Summer fading, winter comes—
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.
Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.
All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children’s eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.
We may see how all things are,
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies’ looks,
In the pictyure story-books.
How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?
Picture-books in Winter by Robert Louis Stevenson
I will probably never get over having to counter conservative arguments. The arguments they make are generally lacking in rational empirical proof, the kind of basic logic even most children seem to quickly grasp and as time goes by, proven wrong, all the inane rationalizations that follow. What conservatives feel or divine via visions in the night as the ultimate truth is almost always self evidently false. Sometimes in anger or despair humans have been known to say or write things which they later regret. In the Bizarro World of conservatism those things are published a newspaper columns and the propositions vigorously defended. The WaPo’s conservative columnist George Will managed to have several columns make a worse columns list of 2012. His contempt for facts and logic seem as tough they will continue to haunt us into 2013, George Will: You Know Who Else Had High Voter Turnout?
George Will argues in his Washington Post column today that what he terms the Justice Department’s “drive to federalize voter registration” is an unnecessarily complex answer to “the non-problem of people choosing not to vote,” and that high voter turnout isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, citing the German elections of the early 1930s that resulted in Nazi dictatorship.
Describing “obvious reasons for non-voting,” he writes:
[T]he stakes of politics are agreeably low because constitutional rights and other essential elements of happiness are not menaced by elections. Those who think high voter turnout indicates civic health should note that in three German elections, 1932-33, turnout averaged more than 86 percent, reflecting the terrible stakes: The elections decided which mobs would rule the streets and who would inhabit concentration camps.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Germany in the early 1930s was reeling from the global depression, increasingly bitter over the outcome of World War I and the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and overrun by extremist parties with their own paramilitary wings brawling in the streets and shooting at each other outside political rallies. Anti-Semitism was widespread, everyone hated the Weimar government, and nostalgia for the heady days of the Kaiser led most people to actually yearn for a dictatorship of some form. And in this toxic political environment, the Nazis managed to prevail over the other extremist groups — largely due to popular support, but also through conspiracy and outright intimidation.
None of that, however, is an argument against the high voter turnout as a sign of “civic health.” It’s an argument against war, depression, anti-Semitism, Nazis, Communists, and political violence. Will could just as easily have argued that representative government, or elections themselves, aren’t a sign of “civic health,” given how they were misused and perverted by Hitler and his associates.
Let’s reach dep down and get in touch with our base emotions – in other words think like a conservative. In this mind-set we are able to see that Will is trying to save democracy in the same way that Republicans have tried to suppress voting. Florida Republicans Admit Voter Suppression Was The Goal Of New Election Laws and conservatives in Arkansas, Montana, and New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin and Missouri have all joined in to make it more difficult for Americans to participate in our democracy. Thus saving us, presumably, from becoming a fascist state. Only thing, when people stop participating in democracy, stop learning about the historical precedents and consequences of those actions, is when the extreme Right and extreme Left come to power.
This is from a Meet The Press of 12/26/12 transcript that included NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre,
WAYNE LAPIERRE: You know, look. I know there’s a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens. I know there’s an anti-second amendment industry in this country. I know there are political (UNINTEL) for 20 years always try to say it’s because Americans own guns.
I’m telling you what I think will make people safe. And what every mom and dad will make them feel better when they drop their kid off at school in January, is if we have a police officer in that school, a good guy, that if some horrible monster tries to do something, they’ll be there to protect them.
Conservatives say that government is never the answer, except I guess when they have a uniform and a gun. An ex-Marine goes on a killing spree at the University of Texas, Former security guard charged in murder spree, New Jersey Police Officer Charged With Multiple Counts Of Attempted Homicide, The Culpeper Police Department fired an officer who is facing charges in the fatal shooting of a 54-year-old Culpeper woman, Ex-F.B.I. Agent Admits Slaying and Gets 16 Years, 2 ex-cops accused in murder plot. This has been one of the more glaring hypocrisies of the far Right for decades. Much of what they say about small gov’mint has a coded meaning. They generally have no problem with the surveillance state and treating every American as a suspect. They have no problem with authoritarian solutions to most domestic issues and of course all foreign policy issues can be solved with a bomb from the tax payers and gov’mint. And who is going to pay to have an armed watcher everywhere. And who is going to watch the watchers and hold them accountable. This is the conservative version of the Dr Seuss book The Butter Battle Book. We’ll have legally armed enforcers everywhere, citizens will all have guns, the firing starts and everyone thinks they’ll be able to differentiate the good shooters from the bad shooters, have the aim of a super agent from a spy thriller and wow the stories of the glories of guns that our children will tell. I can understand someone having a gun in their night stand drawer, most of us left of center can. People like LaPierre are making a joke of and creating animosity towards guns and such gun owners by acting like a gun crazed assbrick. It is doing far more to hurt the concept of sensible gun ownership than any liberal ever could.
The race begins when a Zook named Van Itch slingshots the Yooks’ “Tough-Tufted Prickly Snick-Berry Switch”, which could be used to give Zooks a twitch if they dared to come close to the wall, which was guarded by “the Zook-Watching Border Patrol”. The Yooks then develop a machine with three slingshots interlinked, called a “Triple-Sling Jigger”. This works once (Van Itch got scared and ran off), but the Zooks counterattack with their own creation: The “Jigger-Rock Snatchem”, a machine with three nets to fling the rocks fired from the Triple-Sling Jigger back at the Yooks’ side “just as fast as we catch ’em”.