In Brief: 'Lone Nuts' and Natural Fruit; Moscow Murk

"Lone nut" gunmen: natural fruit of the system. Hypercapitalism destroys social, family, community and economic bonds; it sews division, isolation, competition, greed; lauds force and violence and war as supreme values; turns rape and murder into nightly entertainment; dehumanizes and commodifies human beings at every turn ... and then we wonder why our society produces so many troubled, isolated, violent souls out there. A system set up on dehumanization and moral insanity is bound to produce the kind of damaged psyches we see falling prey to the hate that fills the nightmind of the internet -- and the broad daylight of Establishment violence and brutality -- and who then go walking into schools and churches and workplaces to act out the destructive chaos they hear in their heads ... and see in the world.

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Sudden, murky tectonic shifts going on in Moscow; unreported in the West
From a friend in Moscow in last week: "Stuff is happening in Moscow. I'm not putting it together yet, but "things have changed." Putin is suddenly pulling out of Ukraine. TV has suddenly stopped ragging on the US. Russia bombs ISIS, oops, no, the other opposition; then bombs ISIS. Yesterday I watched for 4 astonishing hours as Putin listened to dozens of speakers in the human rights council tell him straight to his face how his government has failed in the courts, in lawmaking, in finance - virtually everywhere. I don't ever remember seeing Putin take so much public criticism in one fell swoop (TV Rain ran it). Today this tidbit - that Putin has signed an order to put up a memorial - a Wall of Grief - to victims of repressions. Almost none of this could have happened over the last 2 to 3 years. Something has changed to make this particular stew of events possible now."

Seen anything about this in the Western press? No. They're not interested in what is really happening in Russia, only in their fantasy version of Putin and Kremlinland, which they chop and change as they please to suit whatever their agenda is at any given moment.

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Follow-up on guns
Beyond the systemic, theoretical issues noted above, there are many common-sense, practical measures we could take to reduce gun deaths in short run -- even without "taking away everyone's guns," as the fetishists claim at every suggestion of even the slightest regulation of this deadly technology. In fact, gun use has been heavily regulated throughout most of US history. It is only relatively recently that gun ownership has acquired a religious fervour that brooks no controls whatsoever on the sacred object. Certainly, when I was growing up in the arch-traditional, Bible-Belt, hunting-dog South decades ago, there was none of the bristling defensiveness that characterises the "gun debate" today -- much less the extremist push for "open carry" laws, which the traditional gun-owners I grew up with would have thought absolutely insane.

But the fact is, if you can regulate deadly technology like automobiles without "taking all our precious cars away," you can regulate guns, as Nicholas Kristof notes. True, regulating gun sales and gun use will not eliminate every gun death, no more than having driver's licenses and traffic laws prevent every auto death. But as Kristof points out, it would reduce the number of gun deaths considerably, while leaving people's liberties intact. This seems a worthy, reasonable goal -- and, again, would actually accord with the "traditional values" that our modern right-wingers profess to champion. But apparently Americans would prefer to live in a society where, as Kristof reports, "more preschoolers are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013)" and where the powerful gun lobby fiercely opposes all research into making guns safer.

Again, this is not a traditional or conservative stance at all; this is radical extremism, ushering in an aggressive, paranoid, violent society, completely at odds with any kind of genuine "traditional values" at all.