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Archive for October 18th, 2020

‘Guns are a way to exercise power’: how the idea of overthrowing the government became mainstream

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Lois Beckett writes in the Guardian:

osh Horwitz has been an American gun control activist for nearly 30 years. In 2009, he co-wrote a book warning that the idea of armed revolt against the government was at the center of the US gun rights movement.

Now, after a year that has seen heavily armed men show up at state capitols in VirginiaMichiganIdaho and elsewhere to confront Democratic lawmakers over gun control and coronavirus restrictions, more Americans are taking gun owners’ rhetoric about “tyrants” seriously. Some of the same armed protesters who showed up at Michigan’s state house and at a pro-gun rally this summer were charged last week with conspiring to kidnap Michigan’s governor and put her on trial for tyranny.

Other members of the “boogaloo” movement have allegedly murdered law enforcement officers in California and plotted acts of violence across the country in hopes of sparking a civil war.

Horowitz spoke to the Guardian about how mainstream the idea of insurrection has become in American politics, and why lawmakers have failed to challenge it for decades.

The conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

You argue in your book that the idea of violent insurrection against the American government is at the heart of American gun culture. What do you mean by that?

There’s a belief among some American gun owners that the second amendment is highly individualized and was placed in the constitution as an individual right to fight government tyranny. Therefore, each individual has the right to own whatever and however many weapons they want, free from any government interference. A licensing law or a universal background check law would mean the government knows who’s got a gun. If you believe there’s an individual right to insurrection, you can’t have any gun laws.

The drive to purchase semi-automatic assault weapons, like AR-15s, those weapons are often not purchased for self-defense, but for fear of government tyranny.

When the NRA says, “Vote Freedom First”, it’s not “Vote self-defense first”. They mean you get to decide when the government becomes tyrannical. The problem is that one person’s tyranny is another’s universal healthcare bill.

Is this concept of “insurrection” as the reason Americans should have unrestricted gun rights a very fringe idea?

It’s not every gun owner. But this movement is way larger than people think. And guns are now seen by a large portion of that community as a tool for political dissent.

When National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre says things like, “The guys with the guns make the rules”, or politicians and elected officials say, “We will rely on second amendment remedies”, what they mean is that people with guns will, in fact, set the political agenda and settle political disputes. That is a profoundly undemocratic idea. As Abe Lincoln famously said, “Any appeal from the ballot box to the bullet box must fail.” We are a country based on the rule of law. Guns don’t make you a super citizen with the ability to make special rules or have special political influence because you happen to be armed.

Where does this “insurrectionary idea” come from? When did it take hold?

The idea that individuals have the right to fight against tyranny is as old as the republic. But you can trace the modern incarnation of this principle to the early 1990s, and the rise of the militia movement during Bill Clinton’s presidency, when national gun violence prevention laws, including the assault weapons ban and background checks, were instituted. There’s a path from Ruby Ridge and Waco [deadly standoffs between citizens and federal agents, both involving illegal gun charges] to the Oklahoma City bombing. The Michigan militia is where Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, got this start. He was making his living at gun shows. He bought fully into the gun rights agenda, and he ended up killing a lot of kids. I started to pick up the resurgence of this idea in the mid-2000s, at the end of Bush’s presidency and the beginning of Obama’s presidency.

How does racism play into this idea of “insurrection” and its place in US politics?

There is a big racial element to this. White men, especially, are feeling that the political reins of power are pulling away from them, and their grip on power is falling away. Guns are a way to exercise power, let’s face it. Power over policy. Power over people.

You first published Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea in 2009. What kind of response did it get?

People didn’t react the way that I hoped, by saying: this is going to be a big deal unless we move forcefully to oppose it. Instead, a lot of elected officials, including a lot of Democratic elected officials, acquiesced to the idea of an insurrectionary second amendment. People running for president in 2004 and 2008 would use lines like, “The second amendment isn’t for hunting. It has to do with protecting ourselves, our homes, our families and our country from tyranny.” Nobody followed up with: “What do you mean? You think it’s OK to shoot politicians?”

This year, we saw the Michigan legislature taken over, the Idaho legislature taken over, and it’s like – there’s no opprobrium. There’s a sort of, “boys will be boys” response.

Why has politicians’ response to rhetoric about violent revolt been so muted?

I think there’s the idea that if this really happened, the US army would just mow these people down. “Oh, it’d be suicide if they did that.” But the US military should not be deployed in civilian places to begin with. What are we going to do, have tanks on our own soil? We’re not going to do that. The other thing is that this movement is really well armed. There’s a lot of firepower in civilian hands: .50 caliber sniper rifles, AR-15s, AK-47s.

If they really did it, it would be very, very complicated.

How significant are the numbers of US military members and police who personally believe in this insurrectionist idea themselves? This year, US military veterans and active duty service members have been charged in a number of violent plots, including some that were allegedly designed to spark a civil war. . . .

Continue reading. There’s more and it’s important.

Later in the interview:

What do you think should be done now in response to all of this public conversation about insurrection?

Number one: there needs to be a clear public response, that people who exercise this “right” are not patriots, but traitors.

The second piece is . . .

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2020 at 5:49 pm

Five-step road map to saying “No”

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Erin Zammett Ruddy has an interesting article in Forge on the Medium platform describing an algorithm to follow to say “no” to a request if you’re overcommitted, or the wrong person, or you simply don’t want to do it.

This is useful, because many find it difficult to say “no” because they don’t wish to disappoint, but protecting your time and your priorities is an important responsibility to yourself.

  1. Remind yourself that time is valuable and once it’s spent you absolutely can’t get it back.
  2. Ask yourself: “Would I be willing to do this thing tomorrow?” It’s easy to sign yourself up for something in April when it’s only September. Do your future self a favor and try this little exercise.
  3. Respond quickly. Don’t leave people hanging once you know you’re saying no.
  4. Own your “no” if it’s not a priority (because something else actively is): “Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’m not going to be able to take this on, but I wish you the best with X.”
  5. Reframe your “no” to assuage your guilt (if it’s something you genuinely wish you had time for). Acknowledge that this commitment is significant to you, even if you’re not taking it on. A good sample script: “This is so important that it deserves someone’s full energy, and since I can’t do that because I have XYZ other things, I would be dishonoring the importance of this event/role/weekend getaway by saying yes.”

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2020 at 3:06 am

Posted in Daily life

Iowa derecho in August was most costly thunderstorm disaster in U.S. history

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The costs of climate change — and the steadfast refusal of nations to address the issue — are starting to mount. It will only get worse — much worse — from now on.

Bob Henson reports in the Washington Post:

No single thunderstorm event in modern times — not even a tornado — has wrought as much economic devastation as the derecho that slammed the nation’s Corn Belt on Aug. 10, based on analyses from the public and private sectors.

The storm complex, blamed for four deaths, hit Cedar Rapids, Iowa, particularly hard, cutting power to almost the entire city of 133,000 people, and damaging most of its businesses and homes.

In an October update to its database of billion-dollar weather disasters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated damages from the August derecho, which raced from Iowa to Indiana, at $7.5 billion. This includes agricultural impacts that are still being analyzed, so the total may be revised, said Adam Smith, who manages the database.

The derecho’s financial toll exceeds that of nine of this year’s record 10 landfalling U.S. hurricanes and tropical storms. The exception is Hurricane Laura, which struck Louisiana in late August and caused an estimated $14 billion in damage.

Including the derecho, the U.S. has been hit by a record-tying 16 billion-dollar weather disasters this year through September.

A derecho is a fast-moving, violent wind event associated with a thunderstorm complex. One common definition specifies that it must produce “continuous or intermittent” damage along a path at least 60 miles wide and 400 miles long, with frequent gusts of at least 58 mph and several well-separated gusts of at least 75 mph.

The Aug. 10 event more than qualified. Striking with unanticipated ferocity, the derecho brought winds gusting to more than 70 mph for the better part of an hour over a large swath of central and eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois. Numerous locations clocked gusts over 110 mph.

The winds laid waste to millions of acres of crops, severely damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes, and brought down many thousands of trees.

“One could make a strong case that this is the most destructive individual thunderstorm cluster on record in terms of damage cost,” said Steve Bowen, head of catastrophe insight at the insurance broker Aon, in an email. Aon released an initial damage estimate of $5 billion for the derecho, not yet including agricultural impacts.

The derecho’s top winds ripped along the south edge of a mesoscale convective vortex, a low-pressure center embedded within the thunderstorm complex. “The vortex was one of the most distinctive ones of that size that I have ever seen,” said Stephen Corfidi, a meteorologist at the University of Oklahoma and derecho expert, in an email.

The peak wind gust observed in the derecho was 126 mph at Atkins, Iowa. The highest estimated gust, based on the partial destruction of an apartment complex in Cedar Rapids, was 140 mph. Gusts that strong are comparable to the peak that one would expect in an EF3 tornado or major hurricane.

Parts of five Iowa counties were struck by wind gusts estimated at 110 to 140 mph.

“To have a Midwest city endure [such] wind speeds, and also see such a devastating impact to a large volume of regional crops, is almost unbelievable,” Bowen said. “I don’t think most of the country truly realizes how severe the event ended up being.”

Derecho winds typically last about 10 to 20 minutes at any one spot. In contrast, the 30- to 60-minute duration of severe gusts in the hardest-hit areas Aug. 10 was much more comparable to the passage of a hurricane eyewall than a tornado, whose winds typically last only a few seconds to a minute or two. . .

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more. And there are many images.

Later in the article

The derecho ripped huge holes in the tree canopy above a number of Iowa towns and cities, according to Emma Hanigan, an urban forester with the state’s Department of Natural Resources. At least half of the trees in Cedar Rapids were destroyed or heavily damaged. The toll will only worsen over the coming months, as the wounds left by torn limbs allow pests and pathogens such as oak wilt to infect damaged trees.

“It takes so long to regain that tree cover,” said Hannigan in an interview. “We’re going to see impacts 30 years from now from this storm.”

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2020 at 2:54 am

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