Beta Files Podcast
Subject: Cars and Guns
March 29, opening day, 2018. Trump trades his security advisor and two lawyers for an ambassador, Stormy spanks 60 mins, Kim Jung Un sneaks into China for a real copy of an iPhone, Putin is losing rental homes all over the world, and Atlanta is held hostage by a cursor, “What did you do, Ray?” – I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…
Welcome to the BetaFiles week four. On the show this week, countries all over the West have expelled Russian emissaries and the question on everyone’s mind: how will Putin respond? A New York Times op-ed suggests something worse than the cold war, something more along the lines of a post Bolshevik world.
Trump ousts H.R. McMasters and replaces him with John Bolton, a former U.N Ambassador and FoxNews pundit a day after he lost not one but two lawyers from his legal team. And speaking of Trump and Lawyers, Stormy Daniels spilled details, gross stomach churning details, about her and the Donald on 60 Minutes – we’ll disgust – I mean – discuss.
Dr. J will stop by to dish with me on non-Christian holidays the Federal government doesn’t recognize, but should so we can have more paid holidays, and in our final segment this week, a look at the gun rights vs gun control argument, and its weaknesses on both sides.
But first, a shout out to the hundreds of thousands who marched last weekend. Regardless of what they were marching for, those teenagers from Parkland have kickstarted what promises to be the first of many impressive shifts in our culture.
In interviews after the march, the leaders of the group made clear in their message that this was not the culmination of the movement, but only the beginning, promising local townhalls, another walk out on the anniversary of Columbine, and much more.
On the other side of the argument, the NRA fought back with a line that simply did not need to be said when Colion Noir called out the kids and noted that no one would know who they were if their friends had not died. What Mr. all American Name seemed to overlook in his cheap insult was that this is the very point of why these kids are marching.
His argument included another observation from his tunneled view that pointed to the resource officer who, just a few weeks ago, stopped a young man at a Maryland school from committing a mass fatality. He noted that the resource officer, one Blaine Gaskill, could have stopped the gunman at Margery Douglas, and then tried to say that the media had overlooked Mr. Gaskill’s heroics.
I can only tell Mr. Dark Mysterious LA themed story for a last name that all he need to do is search either The New York Times or Washington Post for stories that included Mr. Gaskill. When I did said search, The Times came back with 10 stories featuring Gaskill, while the post came back with 12. All dated within 3 days of the incident. And that’s the liberal papers…
But alas, his point has been made. He is out of touch.
But these kids are not.
There have been several moments in our history as a country where our citizens have stood up and called for change. It hasn’t been since the Vietnam demonstrations that young people have been able to affect this much dialogue and thought among the populace.
Keep going. As I have said before and will say again, your voices are growing louder, and your generation is doing what my generation failed to do when we had the chance. Well done.
And now – HEADLINES…(soundbite)
As we reported last week, John Dowd of Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation quit the team on Thursday, and by Sunday Joseph E. diGenova, hired earlier in the week by Trump, had also removed himself from the legal team due to a conflict of interest in the case, leaving Trump down two lawyers Monday morning. The internal chaos continued as POTUS tweeted that he had a ton of people who would represent him, and that there was no need for concern. By the time of this broadcast, there has been no word as to whether anyone has been hired, or is prospected to be hired. More on the story as it develops.
Staying with Trump, on Monday it was announced that the US, most of Europe, and a few other countries around the world had expelled Russian diplomats in response to the attack of a former Russian spy in Britain. Trump also ordered that a Russian consulate in Seattle to be closed down affective immediately. The Kremlin, in response to the ousters, noted that they did not need to have consulates to poison former spies who turned on mother land, and have since threatened to expel all western diplomats from Russia soon, though there is no word on when or if he will do so, with the exception of the British diplomats that were forced home at the end of last week.
An op-ed in the New York Times this week argued that the current state of Russia is more akin to a “period of paralyzing mistrust that followed the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.” The article, “It’s no Cold War, but Relations with Russia are Volatile” by Andrew Higgins, goes on to point to the recent developments by Putin began under the George W Bush administration when GW withdrew the US from the antiballistic missile accord, leaving Russia fuming. Now, Putin wants to take the lead, and leave America to follow.
The expulsions earlier this week may actually have played right into Putin’s hands, and led the entire West further down a road that only Putin knows.
On Friday of last week, Trump also announced that HR McMasters was no longer to serve as national security advisor, and replaced by former U.N Ambassador John Bolton, a war hungry diplomat who would rather strike first, and ask questions later. The news has sparked all kinds of back and forth between the left and right as Bolton’s reputation of bloodthirsty pre-ejaculatory war mongering has caused considerable concern in these anxious days. Time will tell.
In other White House news, the administration has requested that the census bureau add a citizenship question to the upcoming 2020 census. The issue at stake apparently appears to be threefold: 1) that it could cause unreliable counts 2) that the information could be used by ICE to locate undocumented immigrants and 3) that Sarah Sanders is big ole liar.
When asked about the addition of the question to the census, Sanders responded that it had been on every census since the 1960s, but in fact has not been on the census since the 1950s when the short form census was introduced. And while pundits focus on this discrepancy, my own issue with the statement is as follows: if Trump had to ask to add it, and it was already on the census anyway, then exactly where is Carmen SanDiego?
If you’re confused, good. So am I.
Late Wednesday, news broke that Trump had also removed his Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin (an Obama holdover) and replaced him with the white house doctor Ronny Jackson. For once, he chose someone who hasn’t spent time on FoxNews, and actually understands something about the department he’s taking over. An active Navy physician, Jackson is a specialist in emergency medicine, and served previously as Obama’s personal physician before carrying on the role with Trump. The move is not surprising as Shulkin has been at the center of several controversial stories that have caused problems with the administration, leading the white house to note that the constant distractions have hindered Shulkin to carry on with the job affectively, diverting time and resources away from the president’s agenda. Under secretary Robert Wilkie will serve in the interim until Jackson is confirmed.
In the final story related to our fearless leader, Stormy Daniels appeared on 60 minutes for the interview to end all interviews, at least until Anderson gets to interview another Porn star on national tv.
The interview gave the public some interesting tidbits of information that we could have lived without – information that I will never be able to get out of my head. Apparently, and I hope Robert Mueller was paying attention, if you want to have Trump’s full span of attention, and get him off himself, all you have to do is spank him with a magazine that has him on the cover.
Daniel’s story was a little weak at moments, a point that Cooper alluded to numerous times, asking her why exactly we should trust her. Which led her to only note that she was “getting nothing from this” which I beg to differ with because I am sure her market price in the internet porn rings has gone up tremendously.
I saw the interview. Then I had a shower to wash off the filth. Then another shower to wash off the first shower’s filth. Then a Clorox bath followed by another shower.
In an unrelated story, Kim Jung Un snuck into China, cut a deal with Xi Zing Ping, bought some knock off Fender Guitars made in Mexico, and snuck back out before the international press found out about his visit. However, the talks may have proven to produce some headway in the current instability in the region, as it has been reported that Kim is willing to work towards a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
Thursday morning brought news that Kim and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in have agreed to meet on April 27 in the DMZ to discuss relations between the two Koreas, although it is unclear if they will discuss nuclear weaponization by the North.
Whether denuclearization will happen or not will probably depend on the coming meeting between Trump and Kim when Rocket man and old fat guy talk missiles and hot pockets. Damnit, I’m back on Trump again. Let me try again.
South Korea, in the meantime, was able to renegotiate trade talks with the US, giving Trump a small victory in his trade war – shit. I’m talking about Trump again.
OK, Rick Santorum.
Over the weekend, Santorum made an ass out of himself on State of the Union when he told the teenagers from Parkland that they may need to focus on CPR instead of guns. Because CPR is what kids need when their classmates are being shot around them. The amount – or lack of – intelligence is stupefying to say the least.
Uber has settled with the family of a woman killed by one of their self-driving vehicles in Arizona. The accident is the first involving the death of a pedestrian at the hands of an autonomous vehicle, leading to Nvidia to suspend their self-driving experiment. This leads to a set back as questions over self-driving cars and their safety have already brought unwanted attention to not only Uber, but Google and Tesla as well, leading to numerous talk shows and news programs questioning whether we should have self-driving cars.
In a related story, 16 pedestrians were killed yesterday at the hands of human driven cars leading to the question of whether we should also regulate smart phone usage on side-walks. More as the story develops.
Finally, the City of Atlanta was hacked earlier this week and held at ransom. Yes, the CITY – all government operations were compromised, which just sheds light on the fact that we need to focus more and more on intel security. The city was stuck having to cancel court, return to paper driven administration, slowing down the flow and efficiency of an already clogged system. I think the lesson here is simple: we shouldn’t put faith in the cloud as much as we have. But just like McDonald’s and Walmart, we’ve gone too far and now we’re stuck with the consequences.
And that’s the headlines, or some of them, for this week…(exit soundbite)
Dr J Segment:
Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion on the scurge that plagues so many teachers across the nation: smartphones and the mindless drones that hold them, our students. What’s up, man?
As always, thanks to Dr J for stopping by and talking with us.
Moving on, my final segment tonight is all about the guns. Before we go any further, however, I would like to just note that this will not be an assault on guns rights advocates, nor will it be a defense of the gun control debate. Instead, I want to look at two deficiencies in the larger argument – one from the gun rights side, and one from the gun control side.
I honestly believe that the biggest reason why we just can’t seem to move forward with the debate is because both sides of the debate present arguments that are either clearly unfeasible in our current culture, or have absolutely nothing to do with the debate at all, using another debate to draw attention away from guns.
The two arguments I want to focus on are the most common among the two sides. For the gun rights advocates, whenever the idea of gun regulation is brought up, or weapons bans are floated around, the most overly used response doesn’t deal with guns themselves, but instead cars. Since Columbine, I have heard over and over again the phrase, “when someone dies in a car crash, we don’t ban all cars.” This statement is true, yet has absolutely nothing to do with guns. But, as the gun advocates simply will not let the argument go, let’s look at it first, and find the glaring weaknesses behind the argument.
In this argument, we will use my car – a two door coupe I named Vivian. Vivian is a sporty little car, she can cruise at 80 mph comfortably if she needs to, and she’s a stick shift, which makes driving Vivian a lot of fun. However, reality and common sense tells me that if Vivian were heading directly at me at 45 mph, I would more than likely lose that fight. She may be small, but she’s a stout heavy little lady, and all of the molded plastic with the forged metal behind said plastic would spell doom for my non-molded plastic body.
If I needed to, I could use Vivian as a weapon because of her ability to cause damage to a human body, which would appear to add to the argument from our friends who advocate for guns. However, that’s not her purpose. In fact, the largest problem with the argument revolves around the simple fact that Vivian was built to do one job, and one job only – get me from point a to point b. Comparing a weapon designed with the sole purpose of killing something or someone to a mode of transportation seems, to me, completely unrealistic.
However, the automobile does help in the argument, though not the way advocates would like. It actually lends to the gun control folk who can easily point out that the car is the perfect example of how heavy regulations work with decreasing the danger of the car, and improved the safety of not only the people inside of the car, but outside it as well.
Another point that hurts the gun advocate side is the fact that there are automobiles that are not allowed in public spaces. We call these cars racecars, and we have added specific terms to our language such as “street-legal” that note how there is a special class of automobiles that are not allowed to participate with all other cars. To use these cars, we have built special spaces we call race tracks where we can drive said cars. And even with racecars, we have created regulations and safety protocols for even our most dangerous vehicles.
Cars have thousands of features that are the product of continuous regulations and work for safety that we overlook every day. Little things like a seat belt, headlights, tail lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, anti-lock brakes, air bags, a horn, etc. All regulated, all necessary, all provided to keep people inside and outside of the car. So, if you want to argue that cars are equivalent to guns, then we have a long way to go to make the gun equal to the car in terms of regulation.
On the flip side, the gun control debate eventually leads to conversation of the second amendment, and it’s repeal. The reality is that repealing the second amendment will not solve the problem. Although we are the only nation in the industrialized world to have this amendment in our constitution, removing it will not remove the danger of gun violence, nor will it automatically allow Congress a better avenue towards legislation. All it would do is loosen court rulings, and lead to a logistical nightmare of trying to figure out how to write a new set of laws on top of current legislation that is barely being recognized.
In fact, if you actually look at the second amendment, repealing it would only take away one thing: the right to bear arms. What it won’t do is take away the guns themselves, it will not immediately make it illegal to have a gun as there are no laws that say it is illegal to own a gun, and it will not help the dialogue between the two sides over what to do with guns. Instead, it will simply create more of a division in an argument that has a deep divide already.
So what are the solid arguments for each side? For the gun advocates, their argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people actually has a lot of merit. Unfortunately, neither side has been able to come to terms with how to approach this issue affectively beyond calling for better mental health provisions.
For the gun control side, the assault weapons ban carries merit as well. When the original ban was in place, numbers stayed static, neither going down nor going up. It created a moment when there was a halt on the progression of a problem that affected everyone. However, once the assault ban was lifted, numbers sky rocketed, and have done nothing more than continue to go up.
Between just these two examples, the two sides should be able to come to an agreement and find common ground over the larger problem of gun violence in our culture. It isn’t happening, mainly because of lobbyists on both sides keeping the dialogue at bay. Until larger lobbying forces like the NRA are given less political power in the debate, we will not see progress in the argument, and we will be left with deep divides in our current culture.
Whether you like the kids from Parkland or not, the one thing they are being successful at is keeping the debate at the forefront, and not allowing lobbying firms to take over the conversation and bury it beneath punditry. This is the moment both sides have needed, and it will only be a matter of time before both sides will finally come together for a real conversation, and compromise.
Finally, as some of you know, I record this show on Thursday’s, and on this particular Thursday is a happy one for your’s truly as today is opening day for the MLB.
There is a tradition I started a few years ago for both opening day and game one of the World Series where I read “Casey at the Bat” to my students to help usher in the new season or championship, and call attention to a sport that most young people pay little attention to. In an age of immediate gratification, Baseball is a challenge for them to follow, and so they dismiss it, until I get hold of them, and attempt to pass on my passion for our great past time.
So, with that being said, I plan to add the BetaFiles to this tradition, and if you will allow me the pleasure, I would like to recite “Casey at the Bat” for your listening pleasure:
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
(strike out clip?)
The Boys of summer have returned for another year! I hope you enjoy it as much as I will…
And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…
This has been the BetaFiles.