White Coat Underground

I’m not real interested in blogging about politics. It’s just not my thing. But the recent increase in absurd and frankly scary rhetoric from the right is giving me the shpilkes. It’s not just the tea-baggers (heh heh…I said “tea bagger”), but I might as well say something about their lame-ass tea parties. These tea parties differ, but many of them involve sending tea bags to a representative or to the IRS to protest taxes. These “parties” don’t actually protest higher taxes, just the idea of taxes. After all, taxes have always sucked, and no one was having tea parties under Reagan, Bush, Clinton, or Bush. The original Boston Tea Party protested a tax levied by a government in which the taxed had no representation. That hasn’t been the case for some time now. No, there is something different about these parties, and it has everything to do with who our president is.

You see, it’s not just tea parties. There is an ammunition shortage. Gun an ammo sales have skyrocketed since the day Obama was elected. Why? Well, part of it I’d imagine would have to do with the general trend of Democrats favoring gun control more than Republicans. But that can only be part of it. NPR did a fascinating interview with a gun shop owner (linked above), in which they let him do the talking. His comments stood alone so well, that commentary was hardly necessary (emphasis mine):

DRURY: Well… the thing what those anti-gun people don’t understand is that people are buying guns to protect themselves. They’re so scared of the socialist type of let’s take over the banks, let’s talk about take over the oil companies, let’s give all this money to people who are without jobs, let’s reward all these people who are not working hard, and they said if the government is going that-a-way, what are they going to take away from us now? And that… you know what the big concern is? They’re worried about being able to get any ammo and not being able to protect themselves. They feel like if the criminals know you can’t get guns, it’s going to make it easier for them to commit crimes.

There is a perception problem (and a dumb-as-fuck-all problem) in America. First of all, there are approximately seven Americans who understand the word “socialism”. Socialism refers to a broad set of beliefs, but the unifying themes are a centrally controlled economy (the means of production, such as factories, are permanently owned by the government) and economic equality (“from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”). The U.S. has always been a capitalist state, although in its modern form has rarely been free from some characteristics collectivism, such as progressive taxation, social security, a central bank, etc. Still the government has never owned a large share of the manufacturing sector and likely never will. No modern president has ever suggested such a thing.

During this economic crisis, there has been a (for the U.S.) large increase in government involvement in some industries, most notably banking. As anyone who has ever lived in a socialist state can tell you, this does not resemble socialism.

Mr. Drury’s comments are listed not because he’s an idiot but because they are representative of the rhetoric out there. There is this odd idea that the president, unlike any of his predecessors, is planning to use the power of government to come to your house, take your hard-earned cash, and give it to someone else. The only defense left against this is, presumably, a firearm.

What fuck-nuttery. Most American’s aren’t noticing any significant tax changes. And if they were, would owning a gun help? Are they gonna open fire on the Revenuer comin’ up the path? What century do these people live in?

If our central government wanted to take away your rights, they wouldn’t knock on your door looking for cash. They would abrogate your right of habeus corpus, or monitor your private communications. They would use the media to gin up excuses to wage wars of choice. They would manufacture enemies, or “axes of evil” so that the State could have a bogeyman to both pump up and deflect your fears. In other words, we would continue the last eight years unchanged.

The disturbing trend on the right does not reflect reality. It reflects very old fears: rural vs. urban, North vs. South, and perhaps most obvious but least stated, brown vs. white.

Comments

  1. #1 Tsu Dho Nimh
    April 8, 2009

    Apparently the young man who killed 3 police officers recently in Pittsburgh was convinced “the Obama gun ban” was going to happen, so he pro-actively shot the cops to prevent their taking his guns.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/us/07pittsburgh.html?ref=us

    http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/19109577/detail.html

    Self-fulfilling thought patterns.

  2. #2 Denice Walter
    April 8, 2009

    The conservative media use “re-distribuion of wealth” to whip their audience into a frothing frenzy,however 1.most of their audience doesn’t have much “wealth”(so, not to worry),2.the re-distribution has *already* happened(so,it’s too late to worry), and 3.the *direction*(of the re-distribution) was the *reverse* of the feared “socialist shift”: it went to the “haves”,not the “have-nots”.

  3. #3 Toaster
    April 8, 2009

    I’d be interested to see how the gun sales increase breaks down by category: rifles vs. handguns. Rifles can ostensibly be used for hunting food if need be, and I guess defense as well. However, handguns have the express purpose of killing people, so they’re more…”defensive”. I have a hunch that handgun sales have increased disproportionally more than rifle sales.

    There’s no truly reasonable justification for it, I’m just curious as to how it’s playing out.

  4. #4 Alan D.
    April 8, 2009

    “There is this odd idea that the president, unlike any of his predecessors, is planning to use the power of government to come to your house, take your hard-earned cash, and give it to someone else. The only defense left against this is, presumably, a firearm.”

    How you got that out of Mr. Dury’s comments is way beyond me. Talk about fuck-nuttery…

    If you listen to the audio clip he was describing why his customers were buying firearms and ammo. His customers feel that there is a possibility the current legislature / administration is going to make ammunition hard to come by thus rendering them unable to protect themselves against, you know, criminals. Now, you and I both know these gun-nuts fear these “criminals” who they claim rob, murder and rape innocent people. Sane folks know there is no reason a person who is not a member of the military or police force should use a firearm.

    I agree with you on the usage of the term socialism but you are way off base with the remainder of your analysis.

    My personal favorite part of the interview was wehre interviewer asked how sales today were. Mr. Dury responded with “Just another post-Obama day.” By the reaction of the interviewer you would have thought he mentioned something about an oak tree and rope or a burning cross. Hardly fascinating reporting, I thought I was listening to Fox News for moment.

  5. #5 Jim Thomerson
    April 8, 2009

    Talked with a gun dealer who does gun shows. He saw this coming and stocked up on guns. He said that he was making 200-300% on guns which he would ordinarily have expected to yield 10%. Problem is with restocking, as you are going to have to pay top dollar. If you want ammunition at a gun show you have to buy it the instant it appears. Ammunition dealers are selling out as fast as they can put ammo out for sale.

    I wonder if this is all a planned part of the economic stimulus.

  6. #6 Pierce R. Butler
    April 8, 2009

    Toaster: I have a hunch that handgun sales have increased disproportionally more than rifle sales.

    Both categories are on back-order at so many gun dealers that meaningful measurement is practically impossible.

    The even greater nationwide ammo shortage is explained by:

    * the same paranoia/sales hype within the gun culture;
    * high demand due to the Bush wars, particularly the massive military/police training now underway in Iraq;
    * increased demand for copper & lead by Chinese construction industry.

    (Listed in order of my guesstimates of respective impact.)

  7. #7 Scott
    April 8, 2009

    I heard that NPR report, though I have not read the transcript. The clear message that I got was that people were stocking up on guns and ammo because: 1) the Obama government was going to outlaw all guns and/or ammo and they wanted to get theirs before the sales ban; 2) they wanted to protect themselves from: a) the criminals/socialists/lazy-people that Obama was somehow responsible for, and b) Obama’s government that was going to come and take their stuff. What really got to me was the report of the grandmother who bought a lifetime supply of ammo for her AK-47, because she needed to defend herself from those who would take away her AK-47. This woman was clearly afraid of the federal government walking into her house, taking her stuff, and giving to the less deserving.

    I may not be remembering all the details properly, but that’s the impression that the story left with me.

  8. #8 Donna B.
    April 9, 2009

    The same things were said when Clinton was president and there were efforts to outlaw purchases of both guns and ammunition. How does Obama favoring similar policies and getting a similar reaction translate to racism?

    I don’t see the tea parties in the same light either. While we have people we’ve (inexplicably) elected supposedly representing our best interests, few people think they actually do that when they get to Washington.

    The tea parties – as I see them – are a plea for our representatives to to their jobs. I was appalled that the stimulus package passed so quickly that it was absolutely never read in it’s entirety by any given representative.

    Honestly, do we have a need for legislation that massive? Why?

    I also have a problem with handguns being classified as useful only to kill another human being. I’ve killed two living things with my handgun, both were snakes (the real kind, not the political kind).

    When I’m traveling alone across west Texas or other unpopulated areas of the western part of this country, I carry a handgun, a 5-shot Ruger .32 revolver.

    There are some true nuts out there and of course, it’s their views that get attention. Just like, during the Bush years too much attention was paid to those marching naked in Berkeley.

    And… well, just how many of you posting here would recognize an AK-47 if one bit you on the rear? Most people couldn’t so don’t be ashamed, but also… listen with an open mind.

    It wasn’t that long ago (late 60s) that there was actually a small war in northern New Mexico. That’s when my parents refreshed my skills with a shotgun. My father had been personally threatened and at least one other person who had received similar threats was murdered.

    How has our country changed in the last 40-50 years that such a thing cannot, will not, happen again?

  9. #9 bickle
    April 9, 2009

    It just further re-enforces that conservatism is a mental illness, based in pathological paranoia.

    I do love how they try to paint liberalism as a mental disorder, because we all know that empathy is a totally non-desireable characteristic

    Failing to ban guns completely, we definately need to add psychological evaluations to handgun permit applications. If you want to defend yourself, learn karate. If the government really does decide to come for you, nothing you can buy in a gun shop is going to help, because the government is going to have a bigger one and a lot more of them, and all these fantasies about armed uprising are the result of too many action movies and worshipping a world 200 years gone

  10. #10 bobh
    April 9, 2009

    “during the Bush years too much attention was paid to those marching naked in Berkeley.” Oh my, were their genitals lethal weapons?

    Timothy McVeigh and the militias were real and a threat in the Clinton years and they are perhaps a greater threat now. The racism extant in those ranks is very real.

  11. #11 Captain Obvious
    April 9, 2009

    Alan D.
    He probably got it from this part of the quote:
    “…they said if the government is going that-a-way, what are they going to take away from us now? They’re worried about being able to get any ammo and not being able to protect themselves.”

    I understand if reading comprehension isn’t a strong suit for you, but generally an expressed fear of the government coming to take things away from you and you need ammo to protect yourself can be taken to relate to an expressed fear of the government coming to take things away from you and you need ammo to protect yourself.

    Talk about fuck-nuttery…

  12. #12 Phoenix Woman
    April 9, 2009

    The reason for the right wing’s obsession about taxes and spending, now that a black man is president? Hell, Lee Atwater explained it nearly thirty years ago:

    Contempt for expertise, in turn, rested on contempt for government in general. “Government is not the solution to our problem,” declared Ronald Reagan. “Government is the problem.” So why worry about governing well?

    Where did this hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.

    Oh, and the racial element isn’t all that abstract, even now: Chip Saltsman, currently a candidate for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, sent committee members a CD including a song titled “Barack the Magic Negro” — and according to some reports, the controversy over his action has actually helped his chances.

    Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. This was an “abstract” dog-whistle to all the people who didn’t think it was a bad thing that sixteen years earlier, three civil rights were brutally murdered there:

    Space doesn’t permit a complete list of the Gipper’s signals to angry white folks that Republicans prefer to ignore, so two incidents in which Lott was deeply involved will have to suffice. As a young congressman, Lott was among those who urged Reagan to deliver his first major campaign speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered in one of the 1960s’ ugliest cases of racist violence. It was a ringing declaration of his support for “states’ rights” — a code word for resistance to black advances clearly understood by white Southern voters.

  13. #13 Donna B.
    April 9, 2009

    bobh – nutcases are always a threat. The militia threat was overblown, because in the end it was a lone whacko who did the dirty deed.

    You’re confusing media over-hype with actual meaning. Racism has always existed, in many forms. I actually prefer the blatant racism of fringe groups because it’s easier to marginalize and combat. It’s the racism of the “sensible people” that bothers me.

    I ask again how “electing a Negro” is responsible for the existence of attitudes that existed long before his election?

  14. #14 BGT
    April 9, 2009

    Us real nutjobs reload, so we aren’t quite as subject to the supply and demand issues for the ammunition.

    Aside from that, the fact that people are scared that the US is going to become a socialist state is an example of the generally poor educational quality that we have here. I don’t see anything in Obama’s policies that can be considered classically socialist, and even in the automotive industry the government isn’t planning on taking over GM or Chrysler. Hell, they make bad enough products anyway without any help from the government.

  15. #15 catgirl
    April 9, 2009

    They’re so scared of the socialist type of let’s take over the banks, let’s talk about take over the oil companies,

    Yes, let’s all blame the president for something he did before he even became president.

  16. #16 Art
    April 9, 2009

    Part of this is simply hysteria over the much hyped meme that Democrats ‘favor gun control’ and, taking the next hyperbolic leap, thus want to take the guns and/or ammunition away.

    This is then is conflated into Democrats are against ‘freedom’ and ‘independence’ and are for ‘state control’. Some of this has to do with the GOP holding on to the rural areas and the Democrats the urban areas. Rural residents see guns as a right-of-passage into manhood, tool for hunting and self- defense and both totem of manly power and talisman against ‘tyrants’. Urban dwellers see guns as the tools that make their neighborhoods war zones and are fed up with hollow little street thugs who see guns as a cheap path to manhood, respect and power but who leave a path of body bags and broken dreams in their wake.

    There is also the simple economics and market psychology of the situation. Before the AWB passed people started to stock up on soon-to-be banned weapons, magazines and, reflexively and in anticipation of further restrictions, ammunition. A good number of folks laid in lifetime supplies and figured, if all else failed, they could sell them. It is true weapons and ammunition don’t go bad if stored properly.

    When the AWB expired there was no celebration. Instead the talk was of the next ban. Some of this was floated and pushed by people who had over invested in weapons, magazines and ammunition the first time around to get prices up so they could sell. The talk drove the hype, made worse by Obama’s presidency, that drove the market, so prices shot up. This has allowed some people to offload their excess but it also created a market for weapons, magazines and ammunition as investment vehicles.

    Add to this the situation in Mexico. Drug cartels and scared citizens are coming into the US and snapping up arms and ammunition. This further drives up prices and fuels rumors about the government grabbing ammunition. Which further fuels the hysteria as hype drives demand, and shortage drives prices, and prices drive them as investments, and fear makes weak people seek security through more guns … and around it goes.

    Weapons prices have doubled. Ammunition has tripled. Magazines, used to feed ammunition into weapons, has gone up 300% to 1000%, sometimes more, depending on popularity and availability.

    Prices and quantities have risen far beyond their practical levels and are forming a bubble as people foolishly do what they normally do, buy at the top of the market only to see their investments evaporate when prices drop. At some point the fighting in Mexico will die down. At some point people will reach saturation. Beans and holding onto the house will beat out bullets as a priority. Also, as the weak economy forces people out of work and through hard economic choices, like where to store your huge stockpile of guns if you lose the house, large stocks of guns and ammunition are going to come on the market.

    As these things go, all will happen at once. Look for the bubble to burst and prices to drop. I figure in about a year, perhaps eighteen months.

    Some of the most interesting responses come when I ask: What happens if the economic recovery plan works?. What happens if the Obama administration succeeds in turning the economy away from fossil fuels and the war in Afghanistan goes well?

    There is a reason Limbaugh wants Obama to fail. If he doesn’t their entire world-view is shot. They will have nothing. This is their last doubling down before they are declared bankrupt.

  17. #17 eddie
    April 9, 2009

    Art touched upon an interesting point. Perhaps some are buying weapons and ammo to defend themselves against home foreclosures.

  18. #18 Donna B.
    April 9, 2009

    “What happens if the economic recovery plan works?. What happens if the Obama administration succeeds in turning the economy away from fossil fuels and the war in Afghanistan goes well?” –Art

    If such happens, I’ll be singing with glee, the second verse, same as the first.

    What amazes me is I’m reading here the flip-side of the right wing nuttery that is on some of the nuttier right wing blogs. It’s just that I really thought the commenters here put more thought into political arguments. I should have remembered that an expert in one area may be a fool in another.

    I have the same reaction to illogical, ideologically biased thinking no matter which side it comes from: These people do not live in the same U.S. that I do.

  19. #19 BGT
    April 11, 2009

    I am happily surprised that no one took the bait on my reloading comment.

    That mean one of two things:

    1.)The reader understands what reloading is, and gives that subject and by extension the gun ownership question deeper thought.

    Or,

    2.) The reader is clueless about what reloading is (aside from slamming in another clip) but does not want to enter into a broader discussion than firearm ownership alone.

    Forgive me Pal for this comment, but I am a liberal firearm owner and see lots of craziness on both sides. In my case, the biggest attachment that I have to my firearms isn’t from some hazily thought out second amendment argument, but it is actually an emotional attachment.

    I leave that land mine out there for people to step onto by making assumptions around that emotional attachment.

    :)

  20. #20 Hemod
    April 12, 2009

    “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is the foundation of communism, not socialism. I would still like to see a single American born, who knows what socialism is.

  21. #21 JudiBug
    April 15, 2009

    Strangely enough it did finally dawn on some people, who used to vote Republican, just exactly what George Bush was doing to our rights, our sovereignty, our Constitution and just about everything else he could get his hands on. I don’t know if it’s socialism, communism or what but it’s no different from from being dictated to, ruled and under the thumb of an elite class of snots. The sad news is that Obama may be a party to it and it appears to me many Democrats are watching to see if he is. What a fine job the Republican and the Democrat parties have done of setting the people against each other and at the same time getting just about everything they want. The only thing these fine leaders care about is who gets to be holding the whip. ANYONE who can’t see that is a party to handing over what little we’ve got left to greedy rich control freaks who will stop at nothing, or at least they haven’t yet. Let me know when they do.

  22. #22 JudiBug
    April 16, 2009

    Geez… I do wish men could keep their thoughts off their testicles for five seconds. It does hinder their thinking process enormously but is otherwise unimpressive.

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