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The Week in Doom January 26

 

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Photo Illustration by Alicia Tatone

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 26, 2020

"People who claim guns make America safer are currently threatening violence and are openly threatening to use their guns to kill Americans they disagree with and shoot down the democratically elected government. This rally is a perfect example of why these murderous fanatics shouldn't be allowed to have guns, ever, or carry them anywhere near the rest of us." –Jim Wright


The most important doom-related story from my perspective this week was the so-called "gun rally" in Richmond, Virginia on Monday.  Richmond had not seen so many armed men downtown since it fell to Grant in 1865.

Since my daughter lives and works in Richmond, and reported meeting some of the attendees out on the town on Sunday night, I took a more than casual interest in the proceedings. The response of many Richmond natives to the arrival of heavily-armed mob was to close their downtown businesses, including the entirety of Virginia Commonwealth University, which suspended all activities for the day, including internships and clinical placements; a university statement made clear that this was in response to the threat, not the federal holiday. NBC reported that some residents of a historically black neighborhood left town entirely for the day—which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So much for their rights.

And the grievance? After decades of a 20-year Republican choke hold, the Virginia state legislature reverted to Democrat control in the wake of Novembers' elections and were planning to enact common sense gun legislation. Thus the “tyrants” who had earned the rally-goers' opprobrium  had been democratically elected.

One of the major issues that propelled Democrats to victory was the promise of gun-control legislation, particularly after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach left 12 city residents dead and four others wounded in May 2019. For all their loud objection to “tyranny,” the purpose of the armed crowd was to thwart the will of an electorate that had outvoted them. Virginians’ overall enthusiasm for gun control measures has not waned since last year’s election; a poll conducted in December revealed that Virginia voters strongly support requiring background checks on all gun sales, 86% to 13%, and passing a “red flag” law to remove guns from someone who may harm someone, 73% to 23%

Join me in another chorus of, "trying to overturn the results of an election."

Gun enthusiasts and their fellow-traveler race warriors had been planning for their so-called "boogaloo" for MLK Day. Fat Orange did his part by using his stubby fingers to get Uncle Fud to climb off his niece (or his nephew) and come to Richmond for the party.  Trump Times Scare-Mongering Tweet for Maximum Impact as White Supremacists Prep for Richmond Rally. Trump’s social-media eruption warned Virginians that their 2nd Amendment rights are “under attack,” and offered a sarcastic “thank you” to Virginia Democrats who will “take your guns away.”

Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump

Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!

169K

5:22 PM – Jan 17, 2020

Twitter Ads info and privacy

Earlier in the week prior to the demonstration, the FBI arrested six alleged members of a white-supremacist group on gun charges, in part out of concern that they planned to attend the Richmond rally and incite violence. 

In the runup to the event, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government far-right organization associated with the militia movement, purportedly published a message, a copy of which came into my hands. (The group describes itself as a non-partisan association of current and former military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath that all military and police take in order to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." They are immune to irony.) Some excerpts:

We need LEO [law-enforcement officers] and military veterans to volunteer to help us on the ground at the ARMED rally in the streets of Richmond, VA on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 (not in Gov. Northam’s absurd disarmed slave pen – out in the streets with the hardcore patriots who will NOT be disarmed).

You do NOT have to be an Oath Keepers member to help.  Just be a qualified and trained LEO or military veteran who can keep your head and is physically capable of defending others.  If you are in driving range of Richmond, VA, please come help…

Oath Keepers will NOT be entering Northam’s absurd slave pen, and we urge all other patriots to likewise refuse to disarm and go through metal detectors just to attend a “gun rights rally.”  A disarmed gun rights rally in VA is an absurdity and an abomination.  As Patrick Henry would say, “Forbid it almighty God!”  Tens of thousands of American patriots agree, and we will all be outside of Northam’s sheep pen/slave pen in the streets of Richmond, standing in defiance and protest…

Unfortunately, VCDL has chosen to ask that 10,000 gun owners disarm and go inside Northam’s sheep pen/slave pen, with the rest remaining armed out in the streets.  We disagree with this decision.  It sends entirely the wrong message.  It lets Northam and his fellow-traveler oath breaking domestic enemies of the Constitution in the VA legislature know that they CAN disarm at least some Virginians, because they already did on Jan 20, 2020. …

Defiance and refusal, not compliance and submission are the proper responses.  As the founders said, resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

The communication goes on and on in this vein, at absurd length. The point being that any attempt at gun legislation is not only illegitimate but tantamount to fascism, and the only moral choice for patriots is an armed refusal to comply with the proposed laws of a duly-elected legislature. This sounds less like a "well-regulated militia"  than an armed insurrection looking for a command structure via email in the days before it assembles to muster.

So precisely what is the complaint of these heavily-strapped members of the Church of Perpetual Grievance? Was King Northam planning to confiscate their weapons and their hands?  What "tree of liberty" needed watering with the blood of tyrants?

Virginia gun laws have been notoriously lax. Under Republican control, Virginia lawmakers successfully made the commonwealth the place that illegal gun traffickers boasted was the absolute best place for them to do business. Virginia had a law on the books for 19 years limiting gun purchases to one a month, but — despite its success in helping to curtail the illicit gun trade and an appeal from Virginia Tech families — it was repealed in 2012. Efforts to restore the limit, as well as enact other common-sense measures with popular support, such as universal background checks, were killed by a General Assembly captive to the gun lobby. Many of the Dems who won election in November ran on passing common sense gun legislation.

Here are the Draconian measures advanced in the Virginia House of delegates this week:

  • Limiting handgun purchases to once a month
  • Universal background checks on gun purchases
  • Allowing localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas
  • A red flag bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

By any measure, these are pretty anodyne, common sense measures and are popular with upwards of 85 per cent of the electorate. The House did NOT take up an assault weapon ban. In an era when any gun rights legislation is styled as a "power grab" by the vigilantly paranoid, it becomes increasingly difficult to take their arguments seriously.


The good news is that no one died in Richmond. But not for lack of trying. Talia Lavin wrote That Pro-Gun Rally in Virginia Wasn’t Exactly “Peaceful,”  so let her describe the scene:

Fearing a repeat of the deadly violence that had gripped the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, three years earlier, governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and barred weapons from the Capitol grounds. Some 6,000 protesters grumblingly abided. But just outside the legions of police barricades, twice that number of people roamed the streets of Richmond bearing a bristling mass of rifles, from AR-15s to massive Barrett sniper rifles. Some wore skull masks; others waved Confederate flags. Members of hate groups like the League of the South and the American Guard, as well as the Proud Boys, mingled openly; some of the latter were wearing patches that said “RWDS”—an acronym for “Right-Wing Death Squad.” Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones gave a speech from a Terradyne battle tank. Adding to the bellicose mood, some attendees paraded with a massive guillotine as a prop, and others held up an effigy strung on a noose, emblazoned with the slogan, “Thus always to tyrants.”

Earlier the previous week, the FBI detained three members of neo-Nazi terror group The Base, who had planned to attend the Virginia rally, armed with a home-built, functioning fully-automatic rifle capable of firing several rounds at a time, survival gear, and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. They had planned to open fire into the crowd. The threat of violence in Richmond, coupled with the arrest of these neo-Nazis, sent other groups into hiding. Thus,

what abounded, in that armed and insurrectionist sea of humanity, was the promise that bloodshed might happen at any time, should the will of the mob be thwarted. America’s exceptional tolerance towards armed white gunmen—its brooking of gun-toting militias around the country, and the po-faced seriousness with which the media takes claims of “freedom” when it comes to the right to own weapons of mass slaughter—is entirely restricted to this demographic.

Imagine the response if 22,000 heavily armed black Americans descended on, say Atlanta? We've seen this movie before. When Black Panthers started showing up armed and en masse in California on the 1960s, then-Governor Ronald Reagan proposed gun control. 

Any attempt to assert that the presence of 22,000 heavily armed men is NOT an attempt to intimidate is simply laughable. What was it intended to be? A prayer meeting? No, it was a white supremacy cycle jerk and bro-fest. Mission accomplished. And the Democratic-controlled General Assembly disposed of the Republican gun bills the following day via legislative procedure. 


Open-carry cultists notwithstanding, it seems to me that openly brandishing a weapon on, say an early morning convenience store run is just sending a message of intimidation. Unless you are making a night bank deposit from a club, or live in a wilderness area with bears, there is little need to carry a weapon that enables you to injure or end a life on demand. I wrote about this several years ago when my wife went to a convenience store and encountered a male shopper strapped for his shopping occasion.  (The Open-Carry Cargo Cult)

Scaring the shit out of a middle-aged woman trying to buy cigarettes at eight on a Sunday morning is PRECISELY the point of open carry, in the same way as is the presence of 22,000 heavily armed people to protest gun control laws.

So then you start to wonder why; why the need to intimidate? Any amateur psychologist/Monday Morning quarterback can pull together the same half-dozen reasons as I. Refer to the article referenced below for at least one set of reasons: "I have nothing going in my life, few prospects, and less of a future– but I'm filled with rage and I can afford a knockoff AR-15 and a Halloween outfit."

Americans have the right to own guns. And no one– anywhere– is proposing otherwise. But ownership of a gun does not confer permission to intimidate others, overthrow the government whenever you please, or even win all the arguments. The Second Amendment is for defense of the Republic, NOT nullification of democracy. We've already had the "nullification" argument in this country, and the bad guys lost, decisively, first at Gettysburg, and later at Appomattox.

The Second Amendment also calls for "a well-regulated militia." The gathering in Richmond was not a "militia" so much as an armed mob, the purpose of which was to intimidate. What the armed mob either failed to understand or ignored was that if it weren't for their fanatical obsession with guns, their endless threats of violence and their attempts to intimidate, there would be little reason for the very laws they oppose.


“Shit-Life Syndrome,” Trump Voters, and Clueless Dems

Getting rid of Trump means taking seriously “shit-life syndrome”—and its resulting misery, which includes suicide, drug overdose death, and trauma for surviving communities.

Ohio is home to many shit-life syndrome sufferers. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton lost Ohio’s 18 electoral votes to Trump. She got clobbered by over 400,000 votes (more than 8%). She lost 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Trump won rural poorer counties, several by whopping margins. Trump got the shit-life syndrome vote.

Will Hutton in his 2018 Guardian piece, “The Bad News is We’re Dying Early in Britain – and It’s All Down to ‘Shit-Life Syndrome’” describes shit-life syndrome in both Britain and the United States: “Poor working-age Americans of all races are locked in a cycle of poverty and neglect, amid wider affluence. They are ill educated and ill trained. The jobs available are drudge work paying the minimum wage, with minimal or no job security.”

When you have little sense of agency in your life, one or several McJobs, and fewer prospects for improvement, walking around with your manhood strapped to your hip or slung over your shoulder, escapism from the realities of day to day life is appealing. For some it's comic books or video games; for others drugs and opiods; and for others, perhaps, guns.


Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight

“It is now 100 seconds to midnight.”  Such was the ominous headline Thursday from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists after moving its Doomsday Clock ahead 20 seconds.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists makes the decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made each year in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.

Areas cited by Rachel Bronson, this year's President & CEO,  include: how a retreat from arms control creates a dangerous nuclear reality, an insufficient response to an increasingly threatened climate, increased threat of information warfare and other disruptive technologies, and suggestions for how the world should respond.

"We move the Clock toward midnight because the means by which political leaders had previously managed these potentially civilization-ending dangers are themselves being dismantled or undermined, without a realistic effort to replace them with new or better management regimes. In effect, the international political infrastructure for controlling existential risk is degrading, leaving the world in a situation of high and rising threat."

Like the 15 year old Greta Thunberg who has become a punching bag for superannuated (and superprivileged) old men at Davos this week, I expect nothing.

But Fat Orange still expects his Nobel Peace Prize for not launching a reign of nuclear-tipped terror on Tehran.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

 

This Week in Doom January 3, 2020


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 3, 2020

Conrad Brean: "You watched the Gulf War, what do you see day after day? The one smart bomb falling down the chimney. The truth? I was in the building when we shot that shot – we shot in a studio, Falls Church, Virginia. One-tenth scale model of a building."
– Stanley Motss: '"Is that true?"
– Conrad Brean: "How the fuck do we know? You take my point?” 

 ― From Wag the Dog, 1997 film  


On Thursday night, Trump ordered the assassination of Major General Qassim Suleimani, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, without any notification nor authorization from Congress, . The drone strike also killed four others outside Baghdad’s international airport. To attempt to put this in context, imagine China or North Korea assassinating the US Joint Chief of Staff outside the airport in Mexico City. Trump is pushing us to the brink of unnecessary war. When Trump entered office in 2016, he inherited one of the best chances in decades the US has had for peaceful relations with Iran. Three years later, with a cabinet full of ideologues and warmongers, he’s torn up a treaty and is now assassinating Iranian leaders.

To review the bidding: in the last few days, an Iranian-backed militia fired rockets at a base in Kirkuk Province, killing an American contractor and wounding several American servicemembers. The U.S. responded with air strikes that killed about two dozen militia members. Thousands of pro-militia protesters marched on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, trapping diplomats inside, vandalizing the compound, and burning part of it before dispersing. Trump promised Iran would “be held fully responsible” for the attack on the embassy, and made good on Friday.

The irony of an airstrike triggered in itself by another, different US airstrike is lost on everyone, especially in the corporate media. Trumpsuckers and other members of #TeamTreason will call this a defensive action, and will bleat the usual syllables. The idea that this strike will prevent future attacks on Americans and our interests around the world defies any recognizable logic.

If anything, our risk just went up manyfold. Pay attention to your corporate media in the coming days: Watch and listen how the same voices who sold the disastrous Iraq War will squat and squeeze out hot takes about how this was a "critical defensive action." It's such a defensive action that we are drop-shipping another 3500 soldiers to the Middle East: 3,500 additional U.S.. troops headed to Mideast as Iran threatens retaliation.

This is possible because Congress let it happen, because Congress has ceded authority over the military to the Executive Branch over several decades and administrations. Congress needs to reassert its constitutional authority, but is unlikely to do so any time soon..

With nothing more than an empty statement from the Pentagon and a tweet of an American flag, Trump is transparently and unequivocally Wagging the Dog and gambling with the safety of every Americans he pulls us to the brink of war with Iran. Now begins the speculation as to why. For a clue, consider Fat Orange's own body of work:


The strike was a reckless move by Trump — no one is remotely prepared for this kind of escalation with Iran. Fat Orange has unilaterally taken action that will result in war, almost certainly to distract from being impeached. Now Cadet Bone Spurs will anoint himself a "wartime president™." How long before he wears a field marshal's uniform?

As predicted, IN SO MANY WORDS, on the Doomstead Diner blog and forum: The Year in Doom 2019and on GEI, where John Lounsbury had the good sense to break it into two parts: The Great Culling: They Don't Give a Flying Fuck About You

I am among those who think that launching a gratuitous, meat-grinder war in spring of 2020 to self-anoint as a "wartime president™" is completely within Fat Orange's capability. It may already be part of his campaign plan, given the sheer evil of his administration ands the need to change the subject from impeachment.

For me here is the money shot:

If The Donald gets us into a big shooting war over in the Middle East or in the South China Sea, the mandatory servitude of conscription will be required. It won’t be a turkey shoot like Iraq or Libya. It will be an existential threat, so all males —criminally inclined or not — between 16 and 45 will be inducted, same as they were after FDR tricked the Japanese into invading Pearl Harbor, or Johnson said the North Vietnamese attacked our warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

Who is going to rushing to enlist to fight a war for Iranian oil? Hard to imagine even a generation of red state deplorables tearing themselves away from game consoles and meth pipes to do that.


A brief historical discursion: most of us don't realize (because we weren't taught)  that the Roman Empire continued in force until 1453 via the Eastern Empire at Constantinople. It was the only organized state west of China to survive without interruption from ancient times until the beginning of the modern age. These people, who largely spoke Greek after the seventh century, called themselves "Romans" and called their realm "Romania." For them they were the Roman Empire.

Like most empires, its borders ebbed and flowed depending upon the competence of the emperors, the military, and blind luck. (Plague was always a wild card.)  In the 6th century, Justinian had recovered the west though Italy and North Africa, and east through Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean. Who stopped their expansion eastward? The Persians. 

Likewise, in the 8th century, Islam spread like a wildfire thought the Middle East and Africa. This gave rise to the creation of the caliphates, occupying a vast geographical area. The Ummayads were based in Syria and Damascus was their capital. Know who put the end to their rule in the eighth century? The Persians.

Anyone who thinks that Iran is going to do an "el foldo" like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq is sadly mistaken. Unlike Iraq, which was cobbled together via the Balfour declaration and held together by Saddam's brutality, Iran has a long, continuous history as a people and are not going to be exterminated quietly. Since Iran is surrounded by American bases, the outcome will never be much in doubt, but the costs will be extreme and the fighting scorched earth. Victory will be had, at the cost of your last grandson or granddaughter, so there is little doubt that Uncle Cracker will be looking for fresh meat.

I for one will be delighted to see Donzo Jr, Eric, Jared, Ivanka and Tiffany all leading the assault from the front lines. Let's also recruit the failsons of the One Percent to help lead the charge..


Michael Moore posted this on Facebook:

Hello fellow Americans. Do you know this man? Did you know he was your enemy? What? Never heard of him? By the end of today you will be trained to hate him. You will be glad Trump had him assassinated. You will do as you are told. Sit! Fetch! Jump! Get ready to die on your plane ride back home from the holidays. Get ready to send your sons and daughters to die in a new war. War makes the rich richer. War is good. War is a necessary distraction. War is peace. Trump is our Commander! Happy New Decade. It won’t be long now. Shhhh…sleep…there was no collusion…it was a perfect call…I just shot a man on 5th Avenue just because I can…I’m sorry, but due to this national emergency we’ve had to postpone the election…


As of Friday morning, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, promised “a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands.” What form that takes is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, reports say Iraq descends into chaos. It is possible Iraq could ask the U.S. to withdraw its forces. That would be a setback for both the Trump administration’s effort to pressure Iran militarily, and the continuing effort to contain ISIS. Oh yeah, them. As of right now, given the Trump "administration's" contempt for traditional diplomacy,  no one can predict the broader consequences of a profound escalation in U.S.-Iranian hostilities.



banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

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Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

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The Kunduz River is one of the main tributaries of the Amu Darya Basin in North Afghanistan. Many co [...]

Protected areas are the backbone of biodiversity conservation but are fixed in space and vulnerable [...]

This paper presents the results of a systematic literature review of climate change adaptation and r [...]