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Member since: Sat Dec 16, 2017, 12:51 PM
Number of posts: 5,192

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Does anybody remember Morton Downey Jr.?

I just looked him up online and found this quote about him:

The Washington Post wrote about him, "Suppose a maniac got hold of a talk show. Or need we suppose?" David Letterman said, "I'm always amazed at what people will fall for. We see this every ten or twelve years, an attempt at this, and I guess from that standpoint I don't quite understand why everybody's falling over backwards over the guy."

Seems those ten or twelve years are here again...

How do cats know what time it is?

Seriously... we have two cats. One of them jumps on the bed at 7:00 in the morning, give or take a few minutes, almost every day. He was doing this before the time change and he's still doing it. The light outside changes slightly every morning. There's no alarm clock.

I keep asking him, but he won't answer.

Anybody else have this happen?

A little surprise re: Ted Cruz

I read a lot about a lot of different subjects. A few days ago, after weeks and weeks of reading all the stuff online about the Second Amendment, I decided to look a little bit into constitutional law. So yesterday I stopped by my local library to see what they had, and one of the books I found was U.S. Constitution for Dummies. It was written by a Dr. Michael Arnheim, a barrister from St. John's College, Cambridge, and published in 2009.

Now get this. The foreword was written by none other than Ted Cruz, who was a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bocklus and had been Solicitor General of Texas. I am quoting from his Foreword:

"We the people" are the opening words of the U.S. Constitution, and it is fitting that this book is written for "We the people."


"Indeed, that was the genius of the Constitution -- limiting government to protect the liberty of the people. Because the Framers recognized that unchecked government can strip the people of their freedoms, they designed a constitution to prevent that from happening."

I could go on, but you get the idea. Is this Foreword ironic or what?

To all the people who mock those kids:

Granted the media only seems to write about put-downs of the kids themselves: people saying they're only kids, or they should be seen and not heard, or they should be in school, or the marches were a carnival, or whatever. That's how it goes and that's what creates controversy and sells advertising. But to the people who are putting them down, don't forget that:

Those kids have parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends of parents, teachers, coaches, and so on and on.

And those parents/grandparents/etc. are adults.

And those adults vote.

Also, don't forget a little (inconvenient) item in the Constitution just before the Second Amendment: the First Amendment. Those kids are exercising their right to free speech. Just. Like. You.

We are being manipulated by an advertising campaign: NRA and guns

I said in another post a day or two ago that I believe Americans are becoming more and more gullible. So here goes.

The NRA is behind a lot of this anger about guns. But we are not seeing the NRA for what it really is: a lobby for gun manufacturers. IOW, an organization that's promoting profit-making businesses. So please bear with me.

Gun manufacturing from 1986 thru 2009 was at about the same level: an average of four million units a year: http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2015/08/huge-increase-in-u-s-gun-production-in-recent-years/

Other sources provide pretty much the same numbers.

From 2001 thru 2005 the numbers started to dip; in '01 they were actually lower than in '86. Not good for profit-making businesses, right? They went up slightly in '06 thru '08, but not enough to get out of the old average. "So what can we do?"

I have to believe that somewhere, someone turned to the NRA (or vice versa) with an idea: Hey, here's a new president, a Democrat, who's African-American to boot. He's already made some noise about guns. So let's create an advertising campaign (read that again: an advertising campaign) based on the idea that he's going to take our guns away. And make it look like it's not an ad campaign.

Bingo. The campaign worked: people who were afraid of, or didn’t trust, this new guy, and who liked guns, started to buy guns. The numbers went up from just under six million in '09 to over ten million today. That's a fantastic increase.

We already know some of that. We've heard it before. It's not news. But I think we fail to realize that this is all an advertising campaign which points to the government to create fear and sell people on the idea that they have to buy more guns. That’s what ad campaigns do: they convince people to buy something. Is there a Russia connection? I don't know, but that's a separate issue from the ad campaign; if anything, Russia is contributing money to the campaign for their own purposes.

I can imagine a few things, but then again I have a good imagination: I can imagine people sitting around a conference table saying, okay, that campaign worked; what other products can we offer while the going is hot? Ahh-ha! bump stocks. Sure. We know there's going to be a response to this, so let's produce and sell as many as we can before they're outlawed. I can also imagine reps from gun manufacturers congratulating NRA and its ad agencies for the increase in sales. And I can even imagine -- get this one -- people at NRA sitting around that same table agreeing that Trump and the GOP (and possibly all of Congress?) are just idiots who are falling for an ad campaign. They would probably toss the whole gang under the bus if a better idea came along. Maybe not, but I can imagine it.

All the mass shootings and deaths? All the anger and divisiveness the campaign has created? They’re what the military calls “collateral damage,” but they help sales. As Tom Hagen said in the first Godfather movie, “It’s business not personal.” Is Fox in on the ad campaign? I would guess not: they’re just in in it for the controversy, which keeps angry people coming back to watch their shows and therefore the commercials.

Are we being gullible here by believing this whole thing is political and going along with it (and getting more and more angry and divisive) instead of exposing it for what it is and what it’s doing to the country?

I’m going to anticipate that, someday in the future, this whole thing is going to be studied in advertising classes as an inspired move, a campaign that was created at just the right moment and was promoted perfectly to just about double the production of a product in just a few years. And that it’s also going to be labeled as a total and complete violation of ethics and decency. But then again, as Tom Hagen said, "It's business not personal."

Now, if somebody would like to offer a rebuttal in an adult, civilized manner, explaining why they don't agree with my points, I'd love to hear it. Maybe I'll learn something.

Will the marches result in anything? YES!

I don't believe for a millisecond that the GOP will do anything as a result of these marches. They're too stuck in their own world, too stubborn, too [fill in the blank]. Maybe they're even too afraid of [fill in the blank]. If anything, they'll just stick their heads deeper into the sand.

However, I do believe that some things will happen:

One, the marches will create some discussion among a lot of people who haven't given the matter any serious thought so far. They'll argue pro and con, but there will be more discussions.

Two (going along with the above), every kid on those marches has parents. Nobody will ever convince me -- without solid proof -- that all those parents are Democrats. Given the numbers, I have to believe some are Republicans, some are NRA members, and some are die-hard gun owners. I can just imagine some of these kids having arguments with their parents about going on the marches. But a lot of these parents are suddenly going to go, "shit, that could be my kid in the body bag." It's going to make them think, now and at the coming elections.

Three, a lot of those kids are going to become eligible to vote in the next year or two. And I think they're going to, whether or not they ever thought they would. In the long run, that has nothing to do with guns; it just has to do with voting.

Four, and regardless of the NRA's rantings (and going back to item one above), there are solutions to these shootings besides "taking away our guns." The problem isn't the guns: the problem is the shootings. I'll probably get flamed roundly for this, but we have to accept that there are three separate issues here: the shootings and their causes; the fact that an AR-15 seems to be the weapon of choice; and the Second Amendment. There need to be three separate conversations, and I think these marches will get people to talk and hopefully to have three separate conversations.

Anger, trolls, and gullibility, oh my!

Are Americans -- okay, fine, people who live in the US regardless of where they come from -- becoming more and more gullible? Is it just a sign of the times, or is it fueled by fear and anger? Or is it fueled by the internet?

I see it right here. Now and then someone makes a statement that gets someone else upset, and the upsettee proceeds to flame the upsetter. And it seems like most of the time the upsettee isn't even responding to the upsetter's comment: he or she is just flaming the writer. I experienced this recently when I wrote a few things that a couple of people here took as divisive, and they even referred to my low post count. Low post count and "I don't like what you said" = troll, right?

But here's the thing; here's why I'm writing this. I've poked around in Conservative Underground a few times (okay, flame away). And what I see there, so often, is the same: flame the poster not the post -- especially in Best of DU/Discussionist, which is a forum dedicated to commenting on posts made here in DU. Makes me wonder if there are actually more trolls (okay, "agitators" ) over there than here.

I see it online. How many pieces have there been about Mueller getting fired? They all say basically the same thing, but they're probably just intended to keep people coming back and getting angry either way (and, of course, looking at the ads).

Pieces about gun control: keep repeating the same thing, but with different headlines, and people will keep coming back to continue getting angry and looking at the ads.

So here are three questions: How many people actually believe all this stuff? Are they just using it to fuel the fear and anger? Are they just the minority we see?

Honestly, sometimes I'd rather be watching those old Looney Tunes cartoons than checking the news. Those made me laugh for a different reason.

Or maybe for the same reason...

Okay... haggis: love it or loathe it?

And if you loathe it, have you ever really treid it?

"Taking away our guns:" please help me out here

Okay, seriously, and maybe I missed it big time, but I don't remember seeing anything anywhere about the govt, across the board, wanting to take guns away from people who already have them. Did I miss it? I would think those guns would be grandfathered.

So, when people rant and rave about "taking away our guns," are they referring to an actual "threat" (for lack of another word) by the govt -- or by a political party -- to confiscate the guns they already have, or are they, in reality, reacting to anger and/or propaganda? Or is it something else?

There's a book I've meaning to read for years and years, but it always goes on the back burner: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, by Charles MacKay (1841). It's widely available; maybe now's the time to put it on the front burner.

Selective hearing, selective seeing, selective reading.

There's a line in the movie The Sixth Sense that goes "They only see what they want to see."

It seems to be so true nowadays, especially in politics. I read somewhere that, at one time, the strongest insult you could lob at an American was to ask them if they believed everything they read in the papers. I don't know if this is totally accurate, but I'm thinking it needs to be asked more often nowadays: "Do you believe everything you see or read online?"

I see it right here. Somebody will post an OP "as true," without offering a link to something or any background information. Then someone else asks for a link, and that's when the spitballs begin flying. This morning I had the "unspeakable temerity and near-traitorous audacity" to pop over to Conservative Underground and Discussionist to see what they were saying about posts here on DU, and it was really interesting. For the most part, they didn't respond to the subject of the OP here; they just busted on the writer.

BTW, I've been flamed here for poking around over there, which I think is hilarious. They poke around over here; why shouldn't we poke around over there? And heaven forbid -- another near-traitorous thought -- that either one of us learns something from the other. Send me to Guantanamo right now.

I posted here recently about forwarded emails I received from an old friend who is a Republican. Usually he just forwards jokes, but a few times he forwarded something political. One was a story about Nancy Pelosi and California (which went back to 2006 and was debunked several times back then), and the other one was about the Clintons and a talking dog (which turned out to be an expanded version of a joke that appeared in a lifestyle website and had nothing to do with the Clintons or the dog). But both emails had language at the bottom to the effect of "if you believe in America, forward this to at least two friends, and ideally a hundred." So somebody gets this, gets ticked off, and forwards it to "two friends, and ideally a hundred" without bothering to check whether the story is true or not. In my case, it took a minute or two to find out that each story was fake.

And speaking of fake, "fake news" seems to have become the catch-all description for anything we don't like. I didn't say anything we don't agree with: I said anything we don't like.

So yeah, selective hearing, selective seeing, and selective reading seem to be the modus operandi of this day and age. There's an opinion piece in HuffPost about possible ways to get people on both sides to get over being offended by anything the other side says, but it's going to take getting over selective hearing, selective seeing, and selective reading first.

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