Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hell Is for Sleazos

There was a time when the only citizens who enjoyed “Second Amendment rights” were those belonging to a well regulated militia.

But, since conservative presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan, began packing the Supreme Court with conservative fanatics, the originalist, common sense interpretation of the Second Amendment was rejected in favor of a looney interpretation that appeals mainly to gun profiteers.

Even Justice William Rehnquist, a  conservative Nixon appointee, regarded the newly emergent pro-gun court as guilty of fraud (his word) in its bizarre interpretation of the Second Amendment.

The amendment, in its entirety, reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

In other words, gun ownership is not an inherent right for every nut case or conspiracy theorist in America.

The post-Reagan justices, however, (by five to four majorities) have decided that gun ownership is indeed the “unalienable right” of such nut cases or anyone else who, for any given problem, likes to keep murderous options on the table.

God willing, we will see a Democratic president in the White House after 2016 and she or he will put normal human beings on the court who will return the Second Amendment to where it stood for 200 years – as an adjunct to well regulated militias.

Part of our problem is that there are some rather cunning conservatives who are much better than the rest of us at conjuring up misleading verbiage. The very use of the phrase “Second Amendment rights” is an example of this. The gun lobby supporters have effectively created the impression that this amendment has nothing to do with militias, when, in fact, that’s all it has to do with (or did, until the court fanatics began to pretzelize its logic). The country would be well served if we could insist on the originalist phrase “Second Amendment militia rights.”

Speaking of language, even the very name of the NRA is dishonest. The real purpose of this organization is not to serve the interests of gun owners, the majority of whom want to see tighter regulation of gun sales. No, the NRA’s purpose is to serve gun manufacturers and sellers. Since these profit-driven industries are focused on maximizing income, they will do anything to boost sales, and if this means the school shootings will go on, that’s not, apparently, a problem for them. The NRA promotes their agenda, not the interests of the gun owners who favor tighter regulations. So, I have to believe that we will all benefit if, instead of saying NRA, we were to refer to this organization as the “NRA Gun Sellers’ Lobby.”

A little awkward, admittedly, but so much more honest than simply “NRA.”

While we’re on the topic of honest language, there are a few more phrases, foisted on the public by cheesy propagandists, that need to be modified or replaced. One of these is “job creators.” Republicans spout this term when they want to continue the trend that diverts all of America’s wealth into the hands of those who are already super-rich. “Don’t raise taxes on the job creators!” is the slogan, implying that taxing Donald Trump will mean that your unemployed brother will never get a job.

But the real job creators are the middle class and the poor. The so-called “job creators” only create jobs when these ordinary citizens boost demand by spending their money. These people, the middle class and the poor, have the potential to create jobs, or at least they do when conservative policies don’t break their economic backs as happened in 2008 (and 1929).

Think about it: if people like Mitt Romney and Donald Trump really are the “job creators,” why the hell didn’t they start creating jobs in 2008?

Even the phrase “free market” is 90% bullshit. I think conservatives like to toss it around because the word “free” is closely tied to the idea of all that is good in America. But how “free” are so-called free markets?

When WalMarts started taking over retail sales in towns all across America (except for parts of Vermont!), the immediate result was that thousands of small business families that had operated freely for generations were crushed. “Theoretically,” these families could have got their hands on several billion dollars in loans, established contacts with slave-labor manufacturers in Asia, employed illegal tactics to stifle unions, funneled money to members of Congress who would write laws in support of their practices, and then competed “freely” against WalMart on its own terms. But only “theoretically.”

In reality, their only freedom, once their longstanding family businesses were bankrupted by WalMart, was the freedom to accept minimum wage jobs at WalMart, often shaped so as to strip them of benefits.

So is this capitalist market really free? As an Animal Farm pig might have said, “In capitalism, all of us are free, but some of us are freer than others.”

Because of the deceptively positive tone of the phrase “free market,” I recommend that every time some right-wing pundit tries to promote lower taxes and looser regulations on “job creators” for the sake of the “free market,” we call Bullshit! on his or her use of the phrase “job creator” and, furthermore, insist that he or she replace “free market“ with the more apt term “capitalism.” “Capitalism,“ I believe, is more morally ambiguous, and hence, more accurately represents what goes on in the corporate-dominated economic arena in which we now struggle to survive.

                              Hell: Next Nine Exits

When Dante toured Hell, he found the Fourth Circle occupied by sinners whose souls were driven by Greed. Their punishment included spending eternity pushing huge weights, representing the wealth they had grasped at in their mortal lives. Here, I think, is where Dante might have encountered the “job-creating” Walton family, had 14th century Florence been afflicted by WalMarts.

   Fourth Circle Dwellers with Their Money Bags

But where should the NRA Gun Sellers’ Lobby end up? Well, there is the Seventh Circle, reserved for the Violent. But maybe they’d have to migrate back and forth between the Seventh and the Eighth, the latter dedicated to those guilty of Fraud.

I don’t know, though. After this week’s killing in Seattle, and especially after the Sandy Hook children’s massacre of 2012, I’m inclined to think the NRA Gun Sellers’ Lobby belongs in the center of the Ninth Circle; I suspect this organization might be an avatar of Satan himself.

                            Dante's Cold-hearted Satan