Jul 21 2016

The triumph of the will.

I have had to spend the week back in Shopping Mall USA this week. As a result I have gotten to watch the royal mess that is the Republican national convention. It's been a very graphic display of how far America has fallen, and how ludicrous the GOP has become. Tonight was supposed to be a well oiled machine- but then Ted Cruz stopped by.

 

I've got to hand it to Cruz, he could have taken the expedient path and sold his soul to the devil that is Donald Trump. But he refused to endorse him. He appears to understand what Rubio, Walker , and the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver do not-that Trump is dangerous. I am no fan of Cruz whatsoever- but to take the path he took tonight was pretty bold, IMHO. Without naming the vulgar talking yam by name-he showed him to be the truly worthless soul that he is. As one analyst said, "He chose to short Trump stock big time". Its a risky position-but far more principled than anything Trump has ever done. I will reiterate that Trump is truly dangerous-a threat to the heart of the Republic.

So here we go. You have just seen another sign of the apocalypse, wherein I write kind words about Ted Cruz. It appears the GOP is lifting it's convention script directly from the book of Revelation.

Damn them all now.

Damn the delegates who will vote for this man. Damn the professional politicians who will fall in line behind him or, worse, will sit back and hope this all blows over so the Republican Party once again will be able to relegate the poison this man has unleashed to the backwaters of the modern conservative intellectual mainstream, which is where it has been useful for over four decades. Damn the four hopeless sycophants who want to share a stage with him for four months. Damn all the people who will come here and speak on his behalf. Damn all the thoughtful folk who plumb his natural appeal for anything deeper than pure hatred.

 

Damn all the people who will vote for him, and damn any progressives who sit this one out because Hillary Rodham Clinton is wrong on this issue or that one. Damn all the people who are suggesting they do that. And damn all members of the media who treat this dangerous fluke of a campaign as being in any way business as usual. Any support for He, Trump is, at this point, an act of moral cowardice. Anyone who supports him, or runs with him, or enables his victory, or even speaks well of him, is a traitor to the American idea.

Damn, to name one, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from the state of Wisconsin, now exposed as the feckless political weakling he's always been. On Wednesday, during an inexcusable CNN-sponsored informercial for himself, Ryan was asked the only question that mattered:

But the challenge facing Ryan was clear when he was asked a question by Zachary Marcone, a Republican who said he couldn't support Trump because he is "openly racist." "Can you tell me, how can you morally justify your support for this kind of candidate?" Marcone asked.

Ryan responded like the spineless careerist tool he's always been.

"You're going to help elect Hillary Clinton and I don't think Hillary Clinton is supporting any of the things you stand for if you're a Republican."

In other words, if we don't elect this authoritarian wild man, I won't get to gut Medicare the way I've always wanted to.

If I were Ryan, I'd put that on a bumper sticker.

 

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Jul 14 2016

And we are back. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

If ever there was a good two weeks to be disconnected from the world-I think the last two weeks might have been it. Portugal beat France. The whole Dallas mess. The FBI director and his press conference, and of course, the vulgar talking yam saying the normally stupid things he says.

And of course there is this:

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Not to mention having to go to work and read about this:

 

 

Altogether, I think it is time to:

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For what it's worth, however, the cruise was great.  Pix to follow.

 

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Jul 02 2016

The call of the sea….

Published by under Travel

Because saving money in the wake of the Brexit disaster is for pussies, right?

Actually, I paid for this 6 months ago, long before I knew that 37.5% of the British people were going to fuck over the world.

And since they did, I thought I would go to the home of government provided services and take a cruise. Greetings from Stockholm.

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That will be me on the fantail, debating whether to throw my self or my drink overboard. Either way, I'll be off the grid for a bit.

Have a great holiday weekend.

 

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Jun 28 2016

The first draft of history…

Yes the markets went back up today. I did my bit to help and bought stock in Match.Com. ( Because you never know when you'll need to fire up that Tinder App).

But Britain kept taking one hit after another. A labor No Confidence vote that Jeremy Corbyn lost, and additional credit downgrades. These are lighting the fuse for the recession of 2017.

So is there time to point out how utterly stupid Brexit was? There is always time to point out how fucked in the head the Brexit vote was.

Assuming I'm not dead from alcohol poisoning on November 9th, which is a very real possibility if Trump wins, Laurie Penny at The New Statesman has written the first draft of what will be many posts calling the American people stupid. Just take the British names and substitute American ones-and you feel her (and my) pain:

I want my country back

This was never a referendum on the EU. It was a referendum on the modern world.

There’s not enough tea in the entire nation to help us Keep Calm and Carry On today. Not on a day when prejudice, propaganda, naked xenophobia and callous fear-mongering have won out over the common sense we British like to pride ourselves on. Not on a day when we’re being congratulated by Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and nobody else. Well done, turkeys. Santa’s on his way.

Nigel Farage, the rich, racist cartoon demagogue, boasts that this victory was won “without a single shot being fired”. Tell that to the grieving family of Jo Cox, the campaigning Labour MP gunned down last week. Farage promised that unless something was done to halt immigration, “violence will be the next step”. It looks like we’ve got a two-for-one deal on that one.

So, here’s the thing. This was never a referendum on the EU. It was a referendum on the modern world, and yesterday the frightened, parochial lizard-brain of Britain voted out, out, out, and today we've all woken up still strapped onto this ghost-train as it hurtles off the tracks. Leave voters are finding they care less about immigration now that their pension pots are under threat. Maybe one of the gurning pundits promising them pride and sovereignty should have mentioned that, but they were too busy lying about the NHS. The curtain has been torn away and now we all have to look at the men behind it. They are not good men.

Anyone feel like they’ve got their country back yet? No? That, after all, was the rallying cry of the Leave campaign – the transatlantic echo of "Make America Great Again". There’s a precedent for what happens when svengalis with aggressively terrible haircuts are allowed to appeal to parochialism and fear in the teeth of a global recession, and it isn’t pretty.

 

Read the rest of the article here. It speaks to me-and should to you, Because I guarantee, whatever your political beef is with the USA today, I can assure you Donald Trump is not the answer to it. He will kill you and your country in your sleep.

I now yield the floor to Mr. Oliver again:

 

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Jun 27 2016

New Words for the dictionary

Watching markets tank again, makes me want to keep beating the Brexit horse. Once again, thank you voters of the UK for giving me an opportunity to keep working well into my 60's. That night job as an Uber driver in a couple of years will be a hell of lot of fun.

Meanwhile, as the United Kingdom's corpse is being embalmed, a new word has joined the English language:

 

Meanwhile down under, there is a revision being considered to the Australian flag:

 

In more good news, it appears one's Brexit vote comes with a money back guarantee.

 

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in words that were eerily reminiscent of Hank Paulson's in 2008, reassured British citizens that the "fundamentals of the economy are sound".

Pro-tip. It didn't work for Paulson back then either.

Meanwhile, there are those who cling to the rather vain hope that this nightmare can all be undone:

 

While other people are realizing just how bad things are:

 

David Cameron, realizing his days as a government employee are limited, begins working on his resume:

Seriously though, this referendum proves H.L. Menken's old quote and one I have used before, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

Of course, we Americans should not get complacent. Especially the peculiar species of American voter that spouts the same old tired lines about " sticking it to the elites", "throwing of totalitarianism" and "sticking it to unelected policy makers"   Here is a serious point, if you, as an American, support Brexit-besides being wrong you may be just one of these people:

 

 

That's my best summation of the why, of American conservatives who support either / or Trump or Brexit.

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And this is only Monday. Tip your waitress well, I may be bashing this insanity all week.

 

 

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Jun 26 2016

Now it’s time to pay the piper.

This weekend has been one of the most interesting in recent history. Watching the post mortem on the Brexit referendum on British TV has been an education to say the least. When you walk off of a cliff, there is that interval of time while you fall, wondering how bad the impact is going to hurt.

That is what I would say this weekend has been like. Britain and the rest of the world have been going through the five stages of death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Based on the news this weekend I'd say that we are just clearing stage 3. Stage 4 will come tomorrow when world markets drop yet again. (I don't think the markets have hit a definitive benchmark yet, the Dow for Example has about 400 more points to go, before it settles in for up and down cycles of about a 100 points or so for weeks).

When last we left the story, the Down Jones had wiped out ALL of its 2016 gains and had suffered its biggest single day drop in 1.5 years. Over the weekend the hits just kept on coming.

The credit rating agencies cut Britain's credit rating. Moved it from AAA to AA+.Following the Brexit vote, it said Britain's economic growth will be weaker and warned the public finances will be weaker than previously forecast, meaning it will be harder to cut the deficit. 

Meanwhile up in Scotland, 

EDINBURGH — Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said Friday that a new referendum on independence in Scotland was “highly likely” now that Britain had voted to leave the European Union.

Voters rejected an effort to break free from the United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum, but Ms. Sturgeon said Scotland would take measures to protect its place in Europe and maintain access to the single market.

Ms. Sturgeon cited her party’s election manifesto, which calls for another ballot if there is a “significant and material change in circumstances” from the 2014 vote, such as Scotland’s being taken out of the European Union against its will.

Not to be outdone, the folks in Northern Ireland, have their own issues to think about:

No sooner was the Brexit out of the bag than Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister for Northern Ireland, declared the need for a poll on Irish reunification. Northern Ireland voted decisively to remain in the EU. By McGuinness’s logic, this means that the “British government has forfeited any mandate to represent the economic or political interests of the people”.

Opportunistic? Of course. Disingenuous? Maybe. The Good Friday agreement, which created peace in the north, allows the secretary of state to call a border poll when there’s clear indication that public opinion has swung towards a united Ireland. Currently, there’s no such indication – the people of Northern Ireland voted against leaving the EU, which is markedly different from voting to leave the UK.

A border poll at this juncture would be dangerous. Think the build-up to Brexit was polarising and scary? Add a few centuries of colonial history, a partition, 30 years of sectarianism and violence, a fragile peace of less than two decades, a severe terror threat, a quarter tonne of semtex, a wee dash of Brexit-induced socio-economic insecurity, and the frustration caused by one’s English compatriots voting to pull the rug out from under a painstakingly crafted peace process, then tell me about polarising and scary.

So it is probably best that we chill on the reunification rhetoric for the minute. That said, I do think the aftermath of Brexit has the potential to strengthen Northern Ireland’s connection to the Irish Republic. If and when that happens, we’ll talk border polls.

 

Meanwhile back in London, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party Leader ,had his hands full dealing with a revolt inside his own party.

The U.K.'s dramatic decision to leave the European Union has set off an open mutiny within the opposition Labour Party against the party's leader, Jeremy Corbyn

The BBC reports that at least eleven ministers have resigned from their positions on the shadow cabinet; in the British system, that's the government body that criticizes the ruling party's government and presents alternatives.

This started when Corbyn sacked his shadow foreign secretary, party veteran Hilary Benn, as NPR's Peter Kenyon tells our Newscast unit.

"Within hours more shadow cabinet ministers announced their resignations amid concern that Corbyn is not the leader the party needs to see it through the upheaval caused by the Brexit vote," Peter says. He adds that Corbyn has "vowed to fight any challenge."

Under the category of, you want it bad you get it bad, The other EU nations are insisting that Britain should withdraw from the EU as soon as possible and not slow roll the process. Angela Merkel said she agreed with that logic, but would not "fight for it".  

Nonetheless there are important reasons why the continental nations of Europe will need to take a hard line in negotiations for Britain's exit from the block. Number one will be to drive home the point to other exit wanna be's that you pay a price for not playing ball. European leaders will desperately want to stop the contagion represented by Brexit. There is not a Norway or Swiss deal in Britain's future.

This isn’t just economic; it has implications for global security. The EU and the US have depended on a united front on a score of global challenges, most notably with Russia. Russia will exploit any division they can.

Now at the same time-things could turn around if a few things happened. Like oil prices go up dramatically.

Of course if this November the US elected Donald Trump to be President, things could get a lot worse. As Larry Summers pointed out, Brexit could just be the opening act if Trump gets elected:

Well, I think the same kind of sense that this couldn't possibly happen, that surrounds the Trump candidacy also surrounded the Brexit referendum. And I think whatever damage Brexit may do to the global economy, is small compared to the uncertainties that would be unleashed if Donald Trump became President of the United States. That's because the policies that Trump has advocated could hardly be better calculated to create uncertainty and economic instability.

So there is that to look forward to.

 

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Jun 24 2016

Funeral for a friend

I suffered the loss of a good friend last night. The United Kingdom ( May 1, 1707-June 23rd, 2016), America's mother country, the source of US traditions and many of our values , a country that holds a special place in my heart, committed suicide last night. It was 409 years old. The corpse is still twitching but the damage has been done. That the death was completely avoidable makes this loss of a once great nation particularly tragic.

I stayed up watching the returns start to come in, and I went to bed cautiously optimistic. I awoke at 4AM, looked at my phone and knew my once good friend was doomed. I got up and went downstairs to watch the BBC and ITV coverage. At 6:20 AM, they pronounced the patient dead.

By that time the S.O. had seen 6% of her Japanese savings vanish. The pound was down almost 8% and Dow Jones futures were indicating a monumental meltdown at the open.

And there on the TV was the obnoxious face of Nigel Farage. For those who don't know him, he is the leader of the UKIP party and the darling of fucking idiots American Conservatives for his Trumpian rhetoric.

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V.I.K.I.: You are making a mistake. My logic is undeniable.

Detective Del Spooner: You have so got to die.

As the morning unfolded, the hits just kept on coming. The founder of this monstrosity of a referendum, David Cameron, announced he would be resigning as Prime Minister. That's what happens when you bet the farm on a completely unnecessary political evolution and then lose.

The FTSE was dropping like a stone.

As was the DAX, and all the other European markets. The sickness even affected the bond markets, with German and Spanish bonds taking a particular beating. I have no doubt US bond markets are getting equally squeezed.

Later on in the day, Spain hinted it wants to re-open the settled issue of Gibraltar. 

And of course, like a bad dream, who shows up to piss on everyone's parade?  That's right, the vulgar talking yam himself. As he chortled over all the money he was going to make shorting stocks and fucking over his new employees at Turnberry, he displayed the particular brand of ignorance that has marked his campaign to date.

 

 

 

This is typical for the vulgar yam. Fuckhead.

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As I type this, the American stock market is down 622 points. As predicted this a disaster. And this is just the beginning.

The crass opportunists have stepped to the microphone. Sinn Fein is making noises about how Northern Ireland would be better off in the Irish Republic and the Scottish leadership is making noise about how binding referendums are not so binding after all. 

A couple of other observations:

1) The stark differences in demographics were disturbing. Interviews with older voters and younger voters make it clear that UK voters have this in common with US voters. Older people love to vote to screw young people.

The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, 52 percent to 48 percent.

I am broken by this result. As a young person, I cannot help but feel betrayed. In fact, it’s somewhat hard not to take it a little bit personally.

Let’s look at the voter demographics. The "Leave" vote was overwhelmingly carried by those over the age of 65, whereas 72 percent of those who were aged 18 to 24 voted to "Remain." Why does this matter? Surely, in a referendum, every vote is equal, and the will of the people carries regardless of the demographic?

Well, there is some truth to that. But that doesn’t mean every UK voter will suffer the same consequences.

The process of the UK leaving the European Union would not be complete until late 2018 at the very earliest, assuming Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered when a new prime minister is appointed in the autumn of this year. Even then, that’s just the basic settlement — trade deals and movement regulations could take decades to hammer out.

 

Please click on the link and look at the demographics. The old screwed the young-who it appears, are smarter than their elders.

2) British expats living in Europe are going to get screwed at the drive through.

3) Finally, every right wing Jackass like Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, the leaders of Alternativ fur Deutschland and the rest are already spouting their particular racist brand of bullshit asking for their own referendums. 71 years of peace in Europe? Can't have that. Crank up the Enola Gay-we are on our way to the Maginot Line! Retake Silesia! Party like its 1932 brother!

And then there is the damage to the US. I find the drivel being spouted by your average American moron conservative really disturbing . If I hear one more person talk about "taking their country back", I am going to have to strangle someone. Back to where assholes?

I've seen where you want to take the country back to-and I want no part of it. Please go die in a fire.

Brexit is a disaster. If you do not understand that, you can leave now. We have nothing else to talk about.

Leave it to the Financial Times ( a good conservative news outlet-something your basic Breitbart fucking nitwit reader seems unable to understand):

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That pretty well sums it up. Stupidity triumphed over common sense. My advice is to start drinking heavily with some now even more expensive Scotch. Its going to be a long year.

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You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

 

6 responses so far

Jun 23 2016

What was it all for?

June 23rd this year is a big day.

Its a big day because the United Kingdom is about to potentially make a really stupid decision and leave the EU. ( A really stupid decision).

It's also a day that I made a really stupid personal decision and it set the course of the rest of my life, and not necessarily for the better. Six weeks after graduation, I foolishly got married. Now its 37 years later and the damage that one decision caused still lingers.

I remember senior year, imagining what the future was going to be like. I had envisioned getting married and having children, but it certainly was with a very different idea of what that was going to be like.

I of course also envisioned going into the Navy, but the idea of being an NFO in a twin engine propeller aircraft was not in that dream. ( Fortunately, that decision was not one I have to take responsibility for-and all things considered, worked out all right).

When I imagined what the country and the world was going to be like, well my vision of the future was nothing like the way the future actually turned out.  Certainly I never expected the country to fall into the political morass the first 16 years of the 21st century have proven to be.

Being the Star Trek fan that I am, I expected the world to improve and not just in technology. I believed that the country would continue to be true to a baseline set of principles and that the American Dream would come true for not just me, but most of my fellow citizens too. I knew that economics would go up and down, but I always expected, in the long haul that things would get better. Technology was going to improve our lives-and we would all be better for it.

Boy, that train sure went off the tracks, didn't it?

One of the benefits of living 14 of the last 17 years overseas, is that it gives you a chance to see how other countries do mundane things like infrastructure, and daily life in general. As a typical xenophobic American, I always had assumed that America would always do things better. 

14 years overseas experience have disabused me of that notion. If anything the US is barely treading water, if not being slowly pulled down beneath the surface of the water.

If you are an optimist deep down like me, to come to that realization that country is not advancing, but failing, is truly a sad one.

Because what kind of world have we left for our children? Clearly not a very good one-even if they will be able to document the journey across the river Styx with their cell phones and Go-Pro cameras.

Now some people  want to put the blame for the decline on just one generation, the baby boomers. Of which I am proudly a part. I reject that notion-because the evidence clearly shows it is cross generational. Boomers to Millennial,we all bear a piece of the blame for not creating the world that we could have. And should have.

And so the end result is that we have not left a better world for our children at all. And we have no one to blame for that but ourselves. We failed to keep our eyes fixed on progress, after a certain subset of Americans decided it was more satisfying and more profitable in the short term to destroy companies and people, rather than work together for a better long term view. I believe that came about due to the acceptance of a vision of the future that should never have been acceptable, no matter what generation you were a part of.

Little decisions, that seem inconsequential at the time, rise up and become your fate. That happens to individuals and to nations.

And for what? What has 37 years service to a nation been for? It can't have been for this. Or this.

Alternative histories talk about a "point of departure", the point where the timeline changed. Certainly this happens in people personal lives and it happens in the lives of nations too.

But what was it all for? It can't have been for the rotten place the United States is in today. It has to have been for something more?

It should have been for something more.

 

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Jun 20 2016

The Queen’s unruly subjects.

John Oliver explains in good form why the UK should leave the shitty politics , as well as the political assassinations, to their crazy American cousins on the wrong side of the Atlantic:

 

Since we have a British satellite system, we are getting to see a lot of the debate on the issue first hand. And as Oliver pointed out, even if you are one of the maniacs who is Trump fan, you still have an important reason to care about the Brexit . It's going to fuck with your retirement savings. That's because we are globally connected now and what happens overseas affects your investments. Or need I remind you of what happened when the Chinese market tanked last year?

The liberal Leavers are peddling an illusion. On contact with the reality of Brexit, their plans will fall apart. If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely to end up poorer, less open and less innovative. Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial. And without Britain, all of Europe would be worse off.

Start with the economy. Even those voting Leave accept that there will be short-term damage (see article). More important, Britain is unlikely to thrive in the longer run either. Almost half of its exports go to Europe. Access to the single market is vital for the City and to attract foreign direct investment. Yet to maintain that access, Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of people—the very things that Leave says it must avoid. To pretend otherwise is to mislead.

Those who advocate leaving make much of the chance to trade more easily with the rest of the world. That, too, is uncertain. Europe has dozens of trade pacts that Britain would need to replace. It would be a smaller, weaker negotiating partner. The timetable would not be under its control, and the slow, grinding history of trade liberalisation shows that mercantilists tend to have the upper hand.

Nor is unshackling Britain from the EU likely to release a spate of liberal reforms at home. As the campaign has run its course, the Brexit side has stoked voters’ prejudices and pandered to a Little England mentality (see article). Despite Leave’s free-market rhetoric, when a loss-making steelworks at Port Talbot in Wales was in danger of closing, Brexiteers clamoured for state aid and tariff protection that even the supposedly protectionist EU would never allow.

The pandering has been still more shameless over immigration. Leave has warned that millions of Turks are about to invade Britain, which is blatantly false. It has blamed strains on public services like health care and education on immigration, when immigrants, who are net contributors to the exchequer, help Britain foot the bill. It suggests that Britain cannot keep out murderers, rapists and terrorists when, in fact, it can.

Britons like to think of themselves as bracingly free-market. They are quick to blame their woes on red tape from Brussels. In reality, though, they are as addicted to regulation as anyone else. Many of the biggest obstacles to growth—too few new houses, poor infrastructure and a skills gap—stem from British-made regulations. In six years of government, the Tories have failed to dismantle them. Leaving the EU would not make it any easier.

 

Leaving the EU is a terrible idea. The EU is not perfect, but as I have said before, just because a car gets lost, does not mean you blow the car up.

America has more than the world's fair share of selfish pigs. Britain, we don't need you trying imitate them.

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Jun 18 2016

Worth reading and a good follow up

To the earlier discussion about gun control.

As a part of my job, I monitor the Israeli English press and where I can get them, translations of Hebrew newspapers. There was an excellent article in The Jerusalem Post this week about the Israeli approach to firearms and the American one. I think its important to point out that Jerusalem Post is not Haaretz, its not a liberal paper. So I would submit that makes this article even more remarkable. Read it, its not long-and worth your time.

 

Donald Trump’s assertion that a club full of armed French concertgoers would have headed off last year’s Bataclan massacre is belied by the chaos engendered when shooters lack training – not just in proper shooting of the weapon, but in identifying when and where it is safe to shoot.

The careful use of guns in Israel is about being answerable to a hierarchy, beyond being answerable to the law. This is the opposite of the “right to bear arms” in the American ethos. There is no “right” to bear arms in Israel — there is a duty to bear arms, according to strict regulations.

This is why current and former military officers, even right-wingers among them, have been appalled by public support for the soldier in Hebron who in March allegedly shot an attacker after he was subdued. As much as killing a subdued man is wrong, in Israel’s military culture, using a weapon outside the command structure is equally taboo.

In some ways, then, Israel is the “well regulated militia” promised by America’s Second Amendment. That component of the amendment, however, has all but been ignored in recent American court rulings.

You can read the entire article here. And while you are at it read this excellent article by Calev Ben-David here. 

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