Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
HOW DID ABORTION RIGHTS COME TO THIS?  — Carol Hanisch charts how the right to an abortion began to erode shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision; Uber vs. the Cabbies: Ben Terrall reports on the threats posed by private car services; Remembering August 1914: Binoy Kampmark on the enduring legacy of World War I; Medical Marijuana: a Personal Odyssey: Doug Valentine goes in search of medicinal pot and a good vaporizer; Nostalgia for Socialism: Lee Ballinger surveys the longing in eastern Europe for the material guarantees of socialism. PLUS: Paul Krassner on his Six Dumbest Decisions; Kristin Kolb on the Cancer Ward; Jeffrey St. Clair on the Making of the First Un-War; Chris Floyd on the Children of Lies and Mike Whitney on why the war on ISIS is really a war on Syria.
Post-Newtown Recantation

Obama as Daniel Boone

by NORMAN POLLACK

The January 26 edition of the New York Times has three items relevant to the issue of gun control, an editorial pleading for the restoration of funds for the CDC for the study of gun violence, its argument being that this is really a public health problem; an article by Peter Baker, “Gun Control Advocates Need to Listen to Gun Owners,” Obama’s making of obeisance to the gunnies, their lobbies, the manufacturers, all who support the bastardization of the Constitution in this vital respect; and a second article, by Mike McIntire, on “Selling a New Generation on Guns,” which portrays capitalism at its finest, gun manufacturers targeting (sorry for the pun) children, not simply to build a future progun constituency but actually have them become active gunnies, starting them off with magazines like “Junior Shooter,” then getting them into gun “sports,” as a step to full gun-embracement.  I’m reminded as a kid of the tobacco companies during World War II boasting about sending cartons of cigarettes to the troops in the hospitals—a grand start, as with guns, to an adiction in harmful substances, bullets rather than cigs.  (The Obama qua Daniel Boone reference in the subtitle, is my take, from the Baker piece, on Obama’s praise of the wilderness experience, where men presumably are men, and guns—bless them—guns.)

Are we or are we not closing in on fascism when Obama cries buckets over Newtown (no, an overstatement; as good  an actor as he is, that range of emotion cannot for him even be faked, as did the other one), and at the same time personally authorizing targeted assassinations which, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, have killed, as a not that recent  tabulation, 162 children, well more than all children killed in gun rampages during his presidency and for some time before?  How can we expect gun control at home when we indifferently slaughter men, women, children, in Pakistan and Somalia?  Why fascism?  In part, because we, as a nation, are so indifferent to human life, except that of our own, and even then selectively applied.  Why fascism? In part, because our indifference extends in all directions, the land, the atmosphere, the vast accumulations of wealth vacuumed-in under our noses, the contempt for Third World nations, the alacrity in building up a war machine and, as with Obama and his prized sidekick, John O. Brennan, constructing a foreign policy of permanent war—as though we need and must have an “enemy” to relieve our own boredom and, more basic, unify us as a country.  The lines of continuity between anticommunism and counterterrorism, are, to me, crystal clear, founded on the love of hating, as a prerequisite of glorifying own own nationhood—and incidentally, giving a much-needed shot in the arm to American capitalism.  If we have to have scapegoats, why not go one step further, beyond scapegoating, to the genuine article, the terrorist in our midst, beginning with Goldman and AIG executives, Sheldon Adelson and the purveyors, hiding under the casino tables, of unadulterated slime via nonaccountable secret organizations (I say that, not as a devotee of conspiracy  theory, but again, from today’s Times), and, one of my favorites, The Butcher of the Beltway (you may remember the similar moniker for a figure in World War II), John O. Brennan, confidante of Obama,  and heightened-interrogation enabler of the first water?

I present here two Comments I wrote for the Times, the first (surprisingly) accepted, the second, an Addendum, or reply to myself, not, as of now, accepted.

I.

I’m perplexed. Does The Times editorial board read the paper’s articles? In the same issue, Peter Baker, “Gun Control Advocates Need to Listen to Gun Owners,” we find Obama again, a left jab (gun control), then immediately tanking for the count of 10. A pathological dissimulator, and now, portraying himself as another Daniel Boone, not the pride in skeet shooting so much (pretty laughable), but paeans to an outdoor country life his speech writers may envision but one he certainly never experienced.

Under Obama, more gun rampages, more pious (i.e., crocodile) tears for the children-victims (itself blasphemy, for his armed drones have massacred more children than have the domestic rampages), more platitudes, not as compromises and cave-ins, but as outright deceptions, betrayals, as he servilely seeks the favor of reactionary forces in America.

As for your idea of treating “gun violence as a public health issue,” fine, as far as it goes, but it is not a public health issue; it is a culture issue, the sickness of American culture more and more evident around us. Look at the gun advocates–pure, unadulterated fascistic thinking. NRA is America’s own al Qaeda, doing more harm than terrorists ever could.

II

After writing, I’ve just read Mike McIntire’s “Selling a New Generation on Guns,” in an adjoining column. If one thinks I exaggerate, read that. Positive depravity, a SICK culture, far more pernicious probably than heroin–getting guns into the hands of young children, habituating them to their use–the magazine Junior Shooter, “put them under the Christmas Tree.”  If this isn’t fascism-in-the-making, I’d like to know what is.  And yet our political leadership stands before NRA with trembling knees, Obama boasting about skeet shooting, Biden, his ownership of shot guns.

I expect nothing less from our Assassination President, whose armed drones are the scandal of the world, and now, with John Brennan as nominee-director of the CIA, and still also Obama’s closest adviser, we have torture nicely ensconsed in the White House.  Perhaps instead of the Stars and Stripes, America should have as its flag a giant BLOOD SPAT, which is what is left when a drone attack does its work.

Happy Hunting, Children!

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.