Wednesday, February 21, 2018

An analysis of sorts, in a dramatic play format

Using Freytag's methodology, let's look at the events of the past week in FL, and the aftermath.

Act 1
A 19 year old enters a High School and systematically shoots many students and staff/adults, killing 17.  He is arrested, a rarity anymore.

Act 2
Students and parents react swiftly, condemning the shooting, the ability of a teenager with documented  mental health issues to obtain a assault rifle and large magazines. The governmental reaction is to condemn the FBI for not acting on information they had been given. After a day's silence on the issue, the president goes down to FL and stops briefly in the town on his weekly trip to his resort. He poses at bedside of a wounded, large grin and a 'thumbs up sign.

Act 3
The students and some parents reaction to the event escalates, again not typical in these events. The students and their student spokesperson are quite vehement in their condemnation of the availability of assault rifles, and the NRA. Again, the condemnation of the NRA, and "any politician who takes money from them" is not typical.  The NRA and gun manufacturers stifle a yawn and examine their fingernails, knowing that they are going to have a big jump in profits in sales of the gun used in the killings.

Act 4
As the response of the students spreads far beyond the town, some politicians and the president seem to be feeling the pressure, and see their non-response is not being well received. Tentatively, their reactions make timid suggestions that gun regulations such as background checks be tightened, and the president even suggests that bump stocks might need to be banned. His press secretary attempts to walk it back slightly.  Again, the NRA and gun manufacturers yawn and close their eyes, imagining the next vacation to the Bahamas.

Act 5
(some happening, some yet to happen) Various conservative groups find ways to discredit the students, claiming they are actors, democratic party plants and the like. The state legislature of FL brings up a bill increasing the rigor of back ground checks. Quietly it is defeated. 3 days after the killings. In Washington DC the democrats bring up similar bills, including the bump stock ban. Quietly, they are defeated. The president picks some adults (not students) from the town, not parents of the students, and hand-picked people from other areas that had similar shootings to meet at the WH. He poses, grinning, maybe thumbs-up, for a post meeting picture. He says they had a "good meeting, very good, very good." The NRA and gun manufactures smile and nod, and lean back in their leather chairs in satisfaction of a good week.

This doesn't follow Freytag's analysis method exactly, it was just the closest I am familiar with.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

From the NY Times

Just in case I still have some conservative, gun-loving people who read this that I haven't alienated yet:

Photo
People in Coral Springs, Fla., demonstrating for stricter gun laws on Friday. CreditSaul Martinez for The New York Times
Had Wednesday’s massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school been different in one respect — that is, had alleged perpetrator Nikolas Cruz shouted “Allahu akbar” during the course of his rampage — conservatives would be demanding another round of get-tough measures.
Tougher immigration laws. Tougher domestic surveillance. A rollback of Miranda rights for the accused. Possibly even a Muslim registry. Constitutional protections and American ideals, goes the argument, must sometimes yield to urgent public safety concerns.
But Cruz, like Las Vegas’s Stephen Paddock or Newtown’s Adam Lanza and so many other mass murderers before them, is just another killer without a cause. Collectively, their carnages account for some 1,800 deaths and close to 7,000 injuries in the United States since the beginning of 2013, accordingto The Guardian — though that’s only a small fraction of overall gun-related deaths. And conservatives have next to nothing of use to say about it.
Well, almost nothing. Some conservatives talk about the importance of mental-health interventions with the potentially violent. Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. The Obama administration tried to do that after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre by requiring the Social Security Administration to submit the names of severely unwell persons to the F.B.I.
Congressional Republicans and President Trump reversed the rule a year ago. Representative Salud Carbajal, a California Democrat, introduced a “red flag” bill last May that would make it easier for family members to keep firearms out of the hands of potentially dangerous relatives. The bill has 50 Democratic co-sponsors but not one Republican. Maybe the Parkland massacre will shame the majority into embracing the legislation.
But such laws can achieve only so much. Keeping track of dangerously unstable people who shouldn’t own guns but do is hard: Devin Kelley, the Texas church shooter, had once escaped from a mental health hospital and was legally barred from buying the weapon he used to murder 26 people in November. Nor can the federal government be in the business of getting unwell people to take their meds. That way lies the path to a Clockwork Orange.
Beyond that, the conservative answer is: more guns.
It’s true that a gun in the right hands at the right time and place can save lives, as the former National Rifle Association instructor Stephen Willeford proved when he shot Kelley as the latter emerged from the church. No sensible society should want to keep arms out of hands like his.
But that’s an argument for greater discrimination in terms of who should get to own a gun, not less. The United States has, by far, more guns in more hands than any other country in the developed world. It has, by far, the highest incidence of firearm-related homicides and suicides. Correlation is not causation, but since Americans aren’t dramatically crazier than other nationalities, what other explanation is there?
Gun advocates often make the claim that the mere presence of firearms deters crime. But research from Stanford’s John Donohue suggests that “right to carry” state laws have led to a 13 to 15 percent jump in violent crime. New York City, with the most aggressive enforcement of gun laws of any major U.S. city, has seen its homicide rate drop to levels not experienced since the 1950s. By contrast, in the permissive gun state of Missouri, St. Louis has the highest per capita murder rate of any major American city.
Nor is it remotely true, as gun advocates contend, that gun bans necessarily result in increased murder rates. The homicide rates in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom have all fallen since enacting strict national gun control. Conservatives are supposed to be empiricists, not idealists. They should learn the lesson of experience.
So all this is an argument for tougher gun-control laws, right? Well, not exactly.
In October, after the Las Vegas massacre, I made the case in this column for repealing the Second Amendment. The column is still being criticized by conservatives for reasons that usually miss the point. We need to repeal the Second Amendment because most gun-control legislation is ineffective when most Americans have a guaranteed constitutional right to purchase deadly weaponry in nearly unlimited quantities.
There’s a good case to be made for owning a handgun for self-defense, or a rifle for hunting. There is no remotely sane case for being allowed to purchase, as Paddock did, 33 firearms in the space of a year. But that change can’t happen without a constitutional fix. Anything less does little more than treat the symptoms of the disease.
I know what the objections to this argument will be. What about John Locke and Cesare Beccaria? What about the preservation of American liberties and the encroachments of bureaucratic liberal despotism?

Right. What about another 17 murdered souls, and their classmates and families, and the inability of today’s conservatives to offer anything except false bromides and empty prayers?
Continue reading the main story

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A repost, fromJune, 2014 that is prescient

Printed in whole, from that time.....nearly 4 years ago:

Now for the rant. It'll be nothing new to any of you, I'm sure. It won't be the first time you've heard it from others, and it won't be the last. Next week it'll happen again, and the week after. Probably a year from now it'll be even worse.

Yesterday a young man with a gun walked into a high school in Portland Oregon and opened fire, killing a student and wounding a teacher, then was either killed or or killed himself. A few days before this a young man walked into a university in Seattle and started shooting a shotgun, killing one student and wounding two others. He was captured, a rarity in these cases.

Since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school there have been almost 40 other shootings in schools, most of them K-12. This number is only at schools, there have been far more that don't include schools....malls, public buildings, on and on. The US has the highest rate of gun deaths per capita in the 'industrialized' world, exceeded only by places like Somalia. The US rate per 100,000 is 3.9. The UK is 0.3.

When we look back the months since Sandy Hook we see a lessening of public reaction with each incident. The US was in a mild state of shock for a week after Sandy Hook, with much public debate about guns. The shooting in Seattle barely made the news outside the Pacific Northwest, and was absent from the news after 2 days.

Which brings us to the National Rifle Association (NRA). They morphed from a hunting-based organization that talked about conservation into a lobby and supporter of the gun industry in the 1970's, and have been wildly successful in stifling debate about guns and deflecting the issue from guns to a variety of other issues. They, with Supreme Court justice Anthony Scalia's help, have made the 2nd amendment into a holy-of-holy biblical commandment. There isn't a politician of national importance that will go up against them about any aspect of gun control, however minor.

A week or so ago a spokesperson for the NRA made a statement that called the Texas 'open carry' loonies "weird". This small venture into rationality was quickly reversed by the NRA with a statement that said "We support the right of any citizen to carry a gun anywhere."

One would think in any right-minded society this group would be relegated to the dust bin of history. Not in the US, here we read it and move on. No comment from any politician.

A year ago a columnist for a gun magazine wrote that "high-capacity assault rifles have no place in hunting." Under pressure from the NRA he was quickly and publicly fired. He also got death threats, as have most public officials that have the temerity to suggest any minor alteration to gun laws, like background checks.

The NRA is directly responsible for these gun deaths by quelling any discussion about gun control, in any meaningful venue.

I could go on and on; the spinning of the 2nd amendment by the Supreme Court, the political parties unwillingness or inability to address the issue, on and on. But what's the point? The motherfuckers have won. We're screwed.

Coming soon to a cafe near you: guys with assault rifles walking in and proclaiming their right to brandish guns trumps your worries about your families, and the grieving of parents and families everywhere.

Trip down memory lane

Honeymoon, October 1968, Manila, the Philippines. My oldest thinks I look like a serial killer.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Yes, it really does list as a flyfishing blog.......

But it's much, much more. No idea how it exists, most 'fly fishing' blogs are really advertisers for one fishing product or another. Not this one. Virtually all avoid politics. Not this one.

http://flyfishyellowstone.blogspot.com/

In Seattle for a few weeks....the drive over was through every driving condition I've heard of: ice skating rink, packed snow, downpour rain, visibility of 50", and bright sunshine and blue sky.

Cheers all, and do check out the blog.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Way ahead of her time with this book.....


I had the pleasure of hearing her speak many decades ago, in '71 I think. She took questions from the audience after, and I asked her why, in her book "Left Hand of Darkness" she had one of the main characters killed. She smiled indulgently at the 23 year old and said "It's just what happened."

I've re-read the book recently, and it's amazing just how current it is, and how relevant it is to conversations we're having about gender and sexuality. There has not been another book that even approached the subject with the acumen that she brought to her craft.