Fellow Travelers

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Rescuers Down Under as Marxist Allegory

Theory: Disney film "The Rescuers Down Under" is an allegory of the evils of capitalism and how the proletariat can rise. 

Broadly, the humans represent the ruling class, while the animals represent the working class. 

The kid, Cody, is born into the ruling class but he helps protect and free the working class using the abilities gained by the privileges of his birth, and also his ability to communicate with the working class animals. 

The poacher, McLeach, represents the worst of capitalism, eagerly consuming the animals of the working class for his own enrichment with no thought for them.

Joanna, the goanna lizard, represents members of the working class who are class traitors, who turn on their own class and serve the ruling class faithfully, despite mistreatment by their rulers, who they can never become.

When the animals are caged in the poacher's basement along with Cody, it represents the chains of wage slavery and how the ruling class will cheerfully enslave members of its own class if they can. The escape shows how the working class can free itself through solidarity and cooperation.

The giant golden eagle represents the heights to which the working class can soar when free, bearing everyone up together equally. Additionally, the ability of the eagle to fly, but not Cody unless he is on the eagle, shows how even members from the ruling class can't succeed without a working class, but the working class can succeed and soar without needing a ruling class.

The crocodiles are the lumpenproletariat. They will turn on and consume anyone who gets close to them, without a thought for the class struggle, happily eating working class animals or ruling class humans.

Disney realized just before releasing it that the movie had this subtle Marxist message, but they'd already sunk too much money and time into it to just abandon it. Instead they released it opposite movies like Home Alone and Rocky V, and then shortly thereafter pulled TV advertising for it, in hopes the message would not be widely heard.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. 

Also, thanks for 17,000 pageviews because that's pretty cool.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What you mean when you say "gun show loophole"

I've noticed that after the recent bill expanding background checks failed, there seems to be a lot of confusion over what sort of background checks we have for firearms purchases in the US, and indeed if we have them at all. We do have background checks in the US. Any time you buy a new or used gun from a store or dealer with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) you need to fill out a Form 4473 and have a NICS background check called in on you. Gun dealers, who do the overwhelming majority of sales at a gun show, are all and in all jurisdictions required to do a background check no matter where they're selling at. This is true whether they're in a brick and mortar store, or whether they're at a gun show. Additionally, if you want to buy a gun from a private non-licensed individual in another state, they have to go to their local FFL (in gunowner parlance, LGS or Local Gun Store, which parallels the nerd term LGS meaning Local Gaming Store, makes things confusing for gunowner/nerds), and ship the firearm to an FFL near you. Then you go there, and get the 4473 and the NICS check, before you can buy the gun. 

The thing that is not regulated now is private person to person intrastate sales by unlicensed individuals. So, if you buy a gun, and a year later you decide you don't like it, you can sell it to your buddy (or a random stranger) without doing a background check. The federal law requires that you don't believe or know that they have any reason to be prohibited from owning a gun, and you can only sell to someone in the same state as you. 

So a lot of people who have a gun they're looking to replace will go to a gun show and either sell to dealers there to get money to put towards another gun (which is exactly what I did when I bought my 22 target pistol), or sell to another private person if they can get a better deal then they would from a licensed dealer. But they don't have to be at a gun show to do this. What you want to regulate is not "the gun show loophole" because that doesn't exist, there is no gun show loophole. You want to regulate "unlicensed person to person intrastate sales, and require all private sales to go through an FFL". 

Now you know the correct terminology to use if you want to reach gun owners, and at least begin to have an honest debate. You have to know what you're debating if you want to have a chance of success. There are major issues with trying to regulate private person-to-person sales, which is why we haven't done it before, but that is a discussion everybody can have. Among those issues:
1. This would require a background check to be done if you're, say, handing a gun to your spouse. Or inheriting a gun from a deceased family member. 

2. It's impossible to track violations of the law without establishing a national gun registry. I buy a gun. 6 months later I sell it to Bob. 6 months after that he sells it to Steve. Firearms generally aren't tracked by the serial numbers on them, not now anyway, as those numbers are not standardized. The only way to prove that I didn't go through the background check process when selling to Bob or when Bob sold to Steve would be if we had a national gun registry tracking all guns individually. 
3. Because of 2, it would be impossible to have a national gun registry without serious privacy concerns. Quoting from an ABC article:
They’re an invasion of privacy. 
As opponents of gun control warn about privacy issues, background checks are tangled up with another proposal, that records of gun sales must be kept. In a March 22 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, six GOP senators, led by Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, warned that they would oppose any measures that involved “government surveillance.” While it’s not entirely clear what policy those senators had in mind, the American Civil Liberties Union has raised concerns about both records and background checks. “You just worry that you’re going to see searches of the databases and an expansion for purposes that were not intended when the information was collected,” Chris Calabrese, an ACLU privacy lobbyist, told The Daily Caller last week. Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has made it clear that a “national gun registry” is illegal and won’t be part of any Democratic gun bill.
There may be ways to resolve these issues. But they won't be resolved if the people involved in the debate don't know what they're talking about, and abandon reason and logic to focus on emotion and gut feelings.

Something else that doesn't help is when gun opponents say: 
"We aren't talking about taking anybody's guns" and then go on to say, explicitly or implicitly, "...but you shouldn't be allowed to have them and it means you're mentally ill and you have a small penis and nobody should be allowed to sell or buy guns and the 2nd amendment should be repealed."

And then after going through all the reasons why they think guns should no longer exist and should be taken away because everybody who has them is crazy, they say

"Why are you crazy people being so paranoid???"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The gun bans and confiscation we're told nobody is talking about

"Nobody is talking about taking your guns" we gunowners hear on a regular basis. That, and "Nobody is talking about banning all guns". Well, "nobody" is a broad and definitive statement, and just a handful of people talking about those exact things proves the lie of it. Sure, you can say it's a handful of unimportant people, but the reality is that more and more influential and powerful political figures are talking about both banning guns and taking guns. Senators, governors, mayors, as well as a host of political commentators, have done this, and there's no shortage of other major blog posts online discussing it as a serious option and even literally laying out a plan wherein creeping incrementalism is used to ban all civilian ownership of guns. 

But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a bevy of sourced examples. 

Banning Guns Is Necessary But Not Sufficient

Banning all guns is necessary but NOT sufficient in light of the increasing violence in our society. We need a fundamental transformation as well as banning guns. Otherwise, we will now revert to the normal debate between liberals wanting more gun control and conservatives saying that it's not guns that kill, but people. Both are right. So here is what we need to do: 
1. A constitutional amendment to ban all guns, and to create special holding units for hunting rifles to be held in control of locally elected officials in every neighborhood who keep the rifles under lock and key except when given to hunters during a hunting season and to be returned immediately thereafter, with all necessary criminal controls and penalties for those who do not return them in a timely manner and mthose who continue to hold on to their guns privately. No private ownership of guns of any sort. Police must similarly be disarmed, and allowed only to use billy clubs and mace, except in emergencies in which a judge signs a warrant for the temporary use of lethal force against someone who is using lethal force. Lesser measures (background checks, banning only extreme assault weapons, etc.) are wimpy and will have only slight impact.
Shame on Us, America: Take a Stand and #BanGuns Now
As Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel put it, "Fuck you, guns." It's strong language, but appropriate. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney should be ashamed of himself for saying that "today is not that day" to discuss gun control. If there was ever a time to speak up, it is now."
As citizens, we must all take a stand. March, protest, Facebook, Tweet, write your congressman, senators and legislators urging them to ban guns. Send the President this petition and speak up for the 20 innocent children who no longer have a voice.
Assault Weapons Ban Is Not Enough
I am officially beyond a place of wanting to find a compromise with those who want to argue for the right, or the need, of citizens to arm themselves with guns. Focusing on assault weapons only is just giving in to the gun lobby out of a fear that we can't beat them if we don't give them something. The time has come for our society to say enough is enough and that we must completely outlaw private citizens from owning guns. There is just no good logic to it and the number of senseless deaths attributed to people wielding all too easily acquired guns has reached a point where we have to say this has to stop.

What If President Obama Simply Issued Executive Orders Toughening Gun Curbs?

In the meantime, Obama could heed the lawmaker's pleas and follow the precedent of Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush and issue executive orders on gun curbs. Bush in 1989 used the 1968 Gun Control Act to ban the import of assault rifles. 
A decade later Clinton went further and banned firearms and ammunition from China. Bush and Clinton got around the squeal from the gun lobby and anti-gun control congresspersons that this was an abrogation of congressional fiat by invoking the provision in the Gun Control Act
that automatic weapons had to be "suitable for sporting purposes" to be legally bought and sold. The stockpiles of AK-47s and AR-15s hardly fit that description. 
Obama could use the "sporting purposes" language to allow local and federal law enforcement agencies to crack down on the proliferation of these type weapons by mandating rigid inspections and confiscation of these weapons at the point of import. He could expand the requirement that gun shops in border states -- and even nationally -- require instant reporting of anyone who purchases two or more homegrown manufactured assault weapons. He could also mandate gun dealers to take even more stringent steps to secure firearms from theft, run screens on their employees and end the right of gun dealers that are closing up shop to sell off their guns absent any background checks on buyers.
How to Ban Guns: A step by step, long term process (this is the
radical plan to use licensing and registration to ultimate confiscate
all guns from everybody over a ten year period)

The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the
only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence. 
Unfortunately, right now we can't. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first. This is how we do it...
Gun Control Poll: Which arms would you ban?
Where would you set the limit of what arms you – and your next-door neighbor – could legally keep at home? In the poll below, pick one level of banning. Each ban includes all those prior.
Lawmakers push for tighter gun controls in California
State Sen. Leland Yee introduced a bill that would prohibit gun owners from fitting semi-automatic weapons with devices, known as "bullet buttons" or "mag magnets," that allow them to be easily reloaded with multiple rounds of ammunition. 
The San Francisco Democrat's measure would also prohibit add-on kits that allow high-capacity magazines. He said he was drafting legislation that would require yearly background checks for gun ownership and toughen safety requirements. 
His action came as state Sen. Kevin De Leon, a Democrat from Los Angeles, said he would introduce a bill this week requiring ammunition buyers in the nation's most populous state to obtain a permit issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mayor Bloomberg Telling It As It Is on Gun Control
The President campaigned back in 2008 on a bill that would prohibit assault weapons. We’ve got to really question whether military-style weapons with big magazines belong in the streets of America in this day and age. Nobody questions the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. But I don’t think the founding fathers had the idea that every man, woman, and child could carry an assault weapon.
No more silence on gun limits
Certain classes of weapons that are strictly military and have no useful purpose in sport, hunting or self-defense should not be legally sold.
Magazine clips with more than 10 rounds should be prohibited from civilian use.
Cuomo Says He’ll Outline Gun Proposal Next Month
"I don’t think legitimate sportsmen are going to say, ‘I need an assault weapon to go hunting,’ ” he said. At the same time, he noted that he owns a shotgun that he has used for hunting, and said, “There is a balance here — I understand the rights of gun owners; I understand the rights of hunters.” 
In the interview, Mr. Cuomo did not offer specifics about the measures he might propose, but, while discussing assault weapons, he said: “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it."
Incidentally, "I understand the rights of hunters", which we hear so often from anti-gun politicians, means "I understand the rights of the wealthy people we actually care about, people who aren't working constantly, who live in gated neighborhoods where the police actually show up when you call, and who actually have the time and the money to hunt and trap shoot with fancy $10700 collector's edition shotguns."

If these people actually cared about sport or hunting, they wouldn't be trying to ban AR-15s, which are incredibly popular for sport shooting and for non-big game hunting. It's hard to beat an AR-15 platform for dedicated target shooting, 3-gun competition, or varmint and small game hunting. Chambered in .300 Blackout, it's a great boar gun for those parts of the country (usually in the disregarded flyover states in the Midwest and South) where wild boars are a serious environmental menace. 

But I could go on and on, and have, about M4/AR-15s and why we shouldn't be looking to ban those. The point of this piece is that there are people talking about banning guns. All guns. Not just the scary looking AR 15s. Are they likely to have much political success? Probably not. Anybody honest on the pro-gun side will admit that there are unrealistic and crazy people on the pro-gun side of the argument, some of whom are very highly placed and influential, like Wayne LaPierre or Ted Nugent. 

Few of us will pretend that there aren't unhinged people out there who think that Obama has a gay muslim socialist conspiracy to establish a 1000 year Reich and put all the white Christians in camps. But the problem that we have is that, on the anti-gun side of the debate, there are people calling for bans, there are people calling for confiscation, there are people calling for gun control laws more strict than even those of our neighbor to the north, and yet the people who claim to just want "reasonable limits" (the definition of which varies by person) will claim that nobody wants those things. And when one person claims this, and then in the next 3 minutes another person completely contradicts it, gun owners are just pushed further and further away from compromise. 

After all, it's difficult to want to compromise even on the things we might agree upon with people who will say openly that they are "officially beyond...wanting to find a compromise" with those of us that value civilian ownership of guns. What, exactly, are we getting in return for giving up rights to people like this? The people talking about the things we're told they aren't talking about. 

From Missouri, an actual ban with confiscation, that would make existing current law abiding gun owners into criminals with the stroke of a pen:
Missouri Democrats Introduce Legislation to Confiscate Firearms – Gives Gun Owners 90 Days to Turn in Weapons

4. Any person who, prior to the effective date of this law, was legally in possession of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine shall have ninety days from such effective date to do any of the following without being subject to prosecution:

(1) Remove the assault weapon or large capacity magazine from the state of Missouri;
(2) Render the assault weapon permanently inoperable; or
(3) Surrender the assault weapon or large capacity magazine to the appropriate law enforcement agency for destruction, subject to specific agency regulations.
5. Unlawful manufacture, import, possession, purchase, sale, or transfer of an assault weapon or a large capacity magazine is a class C felony.