Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grinding my teeth at the goddamn chutzpah of this guy

I'd like to get around someday to talk about things that I like, things that I love, things that make me happy.  But goddamnit, Roy Edroso points out in this tweet
that Jonah Goldberg wrote another column, which, according to Roy's law means, it is the stupidest thing ever written.

The column is pretty standard horseshit.  Any of the dozens conservative critics of the Obama administration who have a national platform could have whipped this out over a short lunch break.  Anyone of those partisan hacks whose job it is to find fault with him for everything short of ending human suffering forever, and they'd probably throw a tantrum about that too- regularly writes a similar line of condescending "Democrats are weak on foreign policy" column filler.  I can excuse that... Jonah is deep in the grip of the Dunning Krueger effect, entranced with the idea that because he is paid to spew his uninformed drivel on the pages of newspapers nationwide, he is clearly a respected figure of authority and not a textbook example of the kind of public boob whose entire career is based on nepotism and sustained by the hothouse of the wingnut welfare system and so to ask him for just one occasion to do some research, talk to informed sources and compose a reasoned criticism is as far beyond him as any demonstration of journalistic integrity would be.

 It looks dead easy to crap out this bafflegab, (and it is) but I encourage all (which is to say 'both') of my readers not to quit their day jobs to seek a seat on the gravy train unless they too have a family tree drooping under the weight of assorted professional toadys and lickspittles and a social circle full of the kind of terrible billionaires that hire out fourth rate propagandists to justify their life of avarice.

In any case, Jonah's column is fairly unsurprising bad advice to the president until he writes these sentences:
A better option would be a time machine. That way today’s President Obama could go back and give first-term Obama the benefit of his experience. He could tell him that foreign policy should define his talking points, not the other way around.
He just can't fucking help himself.  As if in the history of American dealings with the middle east, the worst mistake; the first option of anyone with a time machine would be to give Obama a stern talking to about the pitfalls of getting out of Iraq.  As it wasn't transparently obvious that he'd rather talk about the time travel movies "X-men: Days of future Past" or "Edge of Tomorrow" than Iraq again, the subject about which he has so consistently revealed his laziness, his blood lust and his ignorance since 2001.

I have to write this or the rage would make my head explode.  The history of the US in the middle east has been a litany of foreign policy failures.  At every turn the search for profit and to a far lesser extent the fight against communism, have dictated policy and the welfare of the average Arab or Persian or Kurd or Turk on the street has never once been a motivating concern. From supporting Britain and France's colonial dissection of the Ottoman empire, to toppling the democratically elected government of Iran, to supporting every single murderous thug that claimed to be anti-communist, to enriching fundamentalist theocratic despots to gain access to oil, there's basically no foreign policy mistake the US hasn't made and then repeated over and over again.  And in this litany of failure the biggest mistake that Jonah wants to avoid is getting the hell out?  What.  The. Actual. Fuck.

I realize that once again, Jonah wins.  He gets paid for making me and anyone else who can spare five minutes to read the history of the middle east on Wikipedia furious, and he wins when I link to his column to prove that I'm not making shit up when I quote him.  He's a brand, a media personality and unlike people who work for a living, he is only punished when he is boring, never when he is publicly, obviously, fundamentally, wrong.  Still, I can't help but wish that his employers had held out until they could afford a third rate propagandist.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Privately Owned Firearms- Preventing Tyranny Since Never

Once more I feel it is necessary to state the obvious at tedious length.  Privately owned firearms will not stop government tyranny.  You are not a revolutionary soldier and King George is not quartering Hessians in your houses to make you pay taxes on tea.

The government does not engage in fair fights.  If the FBI or the Sheriff or the BATF or the local police come for you and they think you are armed, there will be a midnight, no knock raid and any resistance will be met with overwhelming force.  Any handgun or rifle it is possible to own in the US is useless against a modern military.  It may be possible to kill a government agent or two if an attacker is very lucky.  But when the Feds or local police are hunting a cop killer, they are not very careful about the "alive" part of "wanted dead or alive".

The movie "First Blood" where a veteran single-handedly defeats an entire town's police force, is a movie, a fantasy, and is the same level of gun worshiping porn as any issue of "Soldier of Fortune" ever was.  There is a reason so many mass shooters end up dead before they can be arrested and it is not severe peanut allergies.

Video games, action movies, and overheated political rhetoric from people that ought to know better have fostered a group of people that believe the only thing separating themselves from mighty deeds of heroic valor is ownership of a private arsenal and some kind of righteous crusade.

Well, that's not enough.  Untrained individuals don't win against the government in a violence fight.  The local cops may be corrupt, corpulent, and feeble, but they have radios, telephones, and the internet.  They can and will summon help.  That help will be increasingly competent at violence.  To use a video game metaphor, after defeating a wave of low level enemies (schoolchildren and teachers seem to be the standard), the boss fight in a confrontation with police is not a seven foot tall cyborg with an obvious weakness, it is the SWAT team snipers hundreds of yards out.  If you doubt this country's historic proficiency in the area of violence, ask yourself why your landlord is not Native American or British.

Resisting the authorities with firearms, or with any level of violence at all is a game for suckers at best, and suicide at worst.

If you own a firearm, you are more likely to die from a self inflicted gunshot, or kill a family member or spouse than you are likely to successfully use it to kill a criminal.  Every year, in the US, 10,000 people die from being shot by someone else.  And 20,000 people die from shooting themselves.  Unless you live in deadly fear of being oppressed by yourself, it's hard to find in those numbers a convincing argument for firearm ownership.

Gun owners also suggest that even beyond self defense and the defense against tyranny, that hunters and sportspeople every day use firearms in a responsible manner.  Which is both true and entirely beside the point.  Hunters and sportspeople could do 95% percent of their activities with a bow, crossbow or airgun, none of which have the rapid fire deadliness so easily available at any gun store or Wal-Mart in the country.

I know what it is like to love a hobby which the majority of the country views with suspicion.  As a motorcyclist, nearly every time I go for a ride, someone is all too ready to tell me how dangerous it is, how their wife would never let them ride, how a guy they know died messily from an accident.  There have been groups that lobby to outlaw various kinds of motorcycles, to limit their speed or their power or their noise output.  And in a democracy that is the kind of give and take we have to put up with.  But in order to operate my motorcycle, I have to be licensed, I have to be insured, I have to meet minimum vision and health standards and if I am operating it in an unsafe manner I have to answer to the police.  I have to suffer the negative publicity anytime anyone on two wheels acts out in an antisocial manner.  And if the actions of the Hell's Angels and the local squids and stuntaz and the hooligans that plague Baltimore on stolen motocross bikes give the rest of us a big enough black eye, our two wheeled recreation might be face a ban.  That is the situation gun owners find themselves in today.

Gun owners find themselves trying to justify their love for the tools of murder with increasingly shallow justifications.  We have a long and storied tradition of firearm ownership which is baked into the foundational document of our country.  Which like the long and storied tradition of slave ownership which was also in our foundational document, we need to change.  It's time to grow up and put down the tools which make killing ourselves and each other easier so we can pick up the tools to make our country and our world better.