Obsessing Over the Guns

Of course we should place some restrictions on the sale of guns—they are dangerous, after all, so let’s not sell them to children—but we should not kid ourselves that gun control will prevent attacks from those dark souls who would terrorize us. After the Las Vegas shooting, there’s a lot of serious-sounding discussion about regulating the sale of “bump stocks.” Well, the Las Vegas shooter had an arsenal of 23 guns in his room and 50 lb of Tannerite (explosive) in his car. Take away the “bump stocks,” and we still have a problem, no?

In fact, most of the gun control ideas being discussed in the aftermath of the shooting are bizarre non-sequiturs to the tragedy. Background checks? The shooter passed those. Ban suppressors? Laughable, Hillary. Please go home and stay there. Ban automatic weapons? Already banned with an exception for pre-1986 guns, and it’s hard to get those. Ban assault weapons? We tried that from 1994 to 2004, and still had the Columbine shooting in 1999; in fact, from what I’ve read, the impact of the ban relative to gun violence is that it made little or no difference, although it did reduce by over 20% the incidence of…gun shows. (The ban was not renewed.)

Even if we were to go to the extreme and repeal the Second Amendment, then confiscate all the guns we can, and make the sale and possession of guns illegal, we would be about where we were when weed was illegal in all 50 states, i.e., there was still a lot of it around. So we would accomplish nothing useful, but do a lot of damage to our constitutional democracy. It would not be worth it because the problem is not the guns. Not really. See, even if, if, we were able to keep guns out of the hands of mass murderers, these sociopaths will not be stopped because, unfortunately, there are many other ways to kill a bunch of people. Drive a truck into a crowd of tourists, say.

We want to live normal lives and raise our children to be healthy and successful, but roaming among us like the living dead are those who did not get the memo that love and peace is where it’s at.  It’s time for some cultural introspection. Time to take stock of this social environment we have created as we try to explain these villains—did we feed them too many violent movies, too many first-person shooter video games? Did we give them too much privilege, or not enough? Did we fall back too easily on drugs to address their anxieties? Did we set them loose in the name of Freedom, only to find they actually needed to be cared for and kept separate from us? Did we spare them the burden of our ancient religion, only to find that they needed that burden, so replaced it with an ancient evil?

I don’t have the answers, but I know that “gun control” is misdirection and that politicians who make a big show of calling for it are wasting everyone’s time. We will not make things better by obsessing over the guns.

Advertisements

Football on Mars!

Did you know we play football on Mars? Yes, true fact. I know, you think it’s “barren” up here, but that’s because we mess with your data. All the time. You send these probes through space and we have lots of fun thinking up ways to throw you off. My friend Bob dumped his famous chip dip on one of your spectrometers during halftime (“Let’s see what they think of that! ha ha!”), and I probably should not admit this but I’ve got your Curiosity rover parked in my driveway (use it for shopping). But let’s skip all that, I’m a big football fan (because I hate those little footballs!) and my team is the Alba Mons Spiders. They are championship caliber, I have season tickets, and I never miss a game.

Sometimes I try to watch broadcasts of your games but, man, what the heck have you done to football? Let me give you some friendly Martian advice. Just a few things:

Taunting.  I almost fell off my chair laughing when I saw this—the “Taunting” penalty. Are you kidding me? A 15 yard penalty for “Taunting”? What next? Loss of down for “Harsh Language”? “Picking Your Nose”?

Up here on Mars, we require taunting after a play. In fact, we penalize teams for “Failure To Taunt”—15 yards and loss of down! Yeah baby!

“Instant” Replays. What’s instant about them? More to the point, though, why even have them? You’ll have a wide receiver make an acrobatic catch in the end zone with a cornerback wrapped around his legs, the ref signals Touchdown! and the crowd wants to go crazy, but wait. Wait. Was he juggling the ball? Was his left foot in bounds? Let’s have some league geniuses in a booth a thousand miles away take a look at the replay. Let’s have a little huddle of refs on the field scratching their heads for 10 minutes. Finally the result comes in, yes, touchdown confirmed. Yay.

See, on Mars, we ensure that our refs are properly trained to position themselves every play so that they have a good shot at making the correct call. They are expected to do their best, to be unbiased, and when they make the call, that is the end of the matter. “Touchdown!” really means “Touchdown!”

They are only Martian, and they will make mistakes, but here’s the thing: those mistakes are part of the game. Bad calls are the stuff of legend, and they make for pretty spirited debate down at the Pink Monkey Bird Sports Bar.

You on Earth turn every big play into a court case (“Your Honor, what is a ‘catch’ really?”), with the outcome decided well after the excitement of the moment has passed. Is that what you want to do? It’s unwatchable.

Politics. Oh brother, I hate to go here, but why-oh-why do you allow your games to become platforms for political protest? On Mars, we watch football to get away from politics!

People are always going to crab about something. Life is not perfect on Mars either, and we don’t all get along all the time, even though we are all part of the same great country, which we call “Tharsis.” We’ve got a lot of Tempe Terrans who have migrated to Alba Mons, and they are real assholes, but still, they played a part in the fight for Tharsis independence so we try to remember our common bonds when we get to Bowie Stadium. It’s a beautiful moment as we all rise up together, hands on our hearts, and sing the opening strains of the Tharsis national anthem:

“I’m an alligator…”

A beautiful moment. But I notice that on Earth, in “America” I think you call the place, you mix politics and football. I don’t get that. Why should you care what political point your football players want to make? They are abusing the celebrity you have given them, and playing you for fools. “Hey, I’m famous because I play a game, so I want to talk to you about my take on social justice.” How about doing that on your day off, dufus? How about discussing why it is that you are a millionaire when school teachers are just getting by? How does that scan, social justice-wise? How about right now showing some respect for the sacrifices made by those who founded your country and fought to keep it? How about recognizing the opportunity you have been given to bring people together, and rising to the occasion? How about getting off your butt for a few minutes before the game to stand up, hand on your heart, and sing?

“Keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe…”

Or if your national anthem is not Moonage Daydream, then sing however yours goes. Ok, enough of that. Game’s about to start. I’ve got to jump in the rover and get some supplies. Bob’s bringing his “unidentified geologic anomaly” chip dip. Yum!

Veto the Sanctions

Forget about “optics” or whatever. During your campaign you suggested we would have better relations with Russia if you were elected. Now is a great time to start delivering on that, Donald.

Let me ask—who is running this show: You, or the press? I, for one, did not elect “The Press.” They were not on the ballot. I did not check a box for “Washington Post.” As my mentor might say, “Wag the dog, the tail must not.” (Yes, my mentor is Yoda. So what?)

In all seriousness I advise you to (a) refuse to sign the sanctions bill against Russia passed by the congress, and (b) definitely invite Putin to the White House for a beer. Let the usual suspects rant and rave all they want. Let Maxine scream “impeachment” from the highest rooftop in Inglewood. Dude, you are the President! No one said it would be easy, right? You will be criticized, sure, but what else is new? You can take it, and further, it’s your job to take it.

As my mentor might say, “If heat you cannot take, out of kitchen you must get, hmmm?”

Good luck.

Response to David Brooks

Response to the June 2 NYT opinion piece titled “Donald Trump Poisons the World,” by David Brooks. Certain not to be read by David Brooks.


I used to admire your writing, David. You wrote well and your political commentary was insightful. Then something happened to you: President Trump.

The problem is that you are not recognizing the revolution happening now, in real-time, nor understanding the need for it. When Gil Scott rapped that The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, he was more or less correct. Talking heads on CNN, voices on NPR, the New York Times, none will tell you about the revolution though you may see it in reflections of their panic. I see it in your panic, in your opinion piece “Donald Trump Poisons the World.” Are you hiding under your bed right now?

Our elected so-called representatives had become a bloated, slothful, self-interested monstrosity of elites, out of touch with the people they were ostensibly representing. And when those of us who had been living in quiet disagreement with the way things were being done around here found someone who seemed ready to shake things up, we said go for it, man!

This freaks you out no end, and I guess pulling out of the Paris climate accord finally pushed you over the edge. But President Trump sees the world as it is, not as you pretend it is. He’s a good person, and Americans are good people, your whining notwithstanding.

You have lost sight of who we are, blinded as you are by your disdain for the President. We are charitable and peace-loving, but that’s our business. Trump’s job is to keep the hounds at bay, to keep a watchful eye over this country, and to lead us forward. He’s doing fine, and would do even better with a little help. You should take a break.

Fake News: A Textbook Example

Anybody who doubts the existence of Fake News should read the May 15 Washington Post article, “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador.” In the text that follows that damning headline, we read in the first sentence that the source is “current and former U.S. officials.”

But you’ll search in vain for the names and positions of these “officials,” who were evidently not at the meeting themselves, in which case what we have is cheap gossip. Read waaaay down and you’ll see that sources who are able to be identified by name and position (national security adviser HR McMaster and deputy national security adviser for strategy Dina Powell), and who were actually at the meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, call the accusation false.

I’m not saying I know what was, or was not, said in the meeting; but good journalism would require the Post to get some kind of attributable corroboration before publishing an inflammatory accusation that is clearly denied by people who were present. So, those people (if they exist) who are making the claim that the President made dangerous statements to his Russian guests need to step forward, or there is no story.

The Post doesn’t care. The headline stands, and the smear marches on as other “news” outlets report on the Post’s report. Thus the story, based on nothing, becomes the story: “According to a Washington Post report…”

Classic Fake News.

President Trump’s First 106 Days

As we review President Trump’s first 106 days, let’s be honest: he is facing intense domestic political headwinds. The Left has gone off their rockers to the point where even when they stop rioting and try to use their words, they are incoherent. The mainstream press has all but given up any pretense of fairness, and even members of the President’s own party keep messing with him. So even though I have a couple areas of disappointment about his nascent Presidency, my instinct now, my responsibility even, is to first say lets be supportive of our President. We are a democracy, we elected him. If you have a policy issue, then fine, state your case in a civilized, constructive way.

The high level of interference we are seeing is to be expected, though, given what he is trying to accomplish. And I don’t mean repealing this, or building that. I mean establishing a new paradigm for how we do things in Washington. As the President has said, he is not just leading a change from one party to the other one; he is prying the country away from the political machinery and giving it back to the people. I call that populism, and I like it. Of course there are those who will, uh, “resist” him; those who (a) like it best the way it was because they were doing quite well, and (b) those who are manipulated by (a).

But as it becomes increasingly clear how unscrupulous was the previous administration, we should appreciate that the bad behavior is only being revealed because, thanks to President Trump, those who were in power are losing their power, and with it, the ability to conceal their mischief. Oh, they will say they only meant to protect their lovable little sheep, who would never understand the High Concepts that motivate the elites who must bear the burden of leadership. But good grief—what a bunch of hosers we had running this place for the previous eight years! Holder, Lynch, Rice, oh, and Hillary, are like those outlaw gang members in the old westerns—they weren’t the stars, but they backed up their the boss when he got in a tough spot. Obama: “You want to take me in, sheriff? My boys here might have something to say about that.” Ah, but the sheriff is a new guy, with strange ways. He distracts them, confuses them, and they flee.

No, no one else was going to run that gang out of town, not Jeb, not Marco, nothing except the weirdness that is The Donald. Some crazy-sounding tweet about getting wiretapped, and the next thing you know—uh oh, some truth to that. Huh. Sure, Obama is articulate and intelligent, and a lot of people miss him, but he did a lot of damage, and I’m thinking that in time more will be uncovered about the wreckage wrought by his arrogance, his ineptitude, his lack of appreciation for American accomplishments, and his failure to understand who we are as a country. And if you think I’m being unduly harsh, see what you think after a few more months of revelations.

Regarding my disappointments with President Trump during his first 106 days, I have just two. One is his fixation on repealing Obamacare. I wish he’d just find a way to let that one go, and in any event, it’s too late to repeal Obamacare unless you want to go to single payer or socialized medicine (which we might as well do). And, from what I’ve heard, this bill the House just passed with all the hoopla only pretends to repeal Obamacare. (Wait just a minute…maybe he did find a way to let that one go.)

The other disappointment is our current strained relations with Russia. The moment when candidate Trump won me over was when he asked during his campaign, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be friends with Russia?” Yes! So what happened? Is he spooked by all the yammering about Russia meddling in our election (“meddling” = providing the American people with information) or inferences of some kind of collusion between his campaign team and Russia (which, if there is any kind of actual evidence of a crime, let’s see it)? Mr. President, if you’re reading this—and you should be!—do what you know is right, and let the Left, the warmongering neocons, and the idiots in the press sort it out later. Russia is not our natural enemy. Invite Putin over for a beer. You are the President!

All in all, I’d say President Trump has had a pretty good 106 days, but it’s just a start. If everyone will just give him a break, and maybe turn down the volume a tad, we’ll all be better off. This is a very interesting moment in our country, and for me, it’s exciting to witness it.