Friday, June 7, 2013

Tyranny - More Right Wing Hypocrisy

A friend of a rightward inclination posted a link on Facebook to the nuts at the Heritage Foundation castigating anyone who voted for Obama as having achieved the tyranny for which they voted.  It's not entirely clear which of the alleged Obama transgressions is supposed to be tyranny, but I'll hazard a guess that it's the IRS, the AP/Fox Justice Department investigations and the data mining of PRISM.

I'll ignore the IRS one (after this brief comment), as that's clearly and totally evidentiarily, a non-Administration level problem.  Hew and cry all they like, the egregious act of making applicants for a tax status show they qualified for a tax status is a local bad decision, unless Cincinatti is now the capitol of the US.

The Justice Department's investigations into leaks to the AP and Fox?  Targeted investigations following specific trails to leak sources who jeopardized the lives of people working in dangerous situations to aid the U.S.  Should the scope of the inquiry into the media that published the leaks be limited further?  Perhaps.  But the basic principal of investigating leaks is not an act of tyranny.  Internet fantasies notwithstanding, the government can't operate as an open source any more than the numerous businesses that make the internet work are open about their code.

The PRISM program is just coming out now and is an NSA intelligence gathering tool.  There's some dispute from the companies that are alleged to have provided direct access to their servers to the NSA, most or all of which are saying they did not provide such access.  Presuming that such access exists, though, it's done through the FISA courts by warrant, which is entirely different from what was happening under Bush II when his administration simply grabbed data without any sort of supervision.  Is the FISA court supervision adequate?  That's open to debate, but Congress, by prior legislation, has said it is.  Truthfully, I don't know if it is, but I also don't know what alternative is adequate.  Groups like the ACLU want all government action to be subject to civil court action for a sort of real world open sourcing, but that's never happened in the entire history of the U.S.  Government has always had to keep some decisions and information from public view for a variety of valid national security reasons.  So, if the FISA courts, with only the government getting to present its case (much like a grand jury) are inadequate, what's the alternative?  Regardless, it's hardly tyranny.

What, by the way, is the definition of tyranny?  According to Miriam-Webster tyranny is oppressive power.  It's especially if exercised by government but isn't restricted to government.

Now, let's just look at what the GOP and Democrats advocate and see what conclusions we can reach about who is in favor of tyranny.

Gay Marriage.  Easy one, here.  While most Democrats are in favor of allowing the free choice of consenting adults to marry whoever they choose, the GOP wants the government to step into those very personal, private decisions to say adults aren't able to make that choice.  It's all about protecting the children.  You know, by having them separated from loving parents because one of the parents doesn't have the same legal rights as the other or because the parents as a couple don't have the same legal rights as other parents.

Gun Ownership.  This one's deceptive.  On the face of it the GOP seems to be the one in favor of freedom, more so than Democrats, as they want zero government control over who can own a gun.  They want an ex post facto prosecution of those who commit crimes with guns rather than preventing people from owning them in the first place.  But here's the thing; if gun ownership is untethered from any government regulation, then anyone and everyone, regardless of record, can own a gun.  Make no mistake, the GOP opposition to background checks means exactly that.  So, if everyone can own a gun, then huge numbers of those who shouldn't will own guns.  Those guns are then used to terrorize others, whether its for economic crimes, domestic violence, gang wars, or the mentally unstable on a rampage.  The result is a tyranny of the gun and a nation that resembles Somalia or Afghanistan.  I don't know of anyone who would be able to support an argument that Somalia and Afghanistan aren't ruled by tyranny or would prefer to live there over a nation under the rule of law such as the U.S.

Immigration.  Well, the GOP wants to turn the U.S. into a prison camp, with high walls all around it.  Hard to say what's more government control than that.  Democrats want an immigration policy that accounts for the economic needs of business and the U.S. government and the desire of individuals in other countries to benefit both from the freedoms of the U.S. and the economic opportunities of the U.S.  The GOP wants to build walls and deport people, regardless of the situation in their home countries.

Regulation.  This is a favorite for the GOP.  We're over regulated.  The government is crushing us with regulations, and the necessary taxes to support those regulations.  From businesses trying to get things done to health care, it's all a tyranny of government regulations preventing the individual actor from doing what he wants.  Of course, what he wants, all too often, is to stick it to his neighbor.  Let me dump as much nitrogen fertilizer as I want on my fields so I can have bigger crops.  Never mind that my neighbor the fisherman goes out of business when all the excess nitrogen kills off his fish.  Let me sell you my finely crafted product without regard for whether it explodes in your hand (see Coke bottles of old).  Let me sell you a ham sandwich without any concern about how that pig was handled in reaching your sandwich.  We should just trust our fellows to look out for our safety.  No need for government to step into these private transactions.  We'll all be dead in a couple generations, but we'll be free!  Discussion over what is reasonable regulation is fine.  Trying to throw out all regulation is what the GOP proclaims.

National Security.  While Democrats helped bring about the change that at least put the FISA courts into the process of overseeing data collection the GOP wanted and attempted to exercise unfettered government seizure of data information, domestic and foreign.  Only the courts and Congressional actions stopped it.  Furthermore, the GOP insists on waging a War on Terror that is the source of this sort of overreach and potential overreach by government.  Guantanomo prison?  Same sort of thing.  By insisting that this is a war against no nation but an idea the GOP creates an unlimited battle front with prisoners who are neither criminals nor prisoners of war, stuck in some legal limbo with no defined rights.  Interestingly, the issue of Somali piracy provides a view to how things might be handled differently.  The pirates have been treated as criminals rather than terrorists without status.  Vastly increased prosecutions of those pirates appear to have nearly killed off piracy in the area, dropping seizures of vessels by pirates by more than 50% from 2011 to 2012, with the pattern continuing into 2013.  While Democrats try to change the War on Terror into a criminal prosecution of terrorist actors, the GOP prevents the closure of the Guantanamo prison and pillories anyone who suggests it as weak on terror.

There's no greater irony than the GOP cries of tyranny by Democrats.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why There's No Scandal in the Obama Scandals

I see some of my friends with rightward leanings are finding it disappointing that the general populace is not frothy with outrage over the Obama scandals.  He is the worst president in US history, right?  Although the usual suspects of short attention spans and celebrity obsession could be used as justification for the lack of interest, I suspect it has more to do with the accurate gleaning that there's no substance to the alleged scandals.  Let's take a look at the triumverate (and throw in an old one the rightists still lovingly cling to).

First, there's Benghazi.  This one shifts around a bit as to why Obama's so bad.  He either sent Ambassador Stevens into a poorly secured area or failed to recognize that the attack would occur in the first place.  Short of having an entire Army division along, I'm not sure what security would have sufficed to repel the attack.  Considering how many unstable areas we have personnel in the Middle East, it's not a particularly good use of resources to send that much protection with each of our personnel.  Likely to stir up more trouble, for that matter.  Stevens also knew of the dangers but declined additional security for the trip.  There's also no evidence that there was intelligence suggesting this attack was imminent.  Not surprisingly, there's a dearth of information in the chaos that is Libya, post revolution.

Of course, the other line of attack is that once the attack started Obama abandoned Stevens and the others to their fates.  The fact that they were killed before anyone with authority to order anything even knew about it seems to be irrelevant in this line of "reasoning".  The fact that there was no one close enough to effectively help, nor an armed drone in the vicinity, also seems to be irrelevant. 

Why Benghazi is a scandal and an exemplar of failure as president while the 60 or so personnel killed in various attacks on American outposts during G. W. Bush's tenure is not, nor the Beirut bombing during Reagan's tenure, is a mystery to anyone not trapped in the amber of right wing talk.

Second is the IRS scandal.  There's actually a semblance of substance to this one.  The singling of rightist groups to provide additional evidence of qualification for a tax filing status came in the wake of the Citizens United decision and the resultant flood of groups seeking a new tax status to take advantage of that decision.  The sin wasn't that the IRS sought proof that these groups qualified for the tax status.  The sin was that they didn't seek the same proof from everyone else applying for the status.  This is a far cry from Nixon and Hoover maintaining secret lists of enemies and using government agencies to target enemies for harrassment.  This isn't remotely an example of the IRS pursuing groups who opposed Obama.  All that happened was the IRS made the groups provide proof that they qualified for the tax status they sought.  

Third, and really least important to the rightists, is the investigation of reporters by the FBI.  There are two separate cases in this one.  The AP investigation is about a leak of information surrounding US interception of a Yemen based bombing plot.  The Fox News investigation is about leaking of information about North Korean intelligence gathering.  Both leaks endangered the lives of sources of information and make it much harder to recruit new sources when they rightly believe their identities will be leaked, directly or indirectly.  Both investigations were done via subpoena, not simply the FBI instituting wire taps unilaterally and unchecked.  Perhaps this one is low on the scandal radar because if any Republican were president the rightists would be all in favor of these investigations.  There's been more umbrage in the media, who would like unfettered access to every government document, than anyone else.

Then there's the old favorite of Operation Fast and Furious.  This one has been revived a bit because the rightist hate Holder almost as much as they hate Obama.  Once again, a local office is under the minute control of Obama and sent out guns to Mexican cartels, leading to the deaths of Americans.  Guns were sold to straw purchasers with the intent to track them to the cartels and break the cartels.  What seems to be ignored, conveniently, is that the programs that sold guns in this way started in 2006, three years before Obama was even president.  Operation Fast and Furious was just the latest in a string of those operations, larger in size than its predecessors.  ATF agents questioned the soundness of the logic behind the operation throughout, but without sway.  Curiously, those who use this to attack Obama tend toward the belief that more guns in the hands of people is a good thing and oppose the very background checks that would help eliminate the straw purchasers who passed along the guns to the cartels.

The problem with the dream of scandal that the rightists have is that they're conflating mistakes with scandal.  Could things have been done differently in each case?  Sure.  Was there some grand plan by Obama to undermine America?  Surely not.  When your underlying belief is that Obama is the worst president in US history you're going to be inclined to take mistakes by career employees of the government and inflate them to grand schemes by a man you don't believe has a right to be elected president, let alone that he actually was.  Twice.  Evidently the majority of the public is recognizing these scandals for what they are, or more accurately, aren't. 

Obama is no Nixon or Johnson in the realm of abuse of power, nor is he inept like Carter or Hoover.  He's a man without the power of pursuasion to convince a House leadership that despises him to govern instead of grandstand.  Considering what the House has done in its 2 years in power, it's a wonder it isn't worse.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lost Art of Journalism

In the last two days I've become convinced that journalism is an entirely dead art.  Apparently those who are supposed to be practicing it don't understand the occupation.  Admittedly, my conclusion is not based on a wide sample and one of the samples is a suspiciously biased writer in the first place, but it's still troubling.

First, yesterday I came across a column written by Matthew Boyle of Breitbart.  He wrote that State Farm is moving its headquarters from Illinois to Texas.  The reason for this conclusion?  State Farm is building a huge new office complex outside of Dallas.  He also noted State Farm is building a huge office near Phoenix but didn't conclude that State Farm is moving there.  Of course, there could be no reason but that Democratically controlled Illinois raised corporate taxes.  Nevermind that the 67% increase is actual a nominal increase off of a very low rate to begin with.  State Farm is going to move its headquarters because, what else would they do with all this huge space but move the large number of people currently in Bloomington, IL? 

Well, how about hire a whole new workforce for a new design on handling claims?  Or how about moving existing employees, whose numbers are in the thousands all across the US, to these new offices?  Either one is an equally valid conclusion from the objective fact that State Farm is building a large new complex.  Neither of those fit in with Boyle's pre-conceived notion that corporate taxes are evil and will cause companies to flee.  The fact has to be pigeon holed into the concept, regardless of other facts that interfere with the conclusion. 

Second, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has a column today that castigates the Obama administration for investigating a Fox reporter who sought secret State Department information about North Korea.  Milbank quotes the reporter's e-mail to the sought after source as follows: “I want to report authoritatively, and ahead of my competitors, on new initiatives or shifts in U.S. policy, events on the ground in [North Korea], what intelligence is picking up, etc. . . . I’d love to see some internal State Department analyses. . . . In short: Let’s break some news, and expose muddle-headed policy when we see it, or force the administration’s hand to go in the right direction, if possible.”

Excuse me, but how is the Fox reporter acting as a reporter?  He's got a set notion that the administration (in 2009) is muddle-headed and it's his duty to substitute his correct view of policy by way of exposing the administration, never mind if it risks the lives of sources in North Korea.  How is the administration's investigation somehow an impingement on a free press?  A guy who says he's out to get the administration regardless of consequence is not a reporter.  He's an advocate.

Now, both of these pieces were written by columnists and not reporters.  The former masked his column as though it were news reporting, giving it a headline that read

Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm Flees Illinois

The latter made no bones that he was advocating, but he advocated for someone as though that person were a reporter when clearly he was not.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


The recent attention to Dr Ben Carson's speech at the National Day of Prayer breakfast has reinforced something I hadn't thought about in some time.  Carson, while a brilliant neurosurgeon, is also a devout conservative Christian.  I've run across similar religious inclination among others in engineering.

On the surface, to me it's odd that people so skilled in fields involving math and science can adhere to a literalist Bible belief.  Hell, it's surprising to me that anyone in a field of scientific endeavor adheres to any religious belief, but at least one that's not reliant on attempts at literalism in a book composed of disparate parts compiled over many centuries from numerous authors with contradictory motivations, cobbled together by editors more than 1500 years ago, can at least try to reason out some religious belief while maintaining a dedication to the scientific method.  Strictly following books written by people with no concept of the scientific method is a bad idea for anyone, let alone a scientist.

But then it occurs to me that engineers and neurosurgeons don't have to understand the larger scientific world to be good at their professions.  As Carson has said, he recognized that his spatial perception and eye/hand coordination made him ripe for surgery.  He is not a scientific theorist of any kind.  He's a technician, working his way through the miniscule parts of the human brain to try to make the malfunctioning, or conjoined, work properly.  I don't expect an auto mechanic to have a profound grasp of biology or physics, though he may if he's so inclined.  It's simply not necessary for him to be good at what he does.  There's no reason to expect Dr Carson to be any firmer in his grasp of physics and biology.

And, boy, is he not.  He thinks the world is complex and well ordered.  It's the former due to millenia of simple events, each stacked one upon the other.  It's certainly not the latter.  There's no order at all to the universe or life here on our little sphere.  If there were order to life we wouldn't have the birth defects, or even silly useless things like an appendix or male nipples.  What designer would make child-birth such a challenge to human women when a better, easier method exists in our close relatives, the chimps?  We have a pelvis tilted in such a way that child birth is difficult because we evolved to stand upright, which gave those first with that mutation advantages in survival over others, advantages that outweighed the child birth detriment.  A good designer, though, would have figured out a way to have both the upright posture and a method of birth considerably more survivable for the female. 

Carson, like many other people I've met, takes an apparently complicated circumstance and concludes that it has to have arrived at such a place due to a designer.  The mere fact of the complexity means there has to be a designer.  That's not valid logic.  Complexity is not evidence of a designer any more than simplicity is evidence of a lack of designer.  Many of the best things designed by humans are simple.  The wheel comes to mind.  And yet, the wheel was designed.  It wasn't designed by a deity, just some nameless progenitor of us all.

I salute Carson for his accomplishments in life and in neurosurgery.  I don't believe that automatically makes him qualified to understand philosophy, biology, or politics, or to be adept at any of those even if he does understand them.  So far, he's showing that he's lacking in a lot of understanding outside of his field of expertise.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vengance Murder

It started with a police presence.  The police station is only a mile and a half from the Neighborhood, but suddenly, in the early morning hours, there was a marked patrol car parked in front of a house with a spotlight shining.  Two unfamiliar civilian cars were parked a short distance in front of the police cruiser.

The day went on as most others do.  The Girl was dropped off at the local HS for her ride to her magnet school.  The Boy got himself out to the bus stop.  Mother's workday started shortly after the Boy was off to school.  Father's work had been going along since 6:30. 

Mother called Father during the morning.  More police were on the Street.  At times a car was parked on either side of the Street, narrowing the space to drive through to little more than the width of one car.  A call to the local precinct confirmed there was an investigation but nothing more.

Father came home for lunch around noon.  Four police vehicles were parked on the shoulder about a half mile from the Street.  The vehicles were gone by the return to work.  By the evening an unmarked police vehicle and several civilian cars were parked on the Street.

A Facebook message to a neighbor inquiring about Neighbor brought a startling response.  Neighbor's 33 year old daughter had been murdered at her home a few miles away, her young daughter and another child left unharmed in the house.  A troubled life that had recently turned around had been ended by a vengeful Accomplice. 

Accomplice was arrested as he approached the Street about a half hour before Father was going home for lunch, making it to about a half mile away from the Street, most likely in the area where the four police vehicles were seen at noon.

Court records show Neighbor's Daughter and Accomplice pleaded guilty to robbery charges from 2007.  Older records show they had been charged with possession and distribution that had been nolle prosequi.  Accomplice received a 5 year sentence for the robbery but was out on probation for a time until he violated probation and had to serve out the sentence.  Neighbor's Daughter received probation, likely due to a willingness to testify against Accomplice. 

Released from prison December 21, 2012, Accomplice promptly began threatening Neighbor's Daughter.  A Peace Order was issued against him January 31, 2013.  Previous Peace Orders against him by Neighbor's Daughter or others had been obeyed, or at least not violated.  This time vengence overrode restraint, logic, or any semblance of empathy.

Neighbor's Daughter was stabbed repeatedly in her home, in the presence of her toddler daughter and another child.  Accomplice's vengance didn't drive him to physically harm either child but did drive him to pursue Neighbor, where the police were waiting for him.

Accomplice will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison.  Baltimore County judges and juries are not forgiving of lesser crimes, let alone a targeted vengance killing.  But for the fact that the death penalty is on its way out in Maryland, Accomplice would be a likely recipient of the death penalty.

Neighbor's Daughter was 14 when Mother and Father moved into the Neighborhood.  With no children of their own at that time, Mother and Father didn't know Neighbor's Daughter other than to see her around occasionally.  

No one wants to out live their children.  Disease and accidents may mean that it happens all the same, but neither are the result of malice.  It's a particularly sad state that someone intends to take your child from you forever.  Sadder still when that child has made some bad choices but made significant progress in making good choices when killed by a former associate who hasn't learned to make good choices and instead has made even worse choices.  Neighbor's Daughter and Accomplice had run similarly bad courses for years.  Their paths diverged when Neighbor's Daughter learned a better, healthier way and Accomplice learned only to hate.

Now there's much hate for Accomplice among Neighbor's Daughter's family and friends.  That's to be expected.  Hopefully they will eventually remember the lesson that Neighbor's Daughter learned, that choices that lead to bad consequences, such as a desire to harm someone else, only harm both parties.  Hopefully the good choices Neighbor's Daughter made in her life will be the guiding force for her friends and family, especially the love she had for her daughter and husband, who fortunately survives her and will be there for their daughter.  Forgiveness of Accomplice is not necessary.  Forgetting Accomplice and leaving him to wither in prison is enough.  Celebrating Neighbor's Daughter is the best way to remember her.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Throwing Out the Constitution with the Bathwater

I'm a big fan of CBS Sunday Morning.  It has a pacing that's rare to find and doesn't get caught up in the hysteria of the moment's headlines.  Periodically it has commentary pieces, sometimes from regulars and sometimes from one time visitors.  On January 27 it was one of the latter when Louis Michael Seidman, professor of Constitutional law at Georgetown, gave his opinion on the US Constitution.

Here's what he had to say, if you want to see it.

The long and the short of it is that he thinks Americans place too much emphasis on the Constitution, and that the founding document should be abandoned.  He starts out with a premise that's almost something I can agree is correct because the Know Nothings treat the Constitution as though it were a book of the Bible.  (I'd mention some other holy books out there, but honestly, are there any Know Nothings who don't consider themselves Christians?)

Seidman's rationale is that the Constitution was written by people who've been dead two centuries and that, while it has some good ideas in it, also has things that are outdated and unnecessary or detrimental, such as the Electoral College.  Because of these outdated things that hinder our nation, we should be rid of the Constitution.  I don't recall that he called for creation of a new one, but I'd say that's the logical necessity.  To bolster his argument he says that several presidents questioned the Constitution, including Jefferson, Lincoln, and both Roosevelts.

I'll get the nitpicking out of the way first.  The Founders haven't been dead 200 years.  Jefferson and Adams, for instance, didn't die until 1824.  Furthermore, the presidents he cites as being oppponents of the Constitution were opposed to either elements of the Constitution or Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution, not the document in its entirety.  As an example, FDR opposed the Supreme Court's interpretations of the Commerce Clause that were used to overturn several New Deal laws.  This lead to FDR's court packing plan to add more justices to the court so he would have a majority in his favor, something that didn't occur due to The Switch in Time that Saved Nine.  FDR didn't even propose any change to the Constitution in this dispute, as the Constitution is silent about how many Justices sit on the Supreme Court.

The meat of the problem with Seidman's argument is that he wants to thow away all that's good about the Constitution because there are a few outdated elements.  In fact, he only pointed out a couple of outdated elements, too.  Of course, the Constitution already has a way of dealing with the outdated.  It's called amendments.  In fact, that's why the Constitution isn't a 226 year old document.  It's been updated throughout its history, starting with the first ten amendments put in place by the same people Seidman thinks are a sclerotic impediment to the country now.  Most aren't as significant as the Bill of Rights or the post Civil War amendments that outlawed slavery and applied Constitutional protections against Federal infringement on individual rights to the states but there have been important changes as recently as the lowering of the voting rights age to 18 that was ratified in 1971.

The solution to the Electoral College, if it's a problem, is to amend the Constitution.  The Founders created the Electoral College as a bulwark against mob rule, something that was as much a concern to them as monarchical rule.  With GOP proposals to make certain states change their Electoral College vote awards so that a GOP presidential candidate is more likely to win the office while losing the popular vote, I can certainly see why it's looking like it's time for the Electoral College to go.  But that doesn't make throwing out the entire Constitution a good idea.

It's a terrible idea.  I suspect Seidman hasn't thought through why it's such a bad idea, either.  First, the Constitution, since the Civil War, has been a stabilizing force in the country.  The framework it provides keeps extremes from ruling the day.  It's almost impossible for the passions of the moment to seize control because the government is divided at national, state and local levels and further divided withing those levels between executive, legislative and judicial.  These divisions of power make consolidation of power that can happen in purely parliamentary governance impossible.  Look at the UK, which shifted from a Labour government to a Conservative one, then imposed radical austerity that sent the UK into a double dip recession that the US has avoided.

Second, and more fearsome, is the idea of who would write a replacement to the Constitution.  In a world where mental midgets like Antonin Scalia are considered great thinkers by an all too large portion of the population I shudder to think what kind of idiots we'd have writing a new framework for the government.  Undoubtedly there'd be a substantial movement to have it enshrined in the new document that this is in fact a Christian nation and that anyone who arrives here not speaking English has to be sent back immediately.

No, Seidman's idea is a very bad idea.  The Constitution should not be worshipped as a holy document but neither should it be abandoned in favor of chaos and ignorance.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Second Amendment Fallacies

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

To the best of my recollection, this is the only amendment to the Constitution that includes a statement of purpose.  For comparison, here's what the First Amendment says.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishmebnt of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peacably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Straight up prohibition is what you get there.  So, obviously, by including a purpose in the Second Amendment the Founding Fathers, who were responsible for these Amendments as well as the Constitution, wanted to be clear that the right to own arms (and it doesn't even say firearms, so swords and spears could arguably be included) was to serve the end goal of a well regulated militia to secure the freedom of the states.  That means the right to arms is limited only to those who are members of a state run militia.  Well, that's what it should mean.  According to five mental midgets, it means every schmoe on the street has a right to own a gun.

The National Rifle Association has been at the forefront of misreading the Second Amendment and has succeeded beyond all reasonable expectation in turning it into a prescription for gun deaths to exceed auto deaths shortly.  It's close now and is only increasing.  By the NRA's reasoning this is a good thing.  More guns is the answer to every problem, after all. It certainly would remove the need for health care.  Just shoot 'em all.

Here's the thing I don't get.  The NRA argues the need for guns on two premises.  One is protecting yourself from criminals.  The other is protecting yourself from the government.

The first is dubious.  A gun at home or concealed carry is as likely to wind up with the gun owner, a family member, or some innocent bystander dead or wounded as it is an alleged criminal.  And that's the real sticking point.  Shoot first and question later means that there's no due process for alleged crimes.  It also means that shooters are subject to lawsuits for wrongful death or assault.  Assault isn't covered by insurance, either.  Of course, the NRA tries to keep insurers from finding out if someone owns a gun so that the obvious increased risk of harm to someone else isn't known to the insurance company.  Your pool?  No fire hydrants in your neighborhood?  Those an insurance company can find out about.  In NRA  world, your ownership of a gun is not allowed to be asked.  Kind of funny, considering the Second Amendment says the ownership should be regulated.

The second premise is just plain stupid.  You can own all the guns you want.  You can even get together with your friends with all their guns.  There's no chance in hell you're going to stop the government, be it local, state or federal, from kicking your ass.  I'm just waiting for the NRA to argue that the Second Amendment means that you're entitled to own an Abrams or Bradley and some F15s or B2s.  Lets see if the mental midgets are dumb enough to interpret the Second Amendment that way.  Of course, you may as well say there's no government and just a feifdom of warlords, the richest being the only ones able to afford their own private armies.

In the meantime we'll just continue to flood the country with guns so that the criminally minded and mentally unstable can blast away at bystanders, police, firefighters, EMTs and their own family members.

Here's my reasonable proposal for reducing gun violence.  Anyone can own a gun.  It has to be registered with the local government.  Amunition for anything that's not a single shot gun has to be stored at a shooting range.  Shooting ranges have to have security measures to thwart theft and robbery.  Those who collect can then go to ranges to enjoy using their guns and keep the unloaded gun at home to admire and show off.  Those who feel they need a gun for personal protection are limited to a single shot weapon that significantly reduces the chances of carnage like Newtown, Aurora, and on and on.

This won't happen, of course.  A little something called cooperation and compromise is required for that.  The Know Nothings hold far too much sway for that to happen on something as emotionally charged as gun ownership.  Shit, they can't even be reasonable about something as dry as taxing and spending.