I don’t want to take away your guns

I confess, I don’t get the whole gun culture. (I don’t get football, boxing, NASCAR, or golf, either.) Some gun owners are creepy. There’s a psycho-sexual dynamic to certain aspects of the gun culture that just plain skeeves me.

But I do understand how some otherwise normal people can own a veritable shitload of guns without being a Doomsday prepper. After all, I own seven guitars (a candy apple red 30th anniversary model Strat, a Squier Tele painted to look like Jimmy Page’s, an FG-150 Yamaha acoustic, an old Silvertone archtop I use for playing slide, a black Takamine acoustic-electric that’s my workhorse guitar, an RF8 Alvarez, and a lovely little Luna cutout acoustic-electric), which is not completely rational for someone who lives in a one-bedroom apartment and is no longer a working musician.

I assume for most people, the love affair with guns is something like that: I like to play each and every one of those guitars. Each instrument has its own sound and personality, and I enjoy the variety. (And when I see the T-shirts that say, “My wife says if I buy one more guitar, she’s going to leave me. Sure gonna miss her”, I do relate.)

The difference, I think, is that I only know of one person killed by a guitar. It was considered unusual.


As opposed to guns, which are all too frequently used to kill people.

Now, I won’t get into in-depth arguments about criminals and guns right now, because that’s not the only part of the gun carnage that so disturbs me. It’s when ordinary people, under extraordinary stress, have access to guns. That concerns me.

I know it would never pass, but I’d be happy with a law that says if you have a bitter divorce and custody fight, you have to put your guns in escrow and you don’t get them back until the kids are grown. At the very least, family court judges or anyone who hears domestic abuse cases should be able to grant petitions to remove guns for a period of time, and put the owners on whatever the equivalent of a no-buy gun list would be. Some people would be much better co-parents if it was the only way they would ever get their guns back. Imagine: Every year, a judge would ask your ex if you’d been non-threatening and cooperative!
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Something like apartheid

But of course, the same rules don’t apply to Israel as they do everywhere else and we’re certainly not allowed to even have a public discussion about it:

An Israeli bus company is launching new bus lines that will effectively separate Jews and Arabs traveling from the West Bank into central Israel. Although the official word is that the new bus lines are only meant to help decrease overcrowding, Ynet News talked to several drivers who said that if Palestinians try to board the “Israeli lines” they’ll be asked to leave. And although the bus lines are supposed to be for everyone, their existence was only advertised in Palestinian villages in the West Bank through flyers in Arabic.

The new bus lines come after reports last year that Israel’s transportation ministry was looking into setting up new bus lines after complaints from settlement residents that Palestinians on their buses constituted a security risk, notes Haaretz.  The new buses will not go into the settlements, which Palestinians are not allowed to enter.

“Obviously, everyone will start screaming ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism’ now,” one driver toldYnet. “This really doesn’t feel right, and maybe [the ministry] should find a different solution, but the situation right now is impossible.”


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I am very happy for the people of Alabama that they have at least one public official who understands history and the importance of acknowledging it, and I am thrilled that Rep. John Lewis lived to see it:

An Alabama police chief brought Rep. John Lewis to tears Saturday, apologizing to the noted civil rights leader for failing to protect the Freedom Riders during a trip to Montgomery in 1961.

Lewis and fellow civil rights activists were beaten by a mob after arriving at Montgomery’s Greyhound station in May, 1961.

On Saturday at ceremony at First Baptist Church, the city’s current police chief, Kevin Murphy, apologized to Lewis and offered him his badge in a gesture of reconciliation, telling the longtime Georgia congressman that Montgomery police had “enforced unjust laws” in failing to protect the Freedom Riders more than five decades ago.

Lewis, who was arrested during civil rights protests in cities across the south, said it was the first time a police chief had apologized to him.

“It means a great deal,” Lewis said. “I teared up. I tried to keep from crying.”

Lewis and other members of Congress were taking part in the 13th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama, a three-day event that also included trips to Selma, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.

Murphy said the decision to apologize was easy.

“For me, freedom and the right to live in peace is a cornerstone of our society and that was something that Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Congressman Lewis were trying to achieve,” Murphy said. “I think what I did today should have been done a long time ago. It needed to be done. It needed to be spoken because we have to live with the truth and it is the truth.”

Sequester exemption for Israeli aid?

If AIPAC gets their way:

At a time when sequestration is about to take a big bite out of the Pentagon budget, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will be sending thousands of its citizen lobbyists to Capitol Hill next week to make sure Israel is exempted from any spending cuts.

This could prove a very risky strategy at a time when millions of Americans will be feeling the bite of the sequestration debacle, from the defense budget to the school lunch program.

But not aid to Israel, which will be untouched if AIPAC gets its way.

This resolution could easily backfire and damage Israel far more than any cuts in its very generous grant aid program.
With no agreement between the administration and Congressional Republicans by March 1, sequestration will kick in.

The 13,000 expected AIPAC activists will be telling Congress not to touch Israel’s $3-billion-plus annual security assistance and to vote for legislation declaring the Jewish state a “major strategic ally.”

That is a designation not enjoyed by any other nation, JTA pointed out, noting it may be a step toward the goal of some conservatives of divorcing assistance to Israel from all other foreign aid spending.

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