Global Warring vs. Global Warming

The recent experience of destructive winds and catastrophic flooding brought by Hurricane Irene on her steady march up the Atlantic coast of the United States, which has washed away roads and bridges, crippled highways and rail lines across the region, and destroyed homes and businesses across the region, with New Jersey, New York and Vermont getting the worst of it and looking ahead to months, if not years, of recovery. This kind of massive flooding is exactly what has been predicted would occur as Global Warming sets in. Irene's unwelcome visit came two days after the six year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrine disaster, another extreme weather event which may be attributable to Global Warming, and about a week before the ten year anniversary of the 9/11.01 attacks, which launched America into two seemingly unending wars halfway around the world, with conflict now spreading to Pakistan and Yemen. Two different types of destructive events...which should we pay more heed to? Herein lies a tale of two perspectives, each of which carries with it different priorities and responsibilities.

The 9/11 attacks were a horrible shock to the national psyche, literally blowing away many Americans' sense of their country being a safe land far away from the roiling tensions in other parts of the world. About three thousand Americans died on the day of the attacks, and thousands more, including rescuers and bystanders, would die in months and years to come from illnesses brought about by exposure to toxic substances in the World Trade Center. A small portion of New York City was devastated and soon rebuilt, as was the section of the Pentagon damaged by the plane that headed for the capital, but the more lasting damage was to American psychology. Many people became terrified about the possibility of other terrorist attacks, and many remain in a state of hyper-vigilance, supportive of ANY measures that the government might take that promise to increase security. There was also an understandable desire for pure REVENGE.

The results have ranged from the curtailment of civil liberties in the USA, the acceptance of increased surveillance by our government against its own citizens in violation of time-honored American traditions of privacy and freedom from government interference, the acceptance of torture as a tool of military interrogation, in violation of international treaties, and the transformation of Guantanamo Bay into a prison camp outside of international law. The government of President Bush furthermore committed America to the invasion and occupation of first Afghanistan, then Iraq, with further use of military force in several other countries, the resulting death of thousands of our own soldiers and the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. The hunting down of terrorists like Osama bin Laden was the original focus of our international interventions, but it seems that the killing of bin Laden has brought no peace to the American psyche. As far as I can tell, people feel just as frightened as ever, and it seems that the so-called "War of Terror," which is already the longest war in American history, may become a perpetual process of continuing death and destruction--theirs or ours, either way, the show will go on, and the budget of the military will remain larger than that of any other nation on earth, giving vast profits to companies like Halliburton that provide services to the military and defense contractors that reap wonderful profits developing weapon systems. Americans may not feel safer, but the war will continue.

Will Americans ever feel safe again? There will obviously always be a threat of terrorist attacks, no matter what we do. Even top military brass like General Petraeus have conceded that military force alone can never provide complete security. There has to be a "winning of hearts and minds," to recycle the old Vietnam trope, to convince those ready to take up bombs against America that violence is not the best way to resolve their grievances. The American military and its NATO allies have tried to play the compassionate "good cop" (building roads, schools, hospitals)as well as the aggressive and punitive "bad cop" (blowing up buildings, killing those suspected of terrorist involvement, and terrorizing families and communities by breaking down doors in the the middle of night to search homes under suspicion and interrogate and intimidate the residents, sometimes brutalizing or killing those who dare to resist these searches and interrogations.) Many Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis are understandably resentful of our occupation of their countries and violation of their homes and communities, and that resentment could fuel a desire for revenge against the USA just as intense as Americans' rage on 9/11. There could well be an endless cycle of violence and attacks and counterattacks.

If you like, you could say that OUR attacks and invasions are reasonable and justifiable, and THEIR attacks are wrong and deserving of punishment and endless years of military occupation, but the thing is, after a point, if it all becomes a tit-for-tat situation of "get revenge at any cost," "stand up for your people and kill the other guy," what difference does it make? More importantly, how can it ever end? Will there ever be enough people who want to end it, if vindictive, violent passions are continually stirred up on both sides? I am not sure, but I think that at least part of the answer will involve America withdrawing its military forces from the countries we now occupy and making an effort to treat Muslim countries as equals, rather than insulting them by making it extremely clear that we see them as deranged lunatics that we have the right to kill at will and invade and occupy as often as we like.

I know that some of my more conservative, pro-military readers will find my reasoning ridiculous. They will, I imagine, yell something like, "You are a crazy bleeding heart liberal idiot! We cannot just back off now, retreat without having established absolute victory, let those countries do what they want. Our only hope of security is to maintain control by force, and if that means decades more of occupation, so be it."

As my counter-argument, I would point to the case of Vietnam. During our lengthy and costly involvement in that seemingly endless conflict, the pro-military folks often said, "We can't quit, can't back down. That would give the Communists an unforgivable victory. There would be a "domino effect" and the whole of Southeast Asia might go Red* (meaning, younger readers, Communist not Republican, back in the 1960s-70s.)" Well, we did quit that war. We fought many hard battles, won some, lost some, and then we withdrew. None of the doomsday scenarios transpired. A Communist regime took power in all Vietnam, but it was no worse than many other governments in the region, and over time, it even helped to get rid of a REALLY nasty and horrific regime in Cambodia, that of the psychotic Khmer Rouge. By the 1990s, American was signing trade deals with Communist Vietnam, and we now engage in billions of dollars in trade on an annual basis, with the Vietnamese appearing to hold no grudge for the thousands of pounds of bombs we dropped on them and all the people that we killed, not only in Vietnam but in adjoining countries, none of whom ever attacked or invaded us. It is still not anyone's ideal of a democratic paradise, but the VN regime does seem to be moderating over time. Domino-doomsday never took place.

I would argue that the same could happen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let us withdraw in an orderly manner, give economic and technical support to the new governments that develop there, if our help is wanted, and we can hope to have better relations over time, just as with Vietnam.

It also seems to me that we have gotten our money's worth out of these wars, and there is no need to drag things out ad infinitum, unless the military has become the only kind of government-funded jobs program that Americans are willing to support. (I suspect this may be so.) Al-Qaeda, based in Afghanistan, attacked us on one day in 2001. ONE day. In return, we have invaded for ten years. TEN years. We have killed many thousands, disrupted life, brutalized and terrorized many. What more do we want? Isn't that enough revenge? Or do you still want more? And, at what cost? In money, we have spent more than a trillion, I believe, money that could have been put to so many uses back at home. In lives, more Americans have now died fighting in these wars than were killed on 9/11. Will causing more deaths on both sides really make our world a better place? I worry we may be getting dragged down into a nether realm of nationalistic psychopathology (*see Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan) where we just want to use force against others because it makes us feel good, not because it accomplishes anything of positive value.

I believe it is time to step back from Global Warring and consider other needs and priorities,such as Global Warming. I accept the view of climatologists and other scientists that the extreme weather events of recent years are being driven by a gradual increase in world temperature produced by greenhouse gasses accumulating in the atmosphere. What weather events, you ask? They constitute a vast and continually growing catalogue ranging from agriculture-limiting droughts and dryness-triggered wild fires in places like Australia, Africa and various regions of America to heavier-than-usual snowfalls in winter, wetter-than-usual summers, and increasingly intense storms in both winter and summer, with tornadoes in the USA occurring with increasing frequency in places like Connecticut, Massachusetts and even the urban borough of Queens, New York that have rarely if ever experienced such events before. The economic cost from our new-fangled, 21st century weather is in the billions, but there is much more than money at stake. Decreased crop yields have led to riots and instability in countries from Somalia to the Philippines. Low-lying countries like Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar) are at risk of vanishing under rising sea levels. THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS TREND. If it gets worse, we are really going to be in trouble. We are going to have spend increasing amounts of money, worldwide recession or no, on feeding starving people, rebuilding flood,fire and tornado damaged regions, and dealing with mass migrations of displaced people, to just mention a few of the most alarming effects, WHICH ARE ALREADY BEGINNING TO HAPPEN.

This has all been known for years. Former Vice President Al Gore did a fine job of publicizing the issue and educating the public with his film "An Inconvenient Truth." Critics have pointed to several inaccuracies in the documentary, but his overall message, that we need to start cutting back on carbon use and greenhouse gases or we will turn the world into an increasingly harsh and inhospitable planet, really cannot be disputed, and is in fact NOT disputed by the vast majority of professional scientists who deal with climate issues. Yes, there are a few dissidents who can be found casting doubt on FOX news and other anti-environmentalist, pro-corporate media outlets, but they are a tiny, tiny, tiny group, and their viewpoint is especially suspect in that they are often paid to promote their anti-Global Warming ideas by oil and coal companies.

So what is a bigger threat to human life, the Al-Qaeda-type terrorist threat as observed on 9/11, or the increasingly destructive weather patterns resulting from climate change? Should we be more concerned with Global Warring or Global Warming? I have no doubt that the bigger threat is Global Warming.

Though America was rudely awakened out of a sweet but false dream of perfect security and safety on the awful morning of 9/11, the fact is, terrorism has always been around in some form or other,and always will be. There are always people around fired up either by extreme devotion to a political or religious cause or psychological instability who are willing to use violence to advance their cause or actualize their fantasies. Police, psychiatrists and other professionals can intervene to reduce the possibility of such individuals or groups acting out on their violent ambitions, but there is no way you can ever achieve total security, a completely risk-free world, as much as some try to sell this notion to a fearful and often gullible public (think: Giuliani & Associates). Other parts of the world, with either more experience or longer memories or less manipulative politicians know this, and they do not flip out and seek to invade a half-dozen countries every time a bomb goes off or a nut goes on a rampage. They make moderate, targeted responses, as opposed to seeking world domination. We Americans could learn a lot from them, except that many Americans don't like to learn from other countries, it seems.

The possibility of our environment becoming ever more unstable and self-destructive is something we must start thinking about. Perhaps the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene will be a needed wake-up call. It should be noted that much of the worst damage was not caused by Irene alone, but by the combination of a wet summer of higher-than-average rainfall in the northeast followed by the additional heavy rains of Irene. If, as climate scientists seem to agree,we are going to be seeing more, not less, of such extreme weather events, we should start demanding that our politicians and media begin paying more attention to this and seeking out means to lessen the impact and slow the rate of change, rather than obsessing about how many suspected terrorists we can kill in Pakistan with our nifty drone bombers. The consensus among scientists is that we MUST start turning away from carbon fuels, because the more we burn them, the more we are going to suffer floods, droughts and fires. Sadly, the supposedly pro-environmental administration of President Obama has taken the first steps toward approving a huge, new, potentially highly polluting pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the oil refineries of Texas. Supposedly, it was the non-Obama candidates in 2008 who were in favor of "Drill, Baby, Drill" as the solution to our energy needs, but it looks like Obama is not so different after all.

I am proud to be involved with Paganism when I reflect that Pagan religions, with their nature gods and metaphors and joyful sense of sacredness in nature, collectively provide one of the best platforms around for cultivating reverence for the natural world. I encourage all Pagans to speak out on these issues in the grand struggle to turn the great dumb and easily distracted beast that is the American public away from post-9/11 terror, war and security obsessions to an understanding of the need to address our collective carbon addiction and protect our environment as the #1 issue of our time.

To my warrior-oriented Pagan friends, Asatru or other, let me suggest this: even if you are the most super-bad-assed, head-to-toe tattooed, multiple-gun-toting, spear-throwing, axe-tossing, sword-bearing, military-loving, tough-guy Pagan or a super-dangerous, ultra-gorgeous, Xena-like, Amazon-crossed-with-Valkyrie warrior princess with daggers in your hair and a grenade in your handbag next to your mini-AK, consider this: no more planet, no more battles, no more war, no more warriors, no more glory! No planet, no nothin;' it will just be Ragnarok without the happy ending of a miraculous renewal. Whether you are a wimpoid left-wing peacenik like me or a rough-and-ready, battle-hardened military enthusiast, this should be something we can get together on.

Mission One is not killing terrorists; it is saving our planet.

Media and Politics - What Is the Role of Media in Politics?

There has been some rumbling in the UK media about the plight of a US media company over what a British media company did. Now both of these companies do share the same parent company, and there has not been any evidence that the media company, which is based in the US, did anything wrong. That has not stopped British liberals from salivating over the demise of a media empire, an empire that could be said donates millions of dollars to the very causes they support. It just so happens that the media empire covers the news of the day from a perspective that they do not agree with. In fact the owner of the company does not seem to agree with the news his company produces, if campaign donations are an indicator of his political leanings.

You might be asking yourself what this all about and if you are American, it would be understandable. Because lets face it, British scandals do not compete well with the next missing blonde on national TV or cable news channels. The scandal in question is the News of the World alleged hacking of cell phones in Britain and apparently 9/11 families now. Which is quite a serious charge and as we know with Liberals it is the seriousness of the charge that matters, not the evidence.

So the story goes that the British paper, News of the World, hacked a murder victim's cell phone, hacked the cell phones of the 7/7 terrorists and even the phones of the royal family. Of course all of this is still being investigated and Rupert Murdoch has stated that it did not happen, he even said that his company investigated the issue when it first came up and found nothing. That has not stopped the British Parliament from trying to bring down News of the World though and Scotland yard is investigating the allegations.

Writing Political Comedy - An Intro to Laughing at Your Politics and the American Political System

So political comedy is your thing, eh? The purpose of this article is to help you get started in making political jokes. It is also an attempt at thinning the paint that is our polarized politics, if you will. I want to add water to the orange concentrate that is our unwavering partisan views and beliefs in the United States. In the spirit of the Gulf oil spill, I want to take oil and water in a jar, and shake it until I get conservatives intermingling with liberals in an effort to bring the two sides together. Laughter is a powerful tool and it can bring people together. Poking fun at our political beliefs is a good way of creating humility and seeing what the other side sees. I have found this to motivate me and others to laugh at ourselves and work with our opposites not just in politics.

It pains me to see my country divided on almost all issues. Our political party system has divided the United States in two on things ranging from foreign policy to something as insignificant as clothing style! I heard an older gentleman say to a twenty something year old, "Uhm, kid? Your pants are too low and baggy." The kid responded, " Uhm gramps? Your pants are too high and tight." Where does the madness end? For a more serious example, there is uproar about an Islam group wanting to establish a mosque near Ground Zero in New York. In a struggle for power and public support, it didn't take very long for our politicians to turn the issue into politics. In turn I am seeing this create a civilian divide between those who believe the mosque is insensitive to the families of those who fell at Ground Zero and those who argue for religious freedom (i.e., conservatives and liberals, respectively). And of course, both sides are stubborn.

Enough with the serious stuff and let's get to the comedy. First, avoid your temptation to make jokes about your political opposite. I know that it's hard. They make it so easy for us, don't they? The problem is that it just adds to the stonewall partisanship and makes your opponents angry at you. You can poke fun at the other side when you give your politics equal time. Showing your opponent that you can joke about yourself will open them up for jokes about their beliefs.

The Role of a Journalist in World News Today

It is a general fact that every journalist out there try's to find the most relevant world news. But it certainly is hard to find one. It involves a number of factors. From media sources to the event and from asking questions to taking answers, everything has to be on time and properly planned. Therefore, it will not be wrong to state that it is difficult to find news rather than writing news. News topics change every day! Today you might be looking for news that talks about technology while tomorrow the hottest topic would be some celebrity news. It is for this reason that a journalist is valued so high in today's society. Journalist is one whose role is an increased one from mere providing news. Now the journalists of all societies have turned to be social workers. They do not only highlight the issues but also provide suggestions and advises on the subject matter.

The increased role of these journalists cannot be overlooked in anyway. Now that we have come to know how important a journalist is for a society; I would like to share some quick while worth mentioning tips on How to find the latest news? If you are a journalist or are planning to go for this particular profession, you should be aware that this field is not limited to any particular idea. Therefore, your expertise should be based on generalized knowledge and not specialized. For instance; you should have knowledge to interview a sports icon as well as a politician. You should be aware of the code of conduct for both of them. This is one factor that has been troubling a lot of people out there. But I hope this is now clear now. Secondly, if you are out there to find news, you should start looking for common people instead of only celebrity stars or politicians.

The reason for this is that these days' people prefer to talk about common people and are actually tired of all those political news and mess. In simple words, you might get a better audience while writing on common people subjects rather than trying to find high profile people. One of the news sources for this has been a news agency with the name of News World Wide. This news source is doing a fabulous job in regards of including the most common news of the hour and day. There news scope is not limited to any one niche of news but they cover a wide range of topics. All these topics are addressed in the simplest way that an ordinary person can understand. World news today is certainly different what it was yesterday. By this I mean that the intensified role of technology news in general and computer technology news in particular has reshaped lives. Yesterday news was only about the current political happenings while today it covers a big deal of aspects.

The Response to Disorder in Britain: Punishment Uber Alles

The recent disorder in London and other English cities with massive looting, destruction and arson was indeed a frightening and disturbing phenomenon,and there is a need for us all to think about how and why this happened and to come up with new ideas of how to create a better society in the future that will not be ripped apart by such violent expressions of mass discontent and anger. I am however even more disturbed by the response of British authorities, particularly that of the British Prime Minister David Cameron, than I am by the violent disorder itself. The PM has made clear that his number one priority is to punish, as harshly as possible, as many of the participants as possible. His attitude suggests no attempt to reflect on why these riots took place, only to use force to beat down what he seems to perceive as an antisocial element in British society. His solution to social disorder is punishment and oppression, nothing else. What I find scary is how common this approach is in many places in the world, especially the USA. In fact, Cameron seems to want badly to bring in a former US police commissioner,of Boston, NYC and LA vintage, to apply American-style policing to Britain, which has typically had a more gentle and less aggressive approach.

Cameron seems to feel that once enough force has been used to beat down and imprison enough people, everything will be fine and the UK can return to business as usual. His demeanor is very much that of the privileged upper-class creature that he is, someone upset that the less privileged lower classes would dare to act up and disturb the happy existence of the "right kind of people" like himself who would never dream of smashing in a storefront to grab a television or fighting against the police, because they have plenty of money to buy anything they would like to own, and have never had a bad experience of the police because they live in nice,upper-class neighborhoods where the police are courteous and friendly.

Cameron has one very good and very big political reason to stick with this "punish the miscreants" approach and disdain any discussion of trying to understand the disorderly poor. During the little more than a year that he has been in office, the British government has slashed social services to the poor, increased college tuition costs almost threefold, and called for a turning away from large government programs to a more locally-oriented, volunteer-based approach to social ills in Britain. This British version of the "austerity" policy which is also being applied to Greece and now, one fears, America, has not produced the glowing economic and social results that were promised. British economic growth has been close to zero for the last year, unemployment remains very severe, and people have either lost or are fearful of soon losing government services that they have long depended on and which may be particularly critical in a time of such difficult economic conditions. Therefore, when British cities descend into fiery fury after one year of Cameron's policies, which have given little hope to those at the bottom of the society,the question naturally arises as to what extent the government's essentially anti-government, anti-helping-the-poor policies have contributed to the frustration and rage that erupted in the streets the first weekend of August. By focusing all attention on the "lawbreakers" and "thugs" involved in the disorder, Cameron clearly hopes to sidestep any discussion of whether his policies are the wrong response to the current stagnation affecting economy and society in Britain.

There is a huge imbalance here, and indeed a huge irony. The horrible economic conditions that we are all suffering under now, the very poor most of all, of course, were not created by government spending or social programs, which now are being cut cut cut in so many countries as a kind of mass human sacrifice that will steal the health, security and futures of many. The disastrous economic conditions and the social destruction that has followed in their wake were also not caused by rioting hoodlums stealing televisions or young people starting fires. They were brought about by the sociopathic greed of large banks and financial service companies, led by the kind of people who Cameron would no doubt love to share a bottle of fine wine with in a swank London dinner club, who played dangerous games with the world's finances, such as the bundling of mortgages and debt on the international financial market in a highly deceptive and irresponsible manner, that led to a near-collapse of the world financial system. THE PEOPLE WHO LED THESE COMPANIES ARE CRIMINALS, and so are many who worked under them and aided and abetted their shamefully profitable crimes. THESE PEOPLE HAVE CAUSED MORE HARM TO THE WORLD THAN EITHER THE MAFIA OR AL-QAEDA. EVEN SO, THEY HAVE NOT BEEN PUNISHED, except for Bernie Madoff. In fact, they received huge government assistance to repair their companies and restore them to super-profitable status. Meanwhile, millions of others lost their jobs, their homes, their retirements, their savings, their futures, with no help from the government to match that generously bestowed upon the financial services "nobility."

The message to the privileged members of the wealthy upper classes is: Don't worry. You can be a greedy, deceitful sociopath, you can play games with other peoples' life savings and investments and home ownership, you can cause massive destruction of people's lives, what amounts to a kind of financial mass-murder, AND YOU WILL NOT BE PUNISHED. YOU WILL BE CODDLED. YOU WILL BE PROTECTED. And then, as governments fall into financial difficulties due to the drop-off in revenues brought about by the financial meltdown, the response is NOT to ask the rich to contribute more to help government maintain services to those who now need them even more than before. No! Are you crazy? That would be ridiculous. The obvious, indeed the ONLY possible response is to strip down all government programs that help the poor, which are of no use to the privileged upper classes, and then, if the lower classes dare to rise up in anger, BEAT THEM DOWN with maximum force and THROW THEM IN JAIL. They are dangerous lawbreakers, even though the damage done by the looters and rioters is far less than what was done to the world economy by the the nicely-dressed, albeit sociopathic financiers, bankers and hedge fund managers in the years leading up to the financial collapse of 2008.

The corporations and the super-rich are UNTOUCHABLE. It is only the poor that should be punished, and oh, how people like Cameron LOVE to punish the poor. Better than viagra, wot?

We have come to a point where many people, and I know this is true of many of the politically conservative college students that I teach in the USA, truly believe that the best way to respond to any kind of social unrest is through police suppression. Just beat them down and arrest them. The best a police state?

The liberal-leftist alternative, to try to prevent social unrest by providing MORE, not less social services, and reducing the huge wealth gap that afflicts many societies by taxing the very rich to provide more services to the very poor, is seen as LAUGHABLE by many conservatives. The idea that the poor could be helped by government programs is seen as foolish. That includes a rejection of food programs to feed the poor, housing programs to shelter the poor, education programs to educate and elevate the poor, mass transportation programs to make it easier for people who cannot afford cars to get around, government support for rebuilding run-down neighborhoods, providing work-opportunities for socially useful things like infrastructure reconstruction and helping the poor start businesses. All this is seen as wasteful; spending money on more and more police and prisons, however, is seen as a good investment, a wise and prudent use of taxpayers' money.

This is the dilemma. I cannot speak for other countries or even for other parts of the USA, but I know that in my neck of the woods, many people no longer believe in using government power to help people, only to punish them. As long as that mindset remains popular, politicians like Cameron will be able to win election and preside over a transformation of our societies into police states, creating a kind of apartheid world where the people with wealth use massive force against the poor, who will increasingly rise up in violence and disorder out of their ever-growing despair and frustration. The poor are being put into a vise where their insides are being squeezed and crushed, with no hope of assistance from the government that is supposed to represent them. Can you blame them for rising up?

The Issue People Aren't Talking About: Palestine

The desire of British-Mandate Palestine to gain statehood is growing ever vocal. The security council is putting the decision off, but the Palestinian Authority have support in this outdated and ineffectual organization.

Where do we stand on the issue?

Well poor old Dave has said that he wants a "two state solution" between Israel and a new Palestinian state, in other words Dave thinks that if the Palestinian authority is granted statehood then the issue will be resolved. This is naive, I am not alone when I say that Palestinian statehood would only be the beginning.

"Give them an inch and they'll want a mile" The Palestinian Authority don't want an inch, they've no interest in getting an inch, gaining statehood will merely renew their violent efforts against Israel and Zionism.

Israel is the only country recognized as 'free' in the region, Arabs in Israel have more rights than anywhere in the region.

Israel guarantees the religious rights of Christians and Muslims. Contrast this with the relentless persecution of Christians (and other minorities) in Arab countries.

How to Recognize Political Fact From Fiction

Nowadays, there are number of ways of communicating political news to the general public including television, newspapers, magazines, blogs, radio shows, websites, etc. We're bombarded with information, some conflicting. At times, information is put out there by a secondary source and perhaps re-written over and over. We read it or hear it so often, we think it's true.

How do we know what's true when different views are presented?

There are three main ways, that together, help to verify information on your own:

1. Is it logical? That is, when you break it down, does all parts of the situation make logical sense.
2. Can you prove the article is accurate?
3. Go to the initial source, when possible.

It was rumored for months on blogs and web sites that Barack Obama wasn't born in Hawaii because (a.) no one could accurately verify his birth certificate, (b.) the local Hawaiian hospitals would not verify his birth. And (c.) his father was from Kenya, so it was thought he was born there. It was blogged that his birth certificate had been tampered with. President Obama insisted he was born to Ann Dunham Obama in Hawaii.

Why Conservatives Love Guns So Very, Very, VERY Much

For many years, I have pondered the question of why so many conservative Americans have such a strong attachment to guns and make such a huge issue out of gun rights and the Second Amendment, which sometimes seems like the only part of the U.S. Constitution that they care about. Today, I want to share my own theories about this.

I think the root causes for conservatives' intense gun-love are (1) overwhelming fear of the changing world of increasing cultural and ethnic diversity that we live in, and in response to this fear, (2) a desire to cling to an idealized past version of America that they find more reassuring. That is to say, conservatives are both very very scared and very very nostalgic.

For quite some time now, beginning with the defeat of the pro-slavery Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War, American conservatives have found society changing in ways they didn't like, and have had a keen sense of frustration that they were losing the battle of ideas in American culture. What exactly do they so object to about trends in modern American (and indeed world) society? I think the main issue is loss of white privilege in the movement toward a more open society that is more accepting of equality between various ethnic, racial and/or religious groups. Remember, it was fierce resistance to Reconstruction efforts to empower blacks that set off the ugly Jim Crow laws and the paramilitary terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan.

It was the mystical "power of the gun," as well as other forms of violence including bombs and lynchings, that made it possible for white southerners to terrorize blacks and keep African-Americans in a fearful, subordinate position in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was also the power of the gun that subdued the Native American "savages" so that the West could be won for white settlement, a display of race-based violence to be long celebrated in games of cowboys vs. Indians and Western films. The current "Cowboys and Aliens" film shows how our society has, to some extent, moved away from this viewpoint with a narrative that requires white cowboys and "red" Indians to work together for mutual survival.

Anyway, let's go back into the conservative dream-world of beautiful, blood-white-and-blue patriotic violence, a harmonious, segregated world intoxicatingly scented with freedom-loving gunpowder. Thanks to his trusty gun, the White Man was indeed king of the country in the late nineteenth century. King of violence and racism, I would say, though I am sure conservatives would say that this use of violence in defense of the (white) "American Way" was something entirely noble and necessary. In the twentieth century, the KKK would form chapters all across the country, even in supposedly liberal strongholds like New York State and Connecticut, demonstrating that the violent defense of white privilege was not limited to the Southern states alone.

When the Civil Right movement emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, it was countered by massive violence in the South, and the cry of "State's Rights!", reaching back to Confederate slogans of the Civil War period to justify the right of states like Alabama to refuse equal rights to blacks and other non-white Americans. It would seem that they preferred returning to the Civil War rather than risk the unspeakable horror of granting Civil Rights to non-white Americans, and one must wonder if some such sentiment is among the motivations that have made Civil War reenactment so popular in recent decades. It certainly factors into the love for the Confederate flag in the South.

When the Democratic Party became the champion of civil rights for minorities, many white Southern former members quit the party to become Republicans. In every Presidential election since the 1960s, the majority of white voters, especially in the South, have gone Republican. Where Democrats have scored a victory, as with Carter in 1976, Clinton in 1992, and Obama in 2008, the Democrats' margin of victory came from African-American voters. The same demographic dynamic applies to the Tea Party, which is an almost exclusively white movement. The Tea Party desire to limit and dismantle government obviously appeals to those who see the national government and the Democratic party as overly concerned with the civil rights of minorities and allowing the country to sink into a sewer of mixed-race multiculturalism. (Note the endless sneering and sniping in the conservative media about "political correctness;" so many are nostalgic for the day when they could feel free to make jokes about niggers and Jews and faggots and whoever else they enjoyed insulting "back in the good old days.")

The gun issue has developed into a great vote-winner for the Republican Party, which has positioned itself as the protector of the seemingly sacred "right to bear arms," in opposition to the Democratic Party, which used to advocate for gun control and careful restriction of gun rights, though it no longer seems to possess the moral or political courage to stand up for this anymore. Many Democrats lost their seats in Congress the last time there was gun-control legislation, back in 1994, largely thanks to the efforts of the NRA. If one asks gun-loving conservatives, why do people need or want so many guns, the two pat answers are "hunting" and "self-defense." When one points out that no gun control effort has ever attempted to abolish all hunting in the USA, but only to place certain reasonable restrictions to prevent potential harm or abuse, just as we do with driving or alcohol, gun-minded conservatives will commonly express disbelief that gun control is anything other than an evil plot to eliminate ALL gun use and gun ownership in the USA, or they will pivot to the second issue of self-defense. This is something that conservatives are often quite passionate about.

It is particularly in the self-defense argument that you can see the latent, even unconscious racism, blended with FEAR, like an emotional accelerant: fear that the minute they let down their guard someone is going to break into their home, rob all their possessions, kill everyone in the family, fuck their dog, cook it on the backyard grill, and then eat it. Who exactly is it that they are thinking of in these fearful fantasies? The history of Republican political advertising,such as the Willie Horton advertisement from 1988, shows that the typical fear is of blacks, particularly black men. More recently, Hispanic men, increasingly mythologized as super-violent Mexican drug-runners, have been added into the paranoid mind-mix.

Here is how I see the race-fear/gun-love matrix speaking: "See, if you got your gun, and those black or brown-skinned devils, those niggers, Mexicans, Muslims, whatever, come to your house, you can blow them all away and defend your sweet wife and angel-faced children against the inevitable evils that come from all this modern multi-culturalism and civil rights bullshit: the savage, violent blacks, browns, and others who don't know their place and need to be reminded of the one primary fact of life in these United States, that the White Man's got the gun."

In the nineteenth century so idealized by conservatives, the blessed age before horrible transgressions of the American spirit like Social Security and civil rights, the violence-enforced "proper" place for non-whites like African-Americans and Native Americans was either on plantations or reservations. Our twenty-first century equivalent is prison for the blacks, with an absolutely skyrocketing rate of incarceration for African American men, deportation for Latinos,which has actually increased under the not-really-so-liberal Obama, and the various wars against Muslim populations, another brown-hued people to be put in their place.

In recent decades, the conservatives have succeeded marvelously in their "law and order" agenda, with gun rights always available as a sure-fire way to fire up the conservative masses and distract them from thinking about anything else. Fear is now ruling the national soul, and guns and threats of violence are everywhere. Funding priorities have shifted from schools to prisons, education replaced by incarceration. National security has replaced human rights and civil rights and, it would seem, almost any kind of rights other than gun rights as the top national priority. Criminal justice is a booming major on college campuses, replacing the fading idea of social justice that was once a common phrase on the campuses of the past. Real law is CRIMINAL law, you see; real justice is PUNISHMENT and nothing else. Invading other countries and brutalizing other peoples has become commonplace, and with new technology evolving rapidly, we will soon be able to do this without risking harm to any human American soldiers. The twenty-first century Sinatra will just have to sing, "Send in the drones..." The drone is the ultimate wet-dream of irresponsible violence, sanctified by the cult of technology: the gun acting alone, as it were.

Make no mistake: The gun, and with it the conservatives, are winning the national debate, for now, anyway. Fear rules the country, and the gun is our national sweetheart; the big, hot, red-white-and-blue penis that everyone wants to stroke and suck. Why do you think there are so many cop shows on television, so many variations of CSI, Law and Order, on and on? What picture of society and human nature is reinforced by this repetition?

Public figures of all sorts from politicians to newscasters to comedians know they cannot advance any criticism of our gun-wielding enforcers, from police to soldiers. Watch for how such supposed liberal icons like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert slobber and coo when they have military guests on their shows. Discussion of what these wars are doing to the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else we are invading this week? Maybe raise a question about the killer drones in Pakistan? Question whether the wars are morally defensible? Ask your guest how many people he has killed? Forget it; that kind of discussion doesn't happen in today's militaristic America. All must bow before The Gun and He Who Wields the Gun (or the missile, or the drone, or any other new form of the gun.)

Contrast this to critiques of police brutality and protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. Why was there no sustained outcry or movement for more restrictions on guns after the near-assassination of Gabrielle Giffords earlier in the year, or the Virginia Tech massacre a few years back, or any other such events in our sad history of national violence? Because the right has won; guns have become sacred.

This has its effect on American Paganism too. In some forms of Asatru or Heathenry, there is a great devotion to weapons. Where is that coming from, and where does it lead? These are two questions that have so disturbed me that I have taken my leave of American Asatru. Whatever spirituality is to be found through the barrel of a gun or the swing of an axe is not something that makes any sense to me.

Resist the gun.

Speak up for peace.

Fight the fear.

I believe that in the long run, the future belongs to diversity and pluralism. There really is no going back. Conservatives may want to retreat to some kind of racially, socially, and ethnically cleansed past, and may be dreaming, as Anders Behring Breivik did, of using violence to achieve or enforce that, but they will never succeed. Yes, the law-and-order, gun-obsessed, anti-diversity crowd is riding high right now, but I don't think the majority of Americans are really with them. Once the intentions of the most extreme conservatives become clear, America will reject this and return to the path it was traveling in the past that led us from the Constitution to Emancipation to Civil Rights.

And praise be to the people of Norway for not becoming fear-and-punishment obsessed in the light of their national tragedy, and for striving to maintain their very open, very supportive society. They are showing an emotional maturity and social wisdom that seems sadly lacking in the United States.