Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sadness & Fury

Sitting here immersed in sadness and fury over the shootings in AZ.

Sad because 6 people, including a sitting Federal Judge and the 9 year old granddaughter of former MLB Manager Dallas Green, were casually murdered by yet another gun-wielding nut in a long series of gun-wielding nuts in this country.

Sad because Gabrielle Giffords, a star Congresswoman, was shot through the head in the attack, currently is in intensive care, and by all accounts has been injured to a degree where an eventual return to her previous life would be just short of a miracle.

Giffords, along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Jon Tester, are among the few newer members of Congress who have impressed me.

Furious to read the killer bought his gun "legally", thus tragically highlighting for the umpteenth time that 4 million NRA members continue to hold the other 266 million of us hostage by blocking reasonable gun laws. NRA have managed to block access to gun ownership records through Freedom Of Information Act requests. They have managed to block the ATF from assembling a computerized national gun ownership registry. They have blocked all attempts to limit ownership of assault weapons.

If you look at worldwide gun ownership, no country has even half the gun ownership rate the US does, and the countries approaching half our guns are either war-torn (Yemen and Lebanon, for example) or are tiny countries with citizen militias (Switzerland, Israel). This country does not have, nor does it need, citizen militias. When somebody or something pisses us off, we send in the 82nd Airborne and the USS Enterprise Carrier Group, not a bunch of farmers and teachers carrying their personal Glocks. There is absolutely no reason why an American civilian needs to own a fully- or even a semi-automatic weapon.

I just finished a book entitled The Gun, by CJ Chivers. It is, more or less, a biography of the machine gun. Chivers makes the following points: (1) the Kalashnikov family of weapons are crappy examples of gun technology. They are so inaccurate that they can't be reliably used to hit or kill anything or anybody the gunman couldn't hit with a rock thrown by hand. An AK is only good for hosing down objects in close proximity, not for "hunting" (2) one of the reasons Kalashnikovs are so popular is because they can be operated, cleaned, and maintained by ill-trained people. Child soldiers and terrorists, basically. Why do we need weapons like that, and like the semiautomatic Glock submachine pistol used in the AZ shootings, in the US?

Furious because idiot moron dumb-ass (but popular) Sarah Palin encouraged violence against member of Congress via a map on her web site bearing gun cross-hairs aimed at certain Districts where she wasn't happy with the representatives. She wrote those representatives should be "targeted". One of those Districts was that of Gabrielle Giffords. Palin should be in leg-irons right now for conspiracy to commit murder and incitement of violence.

Furious because the extremely smart, extremely talented, and batshit crazy Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have their pawprints on this violence as well. Limbaugh for his encouragement of rioting, and Beck for statements like "you can shoot me in the head but there are 10 other who line up" and "there is a coup going on, this is a stealing of America". Unlike Palin, they both were smart enough to make their messages oblique enough to where they can't be charged, but they are nonetheless guilty of being drug-addicted demagogues who have enriched themselves by appealing to the base instincts of disturbed people.

Furious that a lot of the rage people like the above-mentioned, Michelle Malkin and the various dullards on Fox News have incited is due to lies they have concocted about the new health care law.

The health care provisions that have gone into effect as of Jan 1 are:

-> Children age 21-26 can now stay on their parents' policies.

-> Preventative care for seniors included in Medicare.

-> Medicare prescription medication "donut hole" closed.

-> Insurance companies' profits have been capped at 20%. If they earn more than 20% they must give the excess profits back to policyholders.

-> Fast-food restaurants must display a nutritional analysis of their offerings.

The health care law wasn't exactly what I'd hoped it would be (no "public option"), but I fail to see many negatives in the above provisions, and I most certainly fail to see anything worth shooting anybody over.

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