The 2nd Amendment guarantees my right to carry a gun anywhere I want… according to the NRA.
The NRA is hosting Donald Trump today as a speaker. I am sure he will give a great speech. He will talk about those evil liberals, like Nancy Pelosi (Scary!!!) who want to take away your guns.
He will stand tall with real Americans who want guns everywhere.
They want guns in colleges. In universities. In high schools. In elementary schools. In hospitals. In stadiums. In churches. In synagogues. In mosques..well, they don’t want mosques but if you have to have mosques let’s put guns in them.
Guns. Guns. Guns. Everywhere guns.
It’s the 2nd Amendment.
Except. When Mr Trump gives his speech later today there will be no guns allowed at the NRA convention. None.
There is an epidemic of gun violence in America. That is not even debatable. And there have been a multitude of solutions offered over time.
Most recently the President of the United States, the NRA and many members of Congress have offered the latest solution. Arm teachers. More armed guards. More guns. And more guns. And more guns.
A creative and exceptionally innovative solution to the problem of gun violence. More guns. So, I said to myself, why stop there. Maybe we can apply that same “reasoning” and “logic” to the many other problems we face. Let’s try.
Obesity is a major problem in the US. Anyone who has ever traveled to Italy or France or Spain immediately notices that there aren’t so many obese folks walking around. It could be limited to urban areas, perhaps. But, at least in my experience, folks in those countries as a rule, seem not so chunky as Americans. I , myself, have done my patriotic duty by increasing my body mass significantly over the last 50 years or so. A proud American. A BIG proud American.
What is a reasonable solution to the health issues caused by obesity? Well, former First Lady Michelle Obama started a healthy eating program to encourage kids to develop good eating habits at a young age. She was vilified by the right wing extremists for that. Big government interfering with the proper parental role. Then Sarah Palin showed up at an elementary school with cookies for kids. She passed them out. She didn’t bother to ask parents if they wanted their kids to eat cookies or perhaps had allergy issues. The right wing applauded. More cookies. More cookies. More cookies.
So, a reasonable solution to the obesity problem is more donuts. More junk food. Less fruits and vegetables. The problem of obesity can be solved by increasing the availabilty of junk food. Yepper.
Drunk driving kills thousands of Americans each year. Currently we have DUI laws and put folks in prison for that. Take away licenses for driving drunk. But that has not solved the problem.
What we need is more and better access to booze while on the road. Every gas station should have a liquor license. Every driver should be given a free beer with a fill up. End DWI laws and impose DWS laws (Driving While Sober). Pull over anyone who is not weaving side to side at 50 MPH in a school zone. Fine em. Drink or don’t drive. The obvious solution to drunk driving is more access to alcohol by automobile operators. Yepper.
The opioid epidemic. Killing thousands every year. These opioids, many prescribed legally, have wreaked havoc on families and individuals. They have destroyed families. They are agents of death. So, what is the solution?
Easy. We need complete and total access to opioids . No prescription necessary. Over the counter. At the supermarket. The drug store. In our schools. Free opioids with every order of fries at Mc Donald’s. (Solving two problems at once) The only way to stop the madness is total access to opioids. The more the better. Every teacher should be armed with opioids in case of an emergency. The emergency being that Billy forgot his opioids today. Yepper.
We could go on and on. But the message is clear.
The best way to solve a problem, according to our current leadership, is to make it even bigger.
The DC v Heller decision of 2008 established 3 things, according to the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia. (See https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/2nd-amendment-and-gun-control-part-1/ for details.)
First, individual citizens, not part of a militia, have the right to own weapons.
Second, the government has the right to regulate who can have weapons.
Third, the government has the right to determine the legality of specific weapons.
So, any attempt by any member of Congress to suggest that any gun control violates the 2nd Amendment should be referrred to the Scalia opinion. Gun control is constitutional.
So, what kind of gun control , which does minimal damage to the desire (not right) of gun owners to certain weapons, are possible? Here are some possible gun control measures which Congress could take.
A mandatory background check for any gun purchaser. Using a nationwide data base that identifies felons out on parole, individuals convicted of spousal abuse, individuals convicted of any violent crime, individuals currently charged with a violent offense pending trial.
A ban on the ownership and sale of military-style assault weapons and any devices that can be used to enhance the firing capacity of weapons, including bumpstocks. (Except in licensed shooting ranges).
A ban on the sale and/or transportation of weapons across state lines.
Mandatory written and field and safety tests for anyone purchasing a weapon, including a screening for emotional and mental stability.
A ban on any sale of guns other than that of a registered gun seller. This includes the ban on trading, swap meets or other gun sales not taking place in an established, permanent location.
The registration of all weapons with the local authorities. Including the free transfer of weapons to immediate famiy members, which would be legal.
Establishment of shooting ranges for those who wish to fire military style weapons. These establishments would be able to legally rent military style weapons to shooters to be used only at the shooting ranges.
The ban on any bullet or projectile designed to explode on entering the body or designed to pierce armor.
The licensing of any gun owner, renewable every five years, to determine that the person keeps up with the skill, visual acuity, mental capacity to handle a weapon safely and understands the law relating to weapons.
Establishment of free clinics and classes to teach and train gun owners as to the proper and safe use of firearms.
A Right To Know Law which gives parents the right to know which households have guns in them. A parent could then decide for themselves if they want to expose their child to a household which has a weapon. (Many children die playing with guns each year).
A yearly weapons licensing tax to help defray the costs of gun safety programs.
A health care premium Gun Violence Tax for gun owners. This would help defray the massive costs to hospitals,police, courts, jails and the insurance industry for costs related to the care of victims and perpetrators of gun violence nationwide. Hang on to your six-shooter. The annual estimated cost of gun violence in the USA is $8,600,000,000 (billion) in direct medical care. And the overall cost of gun violence to the economy is $229,000,000,000. See references at the end of this blog for details.
I am confident that many or all of these solutions, taken as a whole, would significantly reduce both intentional and accidental gun mortality. All of these ideas are constitutional and easily implemented. I am also sure that people more astute and informed than I have even more and better solutions.
We license people to drive cars. We renew auto license plates every year or two. We tax vehicles and gas used in those vehicles. We let people know if there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood so parents can protect their children. We heavily tax tobacco to reduce usage and pay for the costs of medical care caused by tobacco. So, none of the ideas above, if applied to weapons , is radical or unusual.
Would these solutions stop ALL gun violence? Of course not. Even places with strict gun control laws have some gun violence. But the likelyhood of desth by gun in these nations is minimal compared to the USA.
In Austria you are as likely to drown in a swimming pool as be killed by a gun. In New Zealand, your chances of death by gun are the same as falling from a ladder. In Poland, the chance is the same as being killed on your bicycle. And in Japan you are just as likely to be hit by lightening as killed by a gun.
Think about that last statistic the next time you watch a thunderstorm brewing.
There is a very strange argument that is made by politicians, the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and some others concerning the 2nd Amendment and the rights entailed therein. The argument goes like this:
The Second Amendment guarantees any person’s right to own any kind of weapon.
They take the 2nd Amendment and parse it out, emphasizing some of the words and ignoring others. Kind of like when Betsy asks me to take out the garbage. Me? Take out? OK , Let’s order a pizza.
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.”
They kind of skip the first 13 words and then start reading. Speed reading? Skimming for the general idea? Hmmmm.
The obvious intention of the founding fathers was that, in the 18th century, there would be times when the local government would need a call to arms. Maybe the injuns were coming or the Brits had decided to try to retake the village. Or perhaps the Canadians were on the march attempting to impose universal health care on our children and widows.
Hence the first 13 words. A well-regulated militia. Pretty clear. Well…regulated …militia.
Some folks, however, ignore those words. They don’t like them. The 13 words not only imply a strict government control over arms, they specify it. We may need a local militia, so you should keep a gun handy. That does not mean you can have a gun for any other reason.
Of course, if the founding fathers INTENDED that everyone should have access to a gun for any reason they had no need for those 13 words. They could have kept it much simpler, as in the 1st Amendment. Short and sweet.
So the first argument supporting the notion that anyone can have any kind of weapon for any purpose is easily shot down and understood by anyone with a modicum or more of cognitive ability.
Of course, because the Constitution is interpreted by the Supreme Court, it really does not matter what the founders were thinking. The Supreme Court decides what the words mean, not the founders.
And here we see an interesting phenomena. The conservative justices who CLAIM to be “strict constructionists” have actually changed the meaning of the 2nd Amendment. Now, I don’t mind the Court trying to keep up with modern times. I think the Supreme Court should do so. But I do find the hypocrisy of the conservatives on the Court somewhat amusing.
These same justices who claim to interpret the Constituion based on the “original” document and words of the founders tend to let this one slip by. The “originalists” suddenly found, after more than 200 years , that the founders didn’t realy mean “militia” when they wrote “militia”. The majority opinion in the Heller decision goes through more contortions than a Chinese acrobat trying to justify that one. But, they had the votes. So be it.
The Heller decision, giving all of us the individual right to own a gun states, in part:
“Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
So, the founders were simply wrong when they wrote “well-regulatedmilitia“. So much for the “strict constructionist” viewpoint.
But that’s ok. Everyone now has an individual right to own a gun. We all agree because the Supreme Court says so.
Which brings us to a second argument made by the NRA gun manufactuting industry and their employees in Congress. It goes like this.
Since I have the right to a gun, that means I have the right to ANY gun. And that means I can carry any gun anywhere I want. Therefore, no state or national government can make any laws restricting my right to own my gun or where I can wander around with it. Any government that does that is trying to take away my gun.
The obvious fallacy of that position is clear. If you want to think about it. It would mean that the only unlimited right granted to citizens by the government is the right to have a gun. All other rights have associated responsibilities and limits, but not my right to a gun. It places the 2nd Amendment in a different category than every other right.
Of course, that argument is easily refuted. Just look at the 1st Amendment. We have the right to free speech. It’s right there, in black and white. But that right is not unlimited. We have libel laws which restrain speech. We have regulations as to what words can be used on non-cable tv stations. We have slander laws. We have laws against threatening to kill others, especially political leaders. Try telling a joke about having a bomb in your backpack when you are boarding a plane and you will see how quickly your “free speech” is dealt with.
The same is true of freedom of religion. You have the freedom to worship in the church or mosque or synagogue or basement of your choice. You can pray to anything you want to pray to. Some Native American churches are even allowed to void anti-drug laws because they have a longstanding use of peyote in their rituals. But if you are an Aztec and believe in human sacrifice, that is a no-no. A fundamentalist Mormon may believe he can have numerous child wives (and some do) but that is illegal. You can believe it is your right and religious duty as the “father” of the house to beat your kids and wife. But that is not tolerated. Limitations.
So, every right has legitimate, common sense restrictions. Even in the Heller case, the most conservative of the justices, Justice Scalia, pointed out that this right is not unlimited. Specifically stating, in his majority opinion, that schools and government buildings are places where restictions may be logically imposed. Also, certain categories of people, like felons, could be legally restriced from owning guns. Further, he stated that the government has the ability to restrict certain kinds of firearms, like military weapons, as well.
So, the idea that every person has an unlimited right to any type of gun he wants does not pass muster. Even the most conservative member of the Court, Justice Scalia, recognized that, while you have an individual right to a weapon, that right is not without proper government restrictions.
In essence, the most radical arguments of the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and the extremists goes down the toilet. The only question that remains is: What are reasonable restrictions?
Another American Tragedy has occurred. Every day 100 Americans die due to guns. About half are suicides and accidents. The other half are murders. Every day. A daily American tragedy.
But some days are more tragic than others. Mass shootings. Mass killings. Or a Congressman or Congresswoman shot. Every day it’s somebody’s baby, somebody’s husband, somebody’s daddy, somebody’s mommy. Every day.
But when the mass killings occur the entire nation stops. Stops for a moment of silence. The president sends his condolences. It is part of the job description. The anti-gun lobby energizes and says: This has got to stop. The gun lobby energizes and says: No, it doesn’t.
In this century.
Red Lake Massacre. Minnesota 10 dead, 5 wounded. Moment of silence.
Virginia Tech Massacre. Virginia. 23 dead, 32 wounded. Moment of Silence.
Binghamton shootings. New York. 14 dead, 4 wounded. Moment of Silence.
Fort Hood Massacre. Texas. 13 dead, 30 wounded. Moment of Silence.
Aurora Theater shooting. Colorado. 12 dead, 70 wounded. Moment of Silence.
Newtown School shooting (Sandy Hook) Massachusetts. 28 dead, 2 wounded. Moment of Silence.
Washington Navy Yard shooting. DC. 12 dead, 8 wounded. Moment of Silence.
San Bernadino shooting. California. 14 dead, 21 wounded. Moment of Silence.
Orlando Nightclub Massacre. Florida. 49 dead, 53 wounded. Moment of Silence.
Las Vegas Strip massacre. Nevada. 50+ dead, 500+ wounded. Moment of Silence.
So much silence. So much silence in the face of regular murders. The moment of silence is no longer special. No longer has any meaning.
So, why have a “Moment of Silence” after these disturbing mass killings of Americans by other Americans?
Perhaps it is to give the NRA the time to re-load.
Congressman Scalise was shot by a nutcase with a gun. The usual nutcase, a white male. He was targeted for his political beliefs by a disgruntled , out of work male and shot. Not killed, but almost.
The same thing happened to Congresswoman Giffords a few years ago. On the other side of the political spectrum. Shot by a disgruntled white male. A nutcase. Like Scalise, she survived.
In both cases Congress rose as one to condemn the senseless violence. In both cases Congress was appalled by the mindless, fanatic attack on one of their own. The Congress pulled together behind Giffords and Scalise. They condemned the violence. They praised the courage of their colleagues in the face of near-death.
Scalise and Giffords are heroes. They survived. They live . Congress is outraged. Congress is sickened. And Congress will do nothing about it. You can take that to the bank.
Since the terror attack on 9/11 over 372,000 Americans have been heroes. You don’t know their names. 372,000 Americans have been injured by guns. Intentionally. 372,000 heroes who have been cocooned in silence as far as Congress is concerned. Not a peep from the outraged. Not a condemnation from the Capitol dome. Nothing.
In addition. Approximately 186,000 Americans have been killed, intentionally, by guns. 186,000 heroes. Silent heroes. Unnamed heroes. They were not important. They were not in Congress.
There have been 62 tragedies of 9/11 proportions since 9/11. Americans terrorizing other Americans with guns. Americans murdering other Americans. Sixty-two 9/11s. From Congress? Silence.
Every day in America, on average, 7 children and teens are killed by guns. Every day. This week there will be 50 Gabby Giffords who do not survive. All of them under the age of 20. Over 5000 children hospitalized each year with gun-related injuries. And Congress is silent.
Every day 93 Americans are killed by guns. Homicide. Accident. Suicide. They are all dead. This year 34,000 Americans will die because someone had a gun. And didn’t keep it safe. Or used it aggressively in during a moment of anger. Or in a temporary fit of depression just took their own life. It is almost equivalent of one 9/11 each month. And Congress is silent.
So, it may seem cold. But I do not get outraged by the shooting of Giffords or Scalise. I don’t applaud the violence. But it leaves me a bit cold.
After all, there were over 66 Steve Scalises shot today and sent to the hospital. They survived as 66 unnamed heroes. No Congressmen shed tears or made speeches condemning their assailants. And the 230 Gabby Giffords who were shot this week did NOT survive. 230 dead unnamed heroes. Not a peep from Congress. Not a word. Silence.
When compared to other industrialized nations the US has a homicide rate which is, on average, 25 times higher. The US homicide rate by guns is 18 times greater than France. The gun homicide rate is 60 times higher than Germany. And the US murder rate with guns is a whopping 90 times that of the UK. (Note: These numbers are out of date, but not that far off).
To be fair, Latin American nations like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Belize, etc. have significantly higher murder rates that the US. So, I guess that is some consolation. We are better than Honduras. Hurray!
Nothing will change. Scalise will be lionized and applauded for surviving. He lives. But the applause will end. Our representatives will cry their collective crocodile tears. Then Congress will get back to regular order, which includes taking massive donations from the NRA and the gun industry. In the last election cycle the NRA and gun industry spent $ 52,000,000 opposing candidates who support gun control.
So the killings will continue. And so will the silence.
This is re-posted from an email sent to me by a family member. Wish I had written it myself.
“President Obama Takes Hard-Line Stance on Refugee Crisis”
AP – November 18, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC – At a White House press conference this afternoon, President Obama announced his administration’s new hard-line stance on the refugee crisis.
“For entirely too long, we have been witness to cowardly acts of terror. We have watched innocent people suffer for our inaction and seen families broken, communities shattered, children taken too soon from this Earth because we as a nation have been too slow to act. It’s time we faced these atrocities and these terrorists with due resolve and we are now committed, finally, to closing our borders to this increasing influx of young, white American male refugees.”
Obama cited steadily rising death tolls in the United States, particularly on high school grounds and college campuses – acts of terror carried out exclusively by young, white American males – as adequate motivation to close the United States borders, asserting that allowing even more such refugees into the country would only further expose innocent US citizens to violence.
“It’s unfortunate to paint an entire people with so broad a brush. I’m sure that somewhere out there are young, white American males who are peace-loving and productive members of society but on the whole, the young, white American male culture is one that tacitly promotes unjustified violence against the innocent and we as a nation have stood silent for far too long.”
Young, white American male groups reacted strongly to the news. In his statement to the press, young, white American male Benjamin Tilly of Cheboygan, MI said, “Sure, when a handful of religious fanatics from Saudi Arabia commit an atrocity they’re just ‘mentally ill’ but when young, white American males regularly kill anywhere from two to 28 people in escalating, multiple school shootings over the past twenty years in this country – basically like clockwork – suddenly it’s a ‘culture of violence.'”
In response to the public outcry from the young, white American male community, President Obama said, “Listen, not every young white American male is going to go shoot up a school but it is in our best interests to prevent all young white American males from entering the country because if just one of those young men is the one who would later go on a shooting rampage in a school cafeteria then wouldn’t our efforts have been worth it? And if we’re being honest, isn’t it a bit telling that the entire young, white American male community has failed – time and time again – to unilaterally condemn all of these acts?”
Upon learning that he would be disallowed entrance into the United States, teenager Kyle Mattheson, a young, white male American refugee from Bensalem, PA, responded, “Will I have easy legal access to firearms, wherever they send me?”
As I walked out to the mailbox on this wintry day I fell 33 times on the ice. Very slippery. A veritable slippery slope of slippery slopes. Which got me to thinking.
Many arguments about “rights” from my conservative compadres these days seem to hinge on the slippery slope idea. The argument is that if you allow the government to do “A”, then the government will do “B”. then the government will do “C”…all the way to “XYZ”. And that, my friends , is the end of civilization as we know it. Doom awaits us.
Take gay marriage as an example. Those who want to ban gay marriage (now declared legal and constitutional in 35 states) have a state’s rights argument. The philosophy behind the argument for not allowing gay adults to marry goes something like this. (Hang on to your hat, it is gonna get slippery)
If you allow gays to marry, then what next ? The government will allow polygamous marriages. Then it will allow animals to marry people. The slope is fast and very slick. Gay marriage leads to human-animal nuptials. Want to be the flower girl at the wedding of Uncle Jed to Barb the Burro ? I thought not.
Another controversy rife with slippery slope reasoning (?) is gun control. If the government can regulate my use of a gun, what next? The government will ban all guns. To everyone. For all times. Then the jackbooted thugs will take over my house. (Usually Obama’s jackbooted thugs, but not always).The end of civilization as we know it. After all, what is more civilized than an AK-47?
It is hard to argue with such unreasonable reasoning. If “A” occurs…then “XYZ”. So, instead, let’s play the game of slippery slopes. In reverse.
Gay marriage. If the state government can prevent two adult citizens from getting married, what next ? Can the government prevent blacks from marrying whites ? Swedish-Americans from marrying Chinese-Americans? Eventually the states will prevent heterosexuals from marrying each other. No one can get married. Or worse, the state (I’m thinking Alabama here) will make it mandatory for cousins to marry. Or for brothers to marry sisters. Or for humans to marry animals ! Slippery slope.
On gun control. If the state cannot regulate guns, what next. People will be able to carry guns anywhere. Into the mall. Into church. Onto airplanes. Into Congress. And people will be able to carry any kind of weapon. AK-47’s in the front row at Xmas Midnight Mass. The wealthy can afford their own nukes. And children can have guns as well. Playgrounds will become realistic battlegrounds with real bullets instead of pretend ones. And animals ! Do you really want to be confronted by a hungry, armed squirrel. They go nuts. A slippery slope from not allowing reasonable gun control to every felon, child, airline stewardess and nun being armed , locked and loaded. The slippery slope.
Law “A” leads to…well…Law “A”. Nothing more. So, beware of slippery slopes. Throw down some salt on the ice. Tread carefully. In the end, all slippery slope arguments end up leading to a fall. Wear extra padding on your butt and use your common sense.
(Darren Wilson was the police officer who confronted and killed a black man in Ferguson, Missouri. He was subsequently NOT indicted by a grand jury. he has since retired from the police force.)
I was involved in an internet argument with someone who I will call “Billy Bob” the other day. Billy Bob is a died-in-the-wool supporter of Darren Wilson and his rights to kill unarmed people if he feels threatened. Billy Bob’s main argument is that Wilson was a cop. Being a cop gave him the right to kill.
I disagree. Be that as it may, Billy Bob went one step further. He thinks that Darren Wilson, (now that he has resigned) , is going to end up in the FBI. Really. He does. So, I imagine the job interview as follows…
FBI: So, Mr Wilson, I see you have 8 years experience as a police officer. Why did you leave the force?
Wilson: I did it for the good of the community.
FBI: I see. Can you expand on that?
Wilson: Yepper. I shot and killed a bad man and people in the community got mad at me. They even tried to indict me but I beat the rap.
FBI: Well. I assume you killed this man for a reason.
Wilson: Yepper. I felt my life was in danger.
FBI: So, he drew his gun first and then you shot back in self-defense?
Wilson: Nope. He didn’t have a gun.
FBI: So, he had a knife and was coming at you and was going to stab you ?
Wilson: Nope. He didn’t have a knife.
FBI: Well, he was carrying some weapon, obviously. What did he attack you with?
Wilson: He didn’t have a weapon. But he hit me. Hard.
FBI: I see. Couldn’t you have used some self-defense techniques? Some of your training?
Wilson: Nope. I was in a car when he hit me.
FBI: You were in a car? Couldn’t you just drive a few hundred feet away and wait for backup?
Wilson: Never thought of that. But he hit me. Hard.
FBI: So, why did you shoot him?
Wilson: I feared for my life. He was big. REAL big. Made me feel like a 5 year old little boy. So I shot him. I don’t like feeling like a little boy.
FBI: So, you shot him in the leg or arm to incapacitate him ? To slow him down?
Wilson. Nope. In the head. In the body.
FBI: You shot him more than once?
Wilson: I shot AT him about 10 or 12 times. I hit him 6 times. That did the trick.
FBI: So , he was right next to you and you missed 4 or 6 shots?
Wilson: Yepper. That is why I kept shooting. DUH.
FBI: Well, Mr Wilson. The FBI prides itself on being a highly-trained, well-regulated peacekeeping force. We demand top level skills, intelligence, split-second decision-making and respect for individual rights. We do have to use force, but we train our agents to use only necessary force. I really don’t think we will be interested in interviewing you for a position.
Wilson: Did I mention that the guy was black. And very big. And scary. And that he looked like a demon ?
FBI: So. You see demons? You know what a demon looks like?
Wilson: I seen pictures of them. In demon books. And I tell you, this guy LOOKED like a demon. No joke.
FBI: I see. Thank you for coming in Mr . Wilson. And best of luck in the future.
So, Billy Bob, I don’t think the FBI will be calling on Darren Wilson to join the force anytime soon. Thank god.
News item summary: A “rancher” named Bundy has been grazing his cattle for free on federal land for 20 years. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken him to court a number of times trying to collect. The fees, by the way are incredibly cheap. The BLM charges $1.35 per animal per month. Try to feed a cow for that. (Private businesses charge $10-28 per month for the same grazing rights) But this cheat refuses to pay. And when, after 20 years and court cases the BLM finally did come to take his cattle, he called on his cowboy friends relatives to take up arms. And the BLM backed down. For now.
I am not even going to bother with whether or not this guy is legally entitled to use land that does not belong to him. The courts are clear. He doesn’t. And his claim that he does not recognize the “authority of the US government” may give him a leg to stand on in an insanity plea. But not good for much else. I prefer to focus on another aspect of the case. Cowboys and how they have changed.
Those who support Bundy with their guns and philosophy present themselves as heroes. Tough talking hombres. A couple cowpokes I saw on camera said they were ready to “give their lives”. Give their lives so a guy who Romney would describe as “wanting something for nothing” could continue to mooch off the government. OK. I guess that is worth dying for.
Or, well, maybe not give MY life, exactly, but somebody’s.
As the story unfolded a former Arizona sheriff, Richard Mack , talked to Fox News (sic) about the strategy he intended to use. I am NOT making this up. Mack said that if things heated up the Bundy faction intended to put women in front of the men. Unarmed women. To be used as shields. To take fire from the federal “rogue agents”. To be casualties. This would prove just how evil the federal government was. Can’t argue with that “reasoning”. The cowboys would hide behind a human shield. What has happened to our cowboys?
Maybe it is time to remake some of those old westerns I watched as a kid. Try this: “Shootout at the Nevada Chicken Ranch”, starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
John Wayne: Well,pardner, I see the evil Land Management Goons are coming to try to take away our grazin rights. Gonna meet em at 12 noon at the Nutcase Corral for the big shootout.”
Clint Eastwood: (spits) There’s 10 of them and only 2 of us. But I’m a willin’ to die so Uncle Buck can continue to graze his 7 herd of longhorns for free. How about you?
JW:Hmmmm…. I know a better way out of this mess. How many womenfolk do you have?
CE: Well, there’s my wife, Lilly Sue and daughter, Rosey Sue and the baby. Aunt Gertrude and my niece Mandy Sue. That’s it.
JW: Well, lemmee see. I have my sister Honey Sue and she has 4 little uns, Sue Sue, Gunna Sue, Wanna Sue and Lets Sue. There is my Aunt Nelly and Aunt Kate. Oh…don’t forget Granny Grumplin. If we can git her started in her walker she’ll be fine. Hardly ever falls over. We can prop her up if needs be.
CE: Well,what’s yer plan?
JW: Here it is, pardner. We’ll git all those womenfolk down there and stand them up between us and the feds. Then, when the shootin starts we’ll have good cover. Reminds me, how about the Pork Belly twins? Seen them around?
CE: I…I…don’t know, pardner. That jest don’t seem right. To use the womenfolk like that. It ain’t manly. It ain’t the cowboy way. It’s kind of cowardly, ain’t it?
JW: Aw, go on pardner.Times are changin. This is a deadly situation. And you know what they always say. If there’s trouble it’s always “women and children first”.
I confess that I spent much of my early life in the basement classrooms run by Catholic nuns. 60 kids in a class. One nun. Order was maintained by a combination of physical and mental coercion that would leave Dick Cheney screaming for the ACLU to intervene. Made the CIA look like a marshmallow convention. Nevertheless, order WAS maintained.
One of the nuns, Sister Crossmetwiceandyourdead, was especially adept at the verbal barb. And when the third grade boys in the back of the room (never me, of course) were getting rambunctious she would utter one of her favorite jibes: Empty Tin Cans Make the Most Noise.
Which brings me to the Tea Party Republicans.
We have witnessed, over the last 4 years, a regular, strident, loud and nasty noise from these folks. Unrelenting. Untrue, yes. But the noise is still the noise.
And just like the noise from the ill mannered third graders interfered with any orderly, sensible discussion in class, so the noise from these third party Tea Party supporters is meant to do the same for sensible, honest, political debate.
After all, it is not the “noise” of folks trying to bring about some positive change or supporting making things better. It is not the positive noise of cheering on your team at the ballpark. It is the boos and catcalls and whistles of the few post-adolescent boys in the bleachers who have had too much to drink. It is noise without purpose except to confuse and irritate. Signifying nothing. Just loud.
BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI. They chant this mantra as though it has some deep, philosophical or factual underpinnings. So, the GOP Congress investigates Benghazi. A tragedy. They collect evidence. Indict no one. But the noise continues.As though a tragedy is reason enough to make noise. BENGHAZI.
OBAMA HATES AMERICA. OBAMA IS A MUSLIM. OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST. The noise. The labels. No evidence. No basis in fact. But, just as my little classmates enjoyed doing anything but the hard work of school, (after all they WERE 3rd grade boys) so these adult Tea PArty chanters enjoy the sound of their own chanting. Easier than facing facts. Easier than doing the work. OBAMA IS EVIL.
OBAMACARE IS BAD. OBAMACARE IS BAD. The empty tin cans. They bang. They clang. They deafen meaningful discussion. They evade specifics. Always. Evade specifics. It’s just ..bang…clang…bad….bang..clang…OBAMACARE IS BAD.
OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS. OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS. And yet. No guns are taken away. Nor bullets. I just double checked my closet. Gun still there. Bullets still there. The tin cans clang. Deafening. Drowning out sensible debate while 35,000 Americans die each year. The empty tin cans even drown out the sounds of children screaming in Sandy Hook Elementary. OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS.
After a few years the empty tin cans in my school moved on. They grew up. They did what they needed to do, even if they didn’t like it. Maybe they realized that their senseless noise wasn’t amusing anymore. Maybe they wanted to participate in positive ways. Maybe they just got tired of their own banging and clanging. I know the rest of us did. Or maybe they deafened themselves.
So, Sister Crossmetwiceandyourdead, I guess you were right. The empty tin can noisemakers were very loud and very forceful. But, in the end, their noise dissipated. They grew up. Let’s hope the current Empty Tin Cans are able to do the same.