Contributors

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Beneath the Planet of the NRApes

When the original Planet of the Apes movie came out in 1968 the world was living under the threat of nuclear annihilation.

The hero of the film, George Taylor, is an astronaut who lands on a world run by intelligent chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas. Humans are mute and animalistic. In one of the most iconic moments in 1960s film, Taylor discovers the Statue of Liberty half buried on the beach.


Taylor realizes that he has been on earth all along. Humanity had nuked itself into oblivion and the apes had taken over. Taylor was, of course, played by former NRA president Charlton Heston.

The company that produced Planet of the Apes was 20th Century Fox. The film reportedly saved Fox from bankruptcy, so they decided to cash in with a sequel. But they had a difficult time making a go of it. Heston wanted nothing to do with it. They had serious problems coming up with a script. The budget was cut to the bone.

Different iterations were named The Planet of Men, The Dark Side of the Earth, and Planet of the Apes Revisited. In the end they called it Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

In the film another astronaut (played by James Franciscus) follows Heston. He discovers a race of mutated humans with mental powers who live in the abandoned subway system of New York. These mutants worship a planet-killing nuclear bomb etched with the ominous initials "ΑΩ".



The apes and the mutants go to war, and in the end Heston got his wish. He put his character out of his misery by pressing a trigger, detonating the bomb, and destroying the planet.


Though not the Planet of the Apes franchise. Three more Apes movies were produced in the 70s, there was a live action TV series, an animated TV series, a 2001 remake directed by Tim Burton and another reboot that has spawned three films since 2011, making Andy Serkis a tidy sum of money.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes was an allegory on the folly of war (Vietnam was in full swing in 1970 when it came out). It was also a bad, depressing, didactic flick.

But it was on the money with its portrayal of mutants worshiping the instruments of death. The film was filled with Christian imagery: monks in habits, a creepy chorus accompanied by an eerie organ, inverted crucifixes and the Alpha-Omega.

Lest you think that worshiping a nuclear missile is over the top, consider that most Christians worship the instrument of Christ's death, the crucifix. Some sects, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, consider the crucifix a graven image and claim that its use is idolatry. At its core, Christianity is a death cult, obsessed with death and resurrection, engaging to this day in ritual vampirism and cannibalism.

It is ironic that some 20 years after the release of Beneath the Planet of the Apes Charlton Heston came to be the president of the NRA, the leader of another cult that worships the instruments of death. After destroying weapon idolaters in the movie, he became the Moses of his own cult of gun worshipers.

The problem with worshiping these instruments of death is the ever-present temptation to use them for their true purpose. Someone always wants to pull the trigger to end their own misery and take as many others with them as they can, just like Heston's character in the movie.

These days Heston has many followers: in Parkland, in Santa Fe, in Sutherland Springs, in Newtown -- in far too many places to remember any more.

And we already know how this movie ends.

Guns: Where We Currently Stand

With the Sante Fe High School shooting, the number of school children killed in school shootings has surpassed the number of servicemen killed this year. The blame for this lies directly at the feet of gun owners. If they want our children to stop being killed in schools, they need to figure out other ways to feel secure in their lives. The particular group who are most at fault are members of the NRA, gun rights activist and any gun bloggers and gun blog commenters who, on a daily basis, advocate for unstable people to remain able to acquire firearms. In short, this particular group of individuals are domestic terrorists. They should be arrested by the Department of Homeland Security and summarily Gitmo'd.

At this point, I think it's important to summarize many of the ideas that I've had  for how we can change this and cease living in a fucking war zone. The first step in considering the problem we have with gun violence in this country is to look at the intent of the 2nd amendment. It was written by James Madison and was meant for local militias at the time to protect themselves against possible tyrannical governments in the future. That's why it says...

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." 

It does not mean that people can carry guns with them whenever and wherever they want. Recall that both Madison and Jefferson voted to ban guns on campus of the University of Virginia when it was founded. Further, Alexander Hamilton explains the meaning of  the 2nd Amendment quite well in Federalist Paper #29:

This desirable uniformity can only be accomplished by confiding the regulation of the militia to the direction of the national authority. It is, therefore, with the most evident propriety, that the plan of the convention proposes to empower the Union "to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by congress.

If a well regulated militia be the most natural defence of a free country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the national security...confiding the regulation of the militia to the direction of the national authority...(and) reserving to the states...the authority of training the militia

Since the time the 2nd amendment was written, the ensuing tort has shifted towards broadening individual gun ownership.

Yet even Justice Scalia, writing for the majority in DC v Heller (2008) wrote:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. ... For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.(54)

Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our [majority] opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. (54-55) 

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [Precedent says] that the sorts of weapons protected were those 'in common use at the time' [the Second Amendment was approved]. ... We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of 'dangerous and unusual weapons. " (55) 

So, with all of this, here's is what I think we should do based on why gun violence continues to happen.

First, the current gun regulations are terrible. It’s very easy to obtain weapons that make mass shootings more efficient. People with little or no training can buy a gun at Wal Mart. Mental health history doesn’t matter. Some gun sales and transfers of ownership don’t even require a background check. Many states have very loose gun laws and some now allow guns in schools and churches. Here is how they should be changed.

-Background checks on every single gun purchase. This would include private transfers of sale.

-Mental health checks for every single gun purchase followed by annual mental health checks for every gun owner.

-Regular training similar to what police and military must accomplish in order to use their firearms. Organizations like ALERRT could be used.

-All restrictions removed at the National Trace Center in Virginia

-All restrictions removed from the CDC in their research into the public health issue of gun violence. -Insurance required for gun owners

-All gun manufacturer exceptions for liability removed

Second, mass shootings are #trending and have been since the Columbine shooting in 1998. People in the United States believe that they can solve their problems by shooting up some place. I think that many mass shooters want attention and the media certainly gives it to them.

Third, The United States is very rooted in gun culture even though less than a third of its citizens owns guns. Our entertainment (films, video games, television) are very violent. Even our language is gun based. Here are some examples…

“Number one hit—-with a bullet” (music)

“Rodgers, out of the shotgun” (football)

“Faster than a speeding bullet (comics, films)

“He went off like a loaded gun” (common phrase)

With so many references to guns, it’s no wonder we don’t have more mass shootings.

Fourth, there is still a stigma in this country regarding mental health. Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook, was severely mentally ill. He was not given adequate treatment and was likely shunned by the people around him. His mom, an ardent 2nd amendment supporter, was ill equipped to deal with his issues. She paid for it with her life. If we addressed the mental health issue by removing the social stigma surrounding visiting a therapist, we’d have less mass shootings. It should be as common as going to the dentist with an equal amount of indifference when someone says they are seeking psychological help.

Fifth, the United States has a gun culture that makes it easier for unbalanced people to obtain weapons. These folks allow their own hubris and emotions about guns to override public safety. They don’t really care if people die in mass shootings. Their first reaction after a mass shooting is “Don’t take my guns!!!” or “More guns in more places” as opposed to “Hey, how can we help? Let’s make it safer out there.”

They are enablers to mass shootings and bear a great deal of responsibility for all of the deaths the US has experienced from gun violence. In short, they are domestic terrorists and should be labeled as such by the Department of Homeland Security. Given that we have lost more people to gun violence just in the last 50 years than all of the wars we have ever fought in, they are a danger to public safety. 

Finally, it’s hard to implement changes to existing gun law because there is no equivalent of the NRA on the gun safety side of the equation. Gun rights activists vote more reliably. It’s just that simple. This may be changing, however, as Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America just had their fifth anniversary. As more of these shootings happen, more people join their cause. This is the kind of group that could easily counter or even surpass the NRA if more people helped their cause.

Until there is a significant counter balance to the NRA, we aren’t going to see any changes soon.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Culture of Vengeance

Since the Santa Fe school shooting conservatives have been offering various crackpot causes for the violence. One guy says that religion is missing from the schools. Another says it's video games. Another says it's abortion.

Huh? High school boys never give abortion a first thought.

Ollie North, the new NRA bigmouth, says it's the "culture of violence." For once he's hit the nail on the head: the NRA's gun culture promotes everyone walking around armed, ready to shoot anyone that scares them. Or crosses them. For them the solution to every problem is a gun.

The real problem is that easy access to guns allows petty grievances to turn into mass murder.

But the exact motivations behind mass shootings are not all the same. The Santa Fe shooter was apparently a rejected suitor. Others have been motivated by racism, bullying or the thrill of notoriety.

What most shooters have in common is a mindset: they have been unjustly denied their due -- sex, attention, respect, an all-white society, an Islamic caliphate. They want to avenge their perceived suffering on innocent people.

Most are suicidal, expecting to commit suicide by cop or their own hand. They are whiny little bitches who know they're whiny little bitches and want to end it all in a blaze of glory, taking as many others out with them as they can.

It's this culture of vengeance that's the problem. With Donald Trump's election the idea that you have to hit back 10 times harder for every slight has gained cultural dominance.

Combined with the conservative rejection of common courtesy and empathy (which they call "political correctness") everyone is hurling the most vicious insults left and right. This results in an explosion of perceived slights, all of which must be retaliated against tenfold.

Then mix in the Southern "code of honor" (honor demands retribution), libertarian self-absorption promoted by Ayn Rand fans and the corrosive influence of social media. The pettiest insults can quickly escalate to deadly violence.

Jesus preached that we should turn the other cheek. Perhaps this is what people who say we need religion in the schools mean. But Christ's pacifist ideology is not limited to Christianity -- it is the cornerstone of Buddhism and secular liberal philosophy. You don't need religion to realize the Golden Rule is essential for a functioning society.

The fact is that American conservatives are the ones who most vehemently reject Christian humility and compassion (for proof, see Donald Trump and his cronies).

With nonstop demonization and dehumanization of political opponents and the less fortunate, their presumed white superiority, their thin-skinned lust for vengeance, and their non-stop promotion of violence through their pagan deification of firearms, it is American conservatives that have brought this epidemic of mass murder upon us.

Stock Buybacks Reach Record Heights

When Republicans passed gigantic tax cuts last year Donald Trump and his cronies claimed it would result in huge pay increases for workers. Democrats said companies would use the money to buy back their own stock, in order to drive up share prices, enriching CEOs and the wealthy.

Guess who was right?
Companies repurchased $178 billion of shares during the first quarter, up more than 42 percent from the same period in 2017, according to S.&P. Dow Jones Indices. That was the largest amount ever repurchased, topping the previous record from the third quarter of 2007.
It used to be illegal for companies to buy their stock back: it was considered stock manipulation. But in 1982 -- during the Reagan administration, of course -- the SEC changed the rules. This adds a whole new level of corruption to the stock market, allowing CEOs to manipulate stock prices and jack up the stock price for themselves and shareholders whenever they like.

Since CEOs are usually compensated in stock and that compensation is linked to share value, the only incentive CEOs have is to literally concentrate more and more wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

Buybacks aren't the only thing companies are spending on:
But even as companies splurged on their shares, investments in real estate, equipment and factories also jumped more than 21 percent compared with the first quarter of last year. Typically the first quarter is weak for investment, so the rise bodes well for corporate spending this year.
The only thing corporations aren't spending money on is pay increases for the people who actually do all the work.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Accomplices in School Shootings


Thursday, May 17, 2018

This is America

I've been a fan of Childish Gambino for many years. No doubt, he's going to be fab as Lando Calrisian in the new Star Was film.

His newest video is called "This is America" and it's the best damn video I have ever seen. What a massively spot on statement of the United States in 2018, especially in terms of gun violence.



Stunning!

Here's a list of all the Easter eggs if you are interested.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Thank You, Wisconsin!

I love how conservatives foam at the mouth about voter ID as if there is so much voter fraud going on that we are all falling into a boiling pit of sewage. Their arguments are just a giant smokescreen for their fear at losing more voters year after year. They are already at the point where they can't win elections unless some Democrats swing their way. So, they need to figure out how to suppress votes without being so obvious. Hence, voter ID.

It looks like their strategy worked in Wisconsin.

According to federal court records, 300,000 registered voters, 9 percent of the electorate, lacked strict forms of voter ID in Wisconsin. A new study by Priorities USA, shared exclusively with The Nation, shows that strict voter-ID laws, in Wisconsin and other states, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters. Wisconsin’s voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes, according to the new analysis. Donald Trump won the state by only 22,748 votes.

So much for adhering to the Constitution.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gun Sharing

Take a look at this.
















Welcome to the Metro Gun Share Program in Chicago. Wanna a problem solved? Just go pick yourself out a gun and take care of it! Tyrannical governments will quake in their boots....shiver...shiver...

OK, full disclosure...this isn't an actual thing. Well, it sort of is because that's how easy it is for anyone to get a gun. This is a protest art piece that came about as a partnership between Chicago-based advertising agency The Escape Pod and gun safety organization the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. It's currently located on Daley plaza in downtown Chicago.

I'm hoping we will see more exhibits like this in the future!

ZTE: Proof Positive that Trump is a Total Moron

Last week Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, announcing that he would reinstate sanctions on Iran. All our allies opposed the move, and all indications were that Iran was abiding by it.

But since Barack Obama negotiated that deal, Trump wanted to kill it. Because, like some stray dog, Trump has to piss all over everything that smelled of the other guy.

The immediate effect was to cause a flurry of Iranian rocket attacks against Israeli targets in the Golan Heights and retaliatory strikes on Iranian targets in Syria by Israeli jets.

Then the Chinese cell phone manufacturer ZTE announced that it was shutting down because the US government banned it from buying American technology. Last year ZTE paid a $1.19 billion fine for violating sanctions by selling cell phone technology to Iran and North Korea.

Many in the intelligence community believe that ZTE's technology is used by the Chinese government to spy on Americans. When Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked the heads of the CIA and FBI if they would recommend Americans buy ZTE phones, they would not. And a bill has been introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of ZTE equipment by the US government.

But now Trump says he's going to help ZTE get back into business:
“President Xi [Jingping] of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”
What?!? Trump has been screaming for years about how China is raping the United States and stealing our jobs, and now he's worried about Chinese people losing their jobs and saving a company that spies on us and stabbed us in the back by helping Iran. Right after he reimposed sanctions on Iran? Huh?

Trump is a total moron. Maybe he's got some corrupt backroom deal going, and he's using ZTE to extort something from China. Maybe to get to China to pressure North Korea to disarm. But since Kim Jong Un will never give up his nukes (it would be suicide), Trump is being played by Xi and Kim.

The shutdown of ZTE was supposed to be a signal to the world that the United States means business when it comes to sanctions on Iran and North Korea. By caving in to Chinese pressure to help a company owned by the Chinese government Trump showed he is either an idiot, a pussy or a crook.

I'm betting on all three.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Cheap Mafia Thug

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Negative=Fake!

Check out this Tweet from President Trump

The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?

I see. All negative news is now fake. Isn't that what all (adolescent) conservatives think?

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Convicted Felon Becomes President of NRA

Oliver North was just elected to be the president of the National Rifle Association. Recall that Mr. North was indicted on 16 felony counts for his involvement in the Iran-Contra Affair. He was ultimately convicted of three of these counts: accepting an illegal gratuity, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and ordering the destruction of documents through his secretary. If it wasn't for the ACLU, North would still have those convictions on his record.

So, the world's leading terrorist organizations has found a new leader and it's a criminal. I'm shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED!

Monday, May 07, 2018

Trump's Making the Price of Gas Go Up

Remember how Republicans said that electing Barack Obama would jack up the price of gas to $10 a gallon? During her ill-fated presidential campaign Michele Bachmann promised that she would get the price of gas down to two dollars.

But that milestone occurred on Obama's watch, in 2015. Check out the picture on the right of Bachmann celebrating Obama's accomplishment.

Now, the president doesn't normally have a lot of direct control over gas prices. Administration policies can have long-term effects on oil prices, such as increased fuel efficiency standards on vehicles, which reduces demand and lowers prices. The Trump administration trashed Obama's fuel efficiency standards, by the way.

But generally the day-to-day ups and downs of the cost of a barrel of oil are controlled by the state of the economy and events in the news.

Since the election of 2016 the price of gas has gone steadily up (up to $2.81 from $2.35 a year ago). Now it's starting to spike: it's up to $70 a barrel. Why? Donald Trump's big fat mouth.
Benchmark prices for American crude oil cracked $70 a barrel on Monday, the first time they have climbed that high since 2014, as investors factored in the prospect of President Trump pulling the United States out of an international agreement that eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program. 
There is no better deal to be had with Iran. Furthermore, the US pulling out of the agreement will send a message to North Korea that the United States cannot be counted on to stick to any agreement it signed.

All our allies, as well as Russia and China, are urging the United States to keep the Iran agreement intact.

Predicting what Trump will do is impossible, because his strategy is to lie and lie and then lie some more, then change direction multiple times, sowing chaos all the way. Then he waits to see what shakes out and changes course again.

And that's what I predict Trump will do. He will scream and whine and tweet and threaten to revoke the deal, and there'll be a flurry of activity with Mike Pompeo flying around the globe, and Trump will gyrate for a few weeks, and then announce that's he's come up with a hugely better deal which will be essentially the same as what we've got already.

Because Trump doesn't really care about Iran. He just wants to look tough. Putin and all the oil men want Trump to keep the essence of the Iran deal intact, so that's what Trump will do.

The same thing will happen with North Korea's nuclear program. Trump will pretend like he's made some huge breakthrough, and there'll be a "historic" meeting that lowers Trump to Kim Jong Un's level, and Kim will ostentatiously close a testing site (which he has to do anyway because it's no longer safe).

Kim may even pretend to get rid of some nukes. But he won't really do it, because Trump cannot be trusted to keep a promise: Kim would suffer an ignominious death like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.

At the end of the day nothing will really change: North Korea will keep their nukes and the Iran deal will remain intact.

But Trump will puff up his bloated face and pretend he's a stable genius, claiming victory when the status quo is completely unchanged.

No Boiling Pit of Sewage, I Guess

California just became the fifth largest economy in the world, surpassing Great Britain. California's gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, surpassing $2.7 trillion, the federal data said.

Certainly this is no surprise to me as Democrats (who have run the entire state for the last decade) do capitalism better than Republicans do. Yet it must come as somewhat of a shock to all of those doomsayers and pantsshitters on the right who loudly claimed (from their parent's basement) that the best economies are the ones built by Ayn Rand. Of course, they can never find examples of this, past or present, which makes it yet another example of their tantrum against some sort of authority figure from their past.

I wonder how the all the douchey right wing bloggers and commenters are going to explain this one away. All that money...made by a government with high taxes and high spending. Where's all the stifling they foam at the mouth about? The government intrusion? The excessive regulation?

Seems like it's all working out just fine in deep blue California...