Friday, December 11, 2015

Extremists Everywhere

  Last week there was a mass shooting in San Bernardino California. Two weeks ago there was a mass shooting in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Last month there was a mass suicide bombing attack in Paris France.

  People who are in favor of stricter gun control are focusing their attention on the mass shootings as proof positive that there are too many guns in the hands of too many people. People who are against stricter gun controls are muted about the Planned Parenthood shooting while focusing their attention on the fact that the Paris bombings used suicide bombers as well as guns, the San Bernardino murderers used guns that were purchased legally in California under some of the strictest gun laws and if more people were armed less people die in mass shootings.

  Opponents of stricter immigration limits point out that the Planned Parenthood attack was performed by a ‘white terrorist’ and it is racist to want to keep Syrian refugees and other muslims out of the county while not assuming that all white people could be closet terrorists. Proponents of stricter immigration limits point out that the San Bernardino was carried out by seemingly normal people who converted to Islamic jihadists. The next question is usually how we can be sure that Syrian refugees being proposed to be resettled in the United States won’t become similarly converted. Soon to follow is how can a country with at least 11 million people residing illegally claim to have safe borders or be able to keep the population secure from even more terrorist attacks.

  All these shooters and bombers are pretty extreme. While the western world may not be at war with Islam it certainly appears that there are large parts of Islam at war with the western world. Presidential candidate Donald Trump got lambasted in the media for claiming that there were Muslims cheering the 911 attacks. I heard a lot of the same anecdotes at the time but now there doesn’t seem to be any written or recorded evidence. I do remember seeing pictures of large numbers of people in other countries wearing Osama Bin Laden t-shirts. Playing to people fears is a sure fire way to garner a certain amount of support and not being able to go to work or a supermarket or a planned parenthood facility without knowing whether or not you are going to be shot at or suicide bombed makes it easy for the fear mongers to do what they do best.

  The general consensus of America about Planned Parenthood shootings and the recent extremist attacks is to do everything and nothing at the same time. The right has a deadlock on any relaxation of gun control – not even to deny weapons to ‘non-violent felons’ where they are as intransigent as the left is in declaring that restrictions of partial birth abortions constitutes a ‘war on women’. In both cases one side sees any compromise as the harbinger to an all-out assault on what is seen as constitutional rights and when viewed through that lens it is reasonable to view any compromise as the first step to surrender.

  President Obama took to the airwaves on Sunday to ask for calm, gun restrictions from people on the no-fly lists, more screening on people entering the country without visas, and for Americans not to blame all Muslims for the San Bernardino attacks. He also said that the US was not going to send ground troops to the Middle East (even as the government is sending special operations forces to that region).

  While the President was been called a lot of names and his ideas called weak I’m not sure what anyone would expect. The country as a whole has decided that they are tired of sending troops to the Middle East where we have no friends and invested trillions of dollars and thousands of lives with very little to show for it. The constant air strikes have been damaging but not decisive. The forces we hope to back in that part of the world don’t seem capable of taking back their territory and likely an even money bet to defect to ISIS. It is easy for someone like Donald Trump to say they would keep all muslims out of the country because he isn’t in a position to make that order just like every presidential candidate in my life time has had a plan to balance the federal budget that has happened only once in my lifetime no matter how many presidents get elected.

  Personally I don’t see why if I have to prove to the State of Iowa that I am competent to drive a car why gun owners shouldn’t have to prove competency to own a firearm. I have no idea why anyone would ever need to own an assault weapon but the people I know who do have plenty of reasons most of which involve their basic human freedoms and rights which sounds a lot to me like the basic reproductive rights that allow any kind of abortion including the late term ones which sounds a lot to me like the basic human rights that are invoked whenever the subject of removing the 11 million plus people that are in this country illegally is brought up.

  So we have mentally unstable people and converted jihadists seemingly able to get firearms at will, millions of people in the country illegally and even if one in a million were terrorists that would be enough to have an attack like the one in Paris or the Boston Marathon bombings. Any attempts to solve any of these issues meets with such a hue and cry from the left or right that nothing gets accomplished. As extreme as the Islamist extremists and anti-abortionists are they can’t hold a candle to the extremists that run American politics.

  Speaking of extreme, my Monday basketball picks were extremely bad as I went 0-2 thanks to the Raptors dilly-dallying around with the Lakers and the Bulls blowing a huge second half lead. My current record stands at 15-10-1 with my mythical winnings down to $400. For tonight's picks I will be using the lines as listed on the Yahoo Sports page for entertainment purposes only with mythical wagers of $110 per game to win $100.

There are 11 games on the schedule tonight and my computer likes 5 of the games. I will take the Timberwolves getting 1 at Denver against the Nuggets, The Hornets getting 3.5 at Memphis to face the Grizzlies, the Wizards getting 2.5 at the New Orleans Pelicans, the Spurs giving 14.5 against the visiting Lakers, and the Magic getting 3.5 points for their home game against the Cavaliers. My mind is screaming that these are all the wrong picks but so far this year the computer has been right far more often than my mind.