October 25, 2015
October 21, 2015
The Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives has thirty-six members. That’s less than a fifth of the Republican House majority of 234. That’s not quite one-tenth of the 435 total members of the House. The House itself is half of the Congress. The Congress itself is but one-third of the government. So we have one-tenth of one-half of one-third of the government waking up every day thinking they should be setting the agenda. As one of my old sergeants would say, the Freedom Caucus is a pimple on the ass of Congress. Isn’t about time someone did the math?
October 20, 2015
Donald Trump has reignited the debate over President Bush’s degree of responsibility for the attack on 9/11. This comes on the eve of Hillary Clinton’s testimony about her responsibility for the attack in Benghazi. In 1984, on Ronald Reagan’s watch, there were three attacks against Americans in Beirut. Hundreds of U.S. servicemen died, and the ambassador to Lebanon was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. In every case, more could have and should have been done. But neither 9/11 nor Lebanon became political footballs in Congress. Were we that much better as a people back then, or is Congress that much worse?
October 18, 2015
You hear a lot of talk about owning guns for self-defense. Here’s something to think about. On average, 9,000 people are murdered every year with a firearm, while 21,000 people use a firearm to commit suicide. This tells me a gun owner is more than twice as likely to kill himself as to be murdered. (Of the roughly 1,000 murder-suicides per year, the vast majority involve a firearm.) Statistically, the greater danger is NOT a criminal armed with a firearm. Rather, it is the depressed, unemployed, divorced or soon-to-be-divorced gun owner who is a threat to himself and to others.
October 16, 2015
“Apocalypse Now” was based on Joseph Conrad’s novella, “The Heart of Darkness.” For many years, that’s how I thought about Vietnam, as a darkness that seeped into my heart. Now I see it more through the lens of my youthful eagerness for a great adventure, for “the endeavor, the test, the trial of life” to quote from another of Conrad’s stories, “Youth.” I don’t kid myself about Vietnam, but I do keep flickering the memory of that innocent eagerness to confront fate. “O youth! The strength of it, the faith of it, the imagination of it … Pass the bottle.”
October 14, 2015
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog notes that there have 43 reported shootings this year involving toddlers 3 years old or younger. Thirteen toddlers ended up dead of self-inflicted gun shots; another eighteen were wounded. Here’s a thought. If you own a firearm and a toddler finds it and discharges a round, then your firearm should be confiscated and your right to bear arms suspended for … well, you tell me. That’s what happens to drunk drivers. The NRA constantly preaches about responsible gun ownership. Well, here’s a chance for them to step up and put their money where their rhetoric is.
October 9, 2015
The withdrawal by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from the race for Speaker of the House -- no biggie, just two heartbeats away from the presidency -- is the latest casualty in the civil war between House Republicans. No matter who wins the Speakership, he or she will face a bloc of hard-line conservatives who balk at anything that goes against their “principles.” This gives the Democrats unexpected leverage since their votes are needed to offset Republican defections, further infuriating the hard-liners, who loathe compromise. And round and round it goes; where it stops nobody knows. Really … nobody knows.
October 6, 2015
October 2, 2015
About a hundred years ago, Dr. Duncan McDougall conducted an experiment on a handful of dying people. He concluded that at the moment of death there was a weight loss of twenty-one grams. He believed this was due to the soul leaving the body. By way of comparison, the typical bullet used in an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle weighs about four grams, a bit less than a nickel. The next time you pick up a nickel, heft it in your palm. That’s all it takes to wipe out a soul. Well, that and a person who has already lost their soul.
Vladimir Putin leapt into the vacuum created by our indecisive policies in Syria. He did so for the usual reasons: buffing up Russia’s creds as an international power and distracting the increasingly restive natives at home. Best case scenario, Putin does our dirty work for us by using his knights to create the illusion of a victory for Assad long enough so others can step in and remove Assad from the board. Either way, some believe Putin’s international distractions can’t hold down domestic discontent forever, that his ranks of pawns grow thin. If true, this may be Putin’s final gambit.
October 1, 2015
Pope Francis secretly met with gay-marriage refusenik Kim Davis on his recent trip here. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t disappointing, an unforced error that has left a bitter aftertaste. It serves to emphasize what many long-time observers of Francis have repeatedly noted: he remains very conservative on certain doctrinal issues. Abortion? Women in the priesthood? Gay marriage? These are all big fat “no’s” for the Pope. Francis may soften the edges of these issues, but his welcome in America may wear thin as it becomes clearer that he won’t be making any substantive reforms on his watch.