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  • March 22nd, 2019


By Joel M. Vance


Just when you thought politics couldn’t get any crazier—wait, wait— it’s a waste of time to think that, because it’s a given that politics always will get crazier, especially in today’s environment where the political climate has heated up far more drastically than the actual weather climate.


For example the Texas House has passed a bill legalizing lemonade stands run by children. Thank God, we finally are saved from those streetcorner speakeasies run by shady five-year-old mobsters. And, the United States Secretary of State believes that it is possible that Donald J Trump has been sent by God to protect the Jewish people from their enemies— especially the Iranian menace. Now, if we can only get God to protect the American people from Donald Trump and idiots like Mike Pompeo we also might be saved.


 A Missouri legislator, Andrew McDaniel, a representative from the Missouri Bootheel, has introduced a bill which would require male Missourians between the ages of 18 and 34 to acquire within one year an AR 15. That this came on virtually the same day as a massacre of 50 New Zealand Muslims by a nutcase using an AR 15 is horrifying enough. Perhaps McDaniel meant the bill as an ironic joke, an attempt to spotlight the prevalence of automatic weapons in our guns saturated culture, but if it was a joke it was in poor taste to begin with and given the coincidence of it with the New Zealand massacre, it is a farcical disaster. If it wasn’t a joke, it’s a frightening reminder of just how bottomless the degradation of the political process has become.


McDaniel also introduced a companion bill to require all residents who are legally allowed to own a handgun and who are more than 21 years old buy and keep one. It even includes a tax credit to be used toward the purchase of the gun.  McDaniel claims that he intends the bill as a joke to call attention to what he considers too many government mandates. As a joke it ranks right up there with jokes about the Holocaust. The joke, if any, is that voters would be stupid enough to elect a clown like McDaniel.


McDaniel, from Deering, is a Republican—no surprise there. He is or was a deputy sheriff in Pemiscot County and among his other duties in the Missouri legislature he is on the crime prevention and public safety committee. Doesn’t that make you want to sleep well tonight? Among bills he has introduced is one to designate July 20 as Mormon War Remembrance Day. The Mormon war, in case you want to look it up, was an1838 conflict between anti-Mormons and Mormon settlers in northwest Missouri which resulted in governor Lilburn Boggs issuing an executive order demanding the Mormons leave Missouri or be killed.


Perhaps we can expect Donald J Trump, the Executive Disorderer In Chief, to use Boggs’ precedent to issue an executive order mandating that all southern border immigrants immediately leave or be killed. Don’t count it out. Trump already is mumbling about authorizing volunteer border patrolees and there are no doubt are plenty of AR 15 toting militia types who would be more than willing to shoot a few Guatemalan or Ecuadoran refugees in the name of Ammurican values.  Statistics, which many equate to damn lies, indicate that almost 100% of hate crimes are committed by American citizens, not by immigrants, illegal or otherwise. The Hatemonger in Chief warns us that rapists and murderers and dope peddlers are invading the United States from the south. His words are eerily similar to those used by the New Zealand shooter in his so-called manifesto, posted online for all to read before he started pulling the trigger. When the president of the United States begins echoing a mass murderer, it’s way past time to worry about the health of the nation’s political system.


Understand, I am a gun owner, with a dozen of different gauges, calibers, and uses. I believe in the legitimate ownership of guns, both for hunting and for target shooting (which can be challenging and great fun). No one should object to a background check unless they have something to hide. No one should be able to buy a gun from other than a licensed gun dealer. I’m ambivalent about having to register guns, although along with everyone else, I have no quarrel with having to register my automobile. But gun registration does seem to be an intrusion into privacy, although if it proves helpful or useful in the prevention of gun related crime, I would have trouble arguing against it.


A few days ago the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Remington can be sued over how it markets the semi automatic that was used to kill 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012. It seems to me that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent— why couldn’t you for example sue an auto manufacturer? Cars kill far more people than guns do. I suppose the argument is that cars are not manufactured with murder in mind whereas guns can be considered to have a purpose only to take life. Still, it’s a troubling court ruling and one, I’m sure, that makes gun manufacturers queasy.


Donald Trump, the White Nationalist Enabler in Chief, says that he doesn’t see any rise in white nationalism, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” he said. In other words, no big deal to Trump. On the other side of the world a deranged white nationalist said that Donald Trump is “a symbol of white identity and common purpose.” He added that he didn’t see Trump as a leader, an opinion that, whatever else anyone thinks of the nutcase, a thinking person can agree with.  He is not, in the traditional sense of the word, a leader— he is an agitator and if he leads in anything it is to urge the mob toward the gallows to lynch yet another innocent citizen. He leads by fear, not by hope, inspiration or aspiration. He leads in the same sense that the devil leads the gullible toward temptation and sin.


Trump is unlikely to outlive his description of neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville a year ago as “very fine people” except in the narrow minds of his white supremacist followers. The New Zealand murderer also opined that “taxation is theft” and one is reminded that Donald Trump has done his level best to minimize his tax obligation by devaluing his assets at tax time, but also inflating them when he applies for bank loans, making himself at various times poor or rich depending on what he wants out of the situation.


The Missouri bill, one would hope, has absolutely no chance of passing— McDaniel himself admits it has no chance of passing.  It probably will not make it out of committee hearings. But the Missouri legislature, a cesspool of mentally challenged and unaccountably elected representatives, is capable of almost any legislative indignity.  After all they installed a bust of Rush Limbaugh, the epitome of hate incitement, among the fellow busts of deserving famous Missourians. Limbaugh predictably has reacted to the New Zealand shooting by suggesting that it was a liberal who did it in order to call attention to himself. He smirkingly qualified the idea by saying that it was “…. An ongoing theory that the shooter himself may in fact be a leftist who writes a manifesto and then goes out and performs the deed purposely to smear his political enemies, knowing he’s going to get shot in the process.” And then he dives right in by adding “You know you just can’t— you can’t immediately discount this. The left is this insane. They are this crazy.”


It’s tempting to say “No, Rush, you are this crazy.” But Rush is not crazy—he knows exactly what he’s doing which is to stir up the lynch mob to a killing frenzy. It’s what he does. It’s what Trump does. It’s what they do and they will keep doing it as long as they can get away with it.


They are the spiritual heirs of such historical rabble-rousers as the 1940s version of Rush Limbaugh, ordained priest Father Coghlan, who bombarded radio audiences with such quotes as “When we get through with the Jews in America,  they’ll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing” H.L. Mencken who was a bit of a demagogue himself, summed up demagoguery by saying “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.


To prove that Missouri’s legislators are not alone in their overwhelming ignorance, New Zealand senator Fraser Anning blamed not the mass murderer, but his victims saying, “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” So, even New Zealand, an oasis of tranquility in a world of unease, has its spokesperson for racial and religious intolerance.


Let’s just take it as a given that this elected official is a dangerous nutcase and give thanks that he lives thousands of miles away from me and you. But he is symptomatic of far too many of those who supposedly represent the common good. We have a president who claims that we are being invaded by dangerous criminals from Central America and Mexico, many of whom are women and children, including babies in arms. It’s difficult to visualize a two-year-old toting an AR 15 intent on massacring defenseless southwestern citizens.


Sometime, if you’re in a mood to rub your nose in offal, check into Facebook and see some of the postings in response to such outrages as the Sandy Hook massacre. More than one anonymous cancer cell in the human gene pool has claimed that it never happened. And there were those who claimed that the brave student survivors of the Parkland high school bloodbath were paid actors. Already, there have been postings, in support of the New Zealand gunman, lauding him as some sort of defender of the right… The extreme far right where lurk the dangerous crackpots who are a danger, not just to their many and fantasy enemies, but to society in general.


I’ve always had a yen to visit New Zealand for its outdoor glory. It is from what I know as close to a pristine environment for an outdoor person as anywhere in the world, saved from exploitation by the mere fact that it is so far from anywhere else—protected by its very isolation from the inroads that have desecrated so much of the natural environment, for example, in the United States. (Today comes the news that the Trump administration plans to lay bare millions of acres of wildlife habitat for oil and gas exploration). Daily there are news stories about yet another erosion of environmental protection. If we thought James Watt and Anne Gorsuch were environmental threats (and they were), in the immortal words of Al Jolson, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” Ryan Zinke was so egregiously corrupt as director of the Department of Interior that he was forced to resign but it only meant that Trump shuffled another environmental heathen into the post and nothing has changed. Nothing will change until the entire band of brigands is booted out into the obscurity they so richly deserve.


New Zealand has the kind of hunting and fishing that outdoor types daydream about, well aware that they never will afford to experience it. Some few blow their retirement budget on a dream trip so they can spend their retirement years in semi-poverty reliving the experience. Possibly a few people actually emigrate to New Zealand to live and hunt where there are no bag limits and, for example, you can hunt in national parks. It would be a fitting sort of justice if Fraser Anning were forced to emigrate to someplace, say, like Somalia, a Muslim country, where white folks in general and especially white nationalist types are not among the most popular immigrants.


And wouldn’t it be nice if he’d take Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump along with him?



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