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Monday, August 6, 2012

Cold, dead fingers

This is a follow-up to 20 rosy fingers, which included a brief, less-than-half-serious post-script about the famous "Obama as Joker/Socialist" poster, riffing a bit loosely, just tossing some ideas about....

I thought of the gun control debate immediately upon hearing about the Aurora shooting, as I do with any mass killing, and wondered if this event is in some way a kind of political "bonus" for people who might not go out of their way to exploit this tragedy, but who wouldn't feel too concerned if at some level, even if subconsciously, people made the connection between Obama/Joker and Holmes/Joker.

Well, someone has made the connection, explicitly....albeit without the whiteface.


The text says:  "Kills 12 in a movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out" next to a photo of Obama with the words "Kills thousands with foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize."  It appeared in Caldwell (cold well) Idaho, a state with its fair share of firearms enthusiasts.

The CCTV camera is a nice Orwellian touch which in it's own way adds fuel to the fire heating up libertarian rhetoric these days.  I wonder if this electronic sign was chosen precisely for that reason; the Smeed Foundation, the billboard sponsor, is a libertarian think tank.  Are they implying that as you watch Obama pilloried, Big Sis is watching you? (Big Sis being Drudge's nickname for United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.)  Or maybe not.  I've just read they actually own the sign

Of course, the Smeed Foundation has a point and a right to express it as they wish.  Maurice Clements, president of the board, is quoted as saying:  “We don’t want to offend people....We’re trying to gain friends for our message.”  Apparently the sign has been almost universally panned in Caldwell.

The billboard has angered many, but Smeed is certain to get some positive feedback from the large and vocal anti-Obama crowd. Be that as it may, the Smeed people seem to have had a change of heart, or perhaps realized the sign is a bit too much; either way, the sign is coming down  Not to wag fingers, as with some liberal responses I've read; plenty of people who detest Obama don't approve, and the left certainly doesn't shy away from shock-value tactics and cries of "fascist" and the like.  Being offensive in politics is not the exclusive domain of one political stripe or another.

I also realize full well that LoS could be seen as exploiting the events in Aurora, another reason I won't point my finger and cry "poor taste"....not too loudly anyway.  I don't have to.  Seems pretty evident that the billboard is a bit over-the-top.  Not the sentiment necessarily, but the context.  A private dialogue or even a speech allows one to  elaborate, nuance, contextualize, set an argument up correctly.  A billboard just knocks your eyeballs for a loop with an offensive bit of jingo.  I actually agree with the sentiment expressed here.  Why isn't there more universal anger at the ongoing death and dismemberment in Afghanistan, for instance?  Why is that 12 American lives are a tragic and senseless murder, but literally thousands of Iraqi civilians are acceptable collateral damage?  Yeah, I know, out of sight out of mind and all that.  But hell, I don't think it takes a bleeding heart to decry the death in great numbers of people halfway around the world, especially when your tax dollars are at work.

I'm not surprised by this billboard at all and said as much in my original post about Aurora; here though, someone has actually gone and explicitly made the connections media outlets such as Drudge and the Examiner were making implicitly (much as other right-of-center media indirectly linked Obama to the recent spate of cannibal attacks!)  Usually they do in such a way as to have plausible denial, to make the very accusation seem absurd.  Kind of like the way Drudge headlines stories about crime and corruption in Chicago.  They can reasonably deny they're targeting Obama....they're merely reporting on outrageous evidence of US decline.  But they're most certainly doing it to tarnish Obama.  Guilt by association. 

This time, there is nothing subtle about the tactic at all.  And although I'm obviously not a rabid anti-Obama fan, I would add that for me, his Nobel Peace prize is as an absurd and offensive bit of propaganda as this billboard; the Nobel had very little to do with peace and everything to do with something else entirely.  I disapprove of Obama in a lot of important ways, I just don't share the ad hominem vitriol.

Despite mentioning the war, I believe this sign actually revolves around the politics of guns.  The Smeed Foundation didn't even bother use the NRA's preferred use of the word "firearm".  Here it's "Assault Rifle," a term which to me is so loaded (no pun intended), so evocative of the gun control debate that it's hard for me not to think the billboard is as much about gun control as it is about Obama's foreign policy--which is after all essentially a re-hash and prolongation of Bush's, just with happier allies (hence the Nobel).  But the Tea Party and the libertarians, the Republicans and other assorted political partisans lined up against Obama probably don't care too much about that.  They're more concerned with guns, taxes, immigration and creeping socialism.  The wackier ones wonder whether or not Obama is a secret Muslim or foreigner bent on destroying America from within, guns of course being the necessary defense against the coming dictatorial state, perhaps led by the minions of the Antichrist.  Not to unfairly imply everyone against Obama is an extremist or a lunatic, though they're out there too.

Bottom line is that we're in an irreconcilably polarized political culture, and the tone will certainly only get worse as November draws nearer.  This billboard is just another questionable bit of propaganda in a recent string of violent rhetoric and images.

Meanwhile, the bullets are actually flying and everyone keeps wringing their hands and asking, "why"?

Addendum, appx. 13:00 Paris time.

The day after writing this, I learned of  the Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee.  Six victims, three wounded.  The killer is described as an Army veteran, heavyset, white, with lots of tattoos, including perhaps, a "9-11" themed tat.  I remember the hue and cry when a Homeland Security report listed disgruntled vets as part of a restive potential demographic from which domestic terrorism could arise.  Vets and conservatives had a field day denouncing Janet Napolitano, but I think against the background of Timothy McVeigh (Gulf War, bronze star), John Muhammad (Gulf War), even Oswald (US Marine), there's some interest in researching whether or not there's some merit to this analysis, which was at the time characteristically distorted and simplified by the conservative press as an accusation against all veterans and the entire military establishment.

Given my recent exchange with Loren Coleman about what it means to be a Fortean synchromystic, that the suspect lived on Holmes Avenue is very startling indeed.  One thing which has struck me about this case is the local police position--Oak Creek police chief John Edwards has said the FBI will lead the case because it's being treated as "domestic terrorism".  This is why, exactly?  Because the alleged shooter was a vet or because the victims, Sikhs, are often confused with Muslims?  I don't recall the phrase "domestic terrorism" used for John Holmes.  Odd that terrorism is evoked here and not in other contexts....although I do seem to recall that when Jared Loughner shot Rep. Giffords, there was some discussion of whether or not it was "terrorism".  As in the Oak Creek shooting, there is some talk of a "hate crime".  How the media gels around a label is an interesting process and we'll soon see what the consensus opinion regarding Oak Creek will be.

A little later, 20:30 Paris time.

Wade....is the English name for a common Germanic mythological [personage]...His heritage is uncertain - he is referred to as giant, dwarf, demi-god....or king - but he is always associated with water.    [As in a Creek?]

These references [from Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde] show that the tale of Wade and his boat were well-known at Chaucer's time and it has been suggested that Wade and his boat were synonymous with trickery.

Wade (folklore)

In medieval times, a page was an attendant to a knight; an apprentice squire. A young boy served as a page for about seven years, running messages, serving, cleaning, and even learning the basics of combat, and the lord he was working for would usually treat him fairly but they went through intensive training. The lord sometimes gave the page private combat training from the age of seven until he was fourteen. At age fourteen, he could graduate to become a squire, and by age 21, perhaps a knight himself. 

Page (servant)

Synonymous with trickery?  A knight's attendant?  As in a Dark Knight?  Note the 7 and its multiples, numbering three.  Both significant numbers, with a multitude of Biblical association.  Including Pages, there were seven deaths as a result of the Milwaukee shooting, and three wounded.  There were 12 victims of Holmes' attack, yet another Biblically significant number.  I'll repeat that Page lived on Holmes AvenueAdd to that a name of a trickster, or Joker, and the name of a servant to a Knight....synchronicity galore.

Page was a singer in a Neo-Nazi band called End Apathy.  Source:   He served part [of his military service] in "psychological operations," [!] but left the military with a Less Than Honourable Discharge, shortly after having been mysteriously demoted from sergeant to specialist. 

Source:  At a news conference at 10 a.m., authorities said they were attempting to identify another person, a white male, who they described as "a person of interest."

A man matching the photo officials showed was seen by Journal Sentinel reporters at the scene of the temple Sunday, possibly video taping what was going on. 
...
Heidi Beirich, director of the [Southern Poverty Law Center's] intelligence project, said her group had been tracking Page since 2000, when he tried to purchase goods from the National Alliance, a well-known hate group.

The National Alliance was led by William Pierce, who was the author of "The Turner Diaries." The book depicts a violent revolution in the United States leading to an overthrow of the federal government and, ultimately, a race war. Parts of the book were found in Timothy McVeigh's getaway car after the bombing of the federal building Oklahoma City in 1995.

A lot to digest.  I'd had a lot of doubts about the validity of this post, which up to the adendum was written before I learned of this event, but sadly, these revelations only add weight to my speculations and musings.  The circumstances will certainly add grist to the conspiracy theorist's mill, but with facts such as these, who can blame them?

13 comments:

  1. Loren Coleman writes about this incident, drawing attention to an Olympics-related London Underground poster. Coleman points out a figure, conspiculously separate from the crowd--the man is a Sikh.

    He could have also mentioned the the man is behind a red-haired woman carrying a red flag, defined by The Free Dictionry as:

    1. A warning signal.
    2. Something that demands attention or provokes an irritated reaction.

    You can't make this stuff up.

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  2. You wrote: "The wackier ones wonder whether or not Obama is a secret Muslim"

    I just wanted to note that this is a widespread believe, shared by people you wouldn't, otherwise, think were wacky.

    The level of political debate has reached a point to where I pretty much find myself greatly respecting anyone, of any political persuasion, who can sort out basic fact from fiction. I'm not claiming to be some bastion of truth, but it's just nice to talk to people who get some of the basic, basic facts right, like Obama didn't swear his presidential oath on the Koran, and the health care plan doesn't include death penalties who will kill innocent grandmas, and Iraq didn't take down the Twin Towers.

    I mean, seriously, WTF? How can so many people believe this ... garbage, such obvious lies? It makes discourse impossible. How you "dis"agree on a "course" if you can't even agree on where you're at?

    Look at the Sikh shootings, for example. I'm guessing that the dumbass who shot them didn't realize Sikhs are, generally bunch of peaceful, community-building people. I'm guess he just saw turbans and thought "bad guys!" I guarantee you lots of other people think the same thing even if they wouldn't kill over it.

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  3. Well, D, I wrote the previous comment before finishing your article!

    I see now that I may have unintentionally disagreed with you:

    Were the Sikh shooting terrorism while the Aurora shooting were not? In my opinion, yes; I'd say that the Sikh shooting targeted a specific religious group. It'd be farfetched to imagine that this was a random shooting against, well, random people. This suggests a political and/or religious motive, i.e., to strike terror in others like those who were attacked.

    But despite this minor quibble, this was an interesting piece, D. I feel a definite internal division between finding that billboard horrendously offensive ... and yet somehow bringing up an important and wildly overlooked idea.

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  4. Gid, I feel ya. The flat-out denial or delusions of so many people [not merely conservatives, mind you, plenty of liberal denial] are shocking, especially as many of these people are becoming influential political figures. Your Palins and Bachmans, for example. It's becoming a parody of itself. There's always talk of "dialogue", but how can you dialogue with someone who simply denies the facts before them?

    It's like with religious folks. You can tell them evolution exists and there is evidence in the form of fossils. They will either say we're misinterpreting them or that they were planted by the devil to test our faith. When fact and reason contradict the Bible, then it's fact and reason that are wrong cuz the Bible is infallible! Not hard to see then why so many of the most retrogade ignorant dumbasses are also highly religious. I should add I know plenty of highly religious people who are not dumbasses at all. I'm not equating the two, but they often go hand in hand.

    That "death panel" madness you bring up is a perfect example....lie your head off, people will never bother to look things up, repeat the lie and blang....it's fact. Whether or not I'm for or against health-care reform isn't the question. Let's argue its merits, not invent things to destroy it before we even have a chance to think about it. The name-calling, the ad hominem attacks, the circus sideshow of birth certificates, using "socialist" like it means "baby-eater"....all have effectively hampered Obama, so I don't see it letting up. If he wins a second term, this country's gonna see a lot more violence, I predict. Certainly a lot more ugly rhetoric. The current Tea Party rightward push is a win-at-all-costs movement. It's not about compromise or dialogue or efficient solutions, ideology born from practice. It's about making the whole shebang conform to a preconceived idea of what govt. should be. They want to dismantle the entire shithouse and let the turds fall where they may because hey, no one tells them where they can poop....that's tyranny.

    As for you other comment, I don't think we disagree, really. I'm just wondering when is it terrorism and when the work of a madman. I'd say the Sikh shooting is more akin to terrorism, though, in that there seems to be a racist / political ideology behind it. Holmes just seems to have been a lunatic....unless of course motivations are being hidden. So I think we're on the same page. Maybe I wrote my thought unclearly....?

    What is the "important and wildly overlooked idea" you refer to in the 2nd comment, btw? The disconnect between getting a Peace Prize while leading two wars and drone-striking across the globe?

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  6. Quote:

    Let me end this on a more conspiratorial note: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, the DC Joker, the Maine Joker- all of these events took place in congressional districts with Democratic representatives (two of whom are Jewish, three of whom are women, one is black), most of whom are people that extremists in the gun lobby (who are to the Second Amendment what the Boko Haram is to Islam) have targeted for elimination, electorally speaking.

    After every shooting gun sales always skyrocket, and the media uses "right wing" sockpuppets to pump out the message that if these people were armed, these shootings would never have taken place. The Sikhs were created as a warrior caste, are prosperous, have been mistaken for Muslims since 9/11 and therefore are an excellent mission field for the gun industry.

    There are a million conspiracy theorists out there and not a single one is willing to connect all of these dots, hiding in plain sight, preferring to spin ridiculous theories about utterly imaginary gun-grabs. Is this because conspiracy culture is predominantly right wing and has the same blind spots towards its own sins as does the Left when it comes to making excuses for street crime and violence?

    Innaresting interview

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  7. "Davis, who DJ’s for Joker Boy Entertainment, was released on bond."

    Romayne Davis, 32, who lives at Northwest 23 Way, had earlier snuck into a radio station and replaced the classical programming with "offensive" rap.

    That's what I call a dis chord, fnord
    .

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  8. Case in point re: wackiness

    I should also plead guilty to hypocrisy in an earlier comment for calling these people out on name-calling and ad hominem attacks after calling them "retrograde ignorant dumbasses" in the preceding paragraph. I do think that these people have to potential to be very dangerous indeed. Sheriff Joe seems an especially sadistic and tyrannical figure. There's a real cultural divide between people such as myself and his supporters. "Dialogue" seems more and more like a kind of naiive optimism, but perhaps I'm just being lazy.

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  9. Dave Mustaine, Megadeth Singer, Says Obama 'Staged' Aurora Shooting, Sikh Temple Shooting To Pass A Gun Ban (VIDEO)

    Maybe it's the red hair, but I always thought Mustaine resembled The Gid a lil' bit. :)

    Mustaine, once a hopeless drunk and addict, found Jesus and became a conservative. Peace apparently doesn't sell as well as confrontation.

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  11. Replies
    1. Ha, ha! I think that's a great biblical quote that fellow found. I think it's silly to take it as a threat when it is (it seems to me, at least) so clearly a reference to limited days in office. Rather clever I think.

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    2. Agreed. I read where Ted Nugent was visited by the SS for making violent references, no specific threats (which only feeds fuel to the fires of right-wing persecution fantasies -- death panels, oath keeper vows etc.) Hard not to see they have a point when the SS shows up to question you after a particularly heated interview. Definitely (in part if not whole) an intimidation tactic.

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