Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “conspiracy theories”

Legitimate Gun Owners Vs. the NRA

Just as it is essential that we figure out how to separate actual small businesses from giant corporations when it comes to policy, it is now, more than ever, necessary to separate actual gun owners from the NRA (National Rifle Association).

The other day on TV, (I wish I could remember on which channel) I finally heard someone say what’s needed to be said for years: “The NRA is the lobbying wing of the gun manufacturers of America.” That summed it up, beautifully. The NRA does NOT represent the interests of most gun owners – hunters, target-shooters, or people interested in home-defense. Not remotely.

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It’s certainly true that a small fraction of gun owners have given themselves over to the ridiculous hype generated by the NRA – that President Obama is coming to take away everyone’s guns, or whatever nonsense, but their real benefits are not considered by the NRA in the slightest.

What the NRA cares about is money. They want their real bosses – Glock, Colt, Smith and Wesson, etc., to sell more guns and not to ever have to worry that those sales will slow down. And they want to keep on selling guns to people who buy them with the idea that they may want to kill someone for reasons other than self-defense. Their Strategy has worked well. Gun sales have soared.

Remember when someone created a way to identify what gun had fired a bullet found at a crime scene? The NRA had a sissy, hissy fit. They immediately created and released videos showing how to alter these guns in order to disable the identification mechanism. Why? If you’re going to use your gun for legitimate reasons, what have you got to fear?

The NRA works to convince its members that they need to buy as many guns as they can, before the coming war for freedom from our oppressive government. I’m not really sure what you do with 65 guns and only two hands, but that’s what your supposed to do – keep buying.

Most gun owners aren’t really all that complicated about the issue. They want to hunt and/or shoot targets or clay pigeons, they want to defend their homes or other property, they want to be able to defend their families against armed assailants… mostly pretty reasonable stuff (although I’m not a big fan of trophy-hunting). But a few have been driven to lunacy, mostly by the incessant fear-mongering of the NRA.

I really wish I had time to list all the ways this guy is delusional.

I’m not even sure HOW President Obama or anyone else would go about any attempt to ban guns, even if he wanted to do it. And I’m quite certain that the impossibility of such a task would stop the policy from ever being realized, anyway. In addition, Obama can hardly get anything done at all with all the Republican opposition. Remember the “fiscal cliff?” And now we have a huge fight coming up over his appointment of Chuck Hagel, a Republican, no less, as Secretary of Defense. Coming to take away your guns? I would much sooner bet on the Cubs to win the 2013 world series… AND the 2014 Stanley Cup.

One of the things that’s angered me about the news media, lately, is this: one of the worst crimes ever committed in the United states – the killing 20 children and 8 adults at Sandy Hook elementary school, has led to a huge bully pulpit for… the NRA. While most of us saw this horrible tragedy as at least an opportunity to finally impose some reasonable rules on the gun trade, people like NRA president Wayne Lapierre and NRA board member (and crappy rock star) Ted Nugent are all over TV, being legitimized in interviews on news programs.

As I always say, I’m all for a good debate. And some reasonable people are worried that gun-killing-control laws will go too far, infringing upon the rights of ordinary citizens. But the rantings of a man whose largest contribution to society was a song called, “Wango Tango,” don’t interest me at all. Ted Nugent strikes me as nothing but a meth-head, and Wayne Lapierre is nothing more than a corporate robot. Watch this to see how he’s flip-flopped, at the whim of his gun-manufacturing masters:

The relevant part starts at 2:03

and Ted Nugent at his finest:

I sure wish the voices of reason were the loudest in our country – even those voices that disagree with me. Instead, we have one lunatic fringe telling stories about the other side’s lunatic fringe (that really hardly exists) to scare the people in the middle that it HAS to be their way, or we will surely descend into tyranny. They say this in a tyrannical, ranting way, by the way.

We need to separate what it takes to make guns OK for the people who want to use them legitimately, while making it as difficult as possible for those who want to use a gun for illegitimate purposes. Legitimate gun owners do not fear this. In fact, they probably fear the lunatics as much as any of us do.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Is Justice Roberts a Friend to Health Care? – Tom Rossi

Writers, pundits, television reporters, everyone in any kind of media, even those thought of as “liberal,” have all taken Justice John Roberts’ apparent break from the conservative cabal on the Supreme Court at face value. I’m shocked at the lack of conspiracy theories on this and, frankly, I’m bored.

The term “conspiracy theory” is used to instantly discredit an idea by ridiculing it as crackpot-ish. America is in love with the image of the lone, crazed individual, just like it’s in love with rugged individualism.

Fiction, not reality!

And we would love to think that Justice Roberts somehow and suddenly saw the light of reason, that he realized the importance of health care availability or, as Robert Reich said, the importance of the court’s public image. But Citizens United and Justice Alito’s subsequent mouthed denial of any reversal of precedent (at President Obama’s State of the Union Address) make those explanations seem unlikely.

There has been plenty of evidence that Justice Roberts and the other, even more hard-line right-wing ideologues on the Supreme Court bench have taken their marching orders from conservative strategists. In the Citizens United decision, the conservative members of the court took the opportunity to form a new doctrine that far overreached the case that had been presented to it.

Let me be clear about Citizens United and the Supreme Court – the aggravating thing wasn’t so much that the court found for what I or “liberals” would consider the “wrong side.” It was that the conservative wing of the court took a very narrow case with specific issues, and generalized the ruling in an expansive and even illogical way. It was as if they were called upon to rule on whether a runner had beaten the throw to first base and was therefore safe, but they also ruled that umpires could fly kites during the game and that the fans could wear blue on Tuesdays but not Wednesdays.

There is really no explanation for this other than that these justices were granting an unpublished (but obvious) corporate “wish list.” And even though I’ve semi-conflated “conservatives” and corporations, this, along with the outrage of everyday, non-super-wealthy conservatives, showed exactly who or what was being served.

This leads me to wonder about this mysterious decision on so-called “Obamacare.” Could this have been a strategy by conservatives? Could this have been an attempt to tip the scales in favor of Mitt Romney and other conservatives (who all vow to eliminate Obamacare) running for congress in November, 2012?

The following method is somewhat teleological, but let’s try to figure out how such a strategy would best be implemented in this case. It wouldn’t be shrewd to have all the conservative justices side with the legitimacy of Obamacare, that would give it real credibility. Much better to have one wildcat, one rogue justice who split, leaving conservatives in their cherished victim role.

And, in fact, it was Justice Roberts who was to write the majority opinion for this case. How different might it have been if Justice Sotomayor had written it? Or Justice Breyer? Roberts allowed the central principle of Obamacare to stand, the individual mandate, by calling it that dirtiest of words… a tax. In fact, he implied that it was a tax used as a punishment.

Within minutes, the Republicans, Senators, Representatives, governors, and the rare Republican bathroom attendants were crying: “Tax!” “Tax on the middle class!” I can’t say if this was prepared before-hand, or if it was deliberately orchestrated, but it was like the freakin’ Mormon Tabernacle Choir – perfect unison.

I don’t know what really happened inside or outside Justice Roberts’ round little head, but given what he and his court have done so far – followed an astonishingly blatant, conservative activist agenda while decimating the rule of law, I’m suspicious.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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