now.

    I couldn’t open the messianic link……..am going to go to town, and I hope there isn’t another damn shooting by the time I get back.

  2. NW Luna says:

    Great post, Dak. It’s gotten so bad that even Kristof is talking about gun control.

    Astonishingly, it’s perfectly legal even for people on the terrorism watch list to buy guns in the United States. More than 2,000 terrorism suspects did indeed purchase guns in the United States between 2004 and 2014, according to the Government Accountability Office and The Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Democrats have repeatedly proposed closing that loophole, but the National Rifle Association and its Republican allies have blocked those efforts, so it’s still legal.

    While Republicans in Congress resist the most basic steps to curb gun access by violent offenders, the public is much more reasonable. Even among gun owners, 85 percent approve of universal background checks, according to a poll this year. Likewise, an overwhelming share of gun owners support cracking down on firearms dealers who are careless or lose track of guns. Majorities of gun owners also favor banning people under 21 from having a handgun and requiring that guns be locked up at home.

    These are reasonable steps that are, tragically, blocked by the NRA and its allies. The NRA used to be a reasonable organization. It supported the first major federal gun law in 1934 and ultimately backed the 1968 Gun Control Act. As a farm kid growing up in rural Oregon, I received a .22-caliber rifle for my 12th birthday and took an NRA safety course that, as I recall, came with a one-year membership. But the NRA has turned into an extremist lobby that vehemently opposes even steps overwhelmingly backed by gun owners. ….

    For similar reasons, Ronald Reagan, hailed by Republicans in every other context, favored gun regulations, including mandatory waiting periods for purchases. “Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns,” Reagan wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed in 1991 backing gun restrictions. “This level of violence must be stopped.” He added that if tighter gun regulations “were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.”

    Republicans, listen to your sainted leader.

  3. Prolix says:

    Excellent post Dak, thank you.

    Your point about radicalization coming from socially accepted cults is a great one. There are those on the Right who seem to believe there’s a pop-up turkey thermometer in a person who has finished being radicalized. Truth is, anyone who has ever been pronounced as radicalized has been after a horrific event.

    I didn’t hear incessant talk of radicalization after Dylann Roof committed his atrocities in Charleston.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for another insightful post, Dak. I really enjoyed reading it.