Posts tagged ‘Guns’

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.

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?

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.

13 Russians and Where did that American Exceptionalism Go

First, why charge 13 Russians who will probably never get prosecuted? Of course if they want to go to France, Spain, Germany, or any number of countries we have extradition treaties with they will be at risk of arrest. Still why? Well I think two reasons and the first one was self-defense. Clearly, as Muller and his boss Rosenstein get closer, their jobs are at risk. We have President DFF and apparently about 35%-40% of the population who think the Russia investigation is a shame, just a Democratic sower grapes. Well, I misspoke. 35%-40% believe that because President DFF told them that and Fox News echoes it, but President DFF knows full well they did.

So what Mueller and Rosenstein were up to was laying down a marker. Here is detailed proof that the Russians were meddling with false news, something Fox News would be an expert at, and trying to sway the election away from Hillary Clinton. The detail is, well, detailed. There is no doubt. So what was accomplished was if President DFF moves against either Rosenstein of Mueller, there is no question he is hurting the investigation and trying to stop it. It may not tie his hands because he is an ignorant jackass, and I apologize to all jackasses because the comparison is not fair, may now tie his lackeys the Republican Congress.

The second reason, besides educating and informing the American Public on one piece of the investigation, was to let those he seeks information from, what he already knows, and the detail he knows it. The big elephant in the room is collusion and why. I know that answer and so do you if your brain cells still work. President DFF got hooked on their money when no one else would lend to him, and now they own him. He is a giant Ponzi scheme, and the scheme started to collapse, when in rushed the Russians who needed to launder money and real estate was the go to market. Think about it. As we learned from hearings last week, the President has ordered no investigations or active counter measures to deal with the Russians. There can only be one plausible reason.

Oh wait! This was Obama’s fault! Except Obama did take action and the real question is why hasn’t President DFF. Obama sanction Russia which Flynn was trying to lift. Oh how short our memories are. So the DFF is the president now, sadly, so what is he doing? And what we learned last week was nothing. The FBI and the intelligence agencies has no mandate from the President.

So what is next? Manafort is in deep dodo. His partner in crime is flipping. Here is where the money trail is. Remember Manafort came out of nowhere, unknown to Trump, and all of a sudden he is heading up the campaign during the critical conventions. Say what? Who ordered that? The money trail is the why of collusion. Once you get the why, the collusion itself will fall out and Mueller suggested he was on that trail in his indictment. So we are getting closer and closer, but one has to ask, isn’t this obvious? Why and how is this man still President of the U.S.?

That answer has to do with the Republicans and the, oh let’s call it 35%, of the American population that is just mind numbingly stupid and ignorant (note stupid is a brain unable to be smart, ignorant is a brain that refuses to learn and be informed). I am reminded of a scene in the movie, Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. Mr. Hanks plays a real world person, attorney James Donovan who is defending Russian spy Rudolf Able. Mr. Donovan’s home is attacked by good Americans because he is trying to afford Mr. Rudolf not just the appearance of a good defense, by a good defense. Those “good Americans” are the 35% who have no idea what the Constitution really is or what it means. They are the lock her up bunch*.

Now that 35% has always been around, but they have never been in charge. Now they are and their lap dogs are our Republican Congress who it would seem has no morals other than power. So they have hitched their wagons to the DFF and we should not be surprised. When a shooter mowed down 47 kids at Sandy Hook and all we got was “thoughts and payers” and let’s not move to fast to we know what happened, you knew they had sold their souls to the NRA. When you heard it again after the shooting in Florida (it was like a taped replay), you wanted to say, okay, but now do we know what happened at Sandy Hook or Las Vegas? And again, like the Russian attack, it obvious what the problem is, and in kids getting killed IT’S EASY ACCESS TO GUNS.

The data is irrefutable. It’s guns. Global warming, Russians and collusion, flow down, Dreamers or immigration, you name the issue and the data is screaming and we do nothing and we do nothing because of Republicans and purple state Democrats who cannot stand up for what is right, only what serves their short term interest to be re-elected. In the movie I referenced before, the spy, Rudolf Able referred to Donovan as “Standing Man” after a friend of his father’s who no matter how much he was beat by the government, he stood up again till they finally quit. It refers for standing up for something bigger than yourself. That is what America used to be. A place where no problem was too big to take on, we would apply science, data, and our ingenuity and we would overcome.

But somehow we got taken over by the 35%, the deplorables, and Republicans. That is when American exceptionalism died. Well, it is on life support and it is up to us to bring it back. I think maybe the nation has seen enough, but they never fail to disappoint with calls for a more middle of the road approach when the middle is so far right as to be undrivable. Maybe the shooting in Florida and the 13 Russian indictments will wake us up and give us the single issue that defines who works for us, and who works against us. I can only hope.

*Remember lock her up? Hillary and the emails where it turned out she was careless with some very minor classified information and hurt no one, and she had no intent to reveal secrets. Now we have the White House allowing people with questionable temporary security clearances that the FBI won’t grant security clearances because they are risks seeing the most secret of our secrets. Do you hear chants of lock him up? Yes they are deplorable and most probably unredeemable and we should not care. No they are not worth listening to. They elected a moron.

Oh F*ck Me in the Heart!

So I am quickly recovering from Shingles so today I want to do a round of Yoga (I am a brick so it is sort of Yoga), and weight lifting. And my usual routine is to turn on the news when I am doing this. BIG MISTAKE! They are talking about mental illness and better identification of potential shooters. You could rerun a tape from the last major shooting. Same bull shit. Nothing is going to change.

First of all ask yourself if we have more deranged kids than other countries, and we don’t, so why are we the nation of these tragedies? Easy access to military grade hardware.

Second there are a ton of kids who go through destructive cycles, are we going to monitor them all and are we going to become a police state? Most will never act on their dark moods. Once again in a destructive out of control mood easy access to guns makes this life ending.

Third, which is the go to argument for those who do not want to address the real problem (Republicans), we need a better mental health system. Yes we do, but who is it again is intent on slashing funding for those kind of things so they can dole out tax cuts to the wealthy. And other industrial countries have better systems than ours, but still, that is just eye wash. You simply cannot identify every shooter while you violate the civil rights of the rest. It is about that thing they don’t want to talk about, because it is political, the easy access of guns. Note the argument, we need to understand better what happened before we decide to do nothing. WHAT HAPPENED WAS EASY ACCESS TO MILITARY GRADE HARDWARE, AND LARGE CAPACITY MAGAZINES!

Please turn off the TV because they are rerunning the last bullshit from the last shooting and until we get angry about guns, mental illness, surveillance, and better treatment is just smoke up our asses. I am sorry to be so crude, but I am really, really angry about this moronic conversation, asking why, why, why, when it has absolutely no value to the solution to the problem. Why did the Las Vegas shooter kill all those people. We still don’t know and never will. He was nuts. He got military grade weapons and killed people. Give me a break. It is guns, guns, guns. As one poster I have seen put it: People don’t make People drunk, beer does. Well crazy people don’t kill people, the guns they get their hands on do. When will we act?

What is There to Say?

Some wonderful kids no longer have the gift of life, love, sunsets, warm beaches, children, or hope. Some parents now know the hurt that never goes away. That last thing a parent ever wants to do is bury their own children. Why? Because we are addicted to guns. President DFF’s thought and prayers is bull shit. If they cared a wit, they would do something about guns and our easy access to them. The Florida Police Chief tells us we have to be wary and report strange people. All teenagers are strange people at one time or another. The issue is their easy access to military grade weapons. And we do nothing.

Guns are a funny thing. We think if we have them they empower us. Let’s just be honest. If you target shoot you fantasize the real thing, shooting somebody. And we get addicted to it. Games where we murder wantonly and TV shows where the gun is the great equalizer. It falsely emboldens us. When you get that you know open carry laws in urban settings are nuts. Our mass murder rate compared to the rest of the world is about the easy access of guns period. The fix is simple, end it. But what you are going to get is thoughts and payers and more mass killings.

I could go through every gun nut argument starting with the 2nd Amendment argument that does not give them a right to arms, and demonstrate the lunacy of it. But I have done that and so have millions of others to no effect. So now when there is news of another mass shooting, I just turn it off. We caused it by our inaction and we learn nothing so why bother with watching the details and feeling their pain. We do nothing. After Sandy Hook I think we saw the Republican Party of today when they block any action. We should have known they had already gone over the precipice into the oblivion of irrationality. President DFF and their failure to act should have been predicted then.

But wait! We could make schools look like prisons with a guard in the tower and a double gate with a metal detector to make sure no one gets in (or out). Look, there is George Washington Middle School. See the concertina wire on the walls and the search lights. Ah, freedom from gun violence in America, except for states that let teachers carry. Now there is a wonderful idea. What if the teach goes ballistic or a kid gets the gun. Then they are all trapped inside to die. Wouldn’t if just be smarter to get guns out of the hands of most people. The use of it to defend yourself is so rare compared to the slaughter we see with guns just in the hands of kids.

There are arguments for gun ownership I certainly buy. But urban areas are different animals than rural areas and even in urban areas, access to guns has wiped out whole communities. And yet we can buy them like lollipops which is insane. And why again is a semi-automatic rifle something anyone except the military (that militia the 2nd Amendment talked about) should have access to? Nothing will change until we get rid of Republicans and purple state Democrats. Or get rid of money in politics. Open carry my ass. Thoughts and prayers you can shove up your…

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.