Posts tagged ‘Guns’

What does Freedom Mean

Sometimes I like to know how people can be so bitheringly stupid. You know how you talk to what seems to be a normal highly functioning human being and then their politics come out and you are standing with your mouth open dumbstruck by the stupidity. Now some of it is ignorance, but that ignorance is studied ignorance. They work at it. So that brings me back to why. In Alabama and the Roy Moore bring back Jesus into government while ignoring my perversions campaign, what the hell is going on? They would rather vote for pervert and someone who defiles the Constitution than a Democrat? Running a close second are the folks in Texas that believe they lost their family to a gunman because it is God’s will, not the easy access to guns for fruit cakes, which is something we could do something about. I am going to come back to this one.

What people believe, and the facts and data they choose to ignore is a function of what they want to believe, that makes their life simple or somehow validates all that they are. Facts and data don’t matter. I think it was CNN or maybe MSNBC that was down in the South interviewing Trump supporters on whether they have any regrets. Some did sure, but the majority were thanking him for the economy and one lady actually said he is a great American. I could go on and on about we are still running on Obama’s economy (Remember the mess the Republicans got us in under Bush?) and that President DFF is the most lying and ignorant president we have ever had. His assault on freedom of the press and separation of powers will do lasting damage to our Constitution, but why bother? Facts and data don’t matter to these people. See Alabama and Texas for true ignorance. One might say they have the freedom to believe what ever they want to regardless of the facts. They apparently have the freedom to be blithering idiots and they are exercising it to the full extent.

But sometimes there is something basic going on and we miss it. The Second Amendment arguments provides a window in to how ideas have changed. Read the Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The right of the people to keep and bear arms in this sentence is not an absolute right, it is dependent on supporting a “well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State. We did not have standing armies, now we do, and that right in the latter is no longer supported by the need in the former. Now think about that. The freedom to bear arms was an end to a good, the Security of the State. Now it has nothing to do with it. In fact, instead of bringing us a good, it brings us misery all around the country. But the Supremes in their conservative wisdom establish the right to bear arms as an absolute right, and absolute good. Look at the good it is doing.

Now this is just an example of what has maybe happened to us, that freedom became a “good” in itself, not the means to “good”. There is an excellent essay in the WaPO by Elizabeth Bruenig, Do we Really Understand the Second Amendment Anymore, that raises the more fundamental question, do we understand freedom. Said more simply, today, freedom is the end goal, but as we have seen with guns, may not provide the ultimate goal, good. But that wasn’t always so. As Elisabeth put it, “Freedom mattered, in other words, but was always subordinate to the highest good, which could sometimes place limits on liberty.” In the simplest terms, gun nuts believe they have an absolute right to a gun, and abridging that freedom by background checks and other restrictions like getting rid of AK-47s is simply evil because it restricts their freedom. But when we look around at the carnage that freedom allows, maybe that freedom is the problem. Elizabeth gives us this:

But freedom unchained from the good comes with certain hazards. Today, it seems like devising a vision of the good means curtailing people’s liberty; after all, it does require that we define some choices (bestiality, for instance) as inherently wrong and perhaps limit them, even if they make a person happy. Yet this also means that the greater the swell of public sentiment against gun ownership, the more justified its ardent defenders seem in claiming that their freedom is under attack. The way they see it, not only is their freedom to do as they please threatened, so is their freedom to be pleased by what they’re pleased by. By imposing a preference, the government would be abrogating their liberty… We can ban people from killing and punish them for it, but we can’t insist that they ought not own the implements of killing, as long as they’re still following the laws

If we’re trying to build a free society for the sake of being free, or so each person can pursue their own tastes, no matter how evil, then we’re doing an excellent job where firearms are concerned — and reaping the results in ghastly headlines. But if we’re trying to build a society in which people are free specifically to flourish and live long and well, to be virtuous and educated citizens engaged in the task of creating lasting peace and greater understanding, then we’re stumbling, and we’ll keep tripping along a bloody path until we can decide what our freedom is for.

I would like to take this argument a step further because guns are just one subset of the problem. Way back when, when we were facing similar problems (economically) along came a man who championed the rights of the working man against the financial corporations and big banks. That would be FDR. And he was one of the few people who actually sat down and thought about freedom and gave us his famous Four Freedoms speech which applies today.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

Or said simply, freedom of speech, worship, from want, and from fear.  Now you can then translate that into a liberal agenda which FDR talked about in his speech which amazingly enough was a speech mainly about arming the country for WWII (Inauguration 1941). But again think about this. For each freedom, or good (in terms of a value, not a thing), some freedoms have to be curtailed. If you want to have free speech, someone can’t be trying to censor the press hollering “fake news”. If you want freedom of religion, that also implies that your religion cannot impinge on someone else’s freedom of religion (See Roy Moore as an extreme example). If you want freedom from want, well that says we have to pay taxes and work together, good jobs, healthcare, and maybe a secure retirement system. Okay you get the drift. Freedom, as Elizabeth said above, is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Now consider the fifth Freedom the Republicans created, freedom of the market place. Any government interference simple hobbles the market place and harms all of us all in their little minds. But what we have seen is that this worship of freedom in itself, negates the other four freedoms FDR outlined. Markets, according to Republicans (and not supported by the data), do better when taxes and wages are low (higher profits and less money for freedom from want). And now as Conservatives tout freedom as an end in itself it justify intolerance such as I don’t have to sell wedding cakes to gay couples; mass murder by guns; I don’t have to provide my employees with full coverage healthcare because it infringes on my religious rights; I should not have to pay taxes because people should work harder; and of course the market place should be free to pollute and gouge; all because all regulation (infringement on my freedom) is bad in their simple little minds.

So, Elizabeth has raised and interesting concept that we should all consider. Of course that assumes that most of us operate intellectually and try to connect dots. Sadly most don’t as we now see the whole state of Alabama wants to embrace a sexual pervert instead of a Democrat (“I can’t vote for a baby killer!” Let’s see a woman’s right to control her own body instead of the government is a baby killer.  Don’t you just love religion?). I will leave you with this: Funny isn’t it that everyone is up in arms over Roy Moore’s sexual perversions and yet his real sin is wanting to replace our Constitution with his version of the Bible. Where have we seen this before?  Would that be ISIS? Would that be the Middle ages?  What is the difference between Biblical law and Sharia law?  SSDD, Same Shit, Different Day

 

Noise, Total Noise, Smoke and Mirrors

What we are getting right now is noise, smoke and mirrors. Why did he do it? Who cares, because the next one will be a different why? We pretend we will get some kind of closure when we know why, I guess because we think if we know why we can protect ourselves. But the next nut job will have a different why. Take the last big shootings, Sandy Hook, the Virginia Tech Shooting, and the Pulse Club in Florida.

What is the common denominator, their type of craziness, or the assault weapons they used. Oh, and you will feel so much better because look, look, even the NRA is moving to “talk” about banning bump stocks. Note that sales are soaring just in case they do. Unless we do an Australia, we haven’t even moved the needle, yet we are so excited that the NRA and Republicans will let us talk about bumps. I am just giddy. It would appear that the more guns we have, the more we need to protect ourselves from others who have guns. Maybe if I was carrying a rocket launcher I could have taken out that nut job shooting from the 32nd floor.  I wonder when we will ever have a real debate.

I listened to one Republican dissembler tell us that we need to debate and study this issue of bump stocks. Responsible people don’t over react (like tax or healthcare reform).  How long have we been looking at this? More noise, smoke, and mirrors. Remember guns don’t kill people, people do, but guns makes it so much more efficient and effective. So why is it again that we keep handing them more and more dangerous and lethal ways to go postal?  See nukes are not the problem, people are.  See the irrational logic line here?

Almost everywhere I look it is smoke and mirrors, noise instead of real change. Tax reform is a joke. Real tax reform is hard. Everyone has a vested interest and we don’t start from the same place. What has to be paid for before we going giving away treasury? No agreement there so this is nothing but a tax slash for the wealthy which is the only economic policy position Republicans know.

Climate change is happening, and we have just had three of the most disastrous storms we have seen in hundreds of years, predicted by global warming, and who is the lead of the EPA (a climate change denier), and now the Dotard in Charge (DIC) is appointing a coal lobbyist as the second in command at EPA. His boys and girls (Cabinet/White House staff) are using their private emails (lock her up) and flying around the country on private jets at your and my expense, and he is draining the swamp? Oh did I mention he is meeting with the generals on North Korea (“Calm before the storm”), and wants to change the Iran agreement? Meanwhile the Republicans are stonewalling the Russia investigation. It’s noise, smoke, and mirrors while the country slides backwards into chaos.

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you unless you are a LD (Little Dotard, Trump base), let me try to show you how we got on this path of ignorance. Right after the shooting in Las Vegas I heard an interview with a woman who was spouting the conventional wisdom about bringing the country back together. “We just need to start listening to each other. We need to lower the rhetoric and listen and try to understand the other side. Then maybe we can find common solutions.” Sounds great doesn’t it? It is horse shit. Pabulum for those who have not been paying attention. It’s pabulum because we don’t operate on the same set of facts anymore.

Were you not paying attention during the Obama years?  Much to my chagrin, because I don’t think Republicans have workable solutions, President Obama tried to compromise with them.  How many Republican votes did he get on healthcare (0).  It got to be a standing joke that even if Barack proposed a Republican plan (which he did on numerous occasions), they were against it.  There goal was to destroy the his presidency (remember Mitch McConnell’s one term President comment?).

In order to take the positions Republicans have taken and support their policies, one had to create an alternate universe, and they did.  Climate change doesn’t exist, tax cuts pay for themselves, immigrants are the root of all our economic problems, all trade agreements are bad, the EPA just hurts business with regulations, regulations in general are bad, government is bad, guns are a natural right, and they were extremely effect at then explaining away failure to act as both sides do it.  Now they are in charge, and they still can’t do anything.

But the point here is that they created a public that does not agree on a set of facts.  Does it not floor you that much of America gets their news on Facebook trending junk?  We can’t have effective solutions if we cannot come together on root cause and effect.  Republicans believe that more guns makes us safer.  How has that worked out?  Republicans believe that climate change is worst a hoax, at best not man-caused, so we do nothing as the conditions for disastrous climate changes increase.  How can all regulations be bad when many of them came from very bad situations where protections are in order? Obamacare is a disaster, but their answer for a fix is trust us, the market place will solve all issues?  The facts do not support any of their beliefs.

So back the woman who wants me to listen.  But the other side has already ended listening because I must be confused about my facts.  Why should I listen to someone who wants to take away gay, lesbian, or transgender rights?  Why would I want to listen to someone who wants to destroy Obamacare with no viable solution?  Why would I want to listen to someone wants to destroy the EPA and deny climate change?  Until we can establish again the difference between political differences and facts, there is no debate.

Let me leave you with this.  There will be no hand holding and coming together.  We have to re-establish facts before we have political debates about what to do about them.  Climate exists and is man caused.  Tax cuts in this economy do not simulate growth.  All government is not bad.  Immigrants help, not hurt our economy.  More guns are killing more people.  We live in a global economy and we need trade agreements.  If we could just start from those established facts (google them!).  Then maybe the listening could start.  But Republicans have made clear they have an alternate set of facts and no further discussion is necessary.

The only fix is that if we survive this four years, we need to hose out the White House and Congress after we throw all of the Republicans and “moderate Democrats” out, and get about the business of governing again.  We deal with facts, data, and science, develop policies based upon them, and if they need fixing, we do not have an ideological agenda or wanting to believe something that prevents us from doing just that.  It is just amazing to me that the real ideologues are not progressives who can change, but Republicans who cannot, and yet somehow we all just need to hold hands.  Bull shit.

Las Vegas

24/7 News of nothing. I am not saying the shootings were nothing, but I mean there is no point to the coverage except maybe practice for the next one. Who was he? Why did he do it? Who cares? The next one will be totally different and we learn nothing. Let’s lower the flags to half mast, express our profound grief, label the shooter evil, oh and let’s not forget to pray. You are in our thoughts. That about covers it, then let’s move on to the next shooting. Where we can repeat and rinse.

There is a common denominator here that sets us apart from other places where this is rare and that is guns, guns everywhere. I listened to an interview with a cop whose daughter was at the scene and he himself was a gun collector so controlling guns can’t possibly be the problem. People kill people, not guns, right? Except it is the problem. Wait, the shooter used an illegally modified weapon (alleged). And I can buy a gun like he had and modify it with little effort. Thank you NRA, I feel so safe now with my basement full of guns, until I go postal and kill everyone around me. Tick, tick, tick.

No, we are going to thank God for what the fuck? Tell those parents, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters to thank God for killing their loved one? It’s horseshit. It was as Lenin who said that religion was the opium for the people and that is exactly how religion is being used. Trust in God and do nothing. Thank him that you were not shot.

See a trend here? God does not exist or if he does he either doesn’t give a shit or his grand plan is BS, and we have to solve this ourselves. But after Virginia Tech in 2007 where 32 were killed, Sandy Hook in 2012 where 26 little kids where shot to pieces, Pulse nightclub where 49 more were killed last year,well, we declare it evil, lower the flag, look for answers not to be found, express profound sadness, have you in our thoughts, and of course pray. Maybe we could just tape the usual bullshit and replay it at every shooting. Save all those never-ending interviews of what happened, the same thing. Nothing changes.

Note there is one common denominator here, rapid fire high-capacity guns. Can’t talk about that. Oh, that is political (Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday) in these emotional times, maybe later, much, much later. Maybe even never. Why is it political to say guns are the cause of this mayhem and if we got rid of them or closely regulated them, then maybe we could really limit the damage? Show me a guy throwing knives from the 23rd floor who could kill 59 people. That does not seem political at all, just common sense. Ask yourself why are we the only country with this kind of repeating mayhem? The answer is simple, easy access to guns.

Second Amendment rights my ass. Read the damn thing. WE DON’T HAVE MILITIAS ANYMORE! We have standing armies. If you want to find evil, look no further than the NRA and the politicians who will do nothing. There is where the real evil is. Conservatives are a major part of the problem, but watch most Democrats kneel to the god of unregulated gun ownership. There is the real evil. But ignore all that. Let us pray.

WTF!

Shooting in Las Vegas? Could this be domestic terrorism? They found at least 10 guns in the alleged shooter’s room. Can we connect the dots yet? But the Dotard in Charge (DIC) is showing his empathy and labeled this an act of evil so I already feel better. I can’t figure whether to outlaw outside gatherings or multi-story hotels. Then again could guns be the problem? Oh shut my mouth! Nevada has legalized silencers! Apparently what happens in Las Vegas does not stay there anymore.

Meanwhile things are still fairly desperate in many parts of Puerto Rico although the relief effort is beginning to crank up. Of course once again the DIC is telling us the response has just been amazing. “We have it under great control.” That was after someone finally explained to him where Puerto Rico was and that they were actually American citizens (I don’t know that, but the big water statement and other comments indicates he did not). So if you want to find leadership, this is not it. His enablers are showing how empathetic he is and I just want to laugh. Empathy is not water, food, power, medical support, or a dry place to sleep. “Hey, get out there and fix it yourselves!” Really, that is leadership? He should have been on top of this from day one. Speaking of one, that was the first hole of his golf course he was on yesterday expressing his sympathy. Right on top of it.

Then we have the North Korean snafu (situation normal, all fucked up). Rex, doesn’t need a staff, Tillerson tells us we are talking to the North Koreans through back channels, and the DIC tells Rex he is wasting his time talking to Rocket Man. Of course enter the enablers who try to spin this as great strategy, good cop/bad cop approach when we all know there is no grand strategy. I expect Rex to quit pretty soon.

Then there is the story that the DIC can only respond to and hear good news or he lashes out so that is all he hears. On the immigration issue he is only told what they cost us, not what they add so he does not have to deal with complex thoughts or get confused by complex issues which might counter his policy ideas. Stephen Miller is probably the architect of that approach. He has no real intellectual curiosity and has decided what he believes, so telling him different is a good way to be unemployed. Remember the crowd size at inauguration? I am a normal person and I like to hear good stuff about me, but I also want to hear the bad so I can fix it. That is how I stay married. The DIC just reinvents reality so there is nothing to fix.

There was the vote and violence in Catalonia.  WTF.  People do not have a right to vote?  Spain’s reaction just reinforced the need to separate.  Oh, I understand that a nation, like ours in the Civil War, may have to go to war in a secession, but they were participating in a non-binding vote. There is a problem there Huston and it is not solved by a police riot and brutality.  And while I am at it, why is the United States against the vote for and secession of the Kurds?  Vice President Bidden even proposed that solution to Iraq years ago.  Why do we not understand the need for freedom and independence from a state that has repressed them?  We are really good at being on the wrong side of an issue.

Finally, I have been reading some snarky reviews of Burns’ and Novick’s The Vietnam War. Snarky because they said we should not be too quick to draw lessons learned, and some complexities were too simplified. Hmm. I wonder if these people lived through it? There were all kinds of complexities and all kinds of contradictions, but the big lessons are fairly simple. Here they are if you missed them:

  1. War is an atrocity. Entering into a war can only be done when our very survival is at stake. The wanton loss of life is never justified and what it does to us can never be repaired. It damn well better be worth it. See #2.  Oh and it wasn’t here.  Neither was Iraq.
  2. We humans find out things about ourselves in war, our savagery, that we did not want to know and that is what damages us the most because we find we actually enjoy it. And to be effective at it, we devalue the lives of the enemy through racism and hate.  That reduces our humanity.
  3. Our government will lie to us for political ends, and transparency and a vigorous free press is necessary so we the people can decide if we want to pay the price for war, or if the reasons are made up.  See both Voetnam and Iraq.
  4. As noted above about the DIC, generals/leaders are on top of an organization that needs to feed them what they want to hear.  Real leaders dig deep to find the truth, report it, and act on it.  There are not many of them in the real world.
  5. Governments glorify war to get us to fight them.  Medals, hero-worship ceremonies, and the lie that most wars are about protecting freedom, democracy, and the Constitution are the ways they do it.  Sure there are real heroes and we should admire them.  But because you wear a uniform does not make you a hero.  The guy who stopped the killing at My Lai was the real hero.  Somehow he maintained his humanity.  The idea of the fog of war and that this is understandable (only Calley was convicted and then had his sentence reduced to nothing) is nonsense.  Maybe it is in the sense that we lose our humanity, but it should never be tolerated.  It is the best argument against war itself.

Those are fairly simple. There might be all kinds of lessons about how to fight a war, who should be our friends, tactics in the field, yada, yada, yada, but really, they are minor players to the big ones above.  So Monday morning and another WTF wakeup.

Shooting in Washington, Julius Caesar, North Korea, and Little Jeffy Sessions

I am not surprised.  Sadly sooner or later someone was going to go postal as the Republican Party did their damage to lives and our country.  Of course it will just make the situation worse, and like all or at least most Americans, hope no one was seriously hurt.  This is how one loses a democracy because as bad as I and others think Republicans are, violence just begets violence.  One of the representatives at the GOP softball practice that was not shot, who, according to reports, was helping the wounded said this:

“My adrenaline is raging. It’s not easy to take when you see people around you being shot and you don’t have a weapon yourself.”

Softball uniforms with guns.  Perfect.  They will never see the connection between their hard hearted policies and more guns for an answer to everything. We still don’t know who the shooter was or what was his motive so all of this is just supposition.  But the irony here is ripe.  If it is a disgruntled constituent, it was not the Democrats who were pushing violence and 2nd amendment solutions to take back their country.  We will certainly get the both sides do it argument again, but after this election, that is hard to justify.  

All of this again plays into the ongoing brouhaha about Julius Caesar in the park:

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America drew headlines this week for pulling their support from New York’s Public Theater in response to criticism about its production of “Julius Caesar,” in which the titular character — made up to look like Mr. Trump — is assassinated.

Apparently most people only got the scene where they killed Caesar, not how it destroy the democracy they were trying to save, and let slip the dogs of war.  It is a warning tale not a prescription.  Oh, and whether you remember or not, a few years ago they had an Obama like character play Julius.  Where was the false outrage then?  It is just a dramatic ploy to try to make the play more contemporary for those who can’t draw the obvious lines.  Also clearly as even Ross Douthat noted:

The theater goers who show up to watch a Shakespeare play in Central Park are — I hope — not high on the Secret Service’s watch list. And the play’s tragic arc does not exactly make tyrannicide look like the wisest of strategies…

Enough said.  It is nice to know that companies like Delta and BofA are looking out for our best interests by dumbing us down.  Let’s talk North Korea.  Again it is truly sad about young Otto Warmbeir, but, and a big but, what was he thinking going to North Korea.  I spent some of my young life flying reconnaissance along the DMZ and I was well versed in just who they were.  Otto learned the hard way.  I cringe when I see his sobbing plea for leniency which of course they will not grant.  One, if one could, should spit in their eye and die quickly rather than be used as a pawn in their games. At least that was my thinking back in the day. I cannot recommend The Orphan Masters Son enough.  It is fiction and a fantasy, but captures the inhumanity and insanity perfectly.

Finally, just some  thoughts about Little Jeffy Sessions.  Little because of stature and heart, he is very little.  I think Frank Bruni caught it perfectly when he said:

But as I watched him, a flustered Gump in the headlights, I saw a broader story, a dark parable of bets misplaced and souls under siege. This is what happens when you draw too close to Trump.

You’re diminished at best, mortified at worst. You’ve either done work dirtier than you meant to or told fibs bigger than you ought to or been sullied by contact or been thrown to the wolves.

One day, you’re riding high on the myth of Trump as a transformative figure and reasoning that some tweaking of norms and maybe even breaking of rules are an inevitable part of the unconventional equation.

The next, you’re ensnared in his recklessness, at the mercy of his tempestuousness and quite possibly the butt of his rage…

And we as a nation, thanks to those who did not vote, voted third party, or were stupid enough to believe his lies, are also diminished at best.  When will this nightmare ever end?

Treating Symptoms Instead of Treating the Disease 

I see where things are pretty much going the way I thought yesterday.  Flynn has been slam dunked as a loose cannon when you know this was not a solo act.  Republicans in the Senate, probably with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, will vote today to remove gun buying restrictions on the mentally disabled.  I know. You are saying what?  That’s right, even common sense is too restrictive for the gun nuts. So with things flowing the way we knew they would I thought I would take a moment to reflect on other stuff.

And what caught my mind last night was a new show on TV called APB.  The plot of this new show is that a genius billionaire has his best friend killed in a convenience store robbery and he decides to take over a police district in Chicago and turn his technology into tools for them.  Now as a device for entertainment it worked.  I was entertained.  It is a good show and the lead character brings some humor to the endeavor.  But I was thinking that this is the Trump approach to fixing a problem.

Clearly, the shows premise is the problem is crime and therefore our approach should be to be more efficient at catching the bad guys.  It is treating the symptoms, not the disease.  The problem is not the crime itself, but what causes crime.  So if you have a $100 million or so, would it not be better spent finding people jobs and moving them out of poverty than buying toys for law inforcement?  See Donald Trump on the Wall.  Instead of a real reform of our immigration laws, let’s built a big beautiful wall.  Also see our War on Drugs.  Throwing them in jail solves nothing.

But let’s just say for a minute that the new improved equipment is the way we go.  Now the engineer in me kicks in.  He is using new armor, long range taser guns, cars, and computers and apps to connect the cops to the citizens.  Oh did I mention drones?  Okay so he equips them and out the door they go, to learn by trial and error.  No, that is not the way you would do it.  First you would take a small unit and train them in the equipment.  Use their experience in the field to develope tactics you would use in the field.  Then you would let them out in the field and then debrief what worked and what didn’t, and adjust accordingly.  

Here is the thing.  As you bring in new technology, your tactics will evolve reflecting the best use of the new technology and those lessons would then be implemented as you brought on line more units operating with the new technology.  But it is a TV show, except for the little matter that trying to solve a symptom with technology instead of an understanding of the root cause and trying to deal with that (so enforcement would be minimized) is the way our new world of politics is operating.  And only in fiction will it work out.  

The Wild West

Well, another shooting in Michigan.  On and on.  Maybe shootings will get like car wrecks and we will just start ignoring them.  Lock and load everybody.  Feel safe yet?  The Police Chief in Dallas commented about if people were carrying and started shooting, they would have no idea who the good and the bad guys are.  Oh, and why do you need your gun at a peaceful protest rally.  But not to worry, Donald Trump will make America Great again (stolen from Ronald Reagan), he is going to be the Law and Order President!  That was stolen from Tricky Dicky.  If that were the case, I believe you could kiss free speech goodbye.  Maybe he could get Rudy Giuliani to be his chief enforcer of respect for police and deciding which protest should be heard. Who are these morons supporting the Donald again?

Oh, and he said one other thing today you ought to think about.  He criticized the current administration for the scandals at the VA and the long waiting lines.  Don’t worry folks he will protect veterans.  Of course no one fact checked him on the skimpy funding of the VA by Republicans that really prevents fixing all the problems and the fact that the Republicans are just licking their lips to close the VA hospitals and send all the funding to their buddies in private health care.  America, you should be very afraid of this nut ball.

A Small Step for Gun Nuts

It would appear that there are really three or four proposals to be debated and voted on next week to make a very minor dent in gun violence and easy access to guns.  The first one is the obvious one which is if you are on the no-fly list, you also can’t purchase a gun.  There is one itsy bitsy problem with this and the Republicans are all over it.  Where is the due process if you are put on this list by mistake?  And of course there have been some very embarassing mistakes. Even the ACLU has entered this fight since being put on the list is secret, and getting off is even harder.  So there is a very important point here.  Any restriction of gun purchases for the no-fly list should also include a fairly simple and timely way to challenge your listing.

Now comes the B.S.  The Republicans will take a valid criticism and come up with a solution (compromise) that would be impossible to implement thus making any restriction on gun purchases impossible.  That is what Senator Cornyn from Arizona did so they can claim reasonableness.  Basically he wants the government if challenged, to show probable cause within three days to a judge.  If they could do that, they would have arrested the subject.  Other Republicans are trying to find a more realistic and workable approach, but the operative word is Republican, so nothing is really going to happen.

Here is what I would like to see out of this mess.  And let me start this by asking why anyone thinks a reasonable delay in buying a gun is an attack on your freedom?  It’s like we are talking about free speech or the right to vote.  Gun ownership was not what the Founders intended as a basic right and the 2nd Amendment was written around the need for a state militia as our fighting force.  It is no longer operative.  As conservative Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger once said:

The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the great pieces of fraud, again I repeat the word fraud, on the American people By special interest that I have ever seen in my lifetime.  The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state.  The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind ofweapon he or she desires.

Then we got the Robert’s Court and this absolute nonsense.  But I get distracted.  First, of course there is a problem with the no-fly list.  People should be notified they are on it and given a 30 day process to rectify it if it is in error.  Now the only way they know they are on it is when they get denied or hassled at the airport.  There should be a process for emergency situations like a death in the family to expedite review.  Once that is in place, no one on the no-fly list can buy a gun.  Very simple.

Second is the terrorist watch list.  These are people that might be problematic.  This one is really simple.  The FBI will be notified of gun or ammunition purchases for these people.  So what rights have been violated here?  If you are already on the watch list, this just raises a flag for the FBI to watch closer, but does not infringe on any of your rights.  That would have picked off our Orlando nut job*.

Third is expanded background checks.  Remember the shooter in Charleston got around that because if within 3-days no flag was waved he could get his gun.  There were flags but they got missed in the 3-day period.  What’s wrong with a 30-day waiting period?  If you have to have a gun right now, something is very wrong and the police ought to be involved.  And of course the other part of this is the ability to buy guns on the internet or at gun shows with minimal background checks.  Oh, I hear the Republicans now.  Free enterprise!  You are piling on regulations and red tape to small businessmen!  Yep, that is exactly what I am doing because the people that get shot with those weapons have rights too.

Now basically that is how you are going to hear about the next couple of days, and my guess is that it will be painted as some sort of partisan divide and they just can’t work together.  But as always the devil is in the details and the Republicans, in the details, put in poison pills that make these laws unworkable.  Nothing is really going to change until we get rid of these people.  This election we may just get out chance.  Here is hoping we don’t waste it.

*A couple of things.  The Orlando nut job was not a ISIS inspired terrorist event.  He was a closet homosexual who hated himself and gays by extension, probably as a result of his family and his religion.  Allegiance to ISIS was a ploy to make his horrible act something more than it was.  Yes he was a Muslim, and Islam teaches intolerance of gays, but so does conservative Christianity.  All the talk about the terrorist threat from the Middle East is smoke and mirrors.  This is about intolerance and easy access to guns.

Second, of course there is much more we could do.  Why does anyone need an assault weapon?  Why does anyone need expanded capacity clips?  If they want these things they can go to a shooting range that carefully controls access to both.  Gun ownership as a need is a reality in this country, so we just need to take measure to ensure that people who shouldn’t have them don’t, and weapons of war are banned.  Again, it is as simple as that.

A Lesson Maybe Learned

Democrats secured a vote on two gun control related measure after their filibuster last night.  Some analysts say they would have gotten the vote anyway, but that is not the point.  They took on the Republican obstructionism in a direct and highly visible way and there is no question about who is blocking this stuff.  And it is no surprise that leading this effort was one of the youngest members of the Senate, Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut.  If you want to beat Republicans you have to go after them, not play the victim.  It is about standing up for something and saying no more.  Maybe the Democrats will find their backbone on other issues and make every vote and non-vote highly visible so Americans see what Republicans are doing to us.  Maybe when they have the senate again they will do something sincere about reforming the filibuster too.

More Guns and Thursday Baseball

As most Americans, okay, well maybe some Americans, are aware, the Democrats mounted a filibuster last night to get the Congress to consider three gun bills which are simply scratching the surface of the problem.  They are , extended background checks, ban gun sales to those who on he FBI no-fly lis, and ban gun sales o those who he FBI is investigating for possible terrorist activities.  Think about what else we could do like ban the sale of assault weapons and extended magazines.  But that is where things get strange.  It is like our access to a gun is more basic than freedom of speech, our right to vote, or access to a fair hearing before a jury of your peers.  Really?

Have we lost our minds? Rhetorical because we have.  In the venue of misdirection, I watched a Republican spokesperson on Lawrence O’Donnell try to lie repeatedly to us about Republicans and gun control. She said banning guns from people on the Terrorist Watch List had already been proposed by Republicans and Democrats had voted it down.  True, but she failed to mention it had poison pills in it that made it totally ineffective (“…would give authorities only three days to prove that a suspect is about to commit an act of terrorism — a nearly impossible standard to meet.”).  Then she decried why if Democrats think a right to abortion is so important why they don’t give the right to a gun the same respect.  I could spend an hour on that one.  I hope we never see her again because she lies and twist facts instead of an examination of the true issues.

I still haven’t figured out how “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” says everyone should have an assault weapon.  We don’t have Militia anymore, we have the U.S. Military and the National Guard.  Well regulated Militia might be key here and the Supremes just ignored original meaning as convenient to their political bent.

Now the Republicans do have one good issue about the watch list, and that is that there should be some straight forward and simple way to clear your name from the no-fly list if it is done in error.  There have been abuses to be sure and then it is hard to get removed.  So work it out and I think Diane Feinstein and Peter King may have a way forward.  But really this is all ridiculous.  I do not need a gun to secure my freedom.  I need my free speech, freedom from religious, racial, and sexual oppression, right to vote, due process, and the right to a jury of my peers.  I guess what I am saying is screw the gun, I need to be packing our Constitution*.

One last thing.  Bernie will be speaking to his followers today and what he says could be significant.  I may miss it since I am going to go watch the Oakland A’s try to win the series with Texas.  Tomorrow I will try to interpret what he said and more importantly what all the conventional wisdom pundits are missing about this election and what it really means.  No I am not talking about Trump versus Hillary.  Hillary will win as Trump self destructs.  What I am talking about is the firm message that Americans have lost faith with their political system and if we don’t change or understand what they are telling us, both Trump and Bernie supporters, the chaos in elections and candidates will only get worse.  Oh well.  Play Ball!

Oh, if the weather turns out bad, there is always lunch at Hog Island.  Just a short BART ride into the city.  Thank you government. For all you Libertarians, we wouldn’t have BART, just someone to row us across the Bay like they had in London before governments build bridges and mass transit if you had your way.  It’s called chaos.

*Oh, as an aside, have you notice that the “leader of the Republican Party” is actively trying to suppress free speech (banning certain media from his events), abrogate the separation of powers in the Constitution (claiming powers he does not have and nominating judges solely on political issues), and discriminate based upon religion (ban Muslims and push freedom of religion).  Is this the America they want to take back?