23.6.16

Democrats over extension of bravado exposes GOP weaknesses.

The  "sit-in" at the House of Representatives on Wednesday was nothing short of a chess match. Wait, giving the democrats too much credit. It was a football game. The Democrats were a football team sitting on a late that decided to try to run up the score rather than just run out the clock on the legislative session.


Politics has become game-playing. The debt crisis and government shutdowns were the first games and while Democrats may claim they won these "games", the losers were the people like Federal employees who weren't paid but essential to work. Think of the US Capitol police who were working when a woman tried to drive into the Capital and the White House - none of those police being paid because of the shutdown.

But considering this a game, the Democrats, by overextending their reach, exposes how frail the Republican stance on gun control is. Flashback to the first two years of the Obama administration - arguably the two worst years - instead of focusing on gun reform (or immigration reform), effort was put into Obamacare. The Affordable Healthcare act breezed through Congress but instead of being the full reform that was originally promised, the bill became a big payday for insurance companies (which have been merging into larger mega-insurance companies ever since at the expense of jobs and market size). The single payer was gone because Obama listened to the Tea Party's cries of "death panels" (isn't that what for-profit HMOs already have though?) and we were stuck with a system that really helped some (Yay for pre-existing) and hurt others a lot (surprise, insurance companies figured out how to make more profit off people at the people's expense when they are forced to buy their product.)

Out of this, Obama lost Congress in the midterms but the Republicans who came in stopped the momentum. Quickly they became the party of "not-Obama", borrowing the strategy of the "not-Bush" from the Democrats of the previous administration. The problem was Obama didn't become Bush. The American people may view Obama as a pretty average president but not even Republicans were pleased with Bush by the end of his presidency. Instead of evolving positions, it was just "obstruct Obama". This worked a bit but over time and especially around the debt crisis, the center and left of the country had seen what the GOP was doing. Just this week, the GOP finally unveiled their alternative to Obamacare (keep in mind it took them 5 years - and Mitt Romney ran on saying "I'll keep the good parts" while his platform said "full repeal"). We are still waiting on their immigration policy. And when it comes to gun control, the spinning is failing the Republicans. Even their talking points are contradictory.

"It's a list a racist list full of Muslim sounding names" you hear from the libertarian leaning Republicans of the Democrat plan to not allow people on the no-fly list to buy guns or terror watch list. (For the record, the list is not public so it could also contain the Clive Bundys of the world or white supremacists - who knows). But on top of this, the more fear-mongering part of the Republican party has tried to paint the mass shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando as "terrorist" and "radical Islam" (as if what happened in Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech or Aurora was some completely different action - removing the two common denominators - young, mentally ill males and high-capacity fire arms). Borders should be closed (no terrorists have come from Mexico) and ISIS is Obama's fault (not the fault of invading the wrong country from Bush or trying to pull out which everyone wanted or the fact that the Middle East is a quagmire invented by the West to compromise from a Western leader who was a genocidal maniac). But putting any of these "narratives" together causes a problem. Should we make special rules toward Muslims? You can't be both for allowing potential terrorists to have guns but also trying to take away other civil liberties. Would you sell a gun to someone on a terror watch list if you knew they were on that list? Taking away guns? Has that ever happened in the United States? Even in prohibition, no one took away alcohol - they just made it illegal to transport or sell. If you had it, you kept it and drank.And don't get me started on "It's the Second Amendment" because our president was only 3/5ths a person according to that document written by wealthy white landowning males centuries ago who never saw anything but a musket ball as an "arm".

And then there is Trump - proof that the GOP is so self-hating that they'd support a guy who has made overt racist statements that were condemned by party leaders like Paul Ryan who also support his candidacy. There will never be a well-loved president again. News is 24 hours and news is delivered in a form that "you agree with". Nothing is non-biased. It's shock and awe and confirmation. If you want to believe Obama is the anti-Christ, you can find a news outlet that will "deliver" news with the bias you want - and the bad things Obama actually does (which were done by his predecessors in many cases as well) you'll never hear about unless it can fit into a talking point. News is about fearing people into watching more news - it is not about journalism. 

It's pretty clear that minor gun reform (no sales to terror list or no fly list) are supported by the majority of people. The automatic weapons (but what's the definition of that? I'll tell you, because I'm the government and I can make up my own definitions) aren't necessary ("but they'd use a knife" yes but if a knife was used in Orlando there probably would have been at least 45 fewer deaths). I need to defend myself with a big boom stick (there was an armed off-duty cop as a security guard at Pulse but even with his gun training he still wasn't able to stop the killer - let's see John Q Public do better than that). The talking points get old.

What the Democrats did was wrong - gun control is hardly civil rights of the 1960s - but it's obviously that something (even small) should be done (and better mental health legislation and better terror checking and better enforcement of existing laws!) By doing nothing, the Republicans were stripped down as thin as their talking points and are left with their party's nomination, Donald Trump - an absolute embarrassment.

This all ends when we turn off the 24-hour news cycle, when we are forced to think about things, not confirm what we actually believe and when we have more than two political parties trying to maneuver their platforms against each other. We can crumble into a divided nation through this. And we may.

16.6.16

Enough with the self-defense fantasies

I believe law-abiding, background checked individuals should be allowed to carry guns.
But I'm seeing a lot of people post this concealed-carry thing which sounds like a John Wayne movie tagline. If you carry a weapon, according to the FBI, you are more likely to be shot or injured by a gun. The FBI also reported on 160 mass shootings and found that 3 were stopped by civilian gun force (2 by former military/law enforcement civilians) and 20 were stopped by civilians with no gun - and just under half of these situations occurred in "gun free zones".
But if statistics are "biased" to you, think of this. Have you ever fired a gun while you were moving, at a moving target, in a confined space - while other people were near by? Have you ever fired a gun in a hostile situation where you had to discreetly access your gun in a location with poor lighting? Next time you are in a movie theater, try to take out your keys during the movie, run across the room, jump behind a chair and throw your keys at someone 20 feet away - because firing a gun in a shooting situation would be a lot tougher than that.
I've seen state police training for active shooter situations. It's intense; it looked like something out of a movie - and they do a lot of this training. I'm sure military training is just as intense. But if you haven't had this training, I hate to tell you, but if a maniacal madman with no regard for life (including his own) is actively shooting, you having a gun is probably giving you a better chance of getting shot than of shooting the killer.