Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's time to talk about guns

"Oh no, not again."

That was the headline for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, but it could have served just as well for the mass murder at Virginia Tech. Another disturbed young man with easy access to guns and another list of dead students - how many times are we going to watch and grieve before we do something?

It looks like it'll be quite a few.  The Democrats are triangulating and avoiding to keep from giving the Republicans an issue to run on that takes away attention from their Bush war.  The Republicans are clucking appropriately but are playing to their base, well demonstrated by GW being sure to mention that "we still support the right to keep and bear arms" barely before he could get out what a tragedy this all is.

The discussions range from the outlandish (Why weren't the students armed too?) to the usual "why weren't the laws we have enforced?"  The police on the scene answered the first one - if there had been armed students roaming the halls of that university during and after the shootings, the body count could have been much higher.  The police said the last thing anyone would want is them shooting an innocent student carrying a handgun, thinking they were one of the school shooters.

The second one is always a joy - when it's asked why aren't the "laws on the books" enforced when it comes to guns, I have to ask:  OK, which ones?  Washington D.C. and New York City's laws?  Or maybe Virginia itself, where it was that the shooter with a history of mental illness was able to walk out of a gun store with the two weapons he used at VT on the same day after just a 20 minute "background check" that failed to include that illness?  How about Hawaii's gun laws?  Montana's?  Utah's?  How about enforcing Concealed Carry laws, how would that have stopped what happened?  Then there's the law that says you go to jail after you use a gun in a crime - what did that one prevent?

There lies the problem.  Our gun laws are so varied, patchwork and contradictory that nationally they may just as well not exist.  They can vary and cancel out just by crossing another city limits, county or state line.  What good is a gun ban in the District of Columbia if a short drive to another state lets you buy as many guns as you want? 

What we need to do is this:  decide on gun policy then make it a national law.  If it's licensing gun owners, then license every single one in the United States.  If it's everybody should be packing, then make it everyone has to be armed to the teeth.  And yes, it is the guns.  Putting tighter controls on guns won't make the threat of violence go away completely, but it will make the death toll decrease.  The killer in Virginia would probably still have lost it and killed people, but it wouldn't have been so many in such a short period of time if he'd been the "knifeman" and not the "gunman".

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not hunt and have never owned any kind of gun so the allure of them escapes me.   Sure, I played "cowboy" and "war" as a little kid but as the old saying goes, when I stopped being a child I put away childish things.  I never fired a weapon when I was in the military and have never heard "a shot fired in anger" either.  So, guns just don't have the draw on me that they do on others and my opinions on the matter no doubt reflect that.

I do see that we have a choice here.  We can do something daring and make some people have to go through some admittedly inconvenient hoops to get a gun so that people who shouldn't have them don't.  Or we can do what we usually do:  grieve the dead, console the living and not much else.  Then we can do what we usually do as well:  pray that it never happens again while we wait for it and hope.

That's a sure way to clear the path for the next Columbine, Virginia Tech or something more local and personal.  It'll be along presently.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Republicans still matter?

There's a meme going among the denizens of the conservative mainstream media (not unsurprisingly) and even among the genuine liberal media that's getting very annoying.  It goes something like this: 

See?  The Republicans want us out of Iraq too!

See?  The Republicans want Gonzales out too!

And on and on and on.

We won the election last year and the argument well before that, but here we are, still acting like the opinions that matter are those of the right and the Republicans.  Hey, those guys are the minority!  Who cares that now, out of a desperate desire for self-preservation, the cons want to look like they've had their road to Damascus moment and are now on the side of good?  It's still a game of false fronts and misdirection.

Some Republican voters are against the war now and think we should get out?  Sure they are, as they decide which one of the "I'll keep the war going until we win!" candidates they'll support in '08.  Some Republican congresspeople now think Bush is doing a bad job and isn't a real conservative?  Gee, you sure weren't saying any of that when Bush's approval numbers were higher and you were all voting with him 90+% of the time. 

Here's the bottom line:  THEY LOST, WE WON.  We need to remind them of this hourly as they continue to be treated and act like they still control everything.  Don't tell me what Mitch McConnell thinks of the latest Democratic bill - he lost the Senate and only matters as to what he will do to stop it.  I don't care what the Republican House leaders think about Iraq - they lost the House by 30 seats and are irrelevant.  Let's see the Democratic leaders on TV - they WON and what they have to say does matter, even if Lame Duck Bush still gets to infest the White House for less than two years.

The majority of Americans agree with us on the war, on domestic issues, and for the first time sinceBush used the 9/11 attacks as political fodder they identify with the Democratic Party more than the Republican.  We don't need the Republicans' approval anymore, so enough with the "The Republicans are with us too!" nonsense.

WE ARE THE MAINSTREAM.  It's about time we started acting like it.



Sunday, April 1, 2007

If we won, why am I still so pissed off?

Since this blog is just me and a few others (God Bless the 30 of you who've been here!), is it just me or are you feeling just as angry as you ever have?

I mean, we won! We won!  Things are supposed to get better now!  It's getting there, at least on the level of good things are getting passed even if they do end up dead in the Senate or vetoed.  I'm pretty much a half a loaf is better than none kind of guy but this is like putting a candle on a box of cake mix and saying 'Happy Birthday!'

I think what is getting my goat is twofold:  first, the Republicans are acting like they're still in charge and you'd be hardpressed to prove otherwise the way the Democrats are acting. C'mon, Dems - I know we're pretty nice people and want to treat others the way we want to be treated, but it's past time to understand that this is a one-way affair.  Mario Cuomo said the Republicans were nasty people doing nasty things a few years back and he's still right.  We need to stop laying down and writing welcome on our faces - the nasty right is still stepping on us and we need to start stomping back!  We are now LARGE AND IN CHARGE - start acting like it, damn it!

The second part of this is that, besides the GOPers trying to act like it's their ball, they still seem to be getting away with it.  Iraq, LawyerGate, WalterReedGate, on and on and on.  The 'news' tell us it's no big deal - this only deals with national security and little things like the rule of law.  It's not like it's sex or anything! Face it -  'the news' are still sucking up to the right.  Turn off your TV and turn on your computer - that's about the only place you can get informed nowadays.  I get more news about America from foreign newspapers than I get all day on CNN.

How about the 'getting away with it' bit?  How about starting some damn impeachments and taking these asses out of office?  To paraphrase Republican Spokeswoman Ann Coulter, it's time to warm up the courts and letting these wimpy, hire-someone-to-do-the-real-work rightwing "tough guys" know that they just can't do whatever they want without consequence.  They can be busted and jailed just like the corner meth addict.

TortureBoy Gonzalez would be a nice start, and then when the Democrats learn that the world didn't end when they got tough maybe we can go after the real crooks in this administration - all the way to the oil men emptying the Treasury from the White House.