jeudi 13 janvier 2011

American heat



There's somehing that doesn't fail to surprise me when reading the American newspapers or the numerous blogs that American citizens devote to their domestic politics: The ferocity each side seems to have in store for the opposite camp.

Wow! looks like there's no lost love between the Dems and the Republicans.

One may think it is quite normal that on this particular field when points of view diverge there's some heat to be expected but really, to this point of antagonism...

Of course, as a Frenchman, what do I know about American politics? But if I try to compare the traditional opposition between right and left in Europe, only far leftists would be as vindictive against far rightists and conversely.

But these two extremes amount to less than 10 % of the voters in France whereas Democrats and Republicans make about, say, 90% of the voters in the U.S.

Is this virulence a good and faithful image of the American national mentality when it comes to debating and exchanging ideas? Or more simply is the pattern of thoughts so different that no comparison can be made between the way Europeans and Americans deal with their respective domestic concerns?

As pertains the recent shooting in Tucson I don't know if the inflammatory rhetoric that has gained ground in the past years as Ned remarked yesterday was a decisive factor in what happened or simply there was a loony going around with his Glock 19 ready to realize his fantasies.

My wild guess is that there exists a culture of both physical and mental violence in the American psyche due to the history of the country and the sociological background of its immigrants. When the cultural context is what we know it is, no wonder stuff happen...


34 commentaires:

Christine a dit…

Je ne sais pas non plus Flocon, si l'agressivité entre candidats de bords différents stimule les votes; je ne sais pas non plus si cette virulence verbable apporte les conditions d'une réflexion plus approfondie ou plus argumentée chez les électeurs. La seule chose que je sais ,c'est qu'en France on s'ennuie lors des campagnes électorales,que la formule de Duclos "Blanc bonnet et bonnet blanc" est de plus en plus d'actualité et que cet ennui fait le sillon de personnages politiques qui tirent la couverture à eux, simplement en faisant des coups d'éclat dans la peoplisation ou la provocation... J'ai le regret des empoignades, ou des remarques cinglantes des grands débats télévisés d'autrefois. Aujourd'hui, cela a disparu et nous avons droit à des "saynètes" publicitaires (c'est du tout com(me) en guise de professions de foi! Lassitude, quand tu nous tiens!

Flocon a dit…

L'agressivité entre candidats de bords différents (ou pas!) me fait penser aux combats de coqs où la foule encourage les uns et les autes.

Ksss ksss, vas-y Jules! Mords-y l'œil Arthur... Pathétique mais il semble que ce soit encore le meilleur moyen de sortir les électeurs potentiels de leur apathie naturelle.

Pour ce qui concerne "les conditions d'une réflexion plus approfondie ou plus argumentée chez les électeurs" je ne crois pas non...

Cela dit, les medias ne nous donnent à lire et entendre que des bribes (genre "la phrase du jour") de ce que peuvent dire les politiques.

Il y a la surface et les profondeurs. J'ai une fois eu l'occasion d'entendre Bernard Thibault il y a quelques années et je fus surpris, oui, de la pertinence et de l'argumentation de son discours.

Idem pour Mélanchon dont je ne supporte pas le côté maquignon mais à qui il arrive de faire des analyses intéressantes.

Il est nécessaire aux politiques de faire le plus de bruit possible pour avoir une chance d'être repérés par les radios/télés/presse mais c'est le bruit qu'on retient, pas la substance.

J'ai dû cesser de regarder les débats politiques il y a... pfff... allez, 15 ans, je sais ce qui sera dit, mon vote n'a jamais été déterminé par ces saynètes publicitaires comme vous dites justement et j'ai plus enrichissant à faire.

Lassitude, oui, c'est bien ça quand on a compris que de toute façon l'essentiel se décide et se joue ailleurs.

La politique est un spectacle pour les électeurs, ce n'est pas nouveau, et c'est l'auteur qui tire les ficelles.

L'auteur c'est à la fois les circonstances et les idéologies de l'époque.

Flocon a dit…

Ouh là! je ne suis pas dans mon assiette ce matin. Je m'aperçois que j'ai déjà mis en ligne ce billet 2 fois, avec Ned et Anijo taking part three years ago...

Je n'étais pas satisfait avec Monisme que je posterai demain ni avec un autre billet mis en ligne une heure avant que je ne le retire, trop long et mal construit.

A nap will do me much good...

Anijo a dit…

je ne suis pas dans mon assiette
What an unusual idiom

Flocon a dit…

C'est une expression courante Anijo et que tu as déjà dû rencontrer.

I'm out of sorts is the usual translation.

Cela n'a pas grand chose à voir avec the plate in which you eat but the meaning of assiette here is balance, equilibrium.

A plate s'appelle assiette parce qu'elle est équilibrée comme on est à l'équilibre quand on est assis.

Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette doesn't mean I'm not in my plate but I don't feel in equilibrium... (and I know there's a huge mistake in English here)

Anijo a dit…

Ah, thank you so much Flocon. Now it makes sense.

Peut-être j'y avait rencontrer mais ne le souviens pas.
You see I'm being brave in attempting to use "y"..

(I did not detect any mistake)

Flocon a dit…

"You see I'm being brave in attempting to use "y""..

Actually you dared a bold stroke...

What you wrote should be:

Peut-être l'ai-je rencontré mais je ne m'en souviens pas

Since it's you writing (first singular person) the conjugation must be avais rencontré. An easy one for you but you were in a hurry... ;-)

There's hardly a possibility to insert "y" in your sentence re the plate but the "en" is present.

If I try to imagine how I could use the f. "y" I'll try those ones:


Je suis allé à la gare et c'est là que je l'y ai vu (l'homme que tout le monde cherche)

Va chez Walmart et tu y trouveras ce dont tu as besoin

Quand tu iras à Mesilla tu y verras la basilique de Saint Albain

That's a most difficult one to master for non native francophones I know.

Maybe it will help if you think of y = ici, là

Even my two last examples aren't quite correct.

Follow up on the espace détente page where there's already something for you...

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, "Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette doesn't mean I'm not in my plate but I don't feel in equilibrium."

Mais toi, comme Juppé, tu est toujours droit dans tes bottes, n'est-ce pas?

But you made a basic mistake in trying to be balanced and say that there are faults on both sides when in fact it is the Republicans and their media minions that are responsible. Sometimes there are not two sides to the story.

Bill O'Reilly spent an hour denouncing economist Paul Krugman, the NY Times, and others who blamed him and Fox News for the hatred battering the country, when it is a fact.

Rupert Murdoch and his mouthpieces are responsible as accessories to murder.

Flocon a dit…

On second thought it's exactly the same in English with plate coming from Greek and means flat, a meaning that has stayed in French (un plat).

The main attribute of a plate is to be flat. So Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette could as well be translated as I'm not in my plate.

Of course it sounds odd...

Flocon a dit…

Ned,


"Mais toi, comme Juppé, tu est toujours droit dans tes bottes, n'est-ce pas?"

Unless you deliberately wanted to inflict another blow to my ego, this sentence can be read as very defiant, all the more with the n'est-ce pas? ending and the mention of Juppé.

But since I'm perfectly back in my plate again I won't bat an eyelid and will stay as cool as an oyster beaming in an ocean of bliss... :-D


As regards what happened in Tucson and more precisely the cultural context which led to the shooting I defer to you of course.

As I wrote in the post:

"Of course, as a Frenchman what do I know about American politics?"

When I read the last paragraph re the shooting, I'm not that assertive as you seem to think I am, as usual my door is open to other opinions...

"and say that there are faults on both sides"

Where was that? I didn't even write the words Rep. or Dem.

I even wrote: "I don't know." Not that I contradict what you say, I simply am less informed that you are...

But on second thought I understand Gifford is a strong proponent of the right for every American to cary a gun, a firearm, whatever, and whatever amendment of the Constitution regulates this fundamental "right".

Je ne vois pas comment je pourrais l'exonérer de sa part de responsabilité dans ce qui est arrivé puisqu'elle participe par ses opinions et son possible vote (would she vote against the right for Americans to carry guns? No) du climat de violence politique qui existe aux États-Unis.

She may herself, I don't know, possess at least one or even several firearms. Qui sème le vent...

It's not like she were some kind of pacifist opposed to violence.

She may be innocent of this particular incident in Tucson but she's not entirely innocent of the violent mindset that pervades America.

Nor are the Democrats who may be less inflammatory in their speeches but nevertheless back the right for Americans to carry firearms.

Now, it's none of my business and I won't preach anybody how they should behave or how Americans should rule their country.

Anijo a dit…

She may herself, I don't know, possess at least one or even several firearms. Qui sème le vent...

As SemperFi pointed out to me on the SF forum, she owns a Glock, the very weapon that the crazy man shot her with.

Anijo a dit…

And on this same thread (where I demonstrate my ignorance vis-à-vis guns) The nun (MH)has suddenly appeared and made the following statement: Regarding this issue of guns, I think that there are a few here who stated it perfectly...guns don't kill, people do

Anijo a dit…

On second thought it's exactly the same in English with plate coming from Greek and means flat, a meaning that has stayed in French (un plat).

The main attribute of a plate is to be flat. So Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette could as well be translated as I'm not in my plate.

Of course it sounds odd...


I understand plates/assietes more than I ever imagined that I would.. ;)

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo: Regarding Mary Ellen's post on SF, I found the whole tone and text of the comment to be odd. Did you notice that she referred to "Democrat campaigns"? My first reaction was that the post was done by an impostor. I found the post hard to reconcile with the passionate supporter of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton that Mary Ellen proved to be in 2004-2008. What do you think?

To all the French, I am sorry for the inside baseball here.

On the other hand, now Flocon can research the Americanism "inside baseball".

Anonyme a dit…

I regret that I forgot to sign the above post.

All the best,
SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

Hi SemperFi,
That was no imposter. Mary Ellen now attacks Democrats with the same ferocity that she used to attack Republicans. Flocon and I both followed her transition which took place when Hillary Clinton lost to Barack Obama. She now blogs with a guy who she used to hate because he was too conservative for her (LA Sunsett) and they're now best buddies..

She deleted her old blog where she was a Democrat and now has a new blog where she spends a lot of her time attacking Democrats.

I didn't bother responding to her post at SF's because I have no desire to exchange ideas with an unpredictable attack dog.

And, yes, I did indeed notice the "Democrat campaigns".

I pretty much quit blogging with her back when still had her blog as a Democrat when she viciously attacked some guy who would regularly make comments on her blog. He was an intelligent poster from some country other than the U.S., I forget where though. I could tell that he liked her, so it was rather shocking when she went after him in such a strong manner for voicing another opinion.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

re guns don't kill people, people do, since you know of Aristotle's four causes you know how to dispose of this line.

It's not the blade that cut off the heads when the guillotine was still in usage... bla bla bla.

The mind boggles.

When I wrote the post last year I wandered on some American blogs wondering how I would fare with my Aristotelian thing.

It didn't take much time for me to learn that I was a Yurpeen failure and weren't it for America I would speak German. lol!

Aristotle doesn't go down well with everybody... :-D

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

"On the other hand, now Flocon can research the Americanism "inside baseball".

My first rough guess was that the image evoked a ball gone off the stadium and landing in another precinct not meant to receive it but since this Americanism contains inside it must refer to the very rules of the game.

And then I'm not about to understand something about it...

I'll check anyway.

What's your take on the N.R.A line logically wise by the way? What about Aristotle's final cause in particular?

Anonyme a dit…

Flocon: //Guns don't kill people, people kill people// or something to that effect.

The statement is a fallacy. But this isn't the point. The NRA is not attempting a logical proof. They seek to shift the discussion from limitations on a neutral tool, the firearm, to limitations on the people who misuse the tool in mass shootings like the one in Arizona. Namely, the mentally ill. The slogan has been modestly effective in achieving this end, in my opinion.

Mr. Loughner's bizarre behavior would have been treated differently in 1950. College officials would have had no hesitation in reporting him to county law enforcement. At some point early in the dozen or so encounters Mr. Loughner had with the police, he would have been referred to the District Attorney, who would have promptly brought him before a judge for involuntary commitment to a state mental hospital. By the second appearance at the latest, Loughner would have been safely confined for treatment and unable to shoot anyone.

But a tireless campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union has made it practically impossible in the US for the state to involuntarily commit the mentally ill BEFORE they commit a serious crime. Federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination against the disabled make it risky for an employer to terminate a mentally ill employee. And popular culture, particularly in motion pictures, has romanticized mental illness such that people feel guilty about standing up for the public safety. Like loughner's college classmates, they drop the class, look the other way, and hope that they are not in the room when he goes berserk.

The NRA seeks to steer the debate to this part of the problem with the slogan. They are poor philosophers, but good politicians.

SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

SemperFidelis,

Hmmmm... Who would have tought? I think I agree with every point you make here.

"The statement is a fallacy"

Agree. When I wrote the piece I wanted to know where said fallacy was hidden.

"motion pictures, has romanticized mental illness"

Agree. Same with serial killers for example.

"They are poor philosophers, but good politicians"

Agree. And they're good at marketing too...

So sorry but I fail to see where I could object any part of your comment.

Thanks for answering my query.

Anonyme a dit…

Ned:
//Rupert Murdoch and his mouthpieces are responsible as accessories to murder.//

Now that the facts about Loughner are known, have you reconsidered your analysis?

I seems uncontested that Loughner is seriously mentally ill. Those who know him report that he is apolitical, uninterested in current events, and does not watch Fox News or listen to talk radio of any persuasion, left or right. He apparently became obsessed with the congresswoman in 2007, not because of her politics, but because she publicly passed over one of his nonsense questions about grammar at a town hall meeting with citizens.

Even the New York Times, in a particularly grudging circumlocution, opined that "...the murder suspect appeared to have no obvious ideology, his crime an imperfect parable to the consequences of political rhetoric."

Can you at least sign on to the "imperfect parable" analysis?

All the best,
SemperFidelis

Flocon a dit…

One article about gun control by Bob Herbert in the NYT and another one on Slate about the purported influence of Nietzsche on Jared Lee Loughner.

Anijo a dit…

SemperFi,
I'll say one thing. Some on the left were too quick to blame Sarah Palin and other conservative types for inspiring Jared to do what he did. Turns out that he doesn't like women much so I doubt that Palin inspired him. Any mention of George Bush made him angry, so he wasn't targeting liberals. However, I remain convinced that this Glock that he had has no business in the hands of so many people. That he could belt out 31 rounds before reloading is incredible to me.

link NYT article

With the aid of another deputy, he relieved the heroic civilians of their charge and began searching for weapons other than the Glock semiautomatic pistol, secured nearby under a civilian’s foot, that had just fired 31 rounds
****
His anger would well up at the sight of President George W. Bush, or in discussing what he considered to be the nefarious designs of government.
****
It was not just his appearance — the pale shaved head and eyebrows — that unnerved them. It was also the aggressive, often sexist things that he said, including asserting that women should not be allowed to hold positions of power or authority.
****
One individual with knowledge of the situation said Mr. Loughner once got into a dispute with a female branch employee after she told him that a request of his would violate bank policy. He brusquely challenged the woman, telling her that she should not have any power.

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo: Remember, it is the high-capacity 33 round magazine that is the issue, not the Glock pistol.

This high-capacity magazine was illegal to sell under the legislation that expired early in the first term of G W Bush.

I am confident that it would be constitutional for the Federal Government to restore the ban on these high capacity magazines. After all, the 9mm Beretta Model 92 pistol that the US issued me has "only" a 15 round magazine. Marines and soldiers are expected to defend themselves with that issue. The standard Glock, comparable to the Beretta, has a 15 round magazine. It is hard to argue that private citizens need more firepower for self defense than that issued to soldiers.

I would favor banning these 33 round magazines for semi-auto pistols. If I were the Speaker of the House, I would seek a compromise deal with centrist Democrats in the Senate. We would support the high-capacity magazine ban, if the Democrats would support more reasonable procedures to involuntarily commit the potentially dangerous mentally ill to treatment.

Can we make a deal here?
SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

Can we make a deal here?

Well, SemperFi, sure we can make a deal. Sounds good to me. But then neither you nor I have all that much influence. Well, at least I don't have much.

Anijo a dit…

I'm going to have to educate myself about guns/firearms. But where to begin?

Anijo a dit…

Well, I started my education here.

Okay, so we're discussing high-capacity magazines. I note that firearms which accept detachable magazines are also an issue. I'm guessing that Glocks accept detachable magazines.

Anyway, I don't see much happening in this area. Sr Lugar, one of the more centrist Republicans from the old school of being polite and a man who I respect, has this to say

The story was based on an interview Lugar did with Bloomberg Television on Friday in which he was asked about the ban on certain semiautomatic firearms that Congress approved in 1994. The ban expired in 2004.

Lugar was asked whether the ban should be reinstated to prevent people from buying guns such as the Glock 19 with a 30-bullet magazine that was used in the Tucson shooting.

"I believe it should be (reinstated), but I recognize the fact that the politics domestically in our country with regard to this are on a different track altogether," Lugar told Bloomberg.

Lugar told a group of reporters Tuesday he was trying to point out that, because the ban likely won't be reinstated, talking about it could be counterproductive by encouraging people to stock up on weapons.


And here's another article talking about reinstating the ban on the Glock19, and yet SemperFi, you said that the Glock was not banned under the 1994 assault weapons ban.

This topic is very confusing!

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo: These articles are confusing because they are written by journalists who know less about the subject than you do.
All semi-automatic pistols designed since 1914 have detachable magazines. The magazines are detached from the pistol so that ammunition can be inserted. Once the magazine is loaded with ammunition, the magazine is inserted into the pistol, usually into the pistol grip.
Wiki has a good article on the US Assault Weapons Ban legislation. Read it and you will dominate any discussion on the topic, since you will be the only one in the room who knows what she is talking about.
In brief, the AWB prohibited sale of rifles, pistols, and shotguns that had certain characteristics. Also, magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds were prohibited "high capacity magazines". But the ban applied only to magazines manufactured AFTER THE BAN WENT INTO EFFECT. The Glock 19 pistol itself did not have the prohibited characteristics. So a Glock 19 with a 15 round magazine manufactured before the ban was ok. A Glock 19 with a 10 round magazine manufactured after the Ban was ok. A Glock 19 with a 15 round magazine manufactured after the ban was NOT OK.
Got a headache?
SemperFidelis

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo: Just to be clear, in the example above, it is the date the MAGAZINE was manufactured that is relevant. The date the Glock pistol was manufactured is not relevant
SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

Thank you SemperFi! I understand more clearly now. I'll read what Flocon's friend (wiki) has to say about it.

Flocon a dit…

Finalement ce n'était pas une mauvaise chose que de remettre ce billet en ligne pour la troisième fois.

October 2007 = 3 comments
January 2008 = 10 comments
January 2011 = 31 comments...

Each time there are three more comments than the previous one.

I may already have a plan for January 2014...

Anijo a dit…

SemperFi,

So a Glock 19 with a 15 round magazine manufactured BEFORE the ban WAS OK ?

Anonyme a dit…

Anijo:

//So a Glock 19 with a 15 round magazine manufactured BEFORE the ban WAS OK ?//
Yes. The AWB applied only to weapons or magazines manufactured AFTER the effective date of the ban in 1994. The law prohibited sale, transfer, or import of firearms with the characteristics of "assault weapons" and magazines holding more than 10 rounds manufactured AFTER the effective date of the AWB. The law did not ban possession or sale of pre-existing "assault weapons" or magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
So you can see that it is misleading to claim that the AWB "banned" a Glock 19 with a 33 round magazine. If the weapon and the 33 round magazine was manufactured in 1993, it was always legal for a citizen to have it (assuming the citizen was not personally disqualified due to felony conviction, minority, etc.).
This was only one of the, in a word, silly, provisions of this ridiculous law. When the 10-year sunset provision of the law expired, its proponents could not show that it had any affect on gun crime. At best, all they could show was that the price of pre-existing weapons and magazines went up. Marginally.
When you discuss this with friends, they will not believe you because the law was, well, unbelievable.
In my view, the Supreme Court would support a ban on magazines holding more that the standard 15 round capacity. They would probably support a 10 round limit. Any such ban should be retrospective. If these high capacity magazines present a clear and present danger to the public safety, they should be contraband. Possessing them should be a crime, and they should be seized by the police, just as counterfeit money is seized. A buy-back program would make this more acceptable.
But if this kind of legislation is to be successful, the left must help by supporting a return to reasonable involuntary commitment of the dangerously mentally ill. Otherwise the slogan "Guns don't kill people, people do" will continue to be potent.
SemperFidelis

Anijo a dit…

Thank you for taking out the time to discuss this SemperFi. I learned a lot.

You're asking that both Democrats and Republicans act reasonably. I'm not convinced that there are enough reasonable politicians on either side of the aisle to effect the necessary changes required to make us all safer.

The AWB led to a good sound bite for politicians to take home to their constituents, and that was it. Politics as usual..