Posts Tagged With: Sarah Palin

GUNS AND BIBLES

Barbra Streisand, when she used to sing for a living instead of making crappy movies, had a hit record whose lyrics went something as follows: “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage; you can’t have one without the other.” Well, it seems to me that what also goes together like a horse and carriage, are guns and bibles. (Leave aside, for the moment, that one will rarely, if ever, come into contact with a horse and carriage in this day and age.) I have always puzzled over the fact that a huge portion of the religiously fundamental populace also has an overwhelming affinity to arm themselves to the teeth, usually with racks of handguns and rifles. I guess it all stems from that passage in the New Testament which describes how Jesus carried an AK-47 with him when he went to deliver the sermon on the mount. Just in case some unruly ruffians in the crowd had got out of hand. But I suspect that the religiously pious among us, arm themselves for much the same reason that they pray to God. They fear if they didn’t pray, and show due homage, God would crush them like a bug. And in the case of guns, they also let the full spectrum of delusion and paranoia take firm hold. After all, if they weren’t armed, criminals are just waiting out there in the streets to break into their houses and rob them blind, and then shoot them for good measure. Or worse, the big, bad Government can hardly wait to disarm them, and then ship them off to concentration camps for being troublemakers. Thus, when so much discourse is spilling forth these days on gun control and second amendment rights, I thought it would be useful to look at the facts, and reality as it actually exists.

The rate of homicides by guns in this country, according to the latest statistics, is 3.6 people per one hundred-thousand population. (And maybe, if that six-tenths of a person fully grew up, he or she could have also avoided homicide.) Do the math. That’s an incredibly low percentage, especially in a country where guns flow like the River Ganges. In countries that have strict gun control laws, like Britain or Australia, the rate of homicide is less than one person per one-hundred thousand population. Also keep in mind that certain types of human behavior increase or decrease the risk of being gunned down. If you decide that criminal enterprise will be your field of endeavor, of course, you will likely increase the risk of untimely death. So will borrowing money from the Mafia and not being able to pay it back, or frequently interacting with drug cartels. On the other hand, if you’re like most middle-class or affluent Americans, and live in mostly safe neighborhoods, your risk of homicide probably drops to less than one in a hundred-thousand. In fact, the rate of suicide by gun, is almost double the rate of homicides. Obviously, the easy availability of guns makes it so much easier to succeed if one is harboring suicidal thoughts.

Of course, none of these statistics are of any comfort to grieving loved ones, when random lunatics go on a shooting spree and murder scores of people. As they did in Columbine, and Arizona (the Gabby Giffords shooting), and Colorado, and most recently in Connecticut. And, of course, it’s these incidents that have resulted in calls for greater gun control, and correspondingly, for vociferous opposition from the National Rifle Association and other like-minded gun advocates to any form of gun restriction. They cite the second amendment as giving everyone the right to bear arms. But no rights are absolute. The first amendment gives us the right of free speech. But as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes noted decades ago, this doesn’t include the right to cry “fire” in a crowded movie theater, when, in fact, there is no fire. Also try verbally plotting to kill your annoying next door neighbor and see how fast that will land you in the clink when the plot is discovered. The right to bear arms doesn’t mean I can acquire and roll down the street in a Sherman tank, or put surface-to-air missiles on my front lawn. Ted Nugent, a so-called rock singer who was washed up by the late 1980s, likes to publish pieces saying that the Government “will have to pry my gun from my cold, dead fingers” if it tries to dis-arm him. He likes to show how macho he is by blowing the heads off defenseless animals when he’s out hunting. Kind of reminds me of the images in the 2008 campaign, of Sarah Palin shooting defenseless animals from a helicopter in Alaska. So between the fierce opposition from millions of hunters and gun rights advocates, and organizations like the NRA, don’t hold your breath waiting for meaningful gun control laws to be enacted anytime soon. The GOP, realizing that “thars gold in them thar hills” in the form of millions of supporters and voters opposing any type of gun control, has always taken an anti-control stance. Since Republicans control the House, I can’t see needed-legislation being enacted.

My own point of view is that no one should posses firearms except the military and the police. Anyone else having a gun should be subject to a mandatory 10 year prison sentence. Being a realist, however, I know that’s never going to happen in my life-time. Some countries like Australia have come close to that, and have seen dramatic plunges in the rates of both homicides and suicides. But it’s way too rational for it to become a reality in the U.S. As I’ve written before- violence is as American as cherry pie. (Not my wording, but a concept I agree with.) We have a long history of having a gun mentality which has grown into a gun fetish. It has coarsened our society, and who we are as a people. And as long as anyone, even a lunatic, can walk into Wal-Mart and buy all the guns and ammo he needs to carry out a murderous rampage, we can probably expect more tragedies like the one we all just experienced in Connecticut.

 

 

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MORE AFTERTHOUGHTS

I know that some of you, upon reading the title, are shouting out-“Enough with the election, already. It’s coming out of my ears.” But I believe there are certain metaphysical and existential implications which haven’t been explored, but which greatly influenced the outcome. So if you’ll bear with me one more time, we’ll do a little exploring in those areas.

To recap what I wrote previously, Obama went into the campaign with one of the worst records an incumbent seeking reelection could have. High unemployment, an economy that was almost on life support, oceans of red ink due to huge budget deficits, and a weak foreign policy were just a few of the negatives on the top 10 list of reasons to not reelect him. In addition, Obama’s opponent was lucid, an excellent speaker, and looked presidential. But Romney was was also saddled down with a glaring set of negatives, not the least of which was being tied to the very large evangelical wing of the Republican party. If Romney was to curry favor with these religious fanatics, as he believed he had to, it basically meant owning a campaign that would be dissing minorities, especially Hispanics because of vehement anti-immigrant policies; women because of anti-abortion and anti-birth control policies; and the gay community because of the GOP’s basic homophobic fears. In addition, there was that core values thingy, where Romney was for universal health-care before he was against it, for legalized abortion rights before he was against them, for gun control before he was against it, etc. etc. I guess the GOP believed that most voters have short memories as well as attention spans, which is probably true.

So there you had it; 2 candidates that turned out to be the abysmal and the the abysmaler. ( Don’t bother telling me that’s not a word.) The choice came down to picking the least abysmal contender. On some level the public understood that, and early polls showed the race was essentially tied. Then came the Democratic convention around Labor Day, and Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech on Obama’s behalf, which led to a bump in the poll numbers for the incumbent. Clinton who now goes around with a permanent halo over his head, (where’s Monica Lewinski when you need her) probably had more to do with Obama’s reelection than anyone else. In any event, Obama maintained a small lead going into the first presidential debate in October. Possibly because of that, Obama decided it was siesta time instead of debate time, while Romney came on like gangbusters. Democrats and Obama supporters in general, were beside themselves in anguish, believing that the President had forfeited the election with his anemic performance. Overnight the polls began shifting in Romney’s favor and continued is his upward trajectory. Obama tried to recoup in the next 2 debates but the damage was already done. It seemed like victory was within Romney’s grasp. And then, as if by magic, the metaphysical factor kicked in.

Days after the official end of the hurricane season, which is October 31st, a powerful storm named Sandy, after killing several hundred people in the Caribbean, came barreling up the East Coast. It smashed into the New York-New Jersey area causing well over 100 deaths, and massive devastation and destruction. Some people, even now, are without power. With about a week to go before the election, Sandy gave the President an opportunity to act…..presidential. Obama took the day off from campaigning and went to New Jersey, met with Republican governor Chris Christie, and pledged all available Government assistance to helped the people affected by this tragedy. Christie put his arm around the Obama, thanked him profusely, and was generous in his praise of the President. It should be noted that Chris Christie is one of the shining new stars in the Republican party. Earlier this year, even the grand duchess of right-wing whackoville, none other than Ann Coulter herself, had endorsed Christie for president and pushed for his nomination. Now here he was making kind remarks about Obama.

The next day, Republicans across the nation were outraged by the Governor’s kind words. They called in to talk radio, went on TV, etc. to express their apoplexy over Christie actually being civil to the President of the United States. Didn’t he know that when it came to Obama, it was every Republican’s mission to bash and demonize him? Being civil? How un-Republican was that? Christie, who is still working 24/7 in recovery efforts for the people of New Jersey, as far as Republicans were concerned, went from star status to the dog house. But the chance to act presidential was therapeutic for Obama. Romney’s momentum in the polls was stopped and Obama’s fortunes began to rise. The rest, as they say at Yankee Stadium, is history. ┬áPolls taken of voters after the Obama victory, found that 42% stated that Obama’s presidential appearance with Governor Christie the day after Sandy struck, was a significant factor in making their voting choice. It was as if the universe was giving the middle finger to Romney, who until then, had led such a charmed and privileged life.

It should be noted, however, that being on the winning side of an election is a lot like being in the home town of the winning team of the world series or supper bowl. There is great euphoria the night of the victory, singing and dancing, and parades and celebrations for a few days after that. Then reality sets in with full force. You still have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, and get stuck in rush hour traffic as you schlep your way into the office. The screaming little ones in your family have to get fed, the chores have to be done, the house has to be cleaned, food shopping is necessary, bills have to be paid, and your rotten-to-the-core teenager will continually remind you of how clueless you are as to what really matters in this world. People will get sick, some will die, and babies will be born. For almost everyone, the rhythms and patterns of their lives will continue unchanged no matter who is elected. In the end, most people will come to realize that their successes or failures, their joys or sorrows, and the end results of the lives they lead, will depend almost totally on the nature of their actions, or inactions as the case may be.

One last thing. The Senate race in Massachusetts resulted in the election of a woman named Elizabeth Warren. For those of you unfamiliar with her background, she was a Harvard professor who President Obama picked as the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. For the dying breed of true blue liberals in this country, she is considered a rock star. Except for Barack Obama in 2008, no one has been hailed as the true defender of the liberal faith since Bobby Kennedy, before was shot and killed in 1968, the way Elizabeth Warren is being hailed today by liberal followers. She is already considered as a powerful candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2016. (Don’t, for a moment, think that the race for 2016 didn’t start on November 7th, the day after the election.) In any event, wouldn’t it be neat, if the choice in 2016 came down to Elizabeth Warren for the Democrats, and Sarah Palin for the Republicans. Now that would be a race worth writing about.

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