Archives for January 2013

Buying A Gun Is Like Adopting A Tiger

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It takes a big man, a strong man, a man secure in his place in the intellectual universe, to admit when he’s wrong, and while I am clearly none of those things, I admit it: I was wrong. I have declared both in this space and on Twitter that the Democrats, and President Obama in particular, would never so much as speak the words ‘gun control,’ much less pursue it in any form, and over the last few weeks, to my great surprise, they have decisively proven me wrong: Obama enacted a series of executive orders and introduced (probably doomed) legislation to try and reduce the number of senseless mass slaughters taking place in America.

The politics of gun control are difficult, to put it lightly. So difficult that no one in a serious position of leadership even bothered trying anything of the sort when someone shot up a movie theater, or when someone else shot up a Sikh temple, or when someone else shot a sitting member of Congress. But the pointless massacre of a kindergarten class seems to have moved people in a different way. It’s certainly moved me: I find myself tearing up every time I think about it, including right now as I type this, and I didn’t have that reaction to Aurora or Virginia Tech or any of the way too many other incidents like this that seem to be coming more and more frequently.

It’s almost (I repeat: almost) like the Newtown shooter was a deep undercover gun control advocate, and he did what he did because only by going so far beyond the pale — shooting a roomful of 5- and 6-year-olds — would anyone actually do anything about this problem. (Some people seem to think that that’s exactly what he was doing, that the Sandy Hook Massacre was just a big stunt designed by Obama to soften the public for his comprehensive gun control plan that’s been waiting in his top drawer for just such a moment as this. THAT IS INSANE.) And even then, it’s highly doubtful (in my opinion) that anything meaningful is going to come from any of this.

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A Horribly Embarrassing Incident in a Very Nice Restaurant

Exhibit A: The scene of the crime.

About nine years ago, my wife and I took a weekend trip to Miami. We had been gifted some free plane tickets from a friend who couldn’t use them, so we decided to check out South Beach. It was a particularly brutal New York City winter, and neither of us had been to Miami before, so it was an easy choice to go relax in the sun and take in some classic deco architecture.

So we flew down, checked into the South Beach Holiday Inn, gaped at people much more attractive than ourselves, gasped at people much wider than ourselves, went to some truly awful nightclubs, and did some surprisingly excellent thrift shopping.

One thing we did not do was consume any alcohol, which was a drastic departure from how I would have conducted myself under these circumstances even six weeks before. It’s a long story, and I don’t really want to get into it here. Suffice to say: for 15 years, the acquisition and consumption of alcohol was the organizing principle of my life, and after a particularly debauched holiday season, I took part in the annual tradition of Sober January, enjoyed the lack of paralyzing headaches and watery diarrhea, and decided at the end of the month to continue teetotaling. (Sober January has lasted nine years and eleven days and counting.)

The point being, I was newly sober on this trip to Miami, and though it was a positive choice that I was feeling good about, I was not yet accustomed to being sober, and particularly being sober on vacation. If you’re not trying to break the landspeed record for taking Pacificos to the neck, what are you supposed to do on a beach vacation?

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I Solved The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict In Like 15 Minutes

An appropriately solemn image for the subject matter

Now that President Obama is about to be sworn in for the second time, he needs a new Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton, who is of course on the lam, whereabouts unknown, to avoid testifying about the Benghazi incident. (Last punk rock band to rename itself “The Benghazi Incident” is a rotten egg.)

Just kidding. She’s not on the lam, and I have no doubt that she will testify as soon as she’s medically able. But she promised a couple of years ago that she would leave the State Department at the end of Obama’s first term in order to get her first full night’s sleep in about 20 years. If there were any doubt that she would follow through on that promise, the blood clot in her brain has put those doubts to rest (for the moment — I wouldn’t count her out for 2016.)

Which leaves a vacancy at the position of Head U.S. Diplomat. After Obama’s first choice for the job, Susan Rice, was browbeaten into withdrawing her name, it now appears that former presidential candidate (and second cousin to Herman Munster) John Kerry will be drafted into duty.

The new Secretary of State, like all Secretaries of State, will spend 98% of his/her/its time trying to work out a peace agreement between the Jews and the Arabs, who have been at war over the right to live on the tiny strip of land currently called Israel, formerly called Palestine. It’s been a long, bloody, terribly annoying conflict with no end in sight for as long as anyone can remember, and for reasons I don’t completely (or even partially) understand, settling it always seems to be the top U.S. foreign policy priority (other than making sure we have enough oil).

With all the awful, intractable conflicts raging all over the world, why does this one occupy such special attention from the U.S. government? One, there are a lot of Jews in America and they feel some investment in what happens to their people, which after the horrors of the Holocaust, is certainly a respectable position. But let’s be real — it’s more because there are a lot of dead serious fundamentalist speaking-in-tongues-type Christians in the American government, and it says somewhere in one of the Testaments (Old? New? New and Improved? Not sure) that Jesus won’t come back unless the Holy Land is in the hands of the Jews, or something. (Raised without religion! Thanks again, Mom and Dad.)

Despite the fact that I don’t really understand the origins of this conflict, don’t grasp the current contours of the problem, have only the faintest comprehension of the motivations of either side, and am unable to stop my eyes from glazing over whenever I try to read up on it, it just so happens that I have a plan to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict. I put probably 15… no, make it 20… yes, 20 minutes (maybe more) of thought into this, and I don’t see any logical reason why it wouldn’t work. Although, I will stipulate that logical reason is the first thing to go in this argument.

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