Who’s At Fault? Here’s Who.

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — A former student opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at a Florida high school Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and sending scores of students fleeing into the streets in the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

—Associated Press, 2/14/2018

If you voted for Republicans—or a few Democrats—who have taken money from the NRA and other gun rights absolutists, you have the blood of high school students on your hands tonight.

If you voted for Ted Cruz ($360,727 from gun rights groups in 2016) or Marco Rubio ($176,030) or Paul Ryan ($171,977) or Roy Blunt ($49,430) or, God forbid, if you voted for Tr-mp (the NRA alone spent $30 million to support him in 2016), you are partially at fault for today’s mass murder.

To be sure, you didn’t directly enable the psychopath or sociopath who plotted to kill today, but you indirectly armed and enabled him and other recent killers like him. You are part of a system that makes such atrocities not only possible, but now routine, in this sick, sick country.

And I don’t give a damn if this accusation pisses you off. I don’t care if you are offended. Your fatigued and feckless “thoughts and prayers” are dangerous weapons precisely because they are fatigued and feckless weapons. They are diversions from the truth.

The truth is that your perennial votes for politicians who make it easy for dangerously troubled people to get assault weapons in their hands—weapons of war that kill scores of innocent people—are to blame. The blood of innocents flows from the ballot box where you make peace with the devilish system you vote for when you vote for Tr-mp and Cruz and Rubio and Blunt and others like them. Your reliable votes make possible much of the carnage we see. Your votes.

You can’t put this on your neighbor. You can’t pin this on me. You can’t blame mental illness. You can’t fault the schools. You can’t indict anyone but yourself. You can’t simply call this “pure evil” as Governor Rick Scott did tonight or offer meaningless ex post facto prayers and move on and say we’ll talk about this stain on civilization at a later date. You can’t say, as Florida’s corrupt Attorney General Pam Bondi said, that you will pay for the victims’ funerals and then think you’ve washed away the blood and guilt.

No. You can’t escape so easily.

You will go to bed tonight with at least some of the responsibility for the awful, awful horror that happened today. You will sleep beside that reality, knowing that the blood of kids and their protectors is there with you on your pillow, as if these latest murders were committed right there in your bed. That blood will be there when you get up. It will be there when you shower for work or pick up your morning paper from the lawn or login on your computer.

And it will be there when Sunday comes. It will be there when you get prepared to pretend to worship your God of Love who you think gives a damn about Second Amendment absolutism. It will be there when you next see your living kids or grandkids or your friends’ living kids or grandkids or your neighbors’ living kids or grandkids or your co-workers’ living kids or grandkids. The blood of dead high schoolers in Florida and those charged with their care will be as close to you as your soft, soft pillow, in that quiet time before you sleep the sleep of the guilty. And that blood will be there so long as you refuse to repent of your electoral sins.

I, for one, am tired of making excuses for your ignorance or stupidity. I am tired of rationalizing your disturbed and disturbing mind that has been poisoned by NRA propaganda and the conservative media establishment that amplifies it. At some point you have to quit enabling the devilish system and the blood it spills or be willing to embrace and live with the dreadful truth that it spills that blood in your name.

 

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32 Comments

  1. Ben Field

     /  February 14, 2018

    Duane,

    A “Jimmy Kimmel” writer compiled a much higher cumulative total for these assholes than you did. Everyone of them that tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” were ridiculed with her response. Somehow, the bankruptcy pleadings of Remington Firearms, Smith & Wesson under the GOP watch is not comforting, when there are more firearms in the US than people.

    https://apple.news/AWIKy5WQmTFqlnqmiPQwYsg

    https://www.npr.org/2016/01/05/462017461/guns-in-america-by-the-numbers

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    • Ben,

      There are various numbers out there in terms of contribution amounts. I chose the direct contributions to the legislative candidates. Others have chosen a broader definition of campaign contributions (indirect, as through PACS, for instance) like I did for Tr-mp, which was easier to nail down than, say, for someone like Roy Blunt. 

      As for the number of guns in the country, I suppose there is some tiny bit of good news in the fact that there is a lot of hording of guns and ammo by a select group of Americans, the overwhelming majority of whom will never commit a heinous act of violence with them. There are folks who literally believed Obama was coming for their guns and bullets and stocked up on both, much to the delight of the gun manufacturers. I am sure this latest mass murder will also drive more gun sales, particularly for AR-15 and similar killing machines. That in itself is sick, but it is just part of a larger cultural sickness.

      I own two guns myself (gifts from a dying friend). I am not opposed to anyone possessing legitimate hunting weapons or self-defense handguns in their home. Doing so is a tradition in this country that cannot be ignored or outlawed, even if there were a consensus to obliterate that tradition. But as many have said over and over again, no one needs an assault-style weapon. I don’t really care if some people use them for “fun” by target shooting, etc. Their pleasure isn’t worth the price. Those weapons are weapons of war and on the battlefield is where they belong, not in schools. The problem is that there are too many out there and at a million and a half more each year, there is no chance of ever getting rid of those assault weapons already manufactured and sold. The best we can do on that front is to outlaw the damn things once again and wait three or four generations to reap the fruits. But we are a long way from doing anything like that, obviously.

      I realize this problem is quite complicated and involves more than banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and bump stocks, etc. It will take a comprehensive approach in order to reduce the number of mass-killing episodes and such reforms will be part of a long journey. But that journey begins with voters taking responsibility for their part in this mess, either by giving their votes to NRA-supported politicians or by not voting at all. Those of us on this side, besides voting for reformers, must hold our fellow Americans responsible for the Roy Blunts and Tr-mps and the carnage that follows from putting folks like that in office.

      Duane

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  2. Duane —
    I know how much you hated writing this. When will the craven madness end? When what passes for the current Republican Party has finally dissolved in its own putrid intestinal juices. As you said (more forcefully than I) the GOP and its mindless sheep have brought this on our country and their hopeful demise upon themselves. I’m sick of willfully stupid people.
    Trump and Ryan and McConnell couldn’t enable without the enabling of voters. Stupid voters.
    The fostering of contempt for intelligence and critical thinking gets us to this. The green lighting of bigotry gets us to this. The adulation of power and wealth ( the Kochs, Bezos, Trump) gets the votes that gets us to this. Unless 90% of Democrats and informed Independents (an oxymoron, perhaps) turn out to vote in November — turn out in numbers so vast the Russians can’t keep their boys in power — we’re screwed. Forever.

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  3. By the way — I appreciate the depth of your insight and the fine precision of your point when you don’t hold back. “Let the Force guide you, Luke.”

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    • Well said, my friend.

      You know, I actually did hate writing this piece. I thought about it all day and evening. I had put down on my phone’s note app some of the things that angered me. The next thing I knew, I was sitting at the computer.

      I don’t like being nasty to folks, particularly when some of them genuinely think they are on the right side of this or any issue. But our problems on this front are largely political problems. And voters decide who the politicians are. At some point, whether it be about mass murders or the economy or anything else that politicians have a hand in shaping, the voters have to be called out for voting for more carnage, more economic injustice, and so on.

      Like you, even though I hate admitting we’re putting all of our eggs in one electoral basket, this November is absolutely crucial, if we are ever to recover from what has happened, not just with Tr-mp, but with what has happened that led us to Tr-mp. I am not confident, as I look at the landscape. Sure, there are some good signs, but there are some bad signs, too. No small number of Americans are being fooled by the incessant reactionary propaganda (like the tax cut nonsense), and Democrats aren’t fighting back fiercely or loudly enough (like the tax cut nonsense).

      As for critical thinking, if ever there were an example of how critical critical thinking is to a healthy, functional democratic society, it is in how far we have regressed from the prior historic presidency. It remains a cold, hard fact that the race-based backlash against President Obama, manifested in that dreadful and devastating 2010 election, has really damaged our country. With more damage to come. The reaction to Obama was largely an emotional one for too many white people, whether they want to admit it or not. Tr-mp simply stoked their emotions about what they thought Obama represented, an affront to the privileges they enjoy, or think they enjoy (that’s part of the insidiousness of all this, too; so many white folks are fooled into thinking they do enjoy rank and privilege when they’re just pawns of the moneyed interests).

      In any case, this is all quite depressing (as I write, the Orange Asshole is speaking to the “children” of America and their fears, while predictably ignoring why they should be scared). I was, though, treated to a high moment last night by Chris Murphy of Connecticut and, perhaps more important, by a young man at that high school in Florida who was on TV this morning speaking more articulately and intelligently and forcefully than most politicians you will hear. His name was David Hogg and the segment he did on MSNBC was inspiring (here’s a snippet of it).

      In case you missed it, here is Murphy’s appearance with Chris Hayes last night:

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  February 15, 2018

    I have advocated extreme gun control laws for as long as I have been writing about “politics”, actually long before that time. So if I only voted a straight Dem ticket every time I voted, I would not bear any burden or responsibility for school shootings (or any other shootings), right?

    But in doing so I would be accused by at least half the population of supporting the death of millions of embryo’s each year.

    Duane, you wrote one key phrase (to me at least), “… politicians who make it easy for dangerously troubled people to get assault weapons in their hands—weapons of war that kill scores of innocent people—are to blame.”

    Who, exactly, is responsible for identifying “dangerously trouble people”, who do they tell and what action should “society” take when individuals are thus identified, by “someone”? Another point, please define the symptoms of a “dangerously troubled person”.

    Would you agree that many, many “opioid addicts” are “dangerously troubled people” who almost by definition are a real danger to themselves, at least, if not others whom they may rob, assault, kill, in the midst of their addiction, something called a “disease”. How about the sexual assault fueled by alcohol? If 25% of military women are sexually assaulted, how many of those cases (percentage) are carried out while one or both people are “under the influence” and thus may well be “dangerously troubled people” while under the influence of ……?

    I for one will support, with vigor, any legislation that will get guns “off the streets”, any and all guns carried by anyone expect law enforcement, period and a tight lid on the control of those guns. But gun control is only part of the problem, is it not. The rest of the problem is those
    “dangerously troubled people”, is it not.

    Now for FL assailant. 19 year old, adopted child, both parents dead, kicked out of school for violence, all friends left him due his being “weird”, under “treatment” for mental health but he then quits the treatment. OK, as well he had an assault weapon. Take that weapon away and THEN try to fix the rest of the issues before they explode in the face of “society”.

    He and every other school shooter that I have ever read about is and were “dangerously troubled people”. Said another way they obviously were threats to themselves and others. So how do you fix that problem, getting such people off the streets along with guns?

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      As I have said many times, there is no getting guns off the streets that are already there. And as I have said, this is a comprehensive problem and needs a comprehensive “solution.” There are many approaches out there, many of them having been aired since yesterday’s killing. But there are obvious things that can be done right now, starting with this: stop voting for politicians who are whores for the NRA and the gun lobby. (I won’t even address the ridiculous comparison of embryos with high school students; if one can’t make that distinction on one’s own, nothing I can say will matter.)

      As for “dangerously troubled people” and what to do about them, that is a thorny problem in many cases no doubt. But it is not an impossible problem to at least begin to address. The problem is that addressing it is very expensive and a) Republicans have other spending priorities like further enriching their rich friends, and b) voters don’t want to pay the increased taxes. I could go on about this part, but I won’t.

      What is true is this: Republicans will not lift a finger to do anything at all about this problem. Nothing. Not a damned thing. Even the little stuff, not to mention the necessary stuff like banning the goddamned assault weapons, is off-limits. So, I will submit to you that the first and most difficult problem is getting rid of the goddamned NRA Republicans, and, if not replacing them with Democrats, at least replacing them with Republicans who are not shills for the gun manufacturing lobby. How’s that?

      Duane

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  5. It may be of interest to recall the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral. The 2nd Amendment was adopted in 1791, and the gunfight took place in 1881. The city of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, had adopted an ordinance requiring all those entering the town to check their guns at the Marshall’s office and get them back when they left. When the 5 members of the so-called Clanton gang refused to comply, Marshal Virgil Earp, along with brothers Morgan and Wyatt, and Doc Holliday, tried to enforce the ordinance, which resulted in the gunfight.

    The wording of the 2nd Amendment then was the same as it was in 1791, and as it is now. There were other towns in the old West that had similar ordinances. To my knowledge, none were ever found to be unconstitutional.

    In fact, gun control is perfectly constitutional. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Scalia explicitly allowed for and even seemed to invite reasonable gun control, writing:

    “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…” It is “… not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

    “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

    “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

    I’ve said before that I believe the 2nd Amendment applies only to the National Guard, which replaced state militias in the early part of the 20th century. So, it’s “a well regulated National Guard . . . “ Also, to me, “arms” is a subset of “guns.” Arms are weapons of war. And that, I think, is what the founders has in mind when they wrote the Amendment — to fight the redcoats and other threats to the country.

    Finally, There is no need for a 2nd Amendment to own guns. That right is part of common law carried over from Britain. Likewise, I suppose the 9th Amendment’s guarantee of certian “unenumerated” rights would surely include the right to own guns.

    And rights carry with them the burden of responsibility as well. They are not absolute. So, the government is obligated to take whatever steps are necessary, like Tombstone did, to assure that my right to keep from being shot is superior to your right to own guns. And those who ignore this responsibility do so at their own peril. Just ask the Clanton gang.

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    • Nice summary of the issue, Herb, especially citing Scalia. It was clear in his opinion that he had a relatively restricted view of a person’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but, alas, that view is long, long gone now from conservative thinking. The nuts are in charge now.

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  6. Ben Field

     /  February 15, 2018

    Well said, Herb!

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  7. Anonymous

     /  February 16, 2018

    This kid was expelled from his school and even reported to the FBI for his behavior and threat to society. People did speak up.Yet, he was able to get a weapon of war. Trump rescinded laws that make it more difficult for mentally ill to get weapons only as a slap in the face to Obama and nothing more. We have actually gone backwards since Columbine. Until the person actually squeezes the trigger, they have all the rights over us.This is complete insanity. Apparently in Florida there is a 3 day wait period for handguns, but no such requirement for an assault rifle.It is mind boggling that this is where we are after so many shootings.

    Kevin Beck

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    • The Florida gun laws, as we are finding out, are ridiculous. But only as ridiculous as Florida Republicans. “Complete insanity” is exactly right. 

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  8. ansonburlingame

     /  February 16, 2018

    Now we are having a reasonable discussion, all of “us”, this time. If only all could fully agree that “with rights come responsibilities”. If you abdicate your responsibility, you abdicate your right!!!

    So Duane, I support your call for draconian gun laws, period. I even have a 2nd Amendment argument to support my position. Americans have had the right to bear arms “in order to have a well armed militia”. Well our “militia” is very well armed today but no privately held arms are allowed or needed to do so. Therefore ………

    Herb, even you must admit that if I had to “check my guns with the Sheriff” before entering Joplin, that “rule” (law?) would be overturned quickly, right? As well, if I decided to join “Earp” in the gunfight I would be exonerated for murder with multiple “stand your ground” laws in place.

    I would add this observation. Just this morning, in our little Joplin Globe, there were at least three (small) articles about some criminals who had charges dropped against them because of lack of a witness to testify. Guns were involved in all alleged crimes and at least two of the “robbers or assaulters” were on probation for similar offenses. Three “dangerously troubled people” were not dealt with by the “law”, in one day, in Joplin courts. Oh, there was addiction involved in each case as well, long term, “untreated” addiction.

    One other point of agreement with you Duane. Outlaw every privately owned gun in America, “today”. Outlaw as well the sale of any firearm to anyone, anywhere in America today. Now how long will it take to reduce the murder rate from firearms to an “acceptable” level? What happens to the murder rate as well due to the use of different “weapons”?

    I am not trying to blow holes in your political position. Just looking at the situation “pragmatically” in terms of what will really work. Until we really address “dangerously troubled people” I am not sure how much of a dent we put into the “death by murder” problem. But I’m willing to listen to solutions, keeping that in mind.

    Opps? Is that another “strawman position”????? It is not intended as such.

    Anson

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    • Good points, Anson. Here’s a starting list of “dangerously troubled people”: Wayne Lapierre, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Roy Blount, John McCain, Richard Burr, Todd Young, Bill Cassidy, Tom Tillis, Marco Rubio, Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, Rob Portman — and to balance things out: Joe “shithead” Manchin. There are so very many others, But we just don’t have the space.

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  9. ansonburlingame

     /  February 16, 2018

    Sorry to write too much, but this needs pointing out.

    AOL NEWS (Friday, Febk 16th)

    Surveillance footage showed the Nova Middle School student placing a note under the assistant principal’s office door that read: “I will bring a gun to school to kill all of you ugly ass kids and teachers bitch. I will bring the gun Feb, 16, 18. Be prepared b—h!”

    That note was sent on Thurday, the day after FL shooting. 11 year old girl was arrested and placed in Juvenile facility. Next step ……….?

    Anson

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  10. Anonymous

     /  February 16, 2018

    AB – Next step should be that every weapon in the house of that child should be taken and held until a time that a decision is made that the threat is gone. Send in child services to see what triggered this for starters.

    Kevin Beck

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  11. Great post, Duane. You guys have left me little to add to this. Anson has a valid point in challenging how difficult the problem is, but implying there is no “fair” or practical way to approach it is unrealistic. Same for the reducio ad absurdem argument that confiscation of all guns wouldn’t solve the problem. Of course it wouldn’t However, there are many examples of industrialized nations who do ever so much better than we do.

    Trump has reacted similarly regarding regulations in general by issuing an executive order to eliminate two regulations for every new one. As though all regulations were equal! That makes about as much sense as cutting regulations by the pound of paper. If our nation can’t do better than that, we are truly lost.

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. –Lao Tzu

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    • Jim,

      Your point about examples of other nations bears repeating. And the examples of Australia, Japan, and the UK are particularly worth noting. We don’t have to live this way. We really don’t. This is a man-made problem and it can be solved. But it will never even be addressed, much less solved, until the gun lobby is neutered. Those young folks in Florida have figured that out and aren’t afraid to say so. 

      Duane

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  12. From an LA Times article:

    My son Christopher was shot and killed in Isla Vista, Calif., on May 14, 2014. The gunman displayed numerous warning signs in the days and weeks leading up to his rampage. He made homicidal and suicidal threats. His parents alerted law enforcement, but police decided he did not meet the criteria for emergency commitment. He was able to keep his guns and use them in the killing spree that ended Christopher’s life. The red flag mechanism wasn’t in place to allow law enforcement to step in.

    I turned my grief into action and fought in the California Legislature to pass the state’s red flag law in Christopher’s name. I was gratified when it was signed that September.

    Red flag laws empower families and local law enforcement officials — who are in a position to assess threatening behavior that might tip toward lethality — to defuse potentially tragic situations. Even the temporary removal of guns in such circumstances can be the difference between life and death.

    We’ll undoubtedly hear from the gun lobby that the solution to the Parkland violence is more guns, in more places. It’s absurd on its face, and it’s wrong.

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    • I just wonder how many stories like this one there is out there? Man, oh, man. I just don’t know what I would do if one of my kids were victims of this disgraceful system. I’m afraid it would get ugly very quickly.

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  13. ansonburlingame

     /  February 17, 2018

    THIS is a very interesting thread for this blog, in part because no one yet has leveled X!Q$#% at someone. There is not a single comment that reeks of disdain against other ideas. Progress, I hope.

    Now another observation related to what to do with “dangerously troubled people” and using courts of law to deal with the matter BEFORE they create mayhem, or at least MORE mayhem.

    Today’s WaPost has article on military judge in GITMO that has suspended pre-trial hearings in a 15 year old death penalty case against actors (alleged) in USS Cole bombing. Aside from finding a lawyer for defense that is also an Air Force general in contempt and restricting him to quarters in GITMO, he has reached the point of utter disgust with the “defense team” for delays, disruptions, refusal to adhere to his rulings, and the list goes on and on. So he said ENOUGH and canceled the hearings (and thus no trial) until ………???

    The full power of the American government has been used to find the perpetrators in the Cole case and “bring them to justice”. 15 years and counting and no success, yet.

    Now go point a finger of accusation against a 19 year old American “kid” and try to prevent mayhem. Even if the FBI had “followed the tip” what would have really happened, I wonder.

    Jim, I like the idea of “emergency removal of guns” as suggested above. But you still have a “dangerously troubled person” in society. So what to do, next, I wonder. When anyone considers that question, make it “personal”. What if your grand child was so accused? OR what if your grand child was the accuser against my grand child???? As well consider the possibilities that you and I both had no money to hire attorneys OR we were both rich as sin and could hire the best attorneys in the world, OR I had money but you didn’t.

    Is this fundamentally a legal problem OR a medical problem when the idea of “dangerously troubled people” comes into play? The answer seems to me to be both and thus we all get tangled up in ……. with no solutions that might solve the problem or even mitigate it to any significant extent (other than outlaw all guns and see what happens).

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      I don’t see a path forward that will help mitigate the gun problem we have in this country. First, we would have to throw out the Constitution with all of its pesky rights. We simply can’t arrest and incarcerate people unless they commit a crime. By then, of course, it’s too late. Even if we catch someone planning a crime, the best we could do is charge them with conspiracy, which carries a minimal jail sentence. And then the perpetrator is back on the street. Even post-crime, the almost extreme due process requirements in this country make it very difficult for prosecutors. No, the Constitution is not going to be changed.

      On a more philosophical level, and IMHO, the gun mania in America derives in large part from our need for individual independence combined with a heterogeneous culture – tribalism. European society evolved with a different ethic. They lack the hubris and arrogance that we have. And their populations are way more homogeneous. Except for the current invasion of Muslim refugees, there has been little or no racism. It’s the religious conflicts that have plagued Europe for centuries. That said, Europeans for the most part are happier than we are, better educated than we are, live longer than we do, and experience virtually no mass murders (excluding terrorist attacks) or school shootings. Now, I don’t know the statistics on mental health there, but I’d be willing to bet it is much less than ours on a per capita basis.

      Then there is the gun lobby. The NRA and the gun manufacturers pay our elected officials to shoot down (I love puns) any proposed gun control legislation. In some countries this is called corruption. We call it campaign contributions. Besides, everybody knows that quid pro quo is part and parcel of politics. And, as if that isn’t bad enough, Trump will continue to stack the federal courts with extreme right wing judges, who, by their politics, are gun friendly. No relief there either.

      So here we are. I am often accused of being a pessimist. But on this issue I have tried to be a realist. I don’t see a way forward given the current political climate and the hysteria over the 2nd Amendment. Maybe the Millennials will save us – if we can live long enough. (And you and I, being the same age, probably won’t.)

      Herb

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    • Anson,

      Your Gitmo example is one of the problems with Gitmo, but that is another matter.

      You are right about the problems involved with restricting the rights of someone suspected of having mental problems or behavioral issues. That is exactly why the problem shouldn’t just be tackled from that direction. The most effective way to begin to curb the gun violence we see would be to restrict everyone’s access to guns and make each and every one prove they are fit, in every conceivable way, to possess a firearm. Just like we all have to prove we can drive a car. And then the only firearms a person could possess would be traditional hunting weapons and handguns with small magazines. This approach has worked in Japan, the UK, and elsewhere. 

      This seems inconceivable today, of course. But those young folks in Florida and now around the country give me hope that someday we can have a sane gun policy, even though I confess it is a very small hope.

      Duane

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  14. ansonburlingame

     /  February 19, 2018

    Interesting, Herb,

    “Hubris and arrogance” created America. We (actually “they”) had the balls to give the finger to the most powerful nation on Earth, and won doing so. Yankees had the hubris and arrogance (and money) to back down an equally hubristic and arrogant South and we are still recovering from that argument from 150 years ago. BLM or even now the #MeToo’s sound the same way, hubristic and arrogant. Then read this blog for crying out loud, or my comments thereto!!!

    We tore the country apart over a single issue, slavery, long ago. Today we are tearing the country apart for a whole variety of issues and of course advocates for each issue demand single issue voters to resolve each problem. So you tell me how to solve guns and abortion issues by voting in a democracy. Duane demands in this blog that I never sleep again until I always vote for a gun control advocate. Hmmm?

    The big problem with that is I never sleep again or if I do nothing has been done to resolve all the “dangerously trouble people”. Remove all guns and they drive trucks or build bombs to kill more people. Now what do we do about THAT one, I wonder.

    I do know one big problem that a “liberal and progressive” (or conservative and reluctant to change) society has no clue how to make real progress. How do we treat (and contain to the extent needed) “troubled (or just “dangerously troubled”) people”? Drunk drivers, opioid addicts, murderers, rapists, “you name its” all create mayhem in our society. We can’t even decide who to “treat”, much less how to treat them (us?). We just wait for them to explode and then “let the legal system” deal it. Next up we will give the legal system the responsibility to resolve cancer!

    Anson

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    • Anson —
      I’d submit that we’re still tearing the country apart over slavery: i.e., the desire of the rich to control everything and everyone toward the end of the rich staying rich. This includes the subjugation of women, minorities, and anyone out of their designated mainstream. The electoral college and the most corrupt Supreme Court in history — plus well-financed gerrymandering, voter suppression and politicos, too corrupt to serve any-but-their-moneyed-masters ensure this will be sustainable even when the vast majority of citizens oppose the idea of a 2nd gilded age. The only chance for American Democracy is for people of conscience, good will and a commitment to civilized society to go to every length to vote this November and send the skunks packing. This accomplished, changes of great magnitude need to be made to our archaic Constitution. False equivalency needs to end up in the dumpster and Trump and his cronies (a very long list) in prison.

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    • Anson, I disagree with using the terms “hubris” and “arrogance” to describe the American revolution, the Civil War, the BLM and the #MeToo groups. Hubris means a way of talking or behaving that offends people – showing off, boasting, pretension, ostentatious, etc. Arrogance is behavior that shows that you think you are better or more important than other people – self-importance, egotism, snobbery, narcissism, Donald Trump, etc.

      The terms I would use for the Revolutionary War and the Civil War would be “resolve” and “courage.” And for the BLM and #MeToo organizations, I’d call them “dedicated” and “contentious”

      I used “hubris” and “arrogance” to compare us with Europe. We promote our country as the biggest, best, and most important in the world – America is number 1! We are braggarts and full of self-importance. That means we are a nation of hubris and arrogance. And 10’s of millions of us voted for a president who has both those characteristics in spades.

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      • Excellent, Herb. But one thing: I am confident that no matter what glowing phrases Americans sputter about our country in a Tr-mpless future (if there is one), very few people living in other parts of the developed world will ever again take seriously the idea that the United States and its system of governance is to be emulated or reproduced. Tr-mpism, and the way it came to power, has exposed us.

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  15. ansonburlingame

     /  February 20, 2018

    General, first,

    Well said and I completely agree that a change must happen, beginning in Nov, 2018. BUT, I will not agree that replacing one party currently holding a degree of dominance, with another party is the solution. Given the divide in parties today, the worst thing that can happen is just to shift dominance to the other party. I would much prefer some type of “coalition government” as seen now in, say, Germany.

    Edward Dionne recently wrote a WaPost column that essentially called America a ‘failed state” because of our inability to enact gun control laws. Actually, he was calling it a “failed state” because Trump and GOP hold a modicum of political power, but certainly not authoritarian power. You and Duane might agree with him, calling America now a “failed state”. I would react however to rebut such a claim. It is far too extreme.

    You and I, and Duane share one political goal right now, far greater control of guns, particularly guns in the hands of people that should have no right to have them simply because they refuse to accept the responsibility that MUST go along with that right. But to call America a FAILURE, as a nation, because one issue is tough to deal with democratically, is just WRONG, in my view. But go ahead and I will try to be “polite” and let you rant.

    Many now claim America as a nation is a failure because of a whole variety of issues. What that really says is democracy is a failure, trying hard to preserve freedom and independence is a failure, etc. America is now a failure because it remains difficult to pass laws, or cancel old ones. America is now a failure because you don’t like the party holding, again a modicum but not total, power.

    I consider America a success right now, in part, because neither one of the parties can have its way, entirely. We the people made a mistake in Nov 2016 that is obvious to probably 60% of the nation, or more, now. We will fix that mistake come Nov 2018, after a lot of yelling and screaming, democratically and reduce the power of the GOP. But God help us if we simply try to give all that power just to Democrats!

    Given the state of both parties I support making American democracy as messy as possible right now before we allow either party to take us all right over the cliff.!!!! Stalemate is the best we can hope for right now.

    Anson

    PS: The Dionne column, Herb, was the height of political hubris and arrogance, by the way.

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    • I agree, Anson, that we are not — at present — a failed state. I also think the Democratic Party needs a significant overhaul. Still, the depth of corruption in the GOP is so vast that in the short term, the Democrats are our best hope. That said, the Democrats — as a party — need to forego corporate campaign funding. This will not happen overnight, but some individuals are already embracing that plan. Should the lazy American voter decide not to show up in November and the GOP maintains control of either or both chambers of Congress — and we fail to impeach and/or jail Trump/Pence —- we will be a failure, indeed. I would also like to see a range of “real” political parties in the US. By “real” I do not mean the current “Green Party” — but as insipid it is, let’s have a Libertarian Party. And a Labor Party, and a Sustainable Energy Party, and a Conservative Party, and a Democratic Socialist Party, et al.
      And while we’re cleaning up the political parties, let’s go ahead and impeach Clarence Thomas and defrock the illegitimate Gorsuch.

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      • I certainly agree on your last suggestion! Thomas is a disgrace and Gorsuch, worse than Scalia in ideological temperament, is totally illegitimate. 

        I would push back just a little on your multiple-party idea, though. I have said this before, but given our presidential system, it is only natural that the post-election governing coalition we see in parliamentary governments happens here within the pre-election two-party configuration that has evolved over time and has remained surprisingly stable for more than 160 years. If I want to be a Democrat, I, a liberal, have to accept the fact that there are conservatives who call themselves Democrats, too. And vice-versa. Ideally, in a strong political party there would be what amounts to a coalition of similar but distinct ideological approaches that would serve to stabilize the party’s center and make the party durable and worthy of a governing trust.

        That leads me to the point I made to Anson. What is wrong with our country, among other things, is that the Republican Party has become ideologically monolithic (and, perhaps related, morally bankrupt) and unwelcoming of any notion of coalition building within its own ranks, not to mention any notion of compromising with Democrats. Thus, the GOP needs to be electorally destroyed beyond repair, so that it can be either reformed or replaced by another entity that will serve our two-party system better. But given the fact that right now there are tens of millions of voters still willing to support Republicans, that seems a long way off.

        Now, having said all that, I still advocate for a system much like you describe, with several viable parties that represent the many interests in the country that would then have to sometimes form governing coalitions in order to run the country. But that would require rewriting our Constitution predicated on a very different political architecture. I don’t think parliamentary systems are without flaws, obviously, but I think they generally do a better job of governing than ours does these days. I believe the expiration date of our presidential system, which naturally gave rise to the two-party configuration, has come and gone. Unfortunately, though, we have to live with our stale state and hope to God it won’t end up killing us.

        Duane 

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    • Anson,

      1) I want to address your “coalition government” idea. One of the biggest problems we have is not that this or that party can get in complete control of the government and do bad things and therefore we need “divided” government. One of our biggest problems is that the Republican Party, to a far greater extent than the Democratic Party, has no internal coalition of ideological approaches. The GOP is monolithic in its ideology, as I have been saying for years now. There are no liberal Republicans (there still are conservative Democrats, by the way) and there are only a handful of “moderate” Republicans (there are many more moderate Democrats by comparison). That, if you think about it, is what is wrong with the country. One of our once-great political parties has been hijacked by uncompromising ideologues who, in Tr-mp, have a puppet they can manipulate for their nasty ideological ends (like the gun and tax issues, for instance).

      2) I am withholding judgment on America being a “failed state.” I am awaiting, first, the elections in November. Then the 2020 election. I have given up any hope that Mueller, no matter what he finds, will bring an end to the Tr-mp nightmare because the Republican Party is not just ideologically corrupt (see above) but because it is morally bankrupt. Thus, the failure I confess to now is the complete and utter failure called the GOP.

      3) Related to the above, I am in no way confident that the November elections this year will serve to “fix” the “mistake” made in 2016. Even if Democrats were to take the House (some see that prospect as dimming), I don’t see them taking the Senate. And even if they did pull off a miracle and win the Senate, they would still need 60 votes to do anything meaningful and force Tr-mp (or Pence) to heel. Beyond all that, the damage Tr-mp has done (via the courts and the tax bomb ticking away) cannot be fixed for a least a generation or more. So, I’m not only waiting on the upcoming two elections before I finally pronounce judgment on the American experiment, I’m waiting to see how the dynamics play out even if Democrats are wildly successful. 

      Duane

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  16. ansonburlingame

     /  February 21, 2018

    General, I just KNEW you and I could find common ground but it took some doing to get there. We both showed a little bit of “humanity” when we engaged in the “no free will” blog by Duane. Since then we haven’t ranted back and forth but instead , from time to time, have some good exchanges looking for common ground, it seems to me at least.

    I will, however, take exception to your opinion expressed above that a failure to impeach Trump (AND Pence???) will result in an American failure as a state.

    We the people have already shown, clearly, that Trump will NEVER get all he demands, particularly the “crazy” things. Hell we “gave” the GOP as close to “absolute power” as possible (control of two branches of government and ability of influence the third branch with new appointments), the same kind of “absolute power” given to Dems in 2009-2010.

    America did not become a failed state 9 years ago and is not going to fail as a state in 2017-2018. And America voters are going to begin to rescind the power granted to Trump and GOP (in Nov 2016) in Nov 2018.

    The real question in my mind, General, is the question of how fast is America “approaching a cliff”, a phrase I used many times to object to Obama’s ways of TRYING to govern. I also don’t believe that we will ever be pushed over a cliff by foreign powers, Russia, NK, China, etc. We the people might well push ourselves over a cliff however, like reaching a point where America will no longer be able to “keep its word”. Governments that promise all things to many people ultimately fail, as governments, simply because such governments run out of resources. People then get pissed and form new governments.

    1787 was a really big deal for America. Any guess as to what the next date might be when people get pissed enough to form a new government again. Would YOU like to be part of a new group to write our NEXT “constitution”?

    In a more pragmatic manner, I really like the idea of multiple parties today, not just two, one way or the other way, as both ways are screwed up, today, in a deeply divided America. Scratch deep enough and I might well find myself in a “libertarian” party, but not the one I see lurking today.

    Anson

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