Category Archives: Extremism

1000 Words: No More

Some folks on my side of the fence preach civility and accommodation with regard to the tens of millions of other folks who think the 45th President of the US is this holy land’s savior.

Every now and then some person, pure of heart and with the best of possible intentions, tells us on social media or in an editorial that we must listen respectfully to the views of all our fellow citizens, that we must heed their utterances and feelings, take them into account, and even — perhaps — grant them credibility via our laws.

By and large I buy that. The key half of that sentence being by and large.

I’ve come to realize that people want guns to hunt with and for protection and that doesn’t make them wild-eyed killers. Growing up and living most of my adult life in a big city, often in tough neighborhoods, I’d seen so much random and senseless gunplay that I, for the longest time, yelled for the abolishment of guns. I mean, I’d hit the living floor upon hearing gunshots on any number of occasions through my later years in Chicago. I’d seen gangbangers chasing each other down the street, firing wildly behind them — without taking aim, of course. I’d read about people living in adjacent apartments being shot and sometimes killed when someone next door fired a gun, their homes being so close and the walls so thin. Once gangbangers in my neighborhood in East PIlsen engaged rivals in a gunfight and a little two-year-old girl in a stroller two blocks away was hit by one of their stray bullets. She died within minutes.

The only conclusion I’d thought I could come to was guns ought to be outlawed. Period.

Then I moved down to Louisville, Kentucky and, later, to south central Indiana. I met people who spoke dreamily about glory days when their fathers would take them out hunting. Another guy I knew, who lived just off Lake Monroe, one of the most liberal guys imaginable, told me he kept a couple of rods handy because, were a home invader try to get in, the sheriff might not be able to come to his and his wife’s rescue for 45 minutes or an hour.

See, in my old Chicago neighborhoods, the cops responded within a couple of minutes of me calling them. Sometimes, it seemed, as soon as I’d hang up the phone.

Accordingly, my feelings about guns have evolved.

That seems to be the essence of people’s calls for listening respectfully to the views of all our fellow citizens and taking their feelings and experiences into account. It’s being an adult.

Yet there are limits. And the Republican Party, today’s Republican Party, birthed of Richard Nixon’s law and order appeals of the ’60s, groomed on the anti-busing activism of the ’70s, emboldened by the dog whistles of the Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush campaigns of the 80s, and schooled by Newt Gingrich’s GOPac Memo demonization of Democrats and liberals in the ’90s, has gone to a place where listening to them, hearing their plaints, hoping to accommodate them, is as senseless to me as trying to have a civilized chat with someone who mainlined 10mg of PCP a quarter of an hour ago.

How else can I describe the ravings of the people who are joking about the skull-bashing that Nancy Pelosi’s husband suffered last week?

That’s what all this inane polarization has brought us to. It’s a polarization that’s been nourished for some three decades now by the likes of O’Reilly, Jones, Limbaugh, Breitbart, Bannon, Carlson and all the rest of the squealing, bleating, shrieking blowhards and provocateurs who fancy themselves political observers.

They’re “political observers” in the same way an arsonist might describe himself as a pyrotechnical researcher.

Any number of political candidates, wits, and wags in the last week have cracked jokes about the near-deadly assault and have tried to minimize or even justify it. A bunch of internet idiots have suggested the assailant was really Paul Pelosi’s scorned lover. Virginia’s governor, running for reelection, has exhorted voters to elect Republicans so they can send Nancy home to sit with her recovering husband. All this eliciting millions of likes, rousing laughter, and ear-splitting cheers.

I’m surprised nobody’s come up with the theory that Pelosi herself staged the attack. Is that any more outlandish than the pizzagate and baby-eating lunacies of just a few years ago?

A huge swath of the populace has lost its freaking mind. A lot of them have guns. Most of them are slaves to their own hates and fears. Their “savior” has told them the 2020 election was stolen and they believe him with all their hearts despite there being no evidence such a thing happened. They view the January 6th insurrection as healthy dissent, a “normal tourist visit.

CPAC, QAnon, nativists, white supremacists, neo-fascists, anti-semites, chemtrail-ists, virulent anti-United Nation-ists, 2nd Amendment fetishists who warn of the coming door-to-door gun seizures, conspiracy theorists who believe Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates developed COVID to loose upon the world so they can take the planet over, or that FEMA concentration camps are in the offing, or…, for chrissakes, pick any deranged idea you’d like — they’ve flocked to the Republican Party.

There was an age, in many people’s lifetime’s, when being a conservative, being a Republican, meant simply you didn’t want too much government spending or taxing. When you thought government regulation was an overreach, that the people and the free market were wise enough to ensure that corporations and their products wouldn’t harm us all that much.

I’d never agree with them but at least I didn’t think they were demented.

I can’t say that anymore. And I lack the saintly patience to listen to their ravings anymore. Their feelings, their experiences, their views — none of it — are of any interest to me anymore.

It’s not the time for civility and accommodation anymore.

Hot Air

An Elbow To The Face

What should a rational observer think about Cecily McMillan?

She’s the Occupy Wall Street protester who was convicted yesterday of second degree assault on a police officer during a scuffle at Zuccotti Park in NYC in March 2012. McMillan — there is no doubt — clocked the cop square in the face with her elbow as she was being run in during the disturbance. Numerous people, apparently all allies of hers, shot video of the clocking. In fact, her defense team presented one of those videos during her trial.

A trial, by the way, that lasted four weeks. Seems like an inordinate amount of time to spend on a simple slugging case but this whole incident is far from simple. McMillan has become a face of what could be a revolutionary movement. Cops, prosecutors, and public officials don’t brush such folks off lightly. Not in this holy land, nor in Russia, China, India, or Thailand.

As such, the entire arsenal of New York City’s justice system, seemingly, was aimed at her. Cops are clocked all the time in bar fights and domestic disturbances. Generally, cops take care of such transgressions in their own inimitable way. Remember the old comic strip Beetle Bailey? The Sarge used to pummel Beetle now and again, resulting in this:

Beetle Bailey

Mort Walker/King Features Syndicate

That’s what cops usually do to guys whose knuckles come uncomfortably close to their pretty faces. It’s never wise to tap, brush, shove, or otherwise cause physical impact upon the body of a man wearing a uniform. Especially if he outranks you. And on the streets, the cops always outrank you. Their guns and badges trump any Constitutional subtleties.

For her part, McMillan says the cop she clocked had grabbed her breast, causing her pain and injury. She struck him, she says, in a defensive reaction. The numerous videos don’t show the cop in question actually doing that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. I’ve known too many cops in my time to be burdened by any fairy tale that they all are upstanding, wholesome sweethearts.

During the trial, McMillan’s lawyers showed the jury this photo:


Note the trauma and bruising on her right breast. The prosecutor in McMillan’s trial told the jury that McMillan had injured herself after her arrest just so she could make a specious allegation against the officer.

That’s possible. Then again, that line of reasoning sounds suspiciously close to a rapist’s defense that his victim had created her story out of thin air.

And I’ve known too many prosecutors to be burdened by the fairy tale that they all are devoted to the sacred truth.

Cops and prosecutors work together all the time. They need each other in order to make cases stick. They are allies in our system of justice. It’s not unreasonable to assume they would, on occasion, attempt to coordinate stories that would protect each other from certain accusations.

That said, revolutionary and lesser protest movements attract extremists ranging from drama queens to the odd homicidal maniac. I’m on the side of the OWS gang, sure, but that doesn’t mean I’d be happy sitting down to dinner or having a beer with each and every one of them.

Even the sainted civil rights and anti-war protest movements of the 1960s and early ’70s were peopled by some number of folks who would scare the bejesus out of a mental institution warden.

It’s as likely that Cecily McMillan made up her story as it is that the cop had squished her breast. And even if he did squish her breast, does that excuse her slugging him, under the law?

OWS supporters are screaming to high heaven that this is a great miscarriage of justice. Proof, some say, that this nation is now a police state. They fail to realize that this charge and this verdict would just as likely have happened 20 years ago, 40 years ago or even a hundred years ago, given the same set of circs.

McMillan is being held without bail until her sentencing on May 19th. That’s harsh. But that’s what you get when you scare cops and prosecutors — and the men who control the nation’s wealth.

So, what can a rational observer conclude about her case? Nothing really, not just yet.

And that’s a stance very few people take.

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