Tag Archives: Civil War

Buffalo Talk Show Host: al Qaeda better than the Government

29 Jan

On January 24th, during the 11am hour, Entercom’s WBEN talk show host Tom Bauerle and his guest, Assemblyman David DiPietro (R-147), discussed what they consider to be constitutional jurisprudence, the supposed coming confiscation of all guns, how Obama has destroyed America, and the fact that armed citizens must be ready and willing to assault and murder law enforcement when they come to take your guns. All of this semi-informed nonsense culminated with Tom Bauerle exclaiming, “I regard the [US] government as a greater enemy than al Qaeda”. Because? Because guns. 


Tom Bauerle and al Qaeda: besties.  This guy is a never-ending compendium of lowest-common denominator derp. 

Buffalo’s ultra-right wing is always lurching from manufactured outrage to conspiratorial fever-dream, and has WBEN’s morning host Tom Bauerle to act as its lurcher-in-chief, spokeschampion, and ur-patriot. Last week’s outrage involved the New York State gun legislation that was recently passed by overwhelming state senate and assembly majorities. Signed by Governor Cuomo, New York’s gun regulations rank among the toughest in the United States, and people who take issue with them promise to fight them through litigation. 

That is, after all, how our system of laws; our representative democracy with its checks and balances, is intended to work. 

It’s the sort of thing that gets a particularly uninformed and ignorant part of the community angry and riled up. These are people who bastardize Martin Niemoller’s famous quote about encroaching fascistic tyranny into, “first Hitler came for the Germans’ guns” and “then Stalin came for the Russians’ guns” and they were just given up willingly, and so Europe endured genocide and war. This is all part of the “fight tyranny” falsehoods that people have built into the 2nd Amendment, whose true purpose was to ensure that the United States – which did not have a standing army at the time – could call up militias who would already be armed, in order to defend the country against its foes. Nothing in the Constitution, nor in the case law, nor in the vast volumes of statutes of the United States gives citizens the right to take up arms against the government. 

Being the constitutional scholars that they purport to be, one would expect Mr. Bauerle and Assemblyman DiPietro to be somewhat familiar with the 5th Amendment’s Taking Clause and its interplay with the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which together stand for the proposition that the government cannot arbitrarily take one’s private property without due process. Instead, derp. 

At one point, Assemblyman DiPietro alleged that his legislative colleagues have no respect or understanding for the constitution; that they consider it to be a nuisance. Such inflammatory talk from someone who is himself so fundamentally ignorant of Constitutional jurisprudence is despicable. Perhaps the 5th and 14th aren’t taught as part of the BBA program at Wittenburg University, nor must they make up part of the communications or history curriculum at UB, however this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Derp. (Hey, what part of “shall not be infringed” does Antonin Scalia not understand, AMIRITE?)

Turning to the radio program in question, lest anyone think I heard it live, here’s how I found out about it on Thursday, January 24th: 

Here is the clip, within its context, with Assemblyman DiPietro’s comments immediately preceding it: 

Bauerle and al Qaeda: Besties

And this wasn’t some fluke: 

183 people like that. Several more left encouraging comments, (all [sic]) like Richard Wheeler, who suggests that this is “counterrevolution. The dems drew first blood”. Laurel Krupski thinks it was “Well said !!” Kale Crum says, “The one thing thats preventing a full on revolution is the air cover the US military currently has. The only way thats mitigated is if there is a secession and the leaving states claim ownership of airbases and military equipment in state. I see it coming and hopefully can get a shot in before i myself am taken out. Snipers Unite!!!!” At least one commenter, Jim Walczak, brought up a discredited, false quote from Josef Stalin. Because guns go with derp. 

Here we have a talk-show host, employee of a multimillion-dollar public corporate entity, taking to the publicly owned airwaves and to a corporate-sponsored Facebook page to talk about armed insurrection, and to favorably compare al Qaeda to New York and the United States. Wow. 

I know that Bauerle is a conspiratorial birther, but I have yet to see the proposal to turn America into a part of al Qaeda’s global caliphate.

In fact, Obama comes under much criticism for maintaining a “war on terror” policy whereby unmanned drones are used to target suspected al Qaeda terrorists. I am not, however, aware of any government policy encouraging or permitting the deliberate or indiscriminate targeting of civilian non-combatants. When you see Governor Cuomo or Hillary Clinton post a video to the internet wherein he and some cabinet henchmen behead a captive, you let me know. When the state sets up a paramilitary training camp to train terrorists to mass murder civilians, you let me know. When Shelly Silver hijacks a plane or three to hurl it into some landmarks, you give me a holler. When Harry Reid or John Boehner dons a suicide bomb and detonates it in a crowded shopping area, text me. 

As for Assemblyman DiPietro, he was perfectly content to stay on the line and talk with Bauerle through another several segments after Mr. Bauerle expressed his comparative admiration for al Qaeda. But he didn’t hear that; Mr. DiPietro released this statement: 

I was interviewed via telephone Thursday by WBEN’s Tom Bauerle. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Bauerle and I am a fan of his show. I did not hear him compare the New York State government to al Qaeda. As a legislator, I am a member of the New York State government and I do not believe we are the moral equivalent to the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization.

There you have it – a sitting Assemblyman appearing on a radio program in Buffalo, NY, having to issue a statement disavowing the radio host’s statement that the United States is a terrorist organization? These sorts of discussions didn’t, interestingly enough, take place when, e.g., the government made up stories about Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons in order to start a war.

You can disagree with the new gun laws the state passed. You can protest them. You can move to another state. You can file a lawsuit to challenge it. You can do just about whatever you want, within the law. You can even go on the publicly owned, privately licensed airwaves to favorably compare al Qaeda to New York State, if you’re a complete mental defective who spends time on the radio advocating secession and civil war, riling up every gun nerd with a micropenis and an AM radio. 

Indeed, to the extent Bauerle’s political speech doesn’t make the shift into armed insurrection or outright treason, he has every right to say or write whatever idiocy he wants to. But you can’t get away with saying it in a vacuum, and I – you – have every right to expose it, criticize it, and hate it. And frankly, his speech is perilously close to the kind of speech that is expressly prohibited by Article III, section 3 of the Constitution

It comes full circle – the people who remained silent during the run-up to the Iraq war tainted anyone who opposed it with the “treason” brush. But now, with a duly elected Democratic government, treason and armed insurrection is all the rage. 

I don’t quite understand why Entercom (ETM) or WBEN thinks it’s a good idea to have its commentators make stuff up about confiscation (as if Albany was going to pass a law to reimburse people for the confiscation of their guns), but Bauerle and his corporate parent Entercom are whipping gullible, already angry gun owners into a much bigger frenzy.  If they keep it up, I fear one of them will hurt someone. Maybe a cop. Maybe you. 

Nary a word was spoken about the fact that a lunatic stole his mother’s militaria in order to massacre almost two dozen first graders. Mssrs. Bauerle and DiPietro make stuff up about the Constitution and denigrate the patriotism of those who think that gun violence is a problem in this country, but they cavalierly reject any notion that people – that parents – have a right to be free from gun violence that is at least equal to their right to arm themselves against some fantasyworld. Assemblyman DiPietro argued that humans have always been violent; after all, Cain killed Abel. 

Constitutional questions should rarely be settled with allusions to Biblical allegories. 

In the meantime, who will protect us from the tyranny of the angry, violent, and misinformed 2nd amendment revisionists? 

Forgotten Shots of the First Culture War

6 Dec

Yesterday I took a walk through Fort Donelson National Battlefield. It was the kind of crisp, clear and brilliantly sunny winter day that would have sent throngs to Delaware Park or along the Niagara River. This being Tennessee, however, the cold air sent everyone inside to watch a college football game, and I had the park to myself. My only companions were a nesting pair of bald eagles as I walked along the gun batteries and dirt ramparts above the meandering Cumberland River, alone.

The Battle of Fort Donelson is a forgotten skirmish from an increasingly forgotten war. In late 1861, Confederate soldiers built a series of forts along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to guard their shipping lanes and the industrial hub of Nashville. US Grant, new to his command in the west, was given orders to break the Confederate lines and open an invasion route through Tennessee into Mississippi and Alabama. In early 1862 he succeeded, taking Fort Donelson on February 15th, and driving the Confederates from much of Tennessee. In a few short months, Nashville was a major Union logistical depot, with trains hubbed in that city carrying Union freight throughout the west. At Fort Donelson, Grant earned his reputation as a “fighting general” in Lincoln’s eyes, and earned the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.

Fort Donelson

In the North, the Civil War is largely forgotten. If it comes up at all, it is in reference to a Burns documentary on PBS, or in liberal coffee shop discussions comparing Obama to Lincoln. In the South, however, all jokes about The War of Northern Aggression aside, it is remembered quite vividly and viscerally. When I was new to the Air Force, and at my first assignment, I met a number of native southerners, and became good friends with them. For a kid from Buffalo, who went to college in Buffalo-like Milwaukee, this was a new experience for me. I was amazed that I was called a Yankee immediately (and not in a good way), and we talked about the Civil War very soon after we met; not a conversation I was used to having. I should not have been surprised, as the US military is increasingly southern in culture, as not only are a majority of bases in the south-east and Texas, but a majority of soldiers come from there as well.

Through my north east lens, I asked my new friends how they could still be bothered by the Civil War, weren’t they happy with the outcome, and anyway, how could they defend slavery? It’s not about slavery, they said. First, most southerners didn’t own slaves. And anyway, if your town was invaded, what would you do?

And thus the difference in cultures was cemented for generations. In Buffalo, as a child going to school, you went on field trips to Niagara Falls and the Zoo. In the south, kids go to civil war battlefields, because there is probably one close to their home. That battlefield is their link to our shared national history. In Buffalo, in fourth grade, learning New York State history, you build an Iroquois longhouse. In Georgia, you learn about Sherman’s March to the Sea. It is no great news flash that the Civil War was almost entirely fought in the South. However, the generational implications of that fact are still being felt.

That may be changing, however. The term “native southerner” is increasingly an anachronism. Charlotte, Atlanta and Nashville are now filled with displaced Civil-War-ignorant northerners, fleeing cold weather and rusting economies. The history of an area, its unique characteristics that encapsulate it and give it a sense of place, have little role in our Chili’s/Walmart/suburban sprawl homogenized landscape. Our culture wars have forgotten the original shots, and now are focused on NASCAR, Sarah Palin, gay tree-huggers and limousine liberal caricatures.

Fortunately, places like Fort Donelson are preserved, so we can return and remember, if we wish.