Archive for February 2018

I Think Lawrence Has This One Totally Wrong

I like Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. He has a savvy understanding of politics and the political process on the Hill, and I find most of what he sees as insightful, but on this one, I think he got it totally wrong. He was talking about the “bipartisan” meeting with Trump today on guns. He congratulated the Democrats (Chris Murphy, Dianne Feinstein, and others) for holding their fire when President DFF said remarkably stupid things like why don’t the police just take the weapons away from anyone they judge crazy, forgetting the due process clause in the Constitution (if he ever knew it was there). Think about that one. His own supporters would be up in arms if you gave “the gov’ment” the right to just take your weapons when they felt like it because you looked crazy.  Three quarters of the people who live around me would have their weapons confiscated on the look crazy test.

Lawrence thought they were smart because they might actually get something done. Trump seemed to promise all kinds of things.  Where have we seen this before?  Oh wait, was that for the Dreamers? Then Lawrence admitted that that something would probably just be some minor improvements in background checks considering the reality of the Republican Congress and the hold the NRA has on President DFF’s supporters, but it would move the ball forward. They were being smart legislatively. And yes they were. But here is where Lawrence and I part ways. They were being tactically smart and might win a small battle here, and strategically stupid because that win could cost them the war. Let me explain.

I don’t mind that Demos want to test the waters to see what they can get done, but unless they are part of something that actually makes a difference, they have lost the war. If they are associated with another whiff by Congress on guns, they have doomed themselves. I guess Lawrence thinks that if we can move the ball a little bit, then later we can move it a bit more. See Obama on that one. What he and apparently the Democratic Party are missing is that real change is in the air. There is a whole generation of new voters about to become of age watching paint dry in Congress and they are frustrated with politics in general. By paint dry I am talking about real problems and Congress does nothing, mostly stymied by the Status Quo Party (Republicans), but tainting both parties for the inaction.

The Party that stands up for effective gun control laws, whether they get them enacted or not, is the one that says to younger people, okay, we will fight the fight, please throw out the slackers. It is an attempt to stand for something and show there is a difference. If the #MeToo movement and the spreading activism of the Parkland kids has not woken you up, nothing will. To be seen as part of the group that waters down effective ideas just to get a deal is to lose the war for the future. So sorry Lawrence, but I think you got this one wrong. There is a hunger for change and action out there. Foolishly some thought electing a blowhard looked like change. Now we have a chance to show the real difference between Democrats and Republicans. Don’t blow it.

As It Ever Was

Here is from the Atlantic News Summary this afternoon:

Private Twitter messages obtained by The Atlantic show that Roger Stone, a longtime confidante and informal adviser to President Trump, corresponded with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump hired former digital adviser Brad Parscale to run his 2020 reelection campaign. Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner wasreportedly informed on Friday that his security clearance would be downgraded. During an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks refused to answer questions about the presidential transition or the Trump White House. House Speaker Paul Ryan signaled he won’t support new gun-control measures, telling reporters, “We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens.

Nothing changes.  The will be no effective gun control until we get rid of most Republicans.  The collusion is getting closer and closer, and no surprise here, Hope Hicks refuse to answer questions.  Okay Mr. Mueller ball in your court because the Republicans will just shrug, say okay, and issue a report that says there are not facts to prove collusion.  The Democrats need to release a minority report.  Oh, and Democrats, wake the f*ck up.  There is no bipartisan gun control legislation that will be effective and to partake without laying out a Democratic plan, just makes you part of the problem in the eyes of all those kids who promise to throw them out.

You know, it almost as if we are planning for big changes in November, as the facts slowly seep out.

Today’s Wake Up Call

Did you know that it may have been a balmy 35º at the North Pole the other day? Never happened before. Gee, could it be global warming, that weather phenomenon that Republicans claim is just normal changes in the weather? But let’s deport more Dreamers and ignore all that. I read in my local paper that ICE (the Gestopo) was conducting raids in Sacramento. They are mad because we don’t cooperate with them. Why would we, they are deporting our hope for the future. In Afghanistan, the war goes on and we ignore it. And the funny thing is that it is a Civil war backed by Pakistan. Why again do we not finally pack up and go home. We could offer asylum to all the women who actually want to be free. Oh, wait, I forgot, we hate immigrants.

Meanwhile the Trumpees continue to quietly kill healthcare as the make subtle moves under the radar that will deny 9 million healthcare next year. But the best today is a comparison I found in the Washington Post comparing Mueller to Trump and noting that their battle is a battle for the soul of our country. Those that voted for him ignore the cesspool the man came out of (President DFF). Here is Mueller who is and has been everything that a Republican of old pines for:

Mueller was born to wealth and attended elite institutions — St. Paul’s School, Princeton University, the University of Virginia School of Law — but felt compelled to serve his country. During the Vietnam War, when most of his classmates were avoiding the draft, he volunteered for the Marine Corps and earned numerous decorations leading a rifle platoon in fierce combat. Returning home, he became a prosecutor and eventually ran the Justice Department’s criminal division. In the 1990s Mueller went into private practice. It was lucrative, but he hated it. Watching the spike of drug-driven murders in the District of Columbia, he volunteered to become a line prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office. It was as if a retired general had volunteered to serve as a private in wartime.

Later, as FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Mueller became the embodiment of the old-school G-man who only wore a white shirt with a red or blue tie — never a blue shirt, because that would signal dangerous frivolity. He “avoided the limelight” and “frustrated his speechwriters by crossing out every ‘I’ in speeches they wrote for him. It wasn’t about him, he told them: ‘It’s about the organization.’ ”

Mueller embodies the ideals of probity, service and self-sacrifice that trace back to the Pilgrims who came to America in search of a “city upon a hill.” The Puritans preached devotion to the Almighty and had nothing but contempt for vanity and luxury — no blue shirts for them. Over the centuries, their religious fanaticism leached away, leaving behind in American culture a residue of obligation to serve not just God but also mankind.

Here is President DFF who is everything Republicans vowed they hated until recently when they became the embodiment of all they hated:

Trump combines the hedonism of the 1970s with the bigotry and sexism of the 1950s: the worst of both worlds. His consciousness was not raised in the 1960s, but his libido was. He did not take part in the civil rights or antiwar movements and won five draft deferments — including one for “bone spurs” — so that he could devote his life to the pursuit of women and wealth. He later said that fear of catching a sexually transmitted disease was “my personal Vietnam.”

Trump is the embodiment of what Christopher Lasch in 1979 called the “new narcissist” who “praises respect for rules and regulations in the secret belief that they do not apply to himself”; whose “emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace”; and whose “cravings have no limits,” because he “demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire.” A product of the “me decade,” Trump is a “me first”— not “America first” — president whose speeches are full of exaggerated or falsified self-praise.

Mueller is the best of America; Trump the worst. All you need to know about the diseased state of today’s Republican Party is that it reviles Mueller and reveres Trump.

The worst of America is now in charge of America and nothing will change and nothing will get done as long as we leave Republicans in charge. It really is as simple as that. Teenagers in Florida are calling bullshit. As they say, they are coming for them. They will finally hold them responsible for their votes. I hope the rest of us will do the same. I know I will. I would also like to hold responsible the people who voted for Republicans and Donald Trump. It was no secret who and what he was long before he became President on a rigged election. they have one chance to redeem themselves in 2018.

Ross Douthat and Steven Pinker

This morning’s editorial by Ross was an attack on Steven Pinker and his new book, Enlightenment Now, showing how much the world really has improved although we have the idiot in chief in the White House and how Enlightenment values of science, reason over religion and mysticism have brought the world great and wonderful improvements. Douthat says this:

Which is why if Pinker and others are genuinely worried about a waning appreciation of the inquiring scientific spirit, they should consider the possibility that some of their own smug secular certainties might be part of the problem — that they might, indeed, be stifling the more comprehensive kind of curiosity upon which the scientific enterprise ultimately depends.

I am not even sure what he is talking about, but others apparently got it. One of my favorite thinkers and critiques of some of this mishmash, who writes under the pen name Socrates gave us this:

In the interest of fair and balanced smug certainties, here are a few words from our religious sponsors:

“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”-Jerry Falwell

“The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”-Richard Furman, Baptist Leader and Slavery Champion from South Carolina

“The doctrine that the earth is neither the center of the universe nor immovable, but moves even with a daily rotation, is absurd, and both philosophically and theologically false, and at the least an error of faith.”-Catholic Church’s decision against Galileo

“God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany.”-Hermann Goering

“Evolution is a bankrupt speculative philosophy, not a scientific fact. Only a spiritually bankrupt society could ever believe it. … Only atheists could accept this Satanic theory.”-Jimmy Swaggart

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”- Pat Robertson

“To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.”-Cardinal Bellarmine, 1615, during the trial of Galileo

Douthat then said this:

Which is why in many instances the interests that Pinker dismisses as irrational hugger-mugger, everything from astrology to spiritualism, have tended to strengthen during periods of real scientific ferment. It’s why Isaac Newton loved alchemy and the Victorians loved séances; it’s why charismatic Christianity has spread very naturally with economic development in Africa and Latin America and why the Space Age coincided with the spread of all those health food stores.

To which another reader replied (and this one really made me laugh):

We don’t remember and revere Isaac Newton for his interest in alchemy. We regret the countless people who have died for lack of proper medicine, or who are currently sick and dying from the flu because they don’t believe in vaccination.

There’s no limit to what people will believe in. If we spent time worrying about those who are in the thrall of some religious nonsense, or reading tea leaves or worried about astrological signs, we would be living as people did before the Enlightenment. If they were given a view of our world today, we might forgive them for thinking it worked by magic.

There’s a place for belief in nonsense, in that it encourages the embrace of actual knowledge when nonsense doesn’t work.

Unfortunately, we can’t dismiss this tendency for woo-woo beliefs. Our brains have the ability to intuit what’s in the minds of others. This gives us a powerful advantage over other creatures, but it also lets us imagine that human-like agency is behind everything.

We can’t shake this belief, which puts gods in the sky and monsters in the closet and allays fear of death by imagining a Disney World afterlife. All we can do is get off of our knees and look for a cure that actually works.

So mutter Latin if you must, but if you’re going to gorge yourself at the buffet of wonders that science and rational thought have created, and that Steven Pinker reveres, at least have the courtesy not to talk with your mouth full.

I think that last one is about how I feel. It is akin to when she who must never be mentioned here listens to those who rail against a single payer health care system and then calmly asks them if they are going to turn down their Medicare which is of course something they earned according to them. We are living in an age where a minority of morons have put the moron in chief in charge and along comes Pinker to remind us of the light, and somehow Douthat feels that is an attack on his conservative values. Think about that one. Rational thought is an attack on conservatism. I been making that argument for years.

What Republican Party?

There was an interesting discussion on Joy Reid about what has happened to the Republican Party. One Republican woman panelist, conservative columnist Mona Charen, was on stage at CPAC and she took on the Republican Party on their treatment of women pointing out they endorsed a credibly accused child molester and President DFF’s behavior with women. She also took on their hosting of Marechal-Le Pen who represents racism and Nazism in Europe that Europe rejected. She had to be escorted out of the hall for her safety. The Joy Reid’s panel of either ex-Republicans or Republicans still in denial (David Frum (conservative columnist for the Atlantic), Michelle Bernard (Independent), Jennifer Rubin (? Conservative columnist for the NYT), and Elise Jordan (Still Republican/commentator for MSNBC?) took what has become of the Republican Party. Rubin said it best in that CPAC used to be an extreme edge of the Republican mainstream and is now what the Republican Party is. Most telling was when Jordan said that this is the manifestation of the Republican Party under President DFF, as though if they got rid of him, it would be redeemable. Rubin has the same sense I do. They have to start over. The Party has become an ideological cesspool, beyond redemption. They have co-opted their values and their own integrity beyond redemption.

So what is the conservatism/Republican Party Frum, Bernard, Rubin, and Jordan pine for? I believe it is fairly simple, small government, fiscal conservatism, little regulation, low taxes, and an unregulated market place. I believe they are open to rational discussions of all of these items, but they see the Republican Party of their dreams as the shinning example of moral principles and integrity in all the above. Any objective observer would agree with the panel that the Republican Party of today is none of the above. Rubin and I are agreement that today’s Republican Party has become so toxic, that those with these beliefs must start over and reject the Republican Party as dead.

I listened to Mona Charen above and it was clear she was a true conservative who is not afraid of facts. We could have some interesting debates. I would argue that many conservative ideas, while operative in simpler times, are not operative today. Environmental laws have to be national or one state pollutes another. Solutions to global warming have to have a national focus to be effective. That by definition defines what they would call big government. They want a free market place where innovation is not restricted by regulation, forgetting that there is no free market place, it operates under a set of rules right now that favor the wealthy, hence the ever growing economic inequality. Conservatives believe in self-discipline and not rewarding slackers. So do I, but the playing field is not level and the poor are not necessarily slackers.

I could go on and on. But they have their points. Regulations do stifle business and innovation. Some are dumb. Some save lives. Government bureaucracy can be slow and dumb. It can also provide nationwide solutions and standards that pull us all up. Fiscal conservatism is a good idea. But debt is inevitable if we want to invest in our future, so that says two things, how much debt, and how big should our taxes be. Small taxes are great, but we really have to pay for what makes this country great. I personally think this is what Paul Krugman identified the other day, the role of government in our lives:

What I’d argue is that our lethal inaction on guns, but also on cars, reflects the same spirit that’s causing us to neglect infrastructure and privatize prisons, the spirit that wants to dismantle public education and turn Medicare into a voucher system rather than a guarantee of essential care. For whatever reason, there’s a faction in our country that sees public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.

This paranoia strikes both deep and wide. Does anyone remember George Will declaring that liberals like trains, not because they make sense for urban transport, but because they serve the “goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism”? And it goes along with basically infantile fantasies about individual action — the “good guy with a gun” — taking the place of such fundamentally public functions as policing.

I would say in a world economy where individual actions now impact almost everything and everyone around us, government playing a major role in making the world fair and safe is inevitable. The idea of small government must be replaced with the idea of smart government. When things don’t work, we need to be able to change them and not stuck in an ideological box. Innovation may be more driven by a good safety net that allows people to take risks, instead of an unregulated market place. These are the arguments we should be having based upon facts, data, and science. There is an up and down side to everything. But the Republican Party has gone of the rails and until it is finally rejected totally, the day of rational debate is over.

Partisan Bickering My Ass!

I watched a Saturday sit-in host on MSNBC try to paint the release of the Democratic Memo rebutting the Nunes Memo attempting to taint the FBI and the Justice Department as partisan bickering. Dueling Memos! He got handed his ass by his guests who knew what was going on. I guess he still thought good journalism required him to seem fair and balanced by calling the two memos partisan bickering. Here is the thing: When one side lies, disregards the Justice Department and the FBI and releases a totally false narrative, and the other side goes through the full process including redactions to get to the truth, how the hell is that partisan bickering?

We have entered a time when one side lies almost continuously and when the other side says wait a minute, that is called partisan bickering? How bad is that for dumbing down your viewers. Truth doesn’t matter, can’t we all just get along? The host got his ass handed to him by guests who knew the history, lies already exposed in the original memo by Nunes, and pointed out that this was not he said/she said, but setting the record straight with the facts. Want to know what is wrong with the news, there it was, pretending fairness is achieved by claiming this is partisan bickering and the truth will be what voters decide. Truth is objective, not subjective. It is not determined by a mob informed by social media.

Oh, I know someone will say everyone knows you see this through a progressive lens. It is your progressive bias. Really? Did or did not the FISA warrant come about with or without the Steele dossier and was not Carter Page already under investigation? Those are facts. Republicans are trying to make you believe the whole Russia thing is just a partisan attack and to do that they have to defame the FBI and Justice Department and what are provable facts. Oh, and I want you to think about one other thing, let’s just say Steele was on a partisan hunt for bad information on Trump (which he was), does that make what he found any less true? And of course the FBI corroborated the information they used in subsequent FISA warrant applications and as the second memo makes clear, disclosed that to the FISA court. Nunes and Republicans lied.

Here is what is most interesting: President DFF and Congressman Nunes then look right in the camera and say white is black. That is the world we are living in and has been normalized by he said/she said journalism and the idea that both sides are equal. There is not truth on both sides. Truth stands alone. Facts stand alone. They are only partisan in the sense that one side denies them for ideological reasons and you can guess which side that is. I can’t even believe I have to explain this to the media that used to say, “There is honest debate about global warming.” No there isn’t. There is a debate about how fast and how extreme, but the rest is a lie perpetuated by Republicans. Truth is what it is and it cannot be voted on to define it.

Having said that, I want to take Democrats to task. We have entered a new and very different time. Half measure where we find middle ground won’t work. The middle has move so far to the right that reasonableness is not a test anymore. Someone running for Congress that tells you he wants to go there and work together has been asleep for the last 12 years. Democrats, instead of gauging the mob mentality (poll testing) need to propose things that work, and then fight for them. Right now we are in a “debate” about moving forward with gun safety. But we know what works, fewer guns. All the rest is smoke and mirrors. So the Democrats can’t be all over the map, they have to have a plan, they have to stand for what we know works. Right now it would be to ban all military grade weapons, limit clip size, background checks nationwide, end exemptions for gun shows, and study how countries like Australia have managed to allow rural residents to have their guns, yet tightly control their spread. There is no debate. The data is unequivocal, fewer guns, less gun violence.

Take global warming. The Right says it doesn’t exist, do nothing. This is a position based on ideology and small government. What is the Democratic position? Well it exists, we need to do something, but what? Where is there a plan? Democrats can no longer be against Republicans, they have to sell a new way forward to make people understand that Republicans are obsolete. You hear the old line saying we need to just move the country back to the middle. That has been a losing strategy for Democrats for the last 50 years. Okay, you have a rural community that has real problems with unemployment. Republicans tell them they can bring back the good old days. What do Democrats offer? Get educated and move is not a viable option. Democrats have to come up with solutions for these areas.

I hate to say it, but in many ways, Democrats bought into the Republican’s market place determines all. So they told (ignored) rural areas to adapt and change with education and mobility. But markets operate on rules set by us. So find a progressive solution to help these folks. Right now they bought into President DFF’s bring back jobs that are never coming back, but Democrats offered them nothing. Well that’s not quite true, Bernie offered them solutions, but establishment Democrats turned their back on him in favor of Hillary and we are where we are because of that, Comey, and the Russians. And granted, Hillary would have been wonderful compared to President DFF, but the real solutions to what most of us see now in the 2016 election is the rejection of establishment politics as ineffective. That has not changed. This dynamic may even be more in operation in 2018 and 2020.

The point of all this is we need to get back in the business of facts, science, and data. Sure there are areas where we can disagree about the outcome of a particular approach, as long as that is informed by real facts, science, and data, not a world where the answer to everything is more guns. That is just insane. And that my friends is where we are right now. America has lost what made us great, the ability to innovate based upon facts, data, and science and be flexible to changing conditions. We are in the hunt for recreating what cannot be recreated, denying reality, and finding middle ground with nonsense. Time for a new direction.

Making it Simple

I want to push all the confusion and smoke away from two issues, the Mueller investigation and why we as a nation are failing courtesy of Paul Krugman who did the heavy lifting. First the Mueller probe.

If you are getting confused with all the Russian names, bank accounts, tax schemes, money laundering and wonder where the hell is this investigation going, let me help you. There are really three parts to this investigation:

  1. Was there collusion by Americans, especially the Trump campaign and Trump himself with the Russians to use the email hacks of the DNC, and help direct the social media attacks? That’s the big one.
  2. There was an attack on America’s social media sites to spread fake news and help trump, hence the indictment of 13 Russians. The big question is did Americans help? See 1 above.
  3. Then there is the illegal hacking of the DNC emails and their targeted use to help Trump. Who did the hacking and again were their directed use get American help? Again See 1 above.

Okay those are what this is really all about. Where it gets confusing is the why. President DFF loves the Russians and ignores their transgressions, why? Manafort , who did not even know President DFF who is known for only having trusted lackeys around him, hires (for free while Manafort is in a desperate search for money) Manafort to run the campaign at a critical time, why? His whole campaign staff had all kinds of meetings with Russians and Russian operatives that raised the antenna of other intelligence agencies and then lied about it, why? The obvious meeting of Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner with the Russians was to get dirt on Hillary, yet the story kept changing and President DFF drafted a completely false statement about it, why? Our intelligent agencies report the attack on social media, the hack of the DNC, and state election systems, and President DFF denies it could be the Russians, why? Why did Jared Kushner meet with the Russians to set up “back channel” communications? Finally, with Mueller’s charging of the Russians for the social media propaganda blitz making it clear the Russians are trying to sway our elections, we find out Trump blames Obama for everything and has not ordered any actions to counter the continuing threat, why?

Okay, now let’s clear the air. IT IS ABOUT THE MONEY. To get to the why you have to start at the bottom and work up. Right now Gates and Manafort are in the sights of Mueller. Manafort can tell us what went on in that meeting with Trump Jr., Kushner, himself, and the Russians. So flip Manafort. Manafort was manic for money and he apparently was in debt to some big Russian Oligarch (read Putin operative). Then he goes to work for free and then tries to sell his access to the Russians. I think this whole thing is fairly simple. The Russians have a hold on Trump, through his own money laundering of their money through loans no one else would give him to keep his real estate empire afloat, in a way, a giant Ponzi scheme. But they wanted someone more rational close to him. Manafort was their man because they had him by his purse strings. So Gates knows all the illegal things did to try to secure money so he flips and they have Manafort for massive money laundering. Now flip Manafort and that is the key to the kingdom.

That is the investigation we are seeing right now. But what of the hacking, we know they arrested one of the hackers, and what of the collusion. Well Manafort is one key to the collusion. But he may be depending on a Trump pardon which means a state has to step up and charge him. Then the president can’t pardon him for state crimes and he might be more pliant. Is there other trails into the collusion? I think there are, but we are just seeing the most obvious one as they bring complicated money laundering and false statement charges to get a deal. Of course we have no idea what Flynn is telling them as that went very quiet and may be a gold mine.

So here it is in a nutshell. It is about the money. Russians used Trump to launder money through banks controlled by them and once Trump was on the hook they had him. Useful idiot I believe is the term. Then he runs for President and they use that relationship to promise him the one thing he wants, acceptance, and help him win the election. They do that through the three things we are investigating. Trump and his team made statements about advanced release of the emails and how did they know? Then to everyone’s surprise, he won, and they started to turn the screws. Remove the sanctions. Look the other way. Be friends and consider this a business relationship where we can continue to launder money and make it easier to divide and conquer the world. That is what this is all about and he is guilty as sin. In a word he is a traitor to the country. The amazing thing is that about 40% of us don’t see this at all. That gets me to the second part, why are they so fucking stupid?

Well… Paul Krugman gives a hint as he describes President DFF and his supporters’ conclusions about gun violence in schools:

On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.

It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.

Now arming teachers is not only stupid, it is imbecile in that it has a comic book understanding of reality. But then Paul makes this connection:

What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.

…What I’d argue is that our lethal inaction on guns, but also on cars, reflects the same spirit that’s causing us to neglect infrastructure and privatize prisons, the spirit that wants to dismantle public education and turn Medicare into a voucher system rather than a guarantee of essential care. For whatever reason, there’s a faction in our country that sees public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.

…In short, you might want to think of our madness over guns as just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society “wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.” And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Yes that is what is driving madness to ignore reality and solutions right in front of us, what is the purpose of government. If you want to continue down that road, vote Republican and watch things get worse or vote Democrat and let’s demobilize government to work for all of us. I will leave with something Paul noticed that I think really makes the case. He is talking about the solution to guns is the same as solution to car deaths, regulations to make both safer and here is his insight:

…as my colleague David Leonhardt points out, traffic deaths have fallen much more in other advanced countries, which have used evidence-based policies like lower speed limits and tightened standards for drunken driving to improve their outcomes. Think the French are crazy drivers? Well, they used to be — but now they’re significantly safer in their cars than we are.

Oh, and there’s a lot of variation in car safety among states within the U.S., just as there’s a lot of variation in gun violence. America has a “car death belt” in the Deep South and the Great Plains; it corresponds quite closely to the firearms death belt defined by age-adjusted gun death rates. It also corresponds pretty closely to the Trump vote — and also to the states that have refused to expand Medicaid, gratuitously denying health care to millions of their citizens

That is where and why we are so stupid. In a complex and interconnected world, we still have a large portion of the population who wants the Dark Ages to return. Electing President DFF was a really good start.

Smoke and Mirrors

Change the gun buying age to 21.  Increase requirements for background checks.  Better identification of nut jobs and laws to remove their guns.  Arm teachers and harden schools (I already weighed in on that yesterday).  It is all smoke and mirrors.  Yes you can harden schools but I described that in (What is There to Say).  Certainly, some of these things might scratch the surface, and the press will say, see we are moving the ball, but it is just scratching the surface. Note thousands are killed outside of schools so if we really want to deal with gun violence, we have to deal with the root cause.

I am a nut job for critical analysis and root cause thinking.  There are even text books on systematic methods to do this.  If you want to educate yourself, read the two accident reports when we lost space shuttles.  Yeah, x or y failed causing catastrophic damage, but what was the reason x or y failed?  How did our thinking not see the danger.  Theses two accident reports are an education in this kind of analysis, finding the root cause so when we fix x or y, something else does not go wrong because we really have not fixed the root of the problem (root cause)

In this exercise we are going through to move chairs around on the Titanic, the iceberg was not the root cause, it was the thinking that got them into an area where this could happen, and not taking corrective action.  In gun violence, the answer is in the description, guns!  None of what your hearing says let’s reduce the number of guns out there.  That is the solution.  If you do not have access to weapons like an AR-15, you cannot do that damage. Until we get rid of those types of weapons* and make guns more controlled, nothing changes. The data is unequivocal, if you reduce the number of guns, you reduce gun violence.

Other countries have done this.  Australia has a model we could improve on, which puts guns in people’s hands who need them, but not military grade weapons, and makes hand guns like buying guns in stores no longer a reality.  So don’t be tricked.  Until we reduce the weapons on the street and ban all military grade weapons (See Below), we have move the chairs around on the Titanic. It is a ticking time bomb till the next shooting.

*From the Daily Mail

A hospital radiologist [Dr. Heather Sher] who treated several victims of last week’s deadly school shooting in Parkland- Florida, has described in graphic detail the catastrophic impact of high-velocity AR-15 bullets, explaining that they are more lethal than the rest because they don’t simply damage, but decimate human organs.

…Sher writes that when she looked at a shooting victim’s CT scan showing the site of the injury, it immediately stood apart to her from the thousands of gunshot wounds she has come across over the past 13 years working at the busy Florida hospital.

‘In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ,’ she explains.

But in the scan that was before her that day, ‘the organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding,’ Sher writes. ‘How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?’

When one of the trauma surgeons went to open up a young victim in the operating room, there was ‘nothing left to repair’ because a bullet from Cruz’s AR-15 had ripped an internal organ to shreds. The patient could not be saved.

For comparison, Sher says that when a gunman opened fired at the Fort Lauderdale airport a year ago, shooting 11 people from a 9mm semiautomatic handgun firing low-velocity bullets, the six victims who had been transported to her hospital that day survived.

From a technical standpoint, Sher writes that standard wounds inflicted by low-velocity rounds from a handgun leave entry and exit wounds about the size of the bullet, connected by a linear trajectory through the body.

Unless the bullet strikes a vital organ like the heart or the aorta, causing massive bleeding, there is a good chance the victim could be saved. Not so with high-velocity AR-15 ammunition. …”A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun,” Sher writes.

A high-velocity bullet not only damages organ tissue that is directly in its path, but also several inches away from its path, which makes it significantly more lethal because it causes catastrophic bleeding.

She adds: ‘exit wounds can be the size of an orange.’

‘With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky,’ Sher says.

Why again are these weapons made to kill people in mass quantities in the hands of anyone but the military?

Mindless Stupidity (President DFF)

Well if you watched his press conference on Guns, his ideas are astoundingly stupid even for him. But what it does show is how little he knows about anything, and for sure a high school. His response in a nutshell is more guns. Let’s arm teachers and give bonuses. Now the students have had a field day with this. First they went after the mental illness do nothing answer which of course is a do nothing answer because whose budgets is it that cuts these services again? But the kids point out that plenty of other countries have similar mentally ill, but the difference is access to guns.

Now for the pièce de résistance, arming the school teachers tops the chart as stupider than shit. First, as most teachers will tell you, the ones that would want to be armed are not the ones you would want armed. Second, their job is teaching kids, not combat training. Shooting a weapon in a high stress situation accurately is difficult for even the most trained police officer. Third a handgun against an AR-15 is instant death. Maybe that is why the primary weapon for real combat troops is not a revolver. Let’s not forget that there was an armed police officer on campus (as there was at Columbine) and they were no match for the fire power of an assault weapon. Fourth, how many kids get killed the in the cross fire? Who pays the insurance for that? Fifth, you are bringing a gun into a school where a kid could get a hold of it and do real damage. Sixth, and most important, as the firefight ensues and SWAT shows up, who is the good guys/girls with the guns and who is the bad guy with a gun. It is a recipe for unmitigated disaster.

I don’t know why we should be surprised. This is the same stupid approach President DFF has to just about everything and why the country is careening wildly from prosperity to Banana Republic. Hope you Republicans out there who voted for this moron are enjoying watching high school students take down this moron. Maybe we should give them the vote and take yours away.

Crossing a Line

I listened to some of the impassioned speeches yesterday from the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and was amazed at the intelligence and passion of these young people. It made me once again a proud American to see our youth rise up to the occasion and speak so eloquently about the shooting and guns. I think this time will be different. I think we have crossed a line where, oh dare I say it, people are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. And I don’t think it is just about guns either, I think it is about our stagnant political system controlled by Republicans that as Florida showed, could ban porn, but not guns. I think there is a yearning out there to start getting things done and the realization that most politicians (Republicans) are representing status quo.

On the shootings, as the moron solutions from the Right ping around (arming all teachers, getting rid of bump stocks, maybe better background checks, and of course mental health reforms), none of these will really happen or address the real issue and these kids get it. Guns, too many guns. The data is unequivocal, the fewer guns you have, the fewer incidents you have whether you look country by country or even in our own country, state by state. As these kids pointed out, an AR-15 is for killing people and they should be banned. Second Amendment my ass. It was written when our military was a “well regulated militia”. That does not exist any more and do we think the shooter in Florida was part of a well regulated militia? We have a military now, well armed and the Second Amendment is no longer operative.

Think of it this way, the “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” is no longer operative because that function was taking over by the military. So there is no longer a need for “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This has been reinterpreted by the Right as we need guns to protect us from our own government except if that we operative, how come I can’t get a nuke on the internet? Rocket launchers anyone? If our government decided to take out a well regulated Militia (regulated by who again?), it would be no contest. The argument is nonsense.

But I get distracted. We have definitely crossed a line and this is not going to go away. Half measures will be seen as half measures to maintain the status quo. Do remember Prohibition? PBS did a really interesting piece on how a minority of people in America were successful in electing politicians that would change the Constitution. It was a minority that cared about one single issue and it was the litmus test for getting elected, do you support Prohibition. The Republicans did this in reverse in that one of their litmus test issues is NRA policies on guns. Now the tide may be turning as the litmus test will be responsible gun laws and getting rid of military grade weapons.

But I think that is only the beginning. There is one stumbling block to getting anything done in this country and it is not partisan bickering, it is Republicans. They don’t want to get anything done. The status quo is working so well for them and the 1%. It’s not and never has been about meeting in the middle because today’s Republican Party does not have a middle, only smoke and mirrors while the pretend to be reasonable. We had one of the most reasonable Presidents in this century in Barack Obama, and that was his downfall. They took him on a ride and everything he got done, and now they are undoing, was done without Republican help. It has taken Democrats a long time to understand that listening is a ploy for delay and no change. So it is with guns, but so it is with everything else we need to do to get this country moving forward again.

So the line I think has been crossed is that people are waking up to who is the problem. The killings in schools was the catalyst, and it is not just about guns which will be the Achilles Heel of Republicans. In order to get reasonable and effective gun controls, you have to throw Republicans out of office. In order to get reasonable and effective border control you have to throw Republicans out of office. In order to get reasonable and effective solutions to global warming, you have to throw Republicans out of office. In order to get reasonable and effective investments in our future in terms of infrastructure, education, healthcare, the environment, and our economy, you have to throw Republicans out of office. No, Democrats do not have all the answers and some are dumb, but they are willing to move the country and until we put them back in power, with new young progressives, we will continue to stagnant under a moron for President.

So yes, guns may become the litmus test of tomorrow, but it is just the beginning. Once you recognize that Republicans have sold their soul on that issue, it is only a matter of time to you recognize all the other things they have sold their souls for. I think we have crossed a line where change, and big change is in the air, and it will be spearheaded by a bunch of kids who finally said, “Hell no, we won’t take it anymore.” I really do think people will start voting again, because this kids are showing us who we vote for makes all the difference in the world, and for some kids, life or death.