Republicans Will Get us All Killed

I'm not too happy with the Democrats right now. They've squandered a staggering number of great opportunities this past year. This is not entirely their fault, mind you, just mostly their fault.

Despite my present discontent with the Democratic party, I can't see myself ever voting for a Republican, as their party currently stands, in a major election.

This is not for any of the obvious reasons. It's not because they're corporate shills, warmongers, fearmongers and authoritarians. It's not because they're anti-education, anti-regulation and anti-abortion. It's not even because they're largely corrupt. The Democrats have most of these same problems to nearly the same degree as the Republicans.

No, it's because they're Christians, specifically, that the party is overrun with Evangelical, Dominionist Christians that believe in the infallibility of scripture including, as Bill Hicks once expressed, "That wacky, fire & brimstone, Revelations ending."

These people believe that, sometime very soon, God is going to rend the flock from the faithless, send the believers to heaven, the rest to hell and leave the Earth to ashes. Moreover, they're looking forward to it. They're counting the days to armageddon like a kid to Christmas. I can't speak for anyone else but I cannot cast a vote towards giving the nuclear launch codes, the CDC and the mightiest fighting force ever assembled under one flag to someone who thinks the end of the world is a good thing.

Don't believe the rhetoric. Don't believe anything about saving the unborn, preserving the free market, defeating the terrorists or restoring the framers' vision. Fundamentalist Xians don't want peace, they don't want prosperity they don't want to curtail government. What they want is what they've read in the last chapter of a book they don't even understand. What they want is a generation of bloodshed and suffering followed by the snuffing of the human race in a global halo of holy fire that would leave the Earth a stone cinder.

And, they will do anything to get it. Vote for anybody else.

submit to reddit


Liberals Will Kill You

Any discussion with someone more than a standard deviation to the right of center is going to go nowhere. The nowhere shoals that such conversations like to splinter upon often involve the assertion that conservatives are better armed that liberals, that they have more guns.

Ignoring the implicit threat in that statement and what it says about conservatives' ability to win an argument on it's merits, I have to concede that it's probably a valid assertion. I don't know if there's any hard data on the subject, but I'll bet that a majority of gun owners are right leaning and, in a related but slightly different statistic, most guns are owned by right leaning people. At first glance, I'll concede that, were the political polarization of America to turn violent, as many wingnuts insinuate that it will, the conservatives are better equipped for such a conflict.

Better equipped or no, they'd still loose.

I'm going to take a minute to explain why using some gross generalizations.

It's true, in the aggregate, liberals tend to be much less enthusiastic about firearms than their conservative counterparts. However, there is a large segment, maybe 30%, that are perfectly comfortable with guns. Some of them, like my friend Joker, were raised in gun culture and came to hold liberal beliefs in adulthood. Others, like me, made an active decision as an adult to become knowledgeable and competent shooters. The point is, while most liberals have probably never picked up a gun, there are millions of us who have and who know to use them with great proficiency.

More important than the pure numbers, those liberals that possess firearms are probably better shots than conservatives. The minority of progressives that own guns value learning for its own sake. We treat shooting as a skill to be developed through study, practice and careful attention to detail and not as a way to get our rocks off. If you ever find yourself at a large commercial gun range, a majority of the lanes will be filled by guys with a half dozen guns, intent on sending lots of lead down range or impressing their friends with their supposed combat skills, people quick-firing until their clips are empty and then grinning and laughing over it, one handers and folks shooting high power weapons just because they like the boom. I call this the "Yee-haw" factor, and it's much higher among conservatives than among centrists or progressives.

There will probably be one other person there, the person who brought a single, mid-caliber pistol or sensible rifle, the disciplined individual who calmly and slowly fires off round after well-aimed round. This person is level headed with a gun and they did not come to the range for fun, they came to learn. For this person a gun is a tool and shooting a challenge. While they probably don't carry a pistol on a day to day basis, their pattern is tight, their aim lethal, their Yee-haw facto close to zero. They probably don't make much conversation with their fellow shooters and they probably didn't vote for McCain.

I don't know when the expression "peace-niks" went out of style but I miss it because it speaks to a core part of the progressive philosophy. Liberals don't value conflict for conflict's sake and we chagrin martial prowess as a personal trait. Thus, we are less likely to have bulging muscle, blazing guns, save the princess, win the medal, Rambo-style homoerotic combat fantasies. We have less desire to rack up a body count, less need to be a hero in the bad way. Thus we'll have a tactical advantage on account of not being idiots.

Also on the subject of liberals' tactical abilities, one stereotype holds true. Generally speaking, liberals are better educated that conservatives. A majority of college graduates are politically left of center. Most of the officers will be with us and not with the wingnuts, at least most people who are officer material. While basic competence with a firearm can be taught in fairly short order, command skills and tactical acumen take a lot more time to internalize. Well armed, though the conservatives might be, a functionally leaderless force isn't much good in a real fight.

Armed conflicts aren't won by bullets alone. It takes money, supplies, political cover and often international pressure to mount a resistance any more significant than a cult-compound standoff. More often than not, that support comes from another country who's interests are allied with the goals of the instigating movement. If Bushite/John Birch/Teabaggger types rise up in insurrection, no other nation will come to their aid. Their leaders have spent most of the last nine years, if not the last three decades, proving to the rest of the world that a conservative American government cannot be trusted. Republicans have consistently held the entire rest of the world in contempt. Between the bombing, the saber-rattling, the sanctions, the murderous rhetoric, the opposition to immigration, the refusal to honor treaties and the constant stonewalling of the international community, who in the world would raise a finger to help them?

I hesitate to bring up this next point at the risk of sounding racist but it's the one that'll scare the wingers more than any other. You know all those supposed pistol waving gang-bangers, all those young, lawless, disaffected Black men that, until 9/11, the conservatives used as civil bogeymen to scare god-fearin' White folk into supporting all sorts of racist public policies and draconian police practices? None of them are Republicans, not a single one. Though there are a lot fewer of them than any tough-on-crime gubernatorial candidate would ever admit, they do exist and they're all a lot more likely to have been in a gun fight than any second amendment blow hard. America's real experts on urban warfare, yeah, they're on our side.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone that, discounting minor upheavals like the Whiskey Rebellion and the Battle of Blair Mountain, there have only been two major armed insurrections in the history of this nation, one began in 1776 and the other in 1861. Both fights were won by the forces of progressivism. While I grant that this is of little tactical relevance, there's a major psychological advantage in knowing that conservatives have never won a fight that mattered.

Liberals are a strange breed. By this I don't mean the things conservatives wish I meant, that we approve of homosexuality, tolerate plurality of faith and believe a number of counter-intuitive things about the nature of human industry. I mean that there is a rarely acknowledged disconnect in our collective thinking. We value consensus. We value inclusion. We value peace and civility to the exclusion of almost all else. We take pride in understanding the subtleties, the shades of gray in so many situations. With armed conflict, though, we see no gray whatsoever. A cause is worth taking life over or it is not, with no middle ground. We will go far out of our way to avoid a fight but make no mistake, when forced to meet violence with violence, we are exceptionally good at it.

We would really prefer that conservative America play by the rules, respect America's best ideals and do their political business in good faith. It is becoming increasingly apparent, by their own rhetoric and actions, that they will not. They boast that they are better armed and they are correct about that. We, though, are better trained, smarter; we have all the tactical advantages and we've never lost a fight of significance.

So, to all the teabaggers, all the xian dominionists, all the birthers and all the NRA zealots that insist that, if your legal usurping of government fails, you'll get your way at gunpoint, bring it. I dare you.

submit to reddit


A Note on Education.

"How many have you got there?" she asked and all I could do was wonder.

There was a special on the kind of bottled water that my boss prefers, the exotic, twice-as-expensive-as-any-other-brand brand, but only the jumbo, liter-sized bottles. I was loading up to save myself two weeks' worth of trips.

I had set the bottles neatly on the conveyor in four rows of four, a perfect square of over-priced H2O and she asked how many there were. "Sixteen," I said after a moment.

She then proceeds to count the sixteen bottles, tapping a finger on each bottlecap. I'm not bothered by the idea that she didn't believe me. I'm bothered by the fact that she can't look at a collection of items that is clearly 4x4 and still need to count.

She plugged a one and a six into the cash register and scanned one of the bottles. The register beeped three times to tell her that I was over the limit for that promotion. I'm not normally the one to make a fuss but buying all this water now will save me a lot of time over then next half month or so. I ask if they can make an exception.

She calls the manager over and explains to him that I want to buy "more than the limit." Please note that she didn't give him an actual number.

"How many?" he asks, predictably.

She then proceeds to count each bottle by hand a second time. "Sixteen," she replies.

The manager then proceeds to count my bottles for a third time, also tapping a finger on each bottlecap as he does so. After a moment's though and without a word to me, he acquiesces, swipes his manager card and goes about his business.

Not to use colorful language here, but ex-fucking-scuse me? Am I the only person in line-of-site that finished the fourth grade?

We're talking about a perfect square, four bottles long and four bottles across. How does and adult that possesses the intellectual acuity needed to count out a cash drawer not know that?

Am I smarter than I realize and basic multiplication is, as most seven year olds will assert, really difficult? Or, am I a budding Lex Luthor who is, in fact, surrounded by imbeciles?

submit to reddit


There's Only Two Songs In Me, & I Just Wrote the Third

I don't claim to be a writer, though I confess that I put a lot of words to paper and to keyboard. I do this mostly for myself, as a way to order my thoughts, preserve my experiences and reflect on my decisions. It's a bit of a compulsion, at times.

Today I'm experiencing a strange disconnect, a dissonance of drive between content and intention.

There is absolutely nothing about which I am inspired to write at present, yet I'm feeling the compulsion to do so. Put another way, I feel that I should be writing. I have that restlessness of spirit that normally accompanies hours at pen-point. I actively desire to compose text but I've no ideas that I deem worthy of paper.

It's an odd and frustrating feeling, a feeling that has now led me to break a cardinal rule of writing; don't write about being a writer.

It'll come to me. Such is the way of things.

submit to reddit


I Rarely Post Links

But anyone that I've gotten even slightly interested in Ubuntu should read this:

Primer on how Linux and Windows differ.

Happy reading.

submit to reddit