My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

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Guns and People

We have reached what must be the apex of the mass-shooting scale – a gunman firing from a prepared, elevated position into a crowd of people.   Utilizing weapons modified to, more or less, fire as though they were fully automatic.  Really, to one up that the next guy is going to have to use a belt-fed machine gun.  I guess he could cheat and use a second shooter.  That would be effective.  Firing at right angles would probably be the best.

Do I sound jaded?  caustic?  Do I not mourn the dead and pray for the injured?  Of course I do.  I hope they all recover but, friends, this is the country we've chosen.  There can't be a fundraiser, moral outrage and national mourning every time this happens.  I mean, didn't we cross that line when a crazy man shot up an elementary school?  If there was a time when our leaders were going to take clear action, it seems like it would have been then.

It just isn't intellectually honest for us to mope around when this happens.  We, as a nation, long ago shrugged our collective shoulders and chose to do nothing.  This is the reality we have selected.  

Seriously, if everyone in that crowd would have had a pistol….well….the entire side of the Mandalay Bay would have riddled with bullets and the body count would have been four times higher.  The notion that a guy with a pistol is the answer has been put to bed several times.  Yes, every now and then an armed civilian stops some nuttiness and I've no fight with that but, time and again, a guy with a semi-automatic rifle wins that argument.  In the Florida night club shooting the first responders had to initially retreat as they were outgunned.  

Did you know that only 22% of Americans own guns?  That number stuns me.

I'm conflicted about the thing.  On the one hand, I own a bunch of guns.  Most of them lay around gathering dust but a couple I do shoot regularly.  I enjoy shooting and having a gun to defend your house and family with is no bad thing.  If I'm being honest, my go-to gun is my 9mm.  I train with it.  I can operate it in complete darkness – and nearly silently.  The "big dog" is the M4 but that thing is a handful to shoot and, in a house, a bit unwieldy.  That's the same gun that has been used in many of the mass-casualty shootings.  It's ridiculously powerful.  An average handgun is cute and cuddly compared to most rifles – a rifle round will carry about 3 times as much energy as your average handgun – and the bullet used by the M4 is designed to cause wounds that belie its small size.  In fact, adjustments have been made to that bullet over the years to make the wounds worse.  That's alot of power for just anyone on the street to carry around.

And yet we have this Second Amendment thing.  My more left-leaning friends will decry that what republicans secretly want is for "everyone to have a nuclear weapon".  The republicans will point out that gun control doesn't work in Chicago and we'll be back to crazy people murdering dozens of our fellow citizens.  The "gun control doesn't work in <insert city here>" argument is ridiculous.  Of course it doesn't work – you can buy all the guns you want pretty much everywhere else in the United States.  In New York they found that so many of the guns used in crimes were purchased in Virginia that they shamed VA into passing the one gun a month law…..that was later repealed.  

I don't know what the answer is but I do know it includes a reasoned discussion and debate amongst the country's leadership.  Why can't that happen?  Why do none of our leaders have the stones to pick up the phone and call the leaders from the other party and make something happen?  On gun control.  or the budget. or health care.  or deficit reduction.  or education……funny, now that I put it like that it seems pretty clear what our problems are: we have lousy, weak leaders who care about one thing – getting reelected so they can stay on the gravy train in Congress.  It's at least a little ironic the only person to have actually done this is Mr. Trump.  Yeah, didn't see that coming.  Maybe he'll do it again.  I could get past his idiotic tweeting if he obtained some results.

I mean, outlawing bump stocks seems like the lowest-hanging fruit in history….

It’s time for a change

I am, probably more than most, a creature of habit.  Routine keeps me on the path.  If I fall off the path, I'm in the weeds and it is hard to get back on.  I find unstructured situations exhausting so I avoid them completely.  This drives Sarah nuts but it's what I do.

My morning routine has been the same for the past umpteen years: I read three papers most every morning and watch either CNN, MSNBC, CNBC or FOX while I eat breakfast (also the same thing every morning with minor variations).  No, I don't read every word of those papers but I dig into what I find interesting or useful.  The TV channels…..well, I do enjoy "Morning Joe" but it isn't nearly as good as it used to be.  Seems like they used to include the occasional conservative back in the day but not anymore.  If you flip from MSNBC to Fox, you'll wonder if you're in the same world as the coverage is so disconnected.  CNN has exactly one guy I like – Jake Tapper.  He's a hard-nosed dude and one of the better interviewers around right now.  I don't read many of the political websites and I honestly had never been to Breitbart until I saw Steve Bannons caricature on SNL.  Breitbart advances a pretty curious worldview that seems to be designed to make them money more than anything else….outrage sells.  Drudge, whatever.  Politico or realclearpolitics….yawn. 

I don't write all of that to demonstrate that I'm some sort of superior, well-informed super-human.  No, it's more to catalog for myself how much of this I digest.  It is a lot.  And lately it is all about Trump.  To the folks on the left, every tweet is an impeachable offense.  From the right comes some sort of hand-waving defense and a reference to Hillary's emails.  No, I watched all of this dreck in order to maintain an informed mind and insight into what's happening but I've come to a conclusion:

It ain't worth it.  I'm filling my brain with completely useless crap.

You know what's hurting our country?  MSNBC, FOX, Breitbart and all their ilk, left and right.  These people are simply merchants in outrage mining the fringes of our differences for their own profit…..with the bonus opportunity to report on the divisions they generate.  So I'm done.  No more morning TV.  Yes, I'll read my three papers every morning.  The New York Times has the best food section of anyone and, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a fat guy.  The Journal covers the markets and posses a decent editorial page so I'll read that.  The Washington Post reports on local stuff and has "Washington stories" – you know, about the City, not the politics – so I'll read that.  But that's it.

It'll be an interesting thing to try.  I'll have an additional free hour in the morning and I don't know what I'm going to do with myself.  Maybe I'll write more or just go to work earlier.  I like to do both of those things….and a lot more than watching the endless coverage of the idiots in Washington.  About the only conclusion that I've reached after watching endless rivers of this stuff is that if you view the results of the past 4 national elections through the lens of the public wanting results then those elections make a lot more sense….and it makes the Republicans failure to address big ticket items truley perilous going forward….the people might just decide they're sick of it all…..hopefully it'll be in the paper.

 

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