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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

There's Polarization and There's Polarization...

The nation needs to move from polarization to healthy debate that includes a live-and-let-live spirit, Hodding Carter III told an audience at Southeastern Louisiana University last fall. Carter, the former assistant secretary of state during the administration of President Jimmy Carter complained that consensus building has “fallen out of fashion”. Carter sings the same song as the choirs of Obama supporters have been singing for the past 100 days. They decry the rock solid opposition to Obama's policies by conservative commentators, politicians and tea party guests, dismissing the loyal opposition as merely 'polarization' in the same sneering tones they reserve for bass fishing, deer hunting and head lice.

By healthy debate, they seem to mean 'we talk, you listen and then vote the way we tell you to. Here at the end of Obama's "historic" first 100 days, under the leadership of the 'Great Consensus Builder', the country faces a future so far in debt that our great grandchildren will be paying it off after we've moldered away to potting soil. He leads a nations so divided that we've got governors talking about secession. AND, there's been a run on ammunition in the heartland that has so frightened homeland security that Christians, hunters, veterans and NASCAR fans are being considered potential terrorists.

It was a conversation with the owner of a local gun shop on the subject of ammunition that jerked me up short today. The man has a contract with a sport shooting club to supply ammunition to its members. In February, he ordered $100,000 worth of 38, 45, .223 and .308 caliber and 357 magnum shells. One day before May, he still hasn't received his ammunition. The ammunition is already sold. He's losing money and his ammo suppliers are telling him the factories are operating round the clock. In checking with East Texas guns shops (and even Wal-mart), it appears there just isn't any ammunition being shipped. Even the sales people can't tell us why, only that the factories are making it as fast as they can.

I'm not paranoid by nature, but after the post election rush on ammunition in 2008, you'd have thought ammunition suppliers would gear up to meet the demand. American manufacturers are pretty good at that sort of thing. So what's the holdup?

Part of it is that in the first quarter of this year, gun shops sold the equivalent of a year's worth of ammo to gun owners who fear new taxes and restrictions on gun ownership. Some ammo factories are running 24 hours a day. In addition, US troops are firing something like a billion rounds a year which also cuts into the supply back home.

Man! I should have invested in ammo instead of silver and gold. I could make a fortune if I were sitting on a thousand bucks worth of 45 and 38 shells right now. The shortages are beginning to drive prices up! I'm betting that there will soon be a huge black market for ammunition in this country and the folks running it won't just be unsavory guys from Morroco with French accents. Some of them will be wearing bib overalls and driving 20 year old pickups.

What nobody is saying out loud is that this country appears to be arming for a war. We haven't seen this level of polarization since before the Civil War and those of us who paid attention in history class instead of lying face down on our desktops in a puddle of drool, have a proper horror of what that could mean.

And, if either side of the political spectrum thinks that if things fall apart they'll get absolute control of the whole military, they should remember that Robert E. Lee was invited to command the Army of the Potomac by President Lincoln himself.

Turned him down too!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating secession, armed revolt or even a Ghandi-style civil disobedience, even though those last two paragraphs I wrote will likely get me placed on Secretary Napolitano's terrorist watch list. I'll find out when I try to fly up to visit my sister-in-law in Seattle. If I get pulled into an interview room by the FBI, my Sweet Baboo is going to be very unhappy with me.

As Marcellus told Hamlet, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

But they're putting up this nice picture in Union Square in New York to commemorate the end of the first 100 days of this historic administration. This painting was done by a guy that really likes Obama. Now, this ought to unite everybody real quick-like! Ya' think?

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