Bob Schwartz

Category: Uncategorized

“A semi-auto changed my life” says an AR-15 hunter

From  Why hunters are trading in traditional hunting rifles for the AR-15 on Guns.com:

Hunters traipsing through fields in unrestricted states are also afforded the luxury of 30 round magazines which increase the number of shots a hunter can fire in a given time period while decreasing follow-up shot time. This can often mean the difference between taking a trophy and going home empty handed.

“I believe in one well-placed shot,” coyote hunter Greg Sodergren told Time Magazine of the AR-15. “(But) if you’ve got multiple animals or you miss, you’ve got a quick follow-up shot.”

In addition, the speed in which the AR cycles its bolt as compared to the manual cycling of a bolt-action means more potential shots on target or multiple shots effortlessly carried out on multiple targets.

“A semi-auto changed my life,” Eric Mayer, who runs AR15hunter.com, told Time Magazine. “I’m able to make the (shot) because I don’t have to run the bolt (and) lose the target in my scope.”

“If you miss you’ve got a quick follow-up shot.” A semi-automatic AR-15 rifle changed lots of lives at a Florida high school yesterday. Only they weren’t coyotes or deer.

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Shootings Are Not Normal

Shepard Fairey

I published my first post about the National Rifle Association in the wake of Sandy Hook—more than five years ago. I wrote:

The dead can’t vote, and in the case of the children killed today at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they weren’t old enough anyway. So we have to speak for them and vote for them. Today is the day.

That began a string of posts about guns and the NRA, the most recent one following the massacre in Las Vegas. The killings just keeps on happening.

The mayhem from today’s shooting at a high school in Florida is being assessed. It is news and will be for a while. Republicans shilling for the NRA will explain the problem, which won’t involve guns. Soon, we will move on. The injured will more or less heal, the dead will still be dead, their loved ones will mourn.

Guns are one of the ways that America is “exceptional” in the world. Despite the patriotic pride that some take in this exceptionalism, it is nothing to be proud of. Shootings are not normal.

And the dead still can’t vote.

Trump and His Fixers

Donald Trump and Roy Cohn

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen today says that he paid hush money to Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket. It was, he claims, not Trump money or campaign money.

This puts the spotlight on the role of the “fixer”. Fixers come in two varieties.

There are lawyers who use every means, this side of the law, but questionably this side of morals and ethics, to help clients clean up messes. See, for example, the movie Michael Clayton starring George Clooney.

Then there are fixers who leave law, morals and ethics behind. Winston Wolfe (“The Wolf”) in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is the perfect example. “I’m Winston Wolfe. I solve problems,” he says. His immediate problem is quickly cleaning up a car in which there has been a very messy murder.

Trump’s mentor as a young businessman was Roy Cohn, one of the most infamous and unscrupulous lawyer/fixers of his time. Trump has found lawyers and non-lawyers willing to clean up his messes, like Michael Cohen. But he’s never found anyone who can measure up to Cohn, who was one of a kind.

Trump’s hero as a mature businessman—and as president—is Vladimir Putin. Putin’s fixers make Roy Cohn look like a choir boy. There is literally nothing that Putin won’t ask his global network of fixers to do for him, and nothing they won’t do. Fear, loyalty and money are great motivators.

Trump would love to bring Roy Cohn back as his ultimate fixer. That’s not possible. Trump would also love to get the help of Putin’s fixers. Apparently, he already has.

 

President Pmurt

Mister Mxyzptlk was an imp from the fifth dimension who was a constant nemesis of Superman in the comics. The only way this villain could be made to disappear was to trick him into saying his own name backwards.

And so, while we wait for something to rid us of our meddlesome president, one suggestion is to trick him into saying (or tweeting) his name backwards: Pmurt (pronounced puhmurt?)

How? Well, if someone were to tweet something critical, including a claim that Trump was a “pmurt”, the president could not resist answering the charge, including in his replies a flat out denial of the fake news that he is a pmurt.

Yup, that should do it.

Turning Back: Good News from Today’s I Ching (Hexagram 24)

 

Today’s I Ching hexagram (Hexagram 24, Fu/Turning Back) brings good news, for individual lives and for any bigger concerns we might have about the way some things seem to be going in the world:

“During the time of decay, the dark forces proceed one after another until they reach the uppermost position. The situation seems hopeless. However, the Chinese believe that turning back and starting again is a universal and everlasting truth. When decaying has reached its extreme, a turning point comes. Then the light shines in the darkness, and the bright situation begins again….

This gua indicates that, through the influence of King Wen and King Wu, decaying was corrected in a short period of time. The social norm was reestablished. The courtesy and etiquette created by the Duke of Zhou was put back in place immediately. King Wen was happy about the situation; he claimed that turning back brought success. There was no harm for people going out and coming back. There was no harm in people of different kingdoms arriving and departing.”

Alfred Huang, The Complete I Ching:

Hexagram 24
Fu • Turning Back
Earth
over
Thunder

Fu plays an important role in the I Ching. It is one of the twelve tidal gua used to explain the cosmology of the changing of the seasons—to go around and begin again….

Things cannot go beyond the extreme. When they reach the limit, they turn back to the origin. Thus, after Falling Away comes Turning Back.

The situation seems hopeless. However, the Chinese believe that turning back and starting again is a universal and everlasting truth. When decaying has reached its extreme, a turning point comes. Then the light shines in the darkness, and the bright situation begins again….

This gua, together with the preceding one, displays the truth of changing. When things proceed to their extreme, they alternate to the opposite. Thus, after the period of falling away comes turning back. The light that has been banished returns. The change is not brought about by force—it accords with the law of Nature. The turning back arises spontaneously, like a bright spring returns after a severe winter. It is a matter of circumstance due to the appropriate time and situation. Because it is the law of Nature, no human force can alter it….

The Commentary on the Decision says, “From this gua, Fu, one can see the heart of Heaven and earth.” It reveals the cosmology of the Confucian school. Once Confucius said, “Heaven and earth have a heart fond of creating and propagating.” Confucian scholars advocate that one should follow the Tao of Heaven and Earth, that is, to be creative and propagate without ceasing. But the Taoists embrace a different view. Lao Tze says,

Attain the highest void;
Maintain the deepest stillness.
When ten thousand beings rise and fall,
Watch their turning back.

Taoists accept the idea of the cyclic motion of Falling Away and Turning Back and Falling Away again and Turning Back again, but they hold that existence originates from nonexistence and motion from nonmotion. Only when one reaches a state of total nonattachment is one able to see the heart of Heaven and earth. In Chinese culture, the Confucian and Taoist schools constitute a yin-yang complement. The philosophy of the Confucian school is moving and doing. That of the Taoist school is retreating and doing nothing. Yet both philosophies originate from the I Ching.

This is an auspicious gua, because the yang energy returns. Yet the Decision does not mention its auspiciousness because the yang energy is still weak. Its achievement depends on effort. But the first line bodes supreme good fortune. In reality, no one is perfect. If one is able to turn back from not going too far toward the evil, it brings supreme good fortune….

This gua indicates that, through the influence of King Wen and King Wu, decaying was corrected in a short period of time. The social norm was reestablished. The courtesy and etiquette created by the Duke of Zhou was put back in place immediately. King Wen was happy about the situation; he claimed that turning back brought success. There was no harm for people going out and coming back. There was no harm in people of different kingdoms arriving and departing. Falling away and turning back moved in accordance with the Tao of waxing and waning.

The Interdependent Economic Technological Political Social Cultural Ecology of America

Think about all the things you love and enjoy in modern American life in 2018.

Think about all the things you don’t like—you might say hate—about modern American life in 2018.

Think about the popular concept of ecology, that there is an inescapable though sometimes subtle interdependence between all the elements of our life and our world—the good, the bad and the ugly.

Now think that the things you love and enjoy are unbreakably related to the things you hate. That, for just one tiny example, the developments in American life you most regret have been existentially dependent on the social media you lovingly embrace. If you think more, you may find that lots of the developments and capabilities you love and hate are interdependent.

Something to think about.

James Baldwin—My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation

You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon. We cannot be free until they are free.
James Baldwin, My Dungeon Shook (1962)

It would be obvious and appropriate to quote Martin Luther King Jr. today. Instead, though, I offer an excerpt from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, one of the great literary works on black America by one of America’s greatest writers. (For those who keep track of such things, the book has earned 343 Amazon reviews, with a rating of 4.8.)

The book includes a brief essay entitled My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation. Written in 1962, before the Civil Rights Act and the forward but fitful evolution of American society, its power is undiminished in the face of unfinished business.

Excerpts:

Dear James:

I have begun this letter five times and torn it up five times. I keep seeing your face, which is also the face of your father and my brother. Like him, you are tough, dark, vulnerable, moody—with a very definite tendency to sound truculent because you want no one to think you are soft. You may be like your grandfather in this, I don’t know, but certainly both you and your father resemble him very much physically. Well, he is dead, he never saw you, and he had a terrible life; he was defeated long before he died because, at the bottom of his heart, he really believed what white people said about him….

I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. One can be, indeed one must strive to become, tough and philosophical concerning destruction and death, for this is what most of mankind has been best at since we have heard of man. (But remember: most of mankind is not all of mankind.) But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime….

This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish. Let me spell out precisely what I mean by that, for the heart of the matter is here, and the root of my dispute with my country. You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity. Wherever you have turned, James, in your short time on this earth, you have been told where you could go and what you could do (and how you could do it) and where you could live and whom you could marry. I know your countrymen do not agree with me about this, and I hear them saying, “You exaggerate.” They do not know Harlem, and I do. So do you. Take no one’s word for anything, including mine—but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go. The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear….

For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become. It will be hard, James, but you come from sturdy, peasant stock, men who picked cotton and dammed rivers and built railroads, and, in the teeth of the most terrifying odds, achieved an unassailable and monumental dignity. You come from a long line of great poets, some of the greatest poets since Homer. One of them said, The very time I thought I was lost, My dungeon shook and my chains fell off.

You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon. We cannot be free until they are free. God bless you, James, and Godspeed.

Your uncle,
James

“Trump allies see his involvement in shooting as overblown.”

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Donald Trump, 23 January 2016

There is no evidence that Trump has shot someone on 5th Avenue or elsewhere—or more likely that he has had someone shot, since he probably wouldn’t do it himself.

Whether or not he would lose voters if that happened, it is certain that he wouldn’t lose the support of his circle of self-serving sycophants or Republicans in Congress.

It was almost two years ago, on the campaign trail in Iowa, that Trump announced his immunity from the norms of politics, or for that matter the norms of civil behavior. Rather than concern that this might be the ranting of a disturbed and anti-social individual, it was shrugged off as the rhetoric of a colorful fringe candidate, as “Just Trump being Trump.”

That fringe candidate is now president. “Just Trump being Trump” is a mantra that is now repeated in the wake of whatever he says or does. Anything, anytime, anywhere. Even if that crazy Iowa rhetoric turns from fantasy to fact.

Most Republicans in Congress Are Political Cowards. And They Know It.

Note: As this was being readied, it was announced that two Republican Senators who attended yesterday’s infamous White House meeting released a statement saying that they “didn’t recall” Trump making the reported comments about immigration from “shithole countries”—meaning Haiti and all of Africa. As if anyone at the meeting could forget.

During the day, Republicans in Congress do their work, self-satisfied that they are doing the people’s business with conscience and integrity, serving the best interests of the nation and their constituents. They may even be considering the next election, which will allow them to continue that good work and care.

But at night, when their heads hit the pillow, how do they really feel, what do they really think? One guess is that in the dark, alone with themselves, all rationalizations and excuses fly away, for these are not necessarily bad people. They think about the courage it would take to say what they really believe and do what they really think is right. There at night, alone in the dark, they consider the value of courage, how admirable but difficult and costly it is to stand up and speak out. At that point it may be hard to get to sleep—and some may even weep in frustration and self-recrimination. The next day will undoubtedly bring another test, and they know they will not pass.

Merton: Events and Pseudo-Events

“Nine-tenths of the news, as printed in the papers, is pseudo-news, manufactured events. Some days ten-tenths. The ritual morning trance, in which one scans columns of newsprint, creates a peculiar form of generalized pseudo-attention to a pseudo-reality. This experience is taken seriously. It is one’s daily immersion in ‘reality.’ One’s orientation to the rest of the world. One’s way of reassuring himself that he has not fallen behind. That he is still there. That he still counts!

My own experience has been that renunciation of this self-hypnosis, of this participation in the unquiet universal trance, is no sacrifice to reality at all. To ‘fall behind’ in this sense is to get out of the big cloud of dust that everybody is kicking up, to breathe and to see a little more clearly.”

Thomas Merton, Faith and Violence