Cautionary Tales

A reader recently shared an article from Politico, titled, “Gun Violence is Actually Worse in Red States. It’s Not Even Close.” It began by quoting the rhetoric of various ambitious Republicans on the subject: 

In October, Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis proclaimed crime in New York City was “out of control” and blamed it on George Soros. Another Sunshine State politico, former president Donald Trump, offered his native city up as a Democrat-run dystopia, one of those places “where the middle class used to flock to live the American dream are now war zones, literal war zones.” In May 2022, hours after 19 children were murdered at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott swatted back suggestions that the state could save lives by implementing tougher gun laws by proclaiming“Chicago and L.A. and New York disprove that thesis.”

As the article points out, this is pure propaganda.

In reality, the region the Big Apple comprises most of is far and away the safest part of the U.S. mainland when it comes to gun violence, while the regions Florida and Texas belong to have per capita firearm death rates (homicides and suicides) three to four times higher than New York’s. On a regional basis it’s the southern swath of the country — in cities and rural areas alike — where the rate of deadly gun violence is most acute, regions where Republicans have dominated state governments for decades.

There are a number of reasons beyond policy for these disparities, including the differing cultures of those who originally colonized various areas of the country. But the current assaults on even minimal efforts to reduce gun violence employ outright lies to play on deep-seated, mostly rural fears of urban life.

There are mounting, disquieting “cautionary tales” about America’s deepening divisions into rural and urban, Red and Blue. A week or so ago, the Washington Post ran a truly terrifying story about the radical Right takeover of a small Michigan county. It deserves to be read in its entirety, but the introductory paragraphs are instructive. 

The eight new members of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners had run for office promising to “thwart tyranny” in their lakeside Michigan community of 300,000 people.

In this case the oppressive force they aimed to thwart was the county government they now ran…. 
The new commissioners, all Republicans, swore their oaths of office on family Bibles. And then the firings began. Gone was the lawyer who had represented Ottawa County for 40 years. Gone was the county administrator who oversaw a staff of 1,800. To run the health department, they voted to install a service manager from a local HVAC company who had gained prominence as a critic of mask mandates.

As the session entered its fourth hour, Sylvia Rhodea, the board’s new vice chair, put forward a motion to change the motto that sat atop the county’s website and graced its official stationery. “Whereas the vision statement of ‘Where You Belong’ has been used to promote the divisive Marxist ideology of the race, equity movement”… 

Rhodea proposed to unite the county around America’s “true history” as a “land of systemic opportunity built on the Constitution, Christianity and capitalism.’”

County Commission meetings everywhere tend to be lightly attended, but the article reports that ensuing meetings of this particular board were “packed with so many angry people calling each other “fascists,” “communists,” “Christian nationalists” and “racists” that the county would have to open an overflow room down the hall.”

The Guardian reports a similar takeover in Blue California.

In a seemingly long gone era – before the Trump presidency, and Covid, and the 2020 election – Doni Chamberlain would get the occasional call from a displeased reader who had taken issue with one of her columns. They would sometimes call her stupid and use profanities.

Today, when people don’t like her pieces, Chamberlain said, they tell her she’s a communist who doesn’t deserve to live. One local conservative radio host said she should be hanged.

The escalation of America’s culture wars isn’t only visible in small, rural counties. Consider a recent report out of Alabama.

The state of Alabama’s top early education official was forced out Friday by Gov. Kay Ivey over a teacher resource guide—one that promotes inclusion of various kinds of families and acknowledges the reality of racism in the nation’s history—the Republican leader denounced as too “woke.”

After an apparent refusal to denounce the book or accept its removal, Barbara Cooper, head of the Alabama Department of Early Education, was compelled to tender her resignation, which Ivey accepted.

And speaking of gun culture, the Guardian also reported on an event held by Idaho Republicans that “honored” Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who shot and killed two people at an anti-racism protest.

There really are two (very different) Americas.


  1. On the socialist left, it’s all about peace. Both the left and right love war because their campaign coffers get lots of dollars from defense contractors. Not to mention all the war propaganda on TV.

    Remember, the far right wanted to cut billions from the Pentagon budget, but now they don’t. Instead, they want to cut Medicaid. Why? One gives billions to politicians while the other does not.

    This is clipped from above: “One local conservative radio host said she should be hanged.”

    If you track the rhetoric or propaganda, you’ll also see a correlation between propaganda and hateful actions. Conservative radio promoting violence should be taken off the airways. Period.

  2. As long as alt-right extremists are allowed to spread hate and violent ideology on every type of media the anger and hatred will continue to grow. Spreading fear and anger has made a lot of people rich.

    Back in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was created news was spread via newspapers and word of mouth. What percent of the population was able to read back then? They could not have imagined television and the internet. Maybe it is time for Congress to amend our Constitution’s First Amendment or to create another one that requires media sources to speak only the truth and nothing but the truth if they claim to be a news source. They must research their news to ensure it is actually true before reporting it, or there would be dire consequences and massive fines.
    If they choose not to be a news source then they must label their media as purely their opinion or as entertainment only.

    Yes, the above will happen when pigs fly.

  3. This country watched approximately 40 years of Trump’s “Cautionary Tales” in the form of news reports of his shady business dealings, at times putting small businesses out of business by not paying them or paying only .30 on the $1.00, plus his numerous sexual escapades. After the fact of being appointed to the presidency, I believe it was 19 legally filed sexual abuse and rape charges were filed in courts and disappeared. One of his rape cases in currently in court and Mike Pence has testified in the investigation regarding Trump’s active part in the January 6th Insurrection. These are certainly “Cautionary Tales” for an inveterate liar, racist and violence monger but he will be allowed to legally file again for the presidential nomination by the MAGA, White Nationalist, Freedom Caucus run Republican Party.

    Article II, Section 1, Clause 5: “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of the Constitution shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

    Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacey would meet those qualifications to be nominated to the presidency, so does Donald Trump. And the beat goes on! So do the mass shootings and the propaganda machine leading what has returned to the Good Old Boy’s political system known as the GOP.

  4. “Spreading fear and anger has made a lot of people rich.” And that, dear friends, is the heart of the problem. Take the money out of the picture and the problem ends. Just on hitch with that….HOW?

  5. Kyle Rittenhouse was under attack
    The remaining thug testified to that. Kyle stood his ground and thankfully killed a 3 times convicted pedophile.

    Kyle took out the trash. Unfortunately,the Democratic Party of today seems more aligned with NAMBLA than good and decent working people

  6. It’s becoming clear – even to the most conservative views on this blog – that REPUBLICANS are the party causing 90% of the mayhem and divisiveness. This mayhem, propaganda machine, or whatever else you want to call outright sedition, is also the sign of a desperate and very insecure political entity that fears its own demise.

    People are leaving the Republican tent very quickly. The only question I have is will that tent collapse soon enough to save our country from total destruction. Watch what happens when that asshole McCarthy and the rest of his knuckle-dragging idiots allow the world’s economy to collapse being they don’t want to give needy Americans “free shit” anymore.

    I’m glad I’m old.

  7. Vernon – love to see evidence that people are “leaving the GOP” AND VOTING….

  8. ive lived my life in order,Newark,55-68,norfolk Va,68-70,bakerfield Ca,then southern Calif,1970 -1980, and now in the upper plains. gordon kahl posse comitatus land/teabaggers and psycos.. over the decades, drivin truck in all 48 and some Canada. ive been in back woods everywhere,not liking the interstate grind. until 2010 parking at a roadside pub ala bubbas place, i found parking,cold beer and BBQ,and most times, good ol boys and girls. ive been mugged in NYC, (and walked away) slept in my truck in areas condemmed by local city cops as less than liveable. today i dont frequent red neck bars anymore, ive found them to be armed,in a bar. local talk is not hidden ,and very up front. my stance is not to back down. sleeping in the ghetto is probably easier than wondering if bubbas best will come out shooting at something while drunk,or in discussion about some,,,,,,, (i let ya fill that one in,and dont be shy…. ) going into a truckstop, civilians wearing side arms like some sort of red neck gangsta. my comment to owners of said truckstops,,my cash sale wont be back.. trips down south have been ended,transport companies who,like my style,specialized work and work ethic,have been informed,i dont do stupid (areas) anymore. my slants and talk aside, the republicans have killed themselves of any civility. they have armed people who are irresponsable as a whole,in a time when free speech is viewed as one sided.if this is their idea of freedom,how can they justify it by killing people for a unamerican practice of democracy.
    we have been at fault,for not expressing a like voice in regards to the shit going on. get the facts out and tell people its a game to keep them broke,and next to poverty while we shovel money into the pockets of those orchestrating this game..

  9. Jack,

    You’re welcome. I try.


    Look up voter registrations. That’ll help wean you away from depending on me for data.

  10. Ian. I suspect you consider yourself a member of the “good and decent people.” Yet your posts are filled with praise for extra-legal violence against people you view as deserving to die. You present yourself as a man who goes about constantly armed and looking for an excuse to kill. Is that who you really are?

  11. Here’s a thought for how to get state legislature and congress members to stop selling their souls and our country to their wealthy campaign donors. Turn the tables back on them. Create and fund media sources to compete with Fox, Newsmax, etc., and hire commentators to target the members of congress and state legislatures that author and vote in favor of legislation that gives to the rich and takes from the poor and middle class. Make sure those commentators spread fear and anger to rile up their audience and encourage them to do something about it – like go after the people that are really to blame. Why not even encourage them to use their guns to defend themselves? Who knows, offer enough money to people like Carlson and Hannity and they might choose to switch jobs and talking points.

    Yep, I’m just dreaming…..but wouldn’t it be fun to watch those legislators that have pushed lies and far right theories realize the monster they created is now coming after them?

  12. Vernon – as you likely know, voter registrations don’t equal voting/votes. Of course, voters are opting out of being registered GOP. Given the recent Gallop numbers (within the last 2 weeks), most are becoming independents, not DEMs. And right now, INDs are little excited by Biden and the DEMs.

  13. Rural, therefore red, counties are the most afraid of the mythical great replacement theory and others which are told about the cities they have no interest in visiting. Of course city folk don’t care about visiting rural areas either so both like to believe the worst about those they don’t know. That’s human nature. The truth is that both need the other for civilized living; the cities make money and the rural areas make food. As Rodney King famously said, “why can’t we all just get along?”

    The reason is that politicians and political entertainers don’t want us to because if we did public policy would have to be effective and that’s hard. Politics in a divided country are easy and wealthy donors make them lucrative as well.

    Rodney should have said why do we choose to be puppets?

  14. Take a trip down into the southern part of Indiana some time and witness the vitriol and in-your-face hostility of Trump signs and Confederate battle flags on pickup bumpers at almost every stop in rural areas. I did so recently. I don’t advertise my politics on my vehicle anymore. It is too easy a target for those who think it is their right to vandalize other’s property when it belongs to someone expressing political stances they apparently abhor. So much for the 1st Amendment. But, boy, don’t challenge the 2nd!
    What decent person would want to identify themselves with the hate-filled, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-trans, anti-drag, book banning, criminally indicted autocrats who currently personify the GOP? No wonder they choose “Independent”. It is so much safer than declaring themselves as Dems when that declaration puts a literal and figurative target on their backs in many areas of the country.
    I wish I was younger and more mobile so that I could take to the streets and fight back.

  15. Sharon,I don’t own a gun. I do believe folks have a right to protect themselves. I’m not going to lose any sleep over the death of a Joseph Rosenbaum. A man convicted of the rape of 5 boys between the ages of 5 to 11.

    Moreover, any apparatchik of an organization led by a segregationist, an organization that has done nothing wrt losing one million citizens to a pandemic that he claims is over and an organization that looked the other wrt the toxic mess that is now East Palastine,Ohio…
    You’re not in any position to admonish anyone.

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