Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sorry, Not Sorry

I've been thinking about this a lot, and fully expect some of you to be unhappy when you run across it. So do what you have to do; unfriend me on Facebook or say rude things in the comments or unfollow my silly ass on Twitter or chant and wave incense. Whatever blows your hair back.

It's this. I am tired of hearing about how horrible this country is and how dreadfully the US has treated its citizens and others over time. Yep, we have a checkered history, and things haven't always been wonderful for a whole lot of people, but for the most part, the blame claiming and victimization pointing begins at least a generation or more back from where we are now; in most cases, a great deal longer than that. And the thing is, we can't change a note of it. It's done. It is what it is. And for that reason, because it cannot be changed, I frankly do not care who you are or what your family's backstory is, and I'm really not interested in hearing about the trials and tribulations that your grandparents, parents, or neighbors have gone through. In the greater scheme of existence, it simply doesn't have a lot of relevance to anyone who is currently drawing breath. Because if you go back far enough, everyone can absolutely find something to use as an excuse to be horrible to other people. So rather than play tit for tat, let's just stipulate that life is NOT FAIR and get on with it,

Because here's the thing: If you spend your time trying to MAKE life fair or chant, march, and inveigh against the people who have managed to hurt your precious feels, you will waste both your life and your time. Seriously. Get on with whatever it is that you want to do with your life and stop worrying about someone else's opinion, because the only way someone can hurt your precious feelings is if you allow them that privilege inside of your own head.

We can change today. We can change RIGHT NOW. The past is what the past is, but the future can be what we choose to make of it. But the first step, the essential first step, is that we have to be willing to forgive the events of the past and stop using them to justify our own behavior today. We have to be willing to let go, let stuff slide, and move on with our lives, trusting that others are doing the same. And if we can manage that, even a little, the world will be a much better place.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ok. The Cure For Gun Violence: What Do You Have?

Over the past couple of days, I've watched our president call out gun owners and 2nd Amendment advocates for getting in the way of "sensible" gun laws, notwithstanding the fact that the sorts of laws he talks about and the sort that are commonly mooted usually would have had NO effect on the ability of shooters to procure guns for their purpose. I have run across a plethora of others, online and elsewhere, who have called us out as a society on how hideously we treat our citizens, the mentally healthy and otherwise, and how well other countries treat their own, suggesting that this sort of thing doesn't happen elsewhere, neatly forgetting the horrible massacre in Norway and the recent killings in Australia. I have also noticed the sense of smug superiority and condescension from the "we have to do something" crowd toward anyone who points out the complications.
Walk me through this. There is the "too many guns" argument. We have some 300 to 350 million guns presently within the bounds of the United States, and we have a 2nd Amendment that (however you want to parse it) has been interpreted to allow for private ownership. The courts have struck down gun controls in Washington, DC, Chicago and the like, and have placed strictures on the sorts of actions the states, cities, and the federal government can take to "solve" this problem. Far too many people are willing to call out responsible gun owners and other people of reasonable character who, generally, disagree with them about gun control and, probably, everything else, suggesting that if they just get out of the way, the problem can be solved. But consider: in a country of over 300 million people, where there are more than enough guns to outfit every man, woman, and child, actual statistics on violent acts like Sandy Hook, Umpqua and the like reflect a vanishingly small likelihood of occurrence. And yet they continue to happen every so often to the same sorts of reactions.
Then there's the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument. Part of the issue is that violent people who want to kill people will find a way, guns or no guns, like Timothy McVeigh and, quite likely, the recent Charleston shooter. But for the most part, shooters have been mentally disturbed and seeking to take out their aggressions and their failures on others. And in the face of that sort of problem, we have fallen amazingly short of any reasonable response. A significant part of the difficulty is that we chose, in the 1960s, to de-institutionalize the mentally ill and offer them pills and panaceas instead of concerted care. As far back as 1984, the New York Times was noting that part of the price of de-institutionalization was a ramping up of state resources to take care of the mentally ill through out patient clinics and the like. And to be blunt, this did not happen. For example, the Virginia Tech shooter was repeatedly brought to the attention of authorities for being mentally ill, and yet legally got guns and managed his attack with frightening ease. (One of the loopholes in how he acquired guns was closed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System - NICS.) But nevertheless, the problem of the mentally ill going untreated and getting their hands on weapons persists.
So, with these two issues in juxtaposition, I ask you this: what do you propose? Do you actually have an idea of how to solve this problem, or will you simply slander everyone who disagrees with you and your more comprehensive view of government by slyly suggesting that they are perfectly fine with seeing periodic gun violence as the price of gun ownership? I will admire to see honest responses.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kill the Iran Deal

The Democrats do not want to have a definitive up and down vote on the Iran Agreement for a number of reasons in my estimation, but primarily because they don't mind the president owning it but they don't want the party (or their re-election chances) to be hoist upon that particular petard. Every recent poll that I have seen suggests that the American people do not like this agreement, and the more they know about it, the worse they think of it. It would not just be tragic to let the Democrats filibuster the issue to dispose of it; it would be nothing short of irresponsible...if not criminal.

Senator Reid set precedent by moving to remove presidential appointments and lower judges from the strictures of the filibuster. While those are important enough offices under normal circumstances, perhaps, to merit such an exception, I would assert that NOTHING is more important to the long term health and survivability of this nation that the ability to consider, evaluate, decide, and vote on foreign policy. I am still incensed that this "agreement" is not being held to the standard of a treaty (requiring 2/3rds majority to pass, as opposed to 1/3 minority to sustain a veto), but that is a conversation for another day.

My suggestion and hope is that Republican Senators reverse course here and take their responsibility to advise and consent as seriously as this agreement deserves, and (at the very least) exempt foreign policy questions such as this from the filibuster. The Democrats will scream, but again, what is more important than foreign policy...particularly if you get it WRONG?

My suggestion? The GOP should kill the filibuster on foreign policy agreements. Make the Democrats vote up or down on the merits and then make them own their votes, like they had to with Obamacare. This is too important to let Senator Reid yank it off of the table with a filibuster, and I believe that the threat of doing this, through back channels (if necessary) might be enough to back him off. I sincerely hope that the majority will at least think this over. As I note, this is simply too important in the long run, both for the region and for our credibility abroad.