2 Sunsets/One Night

With their 6-0 loss to the Braves tonight, the sun officially sets on the Mets season as they will now finish with a losing record for the first time since 2004. Oh well. At least there was this other sunset to make me feel a little better tonight:

I heart the AK right now. Much more than I heart the NY Mets. It pains me so to type that.


Guns and Butter

While garage sale shopping in the rain on Saturday, I happened by the park strip and noticed a rally. From a distance I could make out a sign that said “un-american.” I assumed it was some sort of a wacky right-wing kind of thing and I decided to stay far away. Turns out, it was. It was an anti-health insurance reform/pro-gun rally; a weird combination, right? What do guns have to do with healthcare? (Other than that gunshot wounds send people to hospitals all the time?)

The only reason these two issues have been wedded together is that it would be difficult to get a ton of people out on a cool, damp morning to yell about how health insurance companies should continue to screw people over. But if you add guns to the mix, the crazies come out in droves.
(This picture is actually from Gov. Palin's farewell BBQ in August, not this weekend's event. But you get the point)

I don't want to get into an argument about the Second Amendment (or Article I, Section 19 of the Alaska Constitution)--there is plenty of discourse out there about it already, but I do want to make two points:

(1) If you want to keep a gun in your home for self defense, fine. If you want to own a rifle because you like to hunt, fantastic. If you live in Alaska and you need to arm yourself because when you leave your home you may encounter all sorts of wildlife, that is reasonable. If want to prowl the streets at night in the name of vigilante justice, more power to you. But if you are the punk who earlier this summer fired six shots into my neighbor's house at 4 AM because you were fighting with your ex-girlfriend, or the dumbass who started shooting downtown last weekend and caused me and my friends to have to dive back into a bar for safety, then you should not be allowed to possess any firearms. You are stupid and you are an asshole. You are certainly not who the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment. But if you are, say, this guy, with your mini flag and your leather fanny pack, I fully support your right to own an antique rifle:

(2) I don't believe that guns = freedom. People argue that the Second Amendment must be protected at all costs because the citizenry needs to keep the ability to form armed militias to prevent tyranny and overthrow the government if necessary. But this logic is no longer relevant. Here's why: First, if a despotic leader takes over our country and we really need to take up arms against our oppressors, we won't stand a chance. This isn't like the Revolutionary War where both sides just had muskets. Now the government has way more advanced weapons (like robots, biological weapons, and genetically enhanced bionic soldiers) that would easily wipe out any revolutionaries armed only with guns and maybe some rocket launchers (are those covered by the 2nd A?). Second, collectively, we are way too lazy to even try to overthrow the government. There are all sorts of stories about brave farm boys leaving their homes to fight the British. Good luck getting any 18-24 year old to put down Rock Band and get off the couch to go and fight. Especially when fighting the government would likely result in an Internet service disruption.

Back to the rally. These people are so stupid. Many of the same people who decry any sort of reform of the health insurance industry (And this is really what it's about. It's not about changing they type of health care that is available. It's about making it more accessible to more people because access to healthcare should be a fundamental human right for anyone living in the 21st Century.) are the ones who really need it. Yet these people insanely continue to support Republican politicians despite the fact that their economic and social policies are ruining their lives. But right wing politicians are savvy and they tap into the masses' fears and use those fears to drive an agenda that harms the very people who support it. That it works so well is absolutely maddening.

This is why the debate focuses on socialism, "death panels," President Obama's ancestry, and anything else that does not involve the real issues, like how "relative value units" and price fixing serve to limit access to primary care physicians, the huge role the food industry plays in bringing health care costs under control, the benefits of preventive medicine, or that most doctors actually support a public option. Instead, you get morons like this, from yesterday's "event" in Anchorage:
"(Obama) is a fake, he is an illegal alien, he is a fraud. Barack Obama, where is the birth certificate!" event speaker Bob Bird, last year's Alaskan Independence Party candidate for U.S. Senate, said to scattered cheers from those gathered.

Richard Sloderbeck of Anchorage, standing watching the speakers, said he believes Obama was elected through voter fraud, and, "I know he is Islamic in my heart." He said Obama is trying to take people's guns away and destroy the Constitution.

It's also how you wind up with people gathering in publicly-owned parks to rail against big government and "socialism;" it cracks me up. It just goes to show that people love government spending when it suits them: medicare, paved roads, police and fire departments, traffic lights, snow removal. Want your point to have more resonance? Don't use any of that stuff. Good luck with that.