Thursday, March 28, 2019

A not-well nation accepts an armed autocracy as 'the price of freedom'

Dear Leader
GOP pays homage to Dear Leader

The nation is not well. As one piece of evidence I offer South Carolina’s Graham Cracker.

The AZBlueMeanie has an extensive list of autocratic actions taken by Trump and his courtiers in The Party of Trump promises to go full banana republic for their ‘Dear Leader’. Some of these actions comes from Sen. Lindsey Graham. You know - John McCain’s BFF. But now that McCain is dead …

The Blue Meanie opines on the specter of autocracy.

I warned you earlier this year that if Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not recommend action against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice (here is a compendium of instances from the New York Times, Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him), that Trump would be unbound and feel emboldened to pursue his authoritarian dream of turning this country into a banana republic with him as its autocratic “Dear Leader.”

Trump and his sycophant cult followers are using this window between Barr’s letter and the release of the public version of the Mueller report to establish a media narrative, and just as they did with the GOPropaganda to falsely lead this nation into the Iraq war, the media is playing along and again failing the American people.

Trump and his sycophant cult followers are pursuing their “deep state” conspiracy theories and seeking revenge against his political opponents, federal law enforcement, and the media — all hallmarks of authoritarianism. What they are not doing is taking any action to protect the United States against foreign interference in our elections, as detailed by the Special Counsel.

The Littlest Rebel, Little Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Trump’s loyal lap dog, promises to carry out Trump’s revenge against his political opponents and federal law enforcement, pursuing his “deep state” conspiracy theories. Roll Call reports, Lindsey Graham calls for a special counsel investigation on ‘the other side of the story’ following Mueller report:

Sen. Lindsey Graham called for further investigation into “the other side of the story,” referring to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant allowing the Justice Department to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

“[It] is at a minimum disturbing,” that the FISA warrant may have been based on an unverified dossier of salacious allegations against the president, Graham said.

The Hill adds, Senate GOP eyes probes into 2016 issues ‘swept under the rug’:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is signaling that he’ll use his high-profile panel to dig into areas he believes his colleagues have largely “swept under the rug” in the wake of the 2016 election.

The goal of the authoritarian Party of Trump is to silence its political opponents and to cower, if not silence, the critical news media. The authoritarian Party of Trump is undemocratic and un-American, and represents the single greatest threat to our American democracy. Trumpism is the new American fascism, and it must be defeated and consigned to the ash heap of history.

School shootings are just OK with us

All that is terrible and terribly important. But it overshadows other things that afflict the nation. One of those other things is America’s excuses for its standing as the deadliest of developed nations as indexed by its rate of deaths by guns.

Leonard Pitts Jr. tells us that Gun violence isn’t an act of God, or ‘the price of freedom’.

"This is the price of freedom.” — Bill O’Reilly on the Las Vegas massacre

“Freedom to be afraid is all you won.” — Gil Scott-Heron from “Gun”

Originally, this was going to be a column about Sydney Aiello. She was 19 years old, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, and she was buried Friday after committing suicide. Her parents said she lost friends in last year’s shooting at her school. They said she carried survivor’s guilt and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Then the column about Sydney became a column about Sydney and a boy, his identity not yet released, who died of an apparent suicide the day after her funeral. He was a sophomore at her old school.

Then the column changed yet again. Jeremy Richman, the father of 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, was found dead of an apparent suicide on Monday. It seems reasonable to suspect, though at this point not possible to know, that proximity to tragedy played a role in the deaths of the man and boy, as it evidently did with Sydney.

So this is a column about the three of them. And the 328 million of us. And the singularly grotesque thing Bill O’Reilly said two years ago after 58 people died and over 500 were wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, a thing that has hovered like smoke over every mass shooting since.

“This is the price of freedom,” he said.

Which is, of course, ridiculous. Canada is free. Australia, Spain and Finland are free. As the nation that gave us the Magna Carta, England might fairly be said to have invented freedom.

None of them has anywhere near the level of gun violence America does.

But it is not the inaccuracy of O’Reilly’s statement that gives it such grim resonance in the wake of this triple suicide. It is, rather, the substance, that idea of paying a price for so-called “gun rights.”

We think of that price in terms of fallen bodies, blood shining on asphalt. Truth is, that’s only the beginning.

Long after the bodies have been recovered and the asphalt scrubbed, after the media fold their tents and the nation turns its restless attention elsewhere, there are people left learning to walk again, or talk again. And there are families with holes shot through them, hearts that grieve behind sunny smiles, invisible wounds bleeding. Because each bullet that finds flesh injures not just its victim, but everyone around her until eventually, the whole country is walking blood stained and wounded.

We have second-graders with PTSD. We have preschoolers practicing active-shooter drills. In South Carolina, a 7-year-old survivor takes to pulling out her eyelashes and clawing her own skin. In Arizona, a 4-year-old cries “active shooter” as fireworks burst overhead. In Florida and Connecticut, three people are dead by their own hands. This is our new American normal.

And for what?

“This is the price of freedom,” O’Reilly said, trying to imbue mass murder with a sheen of patriotic sacrifice. His absurd words reflect a nation that resolutely refuses to do anything but think and pray about an ongoing national disaster. We regard gun violence like earthquakes and windstorms, acts of God we cannot prevent, but only learn to live with.

But gun violence is no act of God. And we can’t live with it. That’s the whole point.

“The price of freedom,” he says. Well, that price keeps going higher.

And whatever we’re buying, freedom isn’t it.

Not only does the price keeps going higher, a vast swath of our society thinks it’s just OK that children must die so that we can have unrestricted access to the deadliest of firearms. Like I said:

The nation is not well.

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